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.

beechtownflorals

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.

Advertisements

Why I’m Thankful I DIDN’T Attend Diabetes Camp as a Kid

Growing up, the notion of diabetes camp was gently nudged into my brain each Spring. My endocrinologist and my parents would ask me, “Do you want to give it a try this year?” and my annual response, unfailingly, was “NO!”

To this day, I still don’t really know why I was so against diabetes camp. Part of the reason may be because I was a bit of a nervous Nelly growing up (okay, okay, I still am) and didn’t like the thought of sleepaway camp: It meant being away from home for an extended period of time, which made me feel nothing but anxious.

But my best guess as to why I didn’t want to go is that I felt that camp wouldn’t benefit me in any way. Both my mom and my aunt have type one diabetes, so they were (and still are) my go-to sources whenever any sort of diabetes issue crops up for me. I didn’t see how meeting kids my own age with diabetes would help me; after all, I thought I had everything I needed in my mom and aunt.

Things changed drastically for me when I started college and made the transition to caring for my diabetes independently. I got wind of a diabetes student organization on my campus and was interested in attending a meeting. That was it for me: for the next three years, I was very involved with this organization (the College Diabetes Network), eventually becoming the President of my school’s chapter and continuing to this day to volunteer for them whenever I can.

IMG_3242
I wasn’t ready for any kind of diabetes camp as a kid…but it’s a different story now that I’m an adult.

My involvement with the CDN has resulted in me meeting countless other T1Ds my own age, and it’s been amazing. I love sharing stories and learning from them. And as it turns out, most of these individuals went to diabetes camp when they were young and loved it. In many cases, diabetes camp is where they thrived and met some of their closest friends. They learned a lot about caring for their own diabetes and became more independent with diabetes management at a younger age.

But even after hearing the rave reviews about diabetes camp…I’m still thankful that I didn’t go to it when I was a kid.

Why? Because I think that a person’s journey with their own diabetes is highly personal. Like insulin-to-carb ratios or multiple daily injections versus insulin pumps, diabetes is often a disease about choices and responsibility. As an individual with diabetes, I hate being told how to handle my condition by someone who thinks they understand it better than me. I’m the one person in this world who understands MY diabetes better than anyone else. I know my body and I know what diabetes treatments and decisions are best. And for those few years of my life, I thought it was best for me to not go to camp. It was out of my comfort zone, and I refused to be coerced into going.

Perhaps in the back of my mind, I knew I’d have an opportunity later in life to connect with people my age who have diabetes. And I’m so thankful that I did because it came at a time in which I felt ready and was more accepting of my diabetes overall.

So there are no regrets for me when it comes to my choice to not attend diabetes camp. You could say that my decision to stay at home during those summers made me a happy camper…

Sorry, not sorry for the bad pun.