« The One About Not Getting It RIght On the First Try. | Main | Roche Summit 2011: SUM Thoughts. »

From Abby: My Dia-Ink.

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?


I once read about tattoos that are powered by blood sugar! I forget if they change colors or if they move around, but they do something animated and they slow down if your blood sugar gets too low. Now THAT's cool!

Congratulations, Abby! It looks great!

I had the pleasure of going with another D mom when she got her D-tattoo. Big blue ribbon and dx date of her son. It's pretty awesome. What the funny part was was that the guy had a tub of glucose tabs on his shelf for when people would get faint during the process (apparently it happens) We had a little giggle about that.

2 years ago I decided to get a tattoo. Like Abby I wanted something that meant something to me, it may seem like a strange place but I had wanted one on the inside of my bottom lip,where I could show if I wanted to or not. I decided on the word, "HOPE" relating to my diabetes. It reminds me to never lose hope that one day this disease will eventually have a cure and worry and stress about it will be gone, hope that others won't experience the struggle.

i don't have a diabetes tattoo yet, but my next one will be diabetes related! my 9 year old son has had diabetes for 3.5 years now, and my next tattoo will be just for him... a phoenix rising out of the flames, with the diabetes ribbon, either as a bracelet, necklace or his diagnosis date/something in there too. i feel like he's had to deal with alot of crappy stuff in his life, and he's always rising above it all. he's a pretty awesome kid.

abby, i love your dia-ink! simple, beautiful, to the point.

I got a tattoo two years ago. I wanted something that referred to my diabetes, but wasn't BLARING. I decided on "La Dolce Vita" which means the "The Sweet Life" in Italian. It's a little nod to my broken pancreas, but also reminds me I'm very lucky to be living a pretty sweet life.

I don't have any dia-ink yet but I am currently planning no. 5 to be just that! Thank you for sharing Abby ... love it :)

That is lovely! Thanks for your explanation of what a tattoo feels like--I want one (I'm thinking a rubber ducky, left bicep) but I've been a chicken. I also fear infection--I'm assuming that with your three tatoos that has not been a problem!

There's a Type 2 (fyre522) on the ADA message board that has a large medical caduceus with "diabetes" written across it on her forearm. You could probably search for it on the boards if you want to see. I'm not sure if I want a tattoo or not, so at this time I'm leaning toward not.

My usual reponse to "do you have a tatoo" is "no, would you put a bumpah stickah on a Bentley?" but I would totally make the exception for a D tat. Perhaps a permanent infusion set on my rump or a drop of blood on my finger tip. Now if I can just get the gumption.... Congrats Abby!

I have a gray ribbon with a blood droplet coming off the bottom and the date of my diagnosis at the top. It's between my shoulder blades.

I also wanted to have one happy thought to associate with this date.

I love my diabetes tattoo ... i have a gray/black and white diabetes ribbon with the red blood drop in right corner with year i got diabetes written across the middle.

That is an awesome, beautiful tattoo. Love it. Good for you, A!

I may be one of the very few people that has a happy memory of the day I was diagnosed. I was 5 months pregnant and was put in ICU and that's where I found out that my sweet little baby was a girl. :) Never though about getting a diabetes tattoo but I will now!

This is beautiful! I don't have one, but I think they are really special to have.

Very cool, I love it! I don't have a diabetic one yet but I have 16 other ones....geez. But I need to get one and yours is beautiful! I was diagnosed only a year before you too!

Awesome! I love it! I don't have a diabetes tattoo but I really want one! And how crazy is this...my diagnosis date is one day before Abby's! November 15, 1998! Crazy! :)

yup. cool-looking glucose molecule on the outside of my left ankle.

I have a cupcake and the words "Sweet enough" on top of it.

