On my fourth day in the hospital, the night nurse entered my room with the regiment of medications and I said, “Oh no. You’ve come to give me a shot. I hate those things.”
She smiled. “No, I am not going to give you a shot.”
“Yes, you are. I see the needle in your hand.”
She smiled brighter and it was laced with a bit of wickedness. And she repeated, “Nooo, I am not going to give you a shot.” Before I could refute her again, she interjected, “You are!”
“What? You must be tripping. Are you serious? No. You can’t be serious.” I extended my arm like I had done for the past few days. Unfortunately, she seemed completely unmoved. She greeted my extended arm with an extended arm of her own that held an alcohol wipe.
Like a child determined to get their way, I looked at her with pouted lips refusing to grab the alcohol wipe. She, like parent, was stern and with her body language made me understand that her word was her bond.
I grabbed the wipe, the needle, and the lancet. Nurse Pat began talking to me and I found comfort in her words. “I am doing you a favor. When you leave this hospital, you’re going to have to give yourself these shots and there won’t be a team of nurses there to do it for you, so you need to practice here.”
I believe that she could see the water welting up in my eyes. I felt as though I had lost too many fights in that moment. I had lost the standoff with her and with a needle in my hand all I could think about is how I’ve lost the battle with my health.
But Nurse Pat wouldn’t let me breakdown (at least not in front of her). She continued, “You’ll get through this. I grew up in a house with two diabetics. I watched my father take care of himself each and everyday. He was Type 1. My mother, however, would eat whatever she wanted–she would bake a cake and then yell at us for not eating it before she got to it. My mother was Type 2. All you need to do is take care of yourself. I’m telling you, this shot will become second nature. You can be a diabetic and it not drastically change your life. You understand?”
“Now, let’s do this.”
Feeling pumped with a small dose of bravery, I wiped the small tear from my eye, slightly in a amazement that her comforting words had stopped the waterfall of tears that I knew were on the way. She verbally assisted me with the task at hand and after I had successfully given myself the shot, I felt extremely proud.
Thank you nurse Pat (wherever you are). And your presence: a full-figured black woman who talked about managing diabetes with confidence helped me in more ways than I can express. It’s not quite second nature yet, but I am able to hold my Byetta injection with a smile on my face.