Saturday, August 30, 2008

Insulin Emergency 101

Emergencies are called emergencies for a reason. The Merriam-Webster's Collegiate definition is "an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action."

About 9:00 p.m. last night I discovered Dad's insulin injection pen lying on the kitchen table. Two things struck me as odd: first of all, he always keeps the pen in the refrigerator, and the color of the pen didn't jive with the time of night.

A little background...

Dad takes four insulin injections a day. The first three are just prior to each meal and are a fast-acting insulin (in the dark blue pen). The fourth is a slow-acting 24-hour insulin and the pen is light grey. Because Dad is color blind, the two different colors help him know which one to use.

He has been on the pen system since earlier this year and has not had any problem with picking up the wrong one. When I discovered the wrong pen lying on the table, I asked Dad about the insulin he was supposed to take around 7:30 p.m. As it turns out he took the wrong one.

The problem? He took four doses of the fast acting insulin, instead of three, and now needed to take the slow-acting so that he didn't run into problems during the night or the next day.

What to do? I ended up calling his diabetes education nurse at home, she walked us through what he should do which included taking a half dose of the slow acting, and eating a meal. He got to eat his favorite PB&J sandwich and drink a glass of milk. We were instructed to call her this morning with his blood sugar number and we would go from there.

As it turns out, his number this morning was good. We are to watch his test scores during the day for any high spikes, and just continue his normal routine.

I know with age all of us are distracted at times. Dad and I discussed what happened and he just doesn't know why he took the wrong insulin. We all have those "senior" moments, so it was understandable.

It also is a bit scary, because we don't know if this will happen again, or if it is just a negative blip on our radar.

What I do know, by definition, it was an emergency.

Have you had an emergency lately? How did you handle it? Did you have help?

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