What It’s Like to Wear a Medical Device 24/7

A question I’m often asked is: “Can you feel your CGM or insulin pump on your body?”

The simple answer to that is: usually, no. It’s something that you just get used to. You grow accustomed to seeing a lump underneath your clothing. You adjust to putting clothes on (and taking them off) carefully to avoid accidentally ripping a site out. You acclimate to showering without being completely naked.

And, of course, you get used to the questions from strangers asking about that device stuck to you.

But the more honest answer to that question would be that there are times that I feel it more than others. For example, sometimes I forget where I’m wearing my pump until I hit it against something (I’m a major klutz who constantly runs into doorways and trip over things, almost always managing to catch my pod on whatever it is), resulting in pain at the site and a curse word or two to fly out of my mouth.

Circled Devices
My OmniPod (on my arm) and my Dexcom (on my stomach) are stuck on me 24/7.

I feel it the most, though, when people stare. Whether unconsciously or purposely, people do ogle at it in very not subtle manners. Which makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. It’s worse when they don’t even ask me what it is – I’d rather have a chance to use it as a teaching moment than to have someone walk away not knowing what the device does. This tends to make swimsuit season a little less welcome for me. Nothing will stop me from donning a bathing suit at the beach or by the pool, and I do so as much as possible in the summertime. But it’s just not as fun when I’ve got to cope with lingering looks, especially when I’m an admittedly insecure person in the first place.

So it’s a more complex question to answer than you might realize. Wearing a medical device 24/7 is humbling. It keeps me alive. I’m privileged to have access to it. I’m grateful for the ways it’s improved my life. I’m always wearing it, but it’s not at the forefront of my mind – unless it chooses to make its presence known by alarming, or I’ve got people blatantly checking it out. It’s kind of like diabetes itself. It can make you feel a gamut of emotions, but no matter what, it’s always there. It’s just a part of me, and I can deal with that.

2 thoughts on “What It’s Like to Wear a Medical Device 24/7

  1. I no longer wear one but when I was I was always trying to be careful with it. lol You have to know me for that to really mean something. I tend to be hard on myself as well as anything on me. Had a car fall on my chest in high school. Poor kid under it with me was white as a ghost when they got it up high enough for us to get out. I actually had the imprint of the floor pan on my chest for days after and the creeper I was on had the wheels crushed flat. I’ve been hit in the leg by one of my cars. Thank God it had a plastic bumper so all it did was screw up my knee instead of snap the leg like a twig. The car started with such gusto it left 2 marks on the floor where the tires turned over. Need I continue? I have many more such stories. lol Needless to say if it’s not made of steel it most likely will not survive me for long. Hence, I involuntarily try to shield it from harm making me look funny in said situations.

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