Memory Monday: The First Time I Self-Injected Insulin!

One Monday per month, I’ll take a trip down memory lane and reflect on how much my diabetes thoughts, feelings, and experiences have unfolded over the years. Today, I remember…

…the first time I self-injected insulin and how absolutely terrified the mere thought of doing so made me.

Since I’ve never really minded needles that much, you’d think that self-injecting would be a cinch for me. That couldn’t be further from the truth, at least for the first few times that I had to do it.

It goes back to one endocrinologist appointment when I was nine, maybe ten years old. My doctor and my parents were talking about how I was reaching an age where I should start to take on a little bit more responsibility in terms of my diabetes care. I don’t remember whether my endo or my parents suggested it, but one of the two parties said that a good starting place would be to start giving myself my own insulin.

Initially, I protested. I hated the idea. But I warmed up to it when my parents reassured me that they would check the syringe for me before I stuck it into my skin. At this point in time, I’d practiced drawing up my own insulin dosages. I’d pass the syringe along to my mother or father for the actual injection. So I had the first step in the process down pat, and it only made sense for me to put two and two together and do it all independently.

Since I was hemming and hawing over the prospect, though, my endo had the brilliant idea to practice on my father with a saline injection right then and there, given that he was willing for me to do it. As he rolled up his sleeve, I grinned wickedly (I was annoyed with him for some trivial reason that day) and waited while my doctor prepared the saline injection. As she brought it over, I panicked a little, and I must’ve asked two or three times whether it was actually safe for me to do this. Because even if I was irritated with him, for whatever stupid thing it was, I didn’t actually want to hurt him.

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Once I was adequately assured that the injection would be harmless, I took the syringe into my hand, took a deep breath, and stuck it into my dad’s arm. I remember pushing down on the plunger slowly, and my dad sitting in the chair, totally composed and un-bothered by the sensation. When I took the needle out of his arm, I exhaled loudly, not realizing that I had been holding my breath the whole time. What can I say, it was a nerve-wracking feeling. It’s not every day that you learn how to inject yourself, or someone else for that matter, with a syringe.

Over the course of the next week or two, I practiced my new skill on oranges supplied to me courtesy of my parents. With each practice injection, my confidence grew and I realized that it wasn’t that scary. I would press the orange against my leg or my arm, pinch at its peel, and give it an injection of salt water – super quick, super easy.

In no time at all, I felt brave enough to give myself my first self-injection. Just like I did with my dad in the doctor’s office, I breathed deeply before plunging it into my leg, exhaling only when I was done. And I felt the satisfaction of having done it on my own, which was sweeter than I thought it would be.

Working up the courage to self-inject is just one example of many experiences I’ve had with diabetes and being afraid to try something new. Whether it was trying a CGM for the first time or transitioning to a pump, each new thing I introduced to my diabetes care and management routine scared the hell out of me at first. But just like I proved to myself that self-injecting was nothing to be afraid of, I’ve shown myself time and time again that new things for diabetes aren’t always so bad.

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Trick-Or-Treating with Diabetes

Happy Halloween, boos and ghouls!!!

Halloween is a holiday that most people associate with candy and costumes. Since I have T1D, you might assume that I wasn’t able to partake in haunted happenings as a kiddo. But that’s far from the truth. In fact, I looked forward to Halloween every year just like any other child who enjoyed dressing up, watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and trick-or-treating.

My parents handled trick-or-treating and my diabetes like true pros: They let me enjoy it and take home just as much candy as my older brother each year. We always wound up with fairly large hauls, and the only difference between mine and his is that mine contained a couple extra “diabetes-friendly” goodies, courtesy of my relatives.

I’m glad that they never made me feel different, or like I couldn’t celebrate it in the same way as my brother and other kids my age because of my diabetes. In turn, I bet they were glad that I was always determined to make my candy last as long as possible – they didn’t have to worry about me sneaking extra pieces, unless they were accounted for with a bolus. And we mutually enjoyed that there were plenty of “low snacks” to spare around the house to take care of any hypos that my mom or myself might have. Trust me, treating lows is always much more fun with a good piece of candy, especially if it was a Reese’s cup.

Today, I’m celebrating Halloween by wearing a costume to work and eating pizza with my coworkers. It’s definitely a departure from the Halloweens of my childhood, but no less fun. I figured I’d wrap up this holiday-centric post by remembering the good ole trick-or-treating days with some pictures of my favorite costumes I wore in my “youth”:

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Circa 1995

The year that I was a nurse, and my brother was the letter “G”. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m fairly certain this Halloween was so memorable because of his unique costume choice, not because it was my first time trick-or-treating.

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Lady Liberty

My Statue of Liberty costume – possibly my favorite costume ever! My mom HANDMADE the entire thing, from the giant tinfoil crown to the torch that (she insisted) I kept high in the air the whole time I was trick-or-treating.

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Cowgirl with an attitude

A cowgirl! This picture makes me laugh because it really captures my personality…

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Cinderelly, Cinderelly!

…but then again, so does this one! Cinderella is my absolute favorite Disney princess, so when I got to dress up just like her for one Halloween, it was a dream come true.

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It’s leviOsa, not levioSA.

Speaking of magical characters, I loved dressing up as Hermione as an adult! I wore this costume for my first Halloween at my job. It was a hit around the office.

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She really is a funny girl, that Belle

And that brings us up to last year’s Belle costume. Another Disney princess, another elaborate hairstyle, another fun outfit and character to don for a day.

Whether you indulge on some candy today, wear a costume, or merely go about your business like any other day…make it a great one and may your blood sugars be spooktacular!