Exposure to Others
Making choices to take control of my diabetic life
Until a few years ago I always had a certain way of doing the needle. What do I mean by doing the needle? Anytime I have to put a needle into myself. It's those diabetes injections! For me, this is usually an insulin pump infusion site every few days, and a nightly shot of Victoza. I don't really include the many fingersticks through the day (though the same principle applies).
If I have a choice between some sort of automatic injector — like a pump infusion site insertion device — versus manual diabetes injections, I always prefer automatic. The needle goes in super quick, and usually doesn't hurt at all. These insertion devices are also designed to help make sure the infusion site is inserted properly and minimize the chance of a kinked cannula.
When it comes to shots, that used to be a different story for me. Logically, I knew it typically hurt less to do the shot quickly. But for some reason, I've always been one to poke around until I found a spot that was less sensitive, then slowly put the needle in for my diabetes injections. I knew it didn't make sense, and even had proof via the infusion set insertions, but that was the way I'd always done it.
But through exposure to others, I have changed my ways.
The first change came some years back when I was visiting with a friend and her husband. Her husband has type 1 diabetes, and before our meal he had to take his insulin. I watched him pop his diabetes injections in so quickly that I was a little jealous just from the potential time that he was probably saving!
Not long after, I was visiting with another friend, Scott Strange, who, at the time, was taking Symlin injections along with insulin from his pump before meals. Again, I watched him do thoe diabetes injections so quickly — without even breaking stride in our conversation, that I knew right then and there that I had to step my game up.
It took some time, because change is hard, and changing the way I did my shots seemed to take more courage than I thought it would. But not long after those visits I was able to do my shots just like those guys (and probably many of you) — quickly and usually without pain.
But let's go back to infusion sets for a minute. The needles are usually much bigger, both in gauge (how thick they are) and in length. Even after conquering the quick poke technique for shots, I still felt really dependent on the inserter devices (or sets with built in inserters).
Just before Christmas in 2013 I was at mySugr headquarters and somehow started talking infusion set insertions with Fredrik & Ilka. Fredrik said that he often has trouble with the quick-sets getting caught in the quick-serter device, so instead, he just "slaps it in." Both Ilka and I asked what he meant by that, and he showed us how he positions the infusion set in his hand, then gives himself a quick "slap" where he wants to put the infusion set.
I swear that I never had any trouble with my quick-serter device at home until after I returned from that visit. I think Fredrik jinxed me. But after wasting a couple of new infusion sets because they got caught in the quick-serter, I decided to try Fredrik's method. It worked great!
I felt such a freedom in that I was no longer so dependent on my insertion devices! I still use them, and prefer them to manual when given the choice, but I know that I have options if I run into trouble.
These are just two small examples of how simply being exposed to others living with diabetes has helped me make improvements in my life. It has taught me to always be on the lookout for different ways to do things, and to be always asking questions (even if just in my head) and looking for opportunities to learn.
I started with my diabetes injections, but who knows what I might find in the coming years?
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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