People with diabetes have today been sharing photos of their insulin pumps on social media networks using the hashtag #showmeyourpump.
The online movement came after US beauty pageant winner Miss Idaho 2014, Sierra Sandison, appeared on stage with her insulin pump fully visible.
Karla Fitzpatrick, 20, is also a beauty queen, having been crowned Miss Coventry 2014. She was diagnosed with Type 1 when she was seven years old and wears an insulin pump which manages her blood glucose levels.
Karla was delighted to see photos of Miss Idaho 2014 appearing on stage during the swimsuit portion of the competition in a bikini with her insulin pump on display.
Karla said: “Miss Idaho has started something fantastic, raising so much awareness for diabetes and the insulin pump. Growing up can sometimes be tough for children with diabetes as everything can affect our blood glucose levels. But diabetes research has developed so much so that we can lead happy healthy lives just like everyone else.
“Showing off your pump can be a little daunting for youngsters and even today I sometimes feel conscious you can see the device but then think 'hang on a sec, this little thing keeps me alive!' I hope more people with diabetes join this movement and continue to post pictures with their pumps to raise awareness for diabetes and brilliant charities like Diabetes UK who fund important research and support people like me.”
Insulin pumps can offer an alternative to injections for some people with Type 1 diabetes. The device is about the size of a small mobile phone and delivers a steady flow of insulin into the body through a cannula which is inserted under the skin. The cannula can be left in for two to three days before needing to be replaced and repositioned somewhere else on the body.
Diabetes UK has supported the social media movement today and is encouraging people to talk openly about their diabetes.
Picture from user @T1diabetesblog
Deepa Khatri, Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “Although insulin pumps aren’t for everyone, they do help many people – children and adults - to manage their blood glucose levels well and give them flexibility in their daily lives.
“They are attached to the body at all times and we know that some people, especially young people, can be self-conscious about them. That’s why it’s so great to see that Miss Idaho has confidently worn hers in public and is encouraging others to do the same. But you don’t have to be a beauty queen to be proud of your pump. We want to see lots of people sharing their pump-wearing photos with us.
“We’ve heard stories of people mistaking insulin pumps for pagers or mobile phones so we’re also hoping that there will be more open conversations between people with diabetes and their friends and family.”
The charity says that while insulin pumps aren’t suitable for everyone with Type 1 diabetes, those who think it could be suitable and who meet NICE criteria, should be offered this as a choice of treatment for their condition.
Picture from user @ninjabetic1
People who use insulin pens to administer their injections have also been joining in the conversation online using the hashtag #showmeyourpen