By Megan Fendt, RD, CDN, CDE
Megan Fendt, RD, CDN, CDE is a nutritionist at the Gerald J. Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Hospital in NYC. Prior to joining the institute staff, she spent three years at New York-Presbyterian Hospital as a clinical dietitian. Megan frequently contributes her nutrition expertise to Eyewitness News, CBS, Fox, AOL Health, and The Daily News. She believes in and practices an active lifestyle, creative consultation, and the power of laughter.
As a diabetes educator, I do my best to sample all the medical equipment my patients might use to get a real life idea of how they work and feel. I’ve poked myself with insulin pens, hooked myself up to continuous glucose monitors, worn insulin pumps, and sampled every glucometer under the sun. I realized the other day that I had neglected to try the simplest insulin delivery tool there is: the good old syringe.
After sitting through what felt like my fortieth lecture on insulin injection technique, I felt well-prepared to take the plunge (take the plunger, more like it). I took my 3/10 cc sterile insulin syringe, loaded it up with saline, and 1-2-3… injection success!
A second later, though, I sat wondering why the heck my injection site in my abdomen hurt so much. Insulin pen needles never felt like this. I checked my site and saw it starting to bruise. Concerned now that I’ve been lying to all my syringe users (“It really doesn’t hurt, I swear!”), I frantically tried to backtrack and figure out what I did wrong. The syringe was new, so no problem with a dull needle… I didn’t have wet alcohol on my site…I was using a mini 5mm needle… WAIT! This was no mini needle! Syringes only come in short (8mm) and original (12.7mm) needles, which meant my needle was too long to inject without the “pinch an inch” technique. I was stabbing saline right into my muscle. No wonder it hurt! After focusing so much on insulin pens (which we can use with the shorter mini [5mm] and nano [4mm] needles), I totally blanked on how to use the longer-needled syringe.
After getting over the feeling that I was the world’s worst CDE “patient-in-training,” I realized that sometimes, no matter how often we hear things, we need to make a few real life mistakes before information really sinks in. Diabetes isn’t about perfection; it’s about doing the best we can. The bruises eventually fade, and tomorrow is another day. Has there ever been a time in your life with diabetes where you felt information only really stuck with you after making a few mistakes? Let me know about it!