I’ve lost my long-acting insulin pen, what do I do?

This was the position I found myself in on Friday night. A good night out but somewhere along the line of the evening my insulin pen had gone missing.

Luckily I have a spare pen, unluckily it was safely tucked away in another location.

It’s a bit of a pain that certain insulins don’t work in certain pens or I could have got through the weekend by using one pen for two insulins. I was able to speak to the out of hours doctor who was very helpful and informed that I’d be able to visit the hospital’s ‘walk-in-centre’. However, the nearest hospital was sufficiently far away not to be accessible for me -or at least not without an expensive taxi ride.

Short term plan
In this situation I struck upon a risky alternative. My short term insulin has a duration of 4 hours so as long as I inject a small amount every few hours, I can make it through until the morning without depriving my body of insulin.

I should note again that this is risky. My short term insulin has a peak action at around the 30 mins to 1 hour mark and therefore injecting even a small amount could see my blood sugars go low at the peak action point. However, it worked for me and my blood sugars were neither as high or low as I feared they could have been through the night.

…waiting time 4 1/2 hours
Having survived the night (ok, that’s maybe a bit too melodramatic). Having dealt with the night, I then had a walk through the snow to get to the walk in centre. I arrived there after an hour or so and was rather disheartened to see a sign saying, “expected waiting time 4 1/2 hours”.

I must admit I was very lucky. I spoke to the lady at the reception desk who told me I could wait to see a doctor or I could call to arrange a prescription for a new pen. Not surprisingly I leapt at the second choice and was fortunate to be told that a doctor could write out a prescription there and then for the insulin pen at the walk in centre. I feel sorry for those who I felt I was unintentionally pushing past but if I hadn’t taken the opportunity, it would have left getting to a pharmacy before they closed very tight indeed -and that could have left me without a pen for yet another night.

Hunting down the pen
Upon leaving the hospital, clutching my prescription tightly, I then had to find a pharmacy who had the right pen. One pharmacy was close so I walked to it, only to be told that the pharmacy sadly didn’t have the pen. Furthermore, none of their other pharmacies in the town had the pen either.

After phoning round a few pharmacies -I’m not sure how I’d have coped without an internet enabled phone- I found a pharmacy that had the very insulin pen I needed. Upon hearing the good news I quickly broke into a run, through the snow, and picked up my shiny new pen before anything else could go wrong.

All in all I was rather lucky and it goes to show how important having a spare of each pen can be.

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About the author

Benedict Jephcote

I have been researching and writing about diabetes for the best part of a decade. I have a passion for helping people with diabetes and championing their rights. Outside of diabetes, I have a love of music and seventeenth and eighteenth century history.

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