Day’s Two & Three: Graduation & Reality

Congraduations  Yesterday, I graduated!!
My doctor sent me off with her blessings, after I completed the last class.  It was exhausting. So much information, tips and rules to learn. I can call Maureen or my doctor’s office if things come up, but I HATE to do that. Not because I’m afraid to bother them, but because I am stubborn and prideful.

If my blood sugars stay high after walking and a lunchtime bonus insulin, I need to call Maureen and find out if I should increase my hourly dose. I was running low yesterday and it was decreased. Now I’m high (Oh, how I wish!). The last couple hours of scrubbing floors should warrant as exercise, as well as this morning’s walk. Right?

Apparently yes.

Wow. my BS (take that any way you like), is now 113. A good BS to have, but not when you still have 3-units of insulin on board. Since I did the math and the pump matched it, everything should be cool. The problem here is that I am human and how bodies work varies. Today, mine put off using the exercise factor until hours later than normal.  Now I must call Maureen and ask her if I need to stop my hourly insulin, while the other gets out of my system.

:-{  Dammit!

P.S. Maureen said “yes” stop it for 1/2 hour if I was low again. But I was not. And here I was starting to look forward to that cupcake…


Pod Confidence: Zero; Evil Syringe: 2

My little friend” was not so friendly this weekMyLittleFriend. Friday afternoon came and I deactivated the 3-day old Pod and needed to activate a new one.

I do this using the PDM, which I call my ‘remote control’. Very easy – just push some buttons and it’s done. However, the technical stuff (filling the Pod with insulin and attaching it) is not so easy.

It sounds easy when you read the manual. It seemed easy when Maureen was here showing me how to do it. But on my own, pressured by the remote, who keeps beeping and telling me “No Pod attached”, I cannot get the insulin into the stupid syringe.

With each “Pod kit” comes a fat plastic syringe. The thing is awkward to hold, because I  HypodermicAndVial am used to skinny syringes. This is something that will come easier with time, I believe. But the damned thing has better suction than my vacuum cleaner does. So when I’m holding the syringe in my right hand and the insulin vial upside down in my left hand, I’m supposed to pull the plunger and fill the syringe with insulin. Right.

The first pod I wasted, because the manual says if I have to force the insulin into the Pod, I needed to discard it. The Pod – not the insulin. I tell myself it was a bad needle.

The second Pod kit had to be discarded because the @#$%!! syringe would not allow me to inject the air into the vial, let alone allow me to draw insulin. I was pushing the plunger down with my right thumb and middle-finger, and because of the resistance, the syringe slipped, the vial flew a few feet, and the little needle on the syringe had bent over.  This did not make me very happy.

Now I had to open another Pod Kit, to get a new syringe out and start all over again. Meanwhile the Pod I activated is still nagging me to fill it with insulin and click “Next”. To say I was annoyed would be a lie. I had been reduced to growling at the equipment, the manual, and my hubby, who is telling me how to use a syringe and vial.  I have been injecting myself since 2005, with absolutely no issues using vials of insulin, and normal syringes.

In desperation, I finally allow hubby to assist me. He injects the air into the vial, and draws the insulin into the syringe. Like he’s been doing it all of his life.

Now, my Pod-confidence is completely destroyed.

Then, I go and chose a stupid site to stick the POD, and when I sat down I feel the adhesive pull. After a few hours I couldn’t take it.  I had to deactivate the POD and get another one activated, filled and inserted. I learned something valuable – make sure you select a smart place for the Pod to work in.  I do not ever want to remove a Pod that soon again. The adhesive works way better than I imagined. I don’t have to worry when I shower anymore. That Pod is not going anywhere!

Being highly motivated to switch over to the pump, and determined to not let it beat me, I marched into my bedroom with another new Pod kit, insulin and alcohol swabs. I had read the manual over and over during my previous attempts. I was sure I knew what to do, but that #$%@! syringe, so innocently lying in the kit, was my nemesis.

I had to get over this hurdle. I can’t let a #$%&@! syringe ruin this for me.  I took some deep breaths and locked myself in my bedroom, and tried again. It took 3 times before I had the needle inserted in the vial, angled just the right way, to suck out any fluid. I could only get 100 units into the syringe, but it was over the 85 unit minimum and I was back in business.

I did a little happy dance when I was finished and my Pod was on correctly. Whew! I could sit down, bend over and not feel a thing.  Everything was in working order.  Until…

5:00AM this morning, the Pod attached to my abdomen began to alarm. Loudly and continually. I didn’t even know it could alarm – I thought only the remote control did that. I got out of my warm cozy bed and went to the kitchen, hoping hubby and my little granddaughter were not awakened.

I switched the coffee pot to brew and stood nearly comatose while it perked, flipping through my user manual, looking for how to deactivate a Pod and not activate a new one. I needed a break, but I did not want to have to completely re-program the remote, or have to call Maureen on the holiday, you know, like some loser.

