All Pumped Up—Again

At least last week ended on a high note, ’cause it started out as a comedy of errors.

Bright and early Monday morning, I crawled out of bed, got dressed, and drove to an oncologist’s office for a scheduled 8 AM interview for an article on colorectal cancer. There, I settled into a comfy sofa in the waiting room and watched the morning news while waiting for Susan, the clinic’s PR person/reporter-babysitter to arrive.


Around 10 or 15 minutes after my interview was to begin, I called Susan. “Are you coming for the interview, or are you finally going to let me talk to somebody without you hovering?” I asked her.

“Tomorrow?” she asked.

“No, it’s this morning,” I responded. “I’m at the office now. I’ve been waiting for you.”

“It’s tomorrow—Tuesday—morning,” she said as she laughed.

“#*)” I responded.

Tuesday morning, I got up bright and early, got dressed, and stumbled out to my car, which was covered with frost. Opened the door, got in, put the key in the ignition and closed the door. Which bounced back open. I tried closing it again. Again, it bounced back open. Most car doors stick shut when they’re covered with frost or ice. Mine has to be different and stick open.

I checked the clock. Fifteen minutes until I was supposed to be at the doc’s office. I started calling Susan’s pager. Susan’s pager doesn’t like me. I tried from my cell phone. I tried from my home phone. The third time (on my home phone) was a charm and I was able to explain the situation to her so the interview could be rescheduled. She also confirmed that her pager had only beeped her once.

After making sure I got her cell phone number, I opened my address book to enter it. It was already there.

I finally made it Thursday morning. Late. The children stayed overnight with us on Wednesday and had to be taken to school. My grandson had gone out and started my car, with instructions to turn the heat up all the way and the defrosters on. I thought it would be good to go when it was time to leave. He started it, but it didn’t stay that way. When we went out, the car was silent and every window on it was coated with a thick layer of frost. We couldn’t find a scraper and had to wait for the defrosters and heat to clear the windows.

When I got home, I noticed I had my pants on inside out.

Friday dawned cold, but beautiful, with a cover of fresh snow blanketing the landscape. I had no outside appointments and plenty of time to cook dinner at my leisure. As my neighbor and I were sitting at the table, sharing tea and looking through her latest sewing project, my doorbell rang. It was my new insulin pump[1] being delivered.

Yes, I gave in and got a new one. It has the latest features including something I’ve really been wanting: It calculates how much insulin[2] is still active in your body and calculates how much you’ll need to correct a high. I’ll no longer have to commit math!

After my neighbor left, I unpacked the box and commenced setting up the pump. It’s a different brand than I’ve had before, and I have a trainer coming, but figured I could get it going. After all, I’ve been pumping for more than nine years. How difficult can it be?

An hour later, I came mighty close to calling a teenager. Not that all teenagers know how everything works, but this particular one happens to use the same kind of pump I got.

However, by reading the manual and going back and forth a lot before I got the basics set up, I finally managed to get it to the point where I could hook up to it.

There was a noise. My (now former) pump was beeping. What was it trying to say? It was low on insulin? There was an occlusion? (I’d been getting a lot of those lately.) I peered at the screen. “Battery low,” it said. It was a sign.

I opened the door with the broken hinge cover, then the battery cover, and shook out the batteries. I tossed the batteries into a nearby trash can, closed the doors on the pump, and set it down on the table.

Silence reigned once again. Suddenly, it occurred to me that, after more than nine years, I could finally utter those famous words; the words behind the reason I had named my first pump “Elvis.”

“Elvis,” I murmured, “is dead.”

  1. insulin pump:
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Jan Chait: Jan Chait was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in January 1986. Since then, she has run the gamut of treatments, beginning with diet and exercise. She now uses an insulin pump to help treat her diabetes. (Jan Chait is not a medical professional.)

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