Every now and then I think about what it would be like to be back on injections full-time. These days, I have a severe case of ‘diabetes burn-out’ from the over abundance of finger pricks and insulin pump site changes that come along with being pregnant. I have no option but to just push forward, and not complain. The daydreams that come into the mind of a type 1 diabetic who has been diligently obsessing over her diabetes for 9 months (well actually 2 years in preparation) include waiting for the day after the baby is born that I can go to bed at 160 or start an exercise at 180 and not stress about it. Sometimes I even think about taking a break from my pump after the baby is born, but then I remember why this little tiny machine actually makes my life easier. I wanted to share the highlights of why an insulin pump is more than just beneficial before, during and after pregnancy, but why it actually helps with diabetes burn-out too.
With injections, the absorption time of the long-acting insulin is so unpredictable (dependent on what time you inject, if you inject into scar tissue, and if your body decides to be uncooperative that day). With an insulin pump, I am able to have a make-shift pancreas help me in my blood sugar management in a much more predictable way. Being pregnant has brought on its own pains, but having my pump has helped me react to the constant effects it has on my blood sugars, and I’m talking react within minutes. So here is an ode to my insulin pump, on behalf of me and my baby…
- The severe lows that struck during the first trimester (I have never seen more blood sugars in the 30′s ever in my 22 years with diabetes than what I saw in those first 3 months) and my pump allowed me to back off on my basal rates, or do a temp basal when I had a case of the ‘my low just won’t budge’. With insulin injections, once it’s in there, there’s no stopping it!
-Wearing my pump allows me to utilize a continuous glucose monitor. The particular pump I use, a Medtronic Revel pump, gives me the ability to use a CGM which does a lot of thinking for a very tired pregnant women.
-Software: My pump software allows me to download my blood sugars as frequently as I need to, and email them directly to my Endo. When you are pregnant, your Endo wants to look at your blood sugars on a weekly basis and make adjustments constantly. Being that I am the self-sufficient person that I am and the fact that I was a pump trainer for 5 years, I often make adjustments on my own, but for the average patient this feature is a godsend. Going into the endless array of doctor appointments that a Type 1 pregnant person has to go to are exhausting. So being able to email your pump data to your provider can not only save time sitting in traffic, it saves co-pays too! So far this year I’ve spent over $2000 on co-pays alone seeing my high-risk OB and pregnancy Endocrinologist…any savings helps!
-One of my favorite features on my particular pump, is the ability to enter in when I exercise. This way when I look at my pump downloads I can see the little heart icon on the log sheet and determine if it was the exercise that caused a low…or just the erratic growth spurts of my baby!
-While it has started to become quite a pain having to change my infusion set and reservoir every 36-48 hrs (normally a site and reservoir lasts me a solid 72 hours); it is a heck of a lot better than needing to take 10 injections a day! Last time I looked at my pump, I corrected or bolused for a high or for food 18 times in one day. 18 injections? I’m all set, thank you.
-Did I mention food? Having my pump to manage the crazy eating habits that I have adopted during this pregnancy has also been a life-saver. I am usually not a big carb eater, but if baby wants comfort foods, well then baby gets them. I’m not proud of the amount of macaroni and cheese I’ve consumed while pregnant (and see folks, even dietitians aren’t perfect), but with my pump I can use a dual wave bolus feature to make sure I get enough insulin to counteract both the simple and complex carbs as they enter my bloodstream.
Overall, pumping isn’t for everyone, I understand that. But if you are Type 1 or even Type 2 on insulin for that matter, and you think you want to become pregnant, I highly recommend looking into an insulin pump. Even though there are some days when I would like to throw it into on-coming traffic because it reminds me of this chronic disease that I eat, sleep and breath… it also takes a lot of the burden off my shoulders. Make peace with your pump, it will be there through all the high’s and low’s!