Saturday, September 13, 2008

Death By Pizza

Insulin pumps are really awesome when they work.

They aren't so cool when they don't work.

Since getting the new pump, I've been able to eat more than 2 pieces of pizza at a go, which is pretty awesome. Longtime readers may remember that pizza has pretty much been my death food since I got sick. Eating more than two pieces means testing every two hours, correcting, highs, lows, and subsequent weird highs and lows afterwards (think of eating a really high carb meal as throwing a stone into a pond. It's the ripple effect. Everytime you go really high, you tend to have to deal with the ripples for a few days after ward. Getting yourself back on track after a bad high is torture).

But with this new pump, I can avoid wacky highs. I set my bolus to give me 35% of the insulin now and the rest over the next 4 and a half hours. This means that as the bulk of the carbs are absorbed over time, the pump is giving me the insulin to cover it at about the same rate. This means no dramatic highs or lows.

Cool beans.

Last night, my pod expired just before dinner (you have to change them every 3 days), so I changed it out and then ordered in some pizza because hey, it's Friday, and I had two lows that day because of my new workout routine (working to cover for this), and all I had in the fridge was hummus, cucumbers, and low carb tortillas, and you can only live on this stuff for so long before you need to mix it up.

So I dosed as usual for pizza, ate 6 pieces of thin crust pizza and a couple of breadsticks, played some WoW, and tested before bed.

I was at 209 before bed, which was a little more elevated than I expected (I can generally stay under 200, even with pizza). So I corrected for it and went to bed.

My 1:30am alarm woke me up. I tested, already knowing when I woke that I was high. I was wicked thirsty, and had to go to the bathroom. My legs were feeling prickly and my eyes hurt.

I test at 440.

Sweet jesus.

When you test that high, you know something's not working.

But I wasn't getting any pod alarms.

So I dosed myself with a few units manually with one of my pens and took the other half of the correction via the pump. Then I drank some of the most delicious tasting water on the planet. Nothing tastes better than water to a dying diabetic, let me tell you.

Set my alarm for an hour later.

In an hour, I'd gone down under 400, which wasn't great, but meant I was getting some insulin (the kind from my pump is absorbed faster than when I give myself a manual injection in the thigh) so I set an alarm for a couple hours later. I then chugged the most delicious tasting diet soda on the planet.

At 5:30am, I tested at 360, which is still absolutely insane.

I corrected.

That was when my pump alarm finally went off.

Occlusion error, according to my PDM display.

Well, no shit.

So I changed out the pump.

But by then, the damage to my Saturday had been done. I was thirsty, exhausted, my legs were needles and pins bothering me, my whole head was muzzy. It was like viewing the world through a gray gauze.

I finally rolled out of bed at 11:30am, trying to get some rest after my rocky night, tested at a finally respectable 138, and walked around like a woman recovering from a hangover.

I resolved - as I have every time after getting sick after eating pizza - never to eat pizza again, even if the actual fault in this case did not rest entirely on the pizza. Eating the pizza just made the pump malfunction that much more shitty.

I love my pump. When it works, it's absolutely awesome.

But when it doesn't work, dying is a really fast and immediate possibility.

I wouldn't trust a form of birth control with a 10% failure rate, and yet here I am, relying on a life or death medical device with a 10% failure rate. If it didn't keep my numbers so damn good the other 90% of the time...

And maybe that's the bullshit part of it.

With t1 diabetes, having good-to-great numbers 90% of the time is... amazing. It is life changing. It is so grand.

Having bad numbers - life altering, perhaps even long-term life-ending - numbers the other 10% of the time?

Well, hey, that's not so bad!

It's like hey, extra blood and pain once a month with an IUD, or 365 days a year of chronic depression and weight gain on a hormonal form of birth control?

Yeah, I'll take the extra blood and cramps 3 days a month, please.

And that's what having an insulin pump is like.

Shitty 10% of the time, great 90% of the time.

The alternative being shitty number 40% of the times with pens and more complications (read: feet getting chopped off) in the future, but fewer chances for abrupt death.

Not having a pancreas really, really fucking sucks.

P.S. Yes, this means very little will be getting done today. I'll have to double up today's workout with tomorrow's. Also, line edits are probably out as well. I want to sleep, and not much else.