After 30 minutes, I wake up enough to find the setting for the minimum level of insulin alarm and turned it down to 10, giving me at least an hour or two before I actually have to deal with my dilemma. My brain may be working by then.

At 9:30AM I deactivated the empty Pod. I could not activate a new Pod because the insulin vial did not hold enough units to be over the Pod’s minimum. I found the settings for the alarms on the remote, turning them all to OFF.  I hope there is no over-ride on the remote regarding Pod’s being required at all times, or I’ll have to hide the remote under a couple of pillows and put it on vibrate.

Sigh.  Two more days and then I’ll have Maureen to straighten me out the during class  😉 I am going to sew and try to relax. My BG is over 350 and I had to inject more insulin, the old fashion way.

Now I know why they insist on practice using saline solution. To work out the “bugs” between the pump and the Pod person, before the ‘fun’ really begins. Whee!

Until then,

P.S. If you are thinking about switching over to a pump, don’t let my glitches scare you! The next post in this ‘Insulin Pump Saga’ will be after I attend the class, so I can pass along the enlightenment from Maureen about the #$%&*@!  syringe.  And the other details they leave out of the manual.  Grrr!

photo credit: Adrián Afonso via photopin cc

Here’s Your Pump, Now Bond With It…

Let me introduce you – to my little friend…

MyLittleFriendYesterday Maureen, the OmniPod trainer and Certified Diabetic Educator (CDE), and I opened the box shipped to me by Insulet™, with my OmniPod “start-up kit.”

Maureen showed me all the components and “we” programmed it to my doctor’s specifications, edited settings, and then,  attached my 1st Pod.  For two hours, she patiently showed me features, explained why I would use them and gave me a lot of information. (We also chatted about non-pump related stuff and shared a laugh or two.)

I won’t go into all the technical & medical details but basically this is how my “pump” works. I know you have been chomping at the bit to find out  😉

The Pod (shown above) is the insulin delivery system. Once attached to my stomach and activated, it acts as an artificial pancreas and deliver an amount of insulin that a normal pancreas would do.  Starting up a Pod is fairly simple – I will follow, step-by-step (lots of pictures) in the Quick Start Guide manual. There are a lot of steps and I do not want to miss any and ruin the Pod.

First I fill the Pod with insulin (a saline solution that we are pretending is insulin). Then I figure out where I want it to be on my body. I clean that place with alcohol pad, let it dry and then pull the paper off the adhesive tape (like you would a band-aid). The tape covers the bottom and sides of the Pod. It does not look like near enough tape to hold it on for 3-days, but it sticks well, so far.

Now, I can activate it. The PDM sends the information we programmed to the Pod. When that is accomplished the PDM tells me to hit “start” and the Pod will inject a needle with a cannula under my skin then pull the needle back, leaving the tube in. The injecting takes a few seconds to begin after pushing “start.”

This is the worse part. Waiting to be punctured. You know it’s going to happen, but since you are not doing it yourself, you don’t know exactly when it will go off.  Even though you are expecting it to happen, when it does happen it surprises you.

Yesterday, I squealed and jumped – almost falling over.  I got lucky and it didn’t hit a nerve, so the pain was nearly non-existent. I hope I get used to this step quickly!  I will be changing the Pod on Friday by myself. In fact, Maureen told me to “play” with and get to know the PDM. It has several menus and functions. Some I will use a lot, and some infrequently.

She will be teaching an in-depth class for two mornings next week. It’s then that I will go “live” with real insulin. God help me. So the more I “play” the more confident I will be when this happens. At least that’s what Maureen told me. Why would she lie?

Yes, this whole thing makes me nervous.

The Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) is the “brains” for the Pod. (Shown below) It does the dose calculations after I give it my blood glucose level, and the amount of carbs I plan to eat for my meal/snack.  It shows me the values and asks me if I want that dose to be delivered. I tell it yes or no. I can edit the value the PDM suggests if I need to. I can’t enter special info to influence the calculation, such as, if I’m stressing out, and my blood glucose (BG) is going through the roof, no matter what I’m eating, I can increase the dose to cover it.

PDM-ZoomedOutMy PDM is displaying my current status when photo was taken. This means the time of the last BG test, meal insulin dose, and the insulin “on board.”  It also keeps track of when I will need to change the Pod unit.

In 3-days I have to deactivate the one I’m wearing now, and activate a new one in a different site than the previous one. I will just dispose of the old one. That blows my mind. The Pods are tossed away! They expire (no longer work) after 72-hours. This seemed very wasteful to me until I learned that the insulin being body temperature will start to “go bad” and not be dependable anymore. Then there is the need to give the skin a break from the injection site and adhesive, but putting a new Pod in a different place.  The PDM is really my pump. It controls the Pod via Bluetooth.

Basically, I have a remote-controlled pancreas now. How weird is that?  I’m already writing a list of things that will make my life easier using my little friend. Hubby has “homework” also. He is checking to make sure that I remember to take my real insulin injections. Very important job!

TTFN,  (Ta-Ta For Now)