Pump malfunction offers valuable learning experience


The offending canula that led to the pump problems. If I were a better photographer you would see that it was bent at a 90 degree angle rendering it useless

The offending cannula that led to the pump problems. If I were a better photographer you would see that it was bent at a 90 degree angle rendering it useless

Blood sugar: off the charts, or as my old glucometer used to say, ‘High, high, high’

Progress has been made. It’s Friday night and instead of being at the beloved pub, I’m at home, sober. (That’s not the progress.) I was forced home by a malfunctioning insulin pump, and although I physically feel like something the cat dragged in, I’m feeling mentally upbeat. Yes, my usual, ‘why does this F-ing disease need to be so GD annoying’ thoughts are ricocheting loudly around my brain, but these usual thoughts are competing with new ones: thoughts of relief and pride. (This is the progress.)

The pump problems started during the day. I changed my pump reservoir this morning and when I got to work, my blood sugar was higher than normal. I chalked this up to repercussions from a mid-week work trip to Sweden – travel and diabetes are not birds of a feather – and got on it with it. Even as my blood sugar steadily through the day, I continued to go about my business as usual even when multiple tests put me in the 400 mg/dl region/ 22 mmol (I wasn’t wearing my continuous glucose monitor; well, I was wearing it, but I had turned it off as it was giving me whacky and incongruent readings earlier in the week). It was only when my colleagues began to ask me if I was okay and noting how pale I looked that I realised that something was amiss: all those correction doses should have kicked in by now. ┬áNot only did my colleagues ask me if I was okay, they started to actively help me. It’s at this point in the traditional ‘treatment malfunction’ story when I normally start fending off people offering assistance.

But something was different this time. Perhaps it was desperation, perhaps it was confusion, but I like to think it was maturity. I hope the fact that I let my colleagues essentially hoist me into a cab home (I wouldn’t go so far as allow them to take me to the hospital, baby steps), is an indication of my changing attitude to having an illness: it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to accept help, especially when I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by incredibly kind and compassionate people. I won’t die from shame, and if I remain more open to help, then I won’t be dying from this disease anytime soon.

For those who are wondering, it was only after I took my pump off that I learned of the problem. The plastic cannula (see photo above) was bent at a 90 degree angle preventing the insulin from entering my body,