The most desperate diabetic thing you have done

So I was going through the posts late at night, got me thinking of all the desperate things I’ve done over the 33 years since I was diagnosed. I’ll give you three but I would love to hears yours.

  1. Early on when I had no insurance, I convinced a vet to prescribe insulin to my imaginary dog who was too ill to come in. It was 8 dollars a bottle instead of 20 back then exactly the same R insulin I was using.
  2. Just a month ago I ignored my pump alarm of low cartridge. And forgot and ended up at work with no insulin. So I blew hard into my tubing to force the insulin in, so I could get home and avoid dka for the one hour ride home. I went over 250 but actually arrived at home at 122. I’ve done this quite a few times over the years.
  3. I used. To lick my pump battery to trick my pump into thinking it had a new one. And it would work for another hour or 2 usually. That’s pure lazy, I know.
    So what you got?
2 Likes

Thats pretty desperate, Tim, lol.
I have never thought of any of those things. They are pretty creative.
You ask a good question. No one has ever asked this, that I recall.
Let me think about it.

Many years ago, I faced a similar pump out of insulin scenario and I rewound the pump, disconnected the infusion set from the reservoir and me, retracted the reservoir plunger and filled the reservoir with air. Then I reconnected the infusion set to the reservoir and used the pump to prime the set until insulin dripped out of the end of the tubing. I use a 43" tubing infusion set and it contains about 20 units of insulin. I then reconnected the infusion tubing to the infusion site and cautiously monitored my blood glucose.

I don’t recommend this to anybody as it’s very risky. I did this a few times and it enabled me keep from going too high due to my lack of proper planning and management. I know people can argue about desperate times/desparate measures but this was a situation of my own making. Not too smart.

I now carefully ensure that I always have an ample insulin supply with me. Whenever I leave the house these days, I take my kit with me. The kit contains my working vial of insulin plus a capped and full backup vial. I live in earthquake country and don’t think it’s wise to tempt fate

2 Likes

I guess that when I was younger, I had a nagging feeling that people were using my illness in an exploitative way and that I couldn’t trust anyone around me. Like, say that someone did something wrong, and the police came. They would say that I did it and say that I had low blood sugar. The police would always believe them, instead of me.

People found so many novel and unexpected ways to do this that it was really causing me to doubt my own judgement and view of reality. It was causing me to develop a lot of self doubt and feelings that I was never safe.

Sometimes people would make really intentional efforts to do me harm, but sometimes it seemed less intentional and was more of an afterthought or result of habit. Sometimes, it was just an effort to get themselves out of trouble. Sometimes it was an effort to distract from whatever was wrong with them, or what was wrong with what they were doing (common and sneaky tactic). Then, there were times when I really, genuinely needed help, stated that directly, and the same people just walked away, leaving me in vulnerable situations that I wasn’t sure I could physically overcome.

In an effort to sort this all out (around age 25), I re-connected with the community of volunteer Emergency Medical Services. I knew that I had had found a tribe of people who were motivated to understand and identify medical emergencies. They were motivated to understand how to subtly differentiate between an emergency and a not-emergency. They were well intention-ed people who wanted to help others - their motives were very pure. I studied them and they studied me. It made all of us better.

For example, I played games with them to help them identify diabetic lows and highs. Every time I checked my sugar, we played Diabetic Price is Right. Whoever got closest to the number, without going over, got a candy bar. EMTs, like diabetics, are very food motivated. This helped them see that sometimes they could identify low BG and sometimes they couldn’t. It also taught me that sometimes trained professionals could tell and sometimes they couldn’t. Sometimes I won the game and sometimes they won. I still play this game with people who I spend time with because it helps me understand their innate capability to identify trouble. Some people are better at this than others. People who are good at it, I call ‘street medics’ because they have an innate gift for identifying signs and symptoms. These tend to be people with high levels of empathy that are always reading cues from the people around them. When I tell them that they have a skill and give them a prestigious nickname, they tend to feel good about themselves and try even harder.

I used to work with ONE woman who could genuinely identify a high by how I smelled. Her father was a candle maker and she had a very keen sense of smell. Most people can’t do this, especially because I smoke cigarettes. We figured this out because once she asked me if I had been drinking at work. I paused for a moment and then checked my BG. She had identified acetone breath and knew I was high even though I didn’t. I couldn’t taste it, but she could smell it. It was valuable for me to know that the occasional, special people with a keen sense of smell, might assume that I had been drinking at work if my BG was high.

Today, I have no problem knowing who I can trust and who I can’t. I have been exposed to every possible situation where someone can behave exploitative-ly towards someone who is physically/medically vulnerable. I understand the motivations that lead to that behavior. I can tell the difference between someone who is intentionally doing harm to someone else, and someone who is un-intentionally doing harm.

I can see into your soul, so you better behave in a reasonable manner, Humans. When I see intentional harm being done to patients, I have the confidence to trust my gut and call that behavior out. It helps me advocate for myself and others. I was desperate for this experience. It was foundational for my survival and general well being.

4 Likes

Most desperate thing: I dropped my PDM controller off a table-top while out of town once. I no longer could read the screen to see what my blood-glucose was or what insulin dosage I should take. Instead, I used a regular blood glucose meter (thank God I had a back-up meter with me!) to get my glucose reading and then COUNTED the button clicks on my PDM to give myself the insulin I calculated that I needed. Was that smart? Nope, but it was better than nothing, and I actually was not too high when I finally made it home.

