I’ve been lucky enough to have had an insulin pump for almost 19 years. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1995, when I was 18 years old (2 months after I started my freshman year in college). For the first year I took insulin shots 5 times a day. After about a year, my incredibly realistic endocrinologist (at the time…she’s no longer my doctor) said to me, “You’re 18 and a freshman in college. I can preach to you all day about what you need to eat, testing your blood sugar, and being very regimented about your insulin shots but you’re not going to listen to me. So, let’s talk about insulin pumps.” What a blessing that was! My first A1c was 13% I think….13%!!! Now it hovers between 6% and 7%. Insulin pumps have done a LOT for me.
My first insulin pump was the Medtronic Minimed 506 back in 1996. I admit at first I had a love/hate relationship with it. It stuck out. I couldn’t wear dresses. People asked me all the time if it was a pager (I know, I know…it was the 90’s). When you’re in your late teens and early twenties, these things are a big deal. However, I eventually got to the point where I appreciated everything it was doing for me. It took meeting a fellow diabetic who was legally blind and had lost several toes for reality to really set in, but it finally did. In any case, insulin pumps have come a LONG way since then! Over the years I’ve had a variety of pumps. They’ve all been wonderful and done amazing things for my A1c numbers. I’m really loving the one I have now though, so I thought I’d share it with you:
I just received the 530G with Enlite system from Medtronic Minimed. This is a pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and it’s fabulous. It does everything you’d expect from your continuous glucose monitor, and then some. My favorite features are the predictive alerts (it tells you that your blood sugar is going to be high or low a certain amount of time before it happens so you can treat it) and the Threshold Suspend feature. Threshold Suspend is great for diabetics like me who generally have trouble feeling their blood sugar dropping until it is REALLY low. It will automatically suspend the pump’s insulin delivery when your blood sugar drops below a predetermined number, and won’t turn back on until you tell it to. It can be a real life saver for those of us who have trouble feeling their low blood sugars and folks who tend to drop low overnight and don’t wake up!
I know there are other insulin pump manufacturers and continuous glucose monitoring systems out there that are incredible. My decision to go with this one boiled down to two things: my history with Medtronic Minimed products and insurance coverage. If you’re looking into pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems I encourage you to explore what’s out there and find the best one for you!
I end with another “lesson” from that first endocrine group that I saw when I was diagnosed. The doctor that treated me in the hospital said that there is so much diabetes research going on that there will be huge strides, if not a cure, in my lifetime. However, while advancements may be able to help them treat or cure my diabetes, they won’t be able to undo any complications that I suffer because of it. He advised me to do what I had to do to find a balance and keep my health and blood sugar levels where they needed to be. Fantastic…and very real…advice.
It took me years to really figure that out (I admit I wasn’t the “best diabetic” in my late teens and early twenties), but insulin pumps helped me get there. Staying active and working hard to find a balance between activity and diabetes also helped me get there. Hopefully hearing about this stuff, as well as the rest of the content of this blog, will help others who may still be trying to find that balance!
I’ll discuss more gear next week…stay tuned!