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February 11, 2004

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from Highland Park, New Jersey, USA:

My 11 year old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May 2003. We have been successfully managing her care, with her diabetes team and doctor. A few months ago she began using an insulin pen and has done very well with that. We were told she is still in a honeymoon period and is not a candidate for the pump yet. Recently, she has been experiencing great difficulty giving herself her injections. She insists on doing them herself, but they have been causing her pain and stress. She has tried rotating several sites (e.g., arms, thighs, and stomach), none of which works for her. Is this common? What can I do to help her?

Answer:

There are multiple ways to give shots that usually don’t hurt at all. I would suggest using 31 gauge pen needles (available from B-D — one of the largest manufacturers of diabetes supplies) and talking with your diabetes educator about a proper technique for giving painless shots. I like to make a dent in the skin with the needle and wait a couple of seconds. Then push the needle through the skin until it is “hubbed” or all the way in. Then giving insulin. Usually, this is a painless way to give shots. There are certainly other psychological barriers to giving shots — and your diabetes educator should be well versed in how to deal with and eventually overcome these issues.

MSB