We interrupt our story of spinal fusion, to bring you a Type 1 Diabetes intermission. Sorry for those waiting in suspense for part 3 of the spinal saga...it will arrive "straightaway!" Today was our first appointment with Leah's Endocrinologist. More specifically, her Pediatric Diabetologist (how's that for a specialty!?). Dr. R. is another specialist from Peyton Manning Children's Hospital in Indy who comes to the Pediatric Specialty Clinic at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center every other month.
After filling out another mountain of paperwork (if I had a dime for every time I've written our health insurance number this year, I'd be able to take an early retirement!), we headed back to the 4th floor of the Med Center. (The Peds floor where we stayed last month is on the same floor at the other end of the building.) Tom joined Leah & me on this appointment, which I was very thankful for. It is helpful to have another set of ears processing all the information we receive, and so much easier than trying to re-explain everything to him! We spent over two hours total at the clinic, and were visited by: the nurse, Dr. R, the dietitian, the social worker, and Jan, the nurse practitioner.
We were very impressed with Dr. R.! First and foremost, she was a good listener, and started by asking Leah for "her story." She explained the ins and outs of T1D, and listened to all of our many questions. Her answers gave us new insight, and in many cases confirmed that we've been making good decisions so far. It was also great to finally meet Jan (the NP) in person. She is the grand-daughter of my parents' close friends back home in DeMotte, and I grew up knowing her mom, aunt & uncle. She was also very helpful in sorting out questions about prescriptions, needles, and insulin.
In addition to meeting her new team, Leah's progress was checked. All of the readings from her blood glucose monitor were downloaded to a computer, and her finger was poked for an A1C test. This test is done regularly for diabetics, and measures how well a person has been managing their diabetes over the last 3 months. Specifically (according to the Mayo Clinic website), "the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin — a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen — is coated with sugar (glycated)." When we were in the hospital, Leah's A1C was found to be 13. Today it was 9.9. Even though her goal is 7.5, the doctor was pleased with today's reading, since it reflects a good portion of time when her diabetes was not yet being treated.
Perhaps the best thing to come out of today's visit (the thing that lifted Leah's spirits the most) was that we were told she could begin the process of choosing, trying and getting an insulin pump in January! Since the process can take awhile, we hope to have her on a pump by February or March. This will give her time to get used to it before going on a spring break band trip to Disney World in April.
Insulin pumps are much more convenient for T1D's and eliminate the need for individual insulin injections. In looking at the brochures we brought home, Leah was amazed to read that daily injections can add up to as many as 1,460 needle sticks a year, while pumps require an infusion set change about 3 times a week, or about 156 insertions a year. That's a lot less pokes! They also allow for more fine-tuned control of blood glucose levels, and much more flexibility in when one sleeps, eats and exercises. Given our busy lives, flexibility is a good thing!
We came away from our appointment with a really positive feeling about the clinic, the answered questions, and the hope for a brighter future. What more could we ask for? (Except, maybe...a cure.)