Wil Dubois

If it isn't one thing with diabetes, it's another — from trying to figure out our dosing needs to cross-over with other ailments to how we feel about sharing our D-issues with others in our lives.

We at the 'Mine have got your back, especially each Saturday with our weekly in-depth advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois from New Mexico.

This week, Wil's addressing a smattering of questions about expiration dates, insulin freezing, and diabetes supply donations. We thank you all for keeping our mailbag full of great queries!

 

{Got your questions about navigating life with diabetes? Email us at [email protected]}

 

Shannon, 'diabetes curious' from New York, writes: Hi. I have a question regarding the expiration of diabetes checking equipment. The one I have is OneTouch Ultra 2. The expiration date on it is on 11/2016. My question is, is it safe to use this equipment after the expiration date? I tried to research, but I couldn’t get a proper answer. Kindly help me with this. And I’m not diabetic, I just thought I’d check my diabetes level.

[email protected] D’Mine answers: Safe? You betcha. Accurate? Hell, no. Test strips can be stretched a bit and still work OK, but almost a year is too much of a stretch. The results you’d get from test strips that far out of date will be wrong. They might be artificially high or artificially low. Either way, you won’t get the information you need.

The best way to “check your diabetes level” is to get screened for diabetes at your doctor’s office or county health office. And that’s a good idea. Whether you have a family history, diabetes-like symptoms, or simply idle curiosity, screening makes sense. Diabetes is one of those things that’s best intercepted and dealt with at the earliest possible moment.

You can read more about why glucose test strips have a limited shelf life in one of my July columns here, and in even more detail from 2014 here.

 

Maria, type 2 from Canada, writes: My husband and I are on holidays & I put my only refill of Lantus in the hotel fridge and it froze. Can I still use it in the morning when I wake up? I have 16 units left in my old refill & I need 5 more units for Thursday & 21 units for Friday. Thank you in advance!

[email protected] D’Mine answers: Damn. I hate it when things like that happen. The official CDE-certified, doctor-approved, Pharma-blessed answer is: No. You can’t use it because it probably won’t work right.

Thaaaaat said……

If you were at home, I’d say it’s not worth it, pitch it out. But as you are on the road and getting insulin can be tricky when traveling, I think there’s no harm in trying. It’s not like freezing it is going to turn it into a poison. It might keep it from working as well. Or it might keep it from working at all. I suppose there’s a remote chance it might make it work faster or more powerfully if the freezing process broke down the suspension chemicals and not the insulin proteins, although I’ve never heard of such a thing happening.

Sorry. That was a long-winded way of saying that—so long as you monitor your blood sugar frequently and avoid high carb foods—I don’t see a downside to thawing it out and giving it a try, especially as you really only need a splat to get you through the rest of your vacation.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t give the same advice to a type 1. Well… Maybe I would, but with a lot more warnings. As a T2, if it doesn’t work out, a day of high blood sugar won’t kill you.

The same can’t be said for us T1s, because you know... DKA.

For more on frozen (and freezing!) insulin check out our archives from 2013 and read “Insulin on the Rocks.” If nothing else, you’ll love the photos.

 

Gina, type 3 from Connecticut, writes: My Dad recently passed away and I have insulin (Lantus) and individual supplies... any suggestions on what to do with them?

[email protected] D’Mine answers: I’m sorry for your loss, and I think it’s wonderful that at a time like this you can think of the needs of others. In fact, the need for helping people right now is at a critical point with all the devastation caused by natural disasters in the Gulf Coast and surrounding southern states, in Mexico and especially right now in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands.

Many options exist (see this recent resource roundup). But the best bet is probably to send it to Insulin for Life USA, a well-regarded outfit that redistributes orphan unopened, unexpired insulin and other supplies to the Third World. It’s too bad we can’t help people closer to home more easily, but prescribing laws and such in the USA make it nearly impossible for organizations to do that. In fact, when the Insulin for Life people here in the USA wanted to help out Hurricane Harvey victims, they encountered monstrous red tape! Thankfully, it all worked out, but it shows you how messed up our system is.

Still, while we can’t always help our neighbors, sending your dad’s supplies to Insulin for Life will, really and truly, save other lives globally. And that’s a great legacy.

 

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.