I have been wearing a Minimed insulin pump for about 9 years now (the Paradigm 522 at the moment), mostly without problems. But I’ve noticed that in the past year or so, my body has not been reacting in the same ways it used to. I’ve been getting a lot more hematomas — pockets of blood pooling between my insertion sites. Those are fun. Everyone loves blood pockets — especially on their stomachs.
Today, though, I have a new problem. Despite just eating a salad, my blood sugar soared on Sunday afternoon. Fearing a site issue, I changed my infusion set. Then yesterday I noticed that I had a large, tender lump underneath my skin where the site had been. It wasn’t visibly red, and it wasn’t hot. But I could feel it, and it hurt.
Subcutaneous skin infections are one of the less sexy aspects of being a diabetic (as opposed to, say, wearing a pump to begin with, or covering your body in pieces of linty adhesive). I guess I knew this already, but it really hit home yesterday when I was having lunch with a friend of mine who’s in med school, and I made him feel my lump while we were waiting in line to order.
“Touch it,” I said, pulling up my shirt. “Isn’t that weird?”
“Uh, yes,” he said.”Is there any pus?”
“What can I get you?” asked the woman behind the counter.
I decided to give my lump a day and see what happens — with the understanding, of course, that it if did get red or hot (or, heaven forbid, start to streak) I would go to a doctor. I figured that when I woke up this morning, I would have one of two things: a smaller lump, or an obvious infection.
Unfortunately, I have neither. My lump is still where it was yesterday, roughly the same size. It might be a little less painful, but I don’t know whether to attribute that to actual healing, or to the fact that I wasn’t poking at it while asleep. In any case, I did some research and have determined that it is either a late-developing hematoma, or an infection, maybe staph. You know what the only thing less sexy than a blood lump is? Staphylococcus. And you know what’s annoying about hematomas? If you don’t get the blood out, they can lead to an infection.
Here’s more information from Diabetes Forecast on gross things that can happen when your insertion site goes bad.
I’m going to go dip my hands in rubbing alcohol and then stare at my stomach in the mirror for a while. Stay tuned.