Friday 30 March 2012


I don't know how many infusion sets I have changed over the years. A lot. Once every three days, for four and a half years (Dylan was on MDIs for his first two years with diabetes), would mean somewhere around three hundred and fifty site changes. It's basically always the same thing - disconnect tubing from Dyl, peel off old set, rewind pump, dispose of old reservoir, fill new reservoir, attach new tubing, insert in pump, prime, insert new cannula in Dylan, attach pump, fixed prime. Good for another three days, assuming nothing plugs, falls off, gets kinked, infected, or runs out batteries. It's become routine. So routine, in fact, that I rarely need to think about it; I move in an almost robotic state, much like when tying my shoes or brushing my teeth.

But today, for some bizarre reason, something was different. As I popped the new reservoir onto the top of the insulin vial and pulled back the plunger to fill the reservoir with insulin, I found myself struck by the oddity of it. I watched as the life saving serum slowly filled the tube-shaped reservoir, the liquid creeping up the marked plastic: 50 units, 100 units, 150 units. As it neared the 180 unit mark (Dylan will only use about 120 units over 3 days, but I always add a little extra), I released the plunger and removed the reservoir from the insulin vial.

I found myself overwhelmed in a way I cannot even explain. How can something so small be responsible for so much? This tiny amount of simple, watery-looking substance gives my son life for three days. Without it, he would die. I am well aware of this fact, and I am eternally grateful to Frederick Banting for his miraculous discovery over ninety years ago. I am in awe of the advances in the field of medicine, that enable my son to wear an insulin pump, essentially a mini-computer, that continually injects him with one of six different preset amounts of basal insulin, specific to his body weight, activity level, and the time of day.

And yet today, for the first time, I was genuinely struck with a feeling of surprise at how readily we accept and embrace this blend of nature and technology. Pumpers are not alone in their use of health technology; the addition of man-made materials to the human body is widely used, ranging from braces to pacemakers, to prosthetic limbs, to breast implants, to wheelchairs, among other things. Each device serves a purpose, and many are brilliant inventions that not only enhance lives, but save them, each and every day.

With the exception of insulin itself, an insulin pump is the greatest advancement in diabetes care to date. It has changed diabetes itself, enabling it to become an easily manageable disease with fewer side effects and a longer life expectancy than ever before. I love Dylan's insulin pump and I am so thrilled the technology is available. Yet it is still a machine, and for today I found that odd, that's all.

1 comment: