Pumpin’ at Prom


Just like any other high schooler, I was very excited for prom: dresses, shoes, a date with a boy. What wasn’t there to be excited for? In the midst of planning dinner, transportation and what kind of hair I wanted that night, I also had to worry about how I was going to deal with my diabetes that night.

The Dress

With each school dance comes the responsibility of finding the dress: the dress that’s unique, beautiful and just overall screams you. Finding that dress can pose an even tougher challenge though if you wear a pump. Typically, I wear my pump on my bra and found that worked with my prom dress as well. If you have a tighter top it might not work as well, so you have to be a little bit sneaky. Last year for prom, I wore a sticky-bra and that was unable to hold a pump, so I clipped my pump to a pair of spandex shorts and wore it on the inside of the spandex (that way I didn’t have an awkward bulge on my side). Some pump companies also offer a leg strap where you can wear your pump on your thigh. Another thing to keep in mind is if you don’t have a pump with a beaming feature, you may need to wear it in a location that will allow you to easily access it.

The Supplies

With the challenge of finding the perfect dress also comes the challenge of having to pack your diabetic supplies. Unfortunately, there aren’t many clutches or small bags that I found that would fit all my blood sugar supplies. My solution to the problem was using a small (soft) clutch that could hold my meter, glucose and (bonus!) my phone. In case of any malfunctions, I packed a small “emergency kit” that had additional supplies—such as more test strips and an insulin set—and left it in the car. Luckily, I didn’t have to use any of those supplies, but I felt better knowing I had them. However, if you are renting a limo, it’s not advisable to leave any of your supplies in the car, (typically the drivers will leave until you call for them to come get you and you would not have easy access to your supplies then). In this case, check with your school and see if you can leave your supplies at coat check or at a check-in table.

Blood Sugar

And as if this wasn’t enough already, we have to worry about our blood sugar throughout the night. Luckily all of my friends are really supportive and encouraging when it comes to my diabetes and are willing to sit with me if I’m low or need to rest. If your friends don’t know much about your diabetes or are unsupportive, I would strongly encourage you to talk to them about it and tell them what will help to you—they care about you, so they’ll be more than happy to help in any way they can if they understand better.
Additionally, I was sure to check my blood sugar before dinner and do the normal correction and measurements from there. After dinner, however, I put myself on a temporary bolus because I love to dance and didn’t want to have to go low while I was dancing. During prom, I also wore a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and asked my date to keep it in his pocket, I told him if he felt it vibrate to give it to me, so I could see what was wrong. This worked out pretty well because he was within a 10 foot radius of me the whole night. If you have a purse with you, you can usually feel the vibration of an alarm if you’re holding it and then you don’t have to worry about someone else holding it. With that being said, if you do not have a CGM, (for my sophomore prom, I did not have one), try to check your blood sugar once before the dance, about mid-way through the dance and after the dance just to make sure you’re in range. And of course, check if you feel too low or high, it can be hard to have fun if you don’t quickly correct for a bad blood sugar.
Makaila Heifner_4

The most important things I learned about diabetes and prom:

  • Think about where to put your pump beforehand so you don’t have to deal with any stress the day of prom
  • Try to find a purse or clutch that will fit your most important supplies
  • Coordinate ahead of time so you can plan for what you need to do with extra supplies
  • Communicate with your friends so they can help you
  • Think about how and when you’re going to check your blood sugar
  • HAVE FUN! Prom is supposed to be a positive and fun experience and diabetes should not hold you back from having a great time!

Read Type One Teen Diabetes Burnout Survival Guide by Hadley George.

WRITTEN BY Makaila Heifner, POSTED 05/31/16, UPDATED 09/27/22

Makaila Heifner is 17 years old and lives in a small town outside of Seattle, WA. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 16 months old. Her father also has type 1 diabetes (T1D) and now she has many close friends who have diabetes. She enjoys playing the guitar and piano, singing, volunteer work, reading, going to museums, golf, snowboarding and hiking. She enjoys a good pun as much as a tasty bowl of soup.