Using an insulin pump has many, many, many advantages. It also has it’s disadvantages. One of which being potential scar tissue if the sites are not properly rotated as they should be.
When I started on an insulin pump almost 13 years ago, the infusion set I was given was the Accu-Chek Tender. It’s the one that’s similar to the Minimed Silhouette or Animas’ Inset 30, except it’s manually inserted. And for some strange reason, they started me off on the longest length. I mean, I know I was chubby, but come on! Anyway, I hated changing them out, so I would use them to the max, which by my definition meant either until they were falling off or until the area around them started to turn red… easily 6-7 days, mostly when my insulin cartridge ran out. And I always wore them on my stomach because I simply couldn’t muster what I needed to put the site anywhere else.
Fast forward til now. Those areas are pretty well done. If I use them, I can only wear a site for about two days and I no longer get good absorption, if any at all. If you take a two-inch-wide band and run it around my stomach where my belly-button is, that’s the area I used. Nothing higher, nothing lower (mostly because I’m short-waisted). I had been using the top/side of my butt or the top/side of my thighs for sites, but I notice that my absorption isn’t great there either, but certainly not as bad. It’s just not what it used to be. So, to try to give them a rest, I decided to try other areas.
The chart above is pretty universal between insulin pump manufacturers. So, to rule out a few areas, just visualize a belt round the middle of the waist the width of that circle that’s around the belly button, as well as marking off the thigh/butt areas too. What’s left is the upper/lower abdomen and my arms. While I could use my arms, I don’t like to use them during the summer because I get all of the “OMG – WHAT IS THAT?” or “What did you DO to yourself?!?” or “What medical tests are you having done??” questions. So what does that leave me? Yep, the top and bottom areas of the abdomen.
I am used to using the longer 9mm canulas for my infusion sets. They always seemed to work better for me. But this last shipment that came was all 6mm. Rather than call the company, pay for return shipping, and all that other mess, I decided to use what I could of them for the “new” areas. Granted, I don’t really have a “lower” abdomen as shown there (I mean, seriously… is that normal to have that much space between your belly button and whooha?), but I do have about that amount of space above the belly button, but I’ve been too chicken to try it with the Insets. The memory of sweaty, shaking hands and passing out on my floor from trying one that high when I was younger just doesn’t make placing one there enticing. But I tried it with these short sets and whatdoyaknow? I actually liked it there. Now, it’s one of my go-to areas.
So, I have use for those 6mm sets now. I need to find other good areas to place them too so that I get good absorption and not overuse the upper abdomen. Any ideas? Do you use any “off-label” places for insertion?