My Worst Fears

I live in mortal fear that I’ll screw up one night and take a large dose of Novolog instead of the required long-acting Lantus. (Which would of course mean hypoglycemic coma.) Or one sleepy morning I’ll take my dose of Lantus again, by accident, and overdose that way. It would be SO EASY to do. Most nights (and mornings) I’m half asleep when I inject anyway. I WILL make a mistake one day soon, and it’s not going to be pretty.

But there are other fears. Darker ones, that lurk at the back of my consciousness, behind the wall of good cheer I have erected: I will not be able to maintain sufficient control of my diabetes, and will in a decade or so, lose my legs, my nerves, my gums and teeth… Or worse, I will be diligent, and maintain good control of my blood sugars over many long laborious years, and STILL suffer diabetic complications.

The latter seems to be the case with dear Kerri of SixUntilMe, a twentysomething Type 1 who was diagnosed at age six. As her doctors recently found “a swelling of the surface layer of the retina -– when a part of the eye isn’t provided with enough oxygen due to a damaged blood vessel,” she is living my worst fear right now. And very bravely. And with a very supportive partner, it seems.

But here’s what her doctors told her: “Keep your sugars down as much as possible. And cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week. We’ll re-dilate in September.” September!! That’s a lot of months to float aimlessly in the Sea of Unknown Fear. And they apparently also specifically ordered her not to go Web surfing for information on her condition, e.g. “that will just make you worry too much.” Are they out of their minds?? How could she not, when she’s got till September to stew?!

Now me, I’ve been in that suspended animation state of half-sick for several weeks now. Runny nose, sore throat, painful ear… not totally out of commission, but thinking I ought not overdo it, in order to protect myself from getting really sick. So I’m off my workout routine, and cranky about it. Will I ever get on it again? I HATE not exercising. And Kerri’s predicament reminds me of why I hold it so sacred. I’m going to the gym tomorrow, damn it! Sore throat or no! I wish to God I could do something to help Kerri. But I can’t. The best I can do is something to help me. And to get my mind off my worst fears


17 Responses

  1. Violet
    Violet May 18, 2005 at 4:03 am | | Reply

    Hey Amy….Yeah, I fear the self-inflicted screwup too. When I was on injections, I had to store the Lantus and the Novolog in Very Different Places so that I would (hopefully) have to think before reaching for either one. It helped that I was using pens for N and vial for L, but still…would be all too easy.

    Of course, parallel mistakes can occur with the pump. If I put in the wrong number of carbs AND failed to check the recommended dosage before approving it–certainly feasible–I’d be in a pickle. But the pump does have a maximum dosage, customizable by the user, so that if you ask for more insulin at any time it declines to administer. Mine is set at 10 units, which is just a smidge over the max amount I take with breakfast.

    Have commented already along these lines directly to Kerri, but I’m in agreement with you that her docs steered her wrong with the direction to intentionally remain ignorant. How patronizing.

  2. Laura
    Laura May 18, 2005 at 6:43 am | | Reply

    I thought I once injected my humalog instead of my Lantus in the evening. Went to bed with my sugar being around 180 and woke up 1-1/2 hours later at 30! Came to find out that I had injected my Lantus directly into a vein, oops! I guess that can happen. I am more careful now. I really need to start exercising though. I don’t do anything right now except walking once a week!

    I could not stay away from the internet after my doctor told me I had a problem that I know had about a million sites I could look it up at. And waiting 4 months! That would be too difficult. Laura

  3. ThePef
    ThePef May 18, 2005 at 8:56 am | | Reply

    Amy it is definitely difficult when you are under the weather. I too have had a cold for the last week, and it can mess you up pretty good. Last Saturday, after spending a whole day in the yard doing work, I was fighting hypoglycemia all night long, could not take in enough carbs. Then yesterday, while still under residual affects of my cold, I fell asleep at the wheel doing 75 on my long daily commute. I was very fortunate, I barely scraped the center barrier waking me up enough to gain control. Just ended up with a scraped tire. Could have been worse. Got home and expected my sugar to be completely screwed up, but it was only at 165. The point is, being diabetic is tough, and given todays’ inconsistent lifestyles darn near impossible to manage no matter how careful you are.

  4. David (T1 at 32)
    David (T1 at 32) May 18, 2005 at 12:28 pm | | Reply

    Amy, don’t fret; there’s a big difference in the risk for complications between a newly diagnosed adult like yourself and an adult that has had diabetes since early childhood.

