Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Me & My Insulin Pump

This post is quite long overdue!  But with that, this isn't a typical travel photo or outfit post, it's more of a real life update.  If you're interested in my journey with type one diabetes read on and if not no worries, I'll be back sharing some more travel photos soon!

As some of you already know, I was diagnosed with type one diabetes on May 20th, 2014 and I remember that very next day while still in the ICU the doctor telling me I could still lead a "totally normal life, especially with an insulin pump and all".  At the time I had no idea what she was talking about; what the heck is an insulin pump ?  I was out of the ICU after a handful of days and back at home I made it my first priority to learn as much about this autoimmune disease as I could (if you want to know more about my story with t1d follow the link here).  I stay alive each day by giving myself insulin to try and keep my blood glucose in range and I also eat a very healthy low carb diet and exercise everyday (shout out to Shaun T's Insanity Max 30 that I just completed!).
After diagnosis and during the following 6 months I always said regarding insulin pumps that I would "never want to be attached to one of those things", I really had a bad taste in my mouth after the doctor told me I could live a totally normal life literally right after I had just been given such a huge shock already.  I thought no, that is most certainly not a "normal" life, and neither is injecting yourself 5 times a day or drawing blood from your finger 4-10 times a day, let alone being tethered to a little robot insulin machine 24/7.
Well, 6 months later my "normal" changed.  I first decided to get the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) which is a sensor I insert into my abdomen that a transmitter sits into which transmits my blood glucose levels to an mp3 player looking receiver that displays the numbers on a graph that also lets me know if my levels are staying steady or if they're going up or down.  And this, was a huge first step, being committed to one thing attached to me 24/7.

I then met someone from Asante Snap (the newest pump that's come to market) at the JDRF walk in October, learned about their 4 week free and  thought, well, there's literally nothing to lose in trying it.  When I was trained and finally tethered up to the pump my first reaction was, this. is. weird.  It all just feels so weird at first.  But each day I was genuinely surprised by how much I was enjoying it.  Not having that oh shit feeling when it was 10:45pm and I was supposed to inject my long acting Lantus insulin at 10pm, or being out and having to go through the whole injection process multiple times a day.
I can definitely say now that having an insulin pump streamlines things so much and is a huge help with managing everything especially when combined with all the data I am getting with my Dexcom. So, while pumps do replace injections, they still definitely do not replace the work and challenges that goes into nearly every decision I have to make everyday with managing diabetes.

Now, I absolutely loved all the people at Snap and the simplicity and quickness of site changes.  But, the most important component to that pump, the Humalog insulin, just didn't love me.  Humalog just did not do it's job as well as Novolog does for me.  So, after the month with Snap I tried and ended up choosing the t:slim insulin pump in the end.  So since getting my own t:slim the day after Christmas, I can report that I am absolutely loving it and am honestly so thankful for this technology!

Before I was on a pump I worried about how annoying it would be to be connected to tubing 24/7 and how it would work with most of my outfits and whatnot.  But actually, I almost always confidently wear my t:slim on my hip or, if I'm wearing a sleeveless or short-sleeved dress I'll feed the tubing out through the arm-hole and clip the pump right to my belt.  Then in the less often instances where I wear a dress without a belt at my waist, I purchased this nifty garter with a little pocket called the iThigh which turns out to be absolutely perfect to wear and slip the t:slim into.  And you know what, I actually like having the t:slim be a part of my outfits everyday because it's now a part of me.  And when people ask if it's my cell phone or an mp3 player I am always so happy to explain what an insulin pump is to them and spread awareness of t1d since it's still so misunderstood by most of the population.

Here's some of the photos of myself where you can see my new robot friends.  The first couple are from November when I was on the Asante Snap trial, the rest are thereafter and w/ my t:slim.
Now with this, I also understand that it isn't everyone's cup of tea to share photos like this or to look at photos that focus on someone's body so much.  But, I've shared photos like this since day 1 of having a pump because I want to show others that you can still be confident, comfortable, and beautiful with these things attached to you.  I didn't choose to get type one diabetes but I am strong enough to deal with it and am proud of my body, proud of the work I put in to manage this autoimmune disease, and I believe that these things that make us so unique both physically (in having these things attached to our stomachs) and emotionally (in that most people without t1d can't really understand or truly grasp so much of what we go through everyday) are ultimately also so beautiful. The responses I have gotten (mostly via instagram on these photos) from others with t1d have been absolutely incredibly heartwarming.  Other women with t1d telling me I'm an inspiration to them as they struggle w/ certain things, thanking me for "making it look beautiful to wear a pump/cgm", and so many other comment I've gotten that make me feel so happy to be a part of such a lovely, supportive community.  Thank you so much to everyone taking the time to read this (really really long) post!


  1. This post is so inspiring, Kiana! I feel like a lot of people really have no idea about the daily struggles of type 1 diabetes (myself included!) - thank you for being candid about your journey and experience.

  2. In my opinion, these photos are just as beautiful as your normal outfit shots because they share such a personal story. I always appreciate posts like these because express our very core, our humanity. You are so strong and inspiring!

    imperfect idealist

  3. Dear Kiana,

    You are my new style icon, I just love your outfits and quality pictures in your blog! I was wondering, if it's not too rude to ask, could you recommend me a website where I could get mary jane or t-strap flats? I saw really beautiful ones on you and maybe you have some tips (or that's what I'm hoping, heh)

    Have a nice spring :)

  4. I'd love to see more posts showcasing your t1d as it is incorporated I took your style! Inspiring!

  5. Hello Kiana,
    I was wondering if you could tell me where you found that lovely black garter you use for your pump. It will be my first time on a pump and am exploring ways to make it most comfortable. Any information would be greatly appreciated :)
    Fellow Diabetic*

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  7. this is so gorgeous. I'm so In love with you, your photos and everything about it ;)
    It shows how diabetes can also be. Beautiful and sexy. Thanks for sharing this with us!