Pump Fear: A Parent’s Perspective
“You’ll never know until you try it.” I must have repeated those words to myself over a thousand times the past five years as I wondered whether switching my son to the pump would be a sound idea or not.
Yes, I actually had conversations with myself about whether putting my son on a pump was worth it because I had held on to so many doubts and fears about attaching an $8000 machine on my 7-year-old son. “The tubing will get ripped out,” the little voice inside my head said. “The bulkiness of it will hold him back in sports and activities,” it spoke again. For four years, I listened to that powerful, tenacious voice and grew complacent in my comfort zone. Until I saw others living beyond.
Whether it was witnessing the type 1 girl who held the top time on the swim team for the 200-meter freestyle at school or my son’s superstar stand-up paddle boarder friend from California win numerous SUP competitions, I can’t say who or what finally convinced me that an insulin pump might just be something worth exploring. What I can say is that seeing people not just living with type 1 but excelling with this disease made me realize that there are no boundaries—just the ones we put on ourselves. I had put limitations on my perspective about my son living life as a Type 1 pumper. I had convinced myself that it (going on a pump) would hold my son back, be a negative experience, and that nothing good could come of it. Thank goodness I changed my mind and we decided to venture beyond my comfort zone.
I felt anxious when I attended my first pump-training class with my son. “What if it fails? What if I can’t change the site?” were all thoughts that raced through my mind. But, the thoughts were no match for the look on my son’s face. As I turned to get the supplies—the pump, the insertion site, the manual, the insulin —out of our bag, I glanced up at the look of excitement on his face. Eyes fixed on the nurse, he was engaged in everything she had to say. He took the pump and navigated his way through it like an expert engineer would do with his latest invention. He was ready, and who was I to hold him back?
Only time would tell if he could still play flag football, break dance, race down the soccer field. I still had my reservations, but after a few bumps in the road and a steep learning curve, my son proved to me that every worry was nothing but an unfounded fear. He, like that soon-to-be Olympic swimmer from his school, and his paddle boarding superstar friend in Cali—who both pump—was living beyond type 1. And like them, he was doing it with the pump. He jumped waves in the ocean for three hours, repeatedly cannon balled into the pool, sang Nick Jonas songs in the shower, bounced around at Monkey Joe’s and proudly showed his pump to the TSA agent at the airport (who was also wearing a pump). He was proud, he was active, he was nothing less than himself and he was doing everything beyond my wildest dreams.
Jace has now been pumping for just over a month, and while it went (mostly) smoothly, there have been a few challenges we have had to work through. In the beginning he was getting bumps and bruised skin around his sites, and occluded lines. We also faced the challenge of raised blood sugars after the site had been in for three days. Our biggest challenge though was calculating the right amount of insulin. One night we accidentally injected Jace with 10 times the amount of insulin needed which resulted in a trip to the emergency room. It was a terrifying night; however, we are all thankful he was okay. Other than these challenges, nothing has changed, including Jace’s optimism and infectious zest for life.
He is not a different boy, he is simply a boy with a pump.
He is not different because of a disease, shots, or a device that pumps insulin through his body. He is a mighty 7-year-old, music-loving, break-dancing, soccer-playing, joke-telling, Nerf-war-playing, typical boy who proves to me every day that all we have to do is just be ourselves. He taught me to see beyond by being beyond type 1.