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... There have been instances when I look forward to a productive day with the infusion site comfortably, safely, and firmly in place. My mind is on attaining a goal. However, the powers that be have had something else in mind, something to disturb my peace of mind. After a while, say a few active hours during a planned out busy day, it has became evident to me after too much moving around that the tubing that I so thoroughly tucked into my clothing became slackened causing an accident. Sure, it was tucked away well enough to conceal it, but my activity(ies) warranted a pause. When getting caught on such a thing as a door knob, as previously mentioned, the whole thing was yanked out of my body, causing a bloody mess. Or simply getting into my car, it has pinched and pulled.
More than a few awkward and rare instances have occurred when in haste, I quickly walked by a piece of furniture, or a car, or a simple pile of boxes, whatever, and pulled out the infusion set located in my hip or buttock. Another small but painful and bloody mess.
When either of these scenes have been portrayed in public, the drama in and of itself involves high anxiety: a search for a replacement infusion set (tubing), pressing on the area to make it stop bleeding, trying not to soil my clothes, and getting back to the dinner table, or wherever, calm and collected like nothing happened. Phew! When such instances have happened in the company of people other than my husband, the conversation turns into my being at fault with questions of “what, where, why, and how did you…”
It’s not that the tubing is too long. I use the shortest one available at 24 inches. It’s my haphazard attitude, or lack thereof, that gets me in any of these types of troubling situations. I am so used to wearing this thing that I take myself for granted thinking that everything is where it should be. Be forewarned if and when you are pondering the use of an insulin pump. Stuff happens for a reason.
The type of insulin used is peculiar to any insulin pump machine. Especially made with a buffer so as not to clog the tubing, the types of insulin I have used with my pumps have been Velosulin, Novolog, and Apidra.
More necessities include the plastic or glass cartridges to hold the insulin inside the machine’s syringe case. 315 units is the maximum amount of insulin in any one cartridge which lasts me up to seven days. That’s a good thing. While the cartridge may not need to be filled as often, the infusion sets must be changed every 48 hours. This action discourages infection. One cartridge of insulin will take me through 4 infusion sets, discounting emergencies.
Thus, I claim fame to being a cyborg. I walk around in life with a 3.5 ounce machine clipped to by belt, bra, waistband, or in a pant or skirt pocket that is both comfortable and big enough to hold it. A clear plastic tube no more than 24 inches in length dangles between the pump and my body site. This allows a life-giving and necessary human hormone to drip into my person every three minutes. If that’s not a cyborg, I don’t know what is!
Yes, it hurts at times. Placing the metal or plastic needle (aka: infusion set, catheter) inside my body is painful. Don’t doubt it. Further pain is caused when bolusing insulin. Insulin burns. Taking the thing out to change it, as is necessary every 48 hours, causes distress as well. Oftentimes the needle site will bleed, swelling occurs, leading to painful scar tissue with bumps, and a bruise. Not too different from daily injections, if only because the results are the same.
Due to running out of spots to put the needle and being covered in lumps, bumps and dents known as “lipoatrophy,” it is a loss of fat under the skin resulting in small dents and is caused by repeated injections of insulin in the same area. As with injections, the infusion sets must be rotated. Around your body and within any one site.
For example, specific body sites I have used are upper arms, waist area two inches away from my navel, lower tummy, upper thighs, back of thighs, and all of a buttock that I can reach without getting a side cramp. Within each of these areas, I imagine a circle. Throughout that imaginary circle are smaller circles wherein I place the infusion set – once. With six body areas to choose from, I scan the next area due to my rotation technique, safely placing the device. Due to needles marks being left behind, it is easy for me to discern whether a certain spot is good to use or not. Forty-eight hours in any one area allows a previously used area to heal from former use.
Rubbing and messaging body site areas helps to break up the scar tissue in preparation for the next needle. It usually takes 6 – 12 days until a same site is rendered once again. For instance, with a “rotation method” in mind, place the first needle in your thigh somewhere. Then the next infusion three days later will be in the hip, buttock, lower belly or upper arm, staying in each area, one at a time, for three days. This is another part of the strategizing of this disease. Oftentimes the site hurts with sharp burning that I have to immediately remove the needle. That wastes a site. I get sad, depressed and often teary, having to choose another site. This is tiring, tedious; tiring is boring to me.
What cannot be helped must be endured.”
~ Anonymous ~
Author: A. K. Buckroth