When you first start taking insulin, you may have some concerns about the impact on your daily life. But insulin treatment is easier to manage if you keep these simple guidelines in mind.
Taking Insulin Doesn't Mean You've Failed at Managing Your Diabetes
Nora Saul, RD, a nutrition manager with the Joslin Diabetes Centers in Boston, says she often hears patients say, "I'm eating better and more healthfully. So why am I being put on insulin?"
It can be helpful to remember that getting put on insulin doesn't mean you’re a failure at keeping diabetes in check through lifestyle changes.
The natural progression of type 2 diabetes often means that, over time, your body may produce less and less insulin. So eventually you will need to get insulin through injections.
"That doesn't mean it's your fault," Saul says. "By about 10 or 15 years of living with diabetes, most people are tending toward insulin. This is a way that you can get your blood sugars back under control and reduce the possibility of complications. It'll give you more control than oral agents can, and you will probably feel better, with more energy."
Insulin Doesn't Lead to Complications
You don't have to worry that insulin is risky to your health. "People used to develop complications shortly after going on insulin in the past," Saul says, "because in those days patients were put on insulin as a last resort. The time to start is when your sugars are still in reasonable control. Insulin does not cause [diabetes] complications, and if used appropriately and in time, it will prevent complications."
Giving Yourself Insulin Shots Doesn't Have to Hurt
Some people with diabetes say they had concerns at first that insulin shots would be painful. But they soon realized their fears were unfounded.
"You usually give yourself a shot on your stomach or your thighs, and it's not that sensitive," says Tammy Williams, a North Carolina children's librarian with type 2 diabetes. "I actually think the finger prick when you test your blood sugar hurts much more, because your fingers are more sensitive."
If the initial prick bothers you, Williams has learned a trick from going to the dentist. "Jiggle your skin just a bit as you put the needle in," she says. "My dentist would do this when giving me Novocain, and it made the shot much less painful."
If you're using a pen syringe, as many people do, Williams advises taking it easy on the force. "Sometimes the syringes stick a little and you have to force them a bit, and you don't realize you're pushing so hard," she says. "I used to think, 'Hey, where'd I get that bruise on my leg from?' Now I hold onto the bottom of the syringe as I press down so I don't push too hard."