Saturday, January 14, 2006

Insulin: Anytime, Anywhere

I just finished up a week of crazy work deadlines, long hours, and literally taking the midnight train home a few nights. The nuttiness will end this Monday, but right now, I feel like I've just emerged from a dark, narrow tunnel.

I thought about potential blog posts a few times this week when I had to refill my pump at work, or take a quick injection because my pump reserves were low and my sugars were high.

I also reflected on the comment about how someone's doctor said diabetes only takes 10 minutes a day.

Is it diabetes-thinking that makes me eat the same lunch nearly every day, so that I don't have to think more about how my blood sugars will react to an unfamiliar food? Case in point: Thursday night's dinner, consumed at my desk. A coworker went out to a local sandwich shop I've never eaten at, and swayed by the menu, I got a grilled panini sandwich with chicken, pesto, peppers and cheese.

This is actually similar to the grilled chicken and cheese combo I usually eat for lunch from another establishment. But the differences were these:

Lunch sandwich: multi-grain bread, topped with measured portions that are documented on the company's website so I can easily know the carb and fat content of the meal, extra veggies on the sandwich.

Dinner sandwich: white bread, bigger slices, dripping with cheese and pesto and a few roasted peppers. Frankly, delicious.

So I did the best I could with estimating a carb count for the supper, but sure enough, an hour afterwards, I was 290.


I took about 5 more units to bring me down, tested an hour later, and the sugar hadn't budged. Cursing the high fat, I took another 4 units. An hour later (and yes, still at work), I was 150.

When I finally got home that night, the blood sugar was fine.

But that correcting and working through the high (my office being freakishly warm this week didn't help, either), took up more mental space than I would have liked. And while I have a desk job that consists of a lot of reading and Internet research and some writing, it's not like I had to stop working for a long time to test and correct and calculate.

But it's still time spent on something other than work, or writing, or things I'm more interested in.

I've also filled my pump while sitting in my cubicle. I work in an open office, and everyone's got a cubicle, but no one is staring directly at me when I'm sitting in mine. But this week I've also filled up the pump in the ladies' room, which in my office is fairly dreary. I usually have to put my bottle of insulin on the floor when I'm not using it, in fear of it falling and dropping if I tried to balance it on the toilet paper roll affixed to the wall. (There's no flat rectangular toilet paper holder surrounding the actual roll as I've seen in other places; those holders are a handy little shelf which can balance my works as I fill up the pump.)

But my favorite story of insulin-ing in public happened before I went on the pump. When I lived in New York, I had a long subway ride into Manhattan to get to work. I often would buy my breakfast of a roll or yogurt and newspaper from a local bodega on my way to the train, and then breakfast on the elevated outdoor platform waiting for the 1 train.

Dining al fresco, if you will.

But one day, the train arrived before I could take my insulin from a deserted corner of the train platform. I was starving, so I definitely wouldn't wait til I got into work, 45 minutes later, so I made a quick decision.

I was on shots way back then, lived out at the end of my subway line. The train was often near-empty when I boarded, and I liked to sit at a certain end of the train so I could minimize how many people would sit near me.

One day, I filled my syringe, looked around the train car quickly, and then jabbed it into my upper arm as discreetly as I could. I thought I was home-free to start eating my yogurt, but instead, a woman sitting several seats to my left (I'd injected into my right arm near the right corner of the train car, away from the public's eye), spoke up.

"Jesus loves you," she intoned.

My first thought was actually, "I'm sure he doesn't. I'm Jewish."

I wondered if she thought I was shooting an illicit substance (in which case, I'd likely shoot into my vein than my arm fat, but whatever.) I also have a big mouth, so I could have told her I was diabetic.

But instead, I remained silent and ignored her, which is likely the best way to deal with a stranger talking to you on the New York subway. I've often thought about that incident and wonder if she thought Jesus would still love me even if I hadn't injected my insulin while riding the number 1 train.


Kassie said...

I keep thinking about this woman in a very non-charitable way! I imagine the conversation she had at home that night about the young woman who was *gasp* shooting up drugs on the train!

Kerri. said...

When I was first diagnosed, my mother did my shots for me. And during that first year, we went to Pizza Hut with another mother and her 3 year old diabetic son. Before going into the restaurant, we sat in the car and both my mother and her friend rolled up the shirt sleeves of their respective children and stuck the insulin syringe in for the pre-meal injection.

Little did we know we were parked in front of the Pizza Hut enormous picture window.

Little did we know that three tables filled with families were staring at us, mouths agape, pizza cheese dangling precariously from their lips.

When we walked in, we heard the tables murmur “Ooh, drugs…”

And our mothers smiled sweetly as they ordered our pizza slices.


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