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Diabetes at the Beach.

Rhode Island has some really nice beaches, and since I was a little kid, going to the beach has been a staple of summer.  (If September doesn’t roll around and your car isn’t lined with beach sand, something went wrong.)

Just after my diagnosis, going to the beach didn’t look or feel any different as far as my body was concerned, because I didn’t use an insulin pump or wear a continuous glucose monitor when I was seven.  The only evidence of diabetes was found in my mother’s beach bag, where my meter was stashed, and in the beach cooler, which grew significantly after my diagnosis (bring all the food and all that meme-ish tomfoolery).

Today, my diabetes management looks different.  There’s physical evidence of diabetes right there on my hip, where my insulin pump is clipped, and against my skin, where the CGM sensor is placed.  Hiding diabetes at the beach has become increasingly more challenging, but I’ve also become increasingly more comfortable with having it “out there.”

This week, I brought Birdy to the beach to officially kick off our summer (I’m ignoring the fact that it’s 50 degrees and raining today) and since it was early in the season and a little chilly, I decided for a one-piece tank suit instead of a tankini or bikini.  Usually, I wear something two-piece, and not because I am a big fan of baring it all;  I like two-pieces more because there is somewhere to conveniently clip my insulin pump. But once I put on the one-piece bathing suit, I was struck by the lack of clippy real estate.

Where the HELL do you put the thing? Normally, I clip it to the bottom half of my bathing suit, just like with regular clothes, but this one-piece business made things more complicated. I could clip it upsidedown to the leg opening, but then it would hang there like a Christmas ornament. I could clip it disco-boobs style, but then it’s like HEY INSULIN PUMP the whole time at the beach.

After much frustration and simultaneous thankfulness for long tubing, I decided to run the tubing along my back, inside of the bathing suit (the infusion set was in the top of my left hip) and clip the pump itself to the back of my suit. It worked because I didn’t sit much (thanks, Birdy), so a bulge clipped on the back of my suit didn’t cause any discomfort.

Pump clipped to the back of my bathing suit, Dexcom sensor taped happily to my thigh, and busting out my glucose meter every so often?  Basically, it was diabetes balls-out on the beach that afternoon.


8 Comments Post a comment
  1. When I wore a tubed insulin pump, I did what you did. I just clipped the pump to the back of the bathing suit, with the pump part toward my skin so that suit kept it close to my body. But now I’m on the Omnipod so that’s not a problem anymore.

    06/4/14; 11:25 am
  2. I always wear a one-piece (my belly is not for public viewing!). I usually clip it upside-down to the leg opening, but with the pump inside, or under the arm, but again with the pump inside. No one ever really notices. In fact, another Mum in Thomas’s swimming class eventually noticed after many months, and actually said she’d never seen it there before!

    06/4/14; 12:08 pm
  3. Lisa #

    One of my one pieces has a halter top. I usually clip it to the strap above where it meets the suit. With my other ones, I clip it to the back. But I never put it inside my suit. Excellent idea!!! Hope you two had fun at the beach!!!

    06/4/14; 12:30 pm
  4. Amy #

    Thank you for sharing this. My son has been using an insulin pump for about 3 months and his CGM for just over a month. We are headed to the beach next month and I was nervous about it. He’s 8 so he will be in the ocean a lot! Any concerns about the CGM in the ocean?

    06/4/14; 12:40 pm
  5. I’m all for everyone wearing whatever swimsuit feels best, but I NEVER understand why anyone–pumped/tubed or not—would wear a one-piece swimsuit. Unless it’s in a swimming race/Save the Bay/etc.. Because: bathroom…getting changed in the car for the drive home…etc. all so much easier with a 2-piece.

    I salute you!

    06/4/14; 8:16 pm
  6. Nell #

    Kerri, you’ve commented several times about using long tubing. Would you elaborate please and thanks?

    06/8/14; 6:34 pm
  7. Because of all the pool and open-water swimming I do, I’m in the water a lot. And, as a guy, all of my diabetes attachments are always on public display. (Only one piece suits for me!) I don’t think–over all of these years–that I’ve ever had anyone at the pool or lake comment or ask me about it. Maybe everyone’s all “Hey, eye’s up here!” but I doubt it. 🙂

    06/9/14; 7:28 am
  8. Oh I never thought of that! I’ve always worn two-piece bathing suits because I hate having fabric stick to where my infusion set and CGM are.

    06/20/14; 2:31 pm

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