Psychology of wearing the pump?

I am curious of the psychology of wearing the pump.  It seems to me that since I have been wearing mine, just over 6 years, it makes me more aware that I have diabetes.  Before, years on shots, I didn't have the extra weight of the pump and now cgms to haul around.  I could hide d better.  I just had to take shots four times a day, for the most part, and could get away with high's and low's (to myself, maybe not for my good health).  The pump is a constant reminder to me that I am diabetic.  Multiple shots only seemed to remind me when I ate.  I am curious how others think the pump has effected their lives?  For me it is good for treatment, but is a definite burden to haul around constantly.  What do you think? 

I think it’s more interesting to look at the psychology of being diabetic.  Incurable illness has a way of messing with your mind, including deep resentment and denial, rebellion, and probably a bit of depression.  So I guess it (in this context it=wearing a pump) can depend on where you are with your acceptance of this disease.

Having to wear a medical device sucks, but then again so does MDI. My personal choice was to wear the pump because for me it sucks less, but in case it’s not obvious I would rather not.  It definitely has been a conversation piece, though, especially since pagers have gone passé. 

=)

I've been on a pump for 4 years, and I tend to forget about it most of the time. I used to have to haul around a bag or something to carry the syringes, juice, test kit, etc., and now with the pump, all I carry is my test kit, which I usually just put the meter and test strips in my pocket. I really don't wear the CGM much since I find it uncomfortable and being an athlete, I take my pump off for practice and usually lose the signal. I do have a lot of people ask me "What is that?" especially students when I'm in my field experience, but I just tell them, and they stop asking because they don't know what it is.

i have to say i never hid my d, but if i wanted to, i find it easier to hide with a pump/cgm. before, i was poking my fingers and giving shots in public (which never bothered me, but certainly seemed to bother some others). now, i just pull out the cgm if i don't feel like poking my finger to see what my BG is. when it's time to take insulin, i pull out the pump and hit a few buttons and the insulin is administered. no big deal. when you're stabbing yourself, people find it offensive (for whatever random reason). when you're just pushing buttons, people tend to ignore whatever is you're doing. most don't tend to notice the tubing. when they don't know what it is you're doing, they'll make something up that makes sense to them - that looks like a pager, or a cellphone, or an ipod... with tubing. 

my d never bothered me (until my college years) because my parents made sure i knew it wasn't a big deal. it was something i had to do and couldn't change, so i just had to deal with it. and i always did. i like when people ask me questions or say something because it allows me an opportunity to educate them about something i know a lot about. i've never made a point to hide the big d - even when i was rebelling against it - so having a little machinery attached to me has never been a problem for me. i rather enjoy it, to be completely honest. it makes me different from most people and being unique is something i enjoy :o)

Wow, C!  I really like your comment about being unique!!  I always try to find something positive in every situation.  Something my Mom taught me.  :)

Dan - that's definitely how I felt at the beginning.  I felt like wearing a pump was similar to wearing a big sign saying "Hey everyone!  I'm different!  Look at me!  I have diabetes!".  That was a big part of the reason I was so reluctant to get one.  I think that feeling has worn off for me over time, and I would actually really miss my pump if I didn't have it.  I also am learning that not everyone "notices" what I think they do, and part of it is some unjustified paranoia on my part.  As Joe mentioned, some of that feeling going away has been due to accepting that this is my life, this is what I have to do to stay healthy (whether it's fair or not - and it's definitely not).  It doesn't mean I like wearing it (some types of clothing just simply don't work out well, for lack of place to put the pump), but I can do it without being too bothered by it.

 

 

[quote user="C"]

i have to say i never hid my d, but if i wanted to, i find it easier to hide with a pump/cgm. before, i was poking my fingers and giving shots in public (which never bothered me, but certainly seemed to bother some others). now, i just pull out the cgm if i don't feel like poking my finger to see what my BG is. when it's time to take insulin, i pull out the pump and hit a few buttons and the insulin is administered. no big deal. when you're stabbing yourself, people find it offensive (for whatever random reason). when you're just pushing buttons, people tend to ignore whatever is you're doing. most don't tend to notice the tubing. when they don't know what it is you're doing, they'll make something up that makes sense to them - that looks like a pager, or a cellphone, or an ipod... with tubing. 

[/quote]

This is pretty much how I feel about it too. 

one of the reasons i got rid of the pump and didn't continue past the 3months (besides the fact that my spikes got worse and i had 3x lows a week, usually mulitple in one day, and we couldn't get my basal's right) was due to it actually causing me self-esteem issues with my D for the first time in 16years. i would break down crying everytime i had to find an outfit to wear that wasn't my jeans/work pants and tshirt, it took me 3hours to find an outfit i could wear out dancing or to my xmas party or just to dress up..and i usually ended up in pants and a shirt by the end of it.

