I Was Scared. We Were Scared.

Posted on September 7, 2011


Friday night, my insulin pump started acting “crazy”.  And I mean crazy. I was trying to bolus (putting in the grams of carbohydrates) and all of a sudden it started counting up, up, and up.  It hit 300 and then started all over again.  The buttons were locked.  Oh no.  This was not good.  But I did not panic.  Yet.

I unhooked the pump and changed the battery.  Maybe it was a battery issue.  At least this is what I was hoping.  New batter in, and the buttons were still locked.  Then the pump started releasing this high pitched alarm.  My kids were now tuned in.  They wondererd what that horrible noise was? 

I told them mommy’s pump had stopped working and was acting a bit crazy.  They agreed.  I twisted off the top as quickly as possible and removed the battery.  Silence.  Time to call Medtronic Minimed.

30 minutes before a representative could talk to me.  Yikes.  That’s a long time.  But I was willing to wait.  During this waiting time I started thinking about the possibility of not having my insulin pump for a few days. 

I was scared.  Fearful.  I stood in the kitchen so my children would not see the fear on my face.  My husband was travelling all weekend, the kids and I were in a strange city where we know no one, and I had never taken Levemir insulin.  Deep sigh. 

Okay.  At least I had the Levemir.  I found it pretty quickly in the refrigerator.  The warranty on my pump is quickly approaching so I had a feeling something like this might happen.  I had filled my Levemir prescription and had brought along syringes.  So I was set there (thankfully). 

Taking shots and all that did not bother me.  What scared me was going to bed not knowing how I would respond to Levemir, and hoping I would not bottom out during the night.  I did not want my kids finding me in a state of seizure or unconscious.  That was it, I was afraid for my kids.  Protecting your kids is part of being a mom.  And that is what I was doing.  Or trying to do. 

Was still on hold with Medtronic while gathering up my syringes and instructions from my endocrinologist.  I was going through the motions.  I did not have a choice.  I knew my insulin pump was dead. 

Relax Michele.  Calm down.  Why was I so afraid?  Did I feel out of control?  Dealing with a situation that was out of my control?  Yet with a condition that revolves around control?  Yes, yes, yes. And my husband was out of town.  The timing was not ideal.  But at least it did not happen during the night. 

Well, this was the cards I was dealt.  I had taken shots for 29 years and survived.  Thrived.  So what was wrong with me?  Deal with it.   

Once again, I knew it was about control.  Lack of control.  Fear. Protection.  Protecting my kids from seeing me in an out of control state (they had never seen me unconscious, etc.). 

The few times that I have lost consciousness or gotten rambunctious (I have been known to act like an obnoxious and mean drunk person when really low) were pre kids.  And once after a mini marathon a few years ago (they were not there). 

Okay.  I had to be honest with my kids.  They were old enough to know that something was wrong with my pump.  They were going to see me take shots.  I did not want to scare them (even though I was scared), but they needed to understand the situation.

I got my “dead” pump, Levemir insulin, and shots and sat down with my kids at the table.  We discussed how my pump had stopped working because it was old and had been used a lot.  The pump is like a computer or a video game and can sometimes just fizzle out. 

They were intrigued by this.  To them (and me), the pump was golden.  How could it die?  What would I do?  Shots?  Yuck? 

This was my life with diabetes, and they were going to be a part of it. Even though I was worried, I felt good about sharing this experience with them.  It was the right thing to do.   We were all empowered.  And I was letting go of some of the control (not all of it).

My six year old (Phoebe) did not hesitate to voice her feelings.  She was scared.  “I don’t want mommy going to the hospital.  Can you live without the pump?  It gives you insulin all the time.   Won’t you die without insulin pumping into you?  I don’t want you to die.  And where would we stay?  We don’t know anyone hear.  Daddy is out of town. ”

I sensed her anxiety.  And I am sure she sensed mine even though I was trying to be calm and collected.  I needed to reassure her.  But before I could speak up, my seven year old (Zoe) started talking.  “She won’t die.  She might have to go to the hospital, but she won’t die.  And we can stay with her at the hospital.  I am just glad the pump is not making that annoying beeping sound anymore.” 

So Phoebe was scared and Zoe seemed okay with it. 

Hmmm.  It was my turn to talk now that I knew how they felt. 

“Mommy is going to be okay.  My pump did stop working (I realized using the word “died” was kind of negative), but I have shots and some cool new insulin called Levemir.  My diabetes doctor (who they have met) told me how to use this insulin.  So I will just do this until my new pump arrives, and I can hook it up. ”

Zoe wanted to say something.  “I am surprised the pump broke out of the blue.  I did not think pumps broke. And I am a little scared.”

I explained to her that they do break.  They are not perfect.  But pretty darn close.  And it was okay to feel scared.  I was a little scared too. 

I was starting to feel better.  Even though I  had not brought up the part of what if mommy has a bad insulin reaction during the night. 

I spoke up,  “Girls, mommy is going to get up during the night to test her blood sugar and eat a snack if I need to.  I have never taken this type of insulin so I want to make sure everything is okay. There is a small, small chance that I may have a insulin reaction during the night which requires your help.  If mommy cannot respond to you, I need you to call 911.”

I got my cell phone, and we went over how to dial 911, and I wrote down the address of our temporary corporate housing.

They looked scared.  I felt scared again.

“Nothing will probably happen, but you never know.  It is good for you to have this information.  okay?”

Phoebe blurted out, “I am still scared and the shots look yucky.  Will they make holes in your skin?  I don’t want to see anything inside your body.”

I laughed.  “No, there will be holes in my skin.” 

“A little pinch”,  Phoebe asked.  “Like when we get a shot at the doctor?  I do not like shots.”

“Yes, but not that bad a pinch.  A little pinch.  Does not even really hurt me.”

I asked both girls if they were okay and gave them a hug.  They seemed fine. 

It was time for them to go to bed.  Luckily, they fell asleep with ease and did not bring up the situation again.   I on the otherhand had decided to stay up as late as possible so I could test and test and test. 

Talking to the girls had calmed me down.  I knew they could call for help if need be.  I just did not want there to be a need.

11:00 p.m.  approached, and I fell asleep watching television.  Keep in mind, I am usually in bed by 9:30 p.m. so this was late for me.  At 3:00 a.m. I woke up and turned everything off.  I tested and was 123.  Good.  And within minutes I was asleep again.

Morning arrived and all was good.  No incidents.  Happiness.  Relief.  And amazingly my replacement insulin pump arrived at noon.  Thank you Medtronic.  I did wait to the following morning to hook it up.  Wanted to make sure Levemir was out of my system and that the pump was working properly. 

I realized that being diabetic can have some scary moments.  Every single night I go to bed trusting that my pump will work,  and that I will not unexplainably bottom out or go sky high.   Trust, trust, trust along with doing everything I can to avoid those situations.  Confidence.  Believing.

But the same is true for non diabetics.  Something could happen to them during the night too.  Once again, we have to believe it is going to be okay.  Otherwise, we would lose our minds. 

So while we were all scared for awhile, the experience brought us closer together and made us stronger.  We got through it and moved on.   We spent Saturday at the beach jumping in the waves.  Loving life (even without the pump). 

Stuff is going to happen in life.  And while we may have fear, we have to keep moving forward.  No matter what. 

Have a great day everyone.