Insulin Square – Episode Four

By | 18 May, 2018
Viewing figures are expected to reach 3 billion

Viewing figures are expected to reach 3 billion

The psychopaths that have followed your soaraway Shoot Up for the past nine years have always enjoyed the trials, tribulations and machinations of the varied characters within Shoot Up’s very own soap opera, Insulin Square, in which every character is diabetic.


NARRATOR Previously on Insulin Square … Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three.

INT.DAY The Arches; a small garage with a car up on jacks, tools and equipment litter the surroundings. ERIC is working on a complex, large, metal device the size of a large fridge freezer. Steam occasionally issues from the complex array of pipes, dials and wiring. Enter TREVOR.

TREVOR All right, ERIC, how’s it going? (double takes, seeing device) Hey, what’s that thing?

ERIC (wiping hands on oily cloth) Oh, hi Trevor. This is my latest project.

TREVOR I can see that, what on earth is it?

ERIC Well, as you know, I’ve always been handy about the place. So I decided to build my own closed loop system

TREVOR What’s a closed poop? Is that something to do with your toilet plumbing?

ERIC Nah, mate, closed loop – with an “L”. I’ve been reading up about them on MySpace and Bebo and they’re the very latest thing. Means you don’t have to attend to your diabetes at all anymore.

TREVOR Not at all?

ERIC Nah, it’s all fully automated. No more carb counting, no more finger pricking, no more nothing. Just mechanical and computer-controlled everything. It’s as if your pancreas were still working!

TREVOR Sounds great, Eric. But isn’t it a bit big?

ERIC Well, I never got my hands on a pump or a CGM; I’m still on multiple daily injections. So I’ve had to make the best of what I’ve got. (Points at various parts of the machine) Here’s the needle arm that automatically pricks my finger every three minutes; this spring has a testing strip which brushes past my bloody finger to get the readings. And up here (points) is a set of a dozen hypodermic needles connected to a 3-gallon reservoir of insulin. Each one gets filled up every day through this tubing and I’m automatically injected every ten minutes.

TREVOR But how does it work, Eric?

ERIC Well, all the mechanised bits are powered through the innards of my dad’s old grandfather clock – I’ve got to wind it up twice a day.

TREVOR How does it know how much insulin to put in?

ERIC This is the clever bit; I’ve got it rigged up to an old Spectrum 48k that I found in a charity shop. I load up the basal / bolus algorithms from this tape deck on the side. I have a tape for each day.


ERIC I’ve had to muddle through but it works. All I need now are some pram wheels on the bottom so I can move it about!

CUT TO INT.DAY The Banting Arms, Insulin Square’s local boozer. An oil painting of J.J.R. Macleod hangs over the mantlepiece, the bar is decorated with bust of James Collip and a stuffed dog labelled “Marjorie” sits on a shelf. STEVE sits on a corner table, constantly moving a small device to his arm. The BARMAID comes over.

BARMAID Can I get you anything more Steve? Another diet Coke? Another tube of Fruit Pastilles?

STEVE No, thanks treacle (compulsively moves device to arm again)

BARMAID What are you doing? What’s with that thing?

STEVE It’s a Libre, love. I stole it from Derek in return for saving his life with a glucagon injection after I made him hypoglycaemic in order to drive a wedge between him and Susan so I could steal Susan away from him.


STEVE But now I just can’t stop testing. Every minute of every day I’m checking my blood glucose. I can’t stop.

BARMAID Is that healthy?

STEVE I don’t know. I don’t care. I just need my Libre fix! (tests again). Anyway, I can deal with it. And I can give up anytime I like. I’m not an addict! (shouts) So just leave me alone!!

BARMAID (departs looking pensive)

CUT TO INT.DAY The Collip Laundrette; washing machines whir in the background. Bell tinkles over door as JON enters. REBECCA, the owner of the laundrette, is sorting washing

REBECCA Oh, mornin’ Jon. How are you today?

JON Fine, thanks treacle.

REBECCA Are you sure, Jon. I don’t like to pry but I was just sorting through your service wash and as I turned out your socks I noticed some blood, gore and puss.

JON What about it? It’s nothing.

REBECCA How have your blood sugars been?

JON Alright, I suppose.

REBECCA (reading from cue card behind camera) You do know that high blood glucose levels can damage the tiny blood vessels of your nerves, causing a tingling or burning pain that spreads from toes up through your limbs. It can also cause numbness, which can lead to ulceration of the feet. This form of damage to the peripheral nervous system – the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord – is known as peripheral neuropathy.

JON You what?

REBECCA I wrote my PhD thesis on the causes of peripheral neuropathy and spent years giving talks around the world about this and other diabetes-related medical research.

JON But why are you running a laundrette? Why aren’t you practicing medicine any more?

REBECCA I can’t tell you Jon. It’s just too painful.

JON (kindly) But you can tell me Rebecca, I’m your mate. And that’s what mates are for after all.

REBECCA Maybe it is time the truth was revealed. Maybe I need to tell the world about that dark and stormy night. Me on a hospital ward filled with diabetics and only one packet of Fruit Pastilles available (looks into distance, camera zooms in, single tear falls down REBECCA’s face).


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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.

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