I am a type 2 diabetic who takes 5 insulin injections a day. For me, insulin has been life-changing.
Insulin Has A Bad Reputation
Insulin-dependent diabetics have the reputation of having "worse" diabetes than other diabetics, whether they are type 1 or type 2. This seems to make every diabetic terrified to be dependent on insulin, like they failed in some way because they need insulin to control their diabetes.
There are lots of reasons why a diabetic might take insulin. In my case, I was having bad reactions to pills, so even though the pills were lowering my blood sugar numbers, they were making me feel too sick to function.
Another reason why someone might have to take insulin for their diabetes is pregnancy and gestational diabetes. Insulin is safer for a pregnant woman and her baby than pills, so there are many reasons why someone might be put on insulin.
There's nothing wrong with taking insulin. In fact, there are lots of benefits to it.
1. You Can Adjust Your Medicine To Fit What You Eat
Diabetes is about having a tightly controlled diet. You can only eat so much of certain foods (you have to stop sometimes when you're not yet full), and you can't eat less when you're not feeling hungry.
This can be very frustrating, especially when you're trying to lose weight or if you recently got out of a surgery. It can be confusing whether or not you should take your pills if you don't feel like eating.
But with insulin, after my recent surgery, I was able to adjust my dosage when I didn't feel hungry. With insulin, it's a lot easier to adjust to your needs. I was able to take a lot less insulin than before until I felt like eating again and this prevented my blood sugar from getting too high or too low.
With pills, you can't always take just half a pill or a quarter of it when you're not feeling well. And you might be stuck panicking about how you are going to get any carbs into your body when your stomach is upset.
Insulin takes away some of that stress and it can also help cover some of the extra carbs you eat on holidays, like Thanksgiving.
2. You Get To Eat Sugary Things When Your Blood Sugar Gets Low
No one likes the way it feels when their blood sugar gets too low. It's a pretty miserable feeling actually, which is why diabetics avoid it.
But the one benefit of it is that you get to eat sugary foods guilt free when your blood sugar crashes.
I prefer to have stable enough blood sugar not to need sugary foods, but we all have episodes where things go wrong and we don't have a choice.
It's nice, for once, to be able to eat sugar without feeling like I'm killing myself by consuming it. It's nice to know that I don't actually have to swear off things like brownies for the rest of my life because there are certain instances when eating a brownie is okay.
3. There Are (Usually) Fewer Side Effects
There is the low blood sugar side effect, of course, and that one is very serious and maybe some weight gain, but overall, there are fewer side effects when you take insulin than there are when you take pills.
Maybe your experience is different than mine, but my experience on pills has been awful. Insulin is a more natural thing because its something most people already have in their body.
On metformin, for instance, I got so sick that I couldn't move or even watch television. I felt light-headed and exhausted all the time. It was awful.
On insulin, I feel more like myself.
So, although, I wish it had zero side effects, I am thankful to insulin for giving me fewer of them.
4. People Think You're Tough Because You Stab Yourself With Needles Everyday
This is why a lot of people are afraid to take insulin in the first place-they're terrified of needles.
I think this is hilarious, since I not only stab needles into my fingers multiple times a day to check my blood sugar, but also use needles to take my insulin.
As long as you slowly and carefully insert the needles into your skin and change the needles regularly, I find that the needles rarely hurt. But they make people wince when they watch you use them and they look at you like you're super tough sometimes when you do.
A lot of having diabetes is being criticized for being weak. Society tends to blame diabetics, think they gave themselves this disease, and gets angry with them, even though it's closely tied to genetics. It's nice for once to be looked at like you're strong to go through what you do instead.
5. It Comes In A Convenient Pen
Some people still have to use the bottle and syringes because of insurance coverage, but a lot of us get to use insulin pens. Insulin pens are just like they sound, they are pen shaped devices, with caps, that we can use to take our insulin with. There's a handy dial on the side of them, that lets us measure out how many units of insulin we need before we inject ourselves and even a cap to cover our pen with when not in use. All we have to do is press the button to use the insulin and our needles for it are disposable.
I've never used the other kind of insulin, but I've heard in the past, people had to boil their needles to decontaminate them and re-use them. I've heard they have to keep their insulin in the refrigerator (which makes it very hard to bring your insulin with you when you travel or visit a friend or go to a restaurant.)
