Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Am I weird? Wait, don't answer that. . .

The more dBloggers I encounter the more I get to thinking about all the little things I do as a diabetic. I don't know anyone with diabetes. A few of the nurses I have worked with had Type 2, but that's a totally different animal. I met friends at camp with Type 1 when I was little, but of course we've all lost touch. Plus, I never knew them in their day-to-day life. I've never seen anyone but me go through the day-to-day antics of diabetes management. I've managed to solve small problems in my own way. I vent about stuff to my husband. But lately I've been forced to wonder, is all this normal? Do any other diabetics out there do stuff the way I do it? Do they think the same thoughts? I started wondering about my habits, my musings, my rantings and ramblings. And I was curious if I was alone these crazy thoughts, habits and notions or if other diabetics out there shared them. Here goes nuthin':

1. From almost the time I was diagnosed, I lick my fingers after testing my sugar. I never bothered scrambling for napkins, gauze, alcohol wipes or whatever. I test too often for that nonsense and my purse is full enough without adding more supplies to it. So I just lick and go. Some people I run into who don't know me have commented that this is gross but I do it anyway. I also hate using alcohol. So I don't. I don't swab my insulin bottles or my sites before I inject. And I've never once had an issue.

2. I carry around my supplies in a baggie. I know they have fancy-schmancy, handy-dandy kits that hold meters, strips, insulin vials, alcohol wipes, etc. But they are huge and I've never found them that handy or dandy. So I found the smallest meter imaginable and I stick my syringes and insulin in a snack baggy (those half-sized ones) and throw it all in my purse. I'm always curious how other diabetics haul their supplies around. But baggies have always worked best for me.

3. I also store my syringes at home in a cup on my desk next to my office supplies. It amuses me to have them out like that. And I like that when I put them in my Florida cup the orange caps coordinate with the blue cup to make Gator colors!

4. I have always used the butter compartment to store my insulin in the fridge. Throughout childhood and college and with every new roommate, I stake out the butter compartment in every fridge I've ever used. They know it's mine and that's where my insulin goes. It makes the most sense! It's enclosed and easy to access with no chance of spillage from other food stuffs. Although, I have on occasion opened the compartment door with a vial poised right against it, sending the vial crashing to the kitchen floor. Sheesh. There go shards of glass, insulin and money down the tubes. Not to mention stinky-insulin-smelling-floor. But for the most part the the butter compartment has served me well. I use the butter in the tubs anyway.

5. Sometimes, when I'm super low my mouth, chin and tongue gets all numb and tingly. This weirds me out because I've been diabetic for years but this symptom didn't emerge until college. The first time it happened my roommate (Ashlee) and I were in the grocery store and I got low. I grabbed a drink for a quick fix but as I was drinking I noticed this numb, tingling sensation in my lower lip and tongue. It was super weird. I mentioned it to Ashlee offhand but she didn't seem too terribly interested. ("Uh, okay?") But as we were walking around I kept biting my lip, sticking my tongue out, rolling it around, dragging my lips and tongue across my teeth, poking my chin with my finger, making all-around funny faces. Can you tell I was very distracted by this sensation?!? Finally, Ashlee started looking at me like I was nuts. She grabbed my arm and clamped her hand over my mouth. She told me I looked like a mental patient and proceeded to mime back my actions to me. We both broke out in fits of laughter in the middle of Publix. Eventually the tingling went away. But I still get this symptom every so often with my lows. I've always thought it was strange.

6. I think I'm the only diabetic who was on the pump and kinda hated it. I'm seriously met with shock and awe when I tell people I hated the pump. It didn't start out that way. I was on the pump for over 5 years and, sure, my blood sugars improved initially but now I can do the same thing with injections without the tubing, the tangling, the stupid alarms and the itchy sites that get yanked out by clumsy me and stupid door handles. It felt so freeing to be able to wear clothing without pockets. To shower and swim without worrying that the adhesive on my site will peel off. And sleeping or doing other ::ahem:: activities in bed without getting tangled in tubing!! Plus, those catheter needles were friggin' huge back in the day. Ouch! I love me my 31G short, ultra-fine needles. :-) Not to mention having to carry around all those supplies. I like that I have my meter, my strips, syringes and insulin and I'm in business. If I were still on the pump, I'd have to add extra tubing, batteries, Tegaderm, new site equipment, extra cartridges and needles/plungers to go with it. Not cool. Oh! And can I just tell you how many times I dropped that damn thing on my toe!?!?

