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If you or someone you know has type 1 diabetes, you're in a tiny minority.
From a survival standpoint, type 1 diabetics are in a pretty crappy situation. Anywhere from a few hours to a few days without insulin will send a diabetic into a condition called ketoacidosis. Untreated this can lead to a coma and death.
Type 1 diabetes differs from the much more common type 2 diabetes in that the pancreas of a type 1 diabetic does not produce any insulin at all. Type 2 diabetics either produce less insulin or have trouble metabolizing the insulin that is produced. It is more complex than that, yes. Essentially what this means is that type 1 diabetics rely on insulin injections to stay alive, while type 2 can be controlled with pills, diet, exercise, and/or insulin, and/or a combination of these things.
As a type 1 this is something that I worry about a lot. It's very important to stay WAY ahead of the game. And you don't even need to be into prepping to make sure that you have enough supplies to last for awhile, for any reason. Complicating matters is that some types of insulin are only available by prescription, it's perishable, and fairly expensive.
So I've come up with a few ways to be prepared that might be useful to you or someone you know. Different people may have different methods, but this way covers all the bases. Feel free to add anything.
#1: Know yourself. Control diabetes through frequent bloodsugar monitoring and insulin use. Although this stuff is prescribed by doctors and the doctor tells you what to do, ideally you should get to a point where you can make adjustments yourself. I'm not a doctor. And if a doctor heard me saying this they might try to kill me. But I take care of myself this way and it offers me the most self reliance on a day to day basis as possible. If you're on this site you probably don't want to be tied down by doctors either.
#2: Stock up on non-perishable supplies. These include: testing strips for glucose monitors; syringes; alcohol swabs; lancets. In some states you need a prescription for syringes. Here's a link that tells you which: http://www.isletsofhope.com/diabetes/st ... -laws.html Most of the time insurance covers this stuff, but in a pinch they are also available over the counter. You just have to ask the pharmacy.
In some cases it might be cheaper to buy this stuff OTC than to pay the doctor to ask for prescriptions.
For strips and monitors, I highly recommend the wal-mart brand one. They are way less expensive than the "name brands" and work just as well. Don't believe your doctor when they tell you that the most expensive brand works the best. It's B.S.
#3: Keep a backup supply of insulin. You can ask the doctor for a prescription, but in most states this is not necessary (see the above link). Make a note of the expiration date. Here is a guide to how long insulin lasts, refrigerated and unopened: http://www.isletsofhope.com/diabetes/ca ... tml#bottle
In a pinch, I recommend R and N insulins as backup. They're "older" types and are often cheaper than Humalog, Lantus, etc. Also R and N are often available without a prescription, while "newer" types of insulin do require prescriptions.
It's expensive but you gotta do what you gotta do.
#4: Also keep a glucagon kit and teach someone else how to use it. Glucagon is an injection given to diabetics who have gone unconscious from having a LOW bloodsugar. G-d forbid you ever have to use it because I hear it's horrible. But always keep some sugar - glucose tablets and hard candy are good for longer term preparation. Staying true to tip #1 should help you avoid a situation in which glucagon is necessary. I've lived 24 years with type 1 and never had to use glucagon, but anything is possible, especially if you're in a situation where you have to adjust to R and N insulin, may not have reliable food, may have to walk or run for awhile, etc. Be prepared and know the signs of low bloodsugar.
I have other survival tips for type 1s that I've learned as a result of a lifetime of living with diabetes. But keeping a backup supply of all of these things is the #1 thing that you must do - before food, before water. Because without it, you're dead meat!
Thanks for reading.
Lauren from PathAcross
http://www.pathacross.com News, discussion, and resources for all aspects of self reliance
Preparing for the future brings peace of mind to the present.
Excellent of you to share. You may have saved some lives today.
I agree, the thought of prepping for diabetes is a hard one. And to compound the matter from Alas, Babylon to One Second After it has been a frequent topic of apocalyptic literature, usually with negative results.
I think that most doctors actually encourage and urge their patients to take control of their diabetes and, if they are (and choose to be) competent to adjust their insulin as needed. Big changes (like deciding to cut your Lantus in half daily, or to start using your sister's Byetta) should be discussed with your doctor, but if you tell your doctor that you are using a bit more insulin before Thanksgiving dinner and less during Lent, he might give you a high five. Just be sure to tell him as all insulins are different.
I read something recently in a drug book that sounds great, but I cannot find specifics. The item of interest said that some newer, shelf stable insulins can remain potent up to 24-36 months after manufacture if kept at room temperature. The specifics that I cannot find are the types and brands of these. If anyone knows, please past it one.
