Twenty fucking years.
Twenty years of finger pokes, needle sticks, bruises, food guilt, log books, sharps containers, piles of syringes, highs, lows, and blood draws.
I've made it this far, I guess. It just seems like such a long time ...
When I was little, I didn't understand. What six year old would? I hated (and still hate) needles. My parents would have to hold me down for my injections. I would hide, trying to avoid the inevitable. One of my more vivid early-childhood memories is of being dragged out from under a table by my mom, clinging to the table's base, screaming and crying.
It got a little better when they bought me a device that shielded the needle as it went into my skin. If I didn't have to see it, it wasn't quite so bad. I used that for over ten years, until I started working and it became a hassle to carry with me all the time. There was a certain amount of pride involved, too - I had to prove to myself that I wouldn't cower to my needle phobia.
My family sent me to diabetes camp twice. Camp Chinook. Two weeks a summer with dozens of kids that I had nothing in common with but my illness. I had a card that had my insulin dosage on it. At mealtimes, we would all line up with our cards. Hand the card to the nurse, get stuck with a needle, next. Not a pleasant experience. Dehumanizing. I begged my parents to never send me back there, but they did.
When I left home, I had to minimize what I carried with me. So in the interest of conserving space, I carried my insulin and needles in an old sock, wrapped up in my purse. Dr. GU still thinks that was the funniest thing, me taking a break at work to unroll my sock and give myself a shot.
It's hard to have a life and be a good diabetic. For the periods in my life in which i didn't have insurance or money, I was a horrible one. Reusing needles, skipping glucose checks to save test strips, going years without doctor visits or bloodwork, even taking insulin from work when I just couldn't get my own. Learning to be a human being was a dangerous experiment. Diabetes doctors want all diabetics on a perfect schedule - up at the same time every day, perfect meals, no drinking, no drugs. I had to work, and I had to have fun, so I had to find out how to work my diabetes around that. I'm amazed I never ended up in the hospital.
The insulin pump I got this year has made things much easier for me, but it also serves as a constant reminder that I'm just not made right. Natural selection would have had me dead twenty years ago.