Friday, January 6, 2012

Glucagon emergency kit?

Stats... and yes, I'm pretty much out of insulin.

In my sugary life, I almost always have erred on the side of not enough insulin, and my excursions "out of range" are 95-100% on the high side rather than low.

As I re-read Dr. Bernstein's book, Diabetes Solution, this year, I came across his list of all the things that every diabetic should have. The Glucagon Kit was high on the list. I was realizing that my wife has probably already forgotten that they exist and we haven't even talked about it as a necessary measure in 10+ years.

I have owned about 3 Glucagon kits in my life, and they seem to expire too quickly to stay in my readiness kit. It's hard for me to keep buying them since I've never actually used one... but, I guess that's like saying why wear a seat-belt if you've never had an accident.

Personally, I think explaining it's use to my colleagues would freak them out a bit. And, I would hope that in the era of CGMS, crazy-stealth-severe-hypos might be less likely. What could make me have to use one? Maybe making a major mistake on an insulin dose. Maybe accidentally bolusing 10 units instead of 1 unit, stuff like that? It's never happened to me, but I suppose it could... When I was doing multiple daily injections I once took a Lantus dose with Novolog (oops!) and had to stay up all night watching for the inevitable hypo...

I am wondering how many Type 1 diabetics keep a Glucagon kit ready for emergencies. Have you ever used one? Do you carry it with you? Do you have one at work and home? Have you ever needed it? Do you think it's irresponsible to not have one ready?


  1. I had one while under 18 because my parents made sure that I did. I never used it and it would just expire every year. Then I went about 10 years without having one. I used to say that once I knew I had it i'd somehow need it lol. Anyway this year I got a prescription for three and a month after getting them I needed one. It didn't really work well because I had a low earlier that day (apparently one needs a hepatic store of glycogen in order for glucagon to do it's job and lows deplete glycogen temporarily). Plus, the glucagon made me nauseated. I'd reserve it for my husband to use if ever needed once I'm unconscious and as a last resort. The reason I needed it was my meter did something funny and instead of give me my glucose number it popped up the code for my meter which was 303. I gave insulin but really I was around 100 so I quickly got low. Anyway, I think it's good to have but I wouldn't go as far to say it's irresponsible not to have one because those who don't have one tend to me really good at making sure they never need it. I think it's good in times of a stomach bug where one is throwing up and can't consume sugar easily. I just try to stock my house with enough sugar to combat a low that happens from too much fast acting or something. I've done that before-given 20 humalog instead of 20 lantus! I drank A LOT of grape juice for that and called the paramedics over just in case! Luckily they didn't have to do anything.

  2. After posting this I searched the web and discovered that they are pretty expensive too. $140 a pop! I'd hate to spend that on something that will likely expire... but, compared to my yearly medical spending, it's peanuts.

  3. I have multiple glucagon kits, although they may be expired. Partly in case of a hypo that my parents would treat me for, but also I carry them because my GI issues make my digestion really slow sometimes or it makes it hurt to eat. I have yet to use a glucagon kit but not because I have never been in a situation where using a glucagon kit would be helpful.

    I do not expect the Dexcom to prevent me from having severe nocturnal hypoglycemia unless the alarms get much much better.

  4. Funny you mention this as my wife was asking me about mine the other day. I haven't seen it in years and it's probably a decade out of date... presuming they can. I know my emergency glucose tabs have to be changed every six months or so as they go bad. Not sure scientifically what happens to them, but they get all splotchy and taste bad.