Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Men have it so much easier than women when it comes to pumping insulin. Why? Men always have pockets. With us, it’s not always so easy.

I remember once when I was in a restaurant, having lunch with a friend. The only “pocket” I had that day was my bra, so I had dropped my insulin pump in with the “girls.” When it came time to give myself some insulin for the food, I slipped my hand into the neckline of my T-shirt and down to my bra where I found…the girls. No pump. My hand searched around and, finally…my friend said, “I hope you have something in there, because everybody’s staring.” As it turns out, Elvis (as I called my pump; I’m now on ElvisToo) had decided to play hide and seek and was hanging out under one of the girls—probably chortling his little batteries out at my attempts to locate him.

Elvis was always a bit of an adventure-seeker. I let my pumps roam free in bed at night and would forever be finding Elvis hiding under my husband, trying to sneak under a pillow, playing footsie with me, on the floor—perhaps in an attempt to go on the lam?—or tunneling into the folds of the duvet.

One morning, I woke up lying on my side, with the tubing wrapped around me and Elvis sitting on my hip, screeching his little siren song, telling me…what? That he’d reached the top of Mount Janhip and was celebrating? That he’d had an occlusion? That he needed a long drink of insulin? It was the last one. I get confused and cranky and cry when I’m low. Elvis seemed to prefer scaling the heights and then waking everybody up as he crowed about it.

Speaking of lows, pumps get them, too: low insulin, low batteries…And when that battery goes low, you’d best have some fresh ones on hand. Whatever you do, you don’t want to be on a cruise ship, discover that the spare batteries you brought with you have lost their oomph, and have to explore Grand Cayman—not for souvenirs and rum cake, but for button batteries.

While ElvisToo will deliver my basal insulin with a low battery, he won’t allow me to bolus for food or for a correction. Elvis, on the other hand, gave me a bit of time to go out and buy some “juice” for him. He started early on: In fact, he gave me the “low battery” message and alarm only about two days after I inserted my first infusion set and started him up.

I panicked. While the battery was supposed to last for a few hours after the warning, my pump trainer had advised me to put in fresh batteries as soon as possible, “just in case.” But I wasn’t prepared. There were, as yet, no spare batteries in my refrigerator’s butter dish. It was too soon! Out I dashed to the drug store, where I frantically searched for button batteries. I’d never bought button batteries before. I tried to ask the clerk, but he didn’t seem interested in helping.

“This is bad,” I told myself. “This is very bad. My pump is going to quit on me. I need my pump!”

Finally, batteries in hand, I pointed my car toward home and went on my way. Only to remember halfway there that I was on a saline trial: Elvis didn’t even have insulin in his reservoir—I was still injecting insulin.

I’m sure that if you asked any pumper, that person would have a story that would make you smile, even if it’s just answers they’ve given to people who’ve asked about the tubing coming out of it. “How else would I communicate with the Mother Ship?” I asked one such person. And a friend of mine rendered an acquaintance silent by telling him “it runs on water.”

Ya gotta love something that not only makes life easier, but also gives you an occasional laugh.


  1. I call my pump Little Mister Crankypants because it wakes me up at night, just like a crying baby.

    Posted by edcenter |
  2. Thank goodness my Animas 2020 pump uses AA batteries (Lithium) that are easy to find. With all the sound warnings and alarms set on high and the bright screen they only last about a month before the low battery warning starts chirping. I’ve only been pumping since last June and it’s a lot of work, like having a baby around 24/7. I think MDI was easier. Sometimes I think that all the testing that I do is not to find out how I am doing but to find out how the pump is working.
    I woke up feeling a little low one night and after about 30 minutes my wife came to see what was going on. She claims she saw me trying to stick a glucose strip into my cell phone that was lying next to my meter on the kitchen counter. Oh well what can I say except when I put the strip into the One Touch Ultra 2 I got a number 42. Maybe they could add Pumping Insulin and blood glucose testing to the IPhone.

    Posted by Florian |
  3. I love these stories. There is a whole series of messages about the IMeter on the type 2 boards at the American Diabetes Website under “You know you are diabetic when…” You should see all the features we have added to it. It even has a built in glucose tab dispenser that automatically shoots a glucose tab into your hand when you are low. (called a pez dispenser). The only thing we need to add is braille technology for those who read Braille.

    Posted by deafmack |
  4. I once wrote a bunch of “You know you have diabetes when …” (i.e., you have to count your fries) stuff. Maybe I should make t-shirts with the sayings on them!
    Jan Chait

    Posted by Jan Chait |

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