by Vanessa Nemeth
I remember my first insulin shot really well. It was 9:30 in the evening and I was a little scared and apprehensive. I had listened carefully to all the instructions I received, but doubts lingered in the back on my mind: What if I didn’t react like everyone else? Would I wake up in the middle of the night if something went wrong? What if I didn’t wake up?
Finally, deciding that I trusted my doctor and realizing I had tried everything else possible to control my diabetes, I chose a spot on my stomach and pushed the plunger in.
That was about eight years ago. I’m 56 years old now and have had diabetes for about 26 years. I am now shooting insulin with every meal and injecting is routine. Looking back, I could have used my nervousness about insulin to give up trying to control my diabetes. But I learned that these injections are my path to better control and fewer complications from this disease. Knowing I do the best I can to treat this disease also liberates me from stress and worry. There’s nothing to feel guilty about—I’m on it!
With each challenge, I try to keep the end goal—staying well with diabetes—in mind. A serious challenge is keeping my shots straight; this requires mindfulness! I once had the awful experience of confusing my short- and long-acting insulin, and I overdosed on short-acting insulin. Luckily, I noticed the error as soon as I put the syringe down. I immediately called my diabetes care emergency line, and they were able to instruct me on what to do to avoid having severe hypoglycemia.
That incident was very scary, and I want to avoid it happening again. So now I mark my insulin pens and make a habit of reading the label and saying out loud what I am about to inject. I try to avoid being in conversation or trying to multitask. Injecting insulin requires my full attention!
Also, I plan for daily activities carefully so that I’m prepared for anything. If I’m going out for a walk, I first check my blood sugar to ensure I am not running low. I place a snack and vial of sugar pills in my pocket. To make it easy for me, I’ve placed sugar pill vials in both our cars, in my desk at work and in every handbag. I’ve very seldom had to use these pills, but I don’t have to worry about it.
Over the years, my challenges have included controlling my eating, finding enjoyable ways to exercise, dealing with physical injuries and planning very carefully around my meals and my injections. I have had times when the challenges felt like too much, but I try to stay positive and look for work-arounds. There is always another way. I have realized over the years that the way I approach the challenges has a lot to do with my success.
My diabetes is currently under the best management I’ve ever had, and I feel pretty lucky to have kept the major complications at bay.
I’ll share some more of my experiences in upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned!
For more information on managing diabetes, click here.