Tips and Tricks for Pumpers

I have had insulin dependent diabetes for 50+ years. I have had a MiniMed pump for 10 or 12 years. I have used a couple of things to make pump life easier and would like to share them with folks with hope that if you have some shortcuts or solutions, for any pump problems or inconveniences, you would post them here too.

I used to sleep in my birthday suit, but with the pump, I had to wear a shirt to keep it close to me during the night. I am a tosser and turner and sleep on my sides and stomach. I saw these neat t-shirts with a handy hole for the infusion set tubing that were made for sleeping. Cost:$40! Well a cheap pocket t-shirt works just as well. I have a couple that are a size too big to allow moving the pump around as needed. I wrap the tubing loosely about the pump put it in the pocket and forget it. Sometimes it falls out, but over time I have adjusted to knowing where it is. Make sure it is in the pocket when you get up. (Thanks Chris for the tip)

I have always been on the thin side and the best place for injections was always my upper legs. The pump changed that. I had to start using my abdomen. I was never comfortable shooting myself in the gut and with this long, but skinny, needle going in I really was dreading this. I have always manually injected myself. I have never used or liked the looks of the “auto” injectors. I still have one from the '60s,made of metal, made for “LuerLok” syringes, original box, never used. Any way I insert needles into my body slowly! Fast hurts too often. From another pump users forum years ago, I got this tip: Ice cubes After I shower and dry off, I grab a tissue and an ice cube from the freezer, find the spot to put the infusion set in my abdomen, or CGM sensor in my thigh, and freeze it. Hold it for maybe a minute,dry it with the tissue and slide that baby in…painlessly! Pain receptors seem to be pretty shallow on the skin, so it is not like you are cooling real deep. Ice cubes require no prescription and cost very little. Most of us have them on hand at all times.

Anyway, these are just a couple of situations that were looking for a quick,easy,economical, answer. I know there are enough pumpers out there with tips and tricks just as good.

Hi Sam,
Thank you so much for the tips. I am going to start my pump next week (this week coming) and i was wondering what to do for the adhesive I need to use, expecailly for when I get out of the shower. I sweat so badly when I first get out and it can take me up to an hour to stop the sweating. Now I know to use the ice cube and then dry the area off before trying to stick on the adhesive. I hadn’t thought of that before, but it makes sense I would appreciate any tips or tricks or ideas anyone has. Thank you so much.

Hi Saundra, I too sweat a lot too, and I have found that anywhere on your body that you want to apply anything sticky, it must be dry. A Kleenex or dry washcloth is enough to dry the small spot to put that infusion set. After the sticky is stuck, you don’t have to worry too much about the perspiration.
Good luck with the pump. Sam

Let’s see - I don’t know if Minimed officially recommends the “pig tail” that is taped down with the tubing near the infusion set, but when I started the pump a nurse suggested that to me. It has kept me from ripping out a site on more than one occasion.

Cuting a hole in a Tegaderm or IV3000 to put over the site to help keep it in place. I see that medical supply places are selling these a lot now, so this must be a very common trick. Like the pigtail, it probably doesn’t even qualify as a tip or trick anymore!

Also, when showering or changing or whatever, I clip the pump - which I keep in the belt clip - to the Medic Alert necklace that I wear. Keeps my hands free and it is easier to dress/undress. I don’t know if I would wear the necklace at all if I didn’t find it so useful in this way.

I sweat real bad when I work and too when I am first out of the shower. When I got on my MM 715, my trainer showed me a way to get my set to stick and never worry about it again until change time. Here goes: Clean the area with alcohol and let dry. Use an IV Prep on the site, let it get tacky before next step…few seconds. Take a Skin-Tac wipe (you can get them from Minimed online store or local medical supply house) and wipe on just like the IV Prep. Let it get tacky, few seconds. Put the IV 3000 down next. You can cut a hole in the tape if you want. I myself do not and have no issues. Once the IV 3000 is down, put your set in over the IV 3000. Before or after you put your set in, take the Skin-Tac wipe and wipe it around the edges of the IV 3000 tape. After it is dry, you can go around the edges of the tape with an alcohol wipe to clean your skin. Don’t go back over the edges of the tape with the alcohol or it defeats the purpose of going over it with the Skin-Tac. Doing your set this way will give you no problems at all, at least not for me. The infusion set tape sticks much better to the IV 3000 tape than your skin, especially a day or two into your set or once you sweat once or twice. If you still have problems, cut a piece of IV 3000 longways and put over the peeling area of tape and secure down with a Skin-Tac wipe. Hope this helps.