If I might recommend a few more things. McDonald's hot cakes syrup. 32 grams of tasty surgar that you could probably get for free if you ask nicely. Carry some in your purse or such for when the blood surgar drops...half of a tub of this is about the same as most of the 15 gram glucose tubes (and those taste like butt). Never try and give this to someone who is unresponsive and/or cannot swallow...they could choke on it or anything thing else you put in their mouth. If they are unresponsive that is when you use the Glucogon.
There is a brand of glucometer that I have seen sold at Walmart and Albertsons for about $30 that has a disposable meter built into the top of the test strip vial. No need to run controls, to put in keys for test strips, etc. The cost of $1/strip seems about the same and most when paying out of pocket and when you are out of strips, you get another meter. I will not lie, I have never used these, but I really like the idea.
In the past, you could get the chemical/visual test strips at the store. You put a drop of blood on them, wait a minute or two, and then figure out what your blood sugar is from the color change. No batteries needed. EMP resistant. Unfortunately, these are no longer sold in the U.S.--with the cheap test meters there isn't a market for them anymore. Overseas, however, glucometers are not cheap so such strips are still being used: http://www.betachek.com/bv.htm (if you are confused by the numbers, don't forget that in the U.S. we measure in mg/dL and overseas, and in Canada, they measure in mmol/L) Again, I have never used the BetaChek strips, but I have seen similar systems used (years ago) and they worked. What I like about these is that they are being marketed for the third world, so hopefully they are durable and with a decent shelf life...would have to ask the manufacturer about that though.
Excellent post, PathAcross! Oh, and by the way..I see you're "new" here...WELCOME! (and, great start, btw)
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I ran across this information last night and thought I would share .... as most of you know I'm very into herbal medicines. Well I discovered that Bilberry lowers blood sugar levels and therefore diabetics that are taking insulin should avoid it - which also means that should you be found in a situation where you cannot get insulin, then bilberry could be a possible substitute. I wish I could test it out on myself to see what sort of results it produces but I have the opposite problem of too low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and should therefore avoid it as well. But of course there is also the down side ... the leaves can produce symptoms of poisoning if used over long periods of time therefore would need to be used alternately with things like licorice which is another well known blood sugar stabilizer.
This herb is actually used for several things (as are most herbs) and also known by several different names (once again as are most herbs).
Anyway, just wanted to share so if anyone wanted to dig deeper into it they could.
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John Gall - very good advice about the McDonald's syrup. Sugar packets, honey packets, fruit jam/jelly also work well. I grab a few sugar packets from a restaurant or coffee shop to carry around.
I used to use those color change strips when I was a kid. I'm glad we now have more accurate tools, but those would be handy for emergencies!!
Greenbeans - haven't heard of bilberry but I'll look into it. Have you heard anything about bitter melon? I've heard that bitter melon can decrease bloodsugar levels.
http://www.pathacross.com News, discussion, and resources for all aspects of self reliance
Preparing for the future brings peace of mind to the present.
8Greenbeans will be able to expand on this better than I but yes - bitter melon can help. I don't use this company's products at all but do like their database of herbal supps. Bitter melon is explained at http://www.viable-herbal.com/singles/herbs/s124.htm (and alphabetic list of herbs is viewable at http://www.viable-herbal.com/singles/singles.htm ). A few supps you might wanna research (per Dr Gary Null's book called "The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing") include a mineral called vanadyl sulfate (and possibly chromium picolinate, magnesium and potassium) .. and blueberry leaves (like bilberry) can promote insulin production. But as 8GB pointed out... alternative options can also create problems so research to ensure they are no complications or interactions with other meds you might be taking. Great post too - thx! j
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Not having a stable supply of insulin (whether it be from your own pancreas, or from a pharmacy) is indeed a recipe for disaster. Those who have Type 1 must inject insulin in some form, or they will eventually die.
If you are stuck in a situation where you have NO insulin readily available, and you want to extend your lifespan as long as possible, here are a few tips. These would also apply for Type 2 diabetics who must take oral medicines. The biggest difference is that for Type 1 diabetics these tips may extend your life for a matter of minutes, hours or days. Type 2 diabetics may be able to go for weeks, depending upon how bad their situation already is:
1. Exercise usually results in a relatively quick drop in blood sugar. With Type 1 diabetes, your blood sugar levels will probably go sky high until you have access to insulin. If your blood glucose levels are high, immediately do some type of aerobic activity. Do not over do it until your blood glucose levels drop dangerously low though.
2. Stick to your diet. Obviously, all types of diabetics should be on some type of restrictive diet. Type 1 diabetics should stick to a highly restrictive diet with as few carbs as possible. Type 2 diabetics should eliminate ALL sugars and starches from their diets immediately. NO food is worse than food that is bad for you. Diabetes will kill you long before malnutrition will.
