In the Heat of the Moment
Making my insulin pump, and my summer wardrobe, live in harmony.
By Kerri Sparling
For the most part, I love using an insulin pump. Coming into my life after almost seventeen years of multiple injections, the insulin pump allowed me to wrangle varying insulin-to-carbohydrate ratios, administer boluses that would otherwise be imprecise if attempted with a syringe, and to enjoy the convenience of not having to "shoot up" at the dinner table. I can sleep in late on Saturday mornings (and I do) and I can disconnect the thing for workouts, showers, and intimate moments.
The pump and I are at odds during the summer months.
With warm weather clothes being of the light and flowing variety, there aren't too many places to stash a cell-phone sized insulin pump. Try as I might, the tell-tale bulge of the pump is often detected underneath fitted t-shirts and sundresses.
I don't like when the pump is exposed. Not that it's something I consider to be shameful, especially since I work at a diabetes-focused media company, but I don't want tubing and pump bulges as part of my daily look. I always tuck the tubing away and I keep the pump itself as tucked away as possible. However, summer clothes offer up a whole new set of challenges, making concealment tricky.
There are the times when I just can't find a way to hide it or dress it up or make nice with it at all. I do the best I can to keep my diabetes management on the forefront, while maintaining a definitive level of subtlety. Sometimes, after finding a very cool summer outfit to wear and then trying to negotiate the pump into the mix, I want to toss the pump out the window. Or fill it with helium in efforts to have it just float along with me while I walk.
Never one to give up, I've been trying out every trick in the proverbial book to keep my pump concealed. I like classic, tailored sorts of outfits and I like for my clothes to look streamlined. Incorporating this device sometimes proves to be very … challenging. (Diplomacy won out on that phrase, over my other option of "makes my head spin and I almost launch the pump across the room.") There are several products out there that are geared towards making insulin pumps easier to integrate.
One that I've tried is the Invisapump, developed by Chuck Heidenreich. It's essentially a plastic and leather case for my pump that hangs from a short stretch of cloth and can be clipped to my waistband. This worked well when I clipped it to my underwear, pretty much fully concealing it underneath a dress I wore for a date with my fianc.
There's also the Thigh/Leg pouch from Minimed that I implement often. It's a holster I wear around my lower thigh that has a cloth bag attached for the pump to sit in. It works pretty well and it makes me feel like Lara Croft.
But sometimes it's impossible to conceal the pump, like at the beach. For these moments, you just need to strut your medical stuff. I've used the very cool Groovy Patches to dress up my infusion site, which helps to drown out the glaringly white infusion set circle. When I'm at the beach, I've taken to using a pump pack designed by Insulin Pump Packs For You because the case is padded, helps block my pump from the sun, and it just so happened to match my new favorite bikini.
It can be a pain, sometimes in superficial ways that I hate admitting. But, when I'm looking at my blood sugars and I'm 85% content with their progression, wearing this machine is worth it.
(But if someone can figure out this helium thing, I'm all ears.)
Visit Kerri's website.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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