HOW TO WEAR AN INSULIN PUMP, FROM A FORMAL WEDDING TO A DAY AT THE BEACH
Living with type 1 diabetes for over 38 years, and wearing an insulin pump since the days of the “big blue brick”, MiniMed Ambassador, Cindy Tenney, has a lot of experience when it comes to diabetes technology and everyday life.
You may remember Cindy from A Thirty Year Journey with Medtronic and Starting Insulin Pump Therapy: Why Wait?, and we’re happy to have her back to show us the different ways she wears her pump – from the beach, to formal events, to her typical work day. She’s made her own pump cases, and sometimes even alters her clothes so she can wear any outfit with her pump! How do you wear your pump? Tell us in the comments below!
Q. Hi Cindy! When you first got your pump, how did you decide how you would wear it from everyday life to special activities?
A. The insulin pump I started with didn’t have many options; it was 2 1/2″ x 7 3/16″ x 2 7/8″ and weighed just over a POUND!!! It actually required the security of a leather belt around my waist. None-the-less, since I sewed all my own prom and winter formal dresses, I got creative!!! I wore the leather belt UNDER my dress and made a button hole in the side of my dress so the pump could clip onto the hidden belt outside of my waist. In addition, I made a little pouch out of the same material to slip over the pump. It really worked out GREAT!
Q. Have your views on wearing the pump changed over the years?
A. Since I have been “pumping” for 33 years, having “Boris” on my side is an essential part of my being. I have worn a pump throughout my life – on my wedding day, through two pregnancies, the labor, and deliveries, an outpatient shoulder surgery, a dental procedure, trips to the beach, airplane travel, and on a couple cruises. The only time I don’t wear my pump is in the shower or a pool.
Q. Talk to me about how you started to make your own pump cases.
A. I have sewn my own pump cases in the past – from fancy little pouches to match an outfit (back when the pumps were really too big to “hide”), to real leather cases that clip on my waistband. Pumps these days are tiny enough to slip in my pants pocket, clip on the inside of my waistband, clip in the center of my bra, or tuck down in my stockings. I really don’t even get the second looks anymore because electronic gadgets and cell phones are so common.
Q. How do you wear your pump on a typical work day?
A. I usually wear my pump clipped inside my waistband. It serves two purposes there – it is completely out of the way, AND I can feel the vibrating alarms really well.
Q. What do you do with your pump when you’re at a special occasion?
A. If there is a dress that’s slim fitting, without a waistband, I simply wear my pump clipped on the inside of my bra, dead center. However, that doesn’t always work depending on the scoop of the neckline, awkward! In those cases (slim fitted dresses for weddings), I wear the pump tucked inside my stockings just above my pubic bone.
I even have a couple maxi-dresses with pockets… so I create a button hole in the pocket, thread the infusion set through the button hole, and allow my pump to remain in the pocket. This trick makes the pump accessible without having to the restroom… it’s right in my pocket!
Q. How do you wear your pump at the beach?
A. When I’m lounging around at the beach, I keep my pump attached to my body and inside a portable cooler. It’s less likely to get sand in it that way. If I’m going to “play”, I wear swim pants and clip my pump on the inside of the waistband. If I were going to be IN the ocean, I would definitely do a finger stick first, then disconnect the pump and store it in the SUPERVISED cooler for a specified amount of time – 30 minutes to one -hour. Upon returning from the water, another finger stick will help me determine if or how much replacement insulin is needed.
Q. How do you wear your pump when you are active?
A. My activities are actually mild – bike riding, treadmill, elliptical, hiking, walking… I have never needed a special pump harness (laughs)!!!
Q. What accessory do you use the most?
A. The accessory I use almost exclusively is the belt clip. It can clip on a belt, waistband, bra, and the inside of a pocket. I like the extra security it provides rather than having the pump loose in my pocket.
Q. Do you ever feel the pump adds to your outfit?
A. Boris is an extension of ME – the quieter, inconspicuous side. I actually feel a little naked without Boris on my side!
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