Not so long ago, we made the switch from the Omnipod system to the T-Slim (more on that here). But before that, in the early days, pods were pretty much our life. The transition from injections to pods had been such an indescribable relief that we knew we’d never go back, and those little three-day pancreas replacements meant the world to us. To us, but not to our toddler, who loathed their very existence.
He also loathed the injections, obviously, but toddlers, as it turns out, find it quite hard to rationalize (who knew?). And so whilst the pods were obviously a thousand times better than 10-15 shots a day, he struggled to hold onto that thought each time we changed his sites.
And so it became my mission to find a way to make these pods just a little bit happier, and a little less scary. There wasn’t much I could do about the insertion pain, or the frequency of site changes. But kids love color, and stories, and pictures, and so I figured the next best thing I could do was to find a way to jazz up those pods a little.
I turned to Google for ideas, but the main school of decorating thought seemed to center around using nail polish. Now, leveling with you here, I haven’t actually used nail polish since I was about 12 (it’s just so much hassle) and I have, on more occasions than one, been a source of great entertainment to my friends when I’ve confessed that I’ve never had a manicure or a pedicure. I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere and so I guess, somewhere along the line, I just missed the nail polish boat.
Anyway, ruling out nail polish mostly because I didn’t have any/didn’t know how to use it, I set about experimenting with other options. I tried paint, but it chipped or washed off. Stickers came loose. Tape seemed like too much of hassle.
It was all starting to feel a little hopeless, until it occurred to me to experiment with Sharpies. Sharpies historically have made me a little nervous because they are, by definition, very permanent. As someone crippled by indecision on the daily, Sharpies have never really been part of my artistic calling. Couple that with the fact pods are both expensive and not limitless in their supply, I was a little reticent going in. But needs must.
So, with a fancy selection of different colored fine-tipped Sharpies in my midst, I pottered off to Pinterest in search of truck cartoons and dinosaur drawings to copy.
Our pod decorating journey just happened to coincide with our boy beginning school, and so each morning I’d explain that I just had to leave him long enough to make him a PB&J for lunch, and to decorate another pod. He loved choosing what I was going to draw each day. And to be honest, a little doodling took away from the stress of dosing and sleepless nights.
By the end of his first few weeks at school, we had quite a decent supply of decorated pods to choose from, and the focus gradually began to shift from the sadness of needing another pod, to the excitement of getting to choose which one he wore next.
We started off pretty low key. The good thing about kids is they’re quite easily pleased. A bit of color and a really terrible attempt at a dinosaur, and the job’s a good’un. But as the months went on, we got a little fancier. Bats and ghosts and monsters with glued on googly eyes for Halloween. Turkeys for Thanksgiving. Reindeer and snowmen for Christmas. Characters from his favorite books, favorite animals, even favorite foods. I once made an entire series of pods into crabs holding flowers, because, well, toddlers.
He’d show teachers and his friends every time he got a new one. His classmates found it super exciting (possibly because they’re three, but whatever), and for the first time, he had something cool to show off as a direct result of his Diabetes, which ordinarily is just a massive inconvenience (understatement of the century).
And if I screwed one up? We’d have a game where we scribbled all over the terrible drawing I’d just done, and then plonk it on his leg where no-one could see it anyway!
T1D, I think, is often this huge challenge of trying to find joy even when you’re weighed down by it all. And for our kid, a few doodles of trucks and crabs and monsters? It bought a lot of smiles in a dark old time.