I usually notice my fingertips first. Sometimes, it’s while I’m doing my makeup, with my hands only inches away from my eyeballs. Other times, I’ll be looking at my nails, trying to mentally calculate whether I have enough in my checking account to splurge on a manicure this month. I’ll be going along, doing my thing, and suddenly my eye is drawn to them. Like little drops of ink, or tiny freckles, they line my fingertips. When I finish washing the dishes and my hands are wet and prune-y, the marks are even more prominent. Clearly visible are the holes in my skin; holes made from pricks felt six, eight, sometimes ten times a day, depending on the numbers blinking on the screen.
If it’s not my fingertips, it’s my waist. When I am putting on my jeans in the morning, or changing into my pajamas at night, I’ll see them. The little red dots trace along my waistline, usually only millimeters away from one another. Sometimes they itch, other times they bleed, occasionally, they heal with no issue. They never fade though, nor will they, as long as I continue to pierce my skin and insert the patches.
Sometimes, I admire them. They serve as a tribute to how hard I have worked to manage this disease. They represent the countless times I took a few precious seconds to care for myself. They remind me of pain, of burning, stinging, of blood that gushes too fast, or blood that trickles too slow, no matter how hard the finger is squeezed. They represent the strength I have endured. They showcase the courage it has taken. They remind me of every time unwanted attention was sent my way, of those who squirm and squeal at the sight of the red droplet the ink dots produce, of the questions, the never-ending questions that I constantly field. The inquiries as to why I am wearing a beeper in 2016, what is making the odd whirling noise as the life-sustaining drug is pumped into my system in mere seconds, how I can live a life like this (that one is easy; I couldn’t. I physically wouldn’t be alive). The dots along my fingertips tell stories, like a scar or a cast on one’s limb. They tell of the time an unfortunate drop in blood sugar occurred during a high school Spanish final. They speak of the shakiness. The needing to leave class, the almost passing out in the hallway, the feeling of one thousand juice boxes still not being enough. They tell tales of the highs; the tests missed due to blood-filled sites and spiking sugars, the angry words snapped in a moment of fogginess and sugar induced frustration. The inkless dots remind me of nights spent up, too afraid to fall into slumber where the coma lurks. They remind me of blinking my eyes groggily in the middle of the night, to find my mother, half asleep and head a mess of wild curls, piercing my skin and waiting for the comfort of a good number to send us both back to a peaceful hibernation.
They are always there though, one more constant reminder of the battle I fight and the failed organ I carry within my body. I dread the day I have to explain them to my children. I pray that it will not be something they are familiar with. My greatest fear is that they too are one day plagued with the marks. I hope that someday, they fade, not completely though. I yearn for the day they are faint enough to not be noticed, yet I know they exist, as a gentle indication of the battle I won.