Two weeks ago, I made my first venture over to the right side of my stomach. I had worked my way across the left side of my stomach during my first month on the insulin pump. Infusion sites only need to be changed every three days compared to injections, and I was pretty damn pleased at the thought that the right side of my stomach had gotten a break for a whole month. So I was pretty surprised to discover bruising underneath that very infusion site two days later in the shower.
I knew that I had to rip it out straight away. As I ripped it out, it began to bleed. As I watched the bleeding and nasty purple bruising on my stomach, I really couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t touched that side of my stomach for a whole month, and I really had no explanation for it. I was pissed off, and wondered to myself where I had gone wrong.
As I went about replacing the infusion site, I wasted two insertion devices in the process. The first site came a little unstuck from my stomach as I pulled the insertion device away from my body. Not wanting to risk a failed site, I pulled it away from my body completely and started over. The second one was also a failure. The details are a little hazy, but I remember seeing a bent needle as I pulled the insertion device away from the site. By the time the third one was in, I had wasted close to an hour of my afternoon dealing with it. In addition to being angry, I was now very much emotional as well.
Yet, it was only about to get worse.
I decided it was as good a night as ever to turn down one of my favourite dinners (stuffed eggplants) in favour of testing my evening basal rates. Ironically, I was also moderating an OzDOC chat that night on diabetes and emotional health.
My levels were in range prior to kicking off the chat. I was confident my basal rate was close enough, although I did suspect that my levels might drop a little that night. So it was to my great surprise to find that towards the end of the hour, my BGLs had hit 10mmol with an upward trend arrow. I don’t know what possessed me to check my stomach, but I did. And I discovered my very first occlusion in my insulin pump line.
This one didn’t bleed a little. It bled and bled and bled. Words cannot describe how devastated I felt that night as I lay there on the couch, applying tissues on my stomach and waiting for the bleeding to subside. The two nasty purple bruises that were left on my stomach in the days that followed were a lasting reminder of my diabetes and of how long I’d had it. I had never felt so failed by my body in my life.
I stood for at least five minutes in front of my wardrobe, deliberating whether or not to replace the site. After the day which I’d had, I really didn’t feel like dealing with another site change. After the events that had transpired, I wouldn’t even be able to go to sleep with confidence that the site would stay put. I was seriously considering injecting Lantus and taking a break from the pump for a day or so.
I eventually gathered the courage to replace the site, opting for the outer edges of my stomach. I’ve since decided that the centre circle of my stomach needs an indefinite break before it’s ready to handle three day long infusion sites. I’ve visited my doctor, and I’m applying bruise cream to my stomach in the hopes that it will heal some of that stomach tissue.
I now make sure to look at my infusion sites every day. In the shower, when I’m getting dressed and before bed. I always make sure that the skin underneath the site looks clean and free from dark marks and bruising, because I want to minimise the chances of this ever happening again.
It was the occlusion that triggered a really rough period of diabetes burnout over this past week and a bit.