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My friend and Smart Women with Diabetes contributor Ann Rosenquist Fee and I decided to have an online conversation about transitioning from injections to the insulin pump. We both were long time needle users, and hesitant about making the leap to the pump. Talking to each other helped. Here is our conversation…..
ANN: Well, Ms. Smart Woman’s Guide, you were definitely smart about the OmniPod! I reached out to you for some words of wisdom when I decided to make the switch, and you told me I’d love and hate it, both. I do.Let’s talk about love first, because that’s been the biggest surprise. I love that it asks me “Are you going to eat now?” Not that my syringes said anything, but if they had, it would have been so different. More like, “you have to/can’t eat now, even if you’re stuffed/starving, because the insulin you took three hours ago, even though it was the smallest increment you could get, was still too much, and now I hope you have some orange juice handy.” Honestly, the first time the OmniPod asked me if I was going to eat, I felt so cared-for.
AMY: Wait a minute lady…your OmniPod asks you if you’re ready to eat?!? Does it speak out loud like Siri too? I think I’ve got the older version that just does what I tell her. I’m jealous. I think it’s another year or so before my insurance will let me get an upgrade. Regardless, I’m so happy you are focusing on the love part because there is a lot to love.I remember when I first got my pod, I was pregnant with Reid, that’s what finally convinced me to make the jump, and so I wasn’t as concerned about all the body image issues that plague me now. I remember walking out of the hospital with the pod on my round belly and thinking, this is awesome, why did I wait so long?!?
ANN:It does ask me if I’m ready to eat! It says that every time I enter a glucose level. There’s a little fork and knife in the upper left corner. That might get old, but right now it feels friendly and sweet.I think I solved the body image issue by placing it on my inner thigh. It’s not a very comfortable spot, but it keeps it private and at this point that’s a big deal. I’ve never been so happy to have skinny legs. I’m ready for this new level of control, but not quite ready to announce it to the world. My thigh isn’t going to work with my one pair of leather pants but those were rare anyway.

Does it hurt on your arm? Your answer might determine what I do for my next site change. I’m pretty vain, but walking up and down stairs hurts and that seems kind of extreme.

Oops. I think we might have just moved on to hate.

AMY: A balance of love and hate is important  😉 The arm is ok, but very visible, and it does hurt sometimes. But the inner thigh? Wow! For some reason I’ve been scared to try the thigh. I never liked doing my shots in my thigh. I think it started because I was afraid of having bumps on my legs. I’m vain about my legs! Maybe I’ll have to try the inner thigh. I love the lower back, it my favorite spot! Out of sight, out of mind.

ANN: Ok, so, what about sitting in chairs? Driving? Pulling up your pants in the bathroom and forgetting about it and knocking it around?

And do you have a good extraction method? I failed to give that much thought before my first site change this morning. I just pulled, and ow.

But back to love. Today I talked to a colleague whose diabetic toddler just started on a pump after a few months of injections. He totally understood that pumps and the OmniPod aren’t exactly more comfortable or convenient, but they’re more comfortable and convenient than neuropathy. That’s kind of a delicate mindset to maintain, but it feels like where I need to stay in order to make this work.

AMY: Pretty impressive what toddlers are capable of isn’t it?

I think what’ll really keep you in the love mode is ahead of you still…when you start to see the results, when you start to be able to really get a handle on the flexibility of the pump (after years of MDI), then I think the acceptance mindset will cement itself in your head.

For me it was all about transforming my disease from invisible to something that everyone could see. I remember one of the first times I wore the pump on my arm out in public and a woman I knew came up to me and asked if it was an iPod and I laughed. “Not exactly,” I told her. I was uncomfortable with the visibility of the pod because my illness had mostly been something I could keep to myself for so many years, and now all of a sudden, it was out in the open for everyone to see, and that was hard. It was also an important part of my transformation away from bitterness and frustration and helplessness and toward acceptance and empowerment. I’m not there yet, but the pod is helping me to get closer.

And as far as pulling up your pants in the bathroom, the pod makes me happy that low-rise jeans are still in fashion!

ANN: Good to hear that about the transformation. I’m going to trust you and other spokesmodels on that for now.  🙂  I made this change because my A1C had crept up from 6.0 to 6.9 within a year, not because I felt ready to be more visible or accepting or even empowered about diabetes. Honestly, I still don’t even like typing the word. It’s been 18 years but often it still feels like an unwelcome guest. It helps to have a network and to keep those long-term results in mind, so thanks. Also helps to see that sweetheart little fork and knife on my new screen every time I punch up a bolus.

I should also tell you that my mom has volunteered to sew me some Spandexy garter-type things to help keep it in place on my thigh. Want one?

AMY: I would love one! Tell your mom please yes!

I’ve lived with diabetes for 26 years now and it’s only been in the last few that I’ve moved away from bitterness toward acceptance. For me, a lot of it had to do with writing my book and hearing all the great stories from women like you who made me feel less alone. There is such power in community! Like what we’re doing right now, I love knowing that you are wearing the pod and that if I am having a hate day, I can email you and you will understand 🙂

ANN: Yes! Please do email me on any and all hate days. I’ll be here.

(Oh my gosh, Amy, I just knocked my hand against the lump on my thigh and thought, hey, what IS that thing? Maybe sometime you can post about being diabetic and also perimenopausally batty?)

AMY: I so look forward to the day we meet in person, you are my visible/invisible friend and it’s a comfort to know you’re out there!

And as soon as I get out of the motherhood fog (a few more years yet), I’ll write about being a postmenopausal diabetic just for you 🙂