My insulin pen, on the other hand, is very portable and handy. It doesn't have to be refrigerated after I open it. It's good as long as I keep it at room temperature for the next month.
I love the pens, they're cute and no one can tell they're medicine unless they see you take it. I love that I can bring them with me anywhere and that's they're so easy to use.
Taking insulin is so much better and easier now than it was in the past.
These are the two types of insulin I use every day (They come in a pen!)
6. There Is No Limit To The Amount Of Insulin You Can Take
It's really stressful when you're taking metaformin and you're on the maximum dose that the metformin will allow and your blood sugar is still high. It almost makes you feel like a failure, especially if the maximum dosage isn't enough for you. Why is my blood sugar still not low enough? What will happen now? Usually they have to put you on more pills if one pill works and then you worry if that pill won't be enough as well.
Insulin is different. You take however much your body needs. The only way you can overdose on it is if you take more than your body needs. But if your body needs 1,000 mg a day of insulin, it's okay to take 1,000 mg a day of insulin. There is no limit to the dosage, so you can always take more if the amount you're taking isn't helping.
This is important because diabetes is a disease that progressively gets worse as you age. It never gets better, so it's comforting to know that there will always be enough insulin in the world to treat your diabetes no matter how bad it gets.
Insulin Dosage - How High Can You Go?
- Insulin Dosing: How High Can You Go? | ConsultantLive
What is the highest dose of insulin that can be used in a patient whose diabetes remains uncontrolled on a regimen of insulin plus an oral antidiabetic agent?
7. It's More Natural Than Pills
I really like the idea of putting insulin into my body rather than strange drugs. It feels almost like taking alternative medicine, except it has been proven to work by scientists.
It's unlikely that you'll have an allergic reaction to it because of it and I think it's easier for most people's bodies to handle.
8. No More Ketones
High ketones are what makes diabetics go into a coma.
WebMD defines ketones this way:
"A ketone test checks for ketones in your blood or urine. Ketones are substances that are made when the body breaks down fat for energy. Normally, your body gets the energy it needs from carbohydrate in your diet. But stored fat is broken down and ketones are made if your diet does not contain enough carbohydrate to supply the body with sugar (glucose) for energy or if your body can't use blood sugar (glucose) properly."
Right before I started taking insulin, my ketones were high. It was scary. My husband and I were contemplating going to the hospital to help bring them down, but a nurse encouraged me to take my insulin for a few days first and see how my ketones were afterwards. I had just recently been prescribed insulin.
I had some ketone strips that I used to take at home tests. A negative ketone result (which non-diabetics will have) made the strips a light peach color. Light ketones were pink and moderate to high were purple to dark purple. My results were always purple. It was terrifying.
It felt awful, too. Every diabetic knows what I mean when I talk about how having high blood sugar makes you feel weird. You feel exhausted, cranky, sick, and miserable. Having high ketones was that feeling on steroids. I was terrified every night that I wouldn't wake-up in the morning. I'd go into this really deep, intense sleep at night and it was so difficult for me to wake-up in the morning. It felt wrong, like my body wanted to sleep forever and I was light-headed and exhausted all the time.
Pills would not have been able to fix that for me like insulin did. Most diabetic pills either increase your insulin production a little or just suppress your liver from releasing sugar. I needed to process more carbs in my body fast. I was on a low carb diet and it wasn't helping. My body was using too much fat for energy and no carbs and it was giving me high ketones.
Within days, my ketones went down to peach again. I got so excited, I danced around my house. I felt so much better and more alive.
Low carb diets can help some diabetics, but when your diabetes progresses past a certain point (or if you are a type 1 diabetic), it just won't work. Your body needs carbs sometimes and if it's not able to process any of them at all, it can send you into a coma.
I'm very thankful to insulin for saving me from that coma.
My At-Home Keytone Strip Container (My Ketones Were In The Purple Range Before Insulin!)
I purchased my ketone strips at a drug store, but I had to go to about ten drug stores before I found one that sold them. If you are interested in checking your ketones as well, there are many places online where you can purchase your own strips.
9. Food Is More Nourishing
This is difficult to explain, but I've gone through periods of my diabetes where I wasn't on medicine and periods where I was on pills and now I'm on insulin.
