Body Image and the OmniPod: What I Didn’t Consider

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Approximately six months ago, I made the decision to go on the insulin pump. The thought of changing insulin therapy scared the hell out of me, but I was ready to see how pumping might improve my health.

My pump of choice was the OmniPod because 1) it was tubeless and 2) my mom also uses it. In fact, her experience transitioning to the pump a few years ago both inspired and deterred me from trying it myself. Mom happened to go on it just a couple weeks before we were set to go on a family vacation in Maine, which totally threw her for a loop. She encountered irritating problems like non-adhesive pods and unexpected failures, so instead of enjoying time at the beach, she was making calls for help to OmniPod. Needless to say, that proved to me that injections were the way to go.

This changed, though, when I saw how well my mom was doing on the pump. Frustrated by my blood sugars and looking for a solution, I decided that 2015 would be the year that I give the pump a fair shot.

I’ve blogged previously about my mostly positive experience thus far on the OmniPod. It’s worked so well for me that I almost don’t regret going on it – the keyword there being almost.

I guess what bothers me more than anything else right now about the pod is that it’s yet another diabetes-related device that I have to wear 24/7. Obviously, I knew about this prior to using the OmniPod, but the thought of wearing two things on my body at once wasn’t cause for me to balk. I figured, what’s the big deal if I already have to wear my CGM sensor?

But I should have considered the semi-permanence of an insulin pump. A CGM sensor is optional – I can decide whether or not I want to use it. Nine times out of ten, I use it because of the valuable information it provides. On occasion, though, I choose to go without it, whether it is because I want a break from it or because of aesthetics. An insulin pump does not exactly provide this luxury. If I choose to stop wearing it, then all insulin delivery immediately halts and I have to give myself injections. As a result, I have to choose the lesser of two evils: pricking myself with a syringe multiple times a day, or treating my diabetes with the convenience of a pump while being self-conscious of the pod just-visible beneath my clothes?

I started giving this some more thought as the start of the summer. I went on vacation, and noticed that every now and then, people would stare at the devices planted on my belly and my backside. That didn’t bother me so much, but it did prompt me to become overly self-aware of my body. Each time I put on a bathing suit, I noticed how difficult it was to arrange any of my bikini bottoms so that they did not interfere with my pod or sensor but still offered adequate coverage. Not surprisingly, one-pieces were also a struggle seeing as they would cling to my devices, giving my body some unwanted (and certainly not sexy) curves. Even my most flattering bikini can’t camouflage my insecurity with my devices, and tends to heighten my self-consciousness.

So now I find myself trying to make peace with the fact that I have to wear my pod to experience the convenience of the insulin pump, all while feeling more awkward in a bathing suit. I know this all may seem trivial, but it is something that I wish I didn’t brush off before making the transition. It’s hard enough to accept my body the way it is – especially as a female in her 20s – and I try my best to not hold myself to everyone else’s standards. It’s easier said than done, though, and makes the road to being comfortable in my own skin a little bumpier.

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2 Comments on "Body Image and the OmniPod: What I Didn’t Consider"

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Thomas Tomchak

I just wanted to say how much I enjoy the posts that you write. I’m not new to Diabetes, but new to reading other peoples thoughts and experiences with it. I’ve already learned a lot from others and have also been inspired by some of the posts that you’ve written.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with the world, even though at times maybe you would rather not :)

Tom

Scott Richard

I was on the OmniPod for two years after 10+ on the minimed. I went back to the minimed because the OmniPod failed ALL THE TIME. My absorbtion rates stunk on the Omnipod and it irritated my skin to no end. Their customer support is also awful. Hopefully you have had better success.

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