When Clare T. Fishman was going into surgery in 2015 for a breast abscess, she went an extra step to prepare for the procedure. Fishman, from Southborough, Massachusetts, has lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 40 years. She wears an Omnipod wireless insulin pump and a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (CGM) system and has long adorned her pods and transmitters.
“I decorated one pod with “Clare’s Insulin Pump,” said Fishman. “I was having surgery and wanted to make sure they didn’t do anything stupid with it while I was asleep.”
It was just one example of how Fishman takes every opportunity to decorate her diabetes medical devices. She embellishes the faces of the wireless pods and CGM transmitter she wears to express an opinion, celebrate a holiday or other event, or to show her creativity. Pods, used with the wireless Omnipod insulin pump, attach to the skin and infuse insulin into the body. CGM transmitters, which attach to a sensor inserted into the skin, read the changes in fluid around the body’s cells to interpret minute-to-minute blood glucose levels. These and similar products made by other diabetes medical device companies such as infusion sets for other insulin pumps, offer a small surface that is typically a neutral grey, clear or white color—and can be embellished in countless ways.
“I started decorating my pods a few years ago when a friend of mine invited me to join a Facebook page called “Pimp my Pod,” said Fishman. “There were so many interesting and unique designs and a multitude of variations so I figured I would give it a try.”
Fishman has created pod designs for events she has attended, such as a fundraising walk for JDRF, a Harbor to the Bay bike ride, and her tennis team championships. She’s also colored a pod with Charlie Brown’s iconic yellow and jagged black shirt design in honor of the Peanuts movie opening in late 2015, among other decorations. “I have done designs for special events and wear them quite proudly—and my fellow participants appreciate the extra effort,” she said. “The most common reaction from people who don’t know me is curiosity. I am very open about it and am happy to answer questions.”
Besides, Fishman feels her efforts both educate others as well as please herself. “Since I have to wear this thing 24/7/365,” she said, “at the very least, I feel it should look good.”
Arts and Crafts
What can you use to decorate your pods or transmitters? For the do-it-yourselfer, look for nail polish, duct tape, small tattoos that can be affixed with pressure and some water, acrylic paint, stickers for nail art, or paint pens. According to suggestions from members of the Pimp My Pod Facebook group, check out the clearance sections of your local drugstore, arts and crafts store, or even a larger box store like Target or Walmart. Painting a clear coat of nail polish over a decorated pod or sensor will help keep the design from wearing off. And it’s always easier to decorate a pod or sensor before wearing it on the skin.
“I decorate my Omnipods and occasionally will stick a Jamberry or other nail sticker on my Dexcom transmitter,” Fishman says. “The transmitter is worn for weeks at a time so I don’t really care to decorate it because I’ll get bored with the design in a few days, and once a nail sticker is applied, it’s difficult to get it off without manipulating the transmitter—which you can’t do if it is still firmly attached to your body.”
Don’t have the skills to decorate a pod or transmitter as you want it to look? No worries. Several companies exist with preprinted products to decorate assorted brands of insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, and even glucose meters. They include PumpPeelz, GrifGrips, Rockadex, and Pumpsuit Cover, and Kedz Covers. The nail art company Jamberry (https://www.jamberry.com/us/en/) sells stickers that can be used for device decoration as well.
There’s no limit to the way you can design your pods, transmitters and other diabetes equipment. “Having started decorating pods, it’s really hard to wear one that hasn’t been ‘pimped,’ so generally I decorate every one I wear,” said Fishman. “Since it’s only on for 80 hours, I don’t get bored with the decoration and I always have something new and interesting to use.”