Visibility: does size matter?

One ‘off-putting’ thought about insulin pump therapy is: would wearing a pump make my diabetes more publicly visible…

Making ‘diabetes more visible’ isn’t the major issue; in fact, whether in making introductions to a sports team, a new teacher at school, colleagues at work, a partner on a date… somewhere down the line, whether on the first meeting or not, the detail of having type 1 diabetes will get shared. It takes a level of courage and confidence to first share about it, but the moment will come whether we go head-on to do so or not. If on multiple daily injections, on that dinner-date or school lunch break, it is more than likely the insulin pen will come out at some stage! And so, wearing a pump in that regard is not any more visible in public.

It could also be said that diabetes becomes ‘more visible’ when at its most difficult phases: during a bad hypo or even hyper level, when you can’t move or even behave as you normally would when in range. With advanced technologies out there, as they now are in many volumes, if you feel comfortable adapting to this type of treatment (and it is accessible to you) then key advantages might be discovered in reducing the number of hypos or hypers that occur, or preventing the majority completely with closed loop and hybrid systems evolving all the time. In some ways there, reducing the ‘visibility of diabetes’ in that area.

The key word just there, on a personal level, was ‘adapting.’

Adapting to the pump therapy. This doesn’t only apply to those making the big leap of faith in going from multiple daily injections onto insulin pump therapy, but also to those changing their type of pump, or upgrading to the latest pump model. A psychological adaptation process has to take place. This is where the visibility question comes in: am I asking is my diabetes more visible to everyone else, or more so, is it more visible to myself?

Whatever your experiences are, or however many years you have lived with type 1 diabetes, that question is the big one which tests your comfort zone with this condition. Nobody can turn around and say, “I am 110% comfortable with a medical condition 24/7!” Over time, and in trying out what works best with us: physically, practically and emotionally, we build tiers of confidence in ourselves and in our routines. That level of self-confidence, which gets swiped away from you upon first being diagnosed, takes a lot of time to build up, and is the key elevator towards working with your diabetes day to day in whatever treatment you use and prefer to be on. You are a strong, inspiring, smart and hard-working individual in this life; your condition is evidence of it, let’s not forget to reflect on that from time to time!

So, does the size of a pump matter? Not entirely – it is down to how comfortable and willing we are in ourselves to try it on. Most, if not all, pumps out today weigh less than 100gs without their batteries. And what we are seeing, in this diabetes tech evolution that is taking place in the present day with pumps and CGMs seemingly being released as frequently as the latest iphones, are newer models with more health advantages, systems and smaller sizes too. One element that does matter, from the challenging experience of connecting a pump before using a belt-clip, is exactly that, the clip! Going to the bathroom with the pump attached but rested on the leg, I can tell ya, didn’t end well when getting up! Make sure you have your belt-clip attached, and you’ll soon find a better comfort-zone!