7. Okay, this is the one I probably feel worst about. Because I'm worried it will sound like I'm being judge-y towards other diabetics. But as a kid, when I told people I was diabetic I never really had to think about what people thought of me, it was obvious I was Type 1 . But as I've grown older, I've started to get paranoid when people find out I'm diabetic. Most people think that adults who have diabetes are either super old or have it because they are overweight. So I always wonder, what do people think when they find out I'm diabetic? Do they think I'm Type 2? I usually try to squeeze into the conversation that I've had it since I was 8 and I'm a juvenile diabetic. (Good one, Layne. Very subtle.) And I'm usually thinking the whole time in my head, don't judge me!! I didn't do this to myself!! I couldn't help it! Sure I'd love to lose 10 pounds but those 10 pounds didn't make me diabetic. I'm Type 1, dangit!! Of course there are some Type 2-ers that can't help it either. Just sayin' I'm not a fan of being labeled and I get weird if I think someone my be labeling me "Type 2" becuase there are all sorts of connotations to being Type 2 that just aren't good.

So those are a few of my crazy thoughts and deeds as a diabetic. And if anyone out there finds them not so crazy after all, feel free to leave some comment-love to reassure me of my sanity! And for those of you out there who are my friends and know me in "real life:" Sorry if I grossed you out with my finger-pricks and shots at the dinner table but I know you love me anyway. :-)

In the end, it really doesn't matter if anyone thinks like me or does things like me. Those without diabetes really don't have any room to criticize how someone with diabetes chooses to live their life. Those of us with diabetes probably all understand how important our little habits are because they make us sane. They help us get through the day and are the ways we've found to make this disease a tiny bit easier to live with.



  1. Hi,
    I came across your blog via a comment you left on Sandra's blog (A Shot in the Dark). Your comment caught my eye because I too sometimes (often?!) feel that Joseph (and other people with Type 1 that I've never met or spoken with) understand what it's like better than my husband, who's known me better than anyone for the last 8 years! So, I decided to check out your blog as well.

    And I wanted to tell you that you aren't the only one who licks your fingers after checking your blood sugar, carries around your supplies in plastic baggies, uses the butter compartment for insulin, gets a numb tongue/mouth when you're low, or subtly tries to make sure that people know you're type 1 and not type 2. Although I have to say that I love my pump (mostly, although I did briefly switch back to injections for exactly the reasons you did, and I don't keep syringes in a cup on my desk because I almost never need to use them.

    Also, we're the same age.

    I look forward to reading your blog!

  2. Good to know I'm not so strange after all. Isn't it funny how Type 1 diabetics have developed so many common behaviors when we've never even met each other? I mean the butter compartment? Baggies for insulin? Nice to meet you, Gianna, and to hear that there is someone like me out there. :-)

  3. I went off the pump for about 4 months last summer because I was sick of wearing the pump. But I hated injections and I hated having to remember to bring insulin with me or wondering if it was going bad. And I really hated having to remember to take my Lantus. That was the most difficult for me. I was so use to the constant flow of insulin when I was on the pump that it took a long time to get used to the fact that I would have to stop what I was doing to take my Lantus at the same time each day. And there were a handful of times when I wasn't in the position to take my Lantus because I was at the movies or with friends. It was really annoying for me, personally.

    I've never had a problem with the adhesive coming off due to water, but I know people who have had similar problems. I am also in the camp of people who would disconnect for ::ahem:: instead of wearing it (because you're right, that sounds awful!). I also clip my pump to my PJ bottoms so I don't get tangled in anything. The pump stays put.

    I also rarely bring stuff with me, but I don't see how bring 1 extra set is any different than bring a bottle of insulin and syringe. It probably takes up the same amount of space. At work I have a bottle of insulin and the plunger and cap to my reservoir in case I need to refill.

