Identifying the perfect piece of flesh

By | 2 February, 2011

Alison’s toned stomach hasn’t changed at all in the last 2 years. Honest.

The thing about injections and infusion sets is there are so many options and such a vast selection of flesh to put them in it’s hard to know where to start.

I started young with the whole injection business and with that came a picture of a man/woman/android complete with grids on each injectable area. Each thigh and buttock was divided into 8 squares, the same for the stomach and a grid of 6 on each arm. Then as you injected in each place you coloured in the corresponding square on your man/woman/android. When the picture was complete, thrillingly you got…another picture to start again on. That was my first lesson in quite how monotonous this diabetes thing can be.

But, aside from the repeated disappointment it did set me off on a lifetime of site rotation which is no bad thing. When I stopped using the pictures I did rebel and have been doing so ever since…without the motivation of having some squares to colour in I stopped injecting in my arms. I’ve never liked it; I only did it so I could complete the picture and move on to the next man.

Infusion sets are a bit harder than injections because wherever you choose to stick it, you need to be happy you can live with it there for 3 days. My favourite spot is my lower back. It’s the quiet little cul-de-sac of the body. It’s out the way so I don’t see it if I look in the mirror and there really isn’t much activity or passing traffic to tangle with the set and tubing. It’s perfect. It’s also my favourite spot for CGM sensors so they usually get priority there and infusion sets are relegated to the thigh or buttock. Either is fine but it did take a while to stop me pulling the thing out every time I pulled my pants down. In the early days of thigh/buttock exploration so many toilet trips ended in much cursing and irritation.

The stomach seems to be the spot where most people start with infusion sets. I venture there every now and again for a bit of variety but it’s my second favourite sensor spot so I do like to save it for them.

I use Quicksets on my back, thighs and buttocks and they work really well for me. For my stomach I prefer Silhouettes. While I may be an insulin tart, when it comes to infusion sets I’m quite the young innocent. I found two that work really well for me and I’ve stuck with them.

The final piece of the butchered human injection/infusion set site puzzle is arms. I don’t do arms. At all. Ever. I’ve reached a level of maturity where not even the satisfaction of being able to move on to another picture would make me do arms. Maybe if I was offered diamonds or holidays, or a significant amount of cold hard cash for a fully coloured in virtual person I would consider it, but for now, arms are safe.

What about you? Where do you put yours?

30 thoughts on “Identifying the perfect piece of flesh

  1. Annette A

    I’d like to find somewhere other than my stomach to put my cannula. But I’ve tried my thighs several times – failed each time (cannula just didnt take). I’ve tried my lower back – just the once – it didnt take. I fully intend to try that one again, cos I can see the benefits of it being there, I just need to do it when I’m not in work for the day, so I dont have to keep changing sets in the loos. And I’m determined to try my arms (haven’t yet tried, but I have no probs there – I used to inject there out of preference) at some point.
    But for now, I’m on the stomach. Which I have mentally divided into 4, and rotate around the sections so I always use a new site far away from the old one.
    Anyone else noticed how the pictures of people wearing infusion sets/sensors always have people who never seem to have worn a sensor/set on their stomach before – no lumps, no recent site marks/bruises, no adhesive residue from a rushed site change, just clean clear skin. Must be a specialist model agency – ‘Do you have perfect stomach skin tone and not an ounce of flab? Then sign up to be a cannula model today!!!’

  2. Stephen

    I’ve always been a creature of habit. Through the long injection days I used to get fixated on specific sites. As a teenager I got huge lumps on my legs from repeated injection, then forced myself onto my arms as a 20-something to the same result. Stomach became my favourite injection site in recent years but started to trend the same way.

    With regard to the pump, I’ve stayed with the stomach – though I do feel more confidant to move the site much more up above the navel line and to the side (closer to my love handles) giving me a lot more real estate to hit on – the one occasion where I did try my leg went really badly …..

    Realising quite quickly that two things (infusion set / CGM) wasn’t going to work well in my stomach I’ve tried my CGM in my arm (bingo wings FTW!) these past 5 days, and I have to say it’s working rather well. I wouldn’t want to put my pump there (at least not without my theoretical gun holster to hold it,) but separating the pump and CGM is working well for now.

  3. Tim

    Also, ‘cannula models’ are always female, wear low-slung jeans, have flawless skin and a flat tummy. I think it would be better to have hairy, flabby biker’s tummys which are covered in spots, scabs and bruises. Yum!

    1. Donald Thomson

      I’m your man, then. Hairy, flabby biker’s tummy at your disposal for photo sessions. Complete with requisite bruises. Have I put you off your breakfast yet?

      Being on MDIs I’m happy to use my arms but it’s best in the summer when reaching the top is easier without having a shirt & jumper in the way to roll up far enough. Injecting just above the elbow ain’t good but by the time I’ve battled with sleeves, it’s a ‘what the hell’ moment and gets done anyway.

      Lantus always goes in the buttocks. Again, trying to remember which cheek was used the previous night is always a problem. My left shoulder isn’t as flexible so the RHB tends to get more stabs than the LHB. Used to use the side of my thigh back in the bad old days of syringes. And sometimes even in the top of the thigh. I was young and knew no better.

      Tummy is the favourite spot for Novorapid shots, but there are several areas where it always bruises. Not sure about when I go onto the pump and the issue of set removal vs. hairy tummy. Might end up looking like I have ringworm . . . now there’s a pretty mental picture for you!

