The phantom site

There are a bunch of different locations where I can put an infusion site or a DexCom sensor. I’ve been known to wear them on the back of my arm, on the side of my leg, on my stomach, and on my love handles.

After using my love handles for both sites and sensors exclusively for many, many months I’ve stopped using that area altogether for a few reasons.

First, I think I was developing some scar tissue in the area because my response to insulin settings that worked in other areas were not working there. The second reason was a concern about insulin induced lipohypertrophy (don’t google it – eww! It is basically the build up of fat around a frequently used injection site). I am battling some stubborn pounds, especially around my love handles, and continuing to inject insulin there just didn’t seem to make sense.

The only problem is that I don’t think my body got the memo. I’ve been experiencing something I can only describe as phantom site pains.

Every so often I will lean a certain way, or my pants will rub a certain spot, or I won’t do anything at all and I will feel a sharp pain in my side. That same pain I used to feel when my clothes would rub a site wrong, when I got my tubing caught on a doorknob, or bumped my CGM against a doorway.

I reflexively reach for my side to adjust whatever device is acting up and remember that there is nothing there.

So here’s my question, it is truly phantom site pains or are there little pieces of metal floating around inside me that every so often try to poke their way out? The nickname for the old Phantom cartoon was “The Ghost Who Walks” so is it possible that it is both?

I started thinking more about this issue after reading Kim’s reflex theory post. We really are an odd bunch!


  • I TOTALLY get phantom site pain. I often quick adjust to stop my “set” from catching on anything, and then realize it’s an old location. And I use sets with plastic cannulas! So no metal chunks working out of the skin.

    Still. Incredibly bizarre.

  • I also suffer from this with virtually every site.
    Bizarrely it’s always the opposite side to where the cannula is actually situated?!?!
    Strange but true, I don’t know why and it’s kind of odd but it’s not doing me any harm and I am not worried.

  • I like your blog, and have been reading it for a little while. I had to comment, because I have experienced this too. I have been using other areas for the same reasons you stated. I have found that I’ve been getting pains on my sides where I used to do infusion sites, but no longer do.

    My new favorite place is one where some extra adipose tissue is hardly noticeable, high on my glute or hind hip. I still do sensors on my abdomen, hoping that the lack of insulin will not effect the tissue so much.

  • Sara, I hope there’s not anything left over! I also get the phantom pains from previous sites. Just never thought to point a finger at it. Thanks for the confirmation that this actually happens. I thought it was just me.

  • I always have pains after removing the (Medtronic) CGM sensor. The sensor was filling this hole in my skin quite nicely for the last week, but now that it’s removed, there’s…well… a hole. And it hurts, even more than when the irritating sensor was in there.

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