I’ve never wanted a tattoo because I can’t think of anything I want on my body FOREVER (I was more of a piercer than an inker), but Abby figured out what she wanted:  a diabetes tattoo.  But not exactly what you might be thinking.  Today, she’s talking about her decision to get dia-inked.

*   *   *

I didn’t even know that people got diabetes tattoos until my first summer at Clara Barton Camp, where I saw a bunch of them. I saw some that were blue ribbons with dates under them, some with the medic-alert symbol, hearts with their dates, quotes.

I had to have one.

It took me about a year and a half to decide what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want a medic alert symbol, because I didn’t want people to know what the tattoo was about when they saw it. I started thinking of quotes that would represent the way I live my life with diabetes, and I came up with a few that stuck with me for a while.

“It’s only life” is from a song by Kate Voegele, which I had almost settled on. “Impossible Means Nothing To Me” from another Kate Voegele song was also in the running.

I definitely wanted the date of my diagnosis in with the quote, I just couldn’t decide which quote I wanted. Then I kept asking myself “what if I hate that song in 10 years?” or “what if Kate Voegele becomes a crazy murderer and I’ve got her words stuck on me forever?”

That’s when I nixed the quote idea and went with just “the date.” Deciding where was less of a hassle. I have a tattoo on my right ankle, and on my back (not a tramp stamp) which both have some really deep meaning to them, so I needed a place that would be separate from those. I chose my ribs on the left side.

Getting inked for diabetes.
Abby getting inked.

So there it was, I had what I wanted, I had the place – to the tattoo parlor I went. The guy there just doodled up the final design in like a hot second – so talented. It took like, two hours maybe, and that’s because he took a break to smoke. I went low before we started and was in the 200s by the end, as I recall. Typical. (And no it didn’t hurt that bad. It’s like a stingy pump site, but for two full hours. Diabetics are tough.)

Every time I look at my tattoo (which isn’t often because it’s at a weird angle for me to see) it reminds me that something beautiful can come of a really dark day. When I think about the day I was diagnosed, I don’t have any happy memories. I don’t know many people who do. Getting this tattoo was my way of permanently saying that life moves on, and to be wicked cliché, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

So I have a tattoo about diabetes. Kind of. It’s the date I was diagnosed, with some swirly girly pretty doodles around it. 

And I think it’s awesome.

Dia-Ink, by Abby

*   *   *

I agree, Abby.  Anyone else out there sporting dia-ink?