Did you know insulin is a biohazard?


As we approach the eve of Diabetes Month, November, I think it funny that my recent episode with my insulin pen ended up the way it did. 

Last month I spent ten days in Scandinavia. I packed all my diabetes supplies and I had a few days left on my Lantus Solostar insulin pen and packed a second pen. 

When I went to use my new Solostar pen, the pen jammed: I couldn’t press the plunger and get any insulin out of it. This has never happened to me before. Given this had been my back up pen (well, for the first few days of my trip) I had no back up pen. 

My husband and I went to a local pharmacy in Copenhagen where the pharmacist was very friendly and accommodating and said, even without a prescription she would sell my a new Lantus Solostar pen. The trouble was I couldn’t get one. They come in boxes of five and I would have to purchase five pens for the equivalent of $120.

Well, that was not my idea of salvation, so I decided I would just withdraw the insulin from my pen with a syringe until I got home. And that’s exactly what I did and basically it worked fine. 

The funny thing is when I got home I called the number for the Solostar pen to register an adverse event and I was told I would be sent a replacement pen, thank you very much, and I might need to return the faulty pen so they could see what went wrong. FYI, the rep told me on the phone, chances were the pen needle somehow was blocked, which caused pressure to build up in the pen and didn’t allow the plunger button to work.

Two weeks later a huge box arrives at my door. It contains what you see here. A number of bags marked “biohazard” and a tube. I am to put my Solostar pen in the tube, and then put the tube in the clear bag and then put the clear bag in a paper bag and then put the paper bag in a box. 

I am aware it is law that when someone is dispensing insulin in a hospital they must be accompanied by another someone. Yet, it struck me as funny. We, who live with diabetes and use insulin, do so so casually, we would never think of it as a biohazard. That is not to dismiss insulin’s side effects – possible low blood sugar which can be dangerous. But the every day taking of insulin, is something we do all the time and don’t have to put on a zoot suite to do so. 

It’s just a little strange when the scientists decide insulin cannot be handled in transport other than locking it in three vessels because it is potentially so dangerous. 

Ah, just another example of the disconnect between those in the lab and those of us on the ground.

KIDDs, perhaps the truly unseen group impacted by diabetes


Last Saturday I spoke at the launch of Marjorie’s Fund in New York City. Marjorie’s Fund is a non-profit organization founded by endocrinologist,Jason Baker, a person himself with type 1 diabetes, and just featured in Diabetes Forecast as “People to Know in 2013.” And deservedly so. 

Until now Marjorie’s Fund has dedicated its energies to empowering youth and adults with type 1 diabetes in Africa by providing resources, education and supporting relevant research. Marjorie’s Fund was actually named after a young woman Dr. Baker met in Uganda, who hard as she tried, given the lack of resources, died at 29 from kidney failure, a consequence of her type 1 diabetes. 

The three hour event gathered about 75 people with type 1 diabetes and their loved ones – parents, spouses and friends – at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. The event had a triple purpose: to help introduce PWDs (people with diabetes) to local resources, create community and celebrate those we hold dear who support us each day.

Yet, in that list of supporters, I left out a significant source of support – our children. And, I hadn’t really thought about it until 16-year old Hannah approached me and introduced herself and her dad who has had type 1 diabetes for 41 years. Same amount of time as me.

I was truly moved by the loving relationship between Hannah and her father and realized, not having children myself, that children who have parents with diabetes, particularly type 1, are both a source of support and impacted by their parents’ diabetes. It must be frightening to see your parent exhibit any of the symptoms of low blood sugar or at times heart-wrenching to see them check their blood sugar multiple times a day, every day.

Wanting to help other young people whose parents have diabetes, Hannah created the website KIDDs, Kids of Insulin Dependent Diabetics. It culls resources, basic information and gives you, if you are the child of a parent with diabetes, a place to be with others who share your experience.

As we parted, Hannah’s father and I agreed that we’re going for our 50 years with diabetes Joslin medal. I’m hoping Hannah will join us at the celebration dinner. Who knows? Maybe by then she’ll have kids of her own!

What’s coming up for Diabetes Month?



When I read something useful in the diabetes biosphere I want to make it known and accessible to you here. 

Today’s post on DiabetesMine well captures a number of upcoming events for next month, Diabetes Month. 

One event I will single out is the Big Blue TestIf you have diabetes, are mobile, and haven’t participated in the test yet, you owe it to yourself to correct that. 

No, no dates and facts to study. Rather, you will see first-hand how just 14 minutes of an activity of your choice lowers your blood sugar. 

And, as we roll into Diabetes Month, if you missed it, here is my list of greatdiabetes resources. After all, I always tell fellow PWDs, “the more you know the better you do.” 

And, while somehow I mistakenly omitted DiabetesMine.com, a top news- reporting site from my list, I read it almost daily to know what’s going on regards devices, meds, the FDA and all things diabetes.