Putting Kaitlyn on the pump was pretty much a slam dunk decision for us. We saw how well it was working for James and thought… “We want that!” The idea of not having to give shots all day long was really appealing, so we talked to our doctor and made the switch! All I can say is –wow! What a difference that made! We immediately loved it! Kaitlyn was really happy that she didn’t have to have the shots, and we loved the flexibility of giving insulin at the press of a button. We could let Kaitlyn eat a little bit, then a little bit more, and then a little bit more. No big deal! We couldn’t understand why anyone would stick with injections!
We still think it was the right thing for Kaitlyn, but after being on the pump for a little while now, we’ve learned that it’s not foolproof. Over the last few weeks we’ve had several major mishaps. It’s been frustrating, to say the least.
A couple of weeks ago, we were at a party at our church. They had carnival games, great food, live music and dancing. When we got there, Kaitlyn’s blood sugar levels were fine. Kaitlyn was having a ball playing all the games, eating food and dancing with all the rest of the kids. I even let her have some (gasp) cotton candy. I figured with all the exercise she was getting, a little bit of sugar in her system would be fine. Throughout the night, her numbers were mostly fine, but toward the end of the party, they started getting high. My immediate thought was, wow, I must have guessed the carbs wrong on the cotton candy! I went ahead and gave her a correction and didn’t think much more about it. Later that night, I checked her again, and she was even higher. We checked out her site, and her tubing was completely severed. Ugh. Ketones. New site. Battling high numbers and then low numbers for the rest of the night.
(In the future, I’ll be more careful whenever Kaitlyn’s participating in something really active. I’ll probably tuck in her tubing better and check before and after to make sure everything is still intact. I might even remove her pump in some cases and make sure to check her blood sugar more often.)
A couple days later, it was time for a site change again. I was in a big hurry to get it done before school, and in my rush, I snapped her site on her without taking off the little plastic covering that goes over the needle. It looked fine from the outside, but the needle was definitely not in her body, and I had no clue. The nurse called that day with a high reading. I picked her up from school, pulled off her site and realized what a dumb mistake I had made. New site. High numbers. Missed a half day of school.
The following weekend, we went camping as a family at our favorite beach campground. It was a short trip — just one night — and the kids had a ball getting dirty and playing with their cousins. We had been chasing high numbers for most of the day it seemed, but she wasn’t due for a site change until the next day, so we kept giving corrections and blamed the highs on too many s’mores. It wasn’t until I checked her blood sugar late at night that I realized, “We better get her site changed now.” I was so mad. So tired. Freezing cold. Nothing but a little flashlight. Site change while she’s in her sleeping bag in the tent. Worried that her numbers wouldn’t go down. Worried that they would go too low.
You’re probably wondering why we don’t just go off the pump. Despite all the really hard weeks, and despite all the human error that can go along with it, we would choose the pump every time. For those who might be considering the pump, it’s important to look at the pros and cons with every choice. Even though there is tremendous good that comes with pumping, it has its challenges too.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.