Putting a Face to the Name (the High Blood Sugar Demon)

I was recently asked if ย would like to submit a blog post to Diabetes Daily Grind to be published on their site. I was over the moon!!! But rather stumped as to what to write about. Then I had a really bad high and I knew what to write about. What it is like to experience a high blood sugar.

Here is the blog post.

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Please let me know what you think, do you experience highs differently? How do you handle the emotions that come with it?

Make sure you check out Diabetes Daily Grinds site too and some of the other fantastic blog entries ๐Ÿ˜€

Hope

 

My First Year Pumping

I’ve done it! 365days with this little doofer. At week 12 I was seriously doubting my decision take on a pump but I am so thankful that I decided to nut it out! Looking back I do not know how … Continue reading

Relinquishing Control-Blood Sugar Checks

Admit it, as someone with T1D you like to, no, have to control what happens to you with regard to being poked and prodded. We are subjected to so many tests, shots and site changes that are uncomfortable at the best of times, of course we want to be in control of these. We want to be able to control how quickly the needle is put in, or where. the depth of the finger prick and how hard our finger is squeezed. There are so many different aspects of T1D that cannot be controlled, so we really latch onto what we can control and tend to fight off any that threaten this.

For me, I haven’t let anyone test my blood sugar in over 10 years! It’s my thing, it’s personal, it involves getting into my space and and making me bleed for crying out loud! It hurts quite a bit of the time (I have such skinny and bony fingers!) and overall I just haven’t trusted anyone else to do it and do it well (not to mention wanting to be the first to see the resulting number so that I can decide if I am actually going to reveal the real number).

In the past couple of days it has come to my attention that maybe this isn’t as good for me as I was thinking. My Mum, Dad, Boyfriend, siblings and friends watch me test but I do it so quickly that to them it’s really just a 10 second blur, they couldn’t replicate it themselves without direction. Does that matter though? I mean how often am I in a situation in which I am unable to test my bloods? And that was were I stumbled in my thinking. Day to day I’m generally not in that situation but in the past week I have been verging on it quite a few times, leaving my boyfriend sitting there doing his best to make me eat and get my sugars up (which he is amazing at) while not knowing if what he is doing is having any effect because I’m refusing to test my bloods again. Take it one step further to him finding me on the floor or unable to wake me in the morning (God forbid either of these scenarios actually ever eventuate, although they have in the past) and he NEEDS to know WHY I am not responsive so that he can take the appropriate action to help me. I think he had been musing on this too because this morning he asked if I could teach him how to do a blood sugar test.

This morning I said yes, lets do it. I sat him down and instructed him to test his own blood sugar (he got a perfect 5.4) and then he went on, unassisted to check mine. I took photos to try and distance myself from the whole thing (I was rather worked up) but he did a perfect job! It didn’t even hurt (I wont tell you my number, lets just assume I wasn’t high but it was above his).


Now someone that I spend a great deal of time with (when we are in the same city) is capable of not only treating my blood glucose when it’s low but testing to see if that treatment is required. It has put his and my mind at ease that now,if required he has the knowledge and capability to do this.

I still think that a blood sugar check is very personal (to me at least) and is something which I intend to keep control of but when appropriate and for the right reasons I am now okay with the idea of handing that control over to someone else (doesn’t mean I wont make attempts to snatch the meter before the number appears though).

As always these thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone, you may find yours to be different and that’s absolutely fine ๐Ÿ™‚ Please feel free to shareย your thoughts on blood sugar tests. Do you always do them? Do you let anyone else? Does a member of your family know how to? Let me know in the comments below or over in Instagram @hopie_duncs or twitter @hopieduncs

Have a great day guys.

Hope

Continuing Connections – #DBlogWeek Day 7

DOC (diabetes online community) is a fantastic way of making connections with others who are travelling the same route as you with diabetes, it is also a great place to ask questions and find out about different technologies, coping strategies and maintenance ideas.

