Sunday 27 January 2013

When cannulas turn evil.....

Diabetes isn't generally a gory disease.  There are needles, blood tests and occasional HbA1c check that lower the tone but, unlike some diseases, diabetes doesn't usually result in fountains of spouting blood or leaking body fluids.  In fact, in the 3 years since I've been on the insulin pump I have been amazed at the lack of bruises at the cannula site, unlike my former previous dappled blue and purple-covered arms: a reminder of the constant needle-sticks.

After an overnight bonanza of elevated blood sugars I decided this morning that a cannula change was in order.  Because it stays in place for 3 days at a time there can be occasions when a cannula gets irritated, bumped, knocked or just doesn't like where it is, and a swift swap-out can be just the ticket to resolve a mystery high blood sugar.  

Cannula changes, a once timely affair involving much fumbling and shaking as I nervously tried not to slip and get it wrong somehow, are now a swift 30-second job, having changed around 370 of them over the years.  This morning's was no different: I opened a cannula fresh from the pack, loaded into the automatic inserter, placed it on the skin where I wanted it and 'clicked' the inserter buttons.  I made my way to the kitchen to collect a fresh bottle of insulin and change my reservoir at the same time, just in case an old bottle of insulin had contributed to the blood sugar mayhem.

As I disconnected  my tubing ready to connect it to the new reservoir, I discovered this little crime scene:

That's right folks: my cannula, in what I can only describe as a scene from 'ER', tried to kill me.

So readers, watch out for your own cannulas - some of them may are working to their own agenda!


  1. I've had something like that just once. Hurt like stink. Though I have to say your's is far more impressive. The blood in the tube only went back about an inch in mine.

    1. Hi Mike,

      'Impressive', isn't it? The bruise it left was pretty monstrous, too. Akthough I'm glad I'm not the only one it's happened to - that's reassuring, thanks.


  2. Have you ever used the Silhouette cannula's? I have been for the last few weeks and have noticed they are a little more sore and irritable compared to the quicksets.

    I would love to keep using the quicksets; however with little fat (not fun for a diabetic)and/or scar tissue (most likely in my case) they seem to kink easier.

    Any little information will help as I am not on facebook any more and have no way of talking to other diabetics! :)


    1. Hi Sabryna,

      Actually I have and I completley agree! They put us on Silhouettes when I first started pumping, but after two days on each one I would find the site irritated and red. I'm sure it got a bit (sorry) 'gooey' too.

      Have you tried the Sure-T ones? They only go in for two days but are steel cannulas, so can't kink. I found that I could feel it now and then which put me off, but many people swear by them.

      Also, were you using 6mm cannulas? They are designed for people who are much slimmer (I have the opposite problem - I'm positively 'meaty'...)

      Have you tried other areas too: Like your thighs or backs of your arms? I love using my arms and during winter when I wear longer sleeves I often wear it there to give my stomach a break. Maybe worth a shot...


    2. Hey,

      Yeah I gave the sure-t's a shot and we didn't get on! They didn't like staying in :( So just the quick sets and silhouettes.

      I am using the smallest mm cannula's possible. I put them in my upper arms (which mostly work alright) and love handles - if I put them in my stomach they just tend to kink when I bend or something.

      Glad I am not the only one to experience irritation etc with the sils. :)

      thank you for getting back to me as well, very appreciative x

    3. Yeah I found the Sure-T's strange too. When you use your stomach, do you use the lower 'fleshier' part below the belly button, or the bit above and around it, like the pictures show?

      The reason I ask is that the pictures show the cannula high up, but for 2 years I didn't use that area as mine would kink every time without fail. Eventurally I tried one lower down and it was spot on. I now use it for around 6 months of the year and then rotate.

      No worries about replying - there's nothing worse than spending your time posting comments if no-one takes the time to reply!

      I miss the odd comment here and there, but only by accident :)

    4. I have a "doughnut-ring" only an inch thick that is level with my belly button (been there since as long as I remember) and i try putting it there and just above. the quicksets dont like it.

      I currently have a sil set about a hands width above my belly button on the right and that seems ok.

      Will probably switch between the sils and quicks more to give my body a break.

    5. It sounds like it is a real challenge! I hope you figure it out.

      Keep us updated, too.


  3. Wow, that's impressive. I've had a nice spurt when taking a cannula out, but never seen a flow-back like that. Respect!

    1. Haha, 'Lesley, the human fountain.' :)

      Thanks for the respect :)

  4. At least it's a contained crime scene, right? :-)

    1. Scott, that's EXACTLY what I thought! Imagine the mess I'd have made had I not been 'plugged in'. I would have been cleaning for days!


  5. I require the majority of the records, Have a preference for seriously favored, We really wish for addiitional information and facts over it, while it is definitely rather great., L8rs used only for documenting. best insulin travel case

  6. You make so many great points here that I read your article a couple of times. Your views are in accordance with my own for the most part. This is great content for your readers. Radiologie Paris