I am terrified of insulin pumps.
I do not know much about insulin pumps.
My doctors say going on an insulin pump can save my life.
I am terrified of insulin pumps.
I have had Type I diabetes since I was 10 years old, which means I’ve been diabetic longer than I haven’t. I got the kind people call “really bad;” I had no family history and was not overweight (classic causes of diabetes) when it showed up.
Thanks to wonderful parents, I survived childhood without too many problems. By the time I reached adulthood, my diabetes was in tight control.
That’s exactly why doctors never told me I needed to disrupt what I’d always done to control the disease by going on an insulin pump, which essentially assumes my crappy pancreas’ role of putting insulin into my blood so sugar from foods can enter my cells.
However, since I have lived the past five years of my life as a circus gypsy, I’m constantly having first-time appointments with new doctors in new towns. At my latest, about four months ago, my current physician looked over my blood work results, then at me, and said …
“Have you started to lose feeling anywhere yet?”
It was the “anywhere” and “yet” that got me.
- Poor circulation is what kills people with diabetes.
- Poor circulation is why blood can’t reach toes and folks get their legs cut off.
- Poor circulation is why blood can’t fill the capillaries in diabetics’ eyes and they go blind.
- Poor circulation can lead to other problems in men that can make them feel like they aren’t men, if you catch my drift.
- “Poor circulation” by itself scares the crap out of me. Adding “yet” implies it’s going to happen, sooner or later.
No doctor had ever tacked on “yet.”
I told my doctor everything had been fine.
“You have to have pretty high blood sugars to start running into circulation problems, don’t you?” I asked.
He didn’t look up as he pressed the toes of my bare feet, checking for signs of ailing circulation.
“Usually,” he said. “Or you can have numbers like yours for about 20 years.
“Ever thought about an insulin pump?”
To be remotely precise, about 87 times, I reckoned … and I’d always rejected it.
There was something downright scary about a machine having that much control over my life.
One mistake with that thing could kill me.
I felt much more comfortable drawing up insulin from vials and injecting it into areas of fat on my body (not that I have any). That way, I knew exactly how much was going in.
But that method was killing me.
“A little bit. I want to get one.”
He looked up from my feet.
He didn’t ask, but I’m sure he wondered why I’d never gotten on one before if all it took from him was a simple question.
The answer to that was I truly had thought about a pump … since the stupid things started to become popular, roughly 10 years ago. Five years later, I was sitting in an endocrinologist’s office in Wilmington, N.C., scheduling an appointment with a diabetes educator who was going to get me started on the pump.
I never made it to that appointment.
SO TODAY, five years later, I met with a diabetes educator in Greenville, S.C., to teach me about insulin pumps.
“They’re so great,” she seemed to say over and over throughout the course of a three-hour appointment.
But she doesn’t need one, I thought. She doesn’t need to keep two cell phone-sized contraptions with her at all times, along with a needle stuck inside her belly, covered with tape. She has no idea what it’s like to be in a position where that crap is necessary. She probably gets money from insulin pump manufacturers to “sell” the stupid things.
I want to see my daughter graduate high school and college. I want to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. Hell, I’d like to walk myself down the aisle on my wedding day.
I want to live.
I chose an insulin pump this afternoon. I filled out the forms the educator’s office needed to get the purchase cleared by my health insurance. I scheduled more classes to teach me how to use the damn contraption.
I’m not ready to die.
At some point, renegades and hangers-on like me need to stop acting like renegades and hangers-on and remember that John Wayne actually died. In the end, Wayne was human – and while humans cannot escape death, they can put it off for a while.