Great tips and great idea for a thread:

Sleeping with the pump:

Use the longest tubing available and put the meter under your pillow. Works for me even though I toss and turn. Under the pillow is also a good place to keep your Dexcom Receiver, if you have one.

Jammed Reservoirs (MiniMed): Occassionally the reservoir jams when I refill the pump and it won’t prime properly so that I have to fill a new reservoir. To help prevent this, move the plunger up and down in the empty reservoir first and twist it a few times as well to loosen the removable plunger.

Adhesive stuck to Quickset: Ever have the adhesive around the infusion set stick to your quickset applicator? Keep the applicator clean by wiping the inside rim with Uni-Solve. Avoid stretching the adhesive tape when removing the backing.

Exercising with the pump: Wrap the tubing around the pump, put the whole thing inside a small pouch which is clipped to an elastic band you can wear around your waist, arm or leg, near the infusion site. Sports cases designed for MP3 and other music players work well. There are also sports specific belts and pouches that work.

Good advice. The jammed reservoirs I have never had a problem with. One of the early things that I learned was moving the plunger in and out and rotating it a bit. I think that I did this with disposable syringes and it just carried over.

“Avoid stretching the adhesive tape when removing the backing.” I would add; Avoid leaning over when applying any tape to your belly. When you straighten up, that tape is still sticking! Ouch.

What is Uni-Solve? Is it safe for the medical plastics that we use? I don’t use a Quickset nor any other fast inserter tool, but my CGMS transmitter gets a bit gunky from the adhesives.

Great discussion topic, Sam!

If your pump is ever out of insulin and won’t let you bolus, you can usual still deliver a bolus by “filling the cannula” (Cozmo) or delivering a “fixed prime” (Minimed). I know it works on those two pumps.

I just learned recently (from Dave W, a member here) that filling the pump with room temperature helps prevent “champagne” bubbles when filling the resevoir. I try to take my insulin out of the fridge at least an hour before filling the pump.

I use MP3 player cases as pump holders. For pictures, see this blog post.

I find that my infusion sets stick BETTER when I use nothing. I know that this doesn’t work for everyone. IV preps and IV 3000 usually cause more irritation to my skin. So it’s worth it to try just inserting it if you are new to the pump.

Does icing the skin work for avoiding cappilaries?

Icing helps reduce inflammation, slows blood flow and deadens the area temporarily so you don’t feel as much? I don’t think it would actually matter about avoidance, but I guess I don’t really know that!

Are you on any blood thinners? That would make you bleed easier and notice more.

I don’t know for sure but blood vessels to rise toward the skin surface when it’s hot and retreat when it’s cold, so icing might have some effect toward reducing how much capillary exposure there is. Maybe get more of an efffecf if you do a wider area than just the immediate spot you’re going to inject into? Calling an anatomist…

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No, I’m not. I read about icing the area might constrict the blood vessels. What have I got to lose? The pump keeps my blood sugar wonderful if it were n’t for the infusionset being in blood. I have an ice pack that will be able to do a wider area. I sure hope this works!

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So the last two site changes I have done have been successful!! In both times I laid the ice pack on the area for about 1 minute. It was cold but at least it worked!


When I notice that my site isn’t working I reinsert the needle in the cannula and use it again until my site change is successful. I have saved a few infusion sets doing it that way. I have skin tac that helps it to stick it to my skin when removing the insertion needle.

I use something called Mastisol to enhance adhesion. I first clean with alcohol swab, drip a little Mastsol on another swab and dab/wipe a wide area around the insertion site, wait a few seconds then I apply a Tegaderm or IV-3000. Dont stretch it just place it down without touching the center where your needle will go. Now insert the cannula and press to insure adhesion. I know this is not a great practice but the set sticks over ten days if I choose to go that long.