CFRD (cystic fibrosis related diabetes) is extremely common in people with cystic fibrosis due to scarring in the pancreas. 43 percent of cf patients develop diabetes by the age of 30. (cff.org has more information about CFRD) CFRD has characteristics of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. With CFRD, not enough insulin is produced and insulin resistance is also an issue.
At the time of my diabetes diagnosis (February of 1998), I was inpatient for 2 weeks receiving IV antibiotics for a CF exacerbation. I remember one night, I kept asking the nurse for more apple juice. I just couldn’t quench my thirst. They decided to check my urine for elevated levels of glucose. Unfortunately, that’s what they found. I was a senior in high school, an athlete, and cared way too much about social status. I was devastated. I had a big fear of needles. I hated needles actually. With all the hospital stays and doctors visits up to this point in my life, you’d think I would be a pro pincushion. I wasn’t.
Initially, I didn’t need to give myself insulin shots. My diabetes management started by just monitoring my blood glucose levels before and after meals and sort of limiting my sugar intake…..no more cotton candy! Boo! I think I was pretty angry and scared about this new reality. CF was enough to deal with, now diabetes too?! But as with anything in life, once I got used to the idea that this was the new norm, I eventually accepted it and moved on.
I had a pretty good tennis season that spring and went off to college in the fall. A year after being diagnosed with CFRD, I had to start taking insulin to supplement what my pancreas was not producing. Giving myself shots was an unwelcomed adjustment. It took time for this new reality to sink in. Obviously, being insulin dependent is not the outcome I had hoped for. Eventually, I became pretty comfortable with poking myself and the needles were so small that I barely felt it. I’ve adapted over the years and staying on top of diabetes takes effort and time like everything else in life. It’s no cake walk but, in my experience, it is manageable. Just like cystic fibrosis, managing diabetes has taught me discipline and this benefits me in other areas of my life. Many adjustments have been made over the years with my diabetes management. My pancreas produces little to no insulin at this point.
In 2009, I opted for the insulin pump (I chose the Animas One Touch Ping) and it’s now my best friend. Initially, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of having something attached to me 24/7 because I am a very active person but this baby saves me from sticking myself 7 to 10 times a day. That’s a win.
Instead of limiting my freedom, my insulin pump has given me more. I don’t have to think about packing insulin bottles and needles every time I go somewhere. I still count carbs but my pump calculates my insulin to carb ratio. I feel more freedom to eat more frequently because I don’t have to draw up a shot every time I do so. My glucose meter and pump sync with each other which makes life easier as well. If an insulin pump is an option for you, I highly recommend getting one. It has my vote!
I am not a doctor but as a long time diabetes patient and insulin pump user, I’m happy to try and answer any questions you have!