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Insulin Pumping, After a Fashion

Fashionable.I wear an insulin pump.  (Gasp from the Faithful Readers.  “She’s a diabetic?!”  I know.) 

The pump itself is not very big – Minimed says it’s a tiny 2.0 x 3.0. x 0.8 inches.  That’s smaller than your average cell phone, true. 

As I was going through my morning “get ready” routine today, I stood in front of my closet and did a quick assessment of my clothes.  I like classic, tailored sorts of outfits and I like for my clothes to look streamlined.  Incorporating this device sometimes proves to be very … challenging.  (Diplomacy won out on that phrase, over my other option of “makes my head spin and I almost launch the pump across the room.")

I don’t like when the pump is exposed.  Not that it’s something I consider to be shameful, and especially since I work at a diabetes-focused media company, but I don’t want tubing and pump bulges as part of my daily look.  I always tuck the tubing away and I keep the pump as tucked away as possible.  Every skirt has either a pocket sewn in or I use that thigh thingy from Minimed.  Every pair of pants has either a pocket to slide the pump into or a waistband wide enough to hide the pump inside.  (And for some fabulous reason, my favorite stores - like Ann Taylor - have been adding these convenient little pockets to their pants, perfect for pump-tucking.  That’s a way to earn my consumer loyalty.)  And for those that don’t, I add a little internal pocket just as swiftly as I hem the pants before I wear them.  (I’m sort of short, so the hemming was just as necessary a skill to learn as pocket creating.) 

I often go to great lengths to conceal my pump.  Sometimes it’s a complete pain in the arse and I can’t find a way to incorporate it into my outfit.  Today’s ensemble includes a pair of tailored corduroy pants (no pockets) and a long sleeved, fitted shirt (not billowy enough to hide the pump bulge).  Out of options, I reluctantly clipped the pump to my pants and it’s been a visible part of me all day long.  No one notices.  No one comments.  And to be honest, no one cares but me.

But sometimes it makes me frustrated to have to interrupt my attempts at dressing like a “normal twenty something girl” with these pump integrations.  Just as it makes me a little batty when I have to interrupt my gym workout for a blood sugar testing session.  Just as it makes me moody when I have to splice some glucose tabs into my afternoon article-writing session. 

Do you, my fellow pumpers, make efforts to hide your pump? 

It can be a pain.  Sometimes in superficial ways that I hate admitting.  But, when I’m looking at my bloodsugars and I’m 85% content with their progression, wearing this machine is worth it. 

It's fashionable to be healthy.

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Comments

I have just recently started wearing my pump tuck in the band of my bra between my breasts. It sits there very nicely and the only time it does not work is when I am wearing a low cut shirt.

I know we've talked about this before, but I'll share my comments for those who haven't heard them. I never hide my pump. I'm a college student, so jeans and t-shirts is the wardrobe of choice and it nicely accomades a pump. The only times I have not had my pump on the outside of my clothing are when my pump clip broke and I was too lazy to reorder one for several weeks, and when I absolutely can't show my pump in what I'm wearing (such as my bridesmaid dress). I even bought a two piece prom dress in order for me to clip it on the back and not worrying about hiding it. I use my pump too much to worry about concealing it. I like having easy access. I like playing with my tubing when I'm bored in class. I like not having to wear a watch. I like using it as a way to educate people about diabetes.

Sometimes I hate not buying skirts or pants without pockets because it makes things so much harder, but I like not making getting dressed a challenge. There is too much going on that is a challenge and when I open my closet, I want to know that no matter what I put on, the pump always goes in the same place, everytime (right-side pant/skirt pocket). It's the only thing in my diabetes life that seems to stay consistent, and I like that.

As a techy geek I have gotten used to wearing stuff on my belt. I don't mind too much. It gives me sort of a "Batman Utility Belt" feel although when I was on vacation I kept it in my pocket just to make sure my tubing didn't get caught up in Roller Coaster seat belts and such. Master P didn't mind too much. I let him out when he would shout at me with his "Beep boop BEEP!"

