Monday, 26 September 2011

A Technology I Cannot Live Without

 I am enrolled in a course this semester called Technology and Society, and I recently had to write a paper on my relationship with a technology of my choice.  Of course my diabetes somehow factored in to the assignment and this is what I came up with...

There are more technologies in the world, from the wheel to the Smartphone, than a single person can list. Our list grows substantially when we extend our definition of technology to include almost every man-made tool, whether it physical, social, economic or political.  Despite the magnitude of this list, I can say with utter certainty that there is a single technology in the world that I cannot live without.  I say this with no exaggeration, as one is inclined to do when describing one’s love of chocolate or one’s affection towards one’s bike. I am always plugged in to this technology and it travels with me everywhere, yet it is not my cell phone, laptop, iPad or any other mobile device.  Despite being a new, highly sophisticated technology, not very many people own one, nor would they want to.  Yet for a select group of society this device is in high demand.  This technology is my insulin pump, and every drop of insulin it injects allows me to live.
My stylishly zebra print insuling pump
Eight years ago, having only been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes for one year, my relationship with insulin pumps began when I replaced my daily needle injections with the promising technology of the pump.  A pump was beneficial for many reasons, but at twelve years old I was mainly attracted to the flexibility that it offered.  When injecting insulin via needles, I had to follow a strict dietary regime that dictated I ate the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time every day in order to balance the insulin doses.  Pumps, however, are designed to mimic a functioning pancreas’ role in regulating blood sugars.  They do this by secreting small amounts of insulin throughout the day to prevent naturally rising blood sugars and large amounts with food intake to combat carbohydrates.  Therefore my pump allowed me to eat fewer or more carbohydrates at irregular times of the day while still maintaining good blood sugar control.  At twelve years old, the ability to eat both a piece of cake and pizza at my friend’s birthday party, rather than having to chose the one with less carbohydrates, was incredibly liberating.
An insulin pump looks like a pager with a tube sticking out the side which attaches to an infusion site that enters the body. Since my first blissful experience with a pump, I have upgraded to a newer and smaller model which has further enhanced blood sugar control.  Despite the advantages of the pump, I have always battled with the annoyance of its omnipresence.  Many people complain of being constantly hooked to their phone, but I literally know how it feels to be continually attached to a piece of technology.  At times I wish I could have a break from my pump’s ubiquity, but that would mean a break from diabetes which is one break I will simply not experience. 
My belief in a cure is strong, however, and I hope that one day within my lifetime somebody will be writing their perspective paper on the cure for type 1 diabetes. Until that day, I will continue to depend on my important piece of technology, and focus on the life saving abilities which make this particular technology a blessing.  

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Zip Lining Through Diabetes

I recently spent a week at a cottage in northern Quebec where I had the chance to explore an aerial park and enjoy the beautiful scenery from way up in the trees.  Aerial parks are a truly exhilarating experience because although they are safe and have all the necessary safety precautions in place, you still experience those terrifying but exhilarating ‘what if’ moments when your mind starts to wander to the worst case scenarios.  This particular aerial park was tiered by beginning lower to the ground and gradually becoming higher and higher throughout the three courses.  There were also 14 amazing zip lines, one of which spanned 850 feet across a lake.        
Although the park is designed for people of all abilities, and I didn’t find it particularly difficult to navigate through the various ropes and ladders, I was definitely using muscles that I don’t use on a regular basis, and as a result my blood sugars were running on the low side the entire time, despite setting a temporary basal rate of 0 units for the 3 ½ hours it took to complete the aerial park courses.  In the case of the aerial park, when you are wearing a harness similar to one you’d wear for rock climbing, I found a fanny pack (however retro that may seem) was the best choice for storing my tester and sugar supply.  Where a backpack would throw off my balance and not allow me the ease of sneaking through some of the smaller parts of the park, I barely noticed that I was wearing a fanny pack at all, but it was still able to hold enough supplies to keep me safe the entire experience.    
I’d like to think that for that day, equipped with my fanny pack, I was the most retro diabetic in all of Northern Quebec.  Whereas I may have been self conscious of the added bulk of the fanny pack in the past, I barely noticed it that day and had an amazing aerial park experience.