DBlogWeek has been an incredible way of broadening my circle of known DBlogs, there are two ladies that I need to thank for introducing me to #DBlogWeek. First is a lady that I found on FaceBook Arlene who writes the wonderful blog Cut the B.S.!…I mean Blood Sugar!ย I highly recommend checking out her blog, it is easy to follow/read and I enjoy it ๐Ÿ˜‰ The second is the fantastic Karen of Bitter~Sweet Diabetesย who is the founder and host of DBlogWeek. Not only has she got a fantastic blog but she has a list of all the people who have taken part in this years DBlogWeek here so that if you want to find some new DBlogs or just see what else is going on out there you can have a wee browse. I think there are around 200 so plenty to choose from and you are sure to find something that you like among it all ๐Ÿ˜‰

I will, over the course of the next year, work my way through these blogs to find new reading material but this week three blogs in particular stood out to me. First up is The Grumpy Pumper, I feel dreadful admitting this but I have been following the Grumpy Pumper on Twitter for months but have nit gotten around to checking out his blog and the answer is yes, his blog is as good as his tweets! He has a humor about him that I could not possibly recreate and I enjoy immensely, it may not be your cup of tea so go in with an open mind but I do smile when reading it.

Second is The Trials of Type 2 Diabetes. As someone with T1D I have gotten constantly frustrated with people making comments about me or my illness that, I feel, only apply to people with T2D. But as I have ‘grown up’ I have started to research ‘what is T2D,’ what is the disease process, who can get it, why do people get it, what are the influencing factors etc etc. The more I have researched the more I have understood about the disease process, risk factors etc etc but I have never actually been able to talk to someone with T2D to get an idea of a comparison between T1D and T2D. Far as I found (so far) this blog was one of the only ones for T2D taking part in #DBlogWeek (I could be totally wrong about that!)

Third and final was the blog Defining Diabetes and Mental Health.ย This blog seeks to bridge the gap between diabetes and mental health and get talking about how really they go hand in hand. As an occupational therapy student I have learnt a lot about mental health and it’s impacts/correlation with those suffering from physical ailments but it has only been in the past maybe 5years that I have realized the impact that diabetes has on my mental health and I have never found anything talking about it openly. Until now. I have not read all of the blog posts available on this site but from what I have seen and the description they offer I think it looks great and would really recommend it to all PWD because it is an area of life that all too often goes under the radar or people dont want to talk about.

Those are my new picks from #DBlogWeek I hope you enjoy having a read through them as much as I have. A huge thank you again to Karen for arranging #DBlogWeek and to all those who have participated, it has been a fantastic week ๐Ÿ˜€

Hope

Foods On Friday – #DBlogWeek Day 5

Today is all about food…this is a bit of an iffy subject for me, in my world food is for fuel, I often don’t enjoy what I am eating and only eat it to regulate my BS (blood sugar). In saying that there are a few foods that I really do enjoy when given the chance and good BS ๐Ÿ˜‰ so we will see how this goes, I will try and explain why I have chosen what I have to eat throughout the day and I’ll tell you what I have to do in order to be able to eat it and have a reasonable BS afterward.

I thought a good way of connecting my diabetes into this post would be to show you a standard day for me on Diasend, so I have screenshoted Saturdays record and I will walk you through it all ๐Ÿ™‚ I wont explain all the information on the graphs etc because I feel it is pretty self explanatory but if you do have any questions please feel free to ask them (I do understand that looking at this from a non T1D point of view it may seem rather confusing).

Oh and I have used Saturdays information instead of Fridays as Friday got away on me and I attended a friends garden party in the evening which is not my norm and which also entailed a beautiful potluck and alcohol (neither of which is great for a PWD trying to carb count hehe but it tasted so good!) so I figured that giving you a standard day would possibly be of more use ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lets get into it then ๐Ÿ™‚ carbs that I consumed are in the lower table just above but I will tease them out and give explanations of what I ate and why etc etc.

08:46 – Breakfast – 24g = porridge. I try to always have porridge for breakfast, I find it is a good slow release and doesn’t contain any added sugars or sweeteners. I also have the problem of feeling sick in the mornings and not wanting to eat anything at all but having diabetes doesn’t let me act on that feeling, when I do have breakfast I often have very distorted taste and I figure porridge is bland so it’s not as upsetting to my taste buds hehe. This feeling is always exasperated when I wake up with a high BS (I don’t know if any other PWD have this or if it is just one of my irritating qwirks?)

