As my daughter looked through her Easter basket yesterday she remarked,
"My friends all get chocolate bunnies from CVS. I'm glad mine is always homemade dark chocolate. It makes it so much more worth eating it."
The Easter Bunny's reasoning (as far as I understand it, though we've never met) is that if your basket is not going to be filled to the brim with candy, the candy that's in there should be worth eating... 'bolus-worthy' as it were.
So nestled among a few silly Easter toys, a package of baseball cards, a couple of EOS products, an i-tunes gift card and some marigold seeds there's always a really good chocolate rabbit the Easter Bunny has picked up at a local candy store.
My daughter got a new pump a couple of weeks ago. It's her fourth Animas pump.
We know there are other options out there. The new Medtronic pump with it's built-in glucose-responsive CGM technology is by far the closest to the ultimate goal of a closed-loop system. The slim and durable Tandem has some nice user-friendly touchscreen and Bluetooth features. The tubeless Omnipod would be convenient with exercise clothes and on the beach.
We briefly considered all of the options.
In the end we decided not to undertake the challenge of learning to use a whole new insulin delivery system. We decided to stick with what we know.
My daughter has been attached to an Animas pump since fall 2004, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's as close to a part of her body as an electronic device can be. Replacing it with a new brand of pump would, we think, require an extraordinary amount of learning, thinking and adjustment. Which seems unnecessary since we're perfectly happy with the results we've had.
We use several of Animas' unique features to our advantage. My kid has very low basal rates during certain parts of the day, so the tiny basal adjustment increments the pump offers are great for really fine-tuning her doses. The meter remote is a huge quality-of-life feature because it allows my daughter to program a bolus without extracting her pump from underneath a dress or a marching band uniform. We have a good feel for the current insulin-on-board set-up, and for how the bolus calculator takes her blood sugar into account so that we can easily factor that knowledge into dosing decisions. We've rarely had problems with our pumps but when we have, we've consistently had good experiences with Animas' customer service department. After 12 years of the same pump I'm able to do site changes, battery swaps, and cartridge changes under almost any circumstances. My kid can program a bolus and have a conversation or keep an eye on the baseball game at the same time. Using this pump has become second nature.
As I started to write about yesterday's endocrinologist visit the words felt familiar. I looked back and found a post (which you can read below) from 2013. The only difference between the old story and yesterday's visit was the added visual aid of a Dexcom graph which showed that the average range of blood sugars was about 40 points higher than we'd like it to be. "This whole graph just needs to move down an inch or two," was our doctor's assessment of the issue. The rest of the conversation was about the same as this one four years ago:
We visited the endocrinologist this week.
In the weeks leading up to a visit, I am usually motivated to keep a more detailed log and to scan through the meter's averages and graphs. I try to identify any major issues we need to discuss. Sometimes I am able to fix a few things or at least narrow down the issues to a few really tricky ones. I do this so that we can spend our endocrinologist time on issues I really need help with.
This time I tried to think about it. I really tried to weed through all of those numbers and find the places we needed to change things. I didn't know where to begin. I gave up. It turns out my confusion was warranted. The doctor's initial impression?
"She needs more insulin...like most of the day."
Her A1C was up, only by .3, but after going down a couple of times in a row it wasn't great news. It wasn't surprising either.
Many things had changed since our last visit. She'd added height. She'd added weight. Yet she was missing a sufficient quantity of a key ingredient.
So we added insulin to almost every basal rate. We added insulin to almost every carb ratio. We added insulin to the correction factor.
We've been doing diabetes for ten and a half years. I'm able to tweak a basal rate here and there, or recognize when the correction factor is no longer correcting. I'm a person who, given sufficient knowledge, tries to solve problems on my own before asking for help.
Yet once in a while, particularly with a growing child with diabetes, the time comes for a major overhaul. In many ways, it was freeing to hand that whole pile of 'undesirable' numbers over to the endo and say, 'please fix this.' Now we'll watch and see if he did, and hope he at least got close enough that I can trouble-shoot the rest from there.
I don't imagine all of yesterday's adjustments will work perfectly. We'll be following up with more tweaking in the weeks to come. But I'm grateful for yesterday's major overhaul so that we can get back on track, an inch or two lower on that Dexcom graph.