3. Regardless of what type of diabetes you have, it's safe to say that foods containing carbohydrates and are high on the glycemic index should be avoided if at all possible. Any that are eaten should be consumed VERY slowly. Most foods that are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates will lower your blood glucose levels for an extended amount of time. There is currently a lot of discussion in the medical community about all vegan diets being able to actually "reverse" both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Whether this is technically possible or not, fresh vegetables are most likely your best source of nutrition if your blood glucose is elevated.
4. If your blood glucose is dangerously LOW, forget all of the above. If your blood glucose level drops below 70, get your hands on a small amount of food that is high in glucose/sugar or a very starchy food such as a potato (cooked or uncooked, but thoroughly chewed). A small amount of simple table sugar will work quickly. If it continues to stay low, you are better off finding something starchy that will release glucose into your body more slowly though (i.e. potatoes, white rice, etc.). Do NOT exercise. Try to stay as calm, still and warm as possible. Avoid unconsciousness at all costs.
5. Avoid dehydration. It is critical to maintain proper hydration. Slowly drinking water or a saline solution (recipes can be found on the internet on how to make saline solution in the proper ratios) can save your life. Also, avoid any and all diuretics during this time. This especially includes any food or beverage that contains caffeine. Drinking coffee of caffeinated tea will actually DEHYDRATE you, making your condition much worse.
These are the best tips that I can think of offhand. I'm sure that a qualified physician could come up with many more practical tips that could come in handy in the event that you are unable to obtain proper medication for an extended amount of time.
William Van Hefner
Editor of http://www.freediabetestestsupplies.com
Thank you so much for this information. My 21 year old daughter was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes two days ago. We are shocked and devastated. We are preppers and my biggest fear is that we won't be able to have enough insulin on hand for her to survive. I can't watch our daughter die. We need as much information and help as possible.
So, you think we can get our hands on insulin without a prescription and stock up on it? I'll have to check out all your links to learn how long it keeps and where I can get it. We are so new to this obviously, so I'll have to learn as I go on what to do. But, I just don't want to run out and have her die on us.
Thanks for your information.
I am sorry to hear about your daughter's recent diagnosis. I know that this must be a heck of a shock for you all. Make sure that you and your daughter learn as much about this disease as possible. It has horrible consequences, but it can be managed and people with diabetes can lead normal lives.
If your daughter was diagnosed with diabetes just a few days ago, I would wait for a bit before making any big plans or preps. First, she was diagnosed with Type 1, insulin dependent, diabetes at the age of 21? That is kinda old for that diagnosis, previously Type 1 diabetes was known as "juvenile onset diabetes." However, in recent decades the age of onset of Type 1 diabetes has increased into early adulthood. Hopefully when you follow up with an endocrinologist and more studies are done it will be found that she has Type 2 diabetes and can be managed with pills alone (I can be hopeful, can't I?). Second, her treatment regime will change, perhaps a good bit, for a while, for the first few months at the least, as her body adjusts and you all learn what works for her to keep her blood sugar under control.
I had always thought that you needed a prescription for insulin, but apparently not, at least not for regular insulin: http://www.isletsofhope.com/diabetes/st ... -laws.html
Honestly, as a health care provider I find insulin being available over the counter to be pretty scary on two fronts. First, someone with diabetes may opt to self treat at home and never see a doctor for a routine checkup and let some health condition that could have been dealt with easily fester until it is something unmanageable. Second, somebody might decide to pick up some insulin to commit suicide with. I myself have seen three separate cases of people trying to commit suicide with insulin, and if no one calls 911 it will work, but if they find you soon enough you just risk brain damage. Scary.
However, as a prepper, I think that over the counter (OTC) insulin is a real boon. I would suggest that you find out what types of insulin you can purchase without a prescription in your area and get your daughter's doctor to prescribe those. Yes, that would defeat that "not needing a prescription point" but different types of insulin act in different ways and if your daughter gets used to using one and then switches to another... Also, if your doctor writes a script of X months of insulin, if it is one that you can get without a prescription you will be able to buy more regardless of the script. If your daughter is being treated with one of the insulin analogs (like Humalog or Lantus) you could ask the doctor to write two prescriptions, one to fill locally and one for you to try and use to shop on line to try and get a better deal. If you explain that insurance is not covering everything, that you have financial concerns, that you want to be able to pick it up locally if the internet order does not come through, etc, the doctor might buy it.
Don't forget to get insulin syringes, but if you don't have a prescription for those be careful about buying them without buying a bottle of insulin at the same time, or buying more than reasonable for use with one bottle of insulin. The pharmacy might think that you are trying to stock up for IV drug use. You might consider shopping at different pharmacies.
