The title of this post may sound a little misleading, I don’t actually mean the pen, which as a writer, I do live by, but I’m actually referring to an insulin pen.

Two years ago this week, I had just spent a month being miserable before finally going to see my doctor and getting a blood test. The blood test revealed that my reason for feeling so bad that month was actually because my blood sugars were 38, which in the 30 years my doctor had been a doctor, was only the second highest blood sugar she had ever seen.

That lead to a week in hospital where I received emergency insulin treatment, IVs, and quickly got over my lifelong fear of needles.1

A week later, I got out of the hospital and had learned to test my blood sugars and give myself insulin five times a day. The insulin was easiest, the blood sugar tests, took more getting used to.

Now, two years later, I still take the insulin, but it’s under control, and almost automatic. I’ve gotten to the point of knowing when my sugars feel high or low (which isn’t that often), and things are kept controlled by diet, exercise and meds.

That isn’t to say there aren’t days that are bad, I still have those… Now and then, I’ll wake up feeling exhausted, and hungry and quickly take a check of my sugars to learn that they are low, or feel the opposite and realize my sugars are higher than they should be. But those aren’t as often as they once were. For the most part, it’s a shot when I wake up, a shot at each meal, and a shot at bedtime, and my sugars stay mostly the same.

When I travel to conferences or meetings, I keep my diabetic gear in my laptop bag, and am able to check things without drawing any attention to myself. And in fact, while I don’t advertise being diabetic to people, I also don’t hide it if someone asks about it. Usually the medicalert necklace around my neck tends to give it away though as someone notices it and asks what I’m allergic to… I try to avoid saying sugar.

But I think the hardest thing about being diabetic, is that I’ve had to watch my 5 year old (then 3 year old), learn what being diabetic means. I’ve had to watch her tell me why I can’t have something while she is having it, or when she was talking to her teacher about her booster shots and saying how she doesn’t like needles, also told her teacher that “my daddy doesn’t like needles either, but has to take five needles every day because he’s diabetic”.

I, in all honesty, don’t like the fact that she’s had to learn at such an early age about diabetes, and why I can’t have certain foods. But there’s not much I can do about that, and it also isn’t good to shield your kids from things, so we’ve always been open about stuff like why sugar is bad for me, but fine for her (within reason obviously).

  1. Actually, I still haven’t gotten over that… Most days, I still close my eyes as I prick my finger or inject my insulin pen.