Diabetes Hurts

1441012_62476745Diabetes hurts.

I’ve never heard anyone describe injecting insulin as graceful or gentle.

The needle bears down onto unblemished skin that begs to not be pierced. Nerves scream in anticipation as the metal bores underneath, invading the sacred temple of the body and pushes the very cells that give me corporal nourishment. It sears and brands the skin around it, leaving a physical scar behind as a permanent reminder of what I must do to stay alive.

If I told a stranger that I hurt myself on purpose daily, they would recommend psychological counseling immediately.

Not every needle insertion is a hot branding, but when you must, without fail, do this tortured dance for the rest of your life, knowing that you have endured over three decades of this, it begins to ache deeply. Even with smaller needle gauges and shorter lengths, no one has ever gleefully clapped hands and asked to be mutilated for their health.

Diabetes hurts.

Over and over, a lancet finds its target somewhere on a finger, slicing into the same tender skin that strokes my daughter’s hair as she drifts off to sleep. It’s become rote at this point, a slight turn of the head at the same nanosecond that the button is pushed to draw blood. A sting, temporary, to decide on the dosage of the drug that will keep me alive but could also render me unconscious or dead. That sting, several times a day, over time, is a weight that drags me to the bottom of the ocean, gasping desperately in my dreams.

Too much insulin and diabetes hurts. It starves brain cells and prevents me from making rational choices. The throbbing between my eyes competes with the violent contractions of my limbs to squeeze out the last vestiges of glucose within my muscles. My throat constricts, choking on the words needed for help.

Too little insulin and diabetes hurts. Toxic sludge sloshes through my veins, spewing poison into every organ and damaging the beautiful body my soul holds, shutting down the potential of a long life and health. The complications build an ugly monument where the delicate framework of what I am once stood.

The guilt crushes you, despite your best efforts of controlling what is uncontrollable. The questions of why build to a deafening roar. Labs slam your body into a corner, even when the results are expected. It infiltrates and infects those around you who love you and can’t live in your body or take the burden from you.

You may accept this disease. You learn to live with it, try to tame it, keep it in check and at bay. You talk about it, claim it, share your thoughts with those who understand.  But it bites and scratches and never relents. It will sink its viper fangs into you and not.let.go.

No one said it would be easy. I knew it would be hard.

But no one told me when I was diagnosed that diabetes hurts.




  1. Wow, wow, wow. Thank you for the rawness of this writing. Really beautiful.

  2. Beautifully said. Hugs.

  3. Wow! This really is the big unspoken in type 1, isn’t it? It’s just a given that can’t currently be changed so it’s largely ignored. Great post.

  4. Diabetes wounds us, but makes us tougher, no? Too bad we have to be tough in the first place just to endure the everyday.

  5. This piece is beautiful poetic and raw. I love it and am going to share it with my family this weekend. I think I always feel this way, but keep it hidden from myself the majority of the time. It’s like a place I visit but could never live. I sense it is the same for you. Thank you for writing it and sharing it.

  6. Thanks for this post. I feel that pain every day but I can’t express it this way…

  7. Yes. It does. Nice writing.

  8. Thank you for the honesty, as a mom to a Type 1 5 year old–this is one of the parts that makes my heart sad-I don’t like “hurting” my baby.

  9. Would you use the soon to be approved inhaled insulin Afrezza?

    1. At this point, I’m still unclear as to how Afrezza could be dosed in minute amounts like my pump. While a boon for those who don’t need basal insulin, I’m still going to need needles. And check my blood sugar with lancets. And it still hurts. (But great question!)

  10. I am in awe at how perfectly you expressed the feelings I have everyday but fail to know how to explain. I am so grateful I found your blog. I sometimes feel like I am all alone in this journey I did not chose for myself. Thank you, from the bottom of my sweet heart.

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