The Diabetic Who Hates Needles

Kerri Sparling Health Guide
  • I don't have any math skills to speak of (2 plus 2 equals ... mumble mumble), and my sense of direction leaves me lost in the town I grew up in.  But what I do have a good sense of is irony. 

    Because I'm the diabetic who hates needles. 

    Ha, ha, ha?  "Oh come on, Kerri.  You take shots every day.  How can you possibly be afraid of a needle?  Don't you have piles of them lying around at your house?  And how dare you pale at the sight of blood?  You just drew a droplet from the tip of your own finger!"

    I know.  This is where the irony comes in and rears its head.  I have a high threshold for pain, including the day-in-day-out routine of diabetes.  I am fine with pricking my finger (even when I accidentally go too far to the side of my finger and it stings like a son of a … gun), and I insert insulin pump cannulas and continuous glucose monitoring sensors into various parts of my body every few days, leaving them there for days at a time.  I can handle the big needle that comes with these adventures - mainly because I AM CONTROLLING THAT NEEDLE. 

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    I remember, as a kid, I would wait a few seconds with the needle gently pressed against my skin before actually pushing it through.  And once I went to press, I would press firmly, but sloooooowly, controlling every movement with my steady hands.  It may have seemed sadistic, almost as if I was torturing myself, but it made sense to me.  A fast insertion could hurt unexpectedly.  A slow one?  At least I could see the pain coming and sort of control it.

    (I'm re-reading what I just wrote and am shaking my head.  I realize how goofy this sounds.)

    So can someone explain to me why the sight of someone else's blood makes me turn white as a sheet and feel queasy?  Or why seeing someone else get a flu shot makes my stomach do flips?  Or why I can't even listen to the opening strains of the "ER" theme song without getting a quiet, panicked feeling?  I'm a good patient, but I'd be the most crap doctor of all time.

    I think it comes down to what bothers me most about diabetes - control.  Or lack, thereof.  With pricking my own finger or inserting my own syringe with my own hand, I am in control of the process.  And of the pain.  And, in most situations, of the physical outcome.  This stands in stark contrast to the nature of diabetes, as a disease, because it feels like so much of diabetes is completely out of my control.  Sure, I can make every best attempt and try to follow all "the rules," but there are so many variables that can affect my numbers and my overall health that it's beyond frustrating.  I could eat the same thing every day and take the same amount of insulin at the same time, but the numbers could fluctuate wildly, depending on exercise, illness, stress, etc etc etc. 

    With so much on my medical plate that's out of my control, I'm hanging tight to the things I can control.  Like my needles.  Because goodness knows the irony is out of my control by this point, too.  ;)

Published On: December 17, 2009