Thursday 8 August 2013

Dead Glucagon, or Each One, Teach One? (365:6)

After Dylan returned from camp, I put away his unused diabetes supplies back in the d-cupboard and discovered a box of glucagon tucked behind some infusion sets. My initial reaction of "score!" was quickly subdued when I looked at the bottom of the box and saw an expiry date of November 2012.

In Canada, a box of glucagon costs about $110 without private insurance coverage (luckily we have a very generous insurance provider who covers the cost of virtually all diabetes supplies). Knowing this, it makes me sad to see it expire. Seems like a waste to simply throw it away, especially when there are families who cannot afford to have multiple boxes of this magical reconstitution lying around the house "just in case." It gives me that same kind of guilty feeling I get when have to throw away uneaten food; I wish there was someway I could make it useful.

Moments later I remembered what the diabetes educator had told us in training: never throw away a box of unused glucagon. Use it for practice, or donate it to the hospital and they will use it to teach someone recently diagnosed. In neither case would it be injected for real, but the act of drawing out the water, injecting it into the vial, mixing, and redrawing the solution into a syringe is good practice, and might help avoid the foamy mess I created the first time I ever had to use glucagon in an emergency situation.

Which led to to remember the numerous and horribly frightening times in which we've needed to give Dylan glucagon. Times when it made the difference between life and death; bringing up a dangerously low blood sugar in a matter of minutes. Part of me feels gratitude towards this little box and its capabilities. Another part of me is relieved that glucagon does, in fact, expire in our house now, because it means we didn't need to use it. I can only hope there are many more unused expires boxes in the future.

What do you do with expired glucagon?

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