If your body can't process a certain substance that is essential for it to survive, like certain vitamins or minerals or meat or carbohydrates, you'll start feeling like you're starving all the time. You'll eat food. You'll know it was enough food, but it feels wrong, like your stomach is still kind of empty, like you're not getting something, but you can't explain it.
The second I went on insulin, meals became ten times more satisfying. I could feel the food nourishing my body and filling me up. Food didn't feel empty to me anymore, it made me feel good. It made eating that much more satisfying and it allowed me to have more energy.
10. You Are More Hydrated
With high blood sugar, it feels like no amount of water is enough. When my blood sugar is high, I can chug 2-3 bottles of water in five minutes and still feel thirsty. When my blood sugar isn't high, one bottle is enough, my body doesn't want anymore.
This is because when your blood sugar is high, your body processes water more quickly. It makes you urinate more, so the water can pass through your blood faster and take some of the excess sugar away along with it.
I love how insulin makes water more useful to my body. It makes my body hold onto water and use it more effectively, rather than getting rid of as much of it as possible quickly.
It's like with the nutrients in food. My body is actually absorbing everything better.
Insulin can change your life and the way you feel.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Pat McKee on May 19, 2020:
Thank you! I just started insulin yesterday and I can’t wait to feel better. By the way, your wording was perfect.
EB Black (author) from U.S.A. on February 23, 2017:
Terrie Lynn: I do know what diabetic comas are and hypoglycemia. If you take more than your body needs in a day, then you can wind up in a coma because your blood sugar is too low, that's why you shouldn't take more than your doctor prescribes you, but doctors can prescribe as high of dosage as you need, even if it's 1,000 units per meal. I still don't think you understand what I mean because that's all I mean.
Terrie Lynn from Canada on February 23, 2017:
I know from personal experience. You need new information. Please look up hypoglycemia. I was a number from being taken to the hospital. Have you heard of a diabetic coma and it can result in death. I will keep warning people when information is misleading. And it's only hard to control diabetes that get high does of insulin. This is a very misleading and dangerous statement. I hope no one acyptually believes you and takes a chance and dies because of it. You might want to change your wording. I m I the only who took the statement the same way i did.
EB Black (author) from U.S.A. on February 23, 2017:
@Terrie Lyn: (It's not letting me reply to your comment directly for some reason) My doctor is one of the people who told me this. I also provided a source on the article, a link online, about it. I think YOU should actually ask your doctor this question because my doctor volunteered this information to me without me even asking for it.
Terrie Lynn from Canada on February 23, 2017:
I also take insulin. And yes there is a limit to what can prescribed. And you need to talk about this to a diabetic specialist. Too much insulin will kill. You can't stuff out there, like that kind of statement making it seem okay, like it's unlimited. And what you posted now doesn't clear that up. Get a medical dr or specialist source. Tell the people families I know who are dead. It is foolish to say these things in a public article. If people believe you they can die. That is a fact.
EB Black (author) from U.S.A. on February 22, 2017:
You misunderstood what I wrote. I know this better than you as someone who takes insulin every day. You shouldn't take more than you are prescribed.
The information you are missing is this....with every other medication, there is a limit in how much you take. Like, I believe you can only have 2000 mg of metformin a day, no matter what. It doesn't matter if your blood sugar is 600 after you take 2000 mg, you can't have any more of it.
A lot of diabetics will get stuck taking 3 or more pills all at the same time at their maximum dosage and still have high blood sugar. It's a common fear/panic diabetics have, that there will be no amount of medicine good enough to can cover their high blood sugar.
But with insulin, there is no maximum highest dosage that you can be prescribed.
Terrie Lynn from Canada on February 10, 2017:
This I a great article. One thing you will want to be careful of. Please don't tell people there is no limit to the amount of insulin they take. You can die from it. I have had 2 people that have. It's called hypoglycaemia and it can put a person into a coma and possible death.
thebarefootpa from NSW, Australia on September 12, 2016:
My husband is about to begin insulin, he is Type 2 and has been managing his diabetes for years, with diet and a bucket of medication to treat all the accompanying health issues of diabetes. It's time to move on though. After seeing your article it sounds like good news actually, whereas we were of the opinion that insulin sort of labelled his diabetes as 'the worst type' - your article and video are so so useful to those new to Insulin, you've covered every question we had - thank you for generously sharing so much information!