Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This is my Pancreas

Someone saw my insulin pump yesterday and asked me if it was some sort of funky mp3 player.  They stared harder - maybe a pedometer?  What IS that thing?

I made the introductions.  Dave, this is my pancreas.

Dave and I had a great little chat about how it works, whether it's better or easier than needles and he quickly sympathized about how hard it must be to be tethered to something all the time.

It is hard, and it's not.

I look at diabetes management as an exercise in tooth brushing.  If someone told me that, for the rest of my life, I would have to brush my teeth every single morning and every single night, I would not have been impressed.  Seriously?  Brush my teeth EVERY day??

Yet we all do it with hardly a thought.

We prepare and eat three meals a day with hardly a thought.  We shower, get dressed and do countless other things every day and rarely, if ever, consider not doing them.

Diabetes management is like that - most of the time.  29 days out of 30, you just do it.  Get up, shower, brush teeth, check blood sugar, decide on breakfast, bolus, eat, check sugar again later, adjust if necessary.  It's just part of the routine.

One day out of 30, I want to hurl my pancreas, glucometer, monster box of supplies, quick acting carbohydrates, A1C results and carb counting books into some fiery hot lava pit and watch them burn.

Us folks with diabetes may make it look easy - but it's NOT. It's complicated, it's imprecise and it's downright scary sometimes.  Blood sugar levels misbehave for so many reasons that the idea of having tight control is almost laughable.  My period's coming, my period's finishing, I'm fighting a cold, it's cold outside, I'm tired, I'm stressed, I ran yesterday, I ran this morning, I haven't run for three days, I had a glass of wine, I sat on the couch for three hours, I watched a sad movie, I miscalculated the carbs, there's an air bubble in my insulin tube, my body decided to change its basal requirements and it takes me three days of highs (or lows) to clue in.

I could go on all day.

But I won't because, most of the time, it's not a big deal.

Back in my university days, before the diagnosis of Type 1 came, I took a class called The Discovery of Insulin.  At the time I was fascinated to learn how the pancreas worked, how lack of insulin affected the body and how absolutely deadly Type 1 diabetes used to be.  A diagnosis was a death sentence.  That was it.  No amount of healthy living, exercise, or medical attention could save you.  Then came Drs Banting and Best who, in 1922, discovered insulin's role in treating diabetes.  Learning about the discovery of insulin and how it saved people's lives was inspiring.  Such a simple, elegant solution to this insidious disease.

Little did I know that, less than ten years later, my life would be added to the list of those saved.  Thank you Dr. Banting and Dr. Best.

My insulin pump and I have become good friends.  He lets me live the life I want to live and does his best to do what I ask him to do.  He sits on the counter while I shower but, otherwise, we're rarely apart for long.  The odd day, when I'm feeling the need, I run around naked for a while.  It gives me an incredible sense of freedom.  But I cannot survive without my pump and feel better when we're connected.

Thanks Dave, for asking about it.  It was a reminder of how much a part of me my pump has become.  And how very cool it is that I can wear my pancreas on my belt and live my life.


  1. Hey! Like the blog. I am also a highly active Type 1, 20 years Muay Thai training. Never holds me back. I am going to show my daughter with Type 1 your blog, she is a track star like you!

  2. Thanks Trev - I really like your blog too. Glad to hear from another diabetic athlete and even happier to hear that your daughter is a runner. Not enough of us crazy canucks out there!