When you want to keep it concealed, there are ways to do it.
By Kerri Sparling
April 2010 — Almost five years ago, I traded in my orange-capped syringes for a beeper-sized machine and some long, plastic tubing. After seventeen years of multiple daily injections, I was finally pumping insulin.
For me, insulin pumping was one of the best decisions I've made in my diabetes management. After my skin was tired and scarred from all the injections and after trying to deal with dawn phenomenon issues and some very scary low blood sugars, switching to a pump made sense. I was able to increase my morning basals to combat the dawn phenomenon, and precision dosing helped alleviate many of my hypoglycemic episodes.
And this is all well and good, but after the pump euphoria wore off and it was business as usual, I was left with this machine. What the heck was I supposed to do with this thing every day? How would I wear it to work? To bed? Out to dinner? During intimate moments? To the beach?
Part of insulin pumping is making the pump part of your daily routine, not a hindrance to it. I personally don't want the pump to be the first thing people notice about me, so I take care to conceal it when I can and I'm creative with infusion set placement. Here's how I wrangle in my pump:
Infusion sets: While I work out regularly, there's still plenty of real estate to explore in terms of placing my infusion sets. When I first started pumping, I was told by my diabetes educator to use my abdomen for the infusion sets. And this worked fine for a few months, because I needed to become comfortable with my new hardware and I wanted easy, visual access. After a few months, however, I wanted more flexibility with where I was able to stash my pump, so I opened up the "real estate market." I currently wear my infusion set on my abdomen, outer thigh, the back of my hip, or on my arm. Different places allow me to hide the pump in different parts of my clothes.
Hiding places: I don't wear the same style of clothes to work every day, so my pump stashing methods vary from outfit to outfit. Clipping it to the pocket of jeans is an easy out – it only creates a very small bulge. But for more streamlined pants, I have a tendency to hide my pump in my sock. Removing the clip lets me put the smooth side of the pump, button side up, against my shinbone. A tight trouser sock holds the pump in place, and wearing the infusion set on my thigh allows enough leeway to snake the tubing down the length of my leg and into my sock.
For dresses, I've used some of the thigh holsters that companies are providing and I have also stuck the pump into the middle section of my bra (between the cups). And for my recent wedding, I had the seamstress create a special pocket just for the pump. A little extra planning goes a long way in keeping the pump hidden when being discreet suits me.
Disclosure: There are plenty of times when my pump is comfortably tucked way, but there are some times when it just doesn't have anywhere to hide. Like at the beach – whether it's the infusion set or the pump itself, bathing suit season doesn't leave much room for a hidden insulin pump. Or during moments of intimacy, where the pump needs to be more accepted than concealed. Being able to tell people about my diabetes, and how the pump plays a part in my management plan, makes concealing this external symptom more a preference than a forced action.
Pumping insulin has been a good choice for me, allowing me to precisely dose insulin and attempt to mimic the actions of a properly working pancreas, but it has been a bit tricky integrating the hardware into my life. Thanks to some sewing talent, patience, and a little creative thinking, I'm able to enjoy insulin pumping without making the pump my signature piece.
Visit Kerri's website.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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