Quality of Life

Spending time in Europe always makes me think about LIFE… the hectic way we drive from place to place at home, versus the long communal breakfasts and peaceful afternoon coffee-and-cake sittings here. Breathlessly fumbling to lock the front door juggling purse, backpack, plastic grocery sacks and sunglasses under the flawless blue California sky, versus hearing the patter of the rain on the stained-glass windows as our familial gathering chatters and laughs over our Kaffee.

And with all that running around we do at home, do we really accomplish more? Is our life richer, or just more hectic? Much more hectic…

The thing about life, it occurred to me, is that it’s like a funnel. While you’re young, you’re swirling around in the wide mouth of the apparatus where everything still seems possible. You are free to try out different friends, different jobs, different homes, different lovers.

As you get older, the choices you make — no matter how good they may be — pull you down lower into the narrow tube of the funnel, where you are ever more limited by the choices you’ve already made. (My explanation of Midlife Crisis?)

As I write this, I realize that I will never be a rock star, or a screen actress, or professional athlete, or even a hobby sculptress. “Those trains have departed,” as they say in Germany.

What I am is a writer (now a blogger), a mother, a (happily, still-smitten) wife, a person whose life has been transformed to a large extent by her chronic disease.

In other words, this is it. This is my life.

And when I take stock, there are surely some things I would have liked to do while still in my 20s. But I have studied and worked abroad, I have traveled extensively, I have built a comfortable and frequently fun life with the man I love. I have three beautiful, fascinating children whom I absolutely adore. For these and many more reasons, I really can’t complain.

As far as my chronic disease goes, I’m happy to report that certain advancements Op_in_europe_2 are making an enormous difference in quality of life right here and now. Last year our annual Europe trip, for example, was a diabetes disaster compared to this year. Everywhere I went I schlepped syringes and insulin pen, plus the DexCom CGM and its shower patches, the requisite OneTouch meter and test strips, and the connection cables, not to mention glucose tablets and snacks. The absolute intrusion value of this disease into my freedom of movement and enjoyment of my vacation was off the charts.

In contrast, this year I schlep only the OmniPod in a single case with its test strips and lancing device. This single, cable-free, easy-to-use device has allowed me to eat, swim, sleep, and exercise as I like — virtually free from all the fuss and calibration that made last year such a drag. The intrusion value of my diabetes plunges. Amen.

I keep thinking: If the OmniPod in its current state can do this, just imagine what advances in mini-pumps might be coming! And of course I’d like to have constant glucose readings, in order to understand what’s happening in my body at all times — IF the benefits of wearing the gizmo finally do outweigh the cons.

Meanwhile, the OmniPod has helped push this disease, which took such a bite out of my quality of life, to the background, so that my energy and time can be spent on more pleasant things. What a gift! … whether your life is full of freeway jaunts or afternoon teas.

[Editor's Note: This post is no ad for OmniPod, rather some honest musings on quality of life with a chronic illness, and what good technology can do to improve it.]

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12 Responses

  1. Ed
    Ed July 6, 2007 at 6:55 am | | Reply

    Amy,

    I totally agree with you! I’ve been on my Minimed pump now for just over 24 hours and I already feel more in control of my time! It was AWESOME not having to give myself 4 shots yesterday and I was able to make and eat breakfast alot more quickly and comfortably this morning. I didn’t go with the omnipod for fear of it ripping off while lifting weights but the future is bright for pump wearers!

  2. BP
    BP July 6, 2007 at 7:46 am | | Reply

    I am in post-vacation mode myself, Amy. A week of reading, sunning, and wave riding does a body good! I returned home to a huge box of Omnipod start up stuff! I check your blog daily now, for any glimpse of how your life is going with the POD. I am still scared to death to wear the pump (any pump) but am reassured when I read that it seems to have made your diabetic life comply with your lifestyle that I can tell you love so much. I chose the Omnipod because I want to have a healthy pregnancy if we are ever so blessed but the thought of getting back my lifestyle before my diagnosis is an amazing added bonus! Thanks for letting us in on your experience. I can’t tell you how much it has helped in the last 6 months. Safe travels!

  3. Christian
    Christian July 6, 2007 at 9:56 am | | Reply

    I wish they’d finally manage to distribute the omnipod in Germany. Can’t wait to get one!

