The answer? Yes, I can — and so can you! Generally, adult-onset diabetes is not treated immediately with insulin injections. I was no different. The metformin and dietary changes helped at first–my A1c went down dramatically in just a few months. But as the newness of the diagnosis wore off, so did my fired-up motivation to eat better. Eventually, my A1c went back up and we tried adding Actos to the mix. That again helped for a while, but my poor pancreas just couldn’t keep up. Not being at a healthy weight didn’t help.
After several years of waning success at managing my diabetes, my doctor finally said I was going to need to start taking insulin injections. I was so completely mortified and petrified!
Mortified because I felt I had completely failed. My lack of ability to do and eat the right things showed such a lack of control and resolve. How stupid was I that I couldn’t manage this disease? I’m a smart person, why couldn’t I do what was necessary?
While not all true–I’m not stupid, I’m not a failure–the fact is, my own behaviors and habits did contribute to my diagnosis and eventually the inability to manage my diabetes. It didn’t make me a bad person, it just meant that I needed some help.
I was petrified of the possibility of insulin injections because I HATE needles and could not imagine living my daily life peacefully while coexisting with them. I chose to work with insulin pens instead of vials and syringes, which I think was a really good choice for me. Even so, it took me a month to give myself an injection. Bless my husband’s heart; even though he likes needles even less than I do, he gave me my daily injection every single day for the first full month because I couldn’t make myself do it. I finally had to do it myself because one night I got home really late and didn’t want to wake him to give me the injection before I went to bed. I made myself do it and got past the issue.
At that time, I was only doing 1 long-acting injection per day. We found that the dose would not last a full 24 hours for me, so I went to smaller insulin doses 2 times per day. That doubled my number of injections each day, but it seemed to help. Sometime after that, my numbers still weren’t as good as they needed to be–again, not eating like I should have been–so we added fast-acting insulin on a sliding scale for meals and snacks.
Taking insulin did nothing to help my weight-loss efforts, but I did pretty well with it for a while. Usually 5 injections per day, depending on where my blood sugar was at the beginning of the meal and what I was planning to eat. Estimating carbs was a challenge–I got to the point where I hated to eat out and was eating a lot of processed food because at least the package would tell me the serving size and how many carbs were in each serving.
I eventually did settle in with giving myself regular injections, so it was a fine solution for several years. It required diligence and effort to stay on an eating and injection schedule. It was tough sometimes to do that without impacting others, but I did my best and was reasonably successful during that time.
Interestingly enough, I found the act of having to give myself an injection in public to be a bigger deal than I expected. I didn’t really want to do it in a public restroom because I felt that just wasn’t a very clean place to perform that sort of medical activity. I would usually try to find an out-of-the way place to test and inject or hope that we could get a booth at a restaurant so I could kind of turn to the wall and do it quickly so no one would see. I was surprised to find there are actually people out there that will scowl at you and sometimes even say rude things about you giving yourself an injection where they can see you.
They don’t have to watch and you need to do what is best for you and your health. You are not hurting them in any way by doing a quick glucose test and injection. These people just don’t understand and probably don’t want to, so do not waste any of your concern on them. Do your best to be discreet and considerate of others and do what you need to do.
Insulin injections are really the only option for some people, though–especially those who require either very large or very small amounts of insulin. Work with your doctor to determine the best options for you health-wise and financially, whether its vials and syringes or insulin pens. You’ll be fine–if I can do it, anyone can, YOU can, and you will be healthier for it.
Remember: Be smart. Be healthy. Live YOUR life!