Coachella + T1D + A Pump Malfunction


Coachella has become a very big event amongst my friends. My girlfriends and I look forward to the fashion, people-watching, food and of course the music!

Last year, the weather was beautiful, hot during the day and cooler at night. The venue is a mammoth grassy space spanning several football fields, so the walking from stage to stage helps my blood sugars stay down—even on the low side. I have no trouble finding yummy things to eat. Actually, I was able to graze all day without even giving myself insulin because of all the walking and dancing. I did, however, go low a few times during the day and night. Luckily my friends were very understanding, always happy to stop at the fresh lemonade stand or grab a soda.


I wore shorts or a mini-skirt every day. I even wore a crop top and matching shorts once, hiding my pump in my bra or in the pocket of my shorts. I was asked to pose for a blogger because she liked my outfit! I am very open about having type 1 diabetes (T1D), but even though I get frustrated at the telltale bump of the infusion site through my clothes, it was great to see that the fashion world couldn’t care less.

The festival was coming to an end on the third night with Drake as the final performer. My friends and I made our way to the main stage. My blood sugars had been amazing all weekend, hovering around 100 or lower. Just as I was pushing my way to the front of the crowd, I felt the dreaded buzzing from my pump. I tried to ignore it, but eventually had to investigate. I was hoping for a low-battery signal, but found: “BUTTON ERROR.” For some reason, my pump only fails when I am traveling or out having fun. The amount of people spilling into the main stage area became overwhelming, making me feel like I needed to get closer to an exit so I wouldn’t get swallowed up in the crowd. A friend and I made our way to a rest area and waited for our group. It was late so I wasn’t worried about bolusing for meals, but wow was I pleased that I always carry syringes and backup supplies, just in case.

As soon as we were back at the hotel, I called the pump company and had a new one sent to my house via next-day delivery. I continued with shots for the next two days and although my blood sugars weren’t as good as they had been, there was a fashion upside—I went right ahead and wore tops and dresses I usually shy away from because the pump is just too visible.

All in all, it was a great weekend of fashion, sunshine and great friends. Because I plan for minor snafus—and because I live beyond T1D—my memories will be of our inside jokes, the music and the celebrity sightings—not of my broken pump.

Hundreds of thousands of people attend music festivals all across the world each year. Just like any other activity, people with type 1 can enjoy but just have to have a game plan mapped out ahead of time.

Read more from Claire: Diabetic in the Dorm or her piece on Swimming with Sharks (complete with soundtrack).

WRITTEN BY Claire Nordstrom, POSTED 05/21/15, UPDATED 09/18/22

Claire was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2011. She currently attends the University of Southern California and loves the ocean, playing beach volleyball, skiing, hanging out with her family and traveling. Since being diagnosed, Claire has been very open about her condition and has tried to support others with type 1. She stays healthy by eating right and being active. Claire is a classically trained vocalist and songwriter who also plays ukulele. When she was 13, she got to sing the National Anthem at a Seattle Seahawks game! Her music can be found on iTunes and