Insulin Pump Sets: Moving Location

**This isn’t necessarily an information post, it is my own  experience and learning tips.

I think I have probably worn a set or a sensor everywhere you possibly could. I’ve worn cannulas on my arm, stomach and bum whilst having sensors on my thigh, stomach, bum, lower back and arm. Obviously not all at the same time.

I first got my insulin pump aged 6, starting on sof sensors the very same day. I can proudly say I will have been pumping for 10 years on the 14th of December this year!! When I started I had both my sensors and cannulas in my bum, always along the very top because I was a creature of habit and would never, EVER rotate.

It took me years to finally pluck up the courage to ask to try a set in my stomach. I’d gotten to the point where I was embarrassed to say where my set actually was when my friends tried to follow the tubing and I had just started high school, so aged 11 I bravely decided to change the location of my set.

Best decision of my life!

It was a big change, but suddenly I had so much more tubing to spare! I also got more confident about telling people what my pump really did, I wasn’t afraid to even show them the set if they were interested. A year after this I learnt how to do my own set change because of course it was now so much easier to do as its in front of me. Although I struggled with this, a diabetic friend of mine sat down with me, taught me and encouraged me. He’d put one in himself only 1/2 an hour before that so it was a really good method of learning for me because he had experience in this. (Because it is very different learning it from a parent who puts the set in someone else).

Although I then didn’t do a set change myself for about 18 months so I had to relearn it which was terrifying. This time we had another method of learning because I didn’t have another diabetic to help me, but it was just as effective. (This must’ve been ages 13 now?) We started off with my mum doing it all and I put my hand over hers when she pressed the button. Then I held the button/indents myself but she pressed it (her hand over my hand). After a few set changes like this I found it less scary to put one in myself. I did like my mum to supervise me setting it up though as this was one of the most nerve wracking parts for me, if I got it wrong I was worried it would be a painful set and everything would go wrong! But that didn’t last for long. Now I have no issues doing any of my set change myself. (We used a similar method for learning how it do my own sensors).

I also have tried many different types of sets and sensors over the years. I’ve done silouhettes (45 degrees), quick sets (right angle), mios (right angle) and mio 30s (30 degrees). Sensors wise I’ve had the sof sensors which were the old Medtronic ones and honestly were horrific…… I now have enlites but have trialled the dexcom too.

I’m still a creature of habit but I’m definitely a lot more open to trying new areas. Since then, I changed site location again to my arm which I now prefer to any of the others! For some reason I just find it easier to press the buttons with my arm, probably because it is just muscle in my arm, so how could it possibly hurt? I use the mios still because of their all in one packaging and ease of insertion. Then for now I have my enlite sensors in my thigh, using the original inserter instead of the newest one-serter (rather than press the button and then unpress it to release and then press the button to free the sensor from the inserter, you have a button either side you press to fire the sensor in and simply pull the inserter off. I have to say I prefer my original one because of clunkiness but the newer one is simpler to use). I don’t believe the enlite sensors are actually licensed for the thigh, however I find that it is not painful there, it’s out of the way on my thigh and the readings are very accurate in comparison to other places for me.

But one of the most important things about learning how to do sets, sensors and moving the location of any of them is I chose when we did all of it. And in fact I sometimes still ask my mum to do it and I’m 16! Just mostly because I’m sick of doing it myself and need a break. I know some adults ask their friends or family to do thier sets for them still, for exactly the same reason as me.

Why I’m writing a post about all this is because I wish I had the opportunity to give my younger self some advice –

Change may be scary, but you never know what you might be missing.

Where do you wear your set and/or sensor? If you have any tips or tricks of your own please share them in the comments! And feel free to ask me any questions about anything in this post or parts of this I haven’t covered.


What are the 6 True Pros and Cons of having Type 1 Diabetes?

So, there are are the typical good aspects of diabetes you hear everyday, such as “I get my favourite sweets when I have a low!” I’m fairly sure everyone has heard that one before whether you’re 5 years old or 20 years old, you will have answered with that more than once.

The negatives are no different! I’m 100% sure that the stock answer to the ‘worst thing about diabetes’ question will be about the needles. The frequency of them, the pain of the jabs or even just needing to have them in the first place. We’ve all heard them and probably said them ourselves for lack of thinking or pure laziness. 

