Things Everyone Thinks Are Gross Unless You’re a T1D


The “Vampire Lick”

Type 1 diabetics lick their own blood. Yep, I said it. This is especially true for those of us who grew up with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the days before continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), or those who choose not to utilize a CGM today. I mean, you can’t really expect us to have a plethora of alcohol wipes or tissues in our pockets every time we need to test, can you?


Speaking of finger pricking—there is an anomaly that sometimes occurs when we T1Ds need to squeeze our fingers a little to get a blood drop to emerge. Instead of gradually forming into a perfect, modest little drop of blood, it turns into a finger-geyser that spews upward and often right into our face. Good times.

Low snacks off of the floor

We have all found ourselves in this place, at one time or another. It’s a place we never want to be, or imagined that we would come face to face with—but there they were: our low snacks scattered all over the floor, with no other immediate options available to us. Skittles, glucose tabs and fruit chews all count as low snacks that have the potential for disaster if we lose our grip on them or if they come tumbling out of a bag. And then, we are faced with a pretty rancid decision. Ingest some floor gunk or have a potentially life threatening issue? Option A, it is!


Big, discolored and blotchy bruises scattered on our arms, abdomen and elsewhere are inevitable when one has to jab themselves with needles (and/or cannulas) as we do. Whether it be multiple daily injection (MDI) pump site changes or CGM sensor insertion, we are always left with little battle wounds that folks tend to notice immediately, while we aren’t fazed a bit.


Who hasn’t heard the whole, “Oh my gosh, I could never deal with needles every day, I don’t know how you do it!” Okay, friend. Yes, if you had T1D, you could, and you would. You know why? Because the alternative is: you die.

Playing with our food

Sometimes we will try to be really good and eat super low-carb at a restaurant, but the chef decides to cover our simple protein with a sugary sauce or pile on some starchiness like some mashed potatoes. In which case we have to dissect our plates a bit, taking matters into our own hands… literally.

Skin irritations

Some adhesives that certain pumps or CGMs have tend to irritate certain skin types. There are ways to remedy that, such as using adhesive spray or adhesive prep wipes, but we have all run into annoying and not super appealing rashes as a result of those frequently used pump or CGM sites.

Late night low binging

Unfortunately, we can’t really choose when we get lows. In fact, they typically happen at the world’s most inconvenient moments. The best examples would be directly after brushing our teeth, or in the middle of the night when we are woken up by our CGM alarms and have to race down to the kitchen and guzzle some juice or stuff our faces with fruit chews—much to the dismay of our poor 3 A.M. stomachs.

WRITTEN BY Alexi Melvin, POSTED 07/08/19, UPDATED 11/10/22

Alexi Melvin is a writer, artist and actress in the Bay Area. She studied at the New School University in Manhattan as well as the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. She has written for multiple publications and websites such as the San Francisco Chronicle and has been a regular contributor for Beyond Type 1 for many years. You can also hear her voice in two Star Wars films. She has been a loyal advocate for type 1 diabetes awareness, education and fundraising since she was diagnosed in 2003. She hopes to continue to empower and be a voice for those who choose to embrace type 1 diabetes as a part of their lives, but at the same time, do not allow it to define them.