The problematic pump puzzle

As the plane taxied through the Swedish rain toward the airport, I switched my phone from airplane mode back to ‘fully operational, I’m very important, everyone will need to contact me immediately’ mode. Of course, I didn’t really assume anyone would need to contact me – all my girls would be in school by that time & my husband would be busy doing grown up work! I just hoped there may have been a text from at least one child telling me she actually missed my maniac ways which form the wallpaper to their morning routines. But alas. My phone remained resolutely silent, underscoring the fact that my daughters are all growing up and don’t really need my hand at that tiller at all times.

I disembarked and wandered through the airport toward customs. It was then my phone went nuts. It exploded with half a dozen messages (I’m not very popular. 6 messages constitutes an explosion of popularity in my life!). Wondering who could possibly want to seek my counsel I fished my phone out of my pocket and peered at the screen, ignoring all the “No mobile phones” signs that littered my path in both English and Swedish. All the messages were from Big and Pumplette. Immediately my heart sank as I began to run through the list of possible armageddon scenarios that could have befallen my daughters since my departure some 12 hours earlier. I took a deep breath and opened the first message.

“Pumplette’s pump isn’t working. Grandpa replaced the battery but she thinks water has got under the screen and she can’t see anything. Any suggestions?”

I checked the time of the message. Sent precisely ten minutes after take off for a two hour flight…..

I skimmed the next message.

“Mama – my pump is really hot. I thought perhaps I should take the battery out for a bit to let it cool down. I didn’t want to worry Grandma & Grandpa. But I knew you’d know what to do!”

 Pumplette’s oops face!

I love my daughter’s faith in my ability to fix stuff. Its remarkable that a child who learnt as a baby that her mother can’t actually make everything better, still labours under the unwavering belief that there is nothing I cannot do when it comes to supporting her with her T1 management.  

There were other messages asking me whether I’d got the initial messages, ever closer in time, and so it was a rather bewildered understudy who presented herself to the Swedish customs official. My mind was cantering through how I may be able to remotely fix this problematic pump. Fortunately the customs official recognised the look of harassed mother and didn’t mistake it for ‘dodgy geezer’ and detain me. By the time I reached the railway platform at Stockholm airport, I had swung my Heath Robinson plan into action.  

Throwing myself on the mercy and kindness of the most amazing friend in the village where we live, I arranged for Pumplette to be collected from school so that she could go home and pick up our back up plan. I calculated that by the time she had been collected from school, picked up the back up, and logged into our house wifi, I should be able to be at the conference venue, accessing wifi and Diasend information so that the correct basals could be programmed into the pump and normal service could be resumed. Messages from Pumplette via my husband (also working away, but doing a proper job) were that her levels were hovering around the 11mmol (198) mark so I guessed we had just the right amount of time to play with before levels really began to clatter away from us.   

By the time I reached the conference centre, looking notably older, haggard & flustered, Pumplette was messaging me, impatient to complete the task of programming basal rates into the pump so she could get back to the important business of being 12. Logging onto the free wifi in record time – how I LOVE modern technology – there was Pumplette, bursting forth onto my screen filling every last corner with her excitement at the unusual turn her day had taken!

Forgetting passwords is something of a past time for me & so whilst I fumbled about for a password renewal from Diasend I handed her to my travelling companion who had in no small part helped me to remain calm(ish). Grumpy is an old friend of Pumplette’s – both are Animas Heroes in the UK and they very much enjoy any opportunity to wind the other up. So whilst I was trying to reset passwords, I could hear the pair of them mucking about and generally berating me for being a freak with an operational pancreas. Grumpy was useful though, as he also talked Pumplette through setting up her pump to receive her Dexcom transmitter. (I am so very pleased that I took a photograph of that transmitter number before I changed it last month!) 

  Pumplette & Grumpy

With CGM sensor start up commenced, I talked her through each basal profile on the pump & with more than a little distraction from our dog and my friends’ three hounds, we eventually had a profile set that seemed to match the 24hr totals on my computer screen!! Much grovelling and appreciation to my friend, I then bid farewell to young Pumplette who was then utterly spoiled by my friend as she made her lunch before returning her to school for the remainder of the day. And her bgs never rose any higher than 13. (That is 234 for the bilingual amongst you!)

More than anything else, this episode taught me how utterly supported Pumplette is. How many people look out for her (and me in my incompetence) and will always be willing to put themselves out to help smooth the waters she sails. I hope she will always remember this when she finds her load heavy. For she is surrounded by an amazing network who will always be there to prop her up and even carry her for a while should she need it. Although I hope she won’t ever feel overwhelmed, I do hope she realises how many people adore her and want to walk with her, laugh with her and share her journey. Because the people she has filled her life with and who have been generous enough to befriend me, are of sterling quality.

As for me? As I watched the last Pumplette pixel vanish, I looked up to find my most spectacular friend Renza approaching, armed with the most enormous & well timed hug I have ever received. And just like that, I was flanked by two of the most supportive & generous members of the #doc who whisked me off & plyed me with tea, food & most importantly, made me forget the stress of the previous couple of hours & reminded me that my lass will be just fine without me!

  Understudy, Grumpy & Renza

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