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When Good Insulin Goes BAD.

Ninety percent of the time, my high blood sugar has an identifiable reason, and there’s a cluster of common causes.  Did I under-estimate the carbs in a snack and therefore under-bolus?  Did I over-treat a low blood sugar?  Did I eat without bolusing at all (it happens)?  Is there a lot of stress floating around that I’m responding to?

Most of the time, those questions cover the why.  Once in a while, my highs are for rogue reasons, like an air bubble in my pump tubing.  Or when I eat something carb-heavy right after an insulin pump site change (it’s like that first bolus doesn’t “catch” somehow).  Or I forgot to reconnect my pump.  Or if the cat bites through my pump tubing.

But rarely, if ever, is one of my high blood sugars the result of bad insulin.

Except it totally happened last week, when two days of bullshit high numbers had me mitigating every possible variable … other than swapping out the insulin itself.  (And clearly I’m stubborn and/or in denial about the quality of my insulin’s influence on my blood sugars?)  I rage-bolused.  I exercised.  I low-carbed the eff out of an entire day.  I did a site change at midnight to take a bite out of the highs.  Nothing.  The downward-sloping arrow on my Dexcom graph had gone on hiatus.

(Always a punched-in-the-gut feeling to see the word HIGH on a Dexcom graph, accompanied by an up arrow.)

But ditching the bottle of insulin entirely and swapping in a new Humalog vial?  That did the trick in a big way.  For once, it was the insulin.  Next time, it will surely be the cat.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. David downs #

    Couldn’t agree more. Seeing that HIGH makes me panic… And I’m not prone to high anxiety. I’ve rage bolded more times than I care to admit. In fact, I’ve thought a few times “maybe if just went to the er, they could give me iv insulin and this would over in an hour.” Instead, I keep bolding and ensure the slow fall, even if it takes 8 or 10 hours.

    Happily, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a bad bottle. Almost 30 years and counting.

    10/15/14; 10:17 am
  2. Sheri Barnes #

    Bummer! I’m more impressed that you can drop 200 points in 90 minutes bolusing through the pump. At 90 minutes I’m just starting to come down! When I suspect bad insulin, I’ll give a correction with a syringe which goes to work much faster for me than the pump. If no changes in an hour or two, I know my insulin is the culprit. Not sure if it helps anyone else, but wanted to throw it out there.

    10/15/14; 3:21 pm
  3. I saw my highest numbers in two+ years last week for the same reason. It’s sooooo frustrating!

    When I started looking into a pump we didn’t have pets and my CDE was talking about options and made the comment when we were talking about OmniPod that it takes away the worry of having cats chew through tubes. I laughed and picked OmniPod for entirely different reasons. Then we adopted two cats who in a very short time period chewed through iPhone cables, laptop charges and surround sound cords… I was immediately thankful for the tubeless pump!

    10/16/14; 12:36 pm
  4. Karen #

    I had this same scenario this morning….but it wasn’t the insulin rather it was the tubing. Fifth time in a few months the tubing had disconnected (and not noticed) until a few hours later when I had to pee so bad from a 400 bs level and noticed once again the tubing popped out of the “pitch fork” maybe a month and a half ago animas replaced all my infusion sets from this specific lot and I thought I was all set until today. I’m hoping they recall these, it is extremely dangerous! I should have known better once the dexcom started beeping that something was up. Woke up to a high and it continued to climb for two hours with NO relief of insulin(and not having anything to eat just coffee) They are comfort manual insertion sets. Be aware. I am returning all and not using this brand anymore. I resorted to a good old fashion needle and started feeling better after 20 min!! Still have slight ketones but water is helping.

    10/16/14; 12:42 pm
  5. Cathy #

    Sometimes we have found that if my son’s tubing is exposed on hot or sunny days or if the weather is just really hot the insulin “cooks” in the tubing or cartridge and he ends up being really high, which is never fun. We just started using the Dexcom a couple weeks ago. I love it, but staring at the word HIGH and seeing the up arrow somehow makes you feel worse than the high BG on its own. It also seems to make lows more ominous when you are staring at LOW in red and double down arrows for what seems like an eternity.

    10/16/14; 1:52 pm
  6. Melinda #

    This is where I dearly want Melissa’s litmus test invention to happen ASAP. Seriously–why can’t we eliminate this as a variable way sooner?

    10/16/14; 1:59 pm
    • I wish her litmus test was truly a thing. It would be remarkably useful!!

      10/16/14; 3:13 pm
  7. jenn_ns #

    A couple of weeks ago, I had some ‘crazy bullshit’ highs as well. I rage bolused as well…… then had some low blood sugar symptoms, but I was still reading a 14 mmol (We read differently in Canada…haha)…. turns out it was my strips that went bad. That never happened to me before! I was reading 12 – 15++ points higher on my meter. That has never, ever happened to me before in the 30+ years I have been testing my sugars!

    So I laughed at your comment — And clearly I’m stubborn and/or in denial about the quality of my insulin’s influence on my blood sugars? Clearly, I was too about my test strips and/or meter!

    It took a trip to the drugstore so they could test my sugar. I don’t even own a spare meter…. I’m in that much denial! Then a call to One Touch and they replaced the meter and the strips…..

    10/16/14; 8:38 pm
  8. asmanitu #

    Wow, I’m really learning a lot here! Keep up the good work. One thing I’d like to know more of are natural remedies for diabetes. Do any of them really work or am I stuck taking insulin for the rest of my life? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and best of luck.

    10/21/14; 1:26 pm

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