(A warning: this post is not for soft hearts or uneasy stomachs. Please skip if you have either.)
Over the years, I have given myself many shots. A zillion fingersticks, ten years of multiple daily injections, five years of insulin pump infusion sets, and a year of continuous glucose monitor sensors. I am no stranger to poking myself.
But, all those sharp encounters aside, I just had the strangest injection experience yet for me. I was, as I so often have, sticking yet another needle into warm, squirming abdominal skin, but this time the patient wasn’t me.
In fact, the patient wasn’t even human.
I have now for the first time injected a mouse, in the peritoneal cavity (also known as the tummy). Admittedly, it was hard; the mice were tiny and fast and squirmy. They clung to the cage and peed when I turned them over. They were young, though, which meant they were relatively docile and trusting. That made it easier. But they were also super cute. That made it harder.
On Tuesday, I will kill my mice, and collect cells. It is unfortunate, and killing the little guys isn’t fun, but the hope is that they will contribute to a growing body of biological knowledge. Biological knowledge that, in theory, helps people like me– somewhat directly, in this case, as the mice are themselves diabetics. Well, not yet– they’re still young– but they are the inbred strain of mouse known as non-obese diabetic (NOD), and thus many spontaneously develop autoimmune diabetes.
In other words, they are the mouse version of type 1 diabetics. Fingers crossed, they’ll tell me a little something about the human version.
And, yeah, poking myself in the tummy yet again tonight, changing my sensor, I felt some sympathy and affinity for my little diabetic friends. May they and God forgive me for their sacrifice.