November 4, 2012

Insulin Is Not A Cure - My Lifeline

I like to call my insulin pump my lifeline. Without it, I would still be with you guys, but I would be taking insulin shots.This little pager-sized device makes my life so much easier, but also more difficult. I get many questions about my pump and how it works, and I know you guys are curious. So, I changed my pump site a few days ago and took a few pictures to document the process. Hopefully it makes it a little less foreign in the sense you see what is really going on.

This picture is the beginning of the process. It goes in a counterclockwise circle from the insulin bottle with the orange cap. This is what I need to change my pump site. It all looks a little scary, I know, but none of it will hurt you! Haha :) It goes from the insulin bottle to the reservoir, to the actual pump site after cleansing the area with the alcohol swab, inserting it, putting a patch over it so it's another layer of adhesive, and finally connecting the pump. Now, the other reservoir you see sitting by my pump is my previous reservoir. That insulin is almost gone and that reservoir sits in my pump with that little window on the side.

This is me drawing up insulin into my reservoir. Pretty cool, huh? That blue connecting structure in the middle has one long needle. One end goes into the insulin bottle, and the other connects into the reservoir to transfer the amount of insulin I need. I usually draw up around 230 units of insulin and that lasts me about three days.
If you refer back to the first picture, you see the insertion with the small blue cap. Well, that is what is in the inserter in the above picture. The little blue cap has been removed and you can see the needle in the picture above. The stuff around it is adhesive so it will stick to my skin when it is inserted. What the inserter does is it pushes the needle into my skin for me with a little more force than if I did it manually. This is because around the needle itself is a tiny catheter by which my insulin is delivered into me. You can see the long cord is attached to the reservoir already which is inside my pump. Don't worry, I pull the needle out, and I will have a picture of the catheter without the needle and the needle itself so it's clearer! Now, I prepare to insert it.

 This is the exciting part. And this is the part that makes me most nervous. This is the part that involves physical pain. Sometimes it really does hurt when I insert it. I mean, my muscle could be irritated, or blood might shoot up the catheter into the coil, which has happened before. I remember one night where I had to change it three times because it hurt so bad and wouldn't calm down when the needle shot in. That was a very frustrating night and even brought me to tears I was so frustrated. But, God was with me then, just as He is with me now :).  But, I insert it and then there you go! My pump site has been changed.
This is the needle that I insert the catheter with. It's only a little thing, which is nice. That is removed from the actual pump site and layed next to my pump so you get a little size comparison. The pump is no bigger than a pager. Anyway, that is the needle I use now. The catheter is in the next picture down. I have another picture of a needle I used to use as well....

Picture # 1: This is the catheter that sits just under my skin once the needle is removed. The adhesive around it sticks to my skin to lessen the chance of my pump site falling out. This is inserted in me when the needle pushes through my skin because the needle runs through it. Anyway, this is the method in which my insulin is transferred from my pump to my bloodstream. Thank goodness for technology.
Picture #2: This is the needle I used to use to insert my pump site on my stomach. That had a longer catheter with it and was more painful than the one I use now. Maybe it was just the problem of putting that needle in my stomach...who knows. But, I did used to do it both ways, the inserter used to just scare me which is why I preferred to do it manually.
I hope this sheds a little bit of light on what my pump is and how it is connected to me. My pump connects and disconnects to the site itself with a screwing motion allowing me to take showers and go into a pool without taking my pump with me. So, the actual catheter remains in me while my pump can go somewhere else. This insulin pump makes my life easier because it's like taking a shot every three days instead of taking five individual insulin shots a day. However, it also makes my life more difficult. As you can see, that means more medical supplies, more worries, more money, and having a pump on my person ALL THE TIME. That can get difficult when wearing dresses and such. I'm not quite to the point yet where I can wear my pump on the outside of my clothes. I'm not shy about it and completely willing to answer questions, I just feel weird with it on the outside of my clothes. I'm past trying to make it look invisible, but I am working on getting past trying to hide it. God chose me to carry this disease. There has to be a reason He did. There has to be some sort of plan in the mix. I'm just trying day by day to see the good in the things this disease brings to my life. Thanks for reading!
If you have questions, don't hesitate to comment or email me! :)


"Consider it pure joy, my borthers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
-James 1:2-4 

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