Big Shot

March 8, 2009

“You need to find a place with some fat,” said the nurse practioner.

I looked to see if she was kidding. I am 100 pounds heavier than I should be. Fat? Fat I got.

“I think I can find some,” I said.

Under her watchful eye, I opened up the insulin pen, swabbed the business end with alcohol, twisted the needle assembly onto it, and then pulled off the needle cover.

It’s really tiny, about the thickness of a leader on a fishing line, and half an inch long.

“How do they make them that small,” I asked. She didn’t know.

I set the dial on the pen at 10 units. Over the next week or so, I’ll adjust that dose upward as my blood sugar levels come down. When the blood sugar hovers around 100 or a little better, I will be at the right dose.

My scores using only pills to control my diabetes haven’t been all that hot. They’ve been ranging wildly between 140, which is not all that bad, to 440 when I was first diagnosed about 15 years ago. At 440, I was wandering around in a fog, with tunnel vision. I told the nurse at the time that I felt kind of far away.

“That’s because you’re damned near dead,” which made me feel ever so much better.

You have to understand that I really just wanted it to go away. I mean, diabetes is a serious commitment. Who wants that? I really wanted to believe it was a phase or something like a really nagging cold, something that would clear up and I’d be right as rain in no time.

Time dragged on, and so did I. Weird numb spots on my feet. Changes in my vision. Less energy. Face it: I’m a guy. You really have to slap me upside the head to get my attention. I’ve looked around in my closet, and there is no cape, no form-fitting superhero costume. This stuff was killing me.

So, Thursday I pointed the needle ceilingward and thunked the side of the pen with my finger and pushed the plunger to make sure the needle wasn’t clogged and there was no air trapped within.

Tiny drops of clear liquid beaded up and ran down the needle.


I suddenly realized how close the balance is; that what will be less than a thimble full of this stuff shoved under my skin every day will make so much difference. I mean, I’m still going to die. So are you (sorry.) But this, barring the unforseen, will help me move a little further back in the line. I didn’t want to be giving myself injections. Who would? But, all things considered, I am in no way ready to leave this particular circus, not just yet, anyway, and certainly not by inches.

It didn’t have to be this way, of course. It’s my own damned fault. It is Type II diabetes, which means it is most likely attributable to my weight and diet, and not enough exercise. I picked up a lot of weight when I quit my three-pack-a-day habit about 20 years ago, and never worked hard enough to shed it.

After 15 years of taking a number of pills twice a day, the control just isn’t there. So, the choices are to face things like blindness, lost of a limb or two, or death, or start giving myself shots.

Gee, doc…can I have some time to think this over?

So, there I was, pinching a handful of potbelly in the presence of Sue, my partner now for many years, and Kathy Miller, the nurse-practioner, looking on…

With a snap of my wrist, the needle drove home. I think I heard a pop as it broke through the skin, but I’m not sure. It didn’t hurt, at least not enough to make me jump or break into some colorful language. Nothing at all like a bee sting or a thorn. Not even enough to make me blink. I pushed the plunger and held it down for 10 seconds, as instructed. Then I pulled it out. A spot of blood the size of a pinhead. That’s it.

The next night, my blood sugar hadn’t changed much. Uh-oh. I started to imagine the worst. It doesn’t work. I fall into a slow spiral of decay and disability, leading to, well, bad stuff.

The night after that, my sugar was 124. That’s a place it hadn’t been in 15 years.

I stare at the test gizmo until it shuts itself off out of boredom.

That means that, in two weeks when I go back for a progress report to Kathy Miller, I have to tell her, yes, you were right, I needed to give myself shots of insulin, I was an idiot not to start sooner, when you first started to nag me about it.

I’m really gonna hate that.

Hopefully, for a long time to come.

© 2009 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:


2 Responses to “Big Shot”

  1. Dan said

    Good for you, TW. Hurrah!

    We need you – and your voice – around for a lot more years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: