Bari Started Pumping At 11

Bari was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 8, in December, 1993, just before Christmas vacation. Despite the major life change, Bari was an eager learner, and was counting carbs, and doing ratios to figure out different foods from the very beginning. She was "sugar-free" for about 6 months, until the studies came out that indicated that as long as carbs were counted in meal plans, sugar was OK. Never a sugar junkie even before dx, she suddenly loved being able to play around with different "regular" foods again. She was never deprived of any foods that she liked, and never associated the candy, cookies, ice cream, etc. as treats for special occasions. They were just a part of her diet. Her A1c was always under 6.5%. About 3 years into the disease, Bari started experiencing night-time lows every night despite lowering her Lente dose to 1/2 unit overnight. If I dropped it altogether, she would be high all night. I was waking up every 2 hours with an alarm to test her and feed her. Every night. I almost took a leave of absence from work because I just couldn't function. Fortunately for Bari, she was always able to go right back to sleep, but what kind of life would it be to be awakened every 2 hours to eat.

I fought for the pump. The doctor we used was against it, since the hospital absolutely refused to allow any child under 13 to use the pump. She was now 11, and I knew that middle school would be a major life change, and between that and the nights I knew she had to go on the pump or we'd all go crazy. Finally the endo group was able to approve the change. On Thanksgiving weekend, 1996, she hooked up with saline, and she went "live" on December 5. We were all amazed at how her numbers suddenly went flat. Low 100's. Period. All day, all night. No lows. This kept up for a few weeks and I thought we were on a "pump honeymoon", but needless to say, things changed when all the insulin reserves from the shots left her body. She has highs and lows, but they are much easier to fix with the pump.

She has now been a pumper for 2 years. She is 13 years old, and has gone through a year of weekly Bar and Bat-Mitvahs, including her own. Without the pump she would never have enjoyed the parties as she did. She figured a square wave bolus for every party of 7 units over 4 hours, set her MiniMed 507 when she arrived, and had a ball. Pina coladas (virgin), cotton candy, no real food of course! Every week, sometimes 3 and 4 in one weekend. She always came home with a blood sugar level under 200, in fact, if she wasn't around 180 I fed her because within an hour of arriving home she would drop sharply due to thr extra activity of dancing for 4 hours. Her biggest problem was how to wear the pump with the slinky dresses and gowns, but she figured it out, and sometimes just said "the heck with it, they all know anyway!".

It is not always smooth sailing, however, as she is going through the rebellious teen-age years. There are days when she "forgets" to bolus for breakfast and lunch, and arrives home from school with bgs in the 400's. There are days when she just refuses to attend to her needs or face the reality of having diabetes. We are working on that however, and she is working with a therapist specifically on this topic. She is basically a great kid, and she LOVES her pump. Of course she would rather not have to love it, but it is the best thing available to her and any other kids who simply want to be kids. Nothing is out of the question as far as eating or not eating. She is taking home-ec and cooks in school every day. And she eats everything she cooks. Sometimes she comes home from school and eats non-stop til bedtime.

As a mother I would never consider putting her back on shots. And of course I have to mention that I rarely get up to check her blood in the middle of the night anymore.

Anyone who wants to e-mail me or Bari feel free to do so.

Jeanne Baker


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