Control. It’s a concept that people with diabetes wrestle with… control over what we eat, our blood sugars, our lives in general. When you’ve done everything in your power to keep this disease in check, and yet, you see a high (or low) blood sugar on the meter, it’s frustrating.
So, I take control whenever I can in my diabetes, which includes needle insertion. I’m not a huge fan of “auto-insertion” and never have been. From my very first injection in 1983, I would slowly insert the needle into my selected spot. If I was halfway in and it began to hurt or I felt a twinge, it wasn’t uncommon for me to pull the needle out and start in another spot. Quirky? Guilty as charged. There are times that I am jealous of those who jam a needle in and quickly inject and move on, but I prefer having control over at least, inserting the needle. I use a Silhouette insertion set for my insulin pump because I can insert it manually…under my control.
The Medtronic Enlite® Sensor uses a insertion device that doesn’t allow for the rate of needle insertion. (The Dexcom G4 sensor insertion device uses a plunger, so yes, I totally take my time pushing that plunger down.) I didn’t have a positive experience with the Sof-Serter sensor insertion and truth? Freaking out about putting in the Enlite® on Friday was actually raising my blood sugar. I was… scared. What if it hurt just like the Sof-Serter? What if the needle hit a spot that was tender and it bled? What if it came time to put that inserter onto my skin and I chickened out.
The Ca-Chunk Factor
Then there’s the Ca-Chunk Factor. That sound that the inserter makes when the mechanics release and the spring load snaps and something happens. If you’ve had diabetes for a while, you’ll remember the “Ca-Chunk” sound with the Autolet lancet device (a.k.a The Guillotine). I dread that sound. Sends shivers up my spine. I sweat a little in anticipation.
I had my training session with the Medtronic trainer on Friday and after the polite introductions, I spilled my guts. “I’m scared about the insertion pain and the accuracy and the Ca-Chunk Factor, but right now, it’s the insertion pain. I’ve been told that it hurts much less than the Sof-Serter, but I have nightmares about those insertions, so…”
Lisa, the trainer, was incredibly cool about it all. (I think I may not have been the first to express these fears.) We talked about the difference in needle gauge sizes (the Enlite® introducer needle is significantly smaller) and how many individuals had expressed surprise at how comfortable the sensor felt after insertion. She asked me to explain the Ca-Chunk Factor. She offered to have me practice using the inserter, but I took a deep breath and said: “Let’s just do this.”
Here’s how the insertion of my first Enlite® Sensor went for me.
Lisa: “You don’t need to pinch skin at all. Just place the inserter directly onto the skin and don’t press the inserter hard. Most people find it comfortable to stand up when they do the insertion.”
I nervously stand, whipping my shirt up and searching my abdomen for a spot that would have the least potential for an “OWW!”.
Me: “OK. Wait! Where should I have the green button?” (The green button is what you press and release to insert the Enlite Sensor.) I turn the inserter around on my abdomen, trying to find a comfortable way to hold it and the button and begin to feel that sweat beading on my forehead.)
Lisa: “When you’re ready, press the green button.”
Deep breath. Moment of truth. I push the green button.
I think to myself: ‘Wow. She was right! That didn’t hurt at all! Jeez, I have no idea why I was freaking out about this.’
Lisa: “Now, release the button.”
Me: “No problem.”
As I released the button, I heard…
I had been fooled by the Medtronic Enlite® Sensor serter. It drives the needle in upon the release of the button, not the push. And because I was lulled into the concept that I had already done the hard part, it came as a surprise. What was more of a surprise was that it didn’t hurt when it really went in.
My first fear - squashed. Annihilated. (Next week when it’s time to put a new sensor in? I’ll have to trick myself, but I know it won’t be as painful as I thought it would be.)
After the insertion process was complete (There are more steps, including a complicated process of taping the sensor down onto your skin…), I told Lisa that I had been duped by the inserter. Happily duped.
Right now, a few days into this, if you asked me where the sensor was on my abdomen right now, I’d have to think hard. No pain. No twinges. (I’ll talk about the accuracy in another post.)
Control. I could give up a little for this…