Why my omnipod is my bff

I first delved into the world of the insulin pump about 4 & a half years ago. At this point I’d been living with type 1 for over a decade and I was apprehensive and excited in equal measure. I was put on a Medtronic, which at the time seemed to be the go to pump.

All in all I loved pumping, but had a few gripes with the Medtronic, so after a year or so I decided to look into alternatives. At the time my son was in the terrible two’s phase and found great joy in ripping my cannula out. This and a holiday where he wanted to spend the entire week in the pool (like most boys his age) made me want a waterproof and tubing free pump.

Tada!! In walks the Omnipod into my life. In reality it took a year of me bugging my lovely diabetes team & doing a “lalala I can’t hear you” when they said they couldn’t get funding for it.  I may have been close to restraining order territory, but I got my Omnipod in the end. Wahoo!

I’ve now been on the Omnipod for two years and I LOVE IT. It’s the best. I also like not having to dig my pump out to bolus or set a temporary basal. The bg tester/remote control it comes with is so much easier & in public you just look like you’re having a retro moment and using a relic of a phone. I’m fine with that, the 90’s are making a comeback don’tcha know.

It was also fantastic during pregnancy – two pregnancies with type 1 – not for the faint hearted. Let me tell you, pregnancy was so much easier with a pump.

omnipod-2

Day to day I find that not having to unclip to shower is so much easier and I also don’t have to worry about getting tangled in the tubing when I sleep. The Omnipod is so small (smaller than an egg) that I can easily wear it with most of my clothes, without giving it a second thought.

It’s also very durable. My 10 month old loves trying to pull it off, but she hasn’t succeeded yet! I find I think about it a lot less than I did my Medtronic. For a busy working Mum of two little monkeys that is key. Anything to make my life easier.

I also have less pump fails than I did on the Medtronic. I’m gushing a bit now, aren’t I? It is that good though.

I’ve written some more on the difference between pumping and injecting, in case you’re new to pumping in general, or thinking about getting an insulin pump.

I’m yet to come across a pump that looks as appealing as the Omnipod. It’s very easy to hide away, but also it fairly inconspicuous even if it is left uncovered (hello approaching summer!!) My only worry was having to carry around the remote control, but lets be honest, fellow diabetics – when did you last go anywhere without all of your kit anyway? The fact that it also doubles up as a  blood tester was the icing on the cake for me – no more room taken up in my bag.

All in all, I think you can tell by now that I big smiley face heart my Omnipod. Now off I go in to the sunset with my pump.

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Pregnancy and type 1 diabetes – life hacks

pregnancy & type 1

So I’m just about to start my second trimester of my second pregnancy. This is an exciting and slightly scary time for any pregnant woman, but anyone with type 1 will know that this adds a whole load more complications and worries.

I’ve gone through a type 1 pregnancy before, so I’m proof that it can be done well and with a good support system everything should be fine and dandy!

I thought I’d share some life hacks, that I learnt from my first pregnancy and soon came flooding back to me this time around.

Firstly, if you are at that ‘thinking of becoming pregnant’ stage and your control isn’t below 6.5%, be prepared for a good few months of hospital appointments before you get the green light!

I was teetering on the 7% mark and it took 5 months to get me down to the golden hba1c number. This is of course, not taking in to account how long it may also take you to conceive. All quite frustrating, but totally necessary and worth the wait!

Secondly try not to stress. When I found out I was pregnant this time around I thought I would be prepared – as I’d done it all before. How wrong was I?! I totally freaked out and felt a huge amount of pressure and worry. I was so stressed about my blood sugars that I wasn’t sleeping and I caused them to rise for a few days. This is obviously not what you want…

I spoke to my diabetes nurse and she helped me with some great advice about setting temporary basals for my insulin pump and not setting them for longer than 2 hours – as in the first trimester you are very prone to hypos.

Thirdly if you don’t have a CGM and a pump already  – get them asap! I am finding pregnancy with a pump sooo much easier than when I didn’t have one, in my first pregnancy.

Omnipod 1

Read my post about insulin pumps and many of the general reasons for a pump can be used to explain why it’s also great in pregnancy. You just have so much more control over what you can do to alter your blood sugars and it’s really helped in managing the horrible night time (and day time, but they don’t bother me so much!) hypos you get in the first trimester. It also helps manage morning sickness (yuck)

Fourthly get some really good books. You’re going to spend a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms. You may find a level of patience you never knew you had. My husband comes to as many of the appointments as he can and he was crawling the walls at the last one. I was shrugging my shoulders and just carried on reading my magazine. You have to just deal with it, even though it is truly boring.

