Top five everyday diabetes disasters

By | 29 March, 2011

I’m talking here about everyday diabetes disasters. Not the major disasters resulting from thirty years of neglect which lead to blindness, legs being chopped off and an early and entirely unfulfilling meeting with Grim Reaper. To quote KT Turnstall, I’m talking about the “miniature disasters and minor catastrophes” that dog us diabetics and lead to loud exclamations of “FFS!” from all around these sceptred isles every day.

5. The Squirter

A rare but devastating phenomena in which you hit a small artery when finger pricking or injecting. This results in a fine squirt of blood coating either a) your freshly ironed white shirt b) your face – making you look like an extra from the Evil Dead series of films. Neither is ideal.

4. The Sudden Stop

You hear your trendy polished-chrome stove-top kettle whistling from the kitchen so you rush in to take it off the boil. Or at least you try to. You come to a sudden and disorienting stop as your pump infusion set gets tangled in the kitchen door handle.

I’m not sure what they put in the glue on infusion sets, but it’s capable of stopping twelve stone of quickly moving diabetic in its tracks. They should use it to stop landing planes on aircraft carriers dagnabit!

3. The Hypo Cure Drought

Being good diabetics we have caches of our favourite hypo cures stashed around the place in case of unexpected hypoglycaemia. Of course, these run out from time to time and it’s crushingly inevitable that when your blood glucose is hovering around 1.6, you’re sweaty and entirely befuddled that you find your cache consists of an empty Lucozade bottle and some discarded Fruit Pastille wrappers. Gah!

2. Out of Date Strips

Like most diabetics I have a huge store of spare lancets, test strips, needles, ketone strips, sets, pump reservoirs and so on and so on. While I get through some of these bits of kit fairly quickly, some will languish in the back of my cupboard until the day they are needed.

Perhaps I need strips for a spare meter after my main meter’s battery has run out or something equally inane. It is, of course, at this point that the spare meter moodily points out your test strips are eight months out of date and it refuses to give you a BG reading! This usually results in said meter being hurled from a high window. Entirely deserved!

1. Running out of Insulin

It’s a Friday night and you’ve had a long day at work, but you’ve got to rush out straight away to a distant relative’s birthday party. If you don’t go to Cousin Ivy’s bash you’ll be disowned and disinherited. A family three line whip.

With astounding predictability you’re in such a rush you forget to check your supplies, assuming you’ve got plenty of Lantus or Humalog to last the night. Arriving at Ivy’s place you find the world’s biggest and carborific buffet in front of you and only 3½ units of insulin to see you through the night. “No trifle please, I’ll just stick to the salad thanks”.

So there we have it; those are my top five – what are yours?

Category: Living with diabetes Tags:

About Tim

Diagnosed with Type One when he was 28, Tim founded Shoot Up in 2009. For the diabetes geeks, he wears a Medtronic 640G insulin pump filled with Humalog and uses Abbott's Libre flash glucose monitor.

26 thoughts on “Top five everyday diabetes disasters

  1. Dave

    Interesting thoughts.

    For me as a MDIer it’s the getting in the car and onto the motorway for a full day out after a particularly stressful morning getting kids and stuff ready to feel down to the pocket to notice a noticable gap where the ‘Pen should be. At this point it’s a choice of severely pissing off the wife and suggesting we make a return trip of 20 miles or consume water and cheese for the rest of the day. I’ll be honest and it’s normally the latter for me.

  2. Cecile

    I’ve encountered 1,3 &5, so I need two more: The forgetter, where you can’t remember if you’ve bolused, and: The too fast or too slow, when you plunk down your drop of blood before or after the meter’s ready to accept it, then get told you’re E…

  3. Tim Post author

    @ckoei – yes, the forgetter! When on MDI I often resorted to rummaging through the bin to see if there was one discarded needle or two to remind me whether I’d put in my Lantus!

  4. Mike

    I go with the “Have I or have I not taken this bout of Lantus?” Confused look at pen, like it will suddenly talk to me in a reassuring manner that only a Lantus pen would noting that indeed Lantus was duly taken as per instructions!

    Actually that happens everyday, with both Lantus and NovoRapid.. 🙂

  5. Donald Thomson

    No. 5 is especially bad when it happened to me during a picnic and squirted a fine jet of finger blood all over my wife’s sandwiches.

