A needling problem

By | 17 May, 2010
Generic pictorial filler - you love it really.

Generic diabetes-related pictorial filler - you love it really!

The other week I ran out of needles in the easy-reach box in our under-stairs cupboard. I have a couple of nicely painted IKEA boxes there where I keep my day-to-day diabetic supplies. Pretty thrilling stuff, I think you’ll agree.

I went upstairs to my diabetic warehouse and was horrified (well, not really horrified at all; more mildly surprised – I’m trying to build tension here) to discover that my pharmacist had given me the wrong needles. Now, in the interests of professional courtesy said pharmacist should remain nameless. But he won’t, he’s called Simon and his pharmacy is on the Dalry Road in Edinburgh. Anyway, that aside, I noted the only actual difference from my normal needles was the size.

Since diagnosis I’ve used teeny-tiny 5mm needles which are so small that even my most needle-phobic friends take no notice of them. However, these brutes were 8mm – shock, horror! But bravely shrugging aside the extra 3mm I started using them.

Lo and behold! 8mm is actually a much better needle for me. I get much less “insulin ooze” post injection – where insulin that should stay in your body leaks out, making your t-shirt smell of disinfectant all evening. Never ideal. Additionally the extra 3mm has made no difference in terms of pain or bruising which is, in turn, ideal.

I think this whole wrong sized needle-thing was caused by the fact that when I was diagnosed five years ago I was as skinny as anything – for obvious non-diagnosed-Type-One-diabetes reasons. Now that I’ve got my insulin management nicely under control I’m back to being fat. In fact I’m now much like the hideously grotesque guy who portrays “Gluttony” in psychopathic chucklefest Se7en. Well, sort of.

So there we have it, when it comes to needles its obvious that biggest is best! Bring on the 50mm horse-needles I say!

29 thoughts on “A needling problem

  1. Tim Post author

    Going forward I’m hoping to spread enough to need to double my needle size every two years!

  2. Alison

    Be careful Tim, before you know it that pharmacist of yours will be denying his incompetence and instead claiming credit for introducing you to better diabetes kit πŸ˜‰

  3. Tim Post author

    Hmm, very true – he’s a slippery character that Simon…

  4. Annette A

    This got me thinking. Pre-pump, I had all my diabetes junk in one drawer of my bedside cabinet and a box in the fridge. Post-pump, this has now been joined by a large basket under the bed. If they bring out any more developments in treatment, I’m going to need a loft extension to keep it all in…

  5. Cecile

    I’ve always considered 8mm needles standard fare; when starting Lantus in 2006, the Microfine needles I had a copious supply of didn’t lock tight and the only BD needles locally available were 12mms. Now there’s something you can use to baste a turkey with…

  6. Alison

    @Annette oh yes, even a post-pump trip to Ikea for more storage boxes still leaves me with copious amounts of junk spread around and a discovery that I need a bigger bed to squeeze all said junk under.

  7. Tim Post author

    In my old flat I had a loft bed, raised 8 feet above the floor; it could fit not only me, but a desk and comfy chair and three metric tonnes of diabetes crap. Everyone should invest in one.

    1. Charlie

      I only ever had 12mm needles for years, (diagnosed back in the dark ages, just after glass syringes,) before I got onto the 8mm ones (and you had to pay for them, hence my multi use of all needles)… now need that extension on our house for all the clobber – do you think you can get a govt. subsidy/loan for that then?? Bill it to the NHS??!!!! I love my storage boxes, but my husband thinks I’m a rep for tupperware!!

  8. Alex

    Talking of β€œinsulin ooze”, there is also the classic speck of blood on the shirt after a tummy injection in my case. A strategically worn necktie normally does the trick.
    MDIs rock!

  9. Tim Post author

    @alex – ah yes, even on my wedding day I had a pristine, immaculate white shirt – which, of course, had the classic blood spot post-wedding din dins.

  10. Alison

    I was at a conference once where a Dr saw me injecting through my shirt and told me it was dangerous. I told him all the research showed it’s only dangerous to inject through a white shirt. He looked genuinely perplexed. I explained, if you inject through a white shirt, you always bleed, if you inject through a black top it’s fine. Sod’s law. We agreed to disagree on the whole injecting through clothes thing!

  11. Hairy Gnome

    When I first started shooting up, I was put immediately onto 10mm needles, and I supposed it was down to what we’ll call “my ample proportions” (OK, I’m a fat old git!). It was only recently that my new Diabetes Nurse suggested I use 8mm needles and it was like a whole new world! Now my injections really are practically pain free, which just goes to show that sometimes shorter is better! πŸ˜‰

    PS: Never could bring myself to inject through my clothes Alison…

    1. Cecile

      I usually use a single needle for more than a week, so injecting through clothes would make it rhinocerotically blunt in the blink of an eye.

