Thursday, March 19, 2015

numbers that keep me alive

I did an experiment. Okay it wasn't an experiment, all did was track my insulin usage over a month. I guess that's an experiment if you consider that I don't track shit.

Being on injections means I don't have a fancy digital device recording everything. Pen and paper are my only way of tracking (or the notepad app on my phone). 6 weeks ago I smashed my pen vial while cross country skiing. (Keep in mind I use loose pen cartridges and old school syringes). I fell on it. We were a few hours up north and as much as I tried to make it back home, I was very hungry (4 hours of skiing will do that to ya). I needed insulin in order to eat or else I'd end up sick with high BGs. Not a risk I was willing to take. We stopped to buy some which means I got a whole 10ml vial. At the rate I use insulin, a vial would technically last me 3ish months and since insulin expires after 1 month it's just not logical for me to use vials. It's not "viable" hahahaha! I would throw out more than I would use. Trying to keep a box of pen cartridges refrigerated inside a hot car on the way home wasn't an option either.

So I decided, out of curiosity, to actually track how much of the life juice I use over the month. I took a picture at the beginning of the vial. Then two weeks later we were skiing again in -40C hell. I tried as hard as I could (put a hot pocket in the case with the insulin) but my vial froze. Again, we were hours up north and staying the night so a 45min drive to the nearest pharmacy was our only option and again, another vial was purchased.

Needless to say I gave up on the "after" picture.

Here's what I learned in numbers:

In 30 days:

I injected 120 times. Plus 2x a day for Lantus. Total injections = 160
Averaged 4 times a day. The least amount of injections was 3 the most was 6 (rapid only because Lantus is a given 2x a day no matter what)

I injected 177 units of novorapid, 480 units of Lantus. (I take 8u of Lantus twice a day)
I averaged 6 units per day of rapid. The lowest day was 4 units and the highest was 9.5 units.

If you spread this out over a year the numbers would look like this:
1,440 shots of rapid + 720 shots of Lantus = 2,160 total shots.
5, 310 units of rapid + 5, 760 units of Lantus = 11, 070 total units of insulin.

As always, I have to enforce that YOUR DIABETES MAY VARY (YDMV).

What did I learn from this?
1. tracking anything sucks.
2. I use even less insulin than I thought
3. Insulin pumps will never be an option for me*(1)
4. Fuck I hope I never get curious about doing this for blood sugar readings*(2)
5. I really don't care how many times I stick myself with needles
6. Wow, I really got through many days during the month on 4 units of insulin?!
7. I was able to notice which days were crazy exercise days
8. Because I hate ending on an odd number.

*(1). Let's put it this way, I was regularly injecting 50-60units of rapid acting insulin per day when I was on the pump. I have always maintained a low-ish carb diet to boot so this was even more frustrating.

SIXTY! Sixty units would get me through a week and a half now. I know from my own experience that higher amounts of insulin left me with higher pounds of weight. I dropped 30lbs after stopping the pump. I was a chub. It's no myth that higher levels of insulin is a direct relation to higher absorption of carbs and therefore, more chub. That's as scientific as I can get so definitely don't take my word for it. Yes, the insulin pump accounts for both basal and bolus insulin and it's all rapid acting life juice. I take Lantus now for my basal so a daily TOTAL of Lantus AND basal would be roughly 22 units. Still, a far cry from my 60. Also, not all insulin is created equal. I ain't no gosh darn scientist but long-acting insulin like Lantus and Levemir doesn't have the same effect on the body as rapid shit does. In summary, this is only ONE of the many reasons why I just wasn't into insulin pumps. Clearly, my body was not receptive to them. I know of people who are the other way around. On pumps they take a fraction of what they did on injections, so I know it goes both ways.

I'm proud of my small insulin usage. It makes me feel like I've got some sort of understanding of this fucking disease.

*(2). Ah fuck. Now I want to do the more complicated tracking. Can I do it for one month? uuuuhhhggg... I'm so fucking curious but really REALLY hate it.


  1. Cool post! Curious - if you injected 474 times in 30 days that's like 15 injections per day?!!

    1. My fat fingers must've pushed some extra calculator buttons!
      I revised it.

  2. That is really interesting. I can't believe how little insulin you use and it's really fascinating that it changed so much when you went off the pump.

    Thanks for doing the experiment and for sharing the results. As a big fan of numbers and of tracking everything under the sun, I enjoyed reading about your discoveries.

  3. Why did you need so many more units on the pump? Was it not getting absorbed? Isn't insulin insulin?

    I'm all for avoiding the chubs and I need to know.

    Sorry if this is a dumb question.

  4. I'm like you - going on/off pump ... I was injecting for 41 years prior to going on the pump (doing the poor man pump). Both methods work for me, but I can't recall (I only started back on pump back in November '14 after a 6 month hiatus) - if I used less insulin with MDI. Hmmm, maybe it's time for me to do an experiment like my fellow Canadian?


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