    I had no. 1 last week when out to lunch. Having eaten a substantial meal, needing about 14 units, I had to make do with the 4 unit dregs until I could get home and sort myself out.

    I’ve also discovered the ‘I put that out to pack in my wash bag and it’s not there any more’ syndrome – Lantus pen mysteriously left behind, but I’d managed to pack a spare razor. Bizzare.

    Can I add a personal favourite. The ‘leaving in a hurry hypo’. Ready to go out for something or other, everything packed in my bag – glucose, insulin, meter. Car keys, phone etc. Then you start to feel that all-familiar feeling – oh good, what a great time for a hypo.

  6. Mike

    Yup. I’ll have 1, 3, The forgetter (especially Lantus), Donald’s ‘leaving in a hurry hypo’ (Mrs EDU&D’s repeated frustration being the reason she has done most of the driving since we were married)

    and I’ll also venture the slightly rarer ‘plenty of insulin but no spare needles, cap-off-dropping-pen-on-the-ground-needle-first-near-the-bins’. Oh how I laughed.

  7. Mike

    Yup. I’ll have 1, 3, The forgetter (especially Lantus), Donald’s ‘leaving in a hurry hypo’ (my wife’s repeated frustration being the reason she has done most of the driving since we were married)

    and I’ll also venture the slightly rarer ‘plenty of insulin but no spare needles, cap-off-dropping-pen-on-the-ground-needle-first-near-the-bins’. Oh how I laughed.

  8. Rohan

    I’m in on the 1, 3 and forgetter. Though it shows what a terrible diabetic I am that I just carry on as usual with both 1 and the forgettor! I forgot my kit only yesterday for work, in fact, just ate my lunch as usual thinking my usual ‘sod it, I’ll fix it at dinner time!’

    I did a very rare, odd, and annoying one on Sunday though: I did a lunch time shot of Lantus while on auto pilot! I usually do a morning and evening shot, and often find myself feeling I’ve forgotten something at lunch, but that’s the first time I’ve accidentally done it! Had some interesting guess work for the next two shots…

  9. Annette A

    1, yes. 2, no ( i only have one type of strip anyway). 3, yes. 4, I never have enough tubing hanging around to do that with. (Maybe you guys need to learn how to dress properly ;-p ) 5, yes. The forgetter, yes – I’ve resorted to counting needles as well – a good reason to change pen needles everytime… I’ve also done the ‘I’ve forgotten to pack…’ once we’re half way up the motorway (only once – the husband now asks everytime we leave the house if I’ve got everything…).

  10. Claire

    5 the squirter – the first time I did that (from a blood test) I got blood all over my face! And I was out in public, it was actually quite a shock as it was like a horror movie. It also happened during a night time hypo, only realised in the morning when I found blood on the wall. Ew!

  11. Clare Naughton Doe

    Sadly I have encountered all five!! …. but the worst has to be on the way to an interview and the wire got caught on my hand brake, to be oddly pulled straight out of me, causing bleeding on my interview shirt, 120 miles away from home.. scrambling around for my spare cannula, only to find it had been crushed in my bag 🙁 then having to randomly do injections in a bid to not be hyper for my interview.
    Or to be so tired that I only wake up with an occlusion alarm about 3 hours after it goes off…. :/
    Finally, to decide it’s a great idea to go for a long walk somewhere I’ve never been – in the middle of nowhere, on the day that as soon as I am 2 miles in, to have a series of random hypos eating all supplies, and then panicking the whole way round thinking I’m going to die, no one knows where I am, my phone doesn’t bloomin work in the middle of a field, envisaging the headline of Diabetic gorged on by sheep, yet to be identified! Lets just say, I never walk alone anymore unless I have 6 bottles of lucozade and a packet of cereal bars……. haha

  12. Mike

    Oooooh! I’ve remembered another one… ‘Oops! Wrong Insulin’ When you look at the pen in your hand just after whacking in your full basal dose for 24 hours only to realise that you are holding your repid-acting pen. Time to hit the cake/biscuit/yummy things drawer or cupboard!

    See how much Diabetic Fun you pumpers are missing out on. Come on back to lovely chaotic MDI-land. We can sautee our kidneys together while the sun sets over a treacly pool of blood the consistency of strawberry jam.