12:53 – Lunch – 30g = cheese toastie. Now I realize that not everyone reading this will be from New Zealand and we have very different terminology from the USA so I shall expand on what a cheese toastie is. You take two pieces of bread and butter them on both sides (this will make sense in a sec), next you place cheese and pineapple inside like a sandwich. Finally you place all of this in a toastie maker (I think this is also called a sandwich press?) What you end up with is toasted bread with melted cheese in the middle that is about 90 Degrees Celsius and burns you as you bite into but you are caught in a trap because as you pull away you realize the cheese has stuck to your mouth and is now stringy and looping everywhere. It is hilarious to watch people eat and tastes really good!

16:40 – Afternoon Tea – 21g = Cheese roll. Another New Zealand phenomenon hehe, this time you do the same thing but instead of pineapple you put chives and spring onion and you roll the bread into a roll before toasting (so good!)

17:36 – I was hungry – 27g = lammington (sponge with icing and coconut). Basically I hid two of these in my room so my younger brother wouldn’t eat the whole packet and I would actually get one, anyway, it was staring at me and I was hungry so it made sense.

18:09 – Curiosity – 16g = sour jelly beans. I found these fancy jelly beans I was given for Christmas and felt the need to try them then and there without having to wait for a hypo ๐Ÿ˜›

19:46 – Dinner – 30g = grilled chicken and steamed veges. It’s fair to say I was not overly hungry at this point but needs must ๐Ÿ˜›

20:03 – Lack of Self Control – the jelly beans were calling…

22:19 – Too Much IOB (insulin on board) – 10g = jelly beans. I tested and was perfect but I had over 1unit on board which was enough to send me into a hypo, it was logical to eat enough to cancel that out.

22:28 – Where is my brain?! – 21g = another lammington! At this point I must confess something, I was skyping my boyfriend and so was completely preoccupied when I was eating the jelly beans 10mins ago, I bolused for them, when the entire point of eating them was to cancel out my IOB! (Men! They just mess with your sugars!) So as a second cancellation of IOB I had my last lammington.

Whenever I had any of these things too eat I have to calculate the carbs that I am consuming I do this one of three ways: I weigh my food and enter it into Calorie King, here is the link if you want to have a look (I think it’s fantastic); or if it is something I eat regularly such as an apple I know the carbs and can just enter them from memory; or for things that come in servings I will weigh out a serving portion and use the information provided on the packet ๐Ÿ™‚ after I find out the carbs I enter the total into my pump and a calculation is run based on my I:C ratio (insulin carb ratio, how many units of insulin I need per gram of carb) and that insulin is given to me.

When I am at college I will make myself a packed lunch and when I was learning to carb count (and if I have anything new in my lunch box) I will write the carb total onto the gladwrap of the food item. It looks a bit daft but I find it very helpful when I am on the go or trying to concentrate on other things and busy.


The main thing i would like you to take away from this post is that PWD can eat anything that they want, we aren’t allergic to sugar and we wont die if we eat it as long as we have the appropriate insulin to cover it. I don’t normally eat so many sweets but every now and again it doesn’t hurt ๐Ÿ˜› ย Some people do this via carb counting others have other methods. For me I HAVE to have three main meals a day and if I do not have a small snack mid morning and afternoon I will go low (as I did at lunch today because I didn’t have morning tea). Everyone has certain things that they have to do every day to keep themselves healthy, mentally and physically, everyone’s list is different and mine includes having to eat at certain times and calculate what I have eaten. It feels really overwhelming at first but as you do it, it becomes second nature and a lot easier.

If you have any questions about carb counting or how I do things or need clarification on anything please feel free to ask. I’m not a Dr so cannot give you any advice or direction that regard but I have learnt some tips along the way that make things easier ๐Ÿ™‚

Changes – #DBlogWeek Day 4

Changes that I would like to see in the world of diabetes. Well if I could change anything about diabetes and an illness I would make it non-existent, ย so I guess there is not much to talk about in that area hehe. Instead lets talk about the equipment and technology available for PWD (people with diabetes) and my (very limited) thoughts on those ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lets start off with the technologies that I use on a daily basis:

Glucose Meter

Insulin Pump

Diasend (an internet platform for uploading and looking at the information/history of my pump)

Calorie King (for counting carbs)

I am extremely thankful that I have these technologies available to me instead of having to pee in a cup and and taste it or use a horse needle to to inject an un-calculated amount of insulin in the hope that you get it all more right than wrong.

