The Danger of Doorknobs


Ever have one of those days where things aren’t going quite right? You overslept. You ran out of milk. You flipped on the light switch in your bathroom and Spark! It went out.

I had that sort of morning recently. The worst part was that my pump wire kept getting caught on my bedroom doorknob. That tug is unmistakable. Your body gets yanked back to the door like a boomerang and you begin to feel like a dog on a leash.  

When I finished getting dressed, I tucked that unruly wire deep into my pants pocket and told it to behave.

I left my apartment to go to work. I was glad to breathe in the fresh air as I walked toward the subway station. I rushed down the steps to catch my train. Naturally it was zooming into the tunnel. I missed it by a hair. In the heat of the moment, I pulled off my orange hat and accidentally dropped it into a pile of soot, also known as the subway platform.

When I arrived at work, I tested my blood sugar. Normal! Maybe my day would pick up. I ate a granola bar and then welcomed in my first period class. But later that morning when I tested on my break, my blood sugar was 334.

I checked my pump’s history to see if maybe I had forgotten to bolus for my granola bar. But 3.35 units had been delivered. Puzzled, I gave myself a correction bolus.

Unfortunately, over the next few hours, I felt sluggish and thirsty; I realized that my insulin was not doing its job.

When I tested at lunchtime, the number on the screen gave me a shock. It was not 257. Not 302. Not even 350. Those numbers are atrocious, yes. But they are within the realm of possibility.

This time I saw a number that was unfamiliar: 400.


Frankly, I felt violated. I asked myself, How could it be!

What was wrong? Was it my insulin? My pump? My tubing? My site? Or something else entirely because you never really know with diabetes.  

My brown lunch bag caught my eye. I was really hungry. But I couldn’t eat. I knew that something was malfunctioning; bolusing would be useless.  

I decided it was time to go home. Instinctively, I felt that I needed to change my site. (I don’t keep pump supplies at work because I don’t have the privacy, or sanitary conditions, to change my site there.)

I walked over to the office to tell my principal that I needed to leave. But he wasn’t available. So I had to relay the message to another administrator.  

I paused for a moment and thought about what I wanted to say. Diabetes is not always understandable to those who aren’t connected to it. It would’ve been easier to say that I had thrown up in a stairwell.

I started with, I have diabetes. (I wasn’t sure she knew because I never told her.)

She nodded. (She knew.)

I continued. I am having a small emergency. My insulin pump does not seem to be working. I have to go home to fix it because I need insulin and I do not feel well.

I felt confident in my summary.

She seemed concerned and then asked if I’d be back after lunch. I explained that with the time spent traveling to and from work, changing my site, and waiting for my blood sugar to come down, the school day would be long over. She recognized that I was in a bind and kindly asked if I needed help getting home. I told her I’d be okay.  

I made it home without any mishaps. I said hi to Maya and her babysitter. Maya’s smiling face and enormous cheeks almost made me forget how crappy I was feeling. Almost.

I rushed into my bedroom and tested my blood sugar. 442. I began the process of changing my site. I usually change my site after a shower so that my skin is fresh before a new cannula moves in for three days. But when your blood sugar is 442 and rising, a shower seems unnecessary.


My site was secure. I bolused. The chhhhhh sound of insulin being released was music to my ears. I began to feel at ease.

I tested my blood sugar 90 minutes later. 284. I had never been so happy to be 284. My blood sugar was coming down.

I’ve been wearing an insulin pump for almost three years and it was the first time I had ever had an issue with my site. I wondered what caused it. Maybe it had something to do with my pump wire getting tangled up with my bedroom doorknob in the early morning hours. Were those little yanks really responsible for disrupting my steady flow of insulin?

I’ll never know for sure. But my guess is Yes, because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that diabetes is sensitive. To chocolate. To stress. And even to doorknobs.



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8 years ago

Thank you for confirming exactly what i have been saying since i was first offered a pump!
This is one of the main reasons why i wont get one, i get caught on doorknobs and all sorts without having a pump, i would be having to change sites every few hours if i had one what with how often i brush up against something!

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