My First Time Flying With an Insulin Pump

Aside from the staying alive part, I knew one of the biggest challenges (?) with switching to an insulin pump would be how to negotiate my new device while traveling. Specifically, interacting with the TSA, and the horror stories I’ve heard throughout the diabetes community. Over the course of the past ten-ish days, I’m pretty sure I covered the full range of possible experiences in clearing an airport security checkpoint while wearing an insulin pump.

While the t:slim is designed to go through an x-ray or scanner type devices at an airport, I still feel uneasy about that and chose to opt out of all technology-ish screenings at an airport. This means a TSA agent gets to put on clean gloves, explain that a pat down will be conducted for my safety, and the back of their hands will be used in sensitive areas. All I have to do is show my insulin pump, say I can’t go through the scanner, and wait for my turn. Easy, right?

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I Forgot

Somewhat recently I updated my Instagram profile to more accurately describe the stuff I share over there.

I mostly post pictures of my Dexcom and my cats. Occasionally, I sprinkle in some other stuff…but that’s mostly it. Says a lot about me, I suppose.

But, over the past week or so, I’ve been intentionally avoiding sharing any Dexcom lines because, for the most part, I forgot how to diabetes.

It feels like the only time my blood glucose levels are “normal” is when it’s en route to an extreme high or severe low. No amount of corrections seem to do the trick, and at some point I just gave up on the idea of control and started settling “I tried”.

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Multiple Mindsets of Diabetes

Do you ever have days when you care too much about your diabetes, yet nothing seems to go your way? Do you ever have days when you care too much about your diabetes, and all that hard work pays off?

Do you ever have days when you don’t care about your diabetes, and your blood glucose numbers perfectly complement your apathy with wildly out-of-range readings? Do you ever have days when you don’t care about your diabetes, and everything goes swimmingly?

Do you ever have a day when you experience all four of those mindsets, and struggle to find balance – to find normal?

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Pumping on the Holidays

I realized last night that a number of “firsts” will be crossed off of my diabetes accomplishments during our upcoming travel adventures.

  • First time dealing with TSA and an insulin pump
  • First time estimating pump supplies I will need for an extended trip
  • First time sharing my insulin pump, in person, with my parents
  • First time not worrying (as much) about snacking

It’s curious to feel like my diabetes may be ‘new’ for a moment or two. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, it is new. Even though I’ve been living with this disease for 12 years, I’ve only been pumping insulin for a couple of months. While I’ve made progress and improvements to my diabetes management since starting on a t:slim, my basal rates and correction factors still need tweaking.

It’s a shame I had to go through everything I did to get that ‘new’ feeling back again. It feels strange to call diabetes ‘exciting’, but that’s what this is: excitement. I’m excited to share my new gadget. I’m excited to see how different this year’s travel will be compared to previous years. I’m excited to have something positive to say about my diabetes.

You can decide which excited gif works best to end this post, but I still default to Kermit.

Image (linked) via

Overnight Worries

It’s a shame “when you get it right, you don’t have to worry about overnight high or low alarms and can get a full night’s rest…until the cats wake you up” can’t be a back-of-the-box selling point for insulin pumps. Because when you get it right, and you don’t have to worry about overnight high or low alarms, and you can get a full night’s rest…until the cats wake you up, is the best. Seriously.

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The Informed Bubble

I saw a Facebook post from a parent celebrating the delivery of their child’s insulin pump and asking if Lantus would still be required once the transition to an insulin pump was complete. Of my many reactions to this, chief among them was confusion. Wasn’t it common knowledge that insulin pumps deliver basal and bolus? Isn’t this something that should be explained by a medical professional prior to filling out the paperwork and going down that path? If you’re sharing these sentiments on Facebook, shouldn’t you have learned this through DOC osmosis (DOCmosis?)? Wouldn’t you want to do as much research as possible before making a significant emotional and financial commitment to your child’s diabetes care?

But maybe that fact isn’t common knowledge. Maybe their endocrinologist didn’t take the time to explain the intricacies of pumping insulin. Maybe this is your chance to ask questions before things get real. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

Maybe I’m part of a hyper-connected portion of the diabetes community that seeks this information, that lives on the cutting edge of technology and discussion. Maybe I’m the anomaly, and the people who could use a little extra care and exposition shouldn’t be treated with the condescension that initially flashed through my brain.

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Learning How To Walk

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Just ignore that middle bit. #dexcom #diabetes

A post shared by Christopher Snider (@iam_spartacus) on

By no means am I an expert on this diabetes thing. I have a grasp of the basics: food makes my blood sugar goes up, insulin down, exercise helps, these are the facts, yet this sentence is a lie. But I’ve found that almost everything I thought I knew, took for granted, or even assumed about my diabetes management prior to starting on an insulin pump is a distant memory spent counting insulin pen needles. It’s not that everything I knew doesn’t translate to pumping insulin, it’s just that everything I knew on multiple daily injections doesn’t translate to pumping insulin.

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