Four Weeks In

Today marks four weeks that my husband has been on an insulin pump. Four weeks out of nearly 45 years of diabetes. Wow.

I can honestly say that I wish we had had the money and the education to start this process when we first looked into it. We attended a pump information session about 10 years ago and it just didn’t work out. The counting carbs was a foreign concept to both of us. It seemed too difficult to take on that task in addition to all the regular life stuff that we had going on. Also, 10 years ago, the cost of a pump seemed prohibitive. Now, thanks to I feel confident that we can come up with our portion of the pump cost.

We have been carb  counting for the past two or three years. I remember going into a Borders book store and looking through all of the diabetes related books. I settled on “Think Like a Pancreas”. The author, Gary Schreiner, is a fellow diabetic. He was able to explain some complicated terms in ways I could understand. Two and a half years ago, our precious BONUS baby was born. My husband was 47, and he knew that he needed to start taking his health seriously if he was going to live better, just so he could be with her for as long as possible. She is a miracle. 🙂 So armed with the info in Think Like a Pancreas, we started counting carbs. Now it seems like we’ve always done it.

We have finally figured out my husband’s night time basal rates. I can not express enough what a relief it is to feel confident that his blood sugar is not dropping when we should be resting. I admit that I still check on him at night. Most diabetics and loved ones of diabetics know about the cold, clammy sweat that accompanies a sudden drop in blood sugars. So I do the sweat test. 🙂 I feel like I have won the lottery every morning when he wakes up with a blood sugar that mirrors the one he went to bed with!

We are still tweaking his day time basal rates. We tested one segment of time on Saturday. In order to test the basal rates, you have to check your blood sugar every 2 hours, and not eat for 8 – 12 hours. This is so you know that your sugars are staying in the normal range without having to consume carbs. At about 4 hours, his blood sugar dipped a bit below 80, so we stopped the test, he ate, and we adjusted his basal for that time period. Now we just need another weekend so we can test it again.

I can not express enough how much I love this pump! It has simplified the procedure for my husband. He doesn’t have to do any mental math before dosing. He doesn’t have to remember if he has insulin left in his system, because the pump tracks it for him. In fact, the other night, he tested his blood sugar and when he put it into the pump for recording purposes, it warned him that with the insulin that was still calculated in his system, and his blood sugar, he was at risk for going low. WOW! Mind blown.

We still don’t know how much we are going to owe on the pump. Insurance gave us an estimate of benefits, but we have not received a final bill yet. I am making and selling handmade necklaces and bracelets to help ease the burden of the final cost. If you are interested in seeing them, shout out!

Pumping: A 2 Week Update

As of today, my fabulous husband has been pumping insulin for two weeks. Today marks two weeks that we have been relearning diabetes. It was hard enough the first time around. I think it’s even more difficult when you know stuff, because the new things you are learning are competing with everything you already know!

There have been a lot of questions asked, material read, and adjustments made in the past two weeks. I’ve also had to explain things over and over… and over again. That’s okay, because I am the reader here. I enjoy it, and he’s finally “getting it”.

We have been through four site and cartridge changes, on our own. Well, mostly Chad does it on his own. I get to help hold the cartridge upright. I also get to clean up the mess it leaves behind. HA HA.

He is using the Tandem T:Slim. One thing I LOVE about this device is the ability to hook it up to the computer and upload all  of his blood sugars, insulin doses, etc. We have been able to make adjustments to his basal rate (the insulin that his constantly trickling) based on the graph reports.

We have had a few frustrating days. One or the other of us has given up, because we haven’t been getting the desired results. There were days that his blood sugar has spiked, dropped, leveled. A few days of that and it is frustrating! Fortunately neither one of us has given up on the exact same day. 🙂

On Friday night, he decided he would test his basal rate. Basal rates are tested with the following process, but don’t take MY word for it, please consult your medical professional!

  • Eat dinner, bolus for carbs and any correction units.
  • 4 hours after dinner and bolus, test blood sugar. If within an acceptable range, do nothing. (if low, eat, if high, dose and do the test another night)
  • Every 2 hours thereafter test blood sugar until 12 hours from last meal.

We ate at 6. Chad tested his blood sugar at 10pm, and then proceeded to test every 2 hours. His blood sugar dropped slightly at midnight, then leveled off to dropping ten units(?) every 2 hours, until 4am when he was low enough that he had to drink some chocolate milk. We tested another night, same results and it seems that he drops the most after the 2AM mark, so we adjusted his insulin to take effect at that time. Two nights in a row, his blood sugar has stayed steady! WHOO HOO! That was worth it. 🙂

Now we are working on the day time insulin trickle (the basal). Once we get the basal figured out for all hours, we will start making sure his correction doses and meal time boluses are correctly set.

I may have felt like pulling out my hair a few times. The last 2 weeks have lasted approximately 3 months. It really seems like he has been on the pump forever. It’s sort of like when the baby was a newborn and I thought she was never going to sleep and then I realized she was only 2 weeks old and hadn’t been sleep depriving me forever.

And a positive change? He has been saying no to the cookies and the donuts. 🙂 Win.

Just Call Me a Super Hero

How’s that for an attention grabbing title?

I feel like a super hero after the night we had. Chad was set up on his pump yesterday! YAY. We went with the Tandem T:slim. It seemed to be operator friendly. He isn’t a techy guy and it’s the one he felt most comfortable with. It’s amazing that he can dose whenever. He doesn’t have to dread the shot. he doesn’t have to “catch it up later”, because he dreads the shot. WE LOVE THAT PART!

However, it was a bit of a rough night. I told him I would get up several times to check his blood sugar, since it was the first night on the pump. He was 125 at bedtime and more than 3 hours after dinner, which is an amazing blood sugar for him. For the first time ever, he didn’t eat a snack or anything. That trust and confidence was so hard! When I woke up at midnight, his blood sugar was 50. I gave him about 40 carbs of chocolate milk. I woke up at 3 to check and his blood sugar was 70. Another 40 carbs! When he woke up at 5, took forever in the bathroom,  was stumbling a bit, I got up and checked him. 36!!!!

I told him it was okay to go into work late. Usually he doesn’t. He gets back on the saddle and makes it into work on time, but I wanted to make sure he was okay first. I quickly googled “How long does Lantus stay in the system?” He was taking it twice a day, half a day’s dose at 8am and the other half at 8pm. His trainer set his pump up so his basal (this is the background insulin that runs continuously all day) didn’t start until after 8pm last night, but we are pretty sure he still had the Lantus from yesterday morning in his system as well, since it can last 18-26 hours! He conferred with his trainer this morning and she agreed that it was likely. Just to be safe she walked him through lowering the basal rate just a bit. (from 2.0 per hour to 1.8 per hour)

As far as the first day on the pump, he is loving it. He really likes not having to take shots. He loves that he can input his blood sugar and carbs and it will figure out his insulin dose. This is a new thing for us and we are fumbling around a bit, but in a week it should be second nature. He has done one infusion set. He will be doing a cartridge change and infusion change tomorrow morning with the trainer.

He has been approved for a CGM (continuous glucose monitor). This will be his next step.

I am hopeful that today will be a better day. He did end up going to work and got there just a little late. He is an excellent family provider and he hates missing time from work. Sometimes diabetes comes first!

ETA: I guess I should explain the super hero comment. I feel like a super hero after saving his life three times last night. :p I’m tired, it makes ME feel better.