The DUMBEST thing: I traveled to my daughter’s house for the weekend, taking along all of my diabetic supplies and back-ups… except for insulin! Had I had to change my OmniPod, I was fine with the supplies, but I had nothing to put into it! Thankfully, I had just changed the Pod before I left, and that was good for three days. Also, my daughter lives in Rochester, MN, and works for Mayo Clinic, so one of her very good friends is an MD/PhD. If I really had been in trouble, I either could have gone to the ER to get a prescription, or my daughter could have called her friend and asked for a prescription. (Her MD friend knows me and knows I am diabetic.) As it turns out, I did not need any extra insulin while I was there, but I always check that I have a full enough bottle of insulin with me to do at least one Pod change whenever I travel.

3 Likes

When I was in college I had and had a low bs while shopping for groceries. I was probably in the store 2 hours(normal trip 15-20 minutes) as I couldn’t make any decisions on what to buy. I looked things over and probably took 5-10 minutes on each item to make a decision. Finally realized I was low so I rolled my cart out of the store (without paying) to my car and drank directly from a gallon container of OJ and waited for my BS to come up. Rolled my cart back into the store and paid for my groceries ( half empty OJ included).

Today I would probably be in Jail…lol.

4 Likes

I’ve dropped and broken a bottle of insulin (with no backup vial, issues with insurance only covering one bottle per month) and sucked as much insulin into a syringe as possible from the wreckage. I’m sure I’ve done this more than once.

4 Likes

Great replies. You would think after 8.5 years or so I would have some but I don’t. I have had a lot of crazy stuff happen but I always had what I needed with me thank goodness. Knock on wood. Twice in the past 3 months I forgot to put my pump back on after showering.

First time I was teaching online, was just in the start of pneumonia covid, and I was eating a snack just before and then realized it. My bg spiked up a lot after eating. I had to walk and increase basal alot. And bolus more. Someone told me her 80 yrs mom, who also had double pneumonia, survived covid in March by walking everyday, she ended up in the hospital eventually, was given zithromax and hydroxy and survived. I felt worse after that walk though and decided it wasn’t going to help me.

Then 3-4 days ago, I came out of the shower and was resting with my kitties, clipping their nails and talking with a friend on the the phone. I started to feel this pressure feeling in my body that I get when bg is spiking big time. All of a sudden I realized my pump was not on!

I reattached, set basal at 200% for 2-3 hrs and walked. Bg only spiked to 125 during the walk, amazingly. When I tested it after reattaching it was 107, just as dexcom said which was a miracle because normally if it is off too long I will spike to 200 quickly and higher. I think because of my illness and being low that day already and having increased basal while I slept it stopped a big spike.

I wish there was an alarm on the pump for if you don’t reattach it.

2 Likes

Here I’ve been thinking I didn’t have anything interesting to add here, but I’ve totally done this too!

Mostly all I can think of is the times I’ve gone low without any carbs and had to approach strangers for help, which is embarrassing so I have to be fairly desperate, and I have to say generally hasn’t worked. You’d think with all the TV shows about PWDs passing out n stuff—but mostly they just don’t know what you’re talking about, and of course a severe low makes it pretty hard to communicate to begin with.

5 Likes

This is how I used my first insulin pump for four years, and how I used my second insulin pump for eight years, at least for accessing many functions other than bolus. There are no accessible pumps for those of us with visual impairments. Most pumps (except the OmniPod) actually have a feature that allows you to bolus without looking at the screen by counting button presses. It’s the only pump feature that’s actually accessible and is how I do 95% of my boluses.

I have also used @Terry4’s strategy of putting air in an empty cartridge…more than once…

2 Likes

I vaguely remember violently threatening a grocery delivery service over the phone for never delivering my food when I had a low blood sugar. I was so out of it that I remember threatening to throw a pizza at the store but I don’t think I ever actually said those words. LOL

1 Like

I have put rubber bands around my vials, so have prevented a few breaks. There are also covers available on Amazon.

1 Like

I have pulled out my cannula and reinserted it in the exact same hole with no needle. Just found the hole and it went in. Lucky for me because I didn’t have a spare. Just a little tape and bingo just like new.

1 Like

I now buy my Medtronic Guardian sensors on line through Amazon.

Not me, but I once read about a guy who got a no insulin alarm on his pump while at an amusement park? He despatatly looked for someone who was wearing a pump and when he spotted a pump wearer asked if he could use the strangers reservoir to withdraw insulin with a syringe and inject it into his reservoir.

When my son was temporarily off insurance, he bought insulin from someone on Craig’s List.

I have given away insulin and sensors and pump supplies to people on this site and Craig’s list. Esp when it’s expired. Or when I get a new pump etc. some people struggle w insurance. Right now I have good insurance so if I have something I don’t need I will give it to someone who needs it. Speaking of which. Does anyone need some Enlite sensors. I’m about to switch off to dexcom.

2 Likes

Not quite desperate, but (stupid?) … I had travelled a long way to a cross country race. 30 minutes or so before the race during my warm-up I started getting the shakes for a hypo. I was not going to miss the race I had planned for. I went to the kiosk and begged (I hope with some coherency) for some sugar sachets which I immediately tore open, up-ended into my mouth and left to continue my warm-up, racing soon after.

That’s with a pump and CSGM sensor.

1 Like

Cringe worthy

Never thought that was possible. I’ve had ridiculous numbers of pull-outs recently. Maybe I’ll try that next time.