March 29, 2005

I'm Too Sexy for My Pump, Part II

One of the curious and not very likeable aspects (and there are many) of being in a long-distance relationship is that you may find yourself attached for six weeks to a medical device that your beloved person has yet to see. Such is the state of events in Pumplandia, as I last saw my fella the day before I hooked up with Charlotte. This is about to change. I’m off to NY on Thursday, and Charlotte, it goes without saying, will travel with me.

So. Hmm. In a perfect world, this voyage would be without pump-related tension for me. I would be perfectly reconciled to my slightly altered body image, feeling brilliantly attractive, and well equipped with a bevy of pump-compatible girlie outfits. I would be brimming with confidence in my natural sexiness and its ability to carry the day over the, um, visual distractions posed by the infusion set, tubing, and adhesive. But in the imperfect world of diabetes as it intersects with my personality, I only feel/have each of those four things a little bit, some of the time. None at the moment. Even my clothes seem ugly today.

Let me interject at this point that Mr. Brooklyn is and has been as affirming, encouraging, and supportive of my journey into Pumplandia as any partner could be. He has told me in a dozen ways that he isn’t troubled in the least by the concept of those “visual distractions.” I believe him. But I also believe that he can’t really know that for sure, can he, until he sees what I look like with an infusion set stuck in my tummy. Argh. So even though I know on an intellectual level that any worthwhile partner, which Mr. Brooklyn certainly is, would be accepting of the pump, I’m still more distressed than I care to admit.

I keep meaning to post about my experiences telling a coworker about pumping. The exchange reminded me of my own initial feelings about it, when I first heard about the possibility during a period of post-diagnosis shock. Truth is, I was, on an involuntary and visceral level, revolted by the idea of having something attached to me and entering my body. This is hard to acknowledge openly because the last thing I want to do is contribute to anyone’s negative feelings about the gizmo, particularly a prospective pumper (e-mail me!) who is trying to sort through those emotions and needs support. Perhaps for this very reason, I have yet to talk with a person who has a pump who has openly said, yeah, there is something a little gross about it at times, even to me. But that feeling was, for me at that time, a fact. This is the involuntary reaction that I fear in my sweetie, who despite being a very good man cannot help what his brain does with a piece of visual data.

What changed that reaction for me (most of the time) was information. I got to know people who were using pumps, had none of those feelings (or if they had em had dealt with them already!), and were realizing tangible health benefits. And I got a look at actual pumps and infusion sets and decided, okay, I can cope with this. And, maybe most of all, I decided through research that there was an important relationship between my going on the pump and preparing to someday get pregnant and have an optimally healthy pregnancy & baby.

But, as we see, some of the difficulty lingers for me in spite of the progress I’ve made. Honestly, I do believe that my relationship will make the transition just fine. I just wish he had been here, or I there, from the start.

March 22, 2005

[Insert arse-related pun here]

I know that deep in your gentle diabetic hearts, what you guys have really been missing since I went offline is further discussion of the relationship between Charlotte and my butt.

Admit it!

Never let it be said that I’ve disappointed a hopeful readership.

Context: During my sojourn outside cyberspace, I got to set change #10. (Woo hoo! Double digits!) Each spot where I place the infusion set, according to my CDE, should ideally have 30 days to heal before I reuse it—

Wait. Reuse? I am reusing myself?

Deep breath. Repeat: I am a woman, not a receptacle for a medical device. I am a woman, not a receptacle for a medical device.

OK. Let me try that again.

Each spot, according to my CDE, should ideally have 30 days to heal before I revisit (ah, better) that location to prevent the buildup of scar tissue. Since I change sets about every 3 days, I need 10 sites to allow for the healing.

Well, I did the ring around the belly button (6, but 1 was the gusher and therefore gave me 3 seconds rather than 3 days but still (I assumed) needed time to heal) and then the squishy above-the-hip love handle spots (2) and then some random sites between the love handles and the belly button ring (2). And that was it. Nine usable sites and I had nowhere else to go.

There are the legs, but I keep hearing that absorption is not as good from the legs—except when one exercises, at which time it can be all TOO good. Hmm. Which to sacrifice: good control or the butt? Control or butt?

