I was rushing around the house getting ready – nothing unusual, nothing strange. I was talking to Aaron and the kidlet, and we were making plans to grab a coffee before really starting our day.

I walked into the bedroom and reached into my bag for my meter. I needed to silence the calibration alarm that had, for about the last hour, been reminding me that it was time to check my glucose level and enter it into my Dex app.

I sat on the edge of the bed, inserted a strip into the port and primed my lancet for use. As I pushed it against the side of my finger, I froze.

My breathing quickened and I could feel my heart rate also speeding up. My hands were slightly trembling.

I put everything next to me on the bed, shaking out my hands, as though I was trying to dry water from them.

I took a deep breath, tried to refocus, and picked up everything again.

Reinserted strip.
Lancet still primed and ready.
Finger waiting for sting.

Nope; couldn’t do it. My right hand, which was holding the lancet, just refused to do what my brain was telling it to do. It was frozen. The thumb was poised on the release button at the side of the lancet, but refused to add the required pressure to fire the needle through my skin.

I suddenly flashed back to a session I had done years ago with first year med students where they were all asked to check their BGL and give themselves a saline injection to their stomachs.

I remembered that there were a small group who seemed paralysed when asked to stab themselves. And I remembered the young person I had sat next to, gently coaxing them to have a go while secretly thinking they were being pathetic and should just bloody well get on with it.

Right then, I felt pathetic. Why couldn’t I just bloody well get on with it? I’ve have jabbed my finger thousands and thousands of times and never, ever frozen up like this – not even the first time I did it almost 19 years ago.

I put down my kit and walked out of the room. I went into the kitchen, grabbed a glass of water and drank it down. I walked out into the back garden, watered the lemon and cherry trees, inspecting all their new growth, proud that we hadn’t killed either of them. Yet.

The dogs were running and jumping around me and I reached down to pat Bella, and then sat down for a moment, raising my face to the sun and letting the sunshine warm my skin. My breathing had returned to normal.

I sat there for a while and then went back inside, continuing to get ready. Once organised, I threw everything I needed for the day in my bag – included my meter – and headed out the door, and we walked to our local for a coffee.

We ordered, and mid-conversation, I reached into my bag and subconsciously readied my meter and lancet again: auto pilot firmly on, brain not fully engaged. I heard a click as the lancet released and saw the drop of blood, quickly squeezing it onto the waiting strip.

I focused. The number came up. I entered it into my phone. And put away all my equipment into my bag. Where it waits for next time. And the next.

And the next.

This is Bella (from a few months ago when she was in need of a haircut).