In Praise of Pain

Somewhere along the line, it was decided that the absolute worst part of living with diabetes was the finger prick. Not so much the process of checking one’s blood sugar: the washing of the hands, the alcohol swabs, the selection of a minimally calloused fingertip, the insertion and coding of the test strip, etc. Not even the test result. No, the worst part of diabetes was determined to be that very moment when the sharp metal tip of a lancet pierces your precious, delicate finger skin.

Exhibit A: This commercial.

No wonder people are terrified of this awful disease. Not only do people with diabetes have to worry about exorbitant health costs, possible complications, crazy carbohydrate and medication ratios — they have to stab their fingertips with ice picks, kitchen knives or shards of broken beer bottles! The horror.

Of course, everyone’s diabetes experience varies. But in my little reality, the blood sugar prick (not stab), is mildly uncomfortable at worst. I’m at least 37 times more anxious about what the results of my test will be than the process of procuring a teeny drop of blood.

Which brings me to Exhibit B: This little guy.

Available at Sephora and specialty lancing device boutiques everywhere.

It’s the One Touch Delica, a wee spring-loaded miracle that promises to turn each blood sugar test into a virtual fingertip massage. The Delica comes with a special lancet that’s no wider than a unicorn’s eyelash, and the spring system inside is designed to minimize vibration or some such nonsense. What the Delica is best at, though, is forcing me to prick my finger at least three times in order to harvest enough blood for a single test.

No one enjoys a fingerstick, but I’ll take the extra finger pain and the luxury of a usable blood sample over the agony of an Error 5 message on my meter. Or worse, the practice of milking my calloused pinky finger like a dried-up goat teat, all in the hopes of getting just a little more blood to test before the stoplight light turns green or the TV turns dark and I can’t see the test strip anymore.

I’ll be the first to admit that my issues with the Delica are largely a result of user error. Or user laziness, as the case may be. Delica lancets, in addition to being more expensive than the standard variety, turn blünt in an instant. I know that in some alternate universe, there’s a colony of diabetics who change the lancet after every single test. I wish I lived there, but I’ve already got a place in this universe, where we change the lancet every few weeks — or worse.

So, although I’ve got two Delica devices and a relatively fresh box of accompanying lancets, I think I’m going to go back to the old school contraption I’ve counted on for years.

Call me masochistic, but I appreciate a productive stab.