Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Diabetes Memories: Boil, Boil, Toil & Trouble - Of Boiled Insulin Needles & Other Diabetes Givens Growing Up~

So with three people with diabetes growing up in the house, (four if you count my oldest sister who got married when I was 4) things got pretty crazy, not to mention expensive.
And there were certain diabetes givens in the Kunik household
Like my dad kept his insulin in the butter compartment in the fridge in the utility room, while my sister and I kept our insulin in the fridge in the kitchen.
My dad used Lente as his long acting insulin and I used NPH - And I think my sister did too.
I remember my dad, Debbie and I always busting out needles before we ate our meals, right there at the table - no matter who was at the table. That was our diabetes reality and if you ate at the Kunik table, you were bound to see some hypodermics being injected before the main course.
I remember glasses of orange juice measured out perfectly to treat a lows and the the anxiousness in which we drank down the orange juices.
I remember Tab and Fresca and Diet Pineapple Fanta and diet Orange Shasta always being on hand - Same goes for Diet Pepsi.
I remember that when I was first diagnosed, I used Sweet N Low in my cereal, while my father used something called Sweeta - A liquid sweetner that I thought was heinous.
And those are just a few of the many diabetes memories that enter my clogged mind on a daily basis!

I also have these very vivid memories of my father (and my mother for that matter) boiling our insulin needles over the stove in a tiny little tan pot with a brown handle - which is something they started doing way before I came to be.
Because back in the Diabetes Dark Ages, needles were made of glass and required boiling and sterilization before each use. So my parents spent of time pre Kelly boiling needles over the kitchen stove.
By the time I was diagnosed, needles were disposable and came in boxes filled with at least a hundred. But my dad still boiled mine to make them last longer, which taught me a few diabetes lessons early on. Lessons like:
  1. The numbers and lines on the needle started to become faint and difficult to read after it’s been boiled a few times
  2. Much like “blunt lancets,” the more you use a needle (after you boil it, of course) the more blunt it gets!
My eight year old self would have major arguments with parents regarding boiled needles and how much they sucked.
And I remember my dad talking about the cost and then singing an intangible and entirely made up english version of O' Sole Mio in a mock yiddish accent while boiling the needles and waving the tongs around to make me laugh and get me off the subject.

Looking back now, I realize how much they had on their plate - And I’m still amazed at how they did it all.
And I’m reminded how far diabetes care has come - And how O' Sole Mio no longer applies~

Do you have any diabetes memories from growing up with diabetes?


Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

Oh yes. How about the lovely Clinitest urine kit?! I shattered more than one test tube with the violent reaction to a sky-high reading. Also...the guillotine Accu Chek lancet with the platform thingy, that I dutifully cleaned every test...the scale upon which all my food was so carefully measured by Mom...the awful sugar free candy my grandma gave me every Easter, which I would eat with a smile cos I knew she meant well. Too many memories I guess!

Colleen said...

Nope, cuz I didn't grow up with it.
BUT - I'm grateful that people like you write about it so that I can learn more about how it was and that yes, improvements are always possible.
Your dad sounds amazing. And now I'm humming "O Solo Mio..."

The Diabetic Camper said...

I remember lying to my mom about what my numbers were. I hated getting yelled at for that.

Penny said...

Oh what memories Kelly, and how far D care has come! I know your parents loved you a lot. I would have boiled syringes for Grace :0)

Kelly Rawlings said...

It's always good to remember from whence we've come! I have an eternal grudge toward the color orange. I blame Clinitest.

Scully said...

This was a really cute post. It sounds like diabetes was "just another family member". Thanks for sharing!

Kristin said...

I'm adding O Solo Mio to my repetoire - great post! And I so appreciate things like this for putting current D technology in perspective - the CGMs that go ??? in the night, the 20% variability in glucose meters, the failed sets...still much easier than boiling and sharpening needles. thanks. :)

Steve said...

Parents will do so much for their children

Jess said...

i have so much more appreciation for all my parents did for me now that i'm an adult. especially after reading so many blogs by D moms and dads. it's a beautiful thing.