Vampire volumetrics

By | 1 March, 2010

There are certain things in life that only those of us who are pancreatically challenged will ever have the pleasure of doing. Having a heated debate about whether or not you lick your finger after doing a blood test is one of those things. Said debate over at Diabetes Mine got me thinking.

I lick. I’ve always licked. It has never occurred to me to do anything with the left over blood on the end of my finger other than to lick it (or occasionally spread it round my sheets)

I’ve been licking for almost 27 years now and so far no horrific consequences have befallen me despite the gallons of blood I must have swallowed. Here’s where it gets disappointing. My thinking went along the lines of – 27 years with diabetes, guestimate an average of 5 blood tests a day, a lick each time, I’m virtually a vampire I’ve ingested so much of my own blood.

If we assume a blood test takes on average 1 microlitre of blood for the machine and another 3 microlitres left on the finger for licking purposes, that gives us a starting point.

I’ve had diabetes for almost 27 years or 9,862 days to the nearest year (including leap years – thank you pedantic husband).

Work on an average of 5 blood tests a day, every day and that gives you 49,310 blood tests since my pancreas packed in (which in itself I think is a pretty impressive number).

If I lick 3 microlitres per blood test that means I’ve ingested 147,930 microlitres of blood over the years.

Sadly, it takes a million microlitres to make a litre which means after 27 years of committed licking I’ve only managed to ingest 148ml of my own blood. That’s about the size of one of those small cans of diet coke you get on a plane.

What is it with diabetes and size? I thought I took insulin by the gallon but then discovered it takes less than a teaspoonful per day to keep me alive.

Now I’ve discovered that all those hard years of testing and licking would barely sustain a mosquito on a diet.

If I was a vampire I’d have starved to death by now.

Note: The numbers in this article are a stab in the dark. I’m really not that interested whether they’re 100% accurate or not. I’ve already had a tedious discussion with the husband about rounding up and down, decimal places and how much blood I lick versus what goes onto the test strip. I’m starting to wish I’d never started this. Please just be amazed by the scale rather than finicky about the maths 😉

Category: Living with diabetes Tags: ,

About Alison

Diagnosed with Type One in 1983 at the age of four, Alison's been at this for a while now. She uses Humalog in a combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and any blood glucose meter as long as it takes five seconds or less.

11 thoughts on “Vampire volumetrics

  1. Shelley

    hahahaha I often think about this fact too, good to know that after all ure years it doesn’t amount to much, I only have 7yrs under my belt hahaha!! Gone a bit queasy now with all this blood speak hehe !x

  2. Ckoei

    I’m a printer (of loo-paper), not a licker and if you changed your ways by decanting that sanguine 148ml into the cartridges of an HP ink jetter, you’d be capable of printing ~1324 pages!

  3. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Dogs and many other animals instinctively lick their open wounds. Saliva may have healing properties.


  4. Alex

    Maybe this is why I am no longer allowed to donate blood. They’re afraid I’ll gulp down their week’s harvest by the pint if the let me into the van again.
    Suddenly it all makes sense.

  5. Caroline

    Damn you Tim! You made my stab in the dark pun! Apparently all the best pun windows are taken by noon round here.

  6. Teloz

    I’m a loo paper printer too! I even use it on my injection sites… Just as a matter of interest, do other people’s injection sites bleed, or is it just because I’m fatter’n a pork pig?

    Not much nourishment in 148ml of blood, not even enough to make a small black pudding!

  7. Teloz

    Mine don’t exactly bleed a lot, not as much as my ravaged fingers under the onslaught of the poker. Thanks for the heads up about the film, just right for a Sunday afternoon’s viewing! Roflmao! 😉


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