  12. Hairy Gnome

    And another thing, occasionally I’ve taken “insulin ooze” to the Nth degree… pulling out the needle just to see most of that lovely insulin I’ve just laboriously injected squirting out of my tortured torso all over the bathroom floor…

  13. Gillian

    Oh my! I have to admit that I’ll inject through my jeans because let’s face it – nobody wants to see THOSE blushing cheeks at mealtimes – especially in public, but NEVER use your needles more than once and ALWAYS take them off the pen once used because it creates an open pathway for germs to lurk in. Imagine they’re living inside your needle and then you go on to inject a few more times with it – you’re gonnae be REALLY high risk of infection!!!!! Changing my needle every time is one good habit I do have.

    I’ve come across a few problems being diabetic AND a student nurse (please don’t hate me) and funnily enough all the problems have stemmed from so-called health professionals sticking their incredibly large noses into my business. Despite me having diabetes for a good number of year now, nurses ALWAYS seem to know more about my condition and how to control it than I do….Or so they think.

    “Should you be eating that?” is a common question I am faced with everyday. Yes actually – I CAN eat this bar of chocolate and do you know something else? I’m gonnae LICK the inside of the wrapper just in case I’ve missed any wee bits of chocolate. Oh, and should YOU be eating that big piece of chocolate cake because, let’s face it – you’re not exactly Twiggy…..Some people!

    I was attending to a diabetic patient on the ward with my mentor (you need two staff members to administer insulin) and I asked if she had performed the two-click check to ensure the needle wasn’t blocked. My mentor looked at me like I had my head cut because clearly this wasn’t what she was taught in practice. I went on to explain that to ensure the patient recieved their correct insulin dose then a 2 unit check should be carried out: to make sure the needle wasn’t blocked and also if you inject without doing this then you’re not administering enough insulin because there is an air space between the insulin vial and the skin (does this make sense?). She still looked at me like I had my head cut but lo and behold! My own diabetic nurse magically appeared in the ward and I questioned her about this. Guess what – the diabetic kid was right! Aye I’m diabetic – not stupid! Hmph! Some people, and we’re supposed to call them health professionals….

    Rant over you’ll all be glad to know! Happy studying eh? You can all be rest assured that when I qualify I won’t be condescending towards patients and I will always take into account what they say to me instead of looking at them with the utmost disgust. Haha aren’t I a little ray of sunshine today!

  14. Gillian

    Haha I think I may have written the first chapter of a novel there! Settle down with a cup of tea and some biscuits before reading any of my comments again because you might be there for some time. I think I have

  15. Gillian

    Oh no I posted my note too soon! Meant to say “wee-man syndrome”. The shorter the person, the bigger the soap box they stand upon.

    P.S. I was very concerned that I had posted the previous note too early and it ended in “I think I have wee” Hahahaha!

  16. Tim Post author

    @gillian – congratulations on the longest comment on a blog post in the world, ever! πŸ˜€

    You’re right though, I think everyone has experience of a doctor thinking they know better than the patient with the chronic illness who has known the ins and outs of their illness for years! Some doctors, eh? Tuh! πŸ˜‰

  17. Gillian

    Well I may have broken a world record with that enormous post! Dinnae worry – I don’t intend on sending anymore like that, otherwise I’ll have to start giving chapter headings! I’m feeling quite depressed at the minute because the majority of lectures at uni go on about how diabetics are predisposed to other illnessess such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, peripheral diseases etc (very optimistic on the ‘betes front). They make it all seem so depressing! I got sympathetic looks from my fellow students as I sat through the lecture blissfully ignorant and unaware of what the future holds as I munched a post-lunch chocolate bar πŸ™‚ And do you know something? I savoured EVERY single lick and nibble of it haha!

  18. Gillian

    Clearly the post-lunch chocolate helped lift my depression! num num num (that was me enjoying the choc)

  19. Tim Post author

    @gillian – the possibilities of long term complications are a bit depressing really. But it buoys me that we can actually do something about it – better control usually equals fewer complications (of course, allowing for the randomness of plain old bad luck). So complications are not inevitable, in my view; which is slightly cheering.

  20. Hilary

    maybe we should all start retaliating when people comment on what we’re eating? I suggest yelling ‘you’ll go BLIND!’ every time you spot someone eating nice things. πŸ™‚

  21. Gillian

    Haha or just sit and drool when non-diabetics are eating something nice then eat a dry cracker with a sad, dejected look on our face.

  22. Annette A

    I find that making comments about weight works quite well for me (working with alot of weight obsessed middle-aged women helps…) – ‘Oh there’s so much fat in that cake that I wouldn’t eat it even if I could…’ Cue lots of slightly depressed women and one slightly smug (thin) diabetic πŸ˜‰

  23. Kaitake

    Short needles = insulin ooze. Love that term! I was forced to use short needles because my diabetes doc and nurse decided I was too skinny (note: BMI = 21= good). I hated them! I had been using 12mm syringes, and the move to insulin pens with teeny tiny short needles resulted in near disaster, with too little insulin actually getting in!
    We’ve now reached a compromise, and I use 8mm needles… πŸ˜€
    @Gillian, I think that health care “professionals” are possibly the most dangerous folks to be around sometimes – unless they know you and your case inside out, it can be just a heap of annoyingly bad information!


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