Injecting Bad Insulin

Have you ever done this? I have... (more on that in a sec -- see my long story below)

I got to thinking on this because I saw this post come up today:

Do you really throw out lantus or humalog after 28 days ?:

So I did a wee search and uncovered a similar post from a long while back:

Bad Insulin?:

I took a cross-country trip the summer of 1982, my first big trip post-dx (January 15, 1982). My friend Carmen and I drove my big ole Chevy van to NYC from California. I kept my extra bottle of Regular insulin in a big cooler in the back of the van, but I wasn't perfect about keeping the ice stocked and one time it sat in the direct direct for hours while we were off doing something else (and probably illicit...).

We made our way to New York and spent some time there wandering the streets and going to the nightclubs (we even saw James Chance of the Contortions play a gig in an empty concrete car park (!!) off Houston... that's one for you music weirdos out there). When we were done with the city (or it done with us) we traveled upstate to visit my aunt and uncle in Cattaragus, NY. We left for California the next day and I left that extra vial of Regular there by accident. After traveling westward for THREE HOURS we turned it around and went back for that tiny bottle. I wish we had just left it there...

I started that vial of insulin in the mid-west somewhere, and the effects were almost immediate. I really had no idea that I had accidentally fully cooked that vial when it sat in the blazing Oklahoma sun on the first leg of our trip, and cooked insulin is not good for you. Yeah.

Of course I did not relate what was happening to the fact that I had fried that vial in the sun. First, I started to swell up (I was skinny -- 6' and maybe a buck 40 back then). The most visceral thing I remember was that you could run a finger down my arms or legs and within minutes there would be a 1/2" high welt right where I had drawn my finger, like a snake under my skin! It was crazy, and I really had no idea why this was happening. In fact, we made a game out of it, drawing weird things just to see my skin swell up right before our eyes.

And then my hands swelled up -- they looked like the puffy extremities of the Pillsbury Doughboy! Over a day or so, the skin on my hands grew very tight and extremely painful. I remember as we descended from Utah into Vegas very early in the morning having to hold the wheel with the back of my hands because I no longer had the ability to curl my fingers they were so puffed up, and the puffiness was spreading to my face (if you have ever seen a picture of yourself taken with the silly Fat Booth app for iPhone, you can get an idea of what I might have looked like in comparison to my usual self...). Eventually it got so bad that Carmen did all the driving. I was in pretty intense, searing pain most of the time now. We spent just the morning in Vegas before curtailing our trip and heading back to CA to get me home to see a doc.

Carmen dropped me off in Redlands at my parent's place, and I immediately went to see a doc there (not someone I had seen before). The doc asked me some leading questions -- "Has anything changed?" No. "Have you started any new medications?" No.

Wait. Yes!

I then told him of the insulin, which I had with me. He took it and checked it out. The insulin (of course) was completely bad, and he immediately put me on a new vial, and the swelling went down within hours.

Oddly, the insulin I'd been shooting was still somewhat effective as my sugars weren't out of this world. Had my BGs been in the stratosphere, I think maybe I would have been clued in to the fact that I had baked that vial good, but with my sugars being somewhat normal (for the time), it just didn't occur to me.

Anyone else have any harrowing tales about shooting bad insulin?


You had to be using porcine or bovine insulin which got pretty rancid if you cooked in the sunlight. Lilly first received FDA approval on October 28 1982 for Humulin-R (the first r-DNA insulin)...this is a historic date. A few years earlier Congress passed a law making it legal for private company's and university's to patent molecules produced by recombinant DNA which paved the way for big business to take control of our insulin...Banting rolled over in his grave.

Just one week after my dx in January of '82 some sort of big FDA to do went down in regards to testing out this new humilin stuff they were all on about. Because I had injected pork insulin even one single time, I was barred from the study (was told later that the FDA would have covered my diabetic needs for a long while to be in on the study...). Ah well.

It was in fact pork Regular that I cooked in the van. Didn't smell like bacon though (which might have been a plus).


If you used bovine insulin there was a time when we could not donate blood
I think it had something to do with the made cow thing.

I never heard that. What I heard -- and continue to hear to this day -- is that I MAY NOT EVER donate blood because I regularly perforate my body with hypodermic needles. Period. They will not take blood from me.

Is this incorrect information?...