Works Like A Charm (except when it doesn’t)

Insulin Pump Tech and Real Life

First off, I want to say, my husband and I are not slaves to tech. Geeks, yes; slaves, no. (To medicine, yes; to tech, no. )

Secondly, I want to say that getting an insulin pump four years ago was a real game-changer for my husband. It has made so many things so much easier, restored flexibility to our lives, and improved his A1Cs dramatically. We love the insulin pump.

Except when we hate it. Like this past weekend, when visiting his mom in the hinterlands of North Dakota.

Sunday Rising

Things were going fine until Sunday morning, when, while getting dressed after showering, his pump somehow unhooked itself and he didn’t notice. We ate breakfast; he dialed his insulin dose, unaware nothing was going in. His blood sugar climbed. We picked up his aunt, and all four went blithely to church. His blood sugar climbed. We met more family for brunch; he dialed up appropriately, and ineffectually. We lingered over coffee. Dropped off his aunt. Took Mom plant shopping. (Mom’s 95 years old. We take our time with her.)

By the time we returned home, ready for a rousing afternoon of Pinochle and planting flower beds, my spouse was feeling pretty crummy. He tested his blood sugar: 457, and rising. He immediately checked everything out and discovered the hookup issue; reconnected, and dialed in enough insulin for a four-course meal. An hour later, he was still in the 400s. More insulin. An hour later, still high. Another dose. Finally, it began to come down.

Feelin’ It – not in a good way.

So we spent the afternoon playing game after tentative game of cards: he felt like absolute crap (flu-like symptoms, aches, mild fever), feeling too bad to do anything active like yard work, but too worried about watching the blood sugar to lie down and rest (also that wouldn’t help much). Trying not to worry his mom, who – being just like my mother – got frustrated if she couldn’t fix the problem by feeding it (absolutely the worst thing in this case). In the end, it balanced out, but he had to miss out entirely on his mom’s dinner, and then get up in the middle of the night to eat when his blood sugar bottomed out – a boomerang effect. Fortunately it evened out by morning, and we didn’t continue the roller-coaster into the next day.

Not So Common

Now, this isn’t a common scenario. Pretty rare, in fact. Probably aggravated by the switch in insulin forced on us by the insurance company. Plus, if we hadn’t been traveling, hadn’t been focusing on his Mom, and on family activities, we probably would have caught it sooner. And in a pinch, we always travel with an insulin pen, so we can do it “the old-fashioned way”. After all, he did it that way for a decade or more, and before that, with syringes and glass vials since he was nine years old.

It is a reminder that we can’t get too complacent about all this wonderful technology, though. It makes it no less wonderful (when it works), but at least we know what to do when it doesn’t.

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1 Comment

  1. That’s such a bummer that hubby felt crummy on your visit. Mom’s always do want to fix things with food, mine did and so does Aunt C! Hope you had a safe trip home.

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