Drew Started Pumping At Age 4-1/2
Drew was diagnosed with diabetes on Dec. 6, 1995, just a week after his third birthday. Looking back on pictures from his party, we are saddened by how poorly Drew looked. He was so thin and pale. For us the symptoms of Drew's diabetes were so easily overlooked. I thought he had a virus or was teething. When he was diagnosed his blood sugar was near 1000. Amazingly, he was still functioning fairly normally. The day he was diagnosed our Ped. decided that Drew was too sick to travel to the nearest Children's Hospital (one and a half hours' driving time). Locally, we saw an endo. who takes kids into his practice. He admitted Drew immediately for a 72 hour, new onset stay.
We spent those early months just trying to learn and survive. My sweet three year old kicked and screamed initially whenever we gave injections and checked blood sugar. We also have a 9 year old daughter who is multi-handicapped, and a son 15 months younger than Drew. Needless to say, we had our hands full! (I will say right now to any one that diabetes is at least manageable. We would give anything for our disabled child to 'just be diabetic'.)
Our endo. is a pump expert and we knew early on that Drew would use a pump. Initially we thought that school age (first or second grade) might be a good goal to aim for. However, after 18 months of everyday diabetic struggles, we began to seriously consider pump therapy (PT). Everything about it made such good sense. Drew's blood sugar was bouncing around on any given day from 50-450. We began to have major problems with the dawn phenomena. He would wake up with blood sugar in the 300 and 400's. He felt so bad morning after morning. I was always wondering how this constant roller coaster ride was affecting Drew. (A 3yr old is only so verbal.) We never aimed for tight control, but we did try to aim for blood sugar between 100- 220. We think it is better to aim a little higher for little kids. Although we knew PT was not perfect or a cure all, we did hope it would make life more normal and consistent for Drew.
So..... at the age of 4 1/2 Drew began PT with a Diesetronic model. We didn't even have to go the hospital. Our C.D.E handled everything out of her office. Drew colored and played on her computer, while my husband and I had several hours of Pump 101. (We really endorse EMLA crème to numb infusion sites. If you are reading this and are considering PT ask about this ahead of time). As a team we cautiously set Drew's basal settings. I will say that the first three weeks of PT were time consuming and tedious for us. Drew's blood sugar had to checked very frequently day and night to get a good picture of patterns. I think that a parent should be realistic in knowing that with a young child things may be slow going at first. You have to have Dr. and a C.D.E. who will speak with you at any time of the day or night.
When we began PT with Drew we simply explained that we were going to give him his insulin in a different way. He has ALWAYS had a say in how he feels about pumps or injections. He has liked his pump from the start. Everything he wears has a pocket, so basically it is "out of sight – out of mind". We do have a bolus limit set, but Drew has never manipulated it. We have had people say to us that we are crazy to put a small kid on PT. People have said that he is too young to understand or operate the pump. Our answer to this is that Drew is not capable of understanding or carrying out injection therapy either! We (his parents) will assume that responsibility for him for several more years. Why would we want to wait for a magical age of maturity to provide him with something that is so positive? In our case, our insurance covered 100% of PT. This was certainly another nudge for us to step out and try it. Our philosophy was-TRY THE PUMP!!!! If it didn't prove to be something that was workable, we could have put it away and tried again at a later date.
Now about how he does day to day. Drew attends pre-school every morning until 11:30 and stays for extended day 2 days until 2pm. He has been in the same program since he was diagnosed. I have found that the staff has been able to handle the pump very well. They are MUCH more willing to bolus Drew than they were to give injections. At the pre-school, the staff is amazed at the reduction of lows since he began PT. They remember the days on R and Drew bottoming out so quickly. I know they were terrified of these reactions. They are so pleased for us that frequent lows are a thing of the past. I do carry a cell phone with me at all times. I don't work , but of course I have to leave my house to shop, run errands, etc. The phone is very helpful because they know they can call me with any question. This is very liberating for me not to be tied to my house, plus it gives Drew a chance not to be "smothered" by mom and dad!
We also attend a very fine camp for diabetic kids and families. When we go to camp this summer it is likely that Drew will the youngest pumper there. If anyone asks, we will say that we are proud of our decision to take what we think is a solid and safe approach in the treatment of Drew's diabetes. We've seen the before and after. We remember the days that always seemed to be focused on diabetes. We are so proud of the bright, healthy little guy who bounds out of bed geared up for play and adventure!!!!
Thanks for this great resource for families who have pumpers! Our email address is email@example.com Thanks again,
Ron and Kristy Meanor
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