    Remember that it is your long-term BG (HbA1c) over several years that counts, and not a couple of freak readings. Likewise, the total number of years as a diabetic will most probably also affect your total outcome, giving you much better chances of preventing later complications.

    Perhaps you’d worry less if you didn’t read as much about possible complications on the internet? ;-)

    Seriously, though: many doctors will tell you straight out that you should not read too much (whatever that is) about your condition on the internet. Without getting too philosophical about it, they often have good reasons — they’d much rather see you as “just” a diabetic (or whatever), rather than a diabetic with a depression to boot.

    What I’m getting at is that some patients can handle reading page after page about potential life-threatening complications without losing their sleep, while some just can’t. It’s always dangerous to make generalisations :-)

  5. AmyT
    AmyT May 18, 2005 at 9:12 pm | | Reply

    Thank you all so much for your input here. I go on ranting about other topics of interest, but this is TRULY the stuff that haunts me.

    And David, I think some degree of “fret” is necessary to remind us how important it is to care for this disease NOW, while we still feel OK, before we get to the bad stuff.

  6. David (T1 at 32)
    David (T1 at 32) May 19, 2005 at 2:35 am | | Reply

    Amy, you make it sound like “the bad stuff” is something that is inevitable. It’s not :-)

    Some get complications, others don’t — there are really no hard and fast rules here: some live with elevated HbA1c’s over many, many years without any (serious) complications, others get nasty complications even though they have been well regulated all their lives. You really can’t tell, other than knowing that a well-regulated diabetic has a lowered risk of complications.

  7. terry
    terry May 20, 2005 at 1:37 pm | | Reply

    With all the advances in treatment and the better we patients are educated (internet, personal or public support groups, Diabetes Forecast et al), I’m surprised there is a still a level of fear involved. And Kerry being diabetic for nearly 20 years….. sounds like she needs to change opthalmologists. I can’t imagine any Dr. telling a patient to keep themselves clueless about any disease.

  8. terrilynn
    terrilynn May 21, 2005 at 3:25 pm | | Reply

    I posted last month about a night where I DID mix up meds for my six-year-old son with diabetes. It scared me out of my wits. Thankfully he was all right this time.

    Hope you’re feeling better.

  9. Ken
    Ken June 7, 2005 at 12:02 pm | | Reply

    One of my eyes was effected by a loss of oxygen to one of the micro vessels that supplies blood to the retina. I wok up one morning and could only see out of the top half of my right eye. Then three days later I could not see out of the top half. After things settled down I could see out of most of the right eye but there was one spot in the central vision area that has not changhed. It is a gray color. I’ve had Dm 21 years and it was a very discouraging experience. However I am living with it but it bothers me sometimes. I had a detached retina on the left eye about ten years ago. My HA1c’s have been good.My advice is get to your eye doctor quickly if you have this experience.

  10. Diane
    Diane June 8, 2005 at 7:32 pm | | Reply

    I am “happy” to hear others share my fears. I have gone from 2 glucophage a day to Lantus at night Novolog at meals and glucotrol & actos daily in a matter of just a few months. Granted I feel 100 % better than before, but I am still a little flaky with all the injections, worrying about confusing bottles, etc. Now I know why I would almost fall asleep on my drive home and felt like crap most of the time! It feels better to have company.

  11. Kirk
    Kirk June 20, 2005 at 8:39 am | | Reply


    Believe me you’ll at sometime grab the Novolog instead of the Lantus. I have done that 4 times over the years. I knew it immediately. The first 2 times were pre self blood glucose testing; I sat up and ate a little all night. Now with self testing I just tested frequently and induldged in snacks as necessary.

    Be assured with time comes knowledge and comfort.

    Kirk Type 1 for 47 years………….

  12. Kelly
    Kelly October 27, 2005 at 7:46 am | | Reply

    I can relate to all of the postings. I’ve been type 1 for five years now and take humalog and lantus. Self testing has been my saviour. I learned this the hard way after giving myself an injection of humalog when I suspected that my sugar was high. The next thing I remember was laying in the hospital emergency room. The doctor actually had the nerve to baker act me because he thought I was trying to commit suicide. It was a tough experience and now I never inject without testing and take my time to make sure I’m getting the right insulin. Good luck to all and God Bless.

