Needle Goes In


I hadn’t found a sweet spot, the place where the needle to the insertion set goes into flesh like a knife into softened butter. Instead, the spot on my hip was as tough as tent canvas, and the needle hit a nerve as it went in.

I was having my own private moment of pain: alone in the kitchen, my face contracted. Lydia, my daughter, walked in and started telling me about the ongoing soreness in her leg below the knee. Days before, she had overdone it, running, and intermittently she sought my advice for treatment.

“Did you take Advil?” I asked, still concentrating on what I was doing.

She answered yes, and I could feel her presence, as though waiting for a better suggestion.

There seemed to be two selves inside me as I struggled with the needle and a follow up response to my daughter. One self was the motherly one, wanting to reassure Lydia that the soreness was run-of-the-mill tendonitis and would pass with time, rest, and NSAIDs. The other self was the diabetic one, who wanted to shout: Leave me in peace until I get this cannula in place! I can’t take care of you when I’m taking care of me.

It was another one of those everyday moments when diabetes played a role — whether acknowledged or silent — in my ordinary life.

Danielle Ofri, physician, writer, and editor, likens newly-diagnosed patients to immigrants, people who go “from the land of the healthy to the land of disease.” She argues that immigration involves  “upheaval and disorientation.” Indeed, I felt that culture shock when I, at 26 years old, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For a long time, I felt like a newcomer getting used to new customs, struggles, foods, and even language.

Twenty years later, I am no longer a new immigrant, and I speak the language and approach the tasks of my life with diabetes fluently. My life with  illness is steeped in routine. And I am lucky to be in great health and to outwardly appear as though I fit into the land of the well.

On a daily basis, though, I am constantly aware of my diabetes complicating moments, like the one with my daughter, that are otherwise ordinary. I hope to capture them here, on Diabetes Day to Day, a new blog for ASweetLife.

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11 years ago

I find it admirable that you were still worried about your daughter while you were in pain.

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