I hate needles. Well I suppose no one really likes needles, but I have a pretty strong aversion to them. It’s not that I’m necessarily afraid of pain, although I’m sure that’s part of it, it’s more that it makes me light headed and uncomfortable to watch a needle penetrate skin. I always have to look away when receiving a shot or getting blood drawn.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “but wait, don’t you have to deal with needles everyday?” Yes. Yes, I do. Funny how life works, isn’t it?
They say that when you do an unpleasant task enough times, you become numb to it. I can give myself a shot now and be okay with it, but I think it’s because I’m concentrating so hard that I no longer view it as a needle and skin. Luckily, I don’t give many shots anymore anyways.
|Infusion set inserter|
So what do I do instead? I push buttons. No, not the kind on your sweater. To poke my finger and to insert the infusion set into my stomach both require pushing a button, sending a needle to quickly puncture the skin. In the case of the finger poke, the needle retracts automatically. For the infusion set, I pull the needle out, leaving a small tube under the skin, similar to how an IV works. All I have to do is get the courage to push the button, the hard part is done for me. The best part is, I never see the needle puncture the skin.
|Device for finger prick|
Enter the Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor). Unfortunately, the CGM does not have a quick-insert button. This small fact was almost enough to deter me from getting it in the first place. You see, instead of pushing a button and it’s done, I have to manually push the needle and sensor duo sideways into my skin. The design makes it simple to do this, you just need to push down until it clicks, but psychologically, this is quite a difficult task for me.
To me, a button insertion is like jumping off a diving board into a pool of freezing water. Once you jump and your feet leave the board, the rest just happens. A manual insertion is like slowly wading into freezing, deep water, you have to commit to it the entire way. More than once when inserting the CGM, I’ll stop half way once I feel the initial prick. Bad idea. It’s pretty hard to continue once you stop, let me tell you. While the pain is only fleeting, to me it’s more psychological, it’s knowing that I’m pushing a sharp object through my skin. For some people, this is probably not a big deal at all, but for me, it’s taken some getting used to.
|CGM sensor inserter|
Commitment. Every time when I’m poised to insert the sensor, I make a commitment to myself. I tell myself that I’m just going to keep pushing, even if it starts to hurt. Sometimes I barely feel it at all, while other times its like a sudden, sharp pain. A smooth insertion ensures that the sensor doesn’t get bent and that it will be able to give an accurate reading. If it isn’t inserted correctly, the sensor won’t send the blood sugar signal to the transmitter and the whole thing is a waste. Commitment.
The pain is fleeting. I’ll get through this. I can do it.
And I always do. I’ve had my CGM around 6 months and the whole process is just starting to get a little bit easier. I hesitate a little less, I don’t hold my breath quite as long in anticipation, I am more confident.
I may not be pushing a button, but I am pushing myself.