As a diabetic, I have learned to have a fairly high tolerance for pain. I stick needles into various limbs multiple times a day so I didn’t have much of an option but to adapt. (I am still a wimp when it come to D-unrelated pain. For example: At this sketchy pet store in Allston, where too many small mammals occupy too-small cages, reptiles and amphibians live in mineral stained terrariums, and dogs, cats, and birds roam free, I was attempting to befriend a nice macaw. He bobbed his head up and down, inched toward me, and looked me in the eye. He climbed onto my finger with little prompting, and “tasted” me gently with his beak. Then he suddenly became infatuated with the strap on my purse. He began to grab at it violently with his beak and talons. So, naturally, I decided it would be best if this bird were no longer on my person. So I tried to move my hand away from my body and encourage him to relocate himself on the perch, but he wasn’t about to give up that easily. Instead, the bastard bit me. Twice. I have photographic evidence to prove it. It hurt. I cried. Pathetic. I know. There was pain involved but I think I was really more emotionally wounded than anything – I was nice to that stupid bird and he bit me. Bastard. But I digress.) Mostly, I have just learned to ignore D-related pain altogether. A little discomfort is not worth the $12 I pay for a Dex sensor, or the cost of a new infusion set. Plus, I typically don’t feel these things at all, but occasionally I encounter a site that stings or itches incessantly, and I usually choose to just leave it be.
However, sometimes the prudent thing to do is not to ignore the pain but to figure out why it is there. Like the infusion set that I out in yesterday morning. First, a little background: most of the time, I use my abdomen for infusion sites (along with the occasional thigh or arm) and I stick Dex almost exclusively on my thigh (although it sometimes resides on the back of my arm, or, rarely, on my abdomen) alternating from left to right with each new sensor. My last Dex sensor failed after only 8 days (beyond the FDA approval but too short for my liking), so the two week break from Dex that I like to allow each site before beginning a new one required that I move off of my thigh. Since it’s still short sleeve season, I decided against an arm site and settled on an abdominal insertion. (Doesn’t that sound like some sort of alien abduction thing?) So, my Dexcom is now on the left side of my abdomen, using up 50% of my infusion site real estate. Thus, when I had to pull an old site and insert a new one, I made the decision to keep it on the right side of my body, rather than alternate left like I would normally do. I moved it about 4 inches out from the old one – toward the side – to a location that I rarely use. The insertion was slightly painful, but nothing too notable.
I left for work, without eating breakfast and noticed that my dawn phenomenon seemed to be in full force. I bolused a little correction and went on with my day. At lunch time, I was flat around 200. High but not too high. I took my symlin, a correction bolus and ate lunch. An hour later I took my carb bolus and another correction because the first one seemed to have failed me. 3 hours later I assumed that I must have counted my carbs wrong and took another bolus. All the while, there was a constant stinging at the site of my newest Ping-connection.
By the time I got home from work, I had spent the entire day with a BG>200 (more like 300). I felt pretty nasty, scratched at the stinging site, and still chose to ignore it – it’s just a little pain. Finally as I was about to get into the shower, I noticed that adhesive of the site was already wearing off (apparently my clothes rub at that spot quite a bit) so I finally decided that it might be worth removing. The moment I pulled the site, a steady red geyser of blood and insulin erupted from my side.
Had I listened to my body and conceded to the pain in my side, I might have removed this sensor much earlier and saved myself from an entire day of high blood sugars. I’m glad that I have learned to deal with a little pain every now and then but, sometimes pain is worth paying attention to.