After nine years with my friend “the insulin pump” (I use the term “friend” loosely), I’ve learned a few tricks. These tricks will likely not come up in your pump education session due to the vast gap between diabetes protocol and diabetes life. The need for that gap to close is immeasurable, but until it starts to get smaller, I will share my hacks in hope that it makes life with a medical device a little more livable.
In 1994, it may have been fashionable to have a pager on your hip while the Fresh Prince was premiering in all it’s glory, but unless you’re in scrubs and saving lives, pagers kinda look weird. And while your diabetic health is way more important than not looking weird, wouldn’t it be glorious if we could somehow accomplish a balance of health and normalcy?
I have three ways that I have successfully hidden my pump when necessary. Unfortunately for the guys, all three are primarily for the ladies. But if you are a guy and you have any pump hacks, send them to me so I can share!
My #1 go-to for pumps in hiding (sounds very Von Trapp) is the banded bra trick. I have never been more annoyed with a “kid trend” than I was with silly bands. I still find it mind-boggling that someone was able to change the color and shape of a rubber band and make millions. UNTIL, I realized that I could use them to my advantage, and then I was a fan. :) The silly band trend has now morphed into the Rainbow Loom bracelet phenomenon, which is also mind-blowing but works in my favor, so I can’t complain.
You can do this trick with any type of rubber band but the thinner the band, the better. Use more than one if you need to. The most important thing you need to know to make this work is that you need a bra that does not have underwire. And yes, you will be sacrificing the extra lift to secure your insulin-delivering friend. But that same friend can add a little cleavage which some of us are in desperate need of after two children and not much to start with prior to those two miracles.
If you are unfamiliar with the Rainbow Loom, click here to learn more. Or just consult any 8 year-old. They should be fully versed in the 3 billion different ways to make bracelets and a variety of other colorful tiny rubber band accessories. There really are a lot of cool bracelets to be made, but for pump concealing purposes, you really need the simplest design like the one below
The color doesn’t really matter unless you are OCD about everything matching.
Next you need to loop the bracelet around the middle of the bra. Make sure it fits loosely because your pump still needs to fit in there. You may need to do some adjusting so don’t wait until you are running out the door to try this out.
You need to get the pump in the bra, get the bra onto your person and then adjust all of the appropriate thing and body parts. I use an Animas Ping pump so I have a remote from my blood glucose monitor which is super helpful and alleviates the need to put my hand down my shirt when I’m wearing a dress. If you don’t have a wireless monitor, you can use an audio bolus or head to the restroom to get up in there when needed.
I always place my pump so the buttons are facing out. That way I can get to them more easily just in case there’s an alert (low cartrige, low battery, etc.).
Here it is all rigged up.
By the time you are successful in this magic trick, you will feel like you’re about to film a reality show with a hidden camera, but trust me when I tell you that it feels good to wear a dress like everyone else and not have to worry about coming apart at the seams.
This also works with strapless bras. Again, you need a wireless, strapless bra. And I usually wear two. Yup, two. I wear a regular strapless bra (with wires or whatever you prefer), then take the wireless bra and secure the pump as shown above. Put the wireless bra over the regular strapless and now you feel like you are wearing an angry boa constrictor under your dress but the pump is hidden and you look hot!
Now what about when you go to Miami for the weekend and you decide to wear that backless dress that you’ve been saving for Miami. It’s that dress that you love but you’re not going to wear to the charity dinner. It’s the one that only belongs in Miami or Vegas. And it’s amazing. Amazing until you realize that you have an insulin pump that needs to be accessorized. Stupid diabetes.
If you have not delved into the amazing world of Spanx, I am now going to give you a few reasons to make the plunge. I love my body and I’m totally comfortable with it as is, however, the magic of Spanx is that they provide a sense of everything just being exactly where it needs to be. They also provide a perfect place to stash that little electronic insulin provider. Spanx come in different sizes colors, and levels of control. For this dress, I needed to get creative. So I wore Spanx shorts that had a pretty snug level of control because I needed them really tight. I clipped my pump in the back and underneath the Spanx. I had no issues with keeping it in place and could get to it very easily if I needed to. And even though it could be seen if you were really looking for it, no one is ever looking for a pump in Miami. Trust me. If I knew I would be sharing the picture a year ago, I probably would have flexed my back muscles a little. I have never shared this picture, by the way. You’re welcome. The pump is secured right where the beaded part of the dress meets the skirt. Bet you can’t see it.
Reverse another 9 years and we are at my wedding! I got my pump 6 months prior to getting married. I knew that I needed to have a better control regimen since I would have another person that I love depending on me to be healthy. Last thing I wanted to worry about on my wedding day? Diabetes. But my wonderful husband was marrying me and the pump so it was only right that we should all be there together.
If you are planning your big day or even thinking about it, there’s a very easy way to include your pump and no one will ever know. My seamstress sewed a pocket on the interior of my gown with snaps and, presto, Type 1 bridal success!
This was before the time of the wireless connectivity to my pump so I took very long and involved trips to the ladies room to bolus, but it worked! This is also a little more tricky if you have your heart set on a fitted dress. Seamstresses are pretty amazing at manipulating fabric, though, so have a conversation with yours and see if there is anything you can do.
I felt I needed to share this too. My seamstress provided me with my “something blue” as well with this patch she sewed into the back of the interior of my dress. Warm and fuzzies!
Yes, we got married on tax day, and ironically, there were two accountants in our wedding. Almost ten years later and our anniversary has not been forgotten :)
I definitely went in reverse chronological order with this post but let me wrap-up with a few take-aways. Just because you are a diabetic and a woman does not mean that you can’t do everything you want to do. My secrets to healthy relationship? Wear your dream wedding dress and don’t leave your pump out of the celebration, take trips to places like Miami and wear sexy dresses and don’t leave your pump out of the party, and go to dinner in a dress when you want and always include your pump in date night. Oh, wait. You thought I was talking about your marriage not your pump relationship? Well, that’s another blog altogether! I now pronounce you pump and diabetic. May you live happily ever after!