Not only do I not take pains to hide my pump, I pretty much flaunt it. I wear it with a cut-down thigh-thing on my left arm, the tubing snaking into the T-shirt's armhole; I'll drop it into the pocket of a button-down shirt, with the infusion line disappearing between the shirt buttons; I'll toss it on the shelf-thingy of the treadmill if I run indoors, right out in the open.

Why hide it, anyway?

Cheers,
Felix.

I view the pump as more of my Superhero secret power. Spiderman had that web thing going on. Superman had x-ray vision. I have my insulin pump. "Able to eat large meals in a single bolus!" "Faster than NPH!" That sort of thing. :)

Keeping it tucked away is purely a vanity thing. I like to feel fashionable and sometimes the pump gets in the way of the smooth lines I'm going for. 95% of the time, I don't mind the efforts I take to conceal the pump. Today, it annoyed me that I couldn't find a way to incorporate it smoothly.

But I am still able to eat large meals in a single bolus. And that works for me. :)

I buy long shirts for Brendon so that it covers his pump (he wears it in a pack around his waist).

It's only to keep the wiring from sticking out and getting caught up.

I don't want him to feel any kind of shame when it comes to having diabetes, so I make it a point to do everything out in the open so that he's used to people seeing how we do things.

I have an Animas 1250 -- probably won't work for the bulkier Minimed -- and I have a bra shop sew pockets in my bra.

No one ever notices, it lays flat against my body and very handy.

However, the rubber parts come unglued and Animas replaces the pump when that happens. I believe the glue can't withstand the body heat.

Since I've now been pumping for nearly a month, I have some insight into this issue :)

For the first couple weeks, I used my pump clip exclusively and clipped it to my pants pocket. This was okay, but I was annoyed with its visability a bit. One Friday night we went to a concert. I had my jeans on and just slipped the pump (without the clip) right into my pocket. Duh! Since then, when my pants have pockets, in goes my pump!

I bought a "thigh-thingie" online and have used it twice. Not great, but not terrible. I tried on a fancy dress for my office holiday party with the thigh-thingie and it'll work fine.

Kerri,
I hook the pump to my bra in the front middle section. Most times it goes completely unnoticed. I'm short too, so sometimes my shirts come right to my waist, so they don't exactly cover the pump and it bulges out at my side. And other times, my skirts come up a little higher on my waist and the pump sticks out in that scenario too. And other days, I just don't feel like having the damn thing clanging against stuff as it does when I have it clipped to my pocket, so I just clip it to my bra and go. Of course, I do have to dig it out at lunch time, but I make sure to do that before I go to the faculty room to eat lunch. I doubt my fellow teachers really want to see me reaching up my shirt and fumbling around - haha...

I understand your frustations completely - some days I just wish it was thinner and less bulky. It's small, but it's still big enough to be a pain in the arse when you're trying to be styling... :)

Laura

Olivia could care less how much tubing is hanging out or who sees her pump. She likes to show it off. She has a pump pack (not really appropriate for you, I think), which she wears most days. She also has a clip and clips it to her waist band or she'll just put it in her pocket. She always has tubing hanging out, which drives me nutty, but it's her pump and her arm that's going to have the set ripped out of it one of these days and maybe THEN she'll listen to her mother, but now, noooo, why should she, what do I know?

*pant, pant* :D

Kerri,

Glad I'm not the only one with issues!

I agree with you - I like a smooth line. But I also like my pump easily accessible at any given moment. These two things are always fighting each other. Getting dressed is always a battle for me.

I wear my pump with the clip on the waist of my pants and occasionally skirts. (okay, make that rarely skirts)

I never wear dresses anymore, which saddens me greatly. But it's more important to me to have that aforementioned accessibility. I even wore a two piece bridesmaids dress to my brother's wedding this summer. (and had to pay alot extra for alterations so that I could wear the pump clipped to the waistband, but it was worth every penny!)