    I'm not trying to convince you to go back on the pump, I'm just explaining what I do. I think some people have a harder time getting used to certain things. Insulin injections, for me, hurt a lot (more than they did when I was younger, oddly enough) so I would rather put up with the rare occasion of a bad set than to have to take 5 or 6 injections everyday. Whatever works, works!

  4. As far as the Lantus goes, I just take it with dinner, whenever that ends up being. Usually dinner time from day to day doesn't vary by more than an hour or two and I've never noticed any issues. But you are right, it can be remember so I have my cell phone alarm set and it goes off everyday as a reminder. And at the movies I have a trick. I ask whoever I'm with to shine my cell phone on me so that I can see where I'm injecting myself. Subtle, quick and easy. Works like a charm! :-)

    I haven't been on the pump for a while and when I was, I used the Disetronic (which is a dinosaur now in the pump world). Anyway the supplies I had to carry to change my set where usually the tubing, cartridge, plunger, cap, insulin, battery and occasionally new site supplies. But all that stuff was packaged separately and was HUGE. Of course, if I didn't carry everything, whatever equipment I didn't have would be the thing that broke or alarmed. Maybe it's packaged differently now but my syringes and insulin (both Humalog and Lantus) are about the size of a glasses case in my purse.

    And sometimes the injections hurt but again my catheter introducers were huge! Injections were a relief after those suckers. But there seem to be so many people who love the pump that maybe a lot about it has changed in the last 6 or so years. Maybe the supplies and the introducers are smaller. The more I hear about the Omnipod the more I like it. If I did go back on the pump I would probably choose that one. My biggest concern is that it would be painfully obvious under my clothes. We'll see. If I do go back on the pump I'll definitely be asking all you pumpers out there for any and all advice! :-)

  5. Thanks for commenting on my blog. You seem to be a great person. I've only read your last two posts, but I am going to continue reading. :)
    Lips and mouth going numb = me too! And it didn't always happen to me either. I was in college also when it started.
    Baggie= I carry my extra pump supplies in a baggie.
    Blood = It's gross and I know it, but I have always wiped it on the inside of my meter case. I clean it about once a week with an alcohol wipe and that seems to work pretty well.
    Paranoid = me too! I try to bring it up. I am overweight, so it's even worse (you don't appear to be overweight in your pic!). I think people really do assume if I would loose 40 pounds it would go away. I, like you, work it into the converstaion.
    Alcohol wipes= I quit using them except for cleaning the sticky stuff off my pump and CGMS sites and for cleaning my meter case from all the blood wiping. :)When I was still on MDIs I don't think I ever had alcohol wipes.

  6. Thanks for following me, haven't seen your blog before... have just had a look around now & I love it... I may be biased though, I enjoy reading about other people who have Type 1 Diabetes, it helps me to see that I am not alone in this crazy world of finger pricking, carb counting & injecting!

    I too am really paranoid about people thinking I am Type 2... I was diagnosed later in life than most Type 1s (when I was 21) so it is a little harder for me to work it into the conversation that I didn't get this disease because of a poor lifestyle... It usually ends up in me doing the whole differences between Type 1 & Type 2 spiel... *rolls eyes* If only I could say I was diagnosed when I was 8 and be done with it! Even the doctors thought I was Type 2 for the first 3 weeks after my diagnosis (bcos I was diagnosed older & also overweight at the time), so I'm fighting an uphill battle with this one!!

    I've had the numb/tingly tongue low symptom since I was diagnosed... at first I thought it was strange, but now I appreciate it as the only low symptom that I get that cannot be mistaken for something else... I have never had that feeling in my life before diabetes, so when I get it I know to test my sugar...

    People think I am grose because I keep a folded tissue with my supplies that I dab my bloody fingers on (sometimes I even make pretty patterns with the dots... haha, blood drawings)... I don't see the point in using a tissue once and throwing it out (how wasteful with the amount of times I test in a day/week!)... sometimes I lick them if there are no tissues around though... I also don't like the smell of the alcohol wipes so I only use them for pump site changing type activities...

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog :)

  7. You aren't weird at all!! #1 and #7, and of course #5 are all mine, too :)

    Thanks so much for the encouraging words. They mean more to me than you'll ever know... it's nice to be supported and validated that I am actually doing a good job :)