Diabetes and the Insulin Pump, What We’ve Learned

 

Insulin Pump
Diabetes Insulin Pumps

When it comes to diabetes and the insulin pump, please keep in mind this is our experience and my opinion.   I will have links to the medical world for you to review as well.

Jeffrey has been Type 1 diabetic for almost 43 years.  His pancreas just stopped working when he was 4 years old.  I can’t imagine being the mom of a 4 year old and being told I would have to stick him with needles and teach him how to do it as well.  Traumatizing to say the least.  Praise the Lord they all made it through those tough times and Jeffrey made it to adulthood.  lol  From his stories, being a teen diabetic wasn’t easy.

TYPE 1

I’ve been married to a diabetic for almost 20 years and my dad was type 2 since I was a little girl.  I have learned a ton about diabetes from living the life and from all the reading I do.  There is a significant difference in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics.  With a Type 1, their pancreas stops producing insulin which is a hormone that keeps the amount of sugar in our blood stream regulated.  If the pancreas stops, then the diabetic must add the insulin on their own.  Up until recent years, that was through a shot 2x to several times a day.  With Type 1, adding the hormone is their only option at this time.  Their have been reports in Canada where pancreas transplant have been successful in recent years.

TYPE 2

With a Type 2, their bodies become insulin resistant, generally (but not always) because of the spare tire around the middle.  Our internal organs can also be fat.  It happens when fat cells build up around the organs and not on the outside of our bodies.  The pancreas is most likely doing it’s job, but it could be wearing out as well.

Type 2 diabetics have many more options to control and even reverse their diabetes.  The greatest factor in controlling and/or reversing Type 2 diabetes is diet and exercise.  Generally, Type 2 diabetics are over weight, and it doesn’t have to be a lot, especially if Type 2 diabetes is in the family blood line somewhere like mine.  At 160 pounds and 5’2, my fasting blood sugar was 98.  If you remember from my weight loss post, a fasting blood sugar of 100 is considered pre diabetic.  At 160 I was over weight by 30 pounds.  Taking off the 20 pounds I did, brought my fasting blood sugar down to 88.

You may remember from my post that I do not deny myself much in the way of WHAT I eat, meaning I still eat sugary treats.   I just like to use stevia and coconut sugar instead of refined sugar, because I truly believe refined, most process foods NEED to be limited for everyone.  For a diabetic the best thing to control is Carbs.  So, a diet low in carbs, high in protein, good fats, fruits and lots of veggies along with 30 minutes a day of some form of cardio is going to be the best defense against becoming diabetic, controlling diabetes and most likely reversing Type 2 diabetes.   If you need assistance in controlling carbs, www.calorieking.com is an amazing tool along with their pocket size book.  I’m sure they have an APP as well.

CalorieKing2009

 

A1C

About 8 years ago, Jeffrey got a different job and the insurance that came with it was much better.  He had to switch doctors, because we went from an HMO to Premera.   The new doctor he found is a diabetic specialist, which had made a difference in how we view diabetes and food.  Jeffrey now only counts carbohydrates instead of sugar.  He takes 1 unit of insulin for every 15 carbs in a food.  That’s why the calorie king book, website and app are invaluable tools.   The specialist suggested we look into the Insulin Pump to manage Jeffreys diabetes.  At the time his A1C was always around 8 and thats just too high.  It should be 6 or below for a diabetic.  High blood sugars destroy the body.   The A1C is the test done to show the average blood sugar one has over a 3 month period.  If blood sugars are constantly high, the A1C will be high.  If blood sugars are always low, the A1C will be low.  You can read more about A1C at diabetes.org.

