In 2002, at the age of 39, Tony was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. His primary care doctor started him on the usual diabetes regimen he started all his patients on – oral diabetes medications, and was told to get a blood glucose meter, test a couple times a day, and lose weight. As he left his doctor’s office, he was given two pamphlets about diabetes and was wished “good luck”. Tony takes you through his struggle managing type 2 diabetes, and how insulin pump therapy changed his life.
Late 2002, after I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I was hospitalized with pancreatitis. After a few years of medication adjustments, I was prescribed insulin injections. This soon led to using two types of insulin, and taking Metformin twice a day at the maximum dosage. However, I was still having at least one, if not two, pancreatic attacks a year, and unable to keep my blood sugar under control. It was time to seek specialized help.
In the fall of 2012, I started seeing an endocrinologist. At that time, my A1C was in the mid 11’s. The endocrinologist assessed my condition and treatment regimen, and together we formulated a diabetes management plan. Since I had so many pancreatic incidents, my body no longer produced very much insulin and insulin was essential to keeping my glucose levels balanced.
At this time, I had high protein levels in my urine, glucose levels that were all over the place, and beginning stages of diabetic retinopathy. To me, this was an indication that my high blood glucose levels were beginning to damage my kidneys. There were periods of time where my glucose levels would be above 300mg/dl for multiple days. My endocrinologist made me an appointment to see a kidney specialist. My fear of kidney damage due to poor diabetes management was confirmed. Something needed to change.
I asked my endocrinologist about using an insulin pump to better manage my diabetes. She agreed it most likely would. After that appointment, she contacted Medtronic to get me started on an insulin pump. Shortly after, I received a call from a Medtronic employee who helped me order the supplies and equipment I needed to start insulin pump therapy. A few days later, a package arrived at my door. I have to admit, when I opened the box, I was a little intimidated by the new supplies and equipment I was about to use. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. After I received my pump and supplies, I called Medtronic and got an appointment set up with my trainer and endocrinologist.
When I met my trainer, she assured me that although everything looked complicated, I would quickly master everything I needed to do to make this treatment work for me. I slowly transitioned to the pump by infusing saline while still injecting my own inulin. Finally, I felt comfortable enough to transition fully to the pump. I had a team of people who made my diabetes treatment as important to them as it was to me. Even though it took some time to administer the right dosages, I had support and encouragement throughout the entire process.
A few months later, I added a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to my diabetes management regimen. Approaching a year since I started integrated insulin pump therapy, I can truly say I am well on my way to controlling my diabetes, instead of my diabetes controlling me. Gone are the days of having to inject insulin several times a day, taking oral medications, and having dangerously high glucose for days at a time. My glucose levels remain stable between 80 to 130 mg/dl, and my last A1C was 7.1. With a better understanding of proper diet and nutrition, combined with exercise, I have lost a total of 26 pounds since starting insulin pump therapy.
I still have a long way to go, as managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment and one that everyone who has diabetes should take seriously. I cannot stress enough the importance of diabetes education. The more you know, the better you can manage it. A wise man once said to me, “Ok, you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you own it, and it’s yours. You now have a choice to make; you can either die with diabetes, or die from diabetes. How long it takes for either one depends on what you do from this moment on.”
If treating diabetes has been as challenging for you as it has been for me, remember, you don’t have to go through it alone. Find yourself a good endocrinologist, eat the right foods, exercise, and talk to your doctor about insulin pump therapy. My team is such an important part of my diabetes treatment; I would be a lost cause without them.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.
Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.
The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory finger stick is required prior to treatment. Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.
Please visit http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/important-safety-information for additional details.
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