I’d Ask Him Where He’d Stick It! – by Helen May
I am still pumping and although I am still not a fan of the aesthetics of the pump, I am continuing to see the benefits. I have found an ok place to locate the pump (on my belt) so starting to think more about where I put the cannula.
For non-pumpers, the pump is a hard lump about the size of a pack of playing cards. It holds a vial of insulin, a battery and the electronics that control the rate at which the insulin is administered along a thin, flexible tube into me. The tube finishes with a clip that clips into the cannula which I change every two to three days.
I always used to inject around my waist and tried to rotate my injection sites. In reality this meant, I injected on the left side on odd numbered days and right side on even numbered days. When I was given the pump, I was told, with glee, that I can insert it in more places because I can now insert it above my belly button. I also have to rotate it and I have to insert it in fatty areas.
So, I have been doing a bit of trial and error to test my choice of sites. I quickly learnt that the direction of the clip is important: if the clip is pointing up, it catches when I pull up my undies; if it points down, the tube has further to go; the best option is away from my belly button – in the direction of the part of my belt where I am going to wear my pump and away from my zip.
The next choice is height. Too low and it gets “sensitive”. Too high and it catches on my belt. Then left or right: too close to my belly button and it’s sore but too close to my hip and … let’s just say I hit my hip bone when I inserted a cannula once and that’s a mistake I’m only likely to make once.
I do have the option to insert it on my back. I tried my bottom and then spent the day sitting on it: the cannula may be small, but unless you have a lot of padding in that area, it is not very comfortable. As I have a desk-based job and not enough padding, I will not be using that area again.
Recently, I have been trying above my waist on my lower back. This area is not easy to insert the cannula. And again, I have to remember which direction to point the clip (forwards). Pain-and-comfort-wise, it is not too bad. However, I am currently finding it fiddly to detach and attach my pump when I have a shower, I haven’t found a way to hide the tube and I find myself catching the tube more often. I will persevere but even if I work out the logistics, my lower back is only big enough for a couple of sites so I will still have to find somewhere on my belly.
Clearly, the need to insert the cannula in a fatty area is my problem. Whilst I do not have an athletic build, I am slim, I understand the value of exercise for keeping me healthy (and enjoy exercise) and, for vanity reasons, I try to avoid “muffin-tops” to my jeans. So, in reality there are not many more places for me to insert the cannula compared to my injection sites.
As I say, I am definitely not an athlete: a true athlete would be leaner than me. But there are athletes with Type 1 diabetes who, I am sure, have a pump and they solve the problem where to insert their cannulas. For example, Sir Steve Redgrave must have solved this problem and, if I ever met him, I would take the opportunity to ask him where he sticks his cannula.