The perfect injection

I was one of the lucky ones, or so I thought. When I was diagnosed with unusual blood sugar levels in 2008 I was told by my doctor that we would take a wait and see attitude. Waiting meant me measuring my blood sugar levels with a glucometer twice a day and having quarterly blood tests to see if there was either a reversal to normal levels or an escalation. Seeing was about hoping that I could reverse the symptoms through diet and exercise.

Looking back I’m not to sure how this ‘wait and see’ approach made me lucky. ‘Waiting’ meant I could go into further denial and ‘seeing’ took me into untold distress. When my doctor finally made the call  to start insulin therapy after acknowledging that what I had was a late onset form of Type 1 diabetes, I cried for two weeks straight. Not because I was worried or fearful (which by the way I was, no one wants to be dependent on medication for the rest of their life) but because I was relieved. Relieved that I had a diagnosis that made sense and that I would have control of my health again.

Up until that point taking insulin was my biggest fear. How would I travel having to carry meds with me everywhere, what if I reacted to the chemicals in the insulin, what if it didn’t work.? My doctor assured me that I would feel a whole lot better once I started injecting. He was right. It took 6 months for my levels to return to ‘normal’. Insulin doesn’t cure diabetes, or solve the problem, but it does alleviate the issue of not being able to assimilate food . When the body doesn’t produce an essential hormone you have to get it in there somehow.

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One of the first things I learned from my diabetes educator was to rotate injection sites. The reason being if I constantly inject in the same place that area starts to form scar tissue making it harder to absorb the insulin. Also the injection site changes the rate of absorption. I started by injecting in the fat layer on my belly, then after meeting friends who lived with diabetes I learned to inject in the fat tissue on the sides and lower back. Recently I’ve started injecting in the top part of my bum. I still haven’t worked up the courage to try my upper outer arms or outer thighs, but I’m getting there.

The hardest thing to remember is where I last injected so I switch sides. Left side of my belly in the morning and right side in the evening. Basically I feel like a pincushion covered in bruises. I like to think of them as a battle scars, a fight well won. Those bumps and bruises show me I’m still alive. I don’t begrudge taking insulin one bit. Taking insulin is a privilege. Before the discovery of insulin, diabetes was a death sentence.

What I’d really like to see out there in terms of help in rotating sites is some kind of way to make sure I’m injecting in a different spot each time. I’ve seen an idea for a temporary tattoos for kids  and there’s a grid you can use, plus apps and charts. But to be honest all these options hasn’t solved the issue.  One of the best options I’ve seen is placing a teeny tiny temporary flower tattoo after injecting, so eventually your whole belly looks like a garden. Sounds fun right?

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In spite of the daily dilemma I have around injecting, life goes on. Initially, I felt nervous and awkward, and unsure as to whether it would work at all. It was my doctor who reassured me, “you know in a little while you’ll forget you even struggled with this part of it. It’ll be as automatic as driving a car.”

And you know what? As much as injecting can be a literal pain in the ass, he was right. As I dial up the dose and inject that sucker I know everything is going to be okay.

see you tomorrow

with great respect…

rachel

3 thoughts on “The perfect injection

  1. I learned a long tome ago that there is no good kind of, or great time to get diabetes. As for rotation? Pick four general sites and rotate one each day, back, leg, leg, back giving each site three days rest. you will miss the exact spot about 99% of the time, and even if you hit it it will be three days old by the time you get back to it. If you want to make it even more unlikely you will hit a same site toss in tow more general areas.

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