Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We're Gonna PUMP... You Up!

Something exciting is going on at the Felker house, and it's called an insulin pump! Hooray! We are all very excited. We've heard nothing but positivity from people who have pumps. I've been ready to get one as soon as possible, but when we were initially diagnosed, our endocrinologist said he kind of likes to wait until a patient is about a year out of diagnosis so we can learn the ropes of diabetes, so to speak. We work REALLY hard to keep Ross's blood sugar under control. At the end of last year we ran into a really rough patch. Ross would go to bed within normal range (80 - 150), would sleep all night without getting a snack of course, and wake up in the 300-400's. It was very frustrating. Our nurse practitioner suggested getting started on a pump, and I think we were all more than ready. After trying something new in the mean time, we got over that hurdle of highs.

We attended a pump class at the hospital in January to familiarize ourselves a little more with how pumps work. They are pretty awesome. It's kind of similar to an IV that will be hooked up to him pretty much 24/7. He will remove it to shower and to play full-contact sports. He can leave it unhooked for up to an hour. If he needs to have it removed for a longer period, say for swimming, he would just hook it back on, enter a dose, and remove it again. The actual pump houses the insulin that travels through a tube (similar to an IV) to a patch on his skin. He can wear this patch on his stomach, legs, or arms. The outside of the patch will have a clip type of mechanism that actually attaches to the tubing. On the side of the patch that will stick to his skin will be a very tiny cannula that will go through his skin about a fourth of an inch to his fatty tissue. This cannula looks like a small spider leg to me. It is about the width of a couple of strands of hair. He will rotate sites where the patch attaches every three days. He will have a little insertion device that will "punch" the patch into place. It isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. Most people say that the finger sticks are much worse than attaching a patch. Ross even had one attached at the pump class, and he said you couldn't really feel it.

In addition to having a pump, we are also getting a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). He will have a second patch, or sensor, on the opposite side his pump is attached (other side of the stomach, other arm, other leg). This is a tubeless system. A handheld device (to me it kind of looks like one of those electronic 20Q games) will be able to tell us where his blood sugar is at all times without having to prick his fingers. He will have to prick his finger twice a day to calibrate the device, or make sure it is reading his blood sugar correctly. It will be able to tell us how he is trending. If we take a BG (blood glucose or blood sugar) reading and it says 100, that sounds good to us. But is he dropping rapidly from a 250 to a 100? Will he continue to go down? That is a big benefit of a CGM. Those kind of things will help us have a little more peace of mind when it comes to sports. To us, one of the biggest benefits of the CGM is that we can set an alarm to sound anytime he drops below a certain number or rises above a certain number. After the episode that landed us in the hospital and another scary situation in January, that gives us a lot of comfort! Unfortunately, the device only registers up to five feet away. Edward and I wish we could keep the device miles away to see what his BG is any time! :)

We made a decision on our pump, and it arrived last week. We go back up to his hospital next Monday to get started. And, we've been bugged for months by this 10 year-old boy for a cell phone, and he's been repeatedly told, "No way, no how." Well guess what? This pump that we chose came with a smartphone that houses the control center for the pump! So, he got his phone after all. I was telling a friend about this situation, and she told me something I hadn't really thought of. She said, "After everything that boy has been through, that's just fine! That's the least that can be done for him." And she's right. Ross says, "I'll be the only kid in my whole school that can have his phone out at school!!!" I don't know if he's more excited about the pump or the phone!

Exciting times here!