I’ll start with the glucose meter (excuse me I am about to get very very excited here!) Have you seen the new Abbott Freestyle Libre?!! Oh my goodness if you haven’t click the link and have a wee look before you finish reading thisย http://www.freestylelibre.co.uk/ย basically it is a glucose monitoring system that has two components: a receiver and a reader. The reader is a small disc that is inserted into the upper arm (it lasts approximately 14days) you can then scan this disc with the receiver (this part can be done through clothing and takes 1second) to receive a glucose reading. No pricking, no waiting for the monitor to count down, no only having a certain amount of strips available every day or trying to coordinate yourself when your low or on the go. Anytime you want a reading, just scan yourself! This is beyond brilliant! I cannot talk this system or idea up enough! (can you tell I’m excited about this?) The only downside is that I am in New Zealand, which is pretty much the last inhabitable place on the bottom of the globe, so the rest of the world (it feels) has access to this technology and there is absolutely no release date set or even planned for New Zealand. It is beyond frustrating but something I am holding out for so desperately! And if anyone who is reading this has any experience of this tech please, I would love to know what it is like and whether you like it or not ๐Ÿ™‚

Insulin Pump, I have the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump. To be honest there is not a great deal I would change about my pump. I would love if it was slimmer as I find there are some styles of clothes that I have stopped wearing because they look quite silly with my pump, so I feel it does effect how I look in more ways than just having a box attached. My boyfriend thinks there should be a form of pump that is a set and forget, so that you don’t have to carb count and input info etc etc. Now this would be absolutely fantastic but there is a small part of me that has come to rely on the control I have over being able to choose the amount of insulin I have etc. The Dexcom, now that can link in with my pump and send it a glucose reading every 5minutes but, it is up to me to keep an eye on this info and choose what to do with it. I would love if my pump would register the readings and give me corrections based on the readings, taking into account IOB (insulin on board) etc, this, I feel would make my control super ๐Ÿ˜‰

Diasend, this platform takes all the information my pump has collected and does some mathematical magic to come up with pie graphs, charts and stats all about my carb intake, insulin taken and BS (blood sugar). It’s fantastic, I can email it through to my endo or DN (diabetes nurse) and they can sit wherever they are and give me advice on what I need to change. It’s brilliant. the only thing I would love to see with it is some sort of introductory video that explains what you can do and how to do it, it’s a bit of a have a play and see what happens kinda set up.It would also be quite handy to have it as an app for the HCP (health care professionals) as they could look at it easily on the go.

Last but not least is the app/website that I use to calculate my carbs so I can have the appropriate insulin. Call me too controlling if you like but I weigh everything I eat, unless it comes in single servings and the packet lists how many carbs is in that single serve. I find that with a pump it pays to be exact and the only way i can do this effectively is through weighing. Calorie King allows me to search a particular food or ingredient. There are some staples like wholewheat or brown flour that for some reason are not in Calorie Kings data base, which is slightly frustrating. On the whole I find the website a great deal easier to use than the app but if I have my way with carb counting I would have a tiny device that I could scan my food with and it would send the carb content directly through to my pump and my pump would give me the required insulin ๐Ÿ˜›

I know, I know a lot of what I have said is rather futuristic and largely unobtainable (especially the later) but I do think that there are many elements we could add to today’s technology that wouldn’t necessarily take a heap of brains to do (well more brain than I have but I’m positive you can find that out there) and those changes can and will make a huge difference to how diabetes in managed and (I think) change the lives of PWD for the better ๐Ÿ™‚

Clean It Out – #DBlogWeek Day 3

Clean it out, well I guess depending how you approach it this could be interpreted two different ways.

1. Cleaning out the emotional pa-lava that seems to accomplany T1D

or

2. Clean out the stash of diabetes paraphernalia, medicine, devices and god knows what else that every PWD seems to have hidden somewhere.

To attempt to ease myself into this weeks blogging I have gone for the later (and for your sake too as I am sure neither of us would cope too well if I unlocked that other closet!).

So here it is, the ‘diabetes stuff’ from my draw, cabinet and a banana box under my bed, everything that I could find that was diabetes related that I own…must say I am slightly embarrassed.