I honestly do not know about the shelf life of insulin. I read in one drug book that newer insulin's have a shelf life, at room temperature, of one to two years. However, the book did not list any particular insulin and most insulin drug package inserts that I have seen still recommend storage in a refrigerator (do not freeze) for one to two years, until the expiration date. Insulin, in general, is still good if it has been kept out of the refrigerator for about a month. This article gives a pretty detailed overview of insulin storage and handling: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/9/2665.full
Everyone is worried about the possibility of a long term, grid-down situation where power and refrigeration for insulin storage would not be available. I think that this is valid concern, and maintaining refrigeration for insulin storage past one month would be a real issue. What about building a dedicated solar generator, with storage battery, to run a thermoelectric cooler? http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-PowerChil ... d_sim_sg_1 You might even consider a bicycle generator style back up, or a wind generator, for cloudy days. Even if you never see a long term, grid down situation, you will still have a place to store your insulin in the event of your going a couple of weeks without power due to a storm, etc.
If you do opt to stockpile insulin, make sure that you only stockpile enough to its expiration date and rotate it faithfully. For example, if the insulin your daughter uses has a two year shelf life and she uses a bottle a month, don't stock pile more than 24 bottles at any one time and rotate it regularly so that nothing ever expires. If you want to stockpile more than two years, just in case, mark those vials to be sacrificed when they reach their expiration dates and keep them out of your regular rotation (unless the amount of insulin she uses increases). You might consider donating them to charity when they are within 6 months or so of the expiration date, get a receipt and you can write it off on your taxes.
What are the signs and symptoms of Diabetes? Who Knows whats wrong with me, i don't know enough about diabetes to know if i have any possibility of having it. i just need to know about the symptoms, i'm not looking for someone to diagnose me.
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I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 28 (20 years ago). It was only in the last few years one of my healthcare team ran an Islet Cell Antibody test on me to absolutely confirm the diagnosis.
As for symptoms, extreme thirst, frequent urination, excessive weight loss, sudden change in vision (mine seemed to go blurry almost over night), nausea, fatigue. There maybe a few more but these are the ones I remember experiencing. If you think you may be exhibiting these symptoms you need to go see your doctor.
Unfortunately, we Type 1s are on the clock once we run out of insulin. Herbal remedies, exercise, & diet may edge down the high BG and give us a few more hours or days, but they can not replace insulin. Stock up as much as you can and, like all other supplies, rotate the oldest into use. Store it properly (which may be difficult in a TEOTWAWKI situation). There are some solar powered fridges on the market. They are a bit pricey but may come in very handy in keeping that supply viable for a longer period of time.
Thank you for all the information! We had an appointment with the Endocronologist on Wednesday (acutally it was the Physician's Assistant) and it went pretty badly. They have her on Humalog and Lantus now. They told me it lasts 28 days once opened, but a refrigerated one unopened can last 2 years. I asked them if we could get extras to have on hand and she said "what in the world would you need extra for? It is readily available at the pharmacy." I didn't tell her I was a prepper. I told her that my daughter goes to school out of town and when she comes home, what if she forgets to bring some with her? She said "We'll just write her a script to go get filled." She had an out for everything I brought up.
My daughter isn't sold on the prepper thing and was getting upset with me and thinks I don't trust her, etc. When I give her scenarios and why it is important for us to have some at our house and to stock up on, she doesn't want to hear it. I went to our pharmacy today and asked them what we can do if our daughter comes home from school and forgets her insulin. They just said they would have the pharmacy by her college call our pharmacy and then they would fill it. But, without a prescription in their system, they won't fill it.
I also talked to the physician's assistant about the Glucagon and she said that there was no reason we should have that at our home and that our daughter could just bring it with her when she comes home for visits. Yeah, right!
I feel that as long as we stick with this doctor, we will get no where. I asked her "Do we have to worry about our daughter going to bed one night and not waking up the next morning?" She said in reply "Oh, I don't know, do we need to worry about you going to bed and not waking up?" She was very sarcastic. I had a bunch of questions to ask them and I didn't get but 3 answered. Like I said, we have alot to learn and I sure didn't feel we got much. My daughter on the other hand thinks things went fine. I'm debating whether to locate another Endocronologist at the risk of making enemies with my daughter. And, by the way, the Endocronologist only came into the room for 5 minutes! This is a newly diagnosed Type 1 patient and that's the best they can do? They also assumed she knew how to prick her finger to test blood sugar and we knew nothing!
As for how to keep the insulin cool. We do have a solar generator in the making. We just need to get the batteries and we'll be set. We have a mini refrigerator that we would hook up to that. I will be going to all the websites everybody has listed and try to research more about getting my hands on extra insulin. If she is used to Humalog and Lantus, would it be a death sentence to switch her to something else if that was the ONLY way I could get more insulin? It is a death sentence either way, I think.
I just found this website: http://insulinsdirect.com/ Please somebody tell me this could be my answer! If I could actually get Humalog and Lantus online through Canada, that would be awesome! I know it is pricey, but my daughter's life is worth it!!!
As a diabetic I am appalled that your