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Beach Blanket ... Pumping.

Growing up in southern Rhode Island means having access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.   The sound of the ocean waves, and of the seagulls flying overhead.  The smell of clam chowder (chowdah), fritters, and onion rings from the beach stand.  The ancient woman who sold popcorn from the kiosk in Watch Hill.  The hot sand and the hot sun.  I love it all.

My best friend and I hit the beach in RI this past Saturday, drinking iced coffees, swimming around in the August ocean, and gossiping our heads off.  I'm very pro-pump when it comes to doing my diabetes thaang, so I do what I need to do in order to make it part of every day.  Wearing it at work or out to dinner doesn't present many issues, but the beach is tricky indeed.  Here are a few tips I use to keep the pump from interfering at the beach:    

Pumping can be a day at the beach.  Holla.

Top Five Beach Pumping Tips:

1.  Bring a bottle of water.  If you're like me and you love to swim around like an awkward little dolphin, you'll find that the infusion set can get covered in salt and sticky sand.  Sometimes I have trouble reconnecting my pump due to the slty build-up.  Using a water bottle to rinse off the site helps remove the stick and get me reattached without any trouble.

2.  Bring an extra towel.  If you are like me and you stay attached to your pump while you lay on the blanket, make sure you keep it covered.  An extra towel or t-shirt is handy to wrap up the pump in, keeping it cooler and away from the heat of the sun.  

3.  Have back-up insulin.  Whether it's the salt caked up on your site that's keeping you from reconnecting or if there's a malfunction with you pump, it's important to keep an insulin pen in your beach stash.  I have one of those Frio things that works great to keep the pen cool and collected. 

4.  Sunscreen it  up.  If you're an Irish girl who burns with the best of them, sunscreen is your friend.  This past weekend, I blew it a little and didn't wear enough sunscreen, and now my body is slightly crispy.  Pushing a new pump site into sunburnt skin is not very comfortable.  Also, wearing enough SPF keeps me from getting wild infusion set tan lines. 

5.  Be confident!  People are going to stare at the pump.  This is a fact - they can't help it!  It's probably not something they see every day, and it's hard to hide in a bathing suit.  Just remember that we're wearing this device to manage diabetes, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.  Let 'em stare.  ;)

What do you do with your pump in the hot, hot heat?  Any tricks you want to share?  (And any good recipes for chowdah?  I think I'm ready to try and make some at home!) 


I went to the beach yesterday and thought about all the things (except the sunscreen) that you wrote about. I will be prepared for next time.

We use the clips that come with the infusion sets (In-sets) to block the sand from entering when my son is disconnected so we have no issue re-connecting. We also use them when he is in the sandbox, since my son is untethered in the summer months, I keep a few in my purse at all times.

We learned the hard way while on the beach in Florida and couldn't re-connect bc sand got in there. I was sweating with a syringe trying to pick the sand out of the little holes where the clips go while my 2 year old was crying bc he wanted his lunch. I finally gave up and gave him a shot (with the insulin in the cartridge) and eventually (after sweating out 5 lbs of water on the hot FL beach) got the sand out of the site.

I have yet to venture onto the beach with my pump - probably because LI Sound is mostly just yucky!! But I will certainly refer back to these tips when we go to a Real Beach. Thanks!!

I try to plan in advance and use a site on my leg when I'm going to the beach or somewhere that I'll swim. I use an Animas 2020 which is waterproof so I don't have to disconnect and can thread the tubing through a hole I cut inside the pocket of my board shorts and keep the pump in the pocket.

I guess it's easier to do that as a guy wearing board shorts.

I dye my hair brown but underneath it it's red, so thanks to that I always burn no matter how much sun screen I have on! :) And of course, it just peels so i'm back to my white skin a couple of days later. Gah!

I also stay connected while i'm lying on the blanket, and usually keep my pump wrapped up in a t-shirt :)

I pretty much stay connected the whole time I am there - wearing a tankini so it is just clipped on to the bottom part.

I am not so good at anticipating the pump sites so I do have some crazy tan lines.

As much as I usually hate the site caps we get in EVERY package, they do come in handy for the beach. That is the only time I use them. I also bring a spare infusion site and an IV3000.

I keep my pump shaded under a sarong while I am 'tanning'.

I don't know if it is the sun or all the time I spend in the water, but I can't remember a beach day where I didn't go low.

Great tips... especially about the sunscreen. Haven't thought of that one, but it does make lots of sense! :-)

One day at the beach I removed an infusion set and then applied sunscreen. Unfortunately the remnants from the infusion set adhesive stopped the sunscreen from being absorbed and I got a horrible rectangular sunburn and worse I developed a skin allergy to the Hypafix tape which up until then had been my best tape for holding in very wet conditions. So now I am very careful to make sure that the infusion set location is not exposed to the sun or that I have been very careful about making sure the sunscreen is effectively applied.

I'm not much of a beach-goer as the Irish in me won out over the Italian giving me very pale skin and freckles. Add to that the fact that there aren't many beaches in England worth going to!

When I am out in the sunshine though I have a pump sized Frio wallet to keep my pump cool in direct sun. I also have an aquapac (there is an insulin pump version) which was originally intended for a kitesurfing trip, but is incredibly useful wherever there is water or sand around!

Oh, and I have a chowdah recipe that my mom used to make. I'll send it to you when I get home from work.

I put the pump in a cooler bag while I'm in the water. It's great - my pump stays cool and clean. When I'm out of the water, I attached it to my leg (I plan beach days with infusion set changes) and thread it through my cover where my pump sits in my pocket. It's worked for years!

I bring a lunchbox w/ some sort of coldpack to stash my insulin & other d-supplies in. When I disconnect to go into the water, I put the pump in the box and bury it in the sand. Yeah, I'm weird, but the pump never gets hot! :D

Clam cakes! Clam cakes! Have I mentioned clam cakes? Oh man, I can't wait to get Rhodey again.

Where are all the other 'over 20 years with diabetes let things go when they're sick of it being first priority slackers'? I'll be the president of the club. I hate to wear my pump at the beach, make sure my infusion site is hidden beneath my bikini, hide it under me while I lay out and often am disconnected for way too long. For my birthday, I even gave myself a passive agressive birthday present and forgot it at home while taking my son to the beach!

After getting a very prominent circle tan line on my thigh from wearing a set out in the sun for 2 days straight, I now put my site on the top of my bum under my swimsuit bottoms.

Seriously, that stupid circle has been on my leg for MONTHS!

The ocean waves can take out my infusion set. So I always bring a cooler with some insulin inside it for when the infusion set gets washed away.

I love to swim but always worried about my insulin spoiling in my pump. So I started using a ice pack in a lunch box. One time I forgot it so I buried it leaving my tubing out and made sure somebody watched it. It worked awesome. Now I never carry the awkward backyardagains lunch box

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