But what are the things people don’t tell you that they like or don’t like about have type 1 diabetes?

Let’s kick it off with a positive. 

Positive #1 – Hypos.

Oh yeah. Hypos are in the positives. No, I’m not crazy. Yes, I know that they bring horrible symptoms and they prevent you from doing things like walking in a straight line. Or understanding instructions. However, that’s quite handy sometimes isn’t it? 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not, I repeat, NOT promoting hypoglycaemia. It can be very dangerous and shouldn’t be induced. But you know when it turns out that they’re doing your all time worst sport in P.E, the one sport that you’re absolutely terrible at….. and then your pre-sports test is suddenly a 3.5? Hypo gold as my dad once said!

Negative #1 – Meeting new people. 

I think this is a problem at any age. Introducing type 1 diabetes to new friends or acquaintances is an absolute nightmare. You could end up down playing it to seem like an easy condition that barely affects you at all so they think they can ignore it, when actually you’d like them to acknowledge it and perhaps even help you a little. Or you might over do it a tad, making them think you could collapse any second now and they decide to shove 999 in their favourites. Also a bad idea. Is there an inbetween? How do you explain the difficult and severe but manageable view?! 

Positive #2 – Theme parks. 

Need I say anymore? Anyone who has been in possession of a fast track pass knows exactly what I’m talking about. You simply can’t refuse  skipping queues, fitting in double or even triple the amount of rides you normally could in a day and the glorious feeling of walking past hundreds of poor, unfortunate people waiting for hours in the blazing heat, the many soles of many feet almost on fire and you go to stand right at the front, IN YOUR OWN LANE, ready to hop on the the ride next. HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY DISLIKE THIS?!?!?!

Negative #2 – the dreaded annual review. 

It does sadly need to mentioned here. For me, it is by far the ultimate bad aspect of all bad aspects to diabetes. And I’m not talking about the blood test. I’m talking about the pee sample. 

Why?! Why do they put us through this torture?! A. I’m not a person that pees often, so how the hell do they expect me to pee on demand?! B. It’s disgusting handing it over. And embarrassing talking about it. And being handed the pot. Just, ewwwwwww. C. They’re small pots. Really, really small.  I swear that I couldn’t even fit my pinkie finger into some of the pots they’ve given me over the years. I’m not joking. 

I suppose the only good thing about it is you get to practise your aim. Or ‘test your neurocognitive coordination’ as my doctor put it last time! He then said “actually, that’s a big pot you’ve been given there!” It was 2cm diameter. 2cm!

Positive #3 – Alcohol 

I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but I feel like being diabetic makes me a bit more sensible. It’s introduced me to the capabilities of my body and that fact that I’m not necessarily as invincible as I sometimes like to think. I realise that things can go medically wrong, quite quickly at times so I understand that actually it could be me that gets into a sticky situation as a result of drinking, whether I was diabetic or not. 

I don’t mean carb counting alcohol or having hypos (don’t get me started on that – it’s a nightmare!) I simply mean that from being diabetic I feel I have a better understanding than some that there is a chance it could be you passing out from extreme alcohol consumption or being so smashed you get into a fight that you lose. Things go wrong and it could happen to anyone. Well, anyone who’s been out partying all night. There’s no such thing as “It wouldn’t be me!” where alcohol (or drugs) are concerned and being diabetic has helped me realise that! 

I’m not saying I’ll never ever drink, but I will certainly be much more careful than I expect future friends of mine to be!

Negative #3 – Lucozade and toothpaste

The beautiful combination of Lucozade and toothpaste. I’ve certainly had the not-so-lovely experience of tasting the two together. You see, this never, ever happens before you clean your teeth. Simply because no sane person would choose to add a pinch of mint to the very orange tasting Lucozade! Sadly, I have had more than a few hypos directly after cleaning my teeth. I don’t wish that on any poor person. I don’t even know how to describe it! Orange and mint. Mint and orange. Let’s just say they’ll never make it onto the dessert section of a menu as a couple. 

There are many, many more bonuses to diabetes, along with many more downsides. Do you have type 1 diabetes (or are a parent, sibling or friend) and have any pros or cons you’d like to add? Please share them in the comments!