One year on – by Helen May
On Wednesday 13th January 2016, I was introduced to a new friend/acquaintance/buddy/partner. Since then, we have barely been separated. We’ve travelled together; we’ve climbed together; we’ve slobbed on the sofa and watched television together; we’ve been to business meetings together; we’ve been out drinking together; we’ve had fun and we’ve got stressed.
I am not sure what his thoughts are about me but there are days when I am immensely grateful to him and there are days when he frustrates the hell out of me; there are days when I introduce him with pride and there are days when I wish he would hide away; there are days when I feel healthier to have him around and there are days when he makes me feel ill.
I call him Pumpy. And I think he calls me Grumpy (he’s not the most vocal of my friends).
I knew we’d be spending alot of time together
Unlike most friends, I knew he was coming and I knew there was a good chance we would be spending a lot of time together. But we could also reject each other … which we haven’t done. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
Looking back over the last year, with Pumpy, I have experienced far more hypers than previously. These are mostly when my cannula is not inserted correctly so I do not receive any insulin until I realise I feel drowsy and have discomfort (but not pain) around my stomach. It’s quick and easy to fix once I realise but I find myself planning my week around set changes.
I don’t mind travelling but consider airports as necessary evils with lots of hanging around, lots of necessary bureaucracy and nothing to do. Pumpy has given me something to do but waiting for someone to come and swipe me because he does not like the scanners is not my idea of fun. In most cases (over the last year, I have flown more than 10 times), the people I meet are friendly. Unfortunately, not all are and I have been told that it is my choice to have diabetes (a fact I corrected in my letter of complaint to her manager).
I have written about my aesthetic complaints of Pumpy: he favours fashion from the 1990s and is not exactly slimline. I know I’m shallow but, initially, this really bothered me: whilst I don’t hide my diabetes, I don’t want to advertise it either. I have tried a number of options to keep Pumpy close – hiding him in my bra (uncomfortable, difficult to get out and “unbalanced”); clipping him to my belt (on show and only works when I have a belt), strapping him around my waist (bulky and sweaty when it’s hot), hiding in my pocket (too big and heavy for most of my pockets) and strapping him to my thigh (either difficult to extract or prone to slipping and exposing himself). I haven’t found the ideal solution but over time, I have become less conscious about having him around so, unless I am dressing up, he spends most his time strapped to my belt.
Pumpy is easier to manager than his sister Penny
However, on a day-to-day basis, Pumpy is much easier to manage than his sister, Penny the Pen. Once I know my cannula and set are correct, my day to day supplies are less: a meter, a finger prick and a few test strips as well as an emergency syringe and small bottle of insulin. No need for Penny the basal and bolus pens. When I am outside, especially when it is cold, it is much easier to dial up a dose on Pumpy than to expose my whiter than white flesh, dial up a dose and inject with Penny. I no longer have to worry about when to inject my basal, it is always going in … and at the speed I chose which allows me to take into consideration more insulin at night, less insulin after exercise, more insulin whilst climbing, less insulin after alcohol, etc.
So, whilst Pumpy and Grumpy have had some disagreements over the last year, it is a relationship set to last. Strangely, as something that is attached all the time, a pump gives me more freedom to be me: to do what I want, to eat what I want and to feel how I feel. It requires more effort … but it’s worth it.