THE PUMP

The insulin pump is an outboard pancreas that takes a little time to perfect, but with proper training and dedication on the diabetics part and their support person, it doesn’t take long.  With a constant stream of insulin going into the body, managing blood sugars are much simpler.  The pump comes with an injector that stays attached to the body for up to 3 days at a time.  Insulin will break down after that and not work properly so the pump is designed to need changing after 3 days.  The pump also comes with sugar monitor that you attach to yourself as well.  This monitor reads the sugar level like every 3 seconds and transmits to the pump.  We haven’t had much luck with this unit.  However, it’s been a few years since Jeffrey has used it.  The monitor was always 20-30 points off from what a traditional finger poke showed.  However, using the pump even without the sugar monitor attached to him, his A1c has been as low as 6.1.  This last year have been extremely stressful for our family so his A1C has been between 6.3 and 6.5.

You’ve got to know, Jeffrey is very sensitive to his blood sugars.  Probably more than most.  He will feel just a little off, check his sugar and be a little low or high.  He generally tests his sugar 12 times a day, which I believe helps keep him at a constant.  He knows his body well and what will make his sugar go up or down so tests so frequently keeps that in check.  Most physicians will say to test in the morning, at lunch and dinner or before bed.  I just don’t believe that is enough.  So many things contribute to sugar lows and highs.  Not just food but activity level or lack there of will make them go up or down.  For example, when Jeffrey mows the yard, he will disconnect his pump knowing the activity will make he sugar go down.  He checks often during the process to make sure he isn’t too low.   Emotional or physical stress will make those sugars climb very quick.   If one has a stressful job, keeping tabs on sugar levels would be important.  If one is sick with even a head cold, those sugar numbers are sure to go up.  Those are things, I’m not sure most primary care doctors will tell you simply because diabetes is probably not their expert field.  A diabetic specialist is your best bet.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

 

THE LOSS

The biggest reason to keep an eye on your blood sugar as a diabetic is death.  A person can go into a diabetic coma from a blood sugar that goes too low.  I know Jeffrey was in a diabetic coma as a child.  He is lucky to be alive.  A diabetic coma is how my dad died at 68.  However, that was his choice.  He had been a longtime diabetic that tested the 2-3 times a day like his doctor recommended, he didn’t watch what he ate or get much exercise.  He was always well overweight after leaving the military.  With all those factors his kidneys just gave out.  With out kidney function you’re dead in a week.  So for 10 years my dad was a dialysis patient.  He’d go for treatment 3 times a week, 4 hours each treatment.  What a life.  Along with loosing his kidneys, he also, lost most of his eye sight, hearing, half a leg and half a foot due to poor circulation, and lastly his heart.

If he wouldn’t have stopped dialysis on his own, his heart would have killed him.  He stopped going to dialysis, which began fill his body with toxins.  Once that happens the patient just goes to sleep.  It’s peaceful way to pass.  Instead he chose to not eat which made his sugars go so low he went into a coma and die a few hours later.  It was a sad reality for me to watch.  This little story encourages my husband to take great care of himself, for me and his children.  It helps me to be more focused on providing good food choices for my family knowing Type 2 diabetes is in our genes.   Losing my dad motivates me to get back on track and be the one who stops the cycle.  I’d like to live past 69.

 

Daddy at 17
Daddy at 17
Daddy on Wanda
Daddy on Wanda in the early 80’s

 

Daddy and Grandma both diabetics
Daddy and Grandma both diabetics

 

Daddy being fitted for a new leg
Daddy being fitted for a new leg at 66

 

THE HOPE

If you would like to learn more about blood sugars, here is a link to webmd.com.  Also, click this link to learn more of how blood sugar effects the body. Be sure to check out diabetes.org to learn more about diabetes and even make a donation to further their research in the fight against the disease.

If you have diabetes, please take to heart what we’ve experienced.  Find a diabetic specialist to learn how to better care for yourself and maybe reverse the effects.  I have read lab rat studies that showed how the lab rat was Type 2 diabetic and by changing the food that it was fed the diabetes was reversed.  If you have Type 2, the possibility of reversing your diabetes is real.  Don’t just live with it, do something about it.  My husband has been diabetic longer that my dad was.  The difference between the two was “how they cared for themselves”.?

Do you already use the Insulin Pump?  If so, how has it helped you manage your diabetes?

Love me ♥

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