Posts Tagged ‘Insulin’

Yesterday I read a really interesting story about diabetes and insulin. The article Miracle on Bloor Street was commemorating the current day because it marked the 90th anniversary for the first day that insulin was used to treat a human with diabetes. On Jan. 11, 1922 a 14 year old boy named Leonard took insulin and after some adjustments to the medication it was successful in a couple of weeks after the 11th.   Prior to this diabetes was a death sentence and was managed by limiting the diet. I mean really, really limiting the diet to about 400 calories a day.  The average life expectancy was 11 months.  An example of this diet is the Allen Starvation Diet.

This story was very uplifting, but something at the end of the article caught my attention.  It said:

Insulin cost $1,400 to discover at the University of Toronto Medical School in 1922 and through the extraordinary efforts of the Eli Lilly and Company, became available to people around the world just two years later. Insulin is today the most widely prescribed drug in medical science.

The reason I bring this topic up is that pharmaceutical companies claim that drugs are expensive because they have to make up for the research costs. If the creation of insulin cost only $1,400 in research funds, then why in the hell is my son’s insulin $135 a bottle?

The same is true about blood glucose testing strips. I believe my son’s strips cost about $35 for 50, which last about a week. The price for 50 strips can range from $20 to $75.  Meanwhile the whole world is panicking because diabetes is and epidemic. An epidemic means increased sales of the strips.  The testing strips have been in use since the 1970s. Do you think the pharmaceutical companies have pad off their research costs by now?

This topic got me to thinking. What about over the counter drugs? Tylenol and Advil cost about $5 to $10, depending on the kind. These two drugs are probably the most used drugs in the world. If there is such huge demand the cost should be minimal.

Now I do understand that some drugs have to be more costly, especially if the population using them is small, or at least smaller, but this isn’t true for diabetes  I think at one point my son was taking a epilepsy medication which was over $500 for a month supply.  I also realize that there are production costs, and new types of insulin are being created.  Even still the insulin costs don’t seem to be right, and I smell a rat somewhere. Oh no! That’s not a rat. That’s greed! Greed at whose cost?  Maybe I am missing something hear.  I truly appreciate the research that is being done to improve conditions for a person with diabetes, but I thought all of commerce was driven by supply and demand.

This whole situation is about as ridiculous as how gas prices fluctuate. If there is some crisis in some oil producing country, the price for barrels of oil go up. In fact they go up for all oil companies. Then in synchronized management the very next day the gas prices go up at every single gas station. The gas that is being sold on that day is not from the oil with the increased price. Also, practically every year right before winter there is always a news story that due to shortages the cost for heating is going to go up.  Also, watch the prices of gas preceding a holiday. Hm-mm, what this comes down to s GREED!

I am really sick of getting screwed over by big corporations. Do they really think we are that stupid. No, these big corporations count on the fact that Americans are very complacent, caught up in their own daily lives. The whole world could be falling apart (which seems to be happening more and more these day4) and I wonder how long it would take America to wake up, take notice, and more importantly actually take action.

I apologize for this tirade, but I had to get this off my chest, and perhaps wake up more people about the greed of these corporations.  I say fight the greed.

by John Ngijseh
Just because you have diabetes does not mean you cannot go on holiday. All you have to do is to make sure you prepare well.

Key tips:

1) Always have some type of diabetes ID on you so that people know that you are diabetic. An identification bracelet or an ID card would be ideal.

2) Take a blood glucose meter with you. You may be ill on holiday, dehydrated due to the heat or may eat food that you would not usually eat. For all these reasons it is important to be aware of your blood glucose levels and make sure they are controlled. If you don’t have a blood glucose meter and would like to know more visit our guide to glucose meters

3) Make sure you have a written certificate from your doctor in the language (if possible) of the country you are visiting stating that your medication or insulin is for the treatment of your diabetes. The last thing you want in a foreign country is any misunderstanding regarding medication and needles.

4) Make sure you know where you can go for medical help in the place you are visiting preferably beforehand but if not on your arrival.

