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

Here’s the deal: I wear an insulin pump[1]. 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[2] 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[3] 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!).

  1. insulin pump:
  2. infusion set:
  3. infusion tubing’s:

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Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

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