  13. Tim Post author

    @clare – ha ha ha! You get a Shoot Up gold star for the headline “Diabetic gorged on by sheep” 😀

    @mike – yup, I’ve been there, got t-shirt. Nothing is worse than sticking in 39 units of Humalog when you meant 39 units of Lantus. The joys of semi-automated zombie-diabetes – doing all the stuff without really noticing!

  14. Tim Post author

    By the way, I would like to point out that we don’t actually have a “trendy polished-chrome stove-top kettle” as envisaged in the article. We just have a normal white & grey kettle. I felt I needed to add a little dramatic whoosh to the article.

  15. Dave

    @Tim – No, but you do have a man called Geoffrey to make the tea for you. I saw how you dressed for the first video blog. Your usual evening attire I’m sure.

    1. Alison

      @seasiderdave You weren’t far off the mark there. Geoffrey (otherwise known as “the husband”) was in fact the cameraman for a lot of the video blogs, although he does make a lovely cup of tea when asked nicely.

  16. lizz

    Well… inconvenient hypo due entirely to someone else… A long time ago (this is the one that still REALLY rankles) OH drove me to an interview at the Beeb across London. We had done this once before, at both of our initial interviews, done on the same day. This was my callback. At the other interview day OH plotted a route. This time he did not. He got lost. The ensuing panic lowered my blood sugar and I went in and became very hypo, but i didn’t realise. At OH’s second interview they told him he hadn’t got a second interview, but one of their female candidates, the favourite, had been totally different in her second interview – they couldn’t understand why. So he got another chance. He got the apprenticeship and I didn’t. Grrr.

    On a good note, I would have been useless as a film editor, and he is brilliant, so I got over it in the end!

    I have never had a gusher from my legs or arms, I try to avoid my quite visible veins. But have gushed from finger pricks! Anyone else noticed that sugar-free blood is lighter and thinner than high blood sugar blood?

    Does anyone else ‘go off’ their current sugar provider? I use tic-tacs and fruit gums and licorice and lemon sherberts at the minute. But one day i will open the cupboard in a sugarless state and feel nauseous at the mere hint of any of them, and hunt crazily for something different. I hate lucozade, it makes your breath smell and goes straight through me and the bubbles make me feel sick and it’s horrible. So i stand there going over all the alternatives and then lurch round the house after something, anything until I find a packet of orange juice or maybe some mints in a pocket or a squashed chocolate bar in the bottom of my handbag.

    I have the empty box panic. This is when OH has found an empty box on the kitchen table, which he thinks is full of test strips. He is tidy, I am not. He puts it away in the cupboard. I think it is full. I do not order more test strips, run out, open box, and voila! No test strips. This happens quite often. Neither of us learn.

    Oh yes, often get caught by my wire, usually when I have nothing on but my nightie as the line runs from my leg up over the outside of my nightdress to where my pump is attached at the neck – when I’m walking round. This gives me quite a peculiar appearance and is the reason I always have an en-suite at a hotel.

    The battery run out! This is fine in the pump as it gives warning. But the test meter – well it just gives up. At uni once when it gave up someone had to take me to a place which sold strange almost un-buyable batteries AND pay for them as I had no money on me.

    What about the oh, goodness I’m high, is it cos I didn’t bolus (can check on pump, yes I did) or maybe did I have too much to eat? No I didn’t, i don’t think – was I hypo recently? No… well I was last night, could that be it? Or is the cannula site giving up? How old is it? Oh, dear, 4 days gone… but is it that? It seems fine, and I have to go out in 5 minutes, I don’t have time to change it… Well, do you?

    By the way, we have a trendy kettle. Just thought you should know. It’s beauty is beyond compare.

  17. Hairy Gnome

    Can someone tell me how long the pipe is on an infusion set? I’m trying to calculate the length of @Liz’ nightie… 😛

  18. Scotty

    #4 A pump, what’s a pump? Then again I am from 14th century Glasgow…

    My ones revolve around kids.
    -How much of my carefully carb counted lunch did they just pinch?
    -How much of their sugar iced niceties did I just pinch?
    -Oh bollox they’ve eaten all the jelly babies.

  19. Alison

    Oh yes, 5, 4, 3 and 1 are sadly familar. As is the “Have I injected/bugger I think I’ve injected twice” condundrum.


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