Fifth (ly?!) if you work, try not to stress about how much time you have to take off, due to all the extra appointments you have. It’s not your fault.

Doing this a second time around is harder in some ways. I have a 3 year old to look after this time. Gone are the lie ins and rest! But in a way it’s easier, because, even though all pregnancies are different, for some of it I know what to expect.

No. Six Don’t scare yourself with statistics and horror stories. I told myself I wouldn’t do this the second time around. I did. Wish I hadn’t. If you’re looking after yourself and controlling your blood sugar as best you can (much more easier said than done) then that’s all you can do. It is natural to worry when you’re pregnant – even without type 1! I’m very relieved to have reached the second trimester, but I’m still cautious.

I know that each phase along the way will help take the edge off the worry and even if things do go a little awry, it will probably still be ok. This was true, at least for me, when I went in to labour 6 weeks early with my first born. I had pre eclampsia, so this time I couldn’t blame the diabetes! My son and I both spent a couple of weeks in hospital. On different wards, which was horrible, he was in the special care baby unit in an incubator.

None of this information is meant to scare, as now he is a totally healthy and full of energy 3 year old. The point is, sometimes things happen out of your control, especially in pregnancy. All we can do is try to control our blood sugars!!

Now I’m in my second trimester, I’ll be watching for my blood sugars to hopefully stabilise and not have the hypos I’ve been dealing with. I am waiting on a CGM and one last piece of advice I’d give is to get one as early as possible. I got signed off for one when I was 8 weeks pregnant and I’m still waiting. I think it would have been really helpful to have this through my first trimester, but hey ho. It’ll be better late than never!

 

 

A day in the life of a type 1

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3.am. As a lot of type 1’s would agree, my day regularly starts in the middle of the night. If I wake up to turn over, use the toilet, check on my son, I will also usually test my blood sugars. Today is no exception. Lucky I have checked, as it’s gone down to 2.8 – scarily this is happening more often – since I’ve got my Hba1c down, I’ve lost my hypo awareness. I make a mental note to ask (aka beg) my diabetes nurse for a CGM next time I see her. I eat my sweets and 5 minutes later and it’s hit me. Shaking, sweating and dizziness. Lovely. Nothing to do but lie down and wait for it to pass.

3.30am. Back to sleep, woop! I will be woken up by a very cute, very loud 3 year old in a few hours and need my sleep!

6.45 am. Mummy!! Can we go downstairs and have some Freddies (he means Shreddies) please!! I stumble down the stairs and make my son his breakfast, whilst testing my sugars again. Oops – 9.2, as per usual my low blood sugar has been followed by a high. Not too bad though, definitely had worse. I give myself a little correction of insulin, via my new Omnipod (loving it) My husband cleans Shreddies off my son, the table, the floor, whilst I make myself my eggs. Super jealous of the boys having cereal, but it sends my blood sugar a bit mental and I find no carbs is the best breakfast for me.

8am. Today is Saturday, woo! My son has Rugby Tots in a bit, so we have a bit of pyjama time in front of CBeebies, then get ready.

9am. I test my blood sugar again – Rugby Tots calls for parent participation (the only way to get a bunch of pre schoolers to cooperate) so I set myself a temporary basal for half an hour.

9.30am. Yay! my son got ‘Man of the match’ Celebratory high fives all round.

10am. A bit of shopping. This is a bit of a nightmare for a lot of type 1’s. It still amazes me how low blood sugars can go just from having a wander and trying on some clothes! I set another temporary basal and buy a top that I really shouldn’t, but it’s oh so pretty and I don’t care, I’m having it.

11am. We take my son to the play area in the shopping outlet. He runs himself silly, whilst we have a break. I test my blood sugar again – on track at 6.8 and give myself a little bolus for my latte. This is a new thing, but after a while I realised that with all the milk in a latte I really needed a little boost of insulin.

12. Lunchtime. Bloody starving. Off we go to a child friendly restaurant. “No, son we are NOT going to McDonalds” Hey, nothing against it, but he would eat there everyday if he had his way. Can’t blame him really, a free toy with lunch is pretty cool.

Now I’m on the Omnipod eating out is sooo much easier – no injecting in public (in my injection pen days) and no rummaging in my bra for my Medtronic (in my Medtronic pump days) I use my handy little remote control to administer my insulin, which looks a bit like an OAP’s mobile phone, but hey, just call me retro.

2pm. I test my post meal/post shopping blood sugars (I know, I test a lot. 8 times a day usually. It’s the only way I can maintain good control and stay healthy – it’s worth it) looks like the combination of a fairly high fat/high carb lunch and the shopping has been a good combo – 7.2. Marvellous.

