There are so many issues related to diabetes. Most people know the basic problems, the carb-counting, the constant struggle to keep blood sugars where they’re supposed to be, the danger of drastic lows, but not many know there are a whole slew of other “behind the scenes” issues that can occur. I had one of these the other day. At first, I thought there’s no way I’m sharing this out in the open, but in an attempt to share the good, bad, and ugly reality of type 1 diabetes, I’m bringing it out from behind the scenes. Here we go …
This past summer I learned that women (and some men) were putting their pods in their boobs. The pod is the part that delivers insulin with the Omnipod insulin pump I wear. When I first heard about this I could not imagine doing it! Ouch! Talk about pain and how awkward would that look! But eventually, I gave into my curiosity (and the need to find an area that isn’t filled with scar tissue from 29 years worth of needle pokes) and I tried it. Much to my amazement, it didn’t hurt at all! And, you couldn’t even notice it under my shirts! Plus, the insulin worked great! Perfect spot, right? That’s what I thought too. It became part of my rotation for pods. Right stomach, left stomach, right back, left back, right arm, left arm, right boob, left boob … that’s my schedule (or at least it was).
So I was on the right boob part of my rotation when my sugar started running pretty high no matter how much insulin I gave myself. I figured I wasn’t getting the proper amount of insulin through the pod for some reason so I changed it. There was a bump and redness at the site. Well that explains the high sugar. I didn’t worry when I saw this. This has happened before and my body as always taken care of it on it’s on. This time though, the bump just got bigger and redder. I knew something had to be done, but really who wants to go to the doctor for that? I knew they would think I was crazy.
Eventually, there was no choice – I had to go! I scheduled an appointment with my family doc. I was thinking she’d give me antibiotics (and probably a firm talking to for putting my pod there). At worst, I thought it would need to be drained (oh, how I hoped not). So she comes in and takes a look. Her next words, “Well it’s an abscess and it’s infected. It needs drained, but it’s breast tissue so I can’t do it. That’s a different kind of tissue and things spread very easily in it. You’re going to have to see a surgeon. Hopefully, he can drain it in the office, but he may have to take you to the operating room.” Okay, are you serious!? I thought I was going to get antibiotics and now I might end up in the operating room!? You have got to be kidding me!
Luckily, there was a breast center in the same building as my doc and they were able to get me in right away. Everyone was shocked that I put a pod in my boob. The nurse even confirmed that that was correct when I arrived. The doctor had never heard of anyone putting an insulin pump site in their boob and was eager to see what he was dealing with (I guess it’s good for doctors to like a challenge). I loved the doctor! He was so easy to talk to and handled the situation so well! He had absolutely no knowledge of insulin pumps so I took the opportunity to educate him while he was jabbing my boob repeatedly with a needle. He used an ultrasound to see where he was going with that needle and I was able to watch … super cool! He was able to get some of the infection out (which he showed me … super cool, but gross) but then he was unable to get any more. The nurse had to stick a different needle in filled with saline to dilute the infection. The doc was then able to pull more out. He then put me on a dose of antibiotics for 10 days and things slowly started to improve.
I’m happy to say that I got the “all clear” at my follow up appointment and for the most part, you can’t even tell anything ever happened. The memories will live on forever, though, so my boobs are officially out of the rotation!
Jennifer Runyon is a freelance writer who shares her life stories living with Type 1 diabetes for 28 years and whose young son also has been diagnosed with the disease. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.