This week, I find that I have been using an insulin pump for fifteen years. That is just under 5,500 days and over a third of my life. I can’t imagine my life without this technology and the thought of not having an external pancreas is a little scary.
I have spent a bit of time in the last week or so thinking about how far technology has come in the last fifteen years.
Back in February 2001 when I was admitted as an overnight patient into the Epworth Hospital in Melbourne, there really wasn’t much choice when it came to insulin pumps. In fact, there were two and two only – the Medtronic 507C and the Disetronic D-Tron. There were pros and cons to both of them – I had done a lot of research – and I decided that the smaller size of the Medtronic would suit me more, so that is what I used.
This was before the advent of ‘smart pumps’. There was no such thing as a bolus calculator and there was no capacity to even enter BGLs into the pump. It was simply a device that delivered insulin. (Kind of like old mobile phones that did nothing other than make a phone call. Ah, they were the days…Life seemed so much simpler then…)
My second pump was a Deltec Cozmo and this was my first foray into the ‘smart pump’ zone. It was a great little pump and the new bolus wizard technology was terrific. Having said that, I was always pleased that I actually knew and completely understood how to count carbs, and this was particularly important to me at first, or at least until I trusted the technology.
Today, I use a sensor-augmented pump – it’s the latest technology available and it makes my diabetes manageable, more so than any other way I know.
In fifteen years, I’ve never taken a pump holiday. I’ve never even considered it. There have been maybe a couple of times that accommodating the pump has been a pain, but I have managed it with a little lateral thinking. It’s possible that the reason I haven’t switched back to injections when it may have been easier is because I am lazy and the thought of trying to work out long-acting insulin made me weep inside.
(Speaking of long-acting insulin, I have always had some in the fridge, or with me when travelling, in case of pump malfunction. This diligence has resulted in regularly having dispose out-of-date insulin.)
So, when I started on a pump, did I think that I would still be using the same technology – albeit a little more sophisticated – fifteen years later? Probably not. There was no cure back in 2001 and there isn’t one today in 2016. Am I upset about that? Well, I guess that I would really like to not have to think about diabetes as much as I do, (or at all). But no. And not really surprised either.
I see my pump as being as much a part of me as my arm or my leg. It is a pseudo-organ. It keeps me going, it keeps me alive. I’d be lost without it. Is it perfect? No, (as evidenced by my current CGM stream that resembles a rather scary mountain range). Is it what works for me? Yes. At least for now.