 

i poke my finger and take my shots everywhere i want, i've never been shy about it. but with the pump, it wasn't the same because it was attached 24/7. i couldn't handle that. taking it off for good was like leaving someone who was emotionally abusive to you, it felt amazing and i haven't looked back.

[quote user="Joe"]

I think it’s more interesting to look at the psychology of being diabetic.  Incurable illness has a way of messing with your mind, including deep resentment and denial, rebellion, and probably a bit of depression.  So I guess it (in this context it=wearing a pump) can depend on where you are with your acceptance of this disease.

[/quote]

 

I have to disagree. I think there can be a difference in the psychology of diabetes based on how you feel about taking shots in public, constantly carrying around a pump, or whatever. I've never hid my D, as anyone on here knows, and I'm not ashamed of it or in denile. But when I was on the pump, I found it much harder psychologically than on MDI, not because it made my D obvious to the public. More because I felt like I couldn't "leave my T1 behind" once in a while. I don't mind the cgm receiver b/c I can leave it behind if I feel like it. (Not that I do, but I could...) Maybe I'd have different feelings if the pump had worked for me! But, for me, MDI allows me a sort of balance that is psychologically positive for me. I can wear whatever I want, and I even feel like I have more control w/o the worry about tubing and pump malfunctions. Sadly, endos don't care about that, only their research.

I've had d for almost 38 years and on the pump almost 7.  My A1c's are definitely better on the pump.  It just seems to me that I am more focused on the disease than I ever was before.  It seems to always have top of mind awareness.  Now I have a cgm that adds to that awareness.  Certainly physically for me, the pump and cgm are the best way to go, but it seems I can't get a rest from thinking about diabetes anymore.  That is why I posted the comments.  

Hi Dan -

Interesting post. I've also had an insulin pump for about 7 years, before that I was on MDI. I transitioned onto the pump during college, and I remember the inconvenience of MDI during my daily routine. Carrying those supplies around and having to give an injection when necessary - to me it made it very evident that I have diabetes. Also, using syringes made me a tad uncomfortable. So, the pump freed me of that. To be honest, Pankie (yes, I named my pump)  has been my constant companion. I don't mind wearing it for the most part (sometimes certain clothing can be tricky), and often consider it a fashion accessory. Yes, it is a reminder of my diabetes, but not in a bad way. I have considered it my "Jiminy Cricket" from time to time. I won't lie - I have gone off the pump on several occasions (camping or just wanting a break). Even though it's only been 7 years, it feels weird to be without it.

~ Anna

Interesting.  I'm fairly new to diabetes, mind you, but it's never been far from my thoughts... ever, since diagnosis six months ago.  Everything reminds me.

I think the pump is better for my state of mind than the injections were.  It's more a reminder of my control than of my diabetes.  I feel good wearing it, like I'm really on top of things.

The injections didn't have that effect on me.  In fact, I associate them a little with the depression I went through after I was diagnosed.  Needles themselves are OK, and the pens I used simplified things, but I disliked all the whole ritual of injection before eating.   I often cut corners on technique, putting me at more risk of infection.  (In all fairness, I think I'm  in a better state of mind now than I was then, and I think I'd be just fine on MDI.)

I'm also kind of a gadget person, and I think the pump is a damn cool piece of technology.  I'd sure as hell rather not need it at all, but it almost is like this super exclusive piece of technology my non-D friends can't even get.  :)  They're always interested to learn about new features I'm using.  We call it my "robot pancreas," and joke that I'm a cyborg.

Same goes for the CGM.  But I do appreciate that it's quite easy to leave the CGM behind if I start feeling too much like the bionic woman.  That hasn't happened yet, but I'm sure the day will come when I'm sick of "having" to wear these things.

[quote user="Dan"]but it seems I can't get a rest from thinking about diabetes anymore.[/quote]

Dan, some people take little "vacations" from the pump... They break out the pens or syringes for the day, including a shot of Lantus or the like.  Seems like a cool idea for an active day when the pump might get in the way.  It's awesome that you're using the treatment option that gives you the best control, but I don't think a weekend of less than perfect numbers should deter you from a much needed psychological break.

I usually just forget about the pump when I wear it.  I have it under my shirt at all times, so no reason to have to answer questions about it most the time.  One time in the bathroom at work, I was washing my hands and a coworker had asked me if that was a phone and I just said "no.", so at that point it had made an appearance.  Also in our breakroom one time a coworker had asked me if I was diabetic, since he must of saw me pressing the buttons on the pump and another coworker has a pump, so he knew what it was and I told him I was.  I try to be  descreet when I check my blood sugar and press the buttons or do shots so I am aware of  what others in the breakroom are doing at the time before I do it.  If need be, I go behind the lockers in t he breakroom to press buttons or do a correction shot if I think I have a high for not a good reason. So the pump can make it visible for people to find out more than if you privately took a shot.  I think it is neat when I notice pumps on other people to alert me that they are diabetic, but I don't like to advertise.  If people do find out, it isn't a big deal.

