Diabetes Can be a Day at the Beach
Integrating your pump into the summer season
June 2006 — The view is incredible. You walk up the long sandy path and over the dune. All of a sudden, you smell the clean ocean waves and the sun-warmed sand.
Ah, summer. Ah, the beach.
Enter: Summer dresses and bikini season. My favorite time of year.
But what about the pump?
In the winter, an insulin pump looks so small. Tiny. Fits in the pocket of your jeans. It can be covertly tucked inside the waistband of a pair of pants. It can be clipped to your hip and hidden under a sweater.
However, the revealing, casual nature of summer clothes proves to be a bit trickier. A short summer dress is lovely, but where does the pump go? Ah yes, one of those thigh holster thing ies or tucking the pump discreetly into my bra. Done deal. Summer dress issues solved.
But what about a bathing suit?
When I was on multiple injections as my method of insulin delivery, I didn't give much thought to going to the beach. I wore my bikini. I brought my insulin pen in the cooler and shot up every few hours, riding the wave of my long-lasting insulin and enjoying a day at the beach. I tested relatively often and I made sure I had snacks with me, just in case.
Since I've been on the pump, I still bring an insulin pen. And a cooler. And I test a ton when I'm at the beach. (There's something about the heat and the sun that make my bloodsugars err on the side of lower. Which doesn't work out well when I'm trying to create the World's Biggest Dribble Sandcastle. Bit of a deterrent.)
I also wear my pump. I don't remove it for the day or make attempts at utilizing the untethered regimen. I have that infusion set nested in my thigh and the pump wire tucked inconspicuously into my bathing suit bottom. When I lay on my blanket and soak up the sun (yes, of course I am wearing sun screen too), I have the pump beside me, hiding underneath a t-shirt to protect it from the heat. When I venture off to play in the water, I take the pump off and put it in a plastic baggie in the cooler and stick a pump cap on the infusion site. Safe and sound. Sometimes the salt water makes the adhesive on the site a little less sticky, but generally it's not a big concern.
For the most part, people don't notice my pump. I'm careful to keep it under wraps to protect it from the heat and when it is clipped to my bathing suit, people could confuse it with a phone. Or an mp3 player. Or a Blackberry. Or a beeper. Or whatever electronic device they assume it is. Our constantly wired society has made integrating my insulin pump almost too easy. Aside from the little white circle (which doesn't always have to be white) on my thigh and the corresponding tan lines from the prior infusion sets, the pump isn't very intrusive. I barely notice it.
There was that one time, though. The only funny look I've ever received was from a guy and his girlfriend a few feet away from me. He turned to his lady and confirmed, with infinite wisdom and a flexed bicep, that the "thing on that girl's leg is a colostomy bag."
The very notion of that man thinking I pump my own ... business back into my leg was too funny to counter.
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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