4pm. I do a bit of cooking and baking, whilst darting across the living room to keep my son entertained. My husband’s doing the same – gardening and in and out to play. When did we turn in to a couple who cooked and gardened??!! Anyway, that question is for another day. My son ‘helps’ me decorate cupcakes and I try to stop myself and my son from eating the entire lot. Just a taste, or I’ll get high blood sugar and he’ll turn in to a crazed wild beast.

7pm. The boy is in bed. I love him more than is fathomable, but I do a little dance, as now I can have a glass of wine. It’s a night in with the husband and some friends tonight. Eating a lot, later in the night is always a tricky one for us type 1’s. I know, it does my head in sometimes, but you learn to live with it!

I test my sugars and calculate the amount of carbs in my food, as best I can and set myself an extended bolus. This really helps when you’re eating a lot and you have different courses of food.

11pm. I have bit too much wine (obvs) and test my blood sugar again. 8.1. Not too bad, considering. plus if it was any lower I’d prob set a lower basal for the night, as alcohol lowers your blood sugar. This way I leave it as it is and it should be ok in the morning. Then I’ll do it all again!

Injections versus insulin pumps – my verdict (hint, pumps rule)

Omnipod 2

I used insulin injections for around 13 years. I can’t be too hard on them, they kept me alive for a start! I’d obviously heard about insulin pumps and wasn’t keen at first. The idea of having to wear one 24/7 was really off putting. In the end the biggest motivator for me was being told it could help me have even better control whilst trying to conceive and for carrying a baby. Being a pregnant type 1 is very daunting and knowing that you are solely responsible for the health of your unborn child is petrifying.

Pregnant type 1’s are much more likely to experience miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects and many more. The best way to minismise these happening is through excellent blood sugar control, so without hesitation I signed up to pump.

I’ve been using a pump for almost three years now and I would never, ever, (one extra so you get my point) EVER go back to injections. A lot of type 1’s are put off by having to wear a fairly cumbersome pump and I agree, it’s not ideal, but the benefits, in my experience are amazing.

When talking through your options with your HCP, they don’t always explain some of the best benefits of the pump. This is through no fault of their own, it’s because – guess what? They’re not actually diabetic and couldn’t possibly understand the immense sense of freedom it gives to us (in my experience anyway)

On injections I got so fed up of having to eat carbs all day every day. For me, it was the only way injections worked. Also, with hypos you have to not only have sugar, but complex carbs to back it up. On the pump you can do away with the stodgy carbs and just have the sugar. A nice added bonus of this was me losing roughly a stone in weight. Pass me those jeans from 10 years ago, please!

I find eating so much more enjoyable now. Yes I still have to count carbs, but that’s second nature now anyway. I can finally, successfully have carb free snacks and meals and because my bolus is custom set to my body and lifestyle, it doesn’t affect my blood sugars and I have less hypos.

Freedom – seriously, this is the best part. If I want to go for a long walk, run around with my son like a nutter, or go on a night out, I can do it with the drop of a hat and I don’t have to eat extra food because of it. I just set a temporary reduced basal rate and off I go on my merry way. This also goes for hot weather, stress, illness, time of the month (ladies, you know your blood sugars have a mind of their own at this time) tiredness and everything else that blood sugars are affected by.

There are some downsides. If your cannula insertion goes wrong, or stops working, then your blood sugar can rise very high, very quickly. Early on I did have one unfortunate experience that involved my husband calling an ambulance and two very nice paramedics coming to my rescue. This is because your body doesn’t have that constant background insulin that you’d have on injections, unless the pump is working properly. This is the only major issue I’ve had in three years and I was very new to it, so as long as you test your blood sugars and try not to change your cannula before bed you should be fine.

It is also a bit complicated to fill the syringe and change your insertion site every three days, but after a few goes it is easy enough.

I have recently changed from a medtronic pump to an omnipod. The medtronic was great, but the tubing was a pain and the pump is quite big – meaning you need to have big pockets, or a big bra to hide it in (ladies, or men, I don’t judge) The omnipod is much smaller and has no tubing. I’m loving it. It’s also water proof, so no clock watching in the pool anymore (you can only be without the medtronic for an hour and it’s not water proof) and you can leave it on in the shower, etc. Awesome.

Medtronic Omnipod 1

(Above: the Medtronic with tubing. Above the omnipod)

These are obviously just my experiences and everyone is different, but I find in the busy life I lead I am freer and my BG control is better. Win win.

I’ll post a separate blog about type 1 diabetes and pregnancy, but spoiler alert I now have a healthy, happy 3 year old (yay, me!)

If you have any questions please comment below, or contact me on Twitter: @SarahSmjordan