My husband and I have an little inside joke, whenever we go out to dinner, when I order iced tea and the waitress asked "sweet or unsweet".. or if she asks if I want dessert, my husband chimes in and says "No, shes sweet enough as it is"

The waitress doesn't know that he is referring to my Type 1 Diabetes (and my blood sugar rising from the meal I just ate) she just thinks he's being sweet ;)

No ink here yet, but the glucose molecule idea intrigued me. I like even better the six insulin molecules as pictured here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin
It makes me think of something you'd see in a kaleidescope.

Dang it, I thought I had just gotten over my years long debate about whether to get a tattoo (I'm afraid I won't be hired for a job or something with a tattoo visible) but this is definitely a possibly I want to reconsider.

I have several, including one on my right ribs of a heart with my diagnosis date and a ribbon below it that says "peace, love & insulin"

I'm of the pre-tattoo generation (they were only for dirty sailors), but I think a diabetes tattoo is an excellent idea if you don't want to wear a medical bracelet. For that reason, I would put it in an easily accessible place, and make it obviously diabetes-related. I really don't like my medical bracelet, but can't quite wrap my mind around a tattoo!

Love the "life goes on" message in it.

I actually got a medical alert tattoo last summer. I decided to put it on the inside of my wrist, so that someone would see it if I was out cold for some reason! It is the pole with two snakes intertwined and wings on the top, and in script I have "T1 Diabetes" written above it. I researched a lot of pictures for a while before doing it, but none of them seemed to be what I wanted. I had the guy at the tattoo place draw this up for me, and I loved it! I am in school for nutrition, and hope to be a CDE in the future, so I am not too worried about my tattoo interfering with job offers. Half the time, people don't see it until I turn my arms out in a certain way.
PS- its a great conversation starter!

I have never considered a tattoo until now. Something good has to come out of this whole diabetes thing.


Picuture of a young camp counselor from "This is Caleb" blog. Tattoo says Camp Joslin Forever. too cute.

I don't have a DIABETES tattoo... yet... but I just got an awesome tattoo for Hodgkin's Lymphoma! I just kicked that into remission. You can see the photo on my blog on a recent entry... Before I got the HL tattoo on my foot, I had a temp. put on my ankle. The tattoo artist was giving me a hard time about being so indecisive - foot, or ankle? I went with the foot but that temp. awareness ribbon was on my ankle for a day or two.... Don't even get me started on how tempted I was to turn that one into something for Type 1!! (but who wants two awareness ribbons on them?)

I have been considering getting one...I am on MDI and thought a target on my butt would be appropriate ;)

Abby, your dx date is the same as Nick Jonas'. Yours is November 16 1998, and his is November 16, 2005. Weird.

I got D-inked a few months ago. It's a medical ID type, on the inside of my left forearm. I love love it! I've always been very shy about talking about my life with diabetes but now I get asked all the time about it. Here's a photo of my tat: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saradawnjohnson/5513562309/

i have a blue circle on my lower left shoulder blade, my diabetic nurse really likes it. not overly evident what it represents but to me its community and hope....and its just pretty too.

I have 3 tattoos & am planning on getting 2 more. I have thought about getting a D tat but can't bring myself to do it. I guess my hope for a cure prevents me from doing it. Silly, I know, but I just can't bring myself to make D permanent on the outside, too. :/

I can't wait to get one, but I'm a bit conflicted about it. I want some sort of indicator on my left wrist, but then there's the whole "What does work think about that?" thought that enters my mind. It's Florida, and I'm not wearing long sleeves to work everyday. So...decisions, decisions.

I love my dia-ink! I've got a blue circle and medical alert symbol with "type 1 diabetic" under it. I was in the ER all last week and every nurse/doctor kept saying it was a great idea and a cool tattoo!

lovely. my son has type 1 would love to represent him

I guess I'm going to have to be the one voice against a tattoo. I have always thought of my body as a gift from God. My diabetes is not, so I have never wanted it to define me. A disease is just not something I want to celebrate or advertise.

This has been on my To Do list for years... I have no idea if I'll ever do it. There's a line in Rent that goes "Living with, not dying from disease" and I love the idea of putting "Living With..." somewhere that others can see but isn't obvious.

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)