Needles are my spiders. Or snakes. Or coconut crabs (actually, coconut crabs are my coconut crabs). Needles are the thing in life that I don’t like. Everyone has something. So when I spent a Monday afternoon alone in the corner of a Denny’s, shooting up in front of a plate of nachos, I was really proud of myself.
Since insulin isn’t intravenous, I’m don’t think the term “shooting up” is even applicable here, but it wasn’t easy to work up the nerve to stab myself, so let me have my fun.
I’ve tried to make peace with needles in the past, because I always knew they were coming. In my book (buy it here!), I ran my mouth about how great it was that I could use pills to manage my Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes, but I always knew the pills were not a permanent solution. When they failed, my ass would be on a one way train to Needletown (which I pretty sure is somewhere in New Haven, CT).
I write this having arrived in Needletown, a suitcase in my hand, $20 in my pocket and a dream in my heart. But also fear. Stone cold fear. I tried to intimidate needles by getting tattoos, but that half-assed immersion therapy didn’t do anything but add the cover of Holy Diver to my arm. And though it hurt, it’s not the same feeling as shoving a needle straight into your body–It feels like more of a scrape than a poke. Plus that had an appreciable gain—again, I have the cover of Holy Diver on my arm. Insulin only keeps my blood sugar in check, which does does fuck all to help me look cool in sleeveless shirts.
Everyone who’s not me is pleased that I’ve said goodbye to daddy’s little helpers and started chasing the insulin dragon. Ever since I got a new doctor back in 2010, he’s been on me to drop the pill and move to the hard stuff, but I fought it because I didn’t want to mess with a winning formula. I figured that since the pills would bring me low on occasion, insulin would be even worse than that. Plus, I was shoving the pills into my stomach through a pre-existing hole (my mouth) and that seemed much easier to me.
Having to fire up a syringe before each meal is a lot harder than just popping a couple of pills. Okay, maybe “hard” is the wrong term—it’s not difficult, just complicated. I’m using a pen, which means I just screw a needle on top of it, dial up the number of Novolog units I need and shove it into my stomach, thigh or ass cheek. Apparently I can also use the back of my arm, but I’m pretty sure my rock hard tri’s would bend the needle. And again—Holy Diver.
That makes stabbing real estate tough to come by. If I’m to believe the police report, you can’t just drop trou at a Taco Bell and start shoving things into your ass cheek. So, my stomach has been taking a bit of a beating for the past few weeks as my active lifestyle makes it inconvenient to run into the bathroom every time I need a hit. Plus, I really want to get indignant if someone get offended by the sight of my soft white underbelly. I’m still in that awkward phase where I’m trying to integrate something new into my routine and it would be nice to take that frustration out on someone who is not me.
Instead, I’ve just been causing more frustration for myself. In going to visit my fiancee Bekka (check out her beauty blog here) for the weekend, I forgot to bring my enzymes one week and my Pulmozyme the next because I was focused on making sure I didn’t forget my insulin. Luckily, Bekka is a problem solver and fixed both issues for me, but it still carries that same feeling of utter failure you get when you’re driving home from work and you realize you’re driving to your old house instead of the one you just moved into.
And since I’ve just started the insulin, I’m still experimenting with how much I’m supposed to take. I skated by on very few Prandins before they stopped working, so I started with a low dose of 4 units of insulin, which worked great for about two weeks. By the end of the third week, I had eaten two meals that brought my sugars up to 354 mg/dl, which is way above the acceptable level (120-150 mg/dl would be an ideal post-meal blood sugar, with 200 md/dl being the very end of the acceptable line for me).
Given that I’m new at this, it’s to be expected that it won’t be perfect, but even when my pills stopped working my sugars never broke 240 mg/dl. The highest blood sugar reading I got on insulin is even higher that the reading I got on the Glucose Tolerance Test that confirmed I had CFRD (300 on the test, 383 for my highest reading). So my deep rooted suspicion that everything is bullshit lead me to wonder if the insulin did anything at all
Since I have no problem treating my body as a science experiment, the next time my sugars edged towards 350, I took a bunch of insulin to see what happened. Two hours, 4 glucose tablets and a fish filet later, my sugars settled in at a comfortable 87 mg/dl. I took a little more insulin than I probably should have and panicked Bekka quite a bit in the process, but I’m happy to report that the insulin does something.
Now we just have to figure out how much I need to get it to do what it should do. I’ve kicked up my dose from 4 units per meal to 6 units per meal. I’m still seeing the occasional unacceptable high, so 7 could be on the horizon, but we’ll see how it plays out. I’m probably going to run one week at 6 units and one week at 7 and compare the numbers so that I have a good idea of the difference between them and I can start to vary the dosage with each meal, much like I used to just look at a pile of food and guess how many Prandin would do the job. I miss those little guys.
This just goes to reinforce my world view: needles are nothing but trouble.