I broke an almost-new bottle of insulin this week. It had been opened less than 48 hours, had only 150 units removed. It wasn’t an accident or a cat attack, though.
The short story is it broke because I threw it at a wall. Twice.
The long story starts with it being a typical day at work. Getting ready to drive home, I tested at 160. Which was kind of high for that time of day. But, I was about to get in the car so I figured I would keep an eye on it and check again after I got home.
Now, at home this wasn’t a typical day. This was Number Two Son’s 13th birthday, so we were skipping most of our kids extra activities to stay home and celebrate as a family. So from the minute I got home I was rushing around, trying to hustle the boxes from Amazon upstairs, clear the table, and work on dinner. Normally Number Two Son helps me prepare, but since it was his birthday he had the day off.
Brown rice, chicken with spicy Thai basil sauce. I start the rice, start digging out ingredients, chopping veggies, and getting it all set to cook. I run around, glancing down at Dex. About 170. Well, not great, but I’m too busy to deal with that now, I will just add in a correction at dinner.
Life happened. Grandparents stopped in to see the kids, husband was late trying to pick up the cake on the way home. As grandparents leave I resume cooking, really hungry now. Chicken smells amazing. Even more so as I add the fresh basil, ginger and garlic and that wonderful smell fills the kitchen. Husband arrives home, with carrot cake and Samoa Girl Scout Cookie ice cream. I add the curry paste, broth, and cornstarch and give one more stir. Dinner should be ready in five minutes - just an hour later than originally planned.
And then it happened. That sudden metallic taste at the back of my mouth. High. I glance down at Dex. Crap! I wash my hands, test. 379. Nooo! Now here is where I doubt the conventional “being high makes you cranky” symptom. I felt absolutely fine until I saw that number.
I got cranky pretty damn fast, though.
You see, I should have been expecting this number. Two days before, I had to jettison a half-empty vial, because my numbers were running high and I’d realized, after opening the new one, that it was from the same lot number and might cause a problem too. But the first 36 hours had been fine, nothing that couldn’t have been explained by typical D fluctuations.
But with the 200-points-in-two-hours jump, I knew exactly what it was.
“I can’t eat, I’m high. This is ready. I’ve got to go up and pull the site, I’ll be down when he opens his presents.” I grab a fresh vial from the fridge (different lot number), and I go upstairs, the smell of that incredible curry following me.
At least knowing it was a bad batch saved me from the usual litany of blame:
1 - Is it me (miscalculated the carbs)?
2 - Is it me (forgot a bolus)?
3 - Is it me (missed seeing an air bubble)?
4 - Is it me (caught site on clothing)?
5 - Is it me (should have changed site earlier)?
6 - Is it me (didn’t do my usual exercise)?
etc, etc, up to about
129 - Is the insulin bad?
I was able to cut right to the chase, yank out the perfectly good site, fill the pump with new (and cold!) insulin and blast in a correction. Then I sat at the edge of the bed. I should have used a syringe to correct - but I knew I had essentially been pumping dishwater for the afternoon and the fresh Apidra should fix it. And that’s when the meltdown began. I didn’t want to be here, didn’t want to have to deal with this, wanted to be downstairs with my family eating a yummy dinner, followed by birthday cake, ice cream, and no thinking.
And it’s not just the two duds in a row that got to me. This is the fourth time since Christmas (yes, Christmas day I got bad insulin - talk about unfair! How long does it take to deduce bad insulin on a day you expect to run high??). There is nothing obviously wrong with my fridge, and when I pick up my last refill at the phamacy, I’m going to skip the fridge entirely and see if if goes bad in two weeks at room temperature. The next script is going to get filled at a different pharmacy, just to see if it’s their handling, not mine [editor’s note, see litany of blame, #130 - Is it me (did I do something to make the insulin go bad)? ].
I started collecting all the various bits of site-change garbage off my dresser, remembering to “flip off” the little blue cap like it asks you too (they probably don’t mean given it the bird, but then they should be more specific). Then I see the old, dead bottle and pick it up. I even check it to see if there’s any outward sign - good til April 2011, clear, no floating crap. Just dead. Sigh. I head for the trash, and and am suddenly hit by an overwhelming urge the throw something.
Well, what better thing to throw than a defective bottle of what is supposed to be life-sustaining medication? I toss it, startling the cats but not really doing much else (the phrase “throw like a girl” did come to mind). So I retrieve it from the floor, scope out a nice blank section of bedroom wall, and really put my heart into it. The top and bottom broke off, although the plastic label kept the rest of it intact.
I feel somewhat better, retreating to a corner with a book to wait for my sugar to go down. I even went down to watch Number Two Son cut the cake and open his presents, pretending to be in a good mood until I could slink back upstairs.
I finally got to eat about three hours later. Rice AND curry AND birthday cake AND ice cream. Morning BG? 74.
Fuck you, diabetes!