A lot of parents with diabetic children keep asking me what my opinion is on the Omnipod, or my insulin pump. I can honestly say, I love it for the most part– no tubes!! Sometimes, like today though, it’s really annoying. The problem with the Omnipod is it’s random failures. When it fails it beeps, which is good because I know I’ve stopped getting insulin and can do something about it, but really annoying. Today I was giving insulin and had an “occlusion” alarm go off. When that happens, the pod beeps continually very loudly and deactivates. Normally, I keep a spare with me, but I had used my spare yesterday when I ripped my pump off of my arm. Luckily I had syringes, so was able to inject a couple units so I could stay for my last class. I wasn’t planning on returning home after school and was going straight to my internship. Because of my pod failure, I had to go home to get a new one. It’s really annoying when that happens! My blood sugar has tendency to be on more of a roller coaster ride and that messes with my cognitive function. I don’t know, I love my Omnipod, but wonder how much beeping happens with other pumps. I think having tubes would really bother me and would be easier to get pulled out. My Omnipod will more likely get pulled out if I’m very fast about the insertion process and mess up putting the adhesive down. That’s a problem when changing the set of all pumps though. I guess, it’s personal preference and the choice of wires or beeps.
Well today marks the one year anniversary of my diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes.
There are some things you can never forget and today is one of those days. Today I reflect on the memory I have of my visit to my endocrinologist and the hospital, both occurring one year ago. I’ll never forget the nurse’s reaction to my high glucose reading off the meter. I’ll never forget sitting in my new endocrinologist’s office crying like a scared child. I’ll never forget the smell of the hospital. I’ll never forget waiting in the ER. I’ll never forget the kind nurse that had talked me through a few scary nights. I’ll never forget being woken up for glucose checks every 4 hours. I’ll never forget the fatigue and lack of energy I had before insulin.
In some regards today is a day to celebrate, yet in others, it’s a day to morn. I celebrate having such a positive and caring community surrounding me. I celebrate having a greater drive to do something I’ve always wanted to do. I celebrate all the life lessons I’ve had to learn at a young age. I do morn the sense of normalcy though. I miss not being able to fear a high or low blood sugar. I miss not pricking my fingers and creating scars. There are day’s I wish I didn’t have this equipment strapped to my body. I took my pancreas for granted in the days before I diagnosis.
All in all, I have mixed emotions for today. Do you celebrate or do you morn? I can honestly say, I did both.
It’s funny how things happen sometimes. One minute, I’m writing an email about how much diabetes sucks. It’s isolating, annoying and always on my mind. I just got so angry and sad that I started tearing up (having low blood sugar just made me extra emotional). The next minute, I’m walking to class and spot another girl with an insulin pump. It’s so rare to see another T1D outside of a formalized setting. I stopped her right in her tracks. I dropped my bag and showed her my pump, like an excited kid shows another their new toy. It’s funny how when I was getting so down about this awful disease am so angry at what it does to me, that someone who is like me appears. I swear sometimes I really have to question my religious beliefs because that’s pretty coincidental.
I’m starting to get the feeling that I am absolutely crazy or something! OK so just a quick run down of all the things I have going on: 3 jobs, 2 internships, volunteering and occasionally baby-sitting, oh and did I mention that I’m a full time undergraduate biology majoring student! Alright spelling it all out let’s me know that I am crazy! I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to handle all of this stuff. It’s like, every possible time slot I may have gets filled with something. I’m starting to realize it may be better to say “no”. But I can’t because I want to seize every opportunity. I do like staying busy and hate being board. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how I handle this fun.
I swear I’m constantly reminded that I have diabetes! Today in class, my pump alarm started going off! How embarrassing! This is the first day of the semester and I really don’t know too many people in the class. The professor was going over the syllabus and my arm starts beeping. Naturally everyone looks at me, the source, and I begin to feel like a tiny ant. All those eyes, starting at my abnormality. I just can’t but feel like diabetes runs my life. I’ve been so busy lately that I forgot it was going to check when it would expire. There are so many extra precautions and extra things I have to go through so things like this don’t happen. Other diabetics and parents of diabetic children have told me that managing this, really is a job (too bad we don’t get paid for it! ).
I guess I just have to hope for the best and prepare a little better. I know life isn’t fair, but it really sucks having to deal with this extra stuff. Oh well, another day of school tomorrow. Who knows, maybe this is a good start-up conversation with a curious professor? I guess there could be a positive somewhere… I hope.
Often I hear about people who say they will not let diabetes define them. I do wonder what that means though. I mean my diagnosis of diabetes has greatly changed my life. I’ve become a dedicated T1D advocate wanting to make a difference in others lives. I want to eventually become an endocrinologist and lead a life dedicated to improving other’s lives with this disease. So in a sense, I think diabetes does define me. I think it makes me a better individual hoping to improve the lives of others.
However I do see the negative side of diabetes defining someone, including myself. Having it define you can mean, you use it as an excuse. You can let diabetes stop you in your tracks and from obtaining your goals rather than finding a way a round these problems. Don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty of this myself. I’ve used it as an excuse to not exercise. I’ve used it as an excuse to have a cookie. I’ve used it as an excuse to stay home and skip class, rather then fight through the pain of a high. In each one of these circumstances, there can always be an alternative. Too low for exercising? Suspend insulin and have an apple before going. Too low and eat a cookie? Try pineapple or banana instead. I’m guilty of making these excuses. I think most people will occasionally do the same. Everyday average people will do the same thing though. They say they can never find time to workout or that healthy eating isn’t cheap. We all use our life’s circumstances as an excuse to prevent us from reaching our goals.
In the end, I do see my diabetes as defining me. And honestly, I don’t think that as being a problem. I allow all the good things that have come from it to run my life instead of the bad. Everyone has something that has happened in their lives that make them sad and occasionally, having diabetes makes me sad. It’s apart of me though and I feel I need to embrace it! That’s why I think it does define me. I let the good define me though and I have to remember to stop the excuses.
As an adult, diagnosed after high school with Type 1, I realize there are a lot of things I, thankfully, missed out on. Currently, I’m babysitting two young girls in kindergarden and I realize how rough having diabetes can be for them. One of the little girls goes to a lot of different camps in the area, yet unlike the other kids, she needs to have a babysitter with her to watch and manage her blood sugars. How difficult is that for her?? The kids will ask questions about who I am and she’s very quite and doesn’t know what to say. I just tell them that I’m a camp counselor. Then they’ll have snack and on some days she’ll hide in the corner not wanting people to see and on other’s she’s brave and doesn’t care who’s watching. Just to add in, it seems like at camps these kids are always having snack! How this little girls’ parents and doctor managed to figure out her insulin to carb ratio, I’m amazed by!
Similarly, when the little girl goes to school, she has to go to the nurses office before lunch and leaves before all the other children. I watch this little girl and I’m just amazed by her strength and courage! Only 6 years old and she is such a trooper.
Some day’s I like to have my own pity party, but then I watch how difficult it is for this little girl. She’s always getting pulled out of class during some activity and she’ll have to continue to go through her self-conscious troublesome teenage years with diabetes. It’s safe to say that I’m grateful, I got diagnosed later in life!