I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes eighteen years ago. I was just a toddler. Obviously, this is the only way of life that I can remember. This life consists of testing my blood glucose levels, multiple insulin injections, endocrinologist appointments, and counting carbohydrates all the time. Type 1 diabetics need insulin to be administered from an outside source because their bodies are unable to produce insulin anymore. This autoimmune disorder prevents the pancreas from making insulin entirely.
When I was first diagnosed, my mother administered insulin to my body through syringes. After several years of this, I tried my first insulin pump when I was in middle school. The insulin pump removes the need to administer insulin through injections as the pump is constantly connected to your body. A site connects the insulin pump to the body but still needs to be switched up every few days to prevent soreness of the site. I remember having the insulin pump for three days in seventh grade. When it was time to change the site for the first time, I decided I was done with the pump for the time being and started using insulin pens.
Nine years later, I still use insulin pens to administer insulin to my body. I do a daily injection with long-acting insulin and then injections with fast-acting insulin whenever I consume more than ten carbohydrates worth of food or drink. The convenience of having the insulin pen is something that I am grateful for. Additionally, the pain of using an insulin pen needle is minimal, most of the time.
Every endocrinology appointment that I have attended over the last three years, my doctor has spent ninety percent of the time attempting to convince me to start using an insulin pump. I understand that technology has changed from the time when I had my pump nine years ago. I also understand that the insulin pump has several advantages, especially coupled with the continuous glucose monitor.
However, I also understand that every person with Type 1 Diabetes has a right to choose what works best for their body and lifestyle.
At every endocrinology appointment, I always politely explain that I am not interested in trying an insulin pump again right now. I am always told that I need to "start seriously thinking about the insulin pump again" when the truth is, I am thinking seriously about it. Right now, I am not ready to have one. I am unable to say when I will be ready or if I will be ready. What matters is I do not want one now.
I have lived for eighteen years with this autoimmune disorder. There are definitely challenging moments and there always will be. But every person's journey is going to be different. After living most of my life as a Type 1 diabetic, I understand what it feels like to have super low or super high blood sugar levels. I am very in-tune with my body. Right now, I do not want an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor attached to my body. While I do see the benefits and I acknowledge that these tools are necessary for some people, I want it to be acknowledged that these tools are not necessary for me right now.
It is understandable that my endocrinologist is encouraged to keep me updated about the latest and greatest advances in technology. It is understandable that if my condition was uncontrollable right now and these tools would change my diabetes management plan because my health was so bad, then getting a pump would make sense. But this isn't the case for my health at the moment. It is also understandable that I might change my mind one day, so bringing up the topic of an insulin pump every few appointments is normal. What is not understandable is my endocrinologist's inability to accept my answer.
During my last appointment, I was asked if I had a boyfriend. Expecting a conversation about safe sex practices, birth control, and hormones to ensue, I accurately answered that no, I did not have a boyfriend at that time. To my shock, the endocrinologist said, "Well if you are not in a relationship right now, then not wanting a pump must not be to please a boyfriend." This comment sparked several reactions within me. The greatest reaction was the fact that my endocrinologist needed to find an explanation for why I didn't want an insulin pump other than the reality that I do not feel ready to have machines attached to my body when I can administer my insulin using the pens just fine.
Every person's health and wellness journey looks different. This is especially true with complex autoimmune disorders. There is no one-size-fits-all model for chronic health conditions. Rather than emphasizing that there is only one "right" way to do things, let's strive to empower individuals to make their own choices that they feel the most comfortable with.