Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The case of the insulin in the tree

One of the things that I've had a hard time with since kicking my insulin pump to the curb is remembering that my insulin is not automatically attached to me. I forget when I go on rides that I have to bring it with me. I forget when I park my car somewhere, I can’t just leave my insulin in there. I forget that it’s there entirely.

Don't do this at home. It ruined one of my pens.
I bought a Frio case for times like this where I'm outside for excessive amounts of time in the dead heat of the summer. Even with a Frio, however, I still can’t leave it in the car because it requires air flow to do it’s job (right Andy?). But, do you think I remember to use the damn frio? Maybe 10% of the time I do. The other 90%? Well that’s where I sometimes have to get creative. I've left it at peoples’ houses, in stores, hidden it in bushes, stuck ‘em in the sand, put them on top of the tire of my car. 

And most recently, in a tree. In a very touristy park. Oops.

I never question it though. I think I'm naïve. Once while I was on a solo backpacking trip raccoons stole all my food on the first night because I didn't think they would. They did it to spite me.

So our (Jeff and mine) riding plans were to drive to this location. This touristy reservoir and ride from there. My insulin is always in my bag because my bag is always with me. Even though I had pre-loaded syringes and stuffed them in my jersey, I grabbed my bag at the last minute not even thinking about it.  I looked around wondering where a good place to hide my pens would be. There was a small tree right in front of the car. A big bushy one with lots of shade. I reached up and placed them as high as I could in a cute little crook almost asking to cradle my insulin. I figured, “nobody looks up!”. I also thought if they DID look up and find my secret stash, they’d be most likely to leave it. 

I know.. smack my hand why don’t you!

Needless to say, when we got back from our adventure the insulin was gone. We searched the grass but it wasn't there either. My immediate thought was, “oh well. I've got backup cartridges at Jeff’s place and syringes. I’ll just have to get new pens when I get home.”

But this was a touristy place. There was a visitors centre. There was also a state police station attached to said visitors centre. The nice folks sent me next door to the fuzz. I walked over there barefoot and sweaty and was all, “Hey, you gots my drugs yo?”. Okay it was more a sheepish, “Uhhhm, I was told you have my insulin pens?”

Fuzz: “Why yes we do.” Complete with sideways glance and scowl.
Me: “I put them in a tree so they wouldn't cook in the car, I do it all the time.” Shit, why’d I say that?
Fuzz: “You shouldn't do that, what if a kid accidentally injects him/herself?”
Me: thinking, good luck kid trying to figure it out but okay, I get it. I'm sorry, I forgot my cooler and we were going out riding for 5 hours, I didn't know what else to do.”

He takes my address and other info. I apologized some more and said some shit about “I understand my mistake, I promise I’ll never do it again.” But really what I was really thinking, “I’ll hide it farther away next time and maybe remove the needle tips.”

Fuzz: “well because you are a law abiding citizen, we’ll let you have your pens back.” 
Me: Thinking, how the hell do you know if I'm a law abiding citizen? Gimme back my drugs. Furthermore, I WILL attempt to rip those out of your hands because they are my life-sustaining meds. So.....gimme back my drugs dammit!
Me:Thank you, I'm sorry, I won’t do it again.”

Note to self: USE FRIO! (at the very least)

End note: Of course I understand the err of my ways being nonchalant about the fact that insulin is a dangerous injectable drug. Sometimes I forget how much power I hold in my hands. But If I can walk into the pharmacy (here in Ontario) and buy it right over the counter with no prescription, how safe is that?! ANYBODY can buy syringes and insulin here.


  1. How weird. I hope you keep the biohazard tubes, they're pretty sweet looking memento of the trip.

  2. My understanding about the Frio is that it needs "some" sun to function, and air passing by should help too. When the water is evaporating, it cools what's inside the Frio. So leaving it in a car likely isn't ideal as it will still cook, but leaving it in the shade somewhere won't cause the evaporation. Before I had a Frio, I cut up one of those freezer bags sold at grocery stores, and would drop a few ice cubes in there with my insulin. Even 2 ice cubes was enough to last several hours, and you can scavenge ice from anyone's freezer or leftover drinks. I'd just leave it in the shade in my car, and it's easy to get a sense of how much it warmed up based on how much ice/water there is when you open it again.

  3. Ha, your story-telling of this makes me laugh, though I realize it could have been a pretty bad situation. Maybe those biohazard tubes could come into use next time?

  4. Wait, what... insulin is over-the-counter in Onterrible?! DAMN that's good to know. Most of my friends and family are still up there, so I'm visiting all the time. It's reassuring to know that if I fail to pack enough some trip that I don't have to panic or eat weird.

    1. Yup and I told my doc this the other day when I said I didn't need prescriptions for insulin. Both my regular doc and my Endo were absolutely shocked.

  5. This story is a riot! As much as you may be critical at some of the choices you may (or may not) have made, I admire your creativity. I just bought a Frio myself. Never used it though- the planning that goes with soaking it, then drying it, then... ugh, it seems harder than I thought (I can't even leave it in a car?!). Next time, maybe I'll just hide my insulin in a tree.

    1. From what I've learned, the Frio definitely needs some air flow to work. I had it in the car for a few hours and came back to find the thing roasting.
      Oh and the preparation to use it is REALLY easy. The first soak takes a bit of time but after that? easy peasy and ready in MINUTES!

  6. Remember the lesson here: Don't leave your insulin in a tree.

  7. You're too funny. Wish there was a photo of you talking with the police :)


    That picture with the biohazard stickers is priceless!

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