Infusion Tubing Snag and Pump Site Rip-Off (Beep Beep)

Here’s the deal: I wear an insulin pump. I have for over a year now. While I don’t love wearing the pump, I don’t hate it, either. It isn’t a burden. It isn’t obvious I’m wearing one. The maintenance and every-three-day infusion set and reservoir changes have become cake, something to be done in a few minutes’ time without really thinking about it.


The pump’s quite convenient in that it has my blood glucose monitor piggybacking the pump itself, communicating directly with the pump and recording my blood glucose numbers. I don’t have to enter them when I bolus for a meal; I don’t have to enter them when I need to issue a correction.

But today’s blog entry is about something that, while it happens infrequently, when it does happen seems to happen two or three times in a 24-hour period (I don’t know why) and provokes some choice words that echo throughout the house, often followed by my wife’s tired “What happened now?” from another room.

It’s the infusion tubing’s ability to reach out and grab a door handle or cabinet knob when I’m walking by.

I’d love to get this on videotape, because when it happens, I imagine that in less than a second or two what goes on probably looks similar to a Road Runner cartoon. The tubing that connects my infusion site to my pump, uncoiled and dangling outside of my shorts pocket, in essence becomes Wile E. Coyote’s large Acme rubber band. You know the one: He’s just removed it from its wooden crate, read the instructions, and now struggles to stretch it across the highway so that he can launch himself after the Road Runner. Listen to the sound, like pulling your hand hard across a blown up balloon. The rubber band has almost reached its breaking point, well beyond Acme’s approved elasticity rating.

At this point it’s a dangerous slingshot, too much potential energy poised to fling Wile E. Coyote (Ignoramus Maximus, or “Super Genius”) after the fast bird.

But something always goes horribly wrong.

And the wrong this time is the improper setting of the anchors for the rubber band. One of them (I’m not sure which; I’m kind of making up this scenario) isn’t set firm enough into the desert sand. It wriggles loose, inches out of the ground. Wile E. doesn’t see it until it’s too late: that final step he takes to get one last ounce of kinetic force from his launch is just too much.

The stake pops out. The rubber band and heavy stake fly towards him, and soon the cartoon coyote is wrapped in thick pink rubber band while the Road Runner blazes a dusty trail on the horizon.

Beep beep.

Okay, it’s really not that bad for me. But with the infusion set as an anchor on one end, and the insulin pump the anchor at the other, that nasty kitchen cabinet knob grabs hold and then pulls my tubing to the breaking point as I walk by.

I’m always moving too quickly; I never stop in time.

The insulin pump in my pocket isn’t going anywhere; it’s in there too deep. But the infusion set, stuck as it is to my stomach with little more than some medical adhesive, quickly wriggles loose and rips clean from my person. In a split second it snaps back toward the cabinet, launching out from under my shirt and more often than not clipping my arm or hand in the process.

It’s startling, jarring, and (literally) snaps me back into remembering that I have diabetes.

So, yes, I enjoy the freedom the insulin pump gives me from many of the routines that multiple daily injections require—basal injections at or near the same time once or twice a day; meals and snacks at or near the same time each day, and so on. I have ideal insulin pump fantasies that consist of no tubing (and yes, I know about the OmniPod).

One of these blogs, I’m going to write about what I’d create for an insulin pump if the sky was the limit (or the limit was just short of a cure for diabetes!).

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  • glenn

    Create insulin pump (if the sky was the limit)… cure for diabetes… change kitchen knobs or handles to handles that are flush with the drawers or doors with no edges for the pump tube to catch on. Sounds like a Saturday job. But that would spoil Wile E. Coyote’s fun!

  • kiran

    I thought this only happened to me lol

  • Peter Mead

    Ideal pump: Infusion site sublimates precise insulin amounts through skin non-invasively. Small microchip from long ago trickle down technology (say, a 60 Ghz pre-pentium chip)woven into the site patch and sends data to a…well, it’s really an IPhone, actually. Data is basal and bolus and BG (obtained through spectrographic analysis…hey, we can know what a planet half a gazillion light years away is made of, so we can bloody well (no pun intended) determine our BG too!). IPhone closes the loop and calls you when you need to change your patch (daily)or e-mails you alerts on your phone, like projected highs or lows. Insulin sits on the patch next to the chip, it is dehydrated and activates with fatty layer fluids. Patch lasts one day but comes off like a band aid. The closed loop system means the IPhone continues to learn and eventually mediates your Pancreatic functions better than a real Pancreas.

    Meanwhile you are growing vegetables in a hydro pot that is mixed with your DNA and eating it, creating, over time, Immune System “moderators” and beta cell regenerators which cure you.

    Or something like that.


  • stacy


    I’m sitting here laughing because I completely understand where this article came from. For a second, you’re like….”what the heck…?” and then realize, oh yeah, I’m diabetic! Ha Ha. Great article.

  • kathy

    I also catch the tubing on my cabint doors but so does my husband on his side pants pockets and he is not diabetic, guess they better redesign the cabinets. Have a good day and keepsmiling

  • tom in orlando

    While you’re designing the perfect pump, see if you can lower the price of these infusion sets — may they cost in the range of a band aid, too.

  • mrtweet

    I never used the pump because of it’s dangling pieces and fear of infection, but have looked into the Omnipod, no tubing and communicates with monitor directly. Has anyone used this? I’ve sent for a sample kit (doesn’t work) that gives you the opportunity to try it and see how it feels wearing it.

  • Peter Mead

    Y’know, I read this article and I thought, hmmfft! I’d never do something like that, pumping as I am for almost one month now.

    And then, pfft! Going out the door the next day and turned my pump and tube into a sort of yoyo on the door knob. I guess I am just suggestible.

  • Grant

    I feel your pain. I have been on the pump for a year now, and I can’t tell you how many times I have snagged my tubing on a door knob. I scares the hell out of me when it happens and like you it is followed by loud obscenities.