kasey (allthingsshiny) wrote,

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two decades

I just realized this morning that I've had diabetes for twenty years this month.

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.
Tags: diabetes

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