Insulin Pump Demystified

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Pumping "Idols"

I've been an American Idol fan since season 1, but this year, I never got completely connected to any of top 12 finalists. Blame it on my crush on last season's sultry Constantine, but I never felt like any of the 12 really grabbed me in the same way.

Now the season's over, Taylor Hicks is our Idol and when I watched both him and runner-up Kathryn McPhee being interviewed by Ryan Seacrest on the Larry King show Friday night, I drifted off to sleep.

But now--now that it's over--I realize that I was actually watching the most exciting season of American Idol yet! How embarressing--I just found out, in the last few days, that two contestants--Elliott Yamin and Kevin Couvais--have Type 1 diabetes and are pump users!

Actually, I was into Elliott's voice, I just never fell in love with him completely. But now, I am crazy for him--Elliott is out there, speaking about living with Type 1 and hopes to use his new-found celebrity (for those of you who don't watch, he made it to number three) to educate people about diabetes. Go Elliott!

Kevin is a high school student, clearly not on the same kind of career path as Elliott at the moment, but you've got to give him props for both competing with much more mature talent and also being open about his diabetes and pump.

In our celebrity-worshipping culture, having celebs speak out about the pump and and about diabetes in general is now doubt an important strategy for educating the general public. I can tell you that when Nicole Johnson (Baker) became Miss America in 1998, it was the first time that I really considered switching to a pump. Elliott--and Kevin to a lesser degree--could make wearing a pump into a cool thing for the millions of kids out there living with Type 1.

Elliott, I'm so sorry I didn't jump on your boat when my voting would have helped you, but let me praise you now: You rock! (BTW, read more about Elliott at

Happy Memorial day--

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Allure of "Omnipod" least on film

Some time ago I posted a blog entry about how I'm always losing my blood glucose meter and so I know I would never make a good candidate for the new Omnipod insulin delivery device, with its non-attached insulin delivery/meter device. How could I possibly consider the Pod when I can guarantee that I'll lose the device completely essential for operating it?

But...I signed up to be on Omnipod's email list and I'll have you know that their marketing people are good. Really good. I just got off their web site ( where I watched a little movie clip (go to the "Products" heading)all about the Omnipod, and now I'm convinced that it's for me. I won't lose that device...the sleek-looking people in the movie clip aren't running around losing it. In fact, they're just mostly running--what with being free of tubing, free of pain from manual insertions and even being free of pain from blood sugar testing (does anyone actually consider pricking yoru finger "pain?"). That's what the movie clip promises, at least.

Omnipod's marketing people are so good that I'm honestly torn between viewing it with complete "there must be a catch somewhere" cynicism and forgetting my legit concerns because who among us wouldn't mind being free of tubing and wearing an insulin delivery system that is a bit more discreet? This feeling of being torn tells me it's time to get out from behind the computer screen and start talking to some real people who've tried the Omnipod to see what their experiences have been like. Just as when I started researching pump therapy--which lead to writing my book--I began by talking to pump users to hear the true story, right from the source.

So with my apologies to everyone in the advertising/marketing world, I promise to share the true scoop with you all. And if you are using the Omnipod--or know someone else who is--please get in touch! Is it really all that?

In peace,

Thursday, May 18, 2006

People are reading...

I must admit, it was pretty exciting to open up "The New York Times" Style section this morning and see my blog quoted by reporter Ruth LaFerla:

In fact, Ruth had called me last week--she came across my blog entry about shopping for a bathing suit while doing research for today's article about women ordering from "Land's End." We had a long talk about why tankinis are excellent choices for women wearing the pump and I explained some of the fashion dilemmas that pump wearers face to her. None of that made it in, which kind of bummed me out.

Our pool opens Memorial Day...and I've backslid a bit this week in terms of my weight loss goal, seeing a couple of punds creep back up on the scale. Now the countdown is on and I'm going to use it as an excuse to really watch what I eat.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Happy Mother's Day (I know it's belated, but still...)

Sure, Mother's Day can feel like a complete "Hallmark" holiday...but since becoming a mother myself, I appreciate that there's a day on the calendar when I can pause and reflect on how my life has changed since having kids. And can have a ready-excuse not to lift a finger around the house ("June is poopy again...and it's still Mother's Day, honey...)for the better part of 24 hours.

This year, my Mother's Day was really, really nice. When I picked George up at his preschool on Friday afternoon, he came running out with a little terra cotta pot that he had painted. There were pretty buttons that had obviously been hot-glued on, a blue satin ribbon tied around it, and a small green plant inside. "You made this for me, George?! Thank you!" George gave me a big smile. "Dottis made it," he said. (Dottis is the teaching assistant at his school). "Well, you painted it...that's the part I like most," I told him. When we got home, I put the planter up on my kitchen counter. Whenever Georeg looked at it, he chimed in with his "Dottis made it" mantra. "Dottis helped," I tried to explain, "but you did the special part." Looking at the pot and the carefully placed buttons, I could see that Dottis had done most of the work. Still, how great is it to have a hand-made present from your three-year-old, even if a nice sixty-five-year-old woman gave it some of its aesthetic flourishes?

When Sunday rolled around, I was showered with some very cute and lovey cards from my husband, flowers, and a new Morissey CD that he knew I would love. Even more cool, Fred watched the kids all afternoon while I used a gift certificate that I had received almost a year ago to have an hour massage at a fancy spa. It was heaven.