  13. David
    David March 9, 2006 at 11:37 am | | Reply

    I can understand the fears ya’ll have about making mistakes between insulins. I can’t see myself doing it though (Although many of you make me aware it can happen.). My pens look totally different. I’m an eater. I love to eat. My worry is that I’ll dose with the novalog, fix my plate, and in my ernst to eat, dose again. I guess I could just eat twice as much.

    I do have night sweats though. Could this be because my lantus dose isn’t high enough? Does it harm you to take more insulin. Is it a less is better kind of thing? I’m new to all of this.

  14. James
    James June 10, 2006 at 3:05 pm | | Reply

    One evening, I *thought* I injected 30U of Humalog, and I was up all night testing and eating. I simply could not remember what bottle I used.

    I now do the Lantus in the AM because I am more with it then. I would much rather do that then screw up and take 30U of Humalog. Scary stuff :(

  15. S. Dubuc
    S. Dubuc November 30, 2006 at 7:34 am | | Reply

    Hi, Everyone …
    Since my Levemir & Novolog pens look alike, except for the color of the caps, I’ve been concerned that I might use the wrong pen with the wrong doseage. The suggestion to me was to keep the two pens in seperate places. Hopefully this would job my thinking as to which one I would be using.
    Well, I had an incident that happened whereas that suggestion didn’t apply.
    I take my long-acting insulin of 50 units in the morning. I take a sliding scale doseage of my quick-acting insulin with each meal. If a bolus dose is needed between meals, that is done with a calculation process.
    The scary thing that happened was I was out having dinner with a friend. As I was preparing to take my Novolog, she had questions about my insulin. As I was telling her about the two types of insulin that I take, I told her that it would be dangerous if I dialed up 50 units of Novlog instead of the correct amount. Well, the power of suggestion really came into play. As I was telling her the danger, I accidentally dialed up 50 units of Novolog and injected. Suddently I realized what I was doing and withdrew the needle, leaving only 10 units remaining. That means that instead of taking 8 units I took 40. I quickly ordered a regular coke with no ice and drank it on the way to the ER. Upon arrival there they fed me with OJ and peanut butter crackers. Thank God I was taken care of quickly and this incident didn’t turn out the way that it could have. My opinion is that the short-acting insulin pens SHOULD NOT dial up beyond a certain (lower) number in order to prevent things like this from happening.

  16. Dina Hayes
    Dina Hayes January 1, 2007 at 10:15 am | | Reply

    I am a 35 year old with Type 1. I was dignosed at 15. I currently use the Novolog & Levemir FlexPens. I was switched to Levemir from Lantus six months ago and have made that frightening mistake TWICE. The first time was an my overnight shot after a holiday party and I got home late and I was EXHAUSTED. My husband woke up to find me in a pool of sweat and incoherent. It took about 5 scary hours to stabalize my bloodsugars…The second time was just a few weeks later during a very stressful busy morning at work. In my rush, I put injected myself with Novolog instead of Levemir. I have decided to contact Novo Nordisk about the packaging – the two pens look too much alike! The pens themselves should be two entirely different colors. To just have the tops a different colors is simply NOT ENOUGH!

  17. Flo Randolph
    Flo Randolph January 5, 2007 at 7:14 am | | Reply

    My 10 yr. old son has DM for almost 2 yrs. now and our greatest fear just happened! He went to bed early (too tired from sleepover) so I gently aroused him at 8 p.m. to give him his Lantus 20 units so he could go ahead and sleep thru the night. Well, turns out he woke up and decided to be responsible for a change and give his own dose of Lantus (20 more units)!
    I called the doctor who said he had never had anyone do that before and advised me to give him a 30 gm. carb. snack and wake him at 12mn and 3 am and cut his Novolog back to half for tomorrow. Good thing I decided to sleep with my son and check him every hour!! His glucose reading went to 70 at 2a.m. and 3 a.m. and 7:30am was 38! We have never been that low before! I heard they pass out in the 20′s. He is now happily having a Oreo Sonic Blast shake for breakfast right now so I can run him high and sneak some shut eye without worrying while my husband takes over! Boy was it hard running around frantically looking for sugar after 4 kids and all their friends have totally devoured all your food (Christmas break-and 2 sleepovers back to back) We survived without any emergency room visit thank God and I am so glad I got my nursind degree to help me. I could not imagine having to deal with DM without medical training! Of course it is worse because I took care of a lot of patients with DM amputees and kidney failures, and know what can happen. I hope this information helps someone! Always make sure your supplies are well-stocked and your Glucagon pen has not expired and u know where it is! :)
    p.s. note to self-buy more sour apple glucose tablets!

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