Flexible diabetes – by Helen May


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I recently did one of those really silly things. The sort of thing that is really difficult to explain how you could do it – it was just a lack of concentration.

I was taking my car to the garage for its annual service. After parking (more like abandoning the vehicle on the garage forecourt because there was so little space), I walked over to the passenger side of the car, opened the door and took out the service history log. As I threw the log book onto the passenger seat with my right hand, I started to close the door with my left hand and look around the garage to work out where I was going next. Then it happened, and it hurt: my left hand was a little too fast for my right hand and the forefinger was trapped.

After having in checked and dressed by the nurse, my emotions were varied: embarrassment at being so stupid; relief at discovering no bones were broken; pride in myself for neither swearing nor crying; pain of my nail bed being badly bruised and a large cut in the fleshy part of my finger and frustration that there are so many things I cannot do.

For the first five days I could not get it wet. How do you wash your hair one-handed? What do you do after going to the toilet if you cannot get your hand wet? And what about washing up and hanging up damp laundry? Ok there are some bonuses!

And then I had to avoid putting any pressure on it: I had to avoid using that finger when typing; I had to be careful when walking through town that no one hits it; when driving (I’ve forgiven the car for its little misdemeanour), I could only use three fingers on my right hand to hold the steering wheel and my biggest frustration is I couldn’t go climbing.

I also found a new meaning to “being flexible when managing diabetes”. When taking a reading, my fingers take it in turns to take the prick – left hand on odd days, right hand on even, little fingers before breakfast through to forefingers before going to bed. But I was low on forefingers! I needed an alternative approach on even days before going to bed: thumbs are not as easy to prick but I’m flexible.

Then it’s time to inject. First I get out a needle from the pocket at the front of my kit bag. The pocket’s small but I just stick in my right forefinger and pull one out. No problem. Unless, you can’t use your right forefinger. The rest of my fingers are not as dextrous. But I’m flexible and after a couple of days, I master the technique with alterative fingers. I dial up the amount with my right forefinger and thumb – ok, I can do it with my index finger and thumb. I pinch my flesh with my left hand – no need to change there – and press top of the insulin pen with my forefinger. Nope, with my thumb.

Ok, so it’s not that challenging but it’s stuff I would not have to worry about if I did not have diabetes. It reminds me that we have to continue to adapt to our surroundings. A bruised and cut finger is nothing compared to a broken arm or worse but I hope I will continue to find ways around the problems and continue to live my life with the independence I enjoy without diabetes getting in my way.

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