Tethered by a Tube

Where’s your cell phone right now? Is it in your pocket? On the table/desk/night stand next to you? Is it in your purse/backpack/briefcase? Chances are if you are like me and my friends, your cell phone is within 5 feet of you most of the time. When someone says they don’t have their cell phone with them, it’s usually met with disbelief. Today, it sometimes feels like we are tethered to our phones, connected with an invisible string.

But what if you really were connected to your phone? You couldn’t put it down and just walk away. What if you didn’t have the option to leave it at home or in your bag and be without it for the day or even a few hours? After awhile, you probably would start to get annoyed. Carrying around an extra device constantly is an inconvenience. Where do you put it? What if you don’t have pockets? You can’t put it in a bag or purse since it’s connected to you. As slim as phones are today, it’s still extra bulk and weight.

Now, what if not carrying around your phone all the time meant that your health would suffer. You would literally start to feel sick. At first you would get really thirsty and have to pee all the time. Then you would start to get nauseous and maybe even dizzy or start to get a headache. Then you just feel like crap. That would suck, wouldn’t it?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of insulin pumps!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it has meant to me to be attached to a device constantly. To me having a pump is better than the alternative of daily injections, so mostly I just learned to deal. But while it has become part of my life, I still think about it from time to time. I also opted for a pump with tubing instead of the omnipod, so while I may complain about tubing from time to time, I know there are alternatives. However, I personally am not a fan of a tubeless pump, but I won’t get into that today.

What does wearing a pump mean to me?

  • Inconvenience. My pump is always with me (except for in the shower, while swimming, and often while I’m exercising), which means that I need to think about where it’s going to go. Often it can just go in a pocket, but I don’t always have pockets. Am I going to clip it to the outside of my clothes, wear it in a strap around my leg, or clip it under my clothes?
  • Planning. The pump only holds enough insulin to last 3 days, so I need to be thinking about where I’m going to be when it runs out. If I’m not going to be home, I need to have supplies with me so that I can refill and change my set. This means always thinking ahead and being prepared.
  • Being uncomfortable. I’m going to be honest, wearing a pump strapped around your leg under a skirt or dress is a little awkward and uncomfortable. Sleeping and rolling over to feel the pump dig into your side is uncomfortable. Waking up to find yourself wrapped in your cord is not pleasant. Figuring out what to do with the pump when you are getting intimate is slightly awkward as well. 
  • Questions. Wearing a pump, especially when it’s visible means questioning looks as well as curious people asking questions. “Oh, you have diabetes?” “Is that a pager?” “What is that?” “Are you checking your blood sugar?” “Is that an mp3 player?” “Does that have games on it?” (uh I wish!)
  • Freedom. It’s interesting how being tethered to an external device nearly 24/7 means more freedom, but it does. To me it means a less strict schedule of eating and even more freedom in what foods I can eat. 

I think that having the option to disconnect my pump when necessary makes wearing it a little more bearable. However, there are consequences. Being disconnected means I’m not getting any insulin which affects my blood sugar. It also means it’s possible to forget to connect it back to me. Lucky, I can count on one hand the number of times in the past 12 years that I’ve had a pump in which I’ve left and realized that I had forgotten it behind.

Despite all the inconveniences, I honestly am so very thankful for my pump! It has truly made my life so much easier and I can’t imagine life without it.

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12 thoughts on “Tethered by a Tube

  1. I wish my phone had a tether! That way I'd always know where it is, and I'd know if someone else took it inadvertently. (My car keys, too!). But I think it's important to note that the pump is tethered to ME, I'm not tethered to it. I control where we go and what we do. I'm the one in charge.

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  2. Hah you know, at first I thought there would be no way I'd ever switch, but after starting with my CGM, I'm warming up to the idea of the omnipod. However, even though the omnipod is small, I just don't want that bulk attached to my body all the time and you still end up having to carry around the PDM. I'd also be worried about knocking it off. In all honesty though, I probably should see what it's like to wear the pod before I jump to conclusions, but those are my initial reservations. Plus sometimes it's just nice to disconnect.

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