How Many Sticks Does It Take


To stick or not to stick, that is the question. However, it’s not really a question when you’re a diabetic—sorry, person with diabetes (a.k.a. “The Brimley”).

The one thing that has remained true in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes is needles. From the discovery of insulin to all the advancements in production and delivery, the one constant is that you’re pretty much going to have to prick yourself a lot. The only thing you can change is how often.

I guess there is a debate between people who use the pump and the “old schoolers” who use needles. I’ve never used a pump, so I can’t comment on its efficiency, or the freedom that it gives you, or the fact that one of my friends who got one immediately gained weight. I have another friend who swears by the pump, and he is close to talking me into trying one. However, my A1C was 4.9 last time I had it checked, so the doctors told me to keep doing what I’m doing.

Well, what I do know is that by checking my blood sugar, taking my morning Lantus shot, and using the FlexPen throughout the day, I stick myself roughly seven times. That’s a lot, now that I really put that in perspective. In the first 30 minutes of my day, I stick myself three times. One for the Lantus, one prick of the finger, and then a unit of NovoLog to cover my oatmeal or whatever else I eat for breakfast.

Needles and sticking myself with a variety of them have become such a part of my life that I’ll use them anywhere, from the back of a cab to a five-star restaurant. One of the first times I realized I was over the fear of needles and the awkwardness of giving shots in public was the first time I got caught shooting up outside of a restaurant bathroom in the East Village in NYC. I had only had diabetes for three or four months and was still not comfortable breaking out the needle anywhere, anytime. I went to the restroom, but the two unisex bathrooms were full. So I just lifted up my shirt and stuck the needle right in my stomach. As soon as I did this, a beautiful girl stepped out of the bathroom and was staring right at me. Not that I looked like an East Village junkie—not really. I looked like a normal guy with a needle in his belly.

So I just kind of stood there and smiled to see if she would ignore it. Thankfully, she smiled back, and ever since then I’ve been breaking out the needle everywhere. It’s a part of my life, and it goes with me everywhere I go. I call it my “pancreas in my pocket.”

The downside of the injections is minor. I have battle wounds from stabbing, pricking, and sticking on my stomach, arms, and fingers. Every now and then I mis-hit with the FlexPen or the Lantus needle and get a small purple bruise on my arm or stomach. It usually goes away in a couple of days and makes me look tough when I take my shirt off (which I do as often as possible). As far as the finger-sticking goes, I find that it’s tough to rotate fingers, as there are only a few fingers I don’t use to play my guitar and banjo. If anyone has ever used a device that really works well when pricking your forearm or another body part, please let me know. The ones I’ve tried are not worth the effort and give inconsistent results. Until then, keep on sticking!

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Andy Stuckey: Andy Stuckey is originally from Alabama and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. He makes money working in television as a producer, writer, and director. His free time is spent playing the guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. If you stop him on the street, it is likely that he will refer to himself in the third person, as he is doing here. His pancreas does not work. He has Type 1 diabetes. (Andy Stuckey is not a medical professional.)

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