My first cannula…

By | 10 September, 2010
Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Owwwwwww!

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Owwwwwww!

Avid readers of your soaraway Shoot Up may recall that I’m currently on the world’s longest waiting list for a Medtronic Veo pump. So long, in fact, that I last wrote about it in 1879, when Shoot Up was published on parchment as a monthly news-letter periodical.

Tempus, however, does indeed fugit and I’m slowly getting closer to P–Day, so much so that I had my first pump-related introductory meeting up at the Royal Infirmary earlier this week. A group of about a dozen of us gathered together to be guided through the wonders of pumping. I even got to pick which colour pump I’m going to have. I really wanted to have mottled puce with a hint of emerald but those bastards at Medtronic don’t do that particular colour scheme, so I’m going with black. Ho hum.

Anyway, while we were there we had a chance to try out attaching an infusion set for the very first time. Which was exciting. In my little group I volunteered to go first and found the whole experience extraordinarily easy and somewhat painless. I wasn’t expecting agonising pain – after all I am used to needles – but it all seemed very straightforward.

After a quick discussion with the DSN I decided to keep the pump-less infusion set attached for a couple of days to a) see what it was like to be plugged in to something and b) whether I developed an allergic reaction to it.

I have rather girly skin that seems to have a bit of an aversion to anything sticky. Bog standard Elastoplast tends to bring me out in hideous little red spots which are unbearably itchy. Not being a fan of agonising itching,  finding out whether I do react is of obvious interest to me.

Two days elapsed and all seemed to be going well – I wasn’t bothered by having something attached to me and I didn’t seem to have any reaction to the sticky stuff. However, when I came to remove the set I did note a major disadvantage of pumping.

I mentioned above I went first in my group in the attaching stakes; shortly after I coupled myself up the DSN noted that some men like to shave a little bit where they’re going to put their infusion set. Note that she said this after I’d attached the infusion set.

Holy mackerel! Pulling the set off hurt like an absolute bugger; I’m not wildly hairy but evidently I have enough hirsuteness to generate an agonising amount of pain when removing an infusion set. Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Owwwwwww!

However, after my trip to the hospital I’m more than convinced of the benefits of a pump – but, by God, I’m going to go and get my tummy waxed before starting properly in November!

34 thoughts on “My first cannula…

  1. Stephen

    For those of us hoping to follow in your footsteps, can you describe what cannula you got a bit more? I believe there are two types, teflon and steel?

  2. Faith

    Well done you! The initial thought of having something inside you is always a bit daunting (I am terrified by intravenous drips!) but I’m guessing you couldn’t feel it once it was in?
    I’d never realised about men’s hair issues when it comes to infusion sites- shaving/waxing sounds like a good plan!
    I find that sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all, then other times it’s eye-watering- especially if your blood sugar is high at the time. I wonder if it’s to do with hitting nerves.
    Anyway, a big well done and hope you get your pump soon!

  3. Tim Post author

    @stephen – I used the Medtronic Quick Set (I think it’s called) and you get an egg-cup sized “launcher” which fires a spring loaded 9mm metal needle into you. You then pull out the metal needle with its blue “handle”, leaving a flexible Teflon-coated plastic cannula in you. Hurts about the same as a pen needle and, like pen needles, I guess pain will vary from nothing to ow!

  4. Tim Post author

    @faith – for the first wee while I was aware it was in there, but I guess that’s because I wasn’t used to it. It was very slightly unconformable if I tapped it (but, then, why would you want to do that in normal use?) But by day two I hardly noticed it at all.

  5. Stephen

    @tim what happens about tapping it after day 1/2? I must imagine that it’s going to get tapped every so often in daily manoeuvres?

  6. Tim Post author

    @stephen – by “tapping”, I mean really banging it like an idiot and it was slightly uncomfortable. Every day knocks against tables, etc., I didn’t really notice.

  7. Tim Post author

    My God – those are *all* hideous! And as for the appropriateness of sweeties on a pump, well…

    1. Cecile

      Come on, they’re so sweet…for the sake of your mellitus, I think you should go for the honeycomb 😉

      Very disappointed you didn’t produce a smidgen of custardy pus (and thanks for brilliant idea: I never thought of inserting a pump-free infusion set alone to see if my belly is as snotty as my earlobes!)

  8. Charlie

    Happy waxing Tim! I’m allergic to some plasters too – apparently you can get infusion sets for sensitive skins.. haven’t tried them yet, the regular ones have been ok for me so far. I can’t comment on the challenges of hirsuitness… but my DSN recommended dabbing on tea tree oil after cannular removal if it looks a bit sore. I recommend Body Shop Tea Tree blemish gel – it has a wand style practical applicator and is small enough to fit in with the “spares” you have to carry around… and phone “socks” are a good alternative to ugly skins otherwise!.. Get me – pump advice from a newbie… do you think I can get commission from the Body Shop??!!!

