“So these are your options.”
I sat in the sterilized confines of Carolinas Medical Center in chilly downtown Charlotte, NC, surveying the possibilities of insulin pumps. It was February 2013, just a few weeks after completing a 100 mile ultramarathon in Florida, still basking in the post-race euphoria as my fingers poised on the various contraptions laid out before me. The names were familiar (Medtronic, Animas, Tandem) and the diabetic care specialist went through the various attributes of each of the pumps, noting what was favored by most patients and what the process would be in terms of starting to use them. As she talked, my mind was flooded with questions and I became locked in full caveat emptor mode, knowing that at this moment, more than any other, I needed all the information I could get to make the best choice.
How does it work? How is it inserted into my body? Will it hurt? What exactly is ‘basal’ and ‘bolus’? Is it waterproof? How often do you change the pump?
On and on it went until I became…well…afraid. Normally, I’m someone that resists change, especially big ones. If you think about it, there are about 5 big decisions you make in your life: college, career, marriage, kids or no kids, where you live. Most others fall into a lower category, including health, because it never seems to require many big decisions until you’re much older. Youth makes everyone simultaneously oblivious and bulletproof. For diabetics, though, big decisions are made daily with diet, insulin management, exercise, schedules, on and on. Health is the overriding, and some would say consuming, event in their life. And here I was, on the precipice of making one of the biggest decisions I could make, one that could affect me literally every moment of every day for the foreseeable future as I changed how I would address this body with a defunct pancreas.
I looked away, despondent. All the tubes and requirements for use, the added clutter I was trying to eliminate. Ugh. Maybe needles were better after all.
Do you have anything else, I asked.
She brought out another model. Omnipod, it was called. She handed me the egg-shaped bulge circled in adhesive taping. I stared at it like an explorer finding a new artifact. This will keep me okay?
She smiled and outlined the features for me, and the more she talked the more I warmed to the idea. Waterproof. No tubing. Minimal invasion. Lightweight. I thought of my life and the things that I valued the most. To be active and vibrant, to manage my work and life schedules with flexibility, to maintain a consistent glucose level without feeling tied down to some ponderous device. To be normal. To be better.
I picked it up and studied it. Suddenly I didn’t feel so afraid anymore. The diabetic care specialist looked me in the eye.
“Want to try it?”
Yes. My options were looking much better.