I faced a fear of mine yesterday and I’m proud of myself for doing it. I’m a diabetic, Type II, adult-onset that I control through oral medication and diet. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been terrified that one day I would have to start taking insulin. There’s a couple reasons for that fear but the one that is relevant to this post is the fact that I hate needles. Haaaaate them. As in when I was seventeen and in the hospital for appendicitis I debated whether the pain in my side was really so bad that I needed to ask the nurse for a pain shot. (It was; massive gastrointestinal area infection trumps phobia much like rock beats scissors but without the cool hand gestures.)
So, the idea that my life would depend on me having to willingly stick a needle into myself was just too much to take. Luckily, oral medication was and has remained an option for me. Unfortunately, I haven’t always been the best about remembering to take that medication or stick to my diet so my diabetes hasn’t always been under control. Which has meant living in a cycle of ‘work hard on doing what I’m supposed to do’ turning into ‘slacking off’ and that, in turn, sliding into ‘not doing what I’m supposed to at all’ and segueing into ‘oh crap, this is the doctor’s visit where they’re going to tell me that I have to go on insulin.’
I’ve been exceedingly lucky that I haven’t reached that final stage for real but after my last visit with my primary care doctor in January, I was referred to a diabetes specialist. I met with her yesterday and she put me on a new medication that is supposed to help me get my sugars under control and to lose weight. Going on this new medication may mean that I’ll be able to drop a couple of the other medications I’m on and reduce some of the other ones I take, so I was pretty excited to hear about this.
And then, the doctor mentioned that a nurse would be coming in to show me how to take my new medication. “’Show me how to take it?’” I asked, since I’ve been pretty good at swallowing things for several years now. “Yes, it’s an injectable medication,” says the doctor and I say, cunningly, “Oh…”
I was a good girl and did not attempt to run out of the doctor’s office in a blind panic. Instead, I waited and the nurse came in and showed me how to use the injection pen and provided moral support for the five or six minutes it took for me to build up the courage to inject myself. I hemmed and hawed and stared down at my stomach and told myself that this was something I had to do, that there was no way of getting around it and that if I could prick my fingers to test my blood sugar, I could give myself a tiny little poke in the belly.
And, I did it! And it did not hurt. I mean, I literally did not feel it at all. I’ve caused myself more pain biting my nails (which says more about how badly I bite my nails than about how much this needle hurt). I gave myself an injection! And I did it again later that night before I went to bed – that time, it did hurt but it was a very insignificant pain and the run-up to doing the actual injection was a lot shorter. I suspect that it’s going to get easier and easier to jab myself as the weeks go on.
Writing has been kind of like my approach to my diabetes – I know what I’m supposed to be doing (taking my pills; putting words on a page) and that while some of it is difficult (sticking to a diet; figuring out an ending), doing the work is going to be to my benefit (improved overall health; a finished novel). I’ve made stabs at trying to be serious about my writing, attempts that have fallen through because for whatever reason I just couldn’t make myself stick to it. But lately, I’ve been sticking with it. Since November 1, 2013 I’ve managed to put some serious work into my current novel draft – heck, I’m still working on it and I’m closer than I’ve ever been to an actual ending. Thanks to the support I’ve found here and with the good folks at Around of Words in 80 Days, writing a book feels like it is doable. I can change my habits and do what I need to do to get what I want.
This makes facing the needle and the blank page a lot easier.
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Side note: as someone who is and who will likely always remain squeamish about needles, being told ‘oh, it won’t hurt!’ just annoys the crap out of me. Yes it will so hurt! It’s a needle! You are sticking me with it! It’s going to hurt! I still have mad respect for the nurse who gave me a tetanus shot and said “Oh, yeah, it’s going to hurt.”