I try not to complain too much, because I love my pump. But dressing is a big pain.

-Stella

I hide my pump in my pockets most of the time. Streamlined while still accessible. But I've discovered that not all pockets are created equal -- some open more to the side than up, some are deeper, some are much easier for the pump to slip out of while you're sitting...

I used to wear my pump clipped to my waistband...but that really looks lame with my new belt! So, I've been tucking my MM 515 up in the band of my bra on the side, under my arm. It took some getting used to, but now I don't notice it. I'm now thinking that I might like for Santa to equip me with the remote so that I can just set it to vibrate and do easy boluses without ever looking at the pump. As it stands now, I can usually feel out the buttons and get it right.

I NEVER hide my pump. Why should I? NO ONE IS LOOKING! It is part of me, who I am! Why should I hide it. It is my tool towards health, and I want it where I can easily get a hold of it. I have neither a remote or the boobs sufficient to hide it. If I were to wear a dress on which there was nothing to clip it on to, what would happen? I would not be relaxed! I would not be happy, and I am sure that THAT would spoil my appearance more than any little gadget hanging on my front! REMEMBER, NO ONE BUT YOU EVEN CARES!

Hm, I can't figure this out. I know that many people say they slip the pump in their bra or inside their waistband or in their pocket. I'm worried about wear I would put it should I get one. Anything that big in a pocket would stick out too much and actually affect the fit; in pants it would make my pants too tight. I can't figure out how I'd fit the pump inside my waistband, either. Under my arm or on my thigh would cause a noticeable bulge. Let's just say that it couldn't go in my bra. I am worried about clipping it on my waistband because I think it would poke me when I sat down. Maybe I should just wear it around my neck...

I usually wear my pump clipped onto my belt or directly onto my pants, as I also like it to be easily accessible. Most times I don't really care about its being visible or not, but occasionally when wearing a tight shirt that is just long enough to bulkily cover the pump, it does annoy me.

I usually hide the pump--either on my waistband under a long shirt, in pants pockets, or on my thigh under a dress/skirt. I've worn it in my bra when it'd otherwise wreck the line of my clothes, and retrieving it for a bolus is usually interesting. Plus, it gets much sweatier there, so I prefer the waistband access.

Hey Kerri
Thought I would come by and see how you are doin. I dont have a pump, so I cant comment on what I would do. I have updated my site. And have taken a look at a lot of things on the internet and am getting more and more informed about diabetes. It is good to be informed. Huggz to ya.......Kimi

I don't hide mine, either. It's always clipped to the pocket/waistband of my pants. I have an Animas pump with the custom photo cover of my three boys (in tuxedos!) on it, and I've been known to pop the pump out of its case to show people the picture, or pass it around with the pump and tubing still attached.

I get a kick out of people who assume it's a cell phone or ipod case and want to know where to get one ("believe me, you don't want one of these") - and twice I've had moms of recently dx'd kids come up and ask about it because they've never seen one in use before.

Now that I have the dexcom clipped to the other side, though, I may be approaching Bat Utility Belt dorkiness - all I need is to clip the cell phone there too, and my jean will probably drop off...

I rarely hide my pump...Thankfully I work a job where I can wear jeans and a T everyday. My pump sits clipped to my pocket.

I do hide it if I'm wearing a dress, but then I HATE how inaccessible it is. Somehow sticking my hand down my shirt just doesn't seem right ;)

Kerri,

I think we do about the same thing. I always have the pump in a pocket or under a skirt with the thigh thing. I don't think it about wanting to *hide* the thing. I'll pull it out anywhere to bolus, so it's not like I'm afraid of people seeing it. It's just that I'd rather not have it out there all the time. I'm 25, and as much as I LIKE my medical device, I'd rather just enjoy being 25 and dressing that way. You know?

tek

Tek - Exactly. That's exactly it. :)

Kerri-
I agree with you and Tek. I don't want to "hide" my pump at all. It is just not something that I wish to accessorize with. I am not ashamed of having it. It keeps me alive! But I don't want a bulge in the side of my outfit.

