I received an e-mail the other day relating to playing volleyball with an insulin pump and thought that the questions and my answers may be relevant, not only to volleyball but to a lot of other sports and activities.
I asked the nice young lady if she’d mind me using it for a blog post and she said that was okay as long as I used her pen name which is The … Diabetic, She writes her own blog (click on that link to get to it). I’ve also changed her e-mail address for the one she requested so feel free to contact her if anything on her pages floats your boat.
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2013 14:43:08 -0800
Subject: Insulin Pumps and Volleyball
I came across your blog when doing some research on insulin pumps and playing volleyball. I’m quite interested in getting an insulin pump, but am only at the start of my investigations. I have an appointment with a Pump Doctor at my local clinic in a few weeks time, so I’m trying to do some homework beforehand and be prepared at the appointment!
I’m quite a keen volleyball player. I train 2 hours on 3 nights each week, I help coach juniors for 1 hour on one of these nights (before training), and play matches on a Saturday. Depending on the match schedule, I sometimes play on a fourth night in the week too. I guess my main worry is how well infusion sets stay in place when jumping, blocking, hitting and diving, as well as how easy it is to avoid a pump getting damaged whilst throwing myself around court. Would you be able to give me a bit of insight? Do you disconnect your pump? Have you had problems with air getting into sets or sets coming dislodged? From your blog, I gather you’re using a Roche Spirit Combo – has it been a positive experience? Where do you put it when on court? Finally, did you have to ask permission from the referees commision to play with a pump at matches?
Apologies about the million questions, there aren’t many testimonies out there of people playing volleyball with their pumps, and providing details on how they manage, so any extra insights would be much welcomed.
The … Diabetic
From: Type 1 Diabetic <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: The … Diabetic <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, 6 February 2013, 16:34
Subject: RE: Insulin Pumps and Volleyball
Alright The … Diabetic,
I’ve actually quit volleyball temporarily for a number of reason’s, none of which, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, are to do with the pump!
So to answer your questions as best as I can:
1. My infusion set always stayed in fine while playing, I chose the Accu-Chek TenderLink when I started off pump therapy but have changed to the FlexLink, both of these have a flexible cannula but the TenderLink goes in at an angle which I thought would protect it better from bumps while playing, however I am on the thin side (about five foot eight (1.72m) and 10 and a half stone (65kilos)) and I found after a bit of use my stomach looked like a pincushion. The FlexLink ones are, in my opinion, if anything a little hardier and come with the added bonus of the Link Assist Insertion Device which works like a kind of staple gun to get it in to you (honestly, better than it sounds!!!). If you have a preference for which side you dive on it might be worth considering that when placing infusion sets but with the amount you play your probably better just to stick it in and see how it goes. Certainly reaching up for blocks and the force of hits seemed to have no effect on the set staying put!
2. I have a neoprene pouch with a loop to feed the velcro elastic strap that came with it through, not sexy but worked for me, however you sound like you play pretty intensely so it might be worth you looking at the hard case along with sports belts here. I wore my pump on my back turned so it ran vertically up my spine, more or less, so there was little chance of me falling on it, kept it on the whole time and didn’t have any problems with bits falling off or coming loose.
3. Keep it plugged in pretty much all the time, only time it comes off is when I shower or swim.
4. Never had problems with air getting in, they are pretty well sealed units, although when I got it I was warned that I should keep checking the tightness of where the pump connects to the cannula and I now do that pretty much as standard without even thinking about it.
5. The Accu-Chek Combo has been brilliant for me, although I suspect that there are probably better pumps out there already, I’ve had it nearly two years now after all. This site is pretty good for the latest info, but as above it’s probably worth checking what accessories you can get when trying to make a decision, it might also be influenced by your healthcare team but frankly I have a lot of friends on various pumps and no one has been disappointed!
6. Never even thought to ask the referees, although I did check with my coach as well as my Diabetes consultant, whether they thought I needed to consider taking any action other than what I had already decided (e.g. wearing it strapped on and on my back while playing) and they both said it should be fine.
If there is anything else I can help you with, Volleyball related or otherwise please drop me a line, I’m always happy to help.
By the way is it okay if I use your e-mail and my response in a blog post? I suspect this information would be useful to a lot of people!
Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group
I’m Gonna Stick You!!!
Hope you all find that useful!