Jen M.

When the Apprentice Becomes the Master

James has used essentially the same insulin pump for over a decade. And it has served us very well. James is even quite attached to it (pun intended!). But finally it came time to take advantage of some new technologies that promised incredible features.

It made me a little nervous. I knew that old pump like anybody did. After spending so much time with it, I understood every aspect of it — how it worked, how to fix it, how to take advantage of all the best features. And now I’d be starting over.

But this could be an advantage as well! Before, although James handled much of the daily operations of his pump, I was always the expert and he followed my lead. Getting an entirely new device has changed that in substantial ways.

When James and I were trained on his first pump, the training session was held in a group setting, and I had to bring a lot of toys and games to keep him busy while I learned. I pretty much needed his body to be there, but the training was for me, not for him! This time around the training would take place in our home. The CDE (certified diabetes educator) would be primarily training James, and I would be learning alongside him.

And that’s precisely what happened. He learned the basic functions of the pump, how to change out the set, how to bolus, how to check his blood sugar, how to set reminders and change the time if needed, and how to respond to the pump on a daily basis. Craig and I were sitting there too, but we didn’t “get it” nearly as quickly as James did. This time around James has shown not only tremendous interest in learning to work his new pump, but a competency as a digital native that we aren’t able to match.

It still makes me a little bit nervous not to be an expert on this new pump. Not only am I not an expert, I still find the functions to be a little confusing. And now I’m hardly touching it! Because my teenager is owning this pump. In a way, this is the best-case scenario. When he can’t come to me for answers, he has to figure them out on his own by accessing his health team and training modules. It is just one more step towards independence.

The reality is that this independence is especially important for this pump. Since we buy them to last until they are no longer under warranty, we quickly realized that this is the pump that will serve James for the rest of high school, to life in college and adulthood, when we won’t always be nearby to help him troubleshoot. We’re grateful for the opportunity we’ve been given to let James’ expertise shine in a supported environment before he makes the hard break from home. He has really risen to the challenge of managing his own pump — just one more step toward the ultimate goal of happy independence!

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.

Related topics:
Choose Your Own Diabetes Device
No Fundraising Required: Six Other Ways to Support Diabetes Research
What I Learned by Trying James’ CGM Device on Myself

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