Now that I have my wedding dress picked out, we are trying to find a way to conceal it in a way where I can still get to it. Hopefully, I won't have to go digging in my clevage when I want to eat something!

I used to have a Disetronic pump that was big and oddly shaped. People would always stare at it to try and figure out what it was. I didn't really care. But when I got my new Animas 1250, which is the spitting image of a pager (+ some interesting tubing!), people hardly noticed it, if at all. I remember being surprised at first when people didn't take a second look. Although I am an (almost) open book when it comes to talking about diabetes, I was in some way happy that my pump didn't attract so much attention. Those in the know still recognize it as a pump, though! I usually just wear it clipped to my waist. But now, with my CGMS clipped there too, it is becoming a little much. I already had to upgrade my Bento box on my bike to fit all my D-crap.

I like to tuck my pump away otherwise it has a tendancy to fall off and dangle from my set which a) hurts and b) will damage my very valuable pump (oh how i LOVE my pump)

Luckily for me I ofter wear jeans or sport pants which are baggy and great for pockets for the pump. At work I have a fab back pocket in my pants and the pump is always safe.

It's not like me to dress up and when the day comes I have to wear a skirt. I'm gonna panic about hiding this darn thing....

I hate what the pump does to my figure. I look so...asymetrical, and I can't were cool, belted jackets. But I hate the "thigh-thing" more. I have to duct tape it to make it stay. I like the bra idea, but each time I try it and then bend over...well, let's say it's hard to discreetly put a 511 back into a bra.

Say Kerri, have you seen the pump skins Minimed is coming out with?

My favorite outfits allow clipping to the waistband of a skirt with some sort of top draped over the pump. It's often visible, but in a subtle way that doesn't bug me too much. Also use the thigh thing for dresses--I keep inching toward buying the remote but haven't yet.

It isn't at all a shame thing or a self-consciousness thing, to me. It's more like how Tek described it. Aesthetically, I like to wear certain clothes, and I want them to look a certain way. To the extent that the pump gets in the way of that, I do find it annoying. But like just about everyone else who posted, I also find the tradeoffs acceptable.

Hi Kerri - my 10 year old daughter has covered her pump with bling - it's pretty flashy when she pulls it out of her pump pack. She always wears it in a pack on a belt - it tends to fall out of her pockets and she doesn't like the clips. She loves to wear dresses and she just bulges - doesn't bother her at all. Thankfully. (I think it bothers me more!)

I wear mine in my bra too.

JUST KIDDING EVERYONE!!!

:-)

Oh Scott, your comment just made my day! A laugh is the best way to start the day

Scott - I am laughing my ass off at that one. Nice. :)

And hey -- 33rd comment. Larry Bird rises again!

I tuck mine in my bra and I have for years and years. It gets sweaty there and I am constantly up and down my shirt, which garners more stares than having the pump out would. I guess I like it in my bra though, and I don't mind people staring as my bra makes music and I'm constantly adjusting. It is just a part of me! When I did financing contracts for a truck dealership I kept it on my waistband though.....In that situation it was just more than inappropriate to dig in my bra.

I hide my pump. I am on the pump because it is best for my diabetes, not because it necessarily fits my idea of a fashion trend. I am in a job where discretion is key.

Just to add my 2 cents here - I always wear my pump on my belt (which would qualify as wearing it out). Most people who even notice it assume it is a pager or a cell phone (despite the tubing hanging out). The only people who recoginize the pump for what it is are others with diabetes.

On the rare times when I wear a jacket, the pump is covered by the jacket, so I guess this would qualify as sometimes hiding it.