Here’s what we have: 3x novorapid pens (from when I was on MDI and in case I ever need to go back); 1x humalog pen (since when did I use humalog?  I mean I have reactions to it! Well the three packets of humalog insulin in the fridge state it was at least 6years ago and yes for some unknown reason I still have those vials of insulin too); 5x blood glucose monitors, 1 from about 9years ago, 1 from 8years ago (that I didn’t like), and three from the past 8years, 1 that I am using and 2 back ups (you know in case one dies and the other is eaten by a hermit crab, or the company goes out of production!); 6x finger prickers (I think I have hoarding issues with these wee gadgets); 2x packets of lancets (surprisingly enough I am steadily working my way through these, as I change the lancet every two-three days); 3x boxes of pump cartridges; 5x boxes of pump infusion sites; 2x boxes of pen needles; 7x boxes of ketone strips; 1x container of ketone sticks (thats right, when I was younger if you got sick you had to pee on a stick to find out if you had ketones! As if being sick needed to be worse!); 5x boxes of testing strips (I have a serious fear of running out of these!); a heap of emla patches and cream (I had a huge fear of needles and it took every numbing agent and nice talking nurse out to get me to have a blood test and even then it ended in an anxiety attack, I have managed to overcome this paralysing fear in the past three years but for some reason I still hold onto these, whether it is to remind myself of how far I have come or in case I ever go back I am not sure); 4x manuals (I think I flicked through one once to find out what the reading E-3 was, seemingly it means my meter is too cold to function hehe); heaps of these little red ‘I have diabetes’ alert cards that my Mum is always trying to get me to carry with me; a container of insulin that has surpassed its used by date (I always feel so guilty when this happens ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and I never know how to dispose of it safely so it just gets kept); 80+ alcohol swabs for site changes; hyperfix (a medical tape for creating safety loops with my pump tubing…turns out I’m allergic to the stuff); another form of medical tape (same purpose but so far no reaction); 2x glucagel (for when I go really low and cannot eat jelly beans or drink coke); a bag of jelly beans; a packet of gingernuts (these are my post hypo carb); my blood kit (this contains enough of everything to keep me going for probably a week hehe, you kknow just in case we get invaded by zombies at school and I don’t get home for a while or something); and I have a fridge compartment full of insulin and glucagons.

Do I need it all? I mean really? It seems like a ludicrous amount of stuff to keep one person running, doesn’t it?

So I went through it all, sorted out expiry dates and removed things that I haven’t used in years or is not a backup/will be needed within the next three months (and still be in date when it is needed). I amanged to dispose of a box of used site inserters and three boxes of out of date ketone strips. Thats it! The rest I will use within the next three months or will need should something break, die, explode, be dropped etc etc.

It’s confronting, to me, a PWD (someone who has been a PWD for 18years), that this is what it takes to keep me standing, to keep me breathing. And all because my immune system decided to wage civil war on my pancreas, one tiny act and the life of life support needed after is this. I admit, I try not to look at it all very often, that is probably why it is stored in different places all over the house and why things run out of date without me realizing. I don’t like to see it all because it reminds me of what I have to do every day to stay alive, reminders that I can do without and often have wanted to hide away from the world. But this is it, this is my life and I will embrace it, run with it, collaborate with it, fight with it, live with it and love with it. It is not all that I am but it is a component. One thing I will change however is making sure I regularly check my expiry dates and throw out or giveaway what I am never going to use or what is expired hehe.

So there you have it, I’ve cleaned it out and done a bit of reorganizing as it went back in, but some of it is getting biffed and is staying out permanently ๐Ÿ˜› Have a great day guys!

Hope

Diabetes Blog Week

I knew it was coming up but did it cross my mind to actually go and research what it was? No, no it didn’t, until today. Ach well, better late than never no?