  4. Stephen

    @don172 – Lift-Off / Lift-Plus. It’s a hairy bikers dream spray 🙂 No pain / pulling whatsoever in removal of infusion sites.

  5. Tim

    @don172 – I always used to shave a small spot of tummy hair before putting on a new set; but now I’ve just MTFU’ed and I rip them off with nary a care in the world!

  6. Hairy Gnome

    I’m fairly conservative with my injection sites, I use the right hand side of my lower abdomen for Lantus, and the left hand side for Novo Rapid. When I first started injecting, I used my thighs, mainly because initially I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing the full length of the needle I was forcing into my tender flesh. Once I got over that and started on my abdomen, I’ve never used anywhere else.

    I have to say, I’m happily surprised that so far I haven’t suffered any problems with my injection sites, especially considering the quantities of insulin injected. Whether that’s down to luck, skill, or a more than ample quantity of subcutaneous adipose tissue, only Gaia knows! I’ve never even considered using my arms or buttocks. I’m not sure how I’d get on with infusion sets or CGM sensors, I won’t even let nursie put plasters on me after a blood test.

  7. lizz

    Hmmm… my arms were my preferential place for short acting, and thighs for long acting. My arms came into lumps, as I am slim and was slimmer, it looked like I had big muscles. 10 years after starting with a pump, they have started to look more normal, the right side normal-er as I tended to use my left arm more, being right handed. I don’t think the fat under will ever be completely normal now. So I don’t think i will try the arm unless I have to.

    I had one of the fist pumps with all sorts of tapes in the early 80s and I became allergic to them on my stomach, so I always have used my thighs, and you may all have just been unlucky… I’ve found the inner thigh to be the best place, but use all over. I have never, ever been told you could do it anywhere else. I don’t have any fat, my stomach is flat, it could be a model, strangely, but I so HATED the thought of the steel needle, I could feel it in there, having to push it in was so hard – I still feel ill even contemplating it.

    Lower back? Where is that? Do you mean upper buttock? There’s nothing and nowhere for a needle to go on my lower back… I have no love handles. I don’t think. Where are they? Does anyone know of a place you can look to see a diagram of all these places?

    1. Cecile

      @lizz: Did your arms look anything like this? Injections in arms remain a mystery to me – how can you pinch a fold of skin and handle a pen at the same time, if not an Indian deity or insect? (If I were capable of doing that, I’d start doing my lower arms to look like Popeye, though :))

      For me, it’s fast stuff in tummy and basal in bum (arable land on thighs have been lying fallow for a few years now).

  8. lizz

    Aaargh! The idea of putting a needle in my waist makes me feel pale. I need a diagram actually as I’m worried I will run out of places.

  9. Dominic Potts

    Well, when I was on MDI, I used my stomach for Humalog and the Thighs for the Levemir. I’m pumping now and use either my stomach or thighs. I use the thigh area if I’m swimming. My long swim shorts hide the cannula quite nicely. Basically, I don’t have to ‘suffer’ the what’s that on his stomach look!!

  10. Alison Post author

    I work on the theory that if I can pinch an inch of fat there, it might be worth a try for a set.

    There’s a simple diagram of potential sites here (I think its actually a scanned in image from Pumping Insulin because it looks very familiar!)

    There are some photos of where people put their sets here (be warned, the breast one makes me feel quite ill!)

  11. Tim

    @dompotts – ah, that’s a good idea. I haven’t actually been swimming since I got my pump in November, but I’m not sure I would want the world to see my set (as it were).

  12. Dominic Potts

    I don’t have breasts or moobs… and the thought of it makes me feel quite ill!

  13. Stephen

    @ckoei (Even though I can see your comment on the activity screen, I can’t see it here!)

    I was always told that with smaller pen needles (6mm, maybe even 9mm) you were not supposed to pinch. Pinching is for the old school when the needles were 26mm or longer 🙂

  14. Cecile

    I was expressly advised by nurse to pinch (when starting off on syringes, and later when I started pens), but I am a 6ft tall stick insect sans lard, so they maybe thought I’d plunge through to my fleshly undergarments if I poked it in without pinching up a wobble first 😉

  15. lizz

    Just braved it. I think I’ll stick to where I do it now. Please talk about happy things now. Lemon meringue pie which has nothing artificial in and yet doesn’t raise blood sugar and tastes divine. It must exist.

  16. Stephen

    Right next to my tray (12+) of triple chocolate stuffed donuts that do no more than make my BGs sigh wistfully 🙂

  17. lizz

    Oh no @Annette, I imagined one, my mouth filled with gustatory delight and then a cannula got smacked right in the middle!

  18. Hairy Gnome

    I looked at those photographs, suddenly all my pump envy evaporated, and I now reckon MDI is not so bad after all… 😛

    If we’re going to indulge in wishful thinking, then it has to be a bagful of freshly cooked jam doughnuts… 😀

  19. Tim

    Being pseudo-Scottish I would like to avoid the morning hypos after a heavy night on the whisky. Hangovers and hypos at the same time – not so good.

  20. lizz

    I (luckily probably) get drunk very quickly, my absolute max is 3 glasses of wine. So I never have a hangover. Actually, I’ve never had a headache. But I do have to be careful of hypos and find eating with alcohol is the answer and only giving a small proportion of the insulin I would normally give.


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