A recent discussion over at the Children With Diabetes forums got me thinking about whether I'd want to have the option to start insulin pumping at the time of my diagnosis.
Granted, I was diagnosed back in 1984 when pumping just wasn't mainstream like it is today. I spent the first 17 years of my D-Life on insulin injections, ranging from one or two a day to four or five, before the carb counting days when MDI became the norm.
Personally, I've always appreciated the fact that I spent considerable time on injections before getting the pump. To me, this allowed me to more appreciate the "freedom" and "flexibility" of an insulin pump as I specifically recall what it was like NOT being on the pump.
On that note, I have long-felt that newly-diagnosed Ds - whether children or teens or adults - should stay on injections for some decent length of time. Without any rationale for choosing this number, that period in my head has been 1 or 2 years. Why a year or two? Well, it just seems like a decent round number to me for someone to get past that "honeymooning phase" and allow them to learn the daily routines of a D-Life. No scientific basis for it.
In the recent CWD discussion where I offered my thoughts, many parents came back saying that I was somehow off basis for wanting to "reward" a child with a pump, or that I was somehow wanting to "punish" a person with some arcane treatment method rather than doing what is obviously a better option. Am I not giving newly-diagnosed teens and adults, or those parents of CWD, enough credit for learning the ropes? Is this equivalent of me saying that any new Type 1 should have to test their urine to appreciate blood meters?
The most laughable forum claims against my rationale was that I wasn't a parent, and just didn't know what it was like to have to inject a small child with a needle multiple times a day and listen to that child scream and cry as this happens. No, they are correct: I don't know what it's like to be a parent. But I have listened and watched enough YouTube videos and blog posts from these same parents who also hound on the fact that they must regularly stab their children with infusion sets and CGMs and that crying and screaming sounds the same to me. Either way, it sucks we and they must endure this lifestyle. But it is what it is. And you get used to it as life goes on. It's the parent who can't stomach the practice, and they are the ones who simply don't and will never understand what it personally means to have to endure these injections or pumping - unless they are a Type 1 themselves.
If you are making the argument that pumping eliminates the "screaming and crying" of it all, then please don't promote that same screaming and crying when pushing for donations for ADA and JDRF walks. That just seems hypocritical to me.
Curious about what my mom might say on this topic, I asked her and here's what she said in regard to my having a pump at diagnosis:
"You did cry at first but really not a lot. When you were diagnosed and put in the hospital for three days, I stayed there with you. When Nurse Kathy came and taught you how to give yourself shots, she was really good at it. We just explained to you that now you would have to be like me and take these shots every day and that would make you feel better and not get sick. You were old enough to understand basic concepts. You had always seen me give myself shots so you didn't think that much of it I don't think. If you did, you never let me know it.
Although I think a pump is a wonderful way to manage a young child, I believe that every Type 1 at some point should be on shots for a few months to really learn the basics of management without a pump -- how to do it, how to figure stuff out without the pump to help you, things like that which you need to know. It's pretty amazing to talk to a room full of diabetics and see what they don't know. Just because you interact with a group of people on-line that are well-informed certainly doesn't mean that is the majority of the population, even the Type 1 population. What they don't know is amazing.
Many pediatricians will make newly diagnosed children be on shots for six months or a certain time period to learn these basics and that's not necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion. You need to know how to survive if you pump stops or whatever. But with a young child that is more to make the parents learn. So unless I was on a pump for a while already, putting you on a pump at diagnosis probably would not have been something I would have done. If I was on it already, I probably would have insisted because you were really too little to learn the info needed to be learned about shots yet and made you do shots later."
As far as her having a pump at diagnosis back in the late 50s, she relayed the following:
"I'm sure my mother would have chosen a pump as she was a great advocate for what was new and innovate for me, no matter what the cost. If it was available, she got it for me."
(Thanks for sharing that, mom! Love you.)
To me, starting off on a pump at diagnosis just doesn't seem like the best idea. I personally prefer what I see as a way to allow a child or adult learn the ropes of diabetes and then have that option to later learn how "freeing" an insulin pump can be.
What do you think? I'd like to hear your thoughts, whether you be a Child With Diabetes Who Grew Up, an Adult Type 1, Type 2 who might not need a pump or injenction, or Parent of a CWD either grown up or not. No right or wrong anwer, just an interesting point to discuss and see what more in the DOC think about this topic! Thanks!