Dan,

I kinda look at it the exact opposite.  On the pump things became so easy that it was no longer at the forefront of everything I did.  I had my pump in my pocket... out of sight, out of mind in some respect.  As a result I forgot to bolus a lot just because many times I assumed it had already been taken care of only to get 3/4th through the meal and realize "OH SH-T...forgot to bolus."

I switch between the pump and MDI a lot without any problems, but the forgetting to bolus thing really happens on the pump for some reason.

Funny but I actually think online chatrooms make me more conscious of diabetes than anything else.

I've found a pump to be less intrusive than MDI.  It's easier to bolus a few units when eating instead of getting supplies out and taking a shot.

One cool benefit of pumps is that I've realized how many other diabetics are out there.  Hadn't known one of my co-workers was type 1 until we were at an office b-day party and both pulled out our pumps when the cake was being served.  We had worked together many years (in different departments) without realizing we both had diabetes.

-Jenna

MDI for 25 years, pump for 8 

"A constant reminder that I am diabetic" assumes the fact that diabetes is a bad thing. I would not be the person I am today if not for my Type 1 diabetes. Why not switch it to "A constant reminder of my inner strength."

[quote user="Lia Hollander"]

"A constant reminder that I am diabetic" assumes the fact that diabetes is a bad thing. I would not be the person I am today if not for my Type 1 diabetes. Why not switch it to "A constant reminder of my inner strength."

[/quote]

Lia, this is definitely the truth for me!  I'm a happier person now than I ever was before diagnosis, and it's partly due to the fact that I blew my own expectations away by tackling my diabetes head-on.  I think I have a healthier perspective on life, and I've made some changes that I knew were good for me because I've moved my well-being way up on my list of priorities.  I have direction in life that I don't think I would have had, otherwise.  Diabetes is bad for our bodies and comes with a lot of life hurdles, but I think I'm becoming a better and better person as I face those hurdles.

I used to not like myself.  Now, I do.  I'd rather have gotten to this point without developing a chronic disease, but that just happens to be the way it happened.

The only time I regret wearing my pump is during sleep and it gets wrapped up around me and I have to sit up to unwrap myself.

The rest of the time I find I have more freedom to live more care free.  This lessens any resentful feelings I have towards my pancreas.

When people ask about my hardware I just tell them Im Borg (Star Trek).  Most of the time they understand and it lightens the overly serious explanation that ensues.

-- Jason

 

I was diagnosed 5 years ago this January (Happy Anniversary D!) and have been on a pump for 3 years. And at first the pump used to make me feel sick. I felt very... conscious of it. It was a reminder of Diabetes. Site insertion rattled me to my core each time. I was worried that my tube was showing either too much... or too little. I wanted people to ask (my life was so DIFFERENT, couldn't they tell??) and at the same time I just wanted to be normal. But at some point it stopped being a symbol for disease and started being a tool for better management. A symbol for control. And now it's... just a part of me. My friends have actually lunged for it when I stand up from the couch and it's about to get airtime behind me. Having someone else "catch" it like that was... moving. It made me understand that I wasn't a half-human cyborg sent from the future (well, kindof), but that I just had an extra piece of me. And my friends understood that and weren't weirded out.

Sometimes I forget to bolus for meals too (oops) because the pump sometimes fools me into thinking it's doing everything for me. (Hopefully it will, someday). But I'd never want to forget about Diabetes. My whole life *is* colored by diabetes. And the only problem is assuming that that's not okay. Not forgetting about your diabetes is okay. Not forgetting means I'm in better control. Going to these forums (which makes me talk about Diabetes a lot more) also makes me THINK about my diabetes a lot more. And my A1C is lower because of it. Maybe the forums could hurt me if it turned into a bitch fest, but instead it's me talking to experts... learning about dosing for cereal... learning about better ways of optimizing my basal rates. I feel in control.

Not forgetting about my Diabetes means I'm reminded of why I'm different and why I'm special. Not forgetting means I eat better and work harder than all of my friends. My health is really important to me... and I can be proud of the respect I'm showing it.

 

All that said, sometimes I feel a little... sensitive. If I'm at a bar and someone's hand catches my tubing (yikes) or I'm at the pool and someone really makes a big deal out of my site (even after I gently explain it). The marks the pump leaves make me a little :-/. But that's what I have y'all for. You get it.

 

I think I'm way off topic by now Dan, but anyways. The pump makes me feel powerful. It reminds me both of my D, and how I'm totally kicking its ass. It also reminds me of how I break TSA and federal laws by wearing a CGM when I fly (booya). It's kind of exciting knowing that this bleeding edge technology is being developed for us. I mean, iPhone? Psh. Aint got nothing on my Mee-Med.