March 29, 2005

I'm Too Sexy for My Pump, Part II

One of the curious and not very likeable aspects (and there are many) of being in a long-distance relationship is that you may find yourself attached for six weeks to a medical device that your beloved person has yet to see. Such is the state of events in Pumplandia, as I last saw my fella the day before I hooked up with Charlotte. This is about to change. I’m off to NY on Thursday, and Charlotte, it goes without saying, will travel with me.

So. Hmm. In a perfect world, this voyage would be without pump-related tension for me. I would be perfectly reconciled to my slightly altered body image, feeling brilliantly attractive, and well equipped with a bevy of pump-compatible girlie outfits. I would be brimming with confidence in my natural sexiness and its ability to carry the day over the, um, visual distractions posed by the infusion set, tubing, and adhesive. But in the imperfect world of diabetes as it intersects with my personality, I only feel/have each of those four things a little bit, some of the time. None at the moment. Even my clothes seem ugly today.

Let me interject at this point that Mr. Brooklyn is and has been as affirming, encouraging, and supportive of my journey into Pumplandia as any partner could be. He has told me in a dozen ways that he isn’t troubled in the least by the concept of those “visual distractions.” I believe him. But I also believe that he can’t really know that for sure, can he, until he sees what I look like with an infusion set stuck in my tummy. Argh. So even though I know on an intellectual level that any worthwhile partner, which Mr. Brooklyn certainly is, would be accepting of the pump, I’m still more distressed than I care to admit.

I keep meaning to post about my experiences telling a coworker about pumping. The exchange reminded me of my own initial feelings about it, when I first heard about the possibility during a period of post-diagnosis shock. Truth is, I was, on an involuntary and visceral level, revolted by the idea of having something attached to me and entering my body. This is hard to acknowledge openly because the last thing I want to do is contribute to anyone’s negative feelings about the gizmo, particularly a prospective pumper (e-mail me!) who is trying to sort through those emotions and needs support. Perhaps for this very reason, I have yet to talk with a person who has a pump who has openly said, yeah, there is something a little gross about it at times, even to me. But that feeling was, for me at that time, a fact. This is the involuntary reaction that I fear in my sweetie, who despite being a very good man cannot help what his brain does with a piece of visual data.

What changed that reaction for me (most of the time) was information. I got to know people who were using pumps, had none of those feelings (or if they had em had dealt with them already!), and were realizing tangible health benefits. And I got a look at actual pumps and infusion sets and decided, okay, I can cope with this. And, maybe most of all, I decided through research that there was an important relationship between my going on the pump and preparing to someday get pregnant and have an optimally healthy pregnancy & baby.

But, as we see, some of the difficulty lingers for me in spite of the progress I’ve made. Honestly, I do believe that my relationship will make the transition just fine. I just wish he had been here, or I there, from the start.


  1. I don't know if you have trackback comments turned on, but I commented about your post on

  2. The first few weeks, I was so conscious of the pump that I felt like I was hooked up to an IV. The feeling passes though and when it's all said and done, you've basically got a band-aid in your belly; nothing more.

    I used to hide it from co-workers too, but stopped a long time ago. Now I pull it out when someone asks what time it is and call it my pocket watch.

  3. I have a feeling that once you see your boyfriend's positive reaction, it may be a turning point in your feelings toward your pump. Once you see his acceptance, you'll be less self-concious about it. It's getting through all of the "first times" that make things easier.

  4. Man, Violet, I'm so glad you are going through all this first -- so that if/when I decide to go on the pump, I can review your anguish and (hopefully) move right on through to the happy & well-adjusted phase. I'm rooting for Mr. Brooklyn! He'll do fine, I'm sure.

  5. Hi, Vi! i hesitate to say this, but i will go ahead. i think you perhaps anticipate too much. It simply Is Not That Big A Deal. Or, if it is, it soon won't be. All these pump accoutrements, they're nothing. Just details.

    i'm honestly not trying to minimize your hesitations and fears, but believe me. i'm almost 51 years old. i've been pumping for almost 6 years. i have NEVER been healthier, or sexier, or cuter! i mean it!

    love, tippy

  6. Thanks everyone for the support. Amy, LOL, any service I can provide for the non-pumping community!

    tippy, I understand that from your vantage point of years of experience and total, 100% comfort with the pump, I sound like a fretting adolescent. I also get the sense that you don't identify with the body issues I've expressed here and to a lesser extent on P&N--at least, as far as you've mentioned, you've never identified with any of them, even when you were first pumping. It's good and helpful for me to know that these aren't universal feelings. But I can't "logic" myself outta this one based on a completely different person's experience; it's too deeply felt. Surely you've been in such a situation in relation to some other topic? The fact that you feel cuter and sexier on the pump doesn't mean that I, in week seven with this strange LDR situation, can mentally get there myself. I do believe that I WILL get there, but meanwhile I'm simply where I am now. So my choices are to shut up about it or to air out the concerns, and I choose the latter.

    I do think, as Shannon and y'all suggest, it's a "first time" problem, and everything will be different this time next week.

  7. Vi, it's not at all that i don't identify with the body issues. Far from it: i have huge ones, and always have. i guess it's just that the pump, oddly enough, hasn't ever really played into them. And i genuinely wasn't meaning to suggest that you could "logic" yourself out of how you feel, either, or that how you feel isn't legit; rather, i was trying to buck you up a bit, which i obviously did a very poor job of. i do apologize. And i think i'm the one who should keep her peace now. Have a great trip.


  8. I think Mr. Brooklyn will be so thrilled to see Miss Violet that she could be attached to a damned giraffe and he'd hardly notice.

    I think it's more difficult with gals than guys in dealing with body issues related the pump simply because of the clothing issues and that fact that most guys don't wear dresses with their pumps. Plus, the media teaches us to be so self-conscious of our abdomens.

    It will be fine, V. Have a wonderful time! xxoo

  9. tippy, noooooo, please don’t hold your peace. I’m sorry for sounding so defensive. This has been such an emotional week; I'm a bit of a mess. Your input and support have been so valuable to me throughout my Pumplandia adventures. I probably wouldn't even BE pumping if you weren't such a helpful advocate. I would be very sorry to not hear from you about anything.

    Martha, LOL, now I am going to be thinking about giraffes all night...which is much better than being nervous about other matters! :)

  10. Oh, my dear, I can't wait to hear how this goes. You are in my thoughts, and I hope it will be amazing.

    I think I couldn't fully recover my body image all by myself, just trying to see myself as sexy. Maybe this is codependent or something, but It made a difference for my sig. other to express his attraction to me (not just being "okay" with me on a pump, but turned on...) that helped me see myself as truly sexy.

    I suppose it didn't hurt that I always thought the Borg in Star Trek were hot.

    Well, update us soon! I'm holding my breath!

  11. Everytime I get in a new realtionship I am so terriofied of exposing my pump. I end up ripping out my infusion set and sacraficing my health. Total self image thing. It is a love/hate relationship with the pump. My last boyfriend was very accepting. I will admit - sleeping with it in the buff is not pleasant. It always gets in the way!

  12. Please see for response to the above comment!