Storing insulin

Anyone who has read an account of Banting and Best’s discovery of insulin will know that they worked their guts out to come up with a cure for us diabetic hoards. Many dogs gave their lives for diabetic research – having their pancreases ligated allowing their pancreases to atrophy – leading to their untimely and grisly deaths.

James Collip worked himself almost to madness to purify the secretions Banting and Best made, while at the same time JJR Macleod laboured tirelessly with the research laboratories at Eli Lilly to make insulin available on a scale that made it commercially viable and available to grateful diabetics the world around. For their efforts Banting and Macleod won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1923.

Since then researchers and pharmaceutical companies have poured millions of pounds and countless hours of work into new insulin analogs, so creating wondrous new insulins including technically advanced biosynthetic human recombinant analogues and shifted isoelectric point insulins.

Modern insulin – the culmination of years of research and labour and sweat and tears – is now available in plentiful supply at a reasonably affordable price throughout most of the world.

So what do we do with it when we get it?

Yes, that’s right, shove it in the fridge in an old cheese box next to a jar of mouldy pickled onions and some posh French mustard.

Poor old Banting must be turning in his grave.

Some pickled onions. And some insulin in Tim's fridge
Some pickled onions. And some insulin in Tim

All Quiet on the Diabetes Front

Quiet - personified

Avid readers of your soaraway Shoot Up will be disappointed to hear that I’ve suffered from no major diabetic disasters in the last few weeks.

No, nothing much has happened. I’ve suffered no major hypos, no major hypers, no problems with injections, no problems with blindness or creeping neuropathy leading to limbs rotting off and leaving me with only suppurating stumps.

In fact, the majority of my BG readings for the past few weeks have been in the mid single-digits despite doing a tonne of strenuous DIY, gardening, as well as dealing with all the general trials and tribulations of everyday life. I suspect that now that I’ve said this the “curse of the pancreas” will strike and I’ll have a fortnight of highs and lows, the graph of which will look like a cross section of an insane engineer’s frenzied roller-coaster.

That minor point aside, I’m therefore going to use this article to celebrate the dullness of just getting it right, something which a sizeable majority of us do every day. Go us!

The terrible smell

After yet another diabetes related bed sheet incident I am now starting to think that diabetes and sheets are simply incompatible bedfellows. This time there was no visible problem, no massacre-like blood stains or mysterious slime. Oh no, this time it was the smell. Thankfully not the smell of my toes rotting off or my kidneys frying, but stil not a fragrance I like to have around the house.

I’m sitting on my bed (which I’d only changed the day before) getting ready to change my infusion set. I have no concerns about blood spots getting on the sheets because the set I’m removing is on the top of my thigh. If I remove a set from my buttocks while sitting on the cream duvet, I can almost guarantee it’ll bleed and leave tiny red marks on the duvet. But my mind is clear of such concerns today.

I fill the reservoir with insulin and squirt a bit back into the bottle to remove some air bubbles. Then I draw a bit more insulin into the reservoir to make sure it’s full. Then I get a bit carried away and pull the plunger completely out of reservoir, emptying 300 units of insulin all over me and the bed in the process.

I don’t tend to notice the smell of insulin any more. Apparently 300 units is enough to cure my olfactory fatigue. I can confirm that it stinks. I finish the set change and naively mop up the insulin thinking that’ll sort the problem. Afterall, despite probably being enough to kill 4 ShootUp readers should we split it between us and inject it all at once, 300 units isn’t really very much. It’s just a few spoonfuls.  

Having washed my hands, I return to the cleaned up bedroom. The smell is overpowering and showing no sign of abating. I strip the bed and resign myself to having to wash the sheets. I also change my clothes. I carry on with my day, but there’s a lingering smell wherever I go. Even with clean clothes on, I still stink. I take a shower. I start planning what we can have for dinner that’ll overpower the insulin smell – curry and garlic perhaps?

The husband comes in. By now the house is full of wet washing because the British summer monsoon is raging outside. But that doesn’t really matter, because there’s no hope of smelling the washing over the overwhelming stench of insulin. From the way the husband recoiled as he crossed the front doorstep, I guess the smell is still pretty powerful. We open all the windows and go to the pub.

Thankfully the smell seems to have gone now, but I’ve learned my lesson. From now on all insulin will be stored in a safe box in the garden shed and only used when wearing full safety gear.


A scene one might, or might not, see on holiday
A scene one might, or might not, see on holiday

Tra la la la laaaa!

I’ve packed my bucket and spade and Katie and I are off on our holidays for a fortnight. Incredible though it might seem (not least to me) I won’t have any Internet access at all (pretty scary, eh, readers?)  So I’m going to leave you in the very capable hands of my esteemed co-writer Alison, forum moderator extraordinaire Mike and, of course, the woofy ball of fluff that is our resident newshound Neville.

I’ve locked the windows and left a note for the milkman, so it just remains to say behave yourselves, enjoy the forums and be nice to any new sign-ups. Unless they’re spammers. Toodle-ooo!!!

Comatose and rotting toes – the lighter side of insulin dependency

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