The other day my cousin and I were talking about how, years ago, when she first was diagnosed with diabetes, they taught her how to give herself injections by having her practice injecting an orange.
“I haven’t been able to look at an orange since!” she said.
Our conversation reminded me of my late husband, who also was diabetic, and the first time he had to give himself an injection.
In the beginning, when he was taking only pills for his diabetes, he had a monthly appointment with a diabetes counselor who discussed diet and nutrition with him and checked the blood-glucose chart he kept every day.
The counselor also just happened to be a young, petite, very attractive brunette.
“Hurry up!” my husband always urged me on the day of his appointment. “I don’t want to be late!”
I’d still be eating my cereal, mainly because his appointment usually wasn’t for another three hours. Funny, but when he had an appointment with one of his male doctors, I practically had to dynamite him out of his recliner five minutes before it was time to leave. But for the sexy diabetes counselor, he was out warming up the car while I still was in my pajamas.
“Did you do the laundry yet?” my husband asked, rushing around to get dressed on one particular appointment day. “The only clean underwear I have is full of holes – both the undershirts and the briefs.”
“Holey underwear is fine, as long as it’s clean,” I said. “No one’s going to see it anyway. You’re just going to have a chat with a diabetes counselor, not do a striptease for anyone.”
Thanks to me, we arrived three minutes late for my husband’s appointment. The way he carried on, you’d think I’d committed a criminal offense.
The diabetes counselor, stunning in her turquoise outfit accessorized with silver and turquoise jewelry, studied my husband’s blood-glucose chart and looked thoughtful for a moment. Finally, she said, “Even on your current medication, your levels are still higher than I’d like to see them. I think I’m going to recommend to your doctor that you start on insulin twice a day to help boost the medication. So while I have you here, I may as well teach you how to give yourself an injection.”
The look of panic that swept over my husband’s face at the mere mention of the word “injection,” made me think of his friend, Andy, a man who rode a motorcycle, had fought in Vietnam…and passed out cold whenever he saw a needle.
“Are you going to use an orange to demonstrate how to give the injection?” my husband asked the counselor.
She shook her head and laughed. “No, I used to do that, but then I found out that some people were going home, injecting the insulin into an orange, and then eating the orange! They thought that was how they were supposed to take their dosage!”
Her eyes made a quick sweep over my husband and she added, “I think your stomach will be the most convenient place for you to inject yourself.”
He narrowed his eyes at me and I immediately could read his mind. He didn’t want to unbutton his shirt to reveal a holey undershirt…or, heaven forbid, a stomach that didn’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s.
“Is there another spot where I can do the injection?” he asked the counselor. “Like my arm?”
“Your thigh would be better,” she answered.
Again, he cast me an if-looks-could-kill glare. If the thought of lifting his shirt embarrassed him, then dropping his pants to reveal undershorts that looked as if they’d been blasted with buckshot was totally out of the question.
In the end, he opted for his stomach. To my amazement, he injected himself flawlessly, without the slightest bit of hesitation. In fact, he acted as if he were a seasoned pro. Even the counselor was so impressed, she praised him until he actually blushed…and gloated.
And he continued to gloat until we got back out to the car, where he sat behind the steering wheel, leaned his head back against the headrest, exhaled several times and then cried out, “Oh, my God! I actually gave myself a shot! I feel pale! I think I’m going to pass out!”
“But you did everything so calmly in the counselor’s office,” I said.
“That was all just a big macho act so she wouldn’t think I’m a wimp!”
I was pretty sure I’d have to hire a sexy young woman to come to our house every day and stand there and stare at him while he gave himself his injection, but after only a couple panicky days of holding the needle and crying, “Nooo! I can’t do this!” he finally got brave.
Proud of himself, he was eager to return to see the counselor the next month and tell her all about how great he was doing. But when we arrived, we were shocked to see a long-haired, muscular young man in her place. The guy explained that the regular counselor had been transferred to another clinic and he would be taking her place.
My husband’s expression resembled that of someone who’d just been informed he was about to be audited by the IRS…especially since he’d even made a point of buying and wearing brand-new underwear.
After that day, he began waiting until the last minute to head to his appointments, and often said things like, “Do I have to go? I think I’ll cancel.”
I, however, usually was ready by about 6 AM.
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Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “The Common-Sense Approach to Dream Interpretation." Contact her at: email@example.com.