I chose the butt. Ow. Ow. OW. I was right, damn it, it DOES hurt more there. (Jeff, maybe your butt has toughened up from years of this kind of abuse???) I tend to have about 2 minutes of stinging at a new tummy site, usually very mild. But this time I felt like a wasp had had its way with my poor hinder. For 3 minutes at least. Three!!! Ow.

And then I was fine. And the set turned out to be perfectly comfortable. And I got the same control as usual. And I felt like a major whiner—until I discovered that more than half my wardrobe is incompatible with the butt site because it SHOWS through soft fabrics. And then I felt like…well…a receptacle for a medical device.

I’m back to the belly.

March 21, 2005

Return to Pumplandia

Hello hello! My, it's good to be back. Here are a few things I learned while banished from cyberspace:

1. I'm way too reliant on the Internet for support, information, entertainment, and mind-numbing distraction.

2. Printed materials (yeah...those papery things...the ones with ink...) provide three out of four of the above very nicely.

3. There's no replacing the support. Missed all you cyberpals, your writings, and your wisdom.

4. That said, I am weirdly happier with a less constant influx of diabetes-related info. It's data I'm talking about: diabetes causes this, causes that, might someday be cured via this that or the other, etc. etc. I used to read diabetes news and research every day, half an hour or more each day. I thought I was helping myself by adding to my knowledge. After all, information = empowerment, right? No one could have convinced me otherwise. Then, rather to my surprise, my spirits took a strong upturn when computerlessness forced me to give up that reading.

Am I better off in the dark? I don't believe so, at least not theoretically. I would never want to become ignorant about the disease or about how to care for myself, how to be a strong self-advocate through the health care system, etc. But I wonder if a continual influx of information, much of it negative, is truly helpful for me. Right now I'm experimenting with a narrower focus on self care, leaving aside for the moment the data gathering. I'm trying to read more for pleasure than for diabetes info. I'm trying to surround myself with things that enhance hope.

As for Charlotte and me, we're humming along pretty well. Not perfectly, but well enough. More to come, of course...

March 3, 2005


Is anyone tired yet of my habit of forming compounds with the prefix “pump”? No? Yay!

God, I love cyberspace. By the time anyone talks back, I’ll be busy reading someone else’s blog...

Today marks 2 weeks of bionic life for Violet. That’s 14 days, 4 set changes (not counting the, ahem, unconsummated attempts), 88 test strips, and 58 uninjected injections. 58! I actually lost count along the way (probably a good thing), but I retallied just now and it’s 58. It is Very Good to not put 58 holes in oneself.

Saw CDE this morning for Pumpiversary celebration. We talked, as we tend to do of late, about my butt. She understands. In fact, she thinks I should try the 6 mm again on the tummy. Is a little worried that with the 9 mm I may be hitting muscle tissue, which causes the insulin to absorb too fast & also causes increased discomfort. While she still says that the 6 mm tend to bend more, she thinks my trouble may have really stemmed from nervousness. (For those unacquainted with the language, that’s Tactful CDE for “It bent cause you put it in wrong, you foolish, clumsy diabetic!”) I’ll have to have some 6 mm sets sent if I want to try them, as I just received a shipment of approximately One Million 9 mms from the good folks at Minimed.

Amy, in a comment below you allude to infection worries. Yes. I’ve had no trouble with this so far; I use the IV preps that Minimed sent me but otherwise take no special steps to avoid infection. Well, I avoid putting peanut butter or cat hair in the infusion set. Does that count? When I’ve taken out my sets, there’s a tiny bump at the site that vanishes within a couple of hours. Discussed this today with CDE after we talked about my butt. She says not a problem unless the bump is the size of a nickel or bigger, or is hard, or doesn’t go away. Some folks do have trouble with this; for them, she prescribes some germ-killin stuff (forgot name) to be swabbed on the skin before the set goes in. CDE is a strong proponent of the 3-day set change to stave off infection, but as others have testified, many go longer with no issues.

In other news, my computer at home has died. Rest in peace, noble grape iMac. I hardly knew ye. (Actually untrue: it lasted 6 years, wow.) If readers are now inferring that I am posting illicitly from my office, they might be correct. Might. I confess nothing! The reason I allude to this at all is that I will have a few days of relative quietude, perhaps, while I resolve this problem. Will try to stay in touch.