Diabetes & Personal Space

Different cultures have their own idea of “personal space”. I’ve lived in other countries and worked in companies where my own concept of “umm… you’re a little too close…” has been questioned. It’s a matter of how you were brought up and how comfortable you are in your own skin combined with the ability to be perfectly fine with someone standing very, very close to you when having a business discussion.

This isn’t an anthropology blog (although, really, aren’t we all studying human behavior in relation to diabetes, so…), but I am starting to feel like my personal space is being invaded and I don’t like it.

I’m a hugger. A snuggler. A squisher and a giggler and a tickle monster when it comes to my daughter. I am sometimes the instigator but as The Kid has grown older, she wants to attack me with the same happy ferocity and fire the first shot across the bow of runaround shenanigans that I used to incite. And the sensors and infusion sets on my abdomen are getting in the way… and they hurt. And that hurts me.

The real estate I have on my body is limited (seeing as I’m limited in stature and subcutaneous tissue locations). The current trial I’m conducting with the Medtronic MiniMed 530G with Enlite only allows placement of the Enlite sensor on my abdomen. I had three failed sensors last week. Three. Every time one failed, I had to find a new place to put the next one.

I am placing my infusion sets on my upper abdomen to stay out of the way of waistbands that chafe. I’m reluctant to put the sets anywhere else (I rip them out of my arms and legs far too easily, even with taped down tubing), but I’m thinking I may have to rethink things here, because…

I’m running out of my own personal space because of diabetes.

braveheart-crazy-faceThe worst part of this all is the reaction that I have when The Kid comes barreling straight for me, screaming wildly (causing me to have Braveheart flashbacks) for a hug… I tilt my abdomen inward as if pulling away from her. To protect the sites in the small space I have to use, I sacrifice the full body hug that I want to give. Every time I lift her up, I must be careful not to scrape her legs against my abdomen. Tickle war on the bed begins with a “Careful of my pump, sweetheart…”

And of course, I know that I have options. Take all the diabetes gear off. Go back to MDI and no technology. I understand that I am lucky. The technology has kept me alive and healthy so I can complain about not being able to hug The Kid as tightly as I want… and I hope I’ll be able to continue to complain about that long after we send her off to university. By then, I am sure it will be she that complains that I am hugging her too tightly.

But today, diabetes is invading my personal space. The space that is sore from repeated pokes and prods and insertions. How do I tell it politely to step back?

I have no idea.



  1. Scott E

    Hmm, this sounds so familiar. And though the tickle-monster tendencies will (possibly) diminish over time, it’s replaced by carrying a sleeping 7-year-old from the car to the bed, with all of the weigh against the abdomen and the sensor. I wish I could tell you it gets easier.

    I haven’t quite had the same problems with sensors (one quit a little early, the one I’m wearing now has performed sub-par — possibly because of my own improper handling — but I’m determined to wait it out because I’ve got a limited supply).

    I suppose you could always Super-Bolus a half-hour’s worth of basal, then disconnect and commence 30 minutes of tickle-shenanigans, It’s not a full body-space reclamation, but it’s a step.

  2. Probably Rachel

    I have suffered a few painful moments thanks to wiggly niece and nephew affections. They are too young to understand my medical devices and don’t see me often enough to be taught yet. So it’s tough with them, but worse with my husband. The limited locations that I have change on such a regular basis that hugs, snuggles and closeness have to have that awkward diabetes third wheel in them.

  3. Pingback: What excites me | Rolling in the D
  4. Brian

    I know a lot of people who use the MDI method, one of my friends bruises so easily that it can be quite painful for her sometimes. Would you say that the pump is better? Because reading the problems that you have had, I’m struggling to see advantages.

    • theperfectd

      MDI works well, but because of the basal rate changes that we use for me at night, it would be difficult to mimic that with MDI. There have been times when I have thought of going back to MDI for a while to give myself a break, but I haven’t as of yet…

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