We fly back home today after a week of wedding-related shenanigans. Traveling with an insulin pump presents a different set of challenges and opportunities compared to my times using insulin pens.
From a pure numbers perspective, there’s less stuff to pack. Rather than 8 insulin pen needles per day, plus another 25-30%, I need a full t:slim site change for every three days of travel, plus another 2-3 backup changes. Instead of going through TSA checkpoints like an ordinary traveler, I opt out of regular screenings for a pat down.
One thing I still need to wrap my head around, however, are the insulin adjustments required to stay in range during my excursions. Generally speaking, my diet is a bit more relaxed when I travel. This, of course, means more variable Dexcom graphs, and new basal rates. The big challenge with all of this, though, is that I still don’t feel comfortable with my “regular” basal rates.
Before I continue, please remember, I’m not a doctor.
Organization has always been a thing that comes naturally to me. For some reason, I think it’s fun to sort things. Clothing is arranged according to Roy G. Biv. Physical media is alphabetized. It’s just something that I do.
Now thanks to a recent purchase at Target, pictured above, shoe storage reaches a new level of fun.
This tidiness excitement matches well with my life with diabetes, too. Keeping track of test strips, insulin pump supplies, Dexcom sensors, insulin, alcohol swabs, and all that jazz is much easier to navigate when I know where everything is and how much I have left.
Considering the cost of all these supplies, I figure showing them the respect of a standard home in our closet is the least I can do.
I don’t often stop and think about what it takes to stay alive, mostly because it’s a dark path to travel. Whether I like it or not, no matter how hard I try to isolate it, diabetes is on my mind constantly. It has to if I want to simply be.
I could play the Kevin Bacon game with my life’s decisions and almost all of them, one way or another, can trace their origins or impact on diabetes.
Which makes the simple process of spending three minutes swapping out a cartridge in my insulin pump a much more complex process. Because those three minutes grant me another 3-4 days of life. Those three minutes are an investment in my future.
But I can’t plan too far ahead, because I know I’ll need another 3 minutes this weekend to re-up on my lease on life.
See how this can get dark in a hurry? And I’m just speaking in loosely cobbled together metaphors.
This weekend it dawned on me how ordinary my insulin pump feels. I think I had built up the new visibility of my invisible illness so much that I imagined wearing this device would be the equivalent of a Presidential motorcade – it’d be hard to miss. But the truth is it’s just another thing to put in my pocket.
After my phone, Dexcom receiver, wallet, and whatever else I need in close proximity, my insulin pump isn’t that big of a deal.
Of course, I have the luxury of saying this because I’m a guy. It’s a bit of a challenge finding clothing that doesn’t include some kind of pocket. I see first-hand how managing an insulin pump as a woman presents its own unique challenges.
Multiple times this weekend, I was thankful to be wearing an insulin pump and not worry about remembering my Lantus injection in the morning, or evening.
For all of the benefits this insulin pump has brought into my diabetes management, the quality of life improvement has been off the charts.
And even after all the blog posts, A1c results, and dexcom pictures, being happy is the most valuable measure of how much this transition has meant to me.
When I first heard about the t:flex and it’s 480 unit cartridge I initial wondered what value that could have. “It would take me a decent chunk of time to use that much insulin, let alone that much in a 3-day period”, I thought to myself.
Then I remembered that diabetes, and its demands come in all shapes and sizes. And insulin sensitivity is the epitome of “Your Diabetes May Vary“. And that this diabetes thing is bigger than little ol’ me. And the more options people have to manage their diabetes with the goal of leading a happy and healthy life, the better.
Have you ever seen a sewing machine create a button hole? It’s wizardry of the n-th degree.
Have you ever seen your wife-to-be take your favorite pair of shorts and make a button hole in the pocket for your insulin pump tubing? It’s love.