Earlier this week, I flew to San Diego to visit with the team at Tandem and brainstorm some plans for 2016. It was a quick trip (managed to land right when that weird storm was picking up speed – made for a very exciting landing and also reinforced my hatred of flying), but a productive one.
On Tuesday morning, before leaving for the airport, I needed to change my pump site. In the winter, my skin has a tendency to become scalier and more irritated than in the warmer months, so skin real estate is a real issue, and site rotation is important, yet it’s challenging to find a place that wasn’t already somewhat rotten.
Against my better judgement (and mostly because I was in a hurry), I made the mistake of inserting my infusion set onto the back of my hip. Normally, this placement is awesome and totally out of the way, but that morning, I managed to stick the site exactly where my waistband was situated. It was also exactly where I would put my hands when pulling my pants on or off, making it a high traffic site. But whatever – I was in a hurry, the skin was good there, and I’d just be really, really careful when sitting / visiting the ladies room / getting dressed.
I made it about six hours before I ripped the site off completely.
This moment happened at the end of my five hour flight home from San Diego, as the plane was starting to land. Thanks to a paranoia about blot clots (hat tip to that pesky Factor V Leiden bastard), I drink a lot of water on long flights and get up from my seat very often. (Apologies to anyone who has ever sat next to me on a plane.) I wanted to duck into the bathroom very quickly before the plane landed, and in my haste, ripped the pump site out with swift precision.
Blood streamed down the side of my hip. Not optimal. In a panic, I looked at the bathroom walls and door to make sure my grossness was contained, and thankfully it was, except now I had bloody paper towels and the plane was descending quickly and fuck I needed a new site in a hurry. After cleaning myself off (stuffing the bloody paper towels into my pocket because I didn’t want to throw them in the garbage), I went back to my seat and said a silent thank you to my always-over packed carry-on. A large Ziploc plastic bag that carried snacks and glucose tabs was emptied out and became the medical waste bag. As the flight attendants were preparing the cabin for landing, I grabbed my extra infusion set and stuck it into my stomach without anyone noticing. A quick fill of the cannula and I was back in business. My horrible paper towels and infusion set garbage were contained and concealed without issue.
THIS IS WHY I OVERPACK. Every time. I get some flack for keeping an infusion set in my purse all the time and for carrying insulin pens, too, because rarely, rarely is there an issue. I could not have foreseen the need to change out my site at my seat on the plane (fuck you, Miss Manners), but when I ripped out my site, it was less jarring to discreetly change my site than to spend the next two hours driving home to Rhode Island from Boston without insulin.
The moral of this story? Insulin is necessary on the ground and at 37,000 feet. Be prepared when you travel. And for crying out loud, bring back ups because Insets are only available in first class.