When I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 27, I had no idea that I would need to allocate the hall closet's top shelf, a kitchen cabinet and a refrigerator drawer to diabetic supplies. Life is busy so it is nice to organize infusions sets, I.V. prep swabs and reservoirs together so it is a grab-and-go situation when I hear the beep-beep-beep sound every 3-4 days. Grab the insulin bottle out of the fridge (move over, butter dish) and I am good to go. Diabetic supplies are not cheap so I let my insulin pump deliver the vital meds down to the last drop. This requires me to have a ziploc handy so I can take the supplies with me on the road til the insulin level indicator on my pump shows ---. It becomes a lil game, actually!
So, I have plastic containers, drawers and boxes full of supplies-reservoirs, infusion sets, insulin bottles, I.V. swabs, lancets, testing strips, on and on and on. Those are the supplies I need on a daily basis. Enter the supplies that are not part of the daily routine: insulin pens and insulin pen needles.
I don't use insulin pens very often. In my opinion, they aren't used enough! This is because I use them when we go on vacation, specifically around water. Way back when, my diabetic educator stressed the importance of not getting my insulin pump wet because it is not waterproof. This caused concern when my husband and I planned a trip to Puerto Rico. How in the world was I supposed to be Cabana Girl if I couldn't get in the water (insert your dreamiest idea of blue water here. Perhaps a turquoise hue?)?!
Before our vaca, I met with my doctor and he suggested I use an insulin pen. Quick explanation for the newbies out there: an insulin pen is thought to be convenient because it is pre-filled with insulin. An insulin pen needle is screwed onto the top of the pen and a dial is twisted on the end until the desired amount of insulin is reached (based on the food and drink I consumed). Finally, the button on the end is pushed and WHAM! insulin is delivered.
We created a daily plan so I could set my basal rate down on the pump for a morning run, then remove the pump for THE ENTIRE DAY (free at last!). For the rest of the day, I would be able to frolic all Baywatch-style in the water, with no fear of ruining a very expensive insulin pump. I had to frequently check my blood sugar levels and take insulin from the pen accordingly.
The plan worked, but I quickly realized why I was on an insulin pump in the first place: once an insulin dose is in the body, it is in there to stay. Can't shut it off or turn it down. Let's just say a long walk on the beach in early evening didn't like the insulin pen's dose that was already "on board." The insulin pen required less parts and more freedom than insulin syringe shots, but not the flexibility of adjusting insulin doses to accommodate unplanned physical activity.
I still have insulin pens in my fridge and insulin pen needles in my hall closet. Yes, I have cute lil plastic containers displaying nice, printed labels, of course. Should I throw the needles and pens out? Probably. Will I? Not yet.
I am trying to get another beach trip in before the expiration date....