I usuually clip it on a pocket or belt of pants or skirts. Tuck it into my bra for dresses or when I need a smooth look. Really need a transmittor because I can not wear it in my bra if I can not just reach easily down to use the pump but could wear it with almost anything if I could enter the data remotley-just have not splurged for the remote. My problem is not having the insulin overheat at night under an electric blanket. Can not find a good place really to clip onto my pj's at night where I am not rolling on it or it is not overheating. Usually end up moving it around several times at night. Any suggestions would be great. Hate the stretchy things to wrap around your legs to hold it plus not worth the hassle to remove to bolus or adjust basal. Have worn a CGM with a seperate monitor and the Dexcom monitor is too big for most pockets so might switch to Medtronics so I have one device to tuck in my pocket.

I'm just wandering this way from Grand Rounds, but perhaps one of you could tell me - the pumps that are pager-sized... any chance they'd work with pager cases (or the cases might be adapted)? If they do, I'll have some fine Badtz-Maru accessories to give to people :-) (for those of you with blank expressions, Badtz-Maru is another character from Sanrio, home of the somewhat ubiquitous Hello Kitty character)

Here's what it looks like:
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5720/1626/1600/before%26after.jpg

Here's how I make them!:
http://homepage.mac.com/kimchaloner/NYCIDDMDIY.html

I use cellphone cases. Not the ones that are hard shelled. Nope, I use the ones that are made out of fabric. They look like a little pouch. They've got a strap that is attached at one end to the pouch and the other end has a snap on it. So, you can loop it through your belt or a large safety pin. They come in various colours and textures. I've got about 35 of them now. I like to co-ordinate my pump pouch to whatever I'm wearing.

In Canada, you can buy them at Ardene or even Reitman's has them usually around Christmas. In the US, I've bought them at Steinmart (or is it Steinbergs?? ~ can't remember).

I'm short and when I wear my pump clipped to my waist, when I sit down, the pump jabs into me. I don't like that. I have two clips; the larger clip allows the pump to swivel around to different angles. But I still prefer the pouches; they're just more fun too.

What about making Insulin Pumping a Fashion ? There's a reason to hide your insulin pump - it's ugly. I believe that there would be a great market for an insulin pump that looks like an ipod and - maybe even more interesting - is as easy to use. As a software developer i can tell you that it is not hard to build the software for such kind of thing (using a clickwheel for example). This idea just has transported to industry somehow. Maybe it could play music as well ?

Hi! I'm just revisiting this post that I read some time ago. This has been a big issue for me. I am more comfortable showing my pump now, than I was 8 years ago when I got my first one, but I do like nice, clean lines on my clothing. I was wondering if you have any more photos of examples of how to wear the pump discreetly? (I appreciate the photo of your pump in the knee high sock!) Any other ideas? You may e-mail me at this address if you'd like. Thanks!

As a University student alot of my clothing has multiple layers(almost always atleast one over my t-shirt) so i can just clip it on my belt and no one notices. Where i have to wear a suit, which happens quite often, i still tuck in my dress shirt and just wear the insulin pump on the left side of my waist cliped onto the belt(with the tubing all under my shirt by using a piece of tape to bunch it togather). The jacket of the suit covers it anyways, and when i take off my jacket it just looks like a pager because the tubing isnt visable.

The way anyone decides to wear a pump needs to be a completely personal choice. No one should be "shamed" into displaying it, just as no one should be made to feel the need to conceal. I usually do wear mine inside my bra. I try new clothes on that way too so I will know if the strategy works, or if I will clip it to my waist when I am wearing something clingy. For me the challenge with clipping it to a belt or pocket is that it occasionally falls out. I’ve also worn the “thigh thingy” once or twice when I was dressed up. But all my friends, family, and coworkers are well aware of my pump and I am a master of pumping discreetly through my clothing so I don't usually need to take it out. I'm not trying to hide the fact that I am pumping, but I don't want to involve red faces of any males present when I am pumping. These are my choices. I wish you well in finding a solution, or solutions that work for you.

I started making insulin pump packs last year that slide onto a belt and come in a variety of colors & patterns. I almost always wear a belt with my jeans & dress pants so these work great for me. Currently, I sell them for $12 on my website if anyone is interested.

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