The Rules, or How to Fail as a Girl Scout

One of the most difficult things for me to accept about diabetes is that there is a playbook, rules of the road. Follow the rules and things go (more) smoothly. Now I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal so all of this planning and rule-following is, well, damned hard. Do I hear a second?

Recently, I’ve been biking quite a bit. I now have, know and love the “countdown” routine:

1) Glucometer and all of its accoutrements
2) Glucotabs
3) Gel packs (apple-cinnamon, yummmmmmm)
4) Water Bottle
5) Cell phone
6) All the bike stuff to patch a flat

My routine has been set. Then, I did something crazy; I moved my bike to the garage where I wouldn’t knock it over every time I passed it and the cats wouldn’t play in the spokes. This equals the dreaded CHANGE IN ROUTINE.

5 miles into my ride, per my ROUTINE, I stopped to water up and check the blood sugar: 65. Oops, it’s a good thing I have my…3 glucotabs? No gel? That one little blip – moving the bike – shifted my whole approach to leaving. I ate my 3 raspberry glucotabs and waited the prescribed 15 minutes: 83. We’re getting somewhere, but I probably shouldn’t be getting there on the bike. Another 15 minutes: 95. I rode home slowly, humbled.

The opposite of breaking a routine is when it gets so, well, routine that you no longer think about it. How many times have I asked if I had, indeed, given insulin? The incident several months ago that tipped me toward pumping was one of those incidents. I was sitting on the sofa, chatting away, noticing it was lantus time so I gave 22 units. Several hours later, I woke up with the sweats and nausea and a blood sugar of 22. In retrospect, it’s hysterically funny in an odd kind of way that the blood sugar matched the units of insulin I had given. Ha. Ha.

My beloved is running around getting juice and checking my blood sugar – it just would not come up. Quite frankly, I don’t think I could have downed another juice box without projectile vomiting. Cut to the chase – we ended up in the ER. The only thing I can think of is that I had to have given 22 units of Regular. Yes, I gave insulin, but the wrong kind.

And they all asked, "How could you have given the wrong insulin?"

I wanted to respond in a very sarcastic manner, "And do you remember brushing your teeth this morning? What color is your toothbrush?"

Granted, someone way more anal-retentive than I might have been able to answer those questions, but when we do something everyday…it’s like brushing my teeth. My toothbrush is red, by the way.

Wow Kimberly! I did the same thing! And I was told the same thing: “How can you mix up insulins?!” My analogy was also similar: If you are given two toothpastes in different containers and are told to use one in the morning and one at night, do you not think it would be possible to grab the wrong toothpaste on occasion? When we do things on autopilot, we can make mistakes! And 30+ years of shooting up can make you turn on the autopilot!! When I divided my Lantus into AM and PM doses, it made mistakes easier to deal with. I have caught myself at least a couple of times drawing up the wrong insulin. Switching to pen delivery of my NovoLog has really helped.


I know what you mean. I have forgotten if I have taken my medication, even though I have a set routine. I am fixing to turn 45, so for those with persistent questions might get the old, but very reliable answer: Sh*t happens.

You’re not alone with that one! I’ve heard similar stories so many times. So far (touch wood)I haven’t given myself the wrong insulin, but I was around when a friend did it, and it was almost a fun evening for us as we munched merrily on every bit of junk food we could find!

I’m sure I’ll do it some day - but at least I have two very different insulin pens, and an awareness that might help prevent it. It would be so easy though!

I did the opposite once. When I was still little, my dad gave me 30 units of air. He was pretty sure that’s what he’d done, so I took another 30 units of longacting. But we still stayed awake for most of the night.