Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The Infusion Set Experiment: A Preamble
This week we visited the Diabetes Educator at my daughter’s endocrinology practice to learn about infusion sets for her pump. The infusion set is the part of the pump system which is inserted just under the skin. It consists of a plastic piece which connects to the pump tubing, adhesive tape, a tiny rubber cannula which ends up under the skin, and a needle to insert it which gets removed upon insertion. A new one is inserted every 3 days.
The one we currently use looks like this:
We’ve been using this set since my daughter started pumping nearly 6 years ago. She’s had no problems from a functionality perspective. The actual process of changing the site is what led us to consider alternatives. With our current model, I insert the site by hand, taking a pinch of flesh in one hand while inserting the needle at a 30 degree angle with the other. Inserting that long needle by hand causes psychological and physical trauma which we hope the newer alternatives may somewhat alleviate.
The alternative we’ll be test-driving this week looks like this:
It comes pre-packaged in a spring-loaded device. After a bit of unwrapping, and pulling back the “trigger” (which makes it sound decidedly unappealing, but we’ll move on), it’s held against the body in the desired location. A gentle squeeze on two pressure points causes action which inserts the site. The entire device is then pulled away from the body, removing the insertion needle and leaving the site in place.
Sadly, there’s no way to make the process painless or even remotely pleasant. Any way you slice it, it involves inserting a needle under the skin every 3 days, however briefly. Our hope is that this new site will at least be quicker to insert, and slightly less painful. Some day it will also be significantly easier for my child or teenager to do by herself.
It’s taken almost a year of convincing to get my daughter to the point of trying this new site. Understandably, she’s inclined to stick to what she knows, despite the possibility that new is better. However, she’s finding site changes increasingly stressful these days, so finally agreed to give it a go. Stay tuned…I’ll let you know how it goes!