Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Looking Back: In Pump Failure, And In Health.

There has only been one time in my life that my insulin pump has bit the dust - and it just so happened to be on a pretty important day. Main takeaway: do not, under any circumstances, wear your pump under a pair of Spanx and multiple layers of satin and tulle in 80+ degree weather. Trust me on this one.

* * * * *

Some of the most common advice about wedding planning is that while you can try to plan out every detail, it is nearly inevitable that something will still go wrong.  Aaron and I heard this from many people as we planned our wedding, which took place in June of 2009.  A lot of times, however, you don’t realize how good the advice you’re getting is until it becomes reality.

I’ve mentioned before that our wedding day had a couple of minor catastrophes. I’m not talking about flowers being the wrong color or reception food being cold. I’m not talking about hung-over groomsmen or rainy weather. No, when I have a catastrophe, I go big – I’m talking about our photographer not showing up, and my insulin pump dying.

(Let me preface this story by telling you that I’m not sure how I didn’t freak out in a ridiculous fashion about either of these issues. I think my Bubble of Wedding Day Happy must have prevented me from feeling the full force of either situation.)

Pictures were scheduled to start at 9:00 am, with the guys first, then the girls, then all of us as a group. At 9:05, with our photographer nowhere in sight, Aaron got a little worried and got out his cell phone. “Hey, it’s Aaron, just wondering where you are. Hope everything’s okay. Give me a call back.” After a few moments, the photographer called back.

Incompetent Jerk: “Hi, Aaron. What do you need?”

Aaron: “What do I need?  I need you here! Where are you?”

Total Loser: “Um, I’m at home. Why… what’s going on?”

Aaron: “You’re supposed to be here! Right now! It’s 9:10!”

Guy I Wanted To Strangle: “Oh, sh!t. It’s today? I had it written down as next weekend! Oh sh!t! I’m on my way right now….” (Important Detail:  he lived an hour's drive away from where we got married.)

Aaron: “Don’t even bother. We’re done.” *click*

And thus began the couldn’t-be-more-last-minute search for a new wedding photographer. On a Saturday morning. In June; the peak of Wedding Season. (HA!  AHAHAHAHA!  HAAAAA!  /crazed and delusional laughter)

Sheer luck and chance led us to finding someone. And not just someone – a super great guy who’s a well-established photographer in the area. As fate would have it, we caught him on the one Saturday in June he hadn’t booked himself out, because it was his daughter’s birthday. As fate would also have it, his wife was willing to wake him up so we could talk to him (he was still sleeping when we called), and he was willing to give us his whole morning and as much of the afternoon as we needed.  We’ll never be able to fully express our gratitude to him for that.

I also owe thanks to my brother, who was elected as the person who had to go tell me that the photographer wasn’t showing up. That takes courage.

My wedding day preceded my involvement (or even awareness of) the DOC. I didn’t know that other ladies had pockets built into their wedding dresses for their insulin pumps – so I did on my wedding day what I did every other day; which was to hide it under my clothing via undergarments. More specifically, my Deltec Cozmo pump was between my Spanx and I, and both of us were all wrapped up in layers of satin and tulle.

In retrospect, I can see the trouble brewing. At the time, I thought nothing of it. It’s a waterproof pump! I've had it for four years with no problems!  It’ll be fine!

And fine it was, until Aaron and I were in the vehicle that transported us from ceremony to reception. We were sitting in the back seat, being excited and nervous (and hungry), when all of a sudden my pump starts incessantly vibrating.

Spanx + wedding dress + sitting down in a car = a pump that’s REALLY HARD TO GET TO.

Upon retrieving it, I noticed that the screen had a bunch of gibberish on it, and that none of the buttons were responding. It kept vibrating, then beeping… and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. Nor did I know if it was delivering any – or way too much – insulin. I had to disconnect and take out the battery.
And that's when the tears came.  Why now, Mr. Pump?  Of all days in my life, why did you die today?  And not only today, but two days before I'm leaving the country on my honeymoon trip? 
In addition, Deltec/Smiths Medical (the manufacturer of my insulin pump) had announced a couple of months prior that they'd decided to discontinue the Cozmo and leave the diabetes supply market.  In my mind, I was imagining horrid scenarios where I'd try to call the customer service 800 number, and that pre-recorded robot lady would tell me "This number is no longer in service".
I was also imagining horrid scenarios where I wouldn't get to eat my own wedding cake.
Thankfully, for the first time in my insulin-pumping life, I had asked my internist at my last appointment for some back-up supplies.  It never occurred to me that a pump failure could happen on the actual wedding day - I was thinking about the overseas trip.  My brother once again stepped up to the plate by quickly driving to my house, getting the specified supplies out of my fridge, and bringing them to the reception for me. 
After the reception, I got on the phone with Smiths Medical.  Let me just say, they were wonderful.  I explained the whole story.  About how it was my wedding day, and my pump had up and died with no prior warning.  About how I was flying overseas within 48 hours.  And you know what?  They had a new (well, refurbished, but a working) insulin pump at my door within 12 hours of my phone call.  Awesome.
That very same wedding advice can (and always should have been) applied to my diabetes life, as well.  You can plan and plan, but things can still go wrong.  The best robot parts can still malfunction, and they can have spectacularly bad timing.  Having back-ups of everything helps to make those small bumps in the road seem a bit less like mountains.
And that cake?  It was delicious.

Possibly the most worthwhile use
of a back-up Humalog pen ever.


  1. Wow! Go big (failure) or go home, right? So glad it worked out for you. I thought I was going to lose it because our tux shop sent the wrong ties.

  2. Wow, what a STORY! When I think I'm having a bad day, I'll come back and read this to get inspiration on how you handled one crappy thing after another with such grace.

  3. I've never heard this story. Wow is for sure. You handled it much better than I would have. I would have freaked and cried the entire time. Well, maybe not. Maybe I'd just be happy for the wedding day part like you. ;)

  4. I'm getting married next year and this post reminds me to include "extra diabetes supplies" on my checklist of things to do :)

  5. HOLY CRAP. what an insane and amazing story. maybe it was the way you told it, or the fact some time has passed (or the fact that it didn't happen to ME) but all i can focus on is how much AWESOME came out of the day! the awesome replacement photog, your awesome bro, the awesome cozmo tech. AWESOME! thanks for sharing!! :)


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