Q was asked to sing as entertainment at a recent local queen pageant. She had on a short, sleeveless cocktail dress that was quite fancy. The dress has some rouging and gathering and all sorts of fanciness. As we were backstage awaiting her turn to take the stage, I noticed a bump on her belly.
I commented to her that perhaps I should have put her pod someplace else to hide it a little better.
She replied with a “No one will notice, they’ll just think it’s part of the dress.”
Q has used an insulin pump for going on five years and a CGM for the last two. Given that her favorite placements are arms and legs (not medical advice!) and given that she likes short sleeves, dresses, and shorts, her pump and CGM sensor are usually visible. She also swims and these devices can be seen on her at the pool six days a week.
Rarely does someone ask what they are. Usually it’s a curious child. Q gives a short explanation, usually to the tune of “I have diabetes. My pancreas doesn’t make insulin. This is my insulin pump.” And the kid usually responds, “Oh, okay.” And time marches on.
I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed anything negative when it comes to people’s reactions to her pump or CGM.
At a recent swim meet, a mom from the opposing team came up to me and made a comment about Q’s pump. I had completely forgotten that this mom is also type 1!
So when I saw the photo of Sierra Sandison, the recently crowned Miss Idaho, with her insulin pump clipped to her swimsuit during the pageant, I was quick to show the photo to a few people. (And that may or may not have been after a few tears.) One of the people I showed the photo to didn’t really react one way or the other.
I thought about this response for a minute and then I think I understood it.
For our family and the people around us, seeing an insulin pump is everyday life. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. It just is.
It’s just part of our daughter (and it’s just one part…it certainly doesn’t define her).
But it made me think back to sitting in the audience of the local pageant recently. I remember thinking as the young women were traversing the stage in their swimsuits that if my daughter were ever in a pageant that her pump and CGM would probably be visible. Sure, we could place them under the fabric, but the more likely scenario would be that they would be visible.
So for us to see a pageant queen wearing an insulin pump, it’s really no big deal. It’s just part of life with diabetes.
But it really is a big deal.
Why? Because she is getting a ton of media attention. Every time there is intelligent media coverage about type 1 diabetes, we all win.
It helps by educating people and removing the stigma that somehow we were to blame.
It helps by teaching the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes. If a parent learns that Miss Idaho was drinking a lot of water and peeing excessively, maybe they will see the symptoms in their own child at onset, rather than missing the tell tale signs before a child goes into DKA.
It helps because our children can see that there is yet another “thing” that diabetes can’t stop them from doing, like being a race car driver or elite athlete or dolphin trainer or American Ninja Warrior or Amazing Race winner or, yes, even a pageant queen. (And let’s not forget 1999 Miss America Nicole Johnson.)
It helps because some girls, particularly tweens or teens, might be feeling self-conscious about their insulin pump and want to hide it. But look at this beautiful woman who is putting it out there for all to see.
There might be any number of reasons why seeing Sierra wearing her insulin pump so publicly might help you or your child.
For us, it’s just another day with diabetes. But it’s also pretty darn cool!
#ShowMeYourPump is the hashtag being used on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets to post photos of PWD with pumps.
You can follow Sierra’s road to the Miss America pageant on these social media channels:
Photo courtesy of Susan Hessing Photography.