  4. Titos
    Titos July 6, 2007 at 10:19 am | | Reply

    No doubt diabetes sucks (is difficult and very inconvenient). However one should also consider that the way we feel reflects our own state of mind as much as the disease. In other words there will always be something to complain about.
    Technology will continue to improve the management of diabetes: At least 5 patch / nanopumps have been announced and are expected over the next 2-3 years; DexCom apparently have solved the initial quality problems and Minimed are getting good reviews. The Abbott Navigator is supposed to hit the market in October in Germany and the Netherlands.
    At least 5 oral insulins have been announced and Generex is starting Phase III trials on its insulin spray. Phase III trials have also started on ultra-rapid insulins, and a bit further down the line are long term sensors, smart insulins (forget the artificial pancreas), as well as protected insulin cells, whether tranplanted or manufactured. I believe most of these things will be available within 5-7 years because the problems that need to be overcome are technological rather than medical ones and proofs of concept already exist. I would guess that a diabetes cure will be found within 15 years, simply because the understanding of the biological basis not only of this disease, but of the immune system in general is increasing exponentially. However by then maybe it won’t be so necessary…?

  5. Michael Park
    Michael Park July 6, 2007 at 10:28 am | | Reply

    I was in Berlin/Paris for a few weeks earlier this summer and I was pleasantly surprised at how much 3++ hours of walking each day can lower insulin requirements.
    I’m still not a pumper, but I’ve found that my MDI control has gotten so much better over the last few years. I think that pumpers have been able to study the effects of insulin therapy on a much more minute level and those findings are still applicable to all insulin management.

  6. Dave
    Dave July 6, 2007 at 10:47 am | | Reply

    Amy,

    You are so right. Pumping makes your life better. My last A1c was 5.8% down from 7.3% while giving myself shots. I used to be so worried when I would go to bed with my pump and now I just sleep on top of it like it isn’t even there. I eat fairly well but I do for the most part eat what I want. Being diabetic has made me more aware of my body but I certainly do not let the diabetes control me. I am in control and the pump just makes it that much easier to do so!!

  7. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth July 6, 2007 at 11:48 am | | Reply

    Amy-
    I really enjoyed reading your post today. It made me thankful for all the wonderful things in my life… and also how about I need to slow down and enjoy them more. It sounds like you’re having a wonderful time in Germany. I hope you continue to have a relaxing and safe trip!

  8. Laane
    Laane July 6, 2007 at 3:44 pm | | Reply

    Well, those advancements must be great.

    I have to struggle to get my teststrips payed, so it’s not all so nice and easy in Europe.

    I hope you enjoy your stay.

  9. Chrissie in Belgium
    Chrissie in Belgium July 7, 2007 at 1:16 am | | Reply

    Two things, no three! I loved your comparison with life to a funnel! Wonderful and oh so true! But hej, I live in Europe, now in Belgium and previously in Sweden. Look life is stressed EVERYWHERE, it is not just the US. Absolutely everywhere this is happening and it is part of progress. Only by working your but off do you achieve progress, it is just that people tend to over do things. We have to cool it sometimes, to collect ourselves so we can go on being productive. And the third thing I wanted to say – what was that? Yes, concerning middle life crisis, and the feeling that our choices are dwindling, as we go down the funnel….as you so aptly put it! The thing is to remember how big and wide that funnel IS; it is huge. Even half way down it is huge. Life CONTINUES to offer all sorts or opportunities if we just dare to grab for them. There remains so much interesting stuff out there that you do not have to feel limited, but you have to dare to go after your dreams. How many people in their late 40s dare to leave one country and move to another country where you do not even know the language. We did this, and it was exhilarating and scary. BOTH. But I am so glad we did it. Change is very scary and very fun.

  10. JR
    JR July 8, 2007 at 7:40 am | | Reply

    My girlfriend just started using the mini pump and raves about it! Before she was always having to stop and give herself a shot. One time she did it right in the middle of a parking lot and people stared … hate to say it, but it looked like a drug addict getting their fix and that’s so unfair. Anyway, thanks for sharing! Very inspiring. Best to you!

  11. Kathryn
    Kathryn August 21, 2007 at 6:38 am | | Reply

    I have the omnipod and I jog everyday. I am having some problems with the pod staying on especially when sweaty. last week it seemed the needle became dislodged and was not pumping insulin into me effectively. Do you have any advice or experience with this?

  12. Lyra
    Lyra August 22, 2007 at 8:53 am | | Reply

    I have had the omnipod about 3 months now and reciently have had trouble like Kathryn where the cathatur (spelling) becomes dislodged. I had unusually high sugar all day yesterday and finally had to change the pod fixing the problem, I seem to only have this problem when I have used arm or leg for pod placement.

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