Monday, March 19, 2007

My pump

Thanks to those who have stumbled across my journal so far and for all your kind words. It means a lot. I'm slowly adding links to other blogs as I go, from comments that are left and from the links I find on your own pages. If you'd like to see yours listed on the right, let me know. I'd be more than happy to add it.

I don't mean to complain, and I know I've been sounding like a real whiner lately. But over the weekend I developed a sore throat and cough. I'm not sure if it's the chest cold I had 3 weeks ago coming back to haunt me, or if I picked up something new at the clinic last week. Either way, it stinks. My symptoms seem to run the gamut, from sinus headache to sore throat. I went over to Wal-Mart during my lunch break for some relief, but couldn't find a magical all-in-one drug to help me. I picked up some head cold & sinus medication; Robitussin ("for People with Diabetes") to loosen chest congestion; and sucrose-free, antibacteral-action, lemon-flavoured Strepsils for sore throat. Good times.

I also checked my blood pressure at one of those public machines at the Wal-Mart pharmacy. 133 over 72. Still a little high for my taste.

Anyway... I stopped at the lab on my way to work this morning to have the blood work done from the clinic last week - A1C, thyroid, and cholesterol. While I was there, I started talking with a pleasant woman who appeared to be in her early 40s sitting next to me. It turned out that she had type-1 as well and is on a pump. We both commented that neither of us had ever run into anyone in our town with a pump before.

Unfortunately, our town is a bit behind the times. I had to jump through a few hoops to get mine.

I hadn't even heard of an insulin pump until about two years ago, when I met a girl my age with type 1. She had been on a pump for about six years. When I met her, she showed me her pump and explained how it worked. I found it intimidating, but I was fascinated nonetheless. She told me how it had changed her life, and I realized that it was something worth looking into.

When I finally secured a family physician in September 2005, and subsequently an internist (there are no endocrinologists here), I mentioned to the both of them that I was interested in the pump. My internist, despite being the "specialist", didn't know too much about it. He told me to get some literature for him and we'd talk about it at my next appointment. So I did my homework, and after reviewing he agreed to help me pursue pump therapy. He wrote the recommendation to my insurance company for coverage.

I received my Medtronic Paradigm 515 at the end of January 2006, but little did I know what was involved in starting to actually use it. There were no diabetes educators in my town with pump knowledge. I was told that I would need to go to the diabetes clinic in a town about an hour and a half drive from here for training with their nurse/educator, and to meet the endocrinologist associated with the clinic. I would need to complete some classes, including carb counting (which I was already doing, but I guess they needed to make sure that I knew how to do it right), and I needed final approval from the endocrinologist to use my pump.

In March I had my first appointment with the educator, followed by a few nutrition classes and an appointment with the endocrinologist in May. I received his stamp of approval, and scheduled my pump training with the educator. After traveling back and forth 5 or 6 times for monthly appointments, I finally officially began pumping on July 10, 2006.

It was a long process, but definitely worth it. And I was able to educate the diabetes clinic in my town on the process so that they can make future recommendations to other patients interested in pump therapy. I know the clinic here is trying to get a pump support program implemented, but due to staffing changes and cutbacks, it has been difficult for them. So until then, they will need to keep referring patients to the clinic over 100 km away. I still need to travel to the out-of-town clinic for follow up once every 6 months and e-mail my glucose records to the nurse for adjustments since I have no support here.

One of my U.S. collegues is on a pump. He was a great support when I pursued pump therapy, but was surprised at all the legwork I had to do for it. He said that he basically got his 5 years ago, had a couple appointments with his doctor to set his basal rates, and off he went.

If you're on a pump or currently pursuing one, I'd be interested to hear your story. Anyone else go through so much red tape?

I think the biggest lesson I learned during my pursuit was to not get discouraged. It became frustrating at times, having a $6,000 piece of equipment (which I paid 50% for) sitting on my dresser for 6 months, essentially useless. Some days it felt like my pump was doomed to be a paperweight forever, but I'm finally using it and so grateful that I am.


Penny said...

So sorry you had such a time getting to use your pump. But, wasn't it worth the wait?

My son is on a pump and I can't imagine life without it (unless there's a cure, of course)

If you don't mind, I'm going to add a link to your blog.

Randee said...

Hi Lori,

I'm also from the 'north' (sault ste marie), but moved to Ottawa for school a few years ago. I was diagnosed at 10, and went on the pump 3 years ago, but I got it in Ottawa and so recieved a lot of support. The lack of care in the North certainly isn't good, but it's good to see you're now, finally, pumping.

take care,


Diabetic Bams said...

Hi Lori!
Its more than fine if you want to add a link to my blog. I will do the same for you!
Too bad about your basement :( You sound like you're really on top of your diabetes though! Thats great that you're so proactive. I couldn't imagine waiting for a physician to accpet me as a new patient and only buying insulin OTC! That had to have been tough.
Hang in there!

Wendy Morgan said...

Hey there!

I have had surprisingly good luck getting my pump and my daughters pump, but I really wish they would have given one to her when she was diagnosed. The transition from shots to pump was not fun with a four year old, but all is well now.

The pump is a gift and with the new CGM's, we are all going to live vastly better lives. Now we just need to convince with insurance companies of that so we can all afford to have one!

Chrissie in Belgium said...

Having a pump has really turned around diabetes care for me. Although I mentioned my interest in pumping uears before I actually got one, that previous endocrinologist didn't think they offered ANY improvement in care! Boy was that doc WRONG! I get kind of annoyed when I think how many years went down the drain with "worse diabetic care" because he had discouraged me interest in pumping!

LORI said...

Yes, my pump was absolutely worth the wait...

Chrissie - when I first approached my internist about the pump, he more or less said the same thing to me. He thought I could have just as much control with needles. But I kept pushing and finally managed to convince him. I think he was even more convinced when he saw my A1C's drop from 8's to 7's a few months after being on the pump (still haven't hit those 6's yet, but I know they're coming!)