Guided by the light

Jennifer Runyon - For the Daily Call

It’s 11:28 p.m. I’m just finishing up with my duties for the night (you know, straightening up everyone’s messes that they didn’t bother to clean up all day). I’m so close to going to bed I can practically feel the cool sheets beneath my skin and that’s when I hear it:


If you’re unfamiliar with what a pod sounds like when it runs out of insulin, it’s an ear-piercing screech that does not stop. It was coming from Jackson’s room. Great! Now I’ve got to put a new pod on this sleeping boy. I grab all the tools in our pod change arsenal (pod, insulin, alcohol swap, liquid Skin Tac, and Skin Tac wipe) and head to his room. Only this time, my arsenal also includes my partner-in-the-night, the ever trustworthy mini-flashlight! You got it: determined not to wake him up any more than I have to, I decide to change this pod by flashlight!

You may be wondering just what the heck I’m talking about, so let me take a minute to explain. You see, Jackson and I wear the Omnipod insulin pump. Unlike traditional pumps, this is a tubeless system and the “pod” that you wear holds insulin. It delivers the insulin through a small tube placed under the skin. You use a device called a PDM to control it. When it’s time to put a new one on, you fill the new pod with insulin, place it on the skin, and push a button on the PDM. It then releases a needle that strikes your skin placing the small tube underneath. The needle then retracts but the tube stays in you.

Now, you may be wondering doesn’t it warn you when you’re low on insulin? Why yes, yes, it does. However, those warnings don’t do any good when your 10-year-old fails to tell you about them! Lesson learned!

Anyways back to my ninja-like pod change. By flashlight, I fill the pod with insulin. While it’s priming, I pull his pant leg down as much as possible. You see because of football, we have to put his pod in his leg. I rub the Skin-Tac wipe on the area of his leg that will get the pod. I paint the back of the new pod with the Liquid Skin-Tac. After it dries a little I place it on his leg. I view my work. Wow! With all the wrinkles in the adhesive, we’ll be lucky if this thing stays on till morning, let alone three days like it’s supposed to.

Through all of this, he does waken just slightly, but promptly goes right back to sleep.

Then comes the moment of truth. I push the start button on the PDM and the ticking begins. Tic, tic, tic, BOOM! It gets him. He opens his eyes and gives a little whine, but that’s it. Are you kidding me!? Really, that’s it!? Maybe I should change every pod while he’s sleeping. Just kidding, but don’t think that thought didn’t cross my mind.

Pods have to be changed every three days. Remember how I didn’t think this one would even last till morning? Well it did! It lasted all day! And it lasted the next day! And the next day! You got it — we made it the entire three days! In the midst of blood sugars with a mind of their own, insurance company employees being complete morons, and carrying around an enormous amount of guilt, it’s nice to have something go right!

I’m allowing myself to feel a little proud of that almost midnight pod change. Not only did Mama come through and get her boy the insulin he needs to survive, she did it by flashlight (did I mention I was holding that flashlight in my mouth?). Yeah, it was quite a sight to see.

Jennifer Runyon

For the Daily Call

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

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