‘Betes and Burns: Playing it Safe

If you told me that I would get a second degree burn on my fingertip from a dish that was in a microwave for a measly 24 seconds, I would’ve laughed in your face.

But then I would’ve apologized immediately to you, because such a thing actually did happen to me a few weeks ago.

The full story isn’t particularly exciting; in fact, it’s as boring as it gets. But for the sake of context…I’d put a tablespoon of butter in a ramekin so I could melt it in the microwave for a recipe that I was making. I knew it would likely take fewer than 30 seconds for it to melt completely, so I stopped the microwave a little early and used my bare hand to take it out. The moment my fingertips met the ramekin, I became acutely aware that the dish had overheated – I couldn’t believe how blazingly hot the exterior was. I dropped the ramekin in the sink almost immediately, but the milliseconds of contact it had with my skin was enough to create a blister on my right middle fingertip that burned painfully for the remainder of the day.

I was quick to put some bacitracin and a bandage on the injury, but reluctant to expose the blister in the ensuing days as I didn’t want to exacerbate the wound (and honestly, it was unsightly, so I was eager to keep it under wraps so I didn’t have to look at it). So I changed my bandage every 24 hours or so, taking care to wash and dry my hands completely before applying a new band-aid.

But roughly one week after the injury occurred, I noticed that the blister was swelling. I peeked at it between bandage changes and saw that it was white and bubbly in appearance – totally gross, but also worrisome as it looked like it might pop should I strike it on any surface in just the wrong way. That’s when I made the executive decision to see my primary care doctor to get a medical professional’s opinion on the matter.

And I’m glad I did. I got confirmation that it was, indeed, a second-degree burn and that I’d done the right thing to keep it covered up. My healthcare provider reminded me that as a person with diabetes, I should do everything I can to avoid infection, so applying antibiotic ointment and keeping an eye on the wound was smart thinking. But I was also advised to remove the bandage when I went to sleep at night so the injury wouldn’t stay super moist for prolonged periods of time (added bonus that I could let it air out overnight while I was asleep so I could again avoid looking at it). More than two weeks post-incident, the burn is healing nicely as the skin grows healthier and I no longer need to wear a bandage over it.

What’s the point of this little anecdote about my kinda ridiculous, definitely painful injury? It’s that it’s always better to play it safe, just as my healthcare provider commended me for doing so. Silly injuries like this happen, but it’s important to roll with them when they do and act accordingly instead of just shrugging them off.

All health matters…well, matter when you have diabetes, and I’ve learned to look out for myself by checking in with my team whenever I’m concerned about something.

Undeterred by a Broken Ulna

The morning of Tuesday, January 23rd, I took a bit of a tumble. I fell on some black ice in my driveway and managed to fracture a bone in the process: my ulna, which is the longer and thinner bone located in the forearm. I broke the one located in my dominant arm and have spent the past few days in a brace. I’ll get a real cast put on it early next week.

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Please enjoy this gratuitous shot of my arm in a brace, featuring the sleeve of my dinosaur sweatshirt.

I waited a few days before writing a blog post about it for several reasons. For starters, I struggled with teaching myself how to type with limited range of motion in one hand. Actually, I struggled doing most things with just one hand. Brushing my hair, putting clothes on, feeding myself…every mundane task has become a challenge. It’s been especially difficult to accept that I need to allot myself twice the amount of time to do just about anything because I have no choice but to move slowly. I’m an incredibly impatient person, so this has been a hard truth to come to terms with. But I’m getting there.

Taking care of my diabetes is also included on the list of everyday tasks that are now tricky. I dislike having to rely on others for help, but I’ve got to say that changing my pod with one hand is far from easy. It feels like I’d be flirting with disaster if I were to hold a precious vial of insulin in an awkward grip as I made an attempt to fill a syringe, then a pod, with my shaky left hand. Fortunately, my parents are more than willing to help me when I need it – thanks guys – and I’m able to do other things, like check my blood sugar, on my own.

The healing process is expected to be about six weeks, so it won’t be too bad. I’m just going to have to adapt to life with one functioning arm/hand. There’s one thing that’s certain, though: I’m not going to let this stop me from doing anything I want to do! (Within reason, of course. Let’s just say I won’t be taking a boxing class any time soon, even though I’d really like to.) Just like diabetes, a broken bone can’t stop me. I’ve even managed to get 10,000 or more steps each day since the injury happened – including the day of the fracture! I could’ve chosen to pardon myself from exercise and stew over the pain, but I wanted to prove to myself that I’m both physically and mentally stronger than my excuses. After all, the rest of my body is in perfect working order. I’ve just got to keep it that way!