What is Diabetes Blog Week (Dblog week)? I found myself asking the same question this afternoon as I flicked through Facebook. I have only joined the diabetes online community (DOC) this year so many things are new to me, including this week of blogging. Let me attempt a brief explanation and I’ll also give you a link to the incredible lady that got the ball rolling ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dblog week is in it’s 6th year and was started by Karen whose blog isย http://www.bittersweetdiabetes.com/ย the idea is that over the course of a week (7days) the DOC have access to a list of blog themes, or ideas, one for each day and they attempt to blog about them. You can sign up for Dblog week on Karen’s site and there you can also access a list of all the participants for that year (what a fantastic way to find new Dblogs, right!) Karen explains this all much better than I do, so if you are wanting more information I really suggest that you click here ->ย http://www.bittersweetdiabetes.com/2015/05/diabetes-blog-week.htmlย and also click <- there if you are wanting to sign up ๐Ÿ™‚

Why am I doing Dblog week. Well, this blog has been neglected, partly to my being busy with study and health but mainly due to my lack of ideas for posts. To me it just makes sense that while someone is offering the ideas I should grab hold of them ๐Ÿ˜‰ having looked at the blog themes/ideas for this year I also realized that there were a few in there that I wouldn’t have come up with myself, nor would I have been keen, without prompting to undertake. SO why not take the opportunity. I also get the chance to check out many other fantastic Dblogs so I can’t really loose ๐Ÿ˜›

I am starting things on the backfoot (a couple of days late) so there will (hopefully) be a couple of days that I post two posts in one day, I hope this isn’t too irritating and trust me it is not something I plan to make a habit of ๐Ÿ˜‰ at any rate I hope you enjoy this week and I really do encourage you to check out some of the Dblogs on offer this week too, you never know, you might find a new fav ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pump Start

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January 19th, 2015 and the day has finally arrived. It’s pump start!
I have my box filled with pump and instructions and I have all my consumables from the pharmacy. These all go in a bag and I’m off to the hospital for our 9am start.

I’m completing my pump start with another young lady who has T1D (thank goodness I am not doing this alone!) 

First thing is first, inserting the cannula. This is where our pump teacher was fantastic (she was fantastic with the whole thing but this really stood out to me). She had the same site type as me and put it into her own tummy to show me the steps. Seeing someone else do the process that I had too was so reassuring! Although I did have a wee panic before inserting it…but we got there!

Next we learnt how to fill, load and prime cartridges. Set Basel rates, insulin sensitivity factors (ISF), dial up and deliver boluses. All of which we did in practice pumps with ‘pretendy’ insulin before carrying it all out on our own pumps and attaching ourselves! 

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Next we had a Dexcom continuos glucose monitor (CGM) inserted and linked these up to our pumps (which double as a receiver for the CGM) to help us and our diabetes nurse understand what is going on through our first week of pumping. 

We were done for day 1 and in record time! I think we were both very thankful as our heads may have exploded with any more information!

I had a very rough night, with my Basel rate being too high causing me to have constant lows! One of which ended with my having to wake my Dad up at 3am for help (which I have not had to do in over 9years!) but my pump instructor was incredible getting on the phone and talking my Dad through putting a temporary Basel on until she can help me fix it in the morning. 

Back at a later start of 9:30 and we’re into day 2. Today we learnt how to use our advanced features to bolus for carbs and correct for high bloods. Along with trouble shooting, we are done and I am shattered! 

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Here is my fantastic pump instructor and myself at the end of day 2, Jo, from Animas. I cannot express how amazing she was, every question we had she answered and was so fun to learn with! 

Now I was off on my own and terrified!
I was shattered from all my lows and constantly trying to remember all the information I had learnt in the past two days. But I was determined to conquer this pump and had my life to get on with.

I was extraordinarily lucky because for the next three days I had a friend in town visiting who I had been discussing my T1D with over the past month. Whilst I continued having issues with basels and corrections, lows and highs I had a fantastic friend to talk to about it and who made me feel good about getting on the pump and without realising it made me feel incredibly supported through the whole thing. Although things weren’t going to plan I felt safe going out and carrying out normal tasks because I knew someone was with me that could help.

Although my initial experiences of starting on my pump were not great I have had exceptional help and support from Animas, my pump instructor, diabetes nurse, dad and friend all of whom I cannot express enough thanks to!

If you are thinking of or are about to start on an insulin pump, please don’t let anything I have said put you off. Make sure you have a good support in place to help you through the first bumpy period and have good communication with your instructor and health care professionals. Yes it is hard, yes things do go wrong, but yes things get easier and yes everything can be fixed ๐Ÿ˜Š 

If you have any questions please feel free to ask and best of luck if you are starting a pump soon! 

Hope