Insulin Pumps and Freedom in Christ

Dear Reader,

[If you don’t have a cwd (child with diabetes), bear with me. There is a point at the end!]

My eight year old has type 1 diabetes. She need us to get insulin in her body some way multiple times  a day. The old fashioned method, which is how we started out when she was diagnosed at age 1, is to give her shots. The new-fangled way is to use an insulin pump. A pump is a cell phone sized device that contains a cartridge of insulin. A tube extends from it (in most cases; some are tubeless). The tube goes to a needle which goes in my dd. We change this needle and move around where on her body the pump is every few days. When Sparrow got her first pump at age 2, about 9 months after diagnosis, we were sooo excited. The pump was finally going to give us the freedom we desired. No longer did we have to convince a toddler to eat a certain number of carbs or cut her off if she was eating too many. No longer did she have to eat at certain times of day. We were goign to have flexibility! Freedom! It took a while to get all our ratios and numbers figured out on the pump, but even the first weekend we appreciated the freedom it gave us. Sparrow was invited to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese that weekend. Such a scenario would have been a nightmare on the regimen of shots she had been on (NPH and Humalog for those who know what this means). But with the pump, we could let her have all the pizza and cake she wanted and give her little dribbles of insulin as needed. We didn’t have to know what she would eat ahead of time and we didn’t have to stick her with a needle extra times. Over the years, we enjoyed being able to use the pump. It was not perfect but it was sure better than those months with a toddler on shots of NPH.

The only problem was Sparrow was not so thrilled. I don’t think she minded at first. Or maybe she just didn’t think to tell us at age 2. But last year, at age 7, we let her off the pump for a week at the beach and she hasn’t been back since. I dreaded going back to shots. It has not been as bad as I expected. A 7, now 8, year old is more predictable than a 2 year old in what she eats. She is easier to reason with when we need her to eat or not to eat. And the long-acting insulin we are using now (first lantus, now levemir) is better than NPH too. But still, shots are more work for me. I like to minimize her shots per day so I do try to plan meals well, to predict what she will eat and to prebolus accordingly. The insulin seems to take longer to kick in thsi way so a lot more forethought is needed on my part. And I have to do a lot of the math which the pump did for me. Still, we figure it is Sparrow’s disease and her body and she will live with diabetes for a long time (all her life) so we are letting her make the decision as long as it doesn’t seriously impair her health.

Sparrow has not clearly said why she prefers shots but the best clue I can get from her is that she didn’t like having something attached to her 24/7. To her, shots mean freedom. Freedom from a tube (we offerred her the tubeless pump though and she still didn’t want it), freedom from having something attached to her all the time. I think maybe to her the pump was like wearing her diabetes all the time whereas shots intrude on her life only 5-10 times a day for 10 seconds or so (of course this doesn’t count finger sticks and all that; there is really a lot involved).  She has never been sensitive about her disease so I don’t think this is an embarrassment thing. I think it is just about her own sense of freedom from the device.

Which brings me to one of the weird thoughts I have had thanks to this disease’s presence in our lives. Freedom is not always what we think it is. To my husband and I, it means one thing, but to Sparrow it means another. Our freedom in Christ is similar. To many, freedom means the option to do whatever one wants. It means no rules, nobody else telling us what is right or wrong. It is similar to how we felt when Sparrow pumped–no rules, no set amounts of carbs at set times of day, no need to think about what we will eat when (okay, those of you with cwds know this is a stretch; diabetes is always a lot of work). But we didn’t realize the burden that was always there. We want our freedom (spritually now) but we don’t realize we are slaves to sin and death all along. It is not a perfect analogy, I know, but it does make me think.


p.s. I realize the consequence of this analogy is that insulin pumps=sin and death. I am actually still pro-pump. I think they are a great choice, especially in very young children.

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