I recently got a new insulin pump (in order to have priority for an even newer one). I have a lot to say about this and there will be more to come, but part of upgrading to the newer pump was also switching to a new continuous glucose monitoring system. I have to admit, I am not at all thrilled to be switching. I love my dexcom CGM, but I understand that there are trade-offs and I’m hoping that ultimately, the switch will be worth it.
This new CGM sensor however, gets inserted much differently than my old one. It uses a spring loaded device that you load the sensor into, hold it against your skin, press the button, and the needle gets propelled into your skin.
Here’s the thing. I hate needles, but I deal because overtime what was once difficult and scary, becomes familiar. And there is comfort in familiarity and routine. And I know myself, and having to switch to a new way of doing something terrifies me. It’s the fear of the unknown. Will this hurt? What will it feel like?
Here’s my post from 2013, it’s when I first had to insert my old CGM. I was so scared. This insertion didn’t have a button, I had to manually push this needle down and into my skin. It was new and different and terrifying. But I did it, and overtime, I got used to it.
So fast forward to this week. This new sensor insertion uses a button! For those of you who didn’t read my old post, I love buttons! It means I don’t need to see the needle or have to keep plunging it through my skin even when it hurts. But even though I love buttons, this was still something new.
So there I was, the sensor loaded into the inserter, the inserter pressed lightly against my stomach, my fingers poised and ready over the buttons. And I completely froze. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t press the buttons. What would this feel like? I’m about to forcefully propel this piece of metal straight into my stomach. What if it really hurts? What if I get scared and pull away? What if I bleed? What if it gets stuck? I was petrified and paralyzed. The tears started rolling down my cheek. My hand was practically shaking now. “I don’t know if I can do it.” I texted my sister. “I don’t know what to do. I’m too scared.”
I took a deep breath and tried again. I held it against my stomach, my fingers on the button, pushing, but not hard enough. But now I was fully crying. I’m a strong, independent adult, and here I was crying at the prospect of inserting this sensor, even though I’ve literally stuck myself with needles thousands of times before.
So what did I do? Called my parents…naturally. They both answered the phone together and through my sobs I explained that I was too scared to insert this sensor and I didn’t know what to do. They both agreed that this spring loaded insertion would probably hurt even less. My mom offered to stay on the phone or for me to drive to their house and she’d sit with me. But I knew I needed to do it today. She told me to take a deep breath in, and focus on letting it out when I pressed the button. A yoga breath, she explained.
“This reminds me of when you were 12 and newly diagnosed, sitting at the picnic table and you were so scared to push the button to prick your finger. But you did it when you were 12 and you can do it now when your 28. You can do this!” My dad was right. I could do this.
I hung up on the phone and took a deep breath like my mom told me. And with shaking fingers, I pressed the buttons, launching the needle into my stomach. And guess what?! It didn’t even hurt! I was so relieved.
Living with type 1 diabetes is not easy, you learn to manage but there are still these occasional moments when you are truly tested. As I shared this story with my friend, he reminded me that these are the moments that you look back on and can say to yourself, “Look what you did! Look how strong you are!” Yes, I cried like a baby, and I called my parents for support, but I did it. And I’m a stronger person because of it.