  9. Simon

    Hi Tim,,

    I gave the “egg cup” inserter a go twice and twice it failed to penetrate the skin resulting in a couple of nasty highs that could have been avoided !! I now look away and plunge the baby into the top of my leg changing legs each refill / set change which to date has worked a charm !!
    I also use the teflon sets ,, tried the steel but I noticed it being there all the time so not for me 🙂
    regards shaving ??? be a man for gods sake !!! lol

  10. Rohan

    I still can’t make my mind up whether I’d want a pump or not. I think I’ll leave it a few years yet at any rate – I don;t see one working well in a mosh pit, and I still have a hankering for lots of rowdy live music yet xD

    Glad it sounds ok with gentle taps – I can be pretty clumsy if I want to be 😛

    Lol, although it does sound like an excuse to go get a wax to me 😉

    1. Faith

      Hi Rohan,

      Your comment reminded me of a pretty terrifying 10 minutes I had with my pump at a gig- I wouldn’t say it was a mosh pit, but pretty rowdy…someone caught their hand in the plasic tubing of my pump and ripped right through it (that’s quite an impressive thing to do as they’re pretty tough). I don’t remember it hurting that much (although there might have been some alcohol-related anasthesia!) but for quite a few minutes I thought I’d lost the pump on the floor of this club. It was about the worst 10 minutes of my life trying to clear floor space (and eveyone thinking I was about to start break dancing!) before realising my pump was safe in my pocket! Moral of the story is, you’d probably be ok in a mosh pit but the risk of losing/breaking the pump is much higher than hurting yourself!

  11. katherine cromwell

    Why do these companies insist on us needing firing equipment to insert cannula /syringes and lancets do they think we are all babies??? just position cannula and press, in easy! If the area has been used a few times then yes you can sometimes feel it. Same as with the pen/injection sites can sometimes be sensitive if over used and you can feel the bolus administered but not the drip feed basal.

    When you first insert the cannula they say to give yourself an extra 0.5 units of insulin for skin to absorb. This amount can vary depending upon its position, thickness of skin and you. That bit is trial and error. When I first went on the pump it seemed to take about 4hours for any insulin to get into my system so keep your pen handy for that extra shot. I’ve tried both the plastic and the steel tubing. No difference for me but I think its the thought of a needle in you all the time.

    I do love my pump! It gives so much more freedom, control and will ultimately (hopefully) prevent any complications from occurring as the insulin actually works 24/7. I think all diab kids should certainly be put on them to give them a better chance in life. If given the chance try it you can always go back to the pen if you can’t get on with it.

  12. katherine cromwell

    I forgot to mention I’ve no experience on the hair problem. Veet cream is smelly but it doesn’t leave you with razor burns or high pitched squeals from waxing.

  13. Claire Belby

    Hello, newbie alert! Time to fess up – I’ve been lurking for a few weeks reseaching and swotting up as after 23 years of MDI I got ‘pumped up’ this week.
    Didn’t get the chance to trial just the cannula bit, just got the whole thing, a Medtronic Paradigm Veo, though just with saline going in till next week.

    We were told to change the set a few times to get used to it and I had an ‘incident’ in the middle of the night when the tubing blocked so have had to change the set 3 times in as many days. While I don’t have the hair thing to deal with, I too have ridiculously sensitive skin and so far I have 2 red, spotty, itchy circles on my tum with a third developing nicely under the current sticky bit.

    Thanks for the tip @Charlie, looks like a trip to the Bodyshop is on the cards for tomorrow then!

  14. Bennet Dunlap

    I looked into it and apparently it goes back prior to 1879. I just got back from Independence Hall in Philadelphia and there was this bit of parchment Dated 1776;

    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. Mostly it is we have had enough of Tim’s monthly news-letter periodical and want our own county.

    Thom. Jefferson & Co.

  15. Annette A

    I swear by my inserter (the accuchek one looks like one of those self-inking stampers)-I cant get the needle in far enough before the sticky bits start sticking to bits it shouldnt and messing it all up when I dont use it. I was never told to put any extra insulin in when I put a cannula in – just the dose to fill the cannula tube (1unit for the teflon flexlinks) although this seems to send me hypo when I change tube and cannula together. Never had problem with sticky bits and involuntary hair removal – maybe its that higher pain threshold women are supposed to have? (Light blue touchpaper and retire 😉 )

  16. Hairy Gnome

    It’s probably a good thing that I’m never likely to have to use a pump. firstly, I’m so averse to having sticky things on my skin I won’t even accept a plaster for a blood test site. Secondly, I wouldn’t say I’m hirsute, but My ex-wife always swore that when I died she would have me skinned and use me for a hearth rug; Gnomey + Plasters = Oxymoron!

