The young people we talked to tell us what it is like to inject insulin every day, the problems they’ve had, and how they’ve coped with them.
Where and how to inject insulin for type 1 diabetes
Young people are taught by specialist diabetes nurses and doctors how and where to inject. Arms, legs and the stomach are all parts of the body recommended for injection. Most people said that their preferred place was the stomach. But they also said that it’s important to vary the place where they inject, over a wide area. They said that injecting in the same place can cause lumps or other changes, called hyperlipotrophy, to develop under the skin. Your healthcare team can teach you how to recognise these changes. Injecting into the areas that have developed this problem is usually completely painless but the insulin may then be absorbed unevenly, which makes blood sugar much harder to control.
Some young people who were small children when diagnosed said that they have grown up doing daily injections and thought it was normal. Other children were scared of needles at first and their parents had to inject them to begin with.
He started doing his injections twice a day when he was eight years old. Doing his insulin…
She was seven when diagnosed and started to inject herself.
He hated doing the injections at first, but with the help and encouragement from his family,…
Young people have different opinions as to whether insulin injections hurt or not. Some said that the needles they use are so thin that they don’t feel it, but others said it depends on how relaxed and comfortable they are at the time of the injection. Several young people commented that it’s much easier and painless to do the injections themselves because they know their own body. Most young people said that it is down to practice and that ‘practice makes it perfect’. The people we talked to said that doing their own injections made them feel in control and gave them a feeling of independence.
Says that doing injections is not something you get used to in a day but with practice you will…
At the age of 11 he decided to start doing his own injections because his parents couldn’t tell…
Getting used to injecting everyday
It could take a long time to get used to injecting every day. One young woman diagnosed 2 years ago still has some difficulty when it comes to doing her injections. The diabetes nurse recommended a device called PenMate, where she presses a trigger which shoots the needle into the skin. One young woman remembered that her mother or grandmother used to give her 1 out of the 2 daily injections when she was still asleep. She was in her teens before she started doing her own injections.
It was after leaving school when she really started doing her own injections.
She uses a device called PenMate to help her do her injections.
Most of the young people we talked to said that injections become part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth or brushing your hair. We interviewed one teenager who has had more serious difficulties and needed professional help. Her parents had been doing her injections since she was 4 years old and it was very difficult for her to take over because of a fear of needles. She saw a psychiatrist for 2 years to overcome her fear.
She found it very hard to take over from her parents who had been controlling her diabetes since…
She asked for help because she wanted to control her diabetes and be a normal teenager.
She tells us what she had to do to be able to conquer her fears and start injecting herself.
Forgetting to do an injection
The young people we talked to said that there have been instances when they have forgotten to do their insulin injections. They said that it is not always easy to remember to do them. Reasons included: being in a hurry to go out with friends, being too tired to remember, finding it difficult to do them at school break time, not wanting to carry the kit with them, having been ill, etc. Some young people said that they need a lot of reminding and that their mothers do most of the ‘nagging’.
Says that his mother ‘nagged’ him and that he now has a routine to make sure he doesn’t forget…
He kept forgetting to do his lunchtime insulin injection at school because he wanted to be with…
One young man who has had type 1 diabetes since childhood started to skip injections when he became older because he found the routine too boring and that it restricted his social life.
Doing an insulin injection in public places
Young people have different attitudes when it comes to doing insulin injections in public places. Most young people told us that they have no problem about doing them in restaurants, school/university canteen, etc. Other young people find it difficult to do it in public places and prefer to go to the toilet or another private place when they are out and about.