After the massage, I stopped at Starbucks for iced coffee and when I got home we ordered dinner from my favorite Mexican restaurant. We took a walk in the neighborhood after dinner, it was sunny and cool after an afternoon rain, and I couldn't help but feeling just complete and blessed and satisfied.

My days with my young kids are tiring and sometimes frustrating and almost always challenging in some way or another. But let me tell you, rarely does a day go by when I don't thank God for these children and for the opportunity to become a mother. Having a healthy pregnancy and Type 1--despite all of the medical advances in recent years--is still hard, hard work. The hardest thing that I have ever done in my life.

I am thankful to have had a Mother's Day like this one--with my pot from George & Dottis, my massage & Mexican food, the cards from Fred that I am looking at right now. Thankful to be just like my other friends, laughing about it all on Monday morning, "Yeah, me too, back to picking up the toys again..."

Happy (belated) Mother's Day to every mom with diabetes!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Appreciating Symlin

In my last post, I mentioned that part of what's been helping me to manage my blood sugars lately is learning to work with the nuances of symlin. I've been injecting symlin for the past several months and find myself appreciating its effectiveness more and more as I learn to work with it better.

For those of you who haven't read up on symlin yet, I really encourage you to do so at For those of us living with Type 1, symlin is the first "medication" to come along since insulin to help us live with diabetes. In fact, symlin is a hormone that along with insulin is lacking in people with diabetes.

The trick for me in taking symlin has been learning how much I need to cut back on my bolus to come out with an even post-meal blood sugar. I started out taking the recommended 2 units of symlin and have now worked up to ten and find that I need to cut my meal bolus by about 40%, and take part of my bolus as a two-hour extended blous. It's been a process of record-keeping and mistake making to get me to this equation. I've had some nights where I've bolused more insulin with my symlin and come out with a post-dinner low and other nights where I took too small a bolus and ended up with a post-dinner blood sugar of 220--250.

But now that I have my equation, my one hour post-meal blood sugars are much more often in the normal range than ever before. Because I rarely eat 30 grams of carb at breakfast or lunch, symlin has only been part of my dinner plan. And I still don't pack it up and take it along with me anywhere--I just hate the inconvenince of having to pull out a syringe in a public place before I eat. I'm much happier just pressing a button, thank you.

But since I've found my "magic equation", I'm tempted to start packing up my bottle and syringe when I hit the road. And yes: if you've heard about symlin's other benefit--appetite suppression--it is true. I feel more full after eating dinner when I;ve taken symlin and am less prone to go for after-dinner snacking. Very nice!

Any other symlin users reading this? What has your experience been like?

In peace,

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

PS: dlife Top Ten awards

Forgot to pass this item along:

You can vote in the first annual dLife Top Ten awards. Voting ends May 12. Just go to to participate. No membership is required. The dLife Annual Top Ten awards recognize those individuals or organizations that inspire, motivate, and improve the lives of men, women, and children living with diabetes. The editorial board of dLife has nominated 24 visionaries who, throughout 2005, made a difference in the lives of people with diabetes.


Feeling some progress

Life has been feeling intensely full, personally and professionally, during the last few weeks. My closest girlfriend in Philadelphia is moving in a couple of days and though I know we'll stay in touch and stay close forever, I am feeling the loss of her friendship in my day-to-day life already. For the last few years, she and I and our kids (her girls are four and 1/2 and 18 mos)have been playing together every Tuesday afternoon, and it's time that I look forward to all week. As I get older, I realize just how much I value the relationships in my life, and my friendship with Jane over the last 8 years has been one that's strengthened me and made me a better person because of both the love and support that I've received from her and also because I've grown from watching the way that she faces the challenges in her life with faith and optimism.

Jane's moving is just one piece of the fullness...this past weekend, we celebrated my father-in-law's 80th birthday with a big party and now, tomorrow, my brother is coming to visit us for a few days before he leaves for Nairobi on Friday to live with his fiancee there through August. I am so happy and excited for him and looking forward to us having time to connect before he leaves.

Professionally, new opportunities for writing, teaching and educational consulting are coming my way...which signifies to me that my energy is shifting. When my daughter June was born last September, I knew that I would need to lay low for a while and try to just maintain what I had on my plate. Any new work opportunity seemed way too overwhelming. Now she is 8 mos. and I feel like I'm getting my "sea legs" as a mom of two. It's exciting to think about new professional challenges, but I'm also aware that it brings up feelings of sadness for me, too...knowing that my time as a mom of a newborn is over. I want to try and balance my time "moming" with my time working in a way that feels both stimulating and sane...and as any working parent knows, that is a constant balancing act.

In the past, times full of transitions were often when my diabetes management would start to suffer...but right now, I'm managing pretty well. I've lost another six pounds, can see my weight goal in site, and am keeping my blood sugars pretty stable most days. I'm starting to learn thr nuances of symlin, which I take with dinner most nights and now occaissionally at lunch time, too. It is helping my post-meal sugars to stay more even for sure.

It feels good to feel like I'm making progress. I feel centered and grounded even as my life is moving and shifting, as it always does and will.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dexcom in action

If your curiosity about continuous glucose monitors was piqued by the "Washington Post" article that I mentioned a few entires ago, you might want to check out another site:

You'll find a detailed blog written by athlete Matt Vogel, who has Type 1 diabetes and does triathalons and other intensive sports. Matt is wearing the Dexcom continuous monitor and is not being paid by anyone to write candidly about his experiences with it. Reading his blog is helping me get a sense of Dexcom's strengths & weaknesses.

I think I really want one! How about you?