Insulin Pumps and X-rays

“You have to remove your insulin pump before we can take your X-rays,” the technician said to me. I stared at him, and responded point-blank, “What? No, I can’t take it off.” I tried to hide the panic in my voice, but it quavered as tears stung my eyes.

“Well, let me check our insulin pump protocol…” his voice trailed off as he left me in the dark room with my right arm held up in the air in an attempt to mitigate the throbbing sensation going up and down my forearm.

That pod on my arm can’t simply be removed on command.

When I fell and broke my ulna a couple weeks ago, my insulin pump was one of the last things to cross my mind as I was shuffled from doctor to doctor and one medical facility after the other. All I could concentrate on was the injury – how severe was it? Would I be able to work? Could I keep up my exercise regimen? Was I going to need surgery? My diabetes, for once, was far from my thoughts.

But this instantly changed when I went to get an X-ray. When the technician told me that I’d have to remove my pump, I wanted to shout at him, “No! If I do that, my blood sugar will skyrocket! You can’t expect me to do that!” It was hard to keep calm, and my emotions were already running amok due to the chaos of the morning so far. So even as I tried to fight the tears, a couple escaped and ran down my cheeks. When he came back into the room, the X-ray technician’s expression changed. He looked at me empathetically.

“It’ll be okay. Come on, let’s call your endocrinologist. We’ll see what she has to say and get this all figured out.”

Twenty minutes later, after a series of phone calls and a few accidental hang-ups, we received confirmation that I could, indeed, wear my pump for the X-ray. The nurse practitioner who I spoke with at my endo’s office said that it was safe as long as I wore the protective vest. “It’s really only a problem if you’re going in for an MRI or a CAT scan, because those involve magnets,” he told me.

Once I got off the phone, I ran over to the X-ray technician and explained it to him. He smiled at me and said, “Got it. Let’s get these pictures over with – you’ve already had quite a day so far.”

I nodded and thanked him for his patience. He was right, I was overwhelmed from the events of the day – it wasn’t even noon yet – but in hindsight, I’m glad that the technician didn’t try to fight me when I said I couldn’t remove my pump. His willingness to hear me out was huge. It’s not easy to be your own advocate in a high-stress situation like that. But I’m proud of myself for speaking up and getting the answers we needed. Everything worked out in the end – well, except for that pesky broken-bone bit.


2 thoughts on “Insulin Pumps and X-rays

  1. When I was still on the 670G I moved from one position in the factory I work to another. The problem was that this move put me in contact with magnets, lots of very big ones. The one that really worried me we call the double magnet as it is actually two electromagnets on one huge frame. I was never able to get a gauss number (magnet strength) for it. It really didn’t matter in the end anyway as I soon stopped beating a dead horse with the pump. Here’s what I learned about magnets and pumps, cgms, and other electronic devices. One, distance is the key. A magnets strength drops very fast the farther you are from it, literally a fraction of an inch can cut gauss number in half. Here’s the tricky part, if you connect a piece of steel to this magnet the steel itself becomes magnetic. That gauss number is now radiating out to the edges of that plate. Where I work the sheets of steel are easily 40 feet long (we make semi trailers) so that magnet is now radiating to the ends of that plate. Without the pump I have little fear of either of the big electromagnets I work with. I still wear a Dexcom CGM and have never had any issues being close to the double magnet with 10,000 lbs.table sized pieces of steel. Never a blip on the graph. I’m not sure how long your pump would have been off for but I have taken mine off for up to an hour for MRI and CAT scans. That is the key for me when they tell me I have to take it off. “How long?” are the next words out of my mouth. If I have time to call, I ask endo before going to see what they say about if I should take it off or how long it can be off or maybe take a shot of insulin to fix a high before taking it off. All possible answers to maybe problems. You never know until you dive in. Sounds reckless but talking to endo and the doctor involved in treating your arm is the way to go. Also my favorite is to look it up on my own online or at library. I don’t trust even the “experts” at their word. Have found a lot does not fall into the textbook world for me. lol


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