5) Take a recent copy of your prescription with you. No one wants to lose their medication but these things can happen. Having the name of your medicines and proof of a prescription can help you find replacements.

6) Take more medication and test strips than you would normally use. Just in case some are damaged or lost. Take as much as twice the insulin you actually need for your trip. To purchase more test strips for your meter visit  test strips .

7) If you use an insulin pen, take a U100 insulin injection with you for emergencies and remember to dispose of your needles with great care. Ideally use a BD Safe Clip Needle Cutter to cut the needle off your syringe, this is also handy as it is small and portable.

8) Check with your insurance company that your diabetes is covered.

9) Make sure that your medication or insulin does not become too hot or cold. There are special cool bags that can keep insulin cold during travel. Also, it is best to keep insulin in your hand luggage, as it is likely to freeze in the hold of the plane. Frio Bags are available here at Pump Wear  Frio Products

10) Always carry a snack or hypo treatments in case of hypoglycaemia or if a meal is delayed or contains to little carbohydrates.

By taking the above simple steps you can have a great holiday.

Have a good time.

John Ngijseh

You may already know that I have a son who has several medical issues including Tourette Syndrome.  For the last four years we have sought some relief from the tics which have become more extreme over time.  Up to today we were working with our pediatrician, my son’s neurologist who takes care of his epilepsy, a clinic that uses non-traditional methods, and a neuropsychologist.

The neurologist hasn’t been convinced that all of the events my son has been having are tics.  There is some suspicion that they may be non epileptic seizures, or a combination of both tics and non epileptic seizures.  In pursuit of gaining some relief from these events,  he referred us to a neuropsychologist.  In addition he prescribed, at one time or another,  antihypertensive medications, which are medications whose original purpose is for treating high blood pressure.  The medications we tried included Clonidine (aka Catapres) and Tenex (aka Guanfacine).  Unfortunately the side effects can include sedation, dry mouth, fatigue, headaches and dizziness.  The sedation affect wiped out my son and we discontinued using them.

The non-traditional clinic we saw, which was a part of Children’s Hospital, worked with my son to learn bio feedback.  My son became really good at this.  Unfortunately it didn’t work well with his tics because he needed to do it before the tics started.  Once he is caught in a round of tics he can’t concentrate enough to do the bio feedback.  The key is to identify triggers and hopefully try the bio feedback when a trigger is recognized.  We still try to use this method today, not only for TS, but also when he has to take shots for his diabetes.  It is a great way to just calm down.

This non-traditional clinic also had a psychiatrist that specialized in vitamins, minerals and supplements.  At one time he recommended that my son take:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Multi vitamin
Vitamin D

We did this regime of supplements for about six months.  Initially I thought it was working.  We actually had two weeks where my son had no tics. We had not experienced this since the tics had started.  Unfortunately this happened just before another school year started.  Once school started the tics came back with full force.

We continued to work with the neuropsychologist.  She was focusing on:

    • Identifying triggers for tics
    • Identifying tools to use when having tics
    • Tools to prevent bouts of tics
    • Addressing his anxiety
    • Addressing his sensory food issues
It is now four years since the tics started and we really haven’t found any answers.  I believe my son has learned how to identify some of the triggers and tries to minimize their effect.  He has also started eating different foods, which is a huge accomplishment.  I think he would be able to deal with his tics better if he didn’t have to deal with other people and their reaction to the tics, especially in the school setting. School is stressful enough for him, but when he has peers making fun of him, or dealing with adults who are ignorant about Tourette Syndrome, it makes it even more stressful.  This last school year my son missed a lot of school.  The combination of his tics, diabetes and epilepsy was a lose, lose situation.  Due to all of these absences I went on a search for a new specialist for the Tourette Syndrome.  Meanwhile the neuropsychologist suggested that we try medications again and was recommending an anxiety medication, even though we tried this in the past with no positive effect.