    Having had great experience with a fair number of venous cannula during my brief hospital residency, I can only hope that the subcutaneous ones are a considerably less cumbersome. I would definitely vote for the plastic ones though, even though the benefits are probably only psychological. I still can’t understand though @Tim, why it’s taking so long to get you plumbed in. I could have had a washing machine plumbed in by now, and you know how difficult it is to get plumbers! 😉

  17. Jay

    Definitely shave those hairy areas you plan to use for infusion sets. The tape will stay stuck better as well as being a LOT less painful to remove.

    Note that the 9mm Quick-Set isn’t your only option. I’ve used the Soft-Set infusion set with no issues (other than the occasional adhesive failure). This last time around Minimed was OSWOA on the Soft-Sets and the sent me the Quick-Sets. Notable differences: the Soft-Set leaves a short “pig-tail” when you disconnect (the disconnect is in the tubing). You apply tape over the infusion set to secure it, which means it’s easier to use a different tape or even re-tape an infusion set that’s getting ready to come unglued. I’ve had some issues just with this batch of Quick-Sets that IMHO are directly attributable to the infusion set.

    Also note that you can get either of these with a 6mm cannula instead of the 9mm if, like me, you don’t carry around a lot of subcutaneous material.

  18. Tim Post author

    @jay451 – yeah, we had a look at some of the other sets too. I’m going to start off with a Quick Set, see how it goes and play around with the other if it doesn’t work for me.

    “carry around a lot of subcutaneous material” – is that a euphemism for “fat”? 😀

    1. Jay

      ‘“carry around a lot of subcutaneous material” – is that a euphemism for “fat”?’

      Well, if the subcutaneous material fits… 🙂

  19. Fiona F

    Well done, Tim. I chose the purple pump – it co-ordinates with clothes nicely. After 21 days on the Veo I can only give one piece of advise about cannulas – remember to reconnect them after a shower – it does help!! Was about to phone Joan (same DSN as you) and cry “help” when I realised I could smell that “hospital” smell – oops.

  20. katherine cromwell

    Why does insulin smell? I could understand the old cow and pig insulin smelling but why so called human stuff? Could the wonderful guys who make the stuff not put some sort of fragrance/perfume in it? Not that I drink the stuff but if its on your fingertips and near your mouth it tastes very bitter.

  21. Tim Post author

    @mustard – I understand that the smell is that of the disinfectant in it that means stuff doesn’t grow in it after needles, etc., are shoved into it time and time again.

  22. Cecile

    Insulin’s lovely bouquet is compliments of cresol – first whiff I had of it 16 years ago immediately brought to mind my childhood swing, which was constructed of creosoted poles.

  23. Annette A

    It wasnt until I started reading Shoot-up that I realised that insulin did indeed smell. I’d never noticed it before – maybe it had just permeated so much into my life that I’d become immune to it. I still don’t notice it unless I actually ‘look’ (what’s the olfactory equivalent?) for it – but I have a quite good sense of smell for other things. Maybe I’m ‘smell-blind’ to that group of chemicals?

  24. Mike

    @annette I am told that when doing some air shots, most often towards the dog and cats that indeed the insulin does smell, and very clinical as it seems. I think I’m immune to the said smell unless it is right under my nose.

    Back when I was diagnosed I had a holiday booked to a greek isle and whilst entertaining female holiday makers of the younger generation I met this girl who fell in love with the smell of actrapid cartridges. 【ツ】

  25. Stephen

    I think we all get immune to the smell, I have to virtually snort (don’t try this at home kids!) the stuff before I can smell it.

    Mother in law on the other hand ….. can sniff it out at 20 yards without even batting an eyelid. She hates it.

  26. aileen

    Ohhh it’s getting exciting Tim, not too much longer now till you go live!!! Marc uses lift plus (spray) -you can send for free samples It stops the need to de-fuzz!!

    @Tim Did you get a choice of pump? Wondering your reasons on going with the Veo? Will you change to the contour meter to go with your pump or stick with what you’ve got? Marc has fallen head over heals for the compact plus, he thinks it’s brilliant as he can read it in the dark and doesn’t have to worry about strips all the time… but best of all can’t lose it : ))

  27. Emma Heaver

    My son was given some spray by the DSN which dissolves the sticky backing to the cannula and it comes off really easily? Apparently it is availabel on prescription, its called Lift Plus!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *