How NOT to Teach an 11-Year-Old Boy to Give Himself a Shot

Mike_11ishI could give a shot to an orange, a grapefruit, and a nurse, but I couldn’t inject myself.

I was 11 years old and had just been diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. I spent the next three weeks in the hospital, where the nurses schemed to teach me to give my own shot. After three weeks of trickery, deceit, and blackmail, they finally gave up on me and told my parents to take me home for Christmas. I saw one of them slip my mom a $100 bill.

First they tried to model how easy it is to give oneself a shot. One-by-one, each of the nurses came into my room and stuck a hypodermic needle in her arm, and then told me I could do it as well. I began to really enjoy this daily game. I asked them to send in my older sister and my sixth-grade math teacher.

Then they attempted reverse psychology: I was to give one of them—the young, wide-eyed, just-out-of-nursing-school neophyte—a shot of saline solution. The idea was that if I could give someone else a shot, I could give one to myself. Really? I was a preadolescent boy. It didn’t hurt me to put that needle in her arm, but I could tell by her expression that it hurt her. She didn’t think it was as funny as I did.

Then they pulled out the big guns: No dessert if I didn’t give myself my shot. But my 9-year-old roommate had just had surgery on both feet, so when everyone left, I took his dessert. I knew he’d never catch me.

Eventually, I was able to give myself my own shot, but I’ll save that for another post. In the meanwhile I did learn quite a bit from my experience. For instance, when you inject an orange with enough saline solution, it becomes a little water bomb—perfect for terrorizing your roommate and your older sister.



  • madisonlang June 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I feel very very sorry for laughing at this, but I completely get where your coming from. Also, as a nurse I’d never let an 11 year old give me a shot of anything. 😀

    • Michael C. Mack June 20, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Don’t be sorry. I meant for you to laugh at this … at my expense. Sorry to make fun (sort of) of the nurses. They were doing their best with a punk adolescent boy!

      • madisonlang June 20, 2014 at 11:19 am

        Never apologize for making fun of nurses. Most nurses need to be made fun of… daily, or else they get a big head, and no one likes bobble headed nurses.

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  • Holly July 26, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    This is hilarious! I was diagnosed at 6 and my parents were told that I would probably not be able to inject myself for several years. 1 week after being diagnosed I began injecting myself for many of the opposite reasons you site. I didn’t want someone sticking me when they had no idea how it felt! Great post!


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