Meanwhile the school is pressing me to identify something which would change the circumstances at school.  They acted like I had a miracle cure up my sleeve and refused to recognize they were the main reason his TS was worse.  So, against my judgement, I put my son on the anxiety medication.  It took me about a week to get a hold of my senses and I took him off again.  There was also a period of time where the school nurse was pushing me to get some type of medication that would take the edge off these long bouts of tics that my son had.  She kept sending me names of neurologists, none with any specific expertise, just names.  She acted as if we hadn’t already seen doctor after doctor.  I also have learned that you just don’t pick names out of a hat.  Finding the right doctor is not easy.  Once again, against my instinct, we went to a pediatrician and she prescribed Valium.  I came to my senses pretty quickly on this one and never used them.

As a note of explanation, I am not against these medications.  There are times and people where these medications are not only effective, but necessary.  In regard to my son, in the last nine years he has been on numerous medications for his epilepsy.  Scary medications.  From this experience, I learned that getting the right medication is pretty much a trial and error type of process.  My son was already on a medication for his epilepsy that is also used for anxiety.  It was a benzodiazepine, which works by decreasing abnormal electrical activity in the brain.  Since there were questions about what these events were, I just didn’t want to haphazardly add another anxiety medication on top of the medications he was already on.

It is so frustrating to have an educational system trying to push you toward a medical solution that may not be the best for your child.  I finally wrote a letter to the superintendent, principal, nurse and his teacher that we needed to find a different approach here.  Drugging my son was not the answer.  There are some things we need to accept.  The TS is here and we need to deal with it as it is.  I don’t have any miracles to make it go away.  In addition, it is a fact that with all of the health problems my son has he is going to miss school.  We needed to expect it and plan for it.  It was my intent to push them into a new approach in educating my son, perhaps even supplying a tutor to keep him on track with his class.  Guess what.  No one responded to my letter.  Finally at the end of the school year his teacher emailed and said she would set up a meeting before the end of the year.  I didn’t here from her again.  At that point I just wanted to get through the end of school.  I would deal with the school before school started again.

Earlier in the year I had started looking for a new doctor that may have some expertise and offer a different direction to deal with the tics.  I also wanted someone who would look at the whole picture.  A doctor  said to me when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes that it seems to be all related and is probably an autoimmune problem.  Keep in mind my son was dealing with epilepsy, Tourette Syndrome, (possibly nonepileptic seizures), Diabetes, an anxiety disorder, a little OCD, a little Aspergers, a little ADD,  and learning disabilities.  That is quite a bit for a 12-year-old boy.  I am very proud of him for dealing with it all.  I am not so sure I could do the same.  Up to now each of these medical issues were being addressed independently.

Anyway, I went on a hunt.  Thank goodness for the internet.  I noticed that if we were located on the east coast there would be more of a selection of doctors.  Even though we were near a large city, Minneapolis – St. Paul, there still did not seem to be any experts.  So I just started calling hospitals and clinics and requested recommendations.  Initially they weren’t much help.  After reaching out to 30 or more medical centers I called the University of Minnesota Hospital, and they suggested a doctor.  After contacting his office, I found that he had a waiting list and it would be five months before we could see him.  That in itself meant something to me.  It was obvious that people were seeing him.  It was either because there just weren’t that many specialists or he was really good.  I decided we would wait and we would find out.

Finally the five months passed by and it was the day for our appointment.

To be continued . . .

Based on some of my earlier posts or tweets on Twitter, you may have surmised I have some personal connection to diabetes.  I revealed some information in an earlier post, Looking forward to the artificial pancreas .  So I thought I would take a moment to share some more information with you.

My grandfather, who is deceased now, had diabetes.  His perspective of diabetes was very different from how it is today.  In the 60’s insulin was the main treatment for diabetes and urine test strips had just been invented.  The single use syringe was introduced in 1961.  Prior to that diabetics had to use glass syringes, which had large needles and had to go through a  sterilization process each time it was used.  The first portable glucose meter was created in 1969.  The way my grandfather had to manage his diabetes is entirely different that how it is done today.

As a child I knew my grandfather had diabetes.  I also knew that he restricted his diet from sugar products or that is how it was perceived by me.  I don’t recall other dietary restrictions.  I know he was insulin dependant.  I don’t know how old he was when he was diagnosed, and I never saw any evidence of his diabetes.  No testing.  No shots.  They may have been happening; I just didn’t know anything about them.  I did know that at Thanksgiving my grandmother made him a sugar-free pumpkin pie.

My mother was diagnosed with diabetes in her late 30’s. She has type 2 diabetes.  She started her treatment with medication and dietary adjustments.  Later she was put on insulin.  She has always struggled with her diabetes.  Testing and taking insulin shots has been a normal part of her life. 

My father has type 1 diabetes.  He was diagnosed in his 60’s.  Initially they treated him as if he had type 2 diabetes.  At that time, type 1 diabetes was considered a disorder only for children.  After battling to control his blood sugar levels for a while, his doctor finally did a test and it was determined he had type 1 diabetes.  He was immediately put on insulin. 

As a side note, my parents had a dog who became diabetic, which was late in his life, and he was insulin dependant.  At one point my mother, my father and the dog all took injections of insulin.

So, with this type of family history I was waiting for the day when I would be diagnosed with diabetes.  Two years ago my doctor said I had pre-diabetes.  I was introduced to testing my blood and adjusting my diet.  Then in July of this year, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  Obviously, I am monitoring my blood, adjusting my diet, and taking metformin. 

Even though I knew it was coming, this diagnosis caused a big revelation for me.  I realized I needed to make some major changes in my life. Memories of my parents dealing with the disease flashed before me.  I also recollected the situation of one of my uncles with his diabetes.  Eventually, he had become partially blind and ended up on dialysis because his kidneys failed. 

More importantly, I thought about my son.  What if something happened to me and I was not able to help him?  He has numerous health issues including:  epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, an anxiety disorder, sensory integration syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, and non-epileptic seizures.  In addition to all of this he has learning disabilities.  His life is not easy, and I wanted to make sure I would be here to support him into his adulthood, if need be.

So I took my diagnosis very seriously.  I test my glucose levels religiously.  I also drastically changed my diet.  I started an exercise routine. As of now I have lost 35 pounds.  Hopefully I can keep this momentum up.

To be continued . . .

Life for a Child

Posted: November 22, 2010 in Diabetes
Tags: , ,

My son was diagnosed with diabetes in August and is dependant upon insulin.  His circumstances became an unexpected emergency.  I thank God that Children’s Hospital were able to take care of him, educate us about diabetes care, and provide him with the tools and medication he needs to live.  I can’t imagine being a mother and not being able to help your child.  Take a look at this organization.  They are helping children in third world countries who will die possibly within a year if they don’t have the medical care and supplies to live.  November is Diabetes Awareness month.  Join the cause.


What is the Life for a Child Programme?
The International Diabetes Federation’s Life for a Child Programme is an international aid program that provides life-saving support to children with diabetes in developing countries.

The Programme works with established diabetes centres in these countries so they can provide medical supplies, clinical treatment and diabetes education to the children and youth in their care. The centres monitor comprehensive clinical outcome data and provide financial feedback to the Program management team in Sydney.

The Programme aims to provide:

  • Sufficient insulin and syringes
  • Blood glucose monitoring equipment
  • Appropriate clinical care
  • HbA1c testing
  • Diabetes education
  • Technical support for health professionals

The Programme also aims to raise awareness of the plight of children with diabetes in their own countries and encourages governments to establish appropriate care to safeguard the future of children with diabetes.

Why is the program necessary?
In many developing countries, children with diabetes suffer because insulin and other diabetes supplies are not affordable or sometimes not even available. Many children go undiagnosed or die soon after diagnosis. Many others face the burden of severe complications while still young.

How many children does the Programme support?
The International Diabetes Federation’s Life for a Child Programme supports the care of approximately 4000 children in the following countries: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, The Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.

Check out the Life of a Child video: Video 

All of the information above is from the International Diabetes Federation’s website Life for a Child.