For women especially, wearing a bunch of diabetes devices can be quite a struggle. Personally, I use the OmniPod patch pump that does away with dangling tubes, but in these days of #WeAreNotWaiting and do-it-yourself closed loop system innovations there's a lot of stuff that needs to be portable and easy to tote around.
With Mother's Day coming up this next weekend, it seemed like a perfect time to offer a perspective on this topic from our own Mike Hoskin's T1D mother. As you may recall, Judi Hoskins in Michigan was diagnosed nearly six decades ago as a young girl, and during the past year she's shared her adventures embracing new DIY tools.
Today, she shares some tips on, er... intimate apparel for ladies with diabetes.
Clever Clothes for Women with Diabetes, by Judi Hoskins
Women with a tubed pump at one time or another need someplace to put it out of sight when they have no pockets. Unlike men, not everything a woman buys has pockets.
For those of us who've started on early versions of homemade closed loop technology, that clothing challenge gets even more interesting when you're using an older tubed pump along with a CGM device, carrying around your smartphone and even an extra little box called a RileyLink!
Diabetes Tech-Friendly Shirts (or Camisoles)
For me, I've found a great option with the Cari-Cami -- it's a camisole (you know, a sleeveless undergarment for women) that has two large pockets at the lower edge. The pockets are designed to be large enough that you don't have to take a bag or purse along when you go out. Cari-Cami is a 1.5-year-old company out of Murray, UT, founded and run by a husband-wife team.
Currently, there are four colors of basic camis available -- white, black, cream and red -- that will run you $19.95 each.
One unique thing about this company is they are very willing to make accommodations to suit your needs. My request was for a 1" buttonhole on the inside next to the seam of each pocket, completely hidden from the outside. This allows the tubing of an insulin pump to be fed through the hole so it stays completely out of sight. Cari-Cami has now added this choice on their web page -- just order the Cami with Insulin Pump Option, which currently only comes in white and costs $20.95.
My camis arrived quickly and were beautifully packaged with a ribbon and bow around them. They turned out to be wonderful.
One side holds my iPhone while in the other I keep my pump and my RileyLink. It is extremely easy to get the pump in and out of the pocket for bolusing or whenever you need to check. It has plenty of room for larger pumps, such as the new Medtronic 670G or an OpenAPS unit. There is also room for a Dexcom receiver, a 10-pack of glucose tabs, a meter, a lancet device, and a bottle of strips. It is pretty amazing how many things will fit into the cami pockets! And the end of the silhouette tubing fits easily through the buttonhole with room to spare. If you feed the cartridge/reservoir end through, as opposed to the tubing end, a 300-unit reservoir fits through with no problem.
These are not loose-fitting camis. They fit tightly to the body and are made to be worn underneath a blouse or shirt. I did order up by one size and am glad. The upsize is a great fit for me, so might also be a consideration if you order. These camis turned out to be a fabulous find and I've ordered more for everyday wear since my first order.
Another idea that works well for carrying an iPhone, especially if you tend to leave it sitting somewhere and then forget where you left it, is this K-Carroll Accessories phone case for iPhones. This is a wonderful accessory for a RileyLink, where you need an iPhone to dose your insulin. There are two card slots on the back to carry credit cards, a driver's license, money, etc. It hangs cross-body and is an easy way to tote your phone when wearing something without a pocket -- especially if you are prone to losing your phone down the cushions of the chair or in the car. This is my go-to now for everyday use in carrying my iPhone. It makes the phone easily accessible at home, in the car, or out and about.
Last year, Amy interviewed the creator of the PocketBra and I thought it seemed like an interesting product to try out. It turned out to be very comfortable and extremely nice looking, trimmed in lace. The bra has a pocket on each side and also a pocket in each cup. This bra fit true to size. A pump fits easily in any of the pockets and the RileyLink fits beside it. As the OpenAPS units are now not much larger than a RileyLink, they should also fit comfortably in a pocket. A Dexcom receiver also fits into any of the pockets. The pockets are large enough that there should be no problem fitting in a slightly larger pump, such as the 670G. An iPhone 6s will fit into the side pockets.
This is a good way to carry a pump and CGM receiver during exercise, as the pockets hold everything very securely with no jiggling or falling out of expensive equipment. Because I found this product to be so nice and so comfortable, I ordered a second one in the other color offered. They come in pink and black and cost $39.50.
Below the Belt
The last piece of clothing I want to share is a pair of pocket panties from a small London-based company known as Hid-In. I tried out their woman's panty with a pocket stitched inside the front that holds a pump. This sounds like it wouldn't be comfortable at all, but it actually was!
Hid-In offers Body Bands (like small fanny packs) that you can wear different ways under clothing to hide your gear, and also the Pocket Panties sold in two packs of plain black and white or pretty b/w lacy designs.
The package I ordered was the black and white two-pack made of classic cotton jersey, which runs about $32 US dollars. Although this company is in London, they have US sizing options, so I found the panties very comfortable and fit true to size.
After about the first 5 minutes, you stop thinking about it and totally forget the pump is in there. The way the panties are made, the pump stays put and doesn't slide forward or backward. I never found that I was "sitting on the pump" which was something I originally feared. I could also fit the RileyLink in the panty pocket, but it wasn't as comfortable with two things in there. The pocket easily fit my Medtronic 723 pump with enough extra space that there should be no problem fitting in new, larger pumps.
Hid-in also makes men's Pocket Boxers with two pump pockets, one on each side of the front center seam, on the inside. Of course I didn't try these, but they look like they would be just as comfortable as the women's panties, as they're made out of the same cotton jersey. All of these cotton jersey underwear are machine washable and dryable, which makes care extra easy.
The best-selling item are the multi-use, unisex Multiway Body Bands, says owner Katie Isherwood: "That's our customer favorite… see our testimonials page for pumpers' perspective on all our products. Over 70% of all our sales are on this, it receives the most positive feedback and seems to be making the biggest difference to type 1’s!"
With all that in mind, my next purchase is definitely going to be one of those -- especially since I've learned you can get a custom-made body band created to fit your personal preferences. The way it works is you buy a lingerie set and purchase an extra pair of matching panties and send that to Hid-In and they fashion a custom made Multiway Body Band to match your set. Think what a wonderful idea this would be for a bride, a prom, or any special occasion where you might want totally matching, beautiful undergarments.
The only disadvantage to the bra and panties options is that you don't have an easy way to access your pump to dose. But Hid-In offers some great tips on their website for ways to access your pump when it's hidden under your clothing.
And if you have remote dosing options, these clothing items work wonderfully. Since my RileyLink system is dosed from an iPhone, keeping my devices fully out of sight is no problem.
Still, there are times when any woman is wearing something without a place to stick a tubed pump, and these are some wonderful, unique options that I was glad to discover, and I hope you will be too.
Thanks for sharing, Judi! Great to hear about these fixes made especially for PWDs and all of our diabetes gadgets.