The other day, I was looking at my stomach and realized that 27 years of injections and some 10 years of dexcom and insulin pump wear have left a mark on me. Literally.
My stomach and my upper thighs have become a veritable roadmap of bruises, injection spots, scars, and other ways of plotting out the course of my Type 1 diabetes.
A few years ago, one of the diabetes supply companies was offering semi-permanent tattoos. The idea was that you would apply the little rust coloured temporary tattoo to the place where your last pump site had been, giving you added ability and incentive to rotate and allow for healing. I bought a pack, thinking maybe this would help me to avoid what seemed to happen way too many times; hitting the same spot again and again, which resulted in a loud “OW” when the canula snapped into place.
It seemed like a great idea and at $4.99, not a huge investment. I ordered, applied the first tattoo and thought, great, now I have not only scars and bumps, but a pretty little star on my stomach as well.
These days, it’s a bit easier. I tend to use added adhesive stickers to hold my omnipod or dexcom in place, and somehow, I never seem to get the residue from the sticky adhesive off of my skin.
And so. today, I have the remnants of a large circle on my thigh, days after removal, and after countless showers. I could use an adhesive removing wipe to get rid of this grey ring around the insertion point. My diabetes educator gave me a batch on my last in-person visit some two years ago, and I still have 10 of the 12 packets left.
The fact is, I kind of like this diabetic connect-the-dots. As an ‘older” diabetic, it’s not like i’m out there sporting a bikini or a crop top. Those were never part of my wardrobe. The shorts I wear for a run or bike ride hit just above the knee, as do any dresses or skirts.
I still get the occasional “OW” when inserting my pod and I brace myself for this every time.
Some days are worse than others, and the “OW” turns into an angry spill of swear words. The occasional bleeder gets an even louder response from me….
Yet, I wear the spots and scars proudly, much like the pump and CGM that’s always on my body. This is Diabetes Awareness Month, and I feel like these visual reminders connect me to the larger community of people with diabetes around the world.
(Please remember, I’m not a doctor or an educator. Just a person who has had type 1 diabetes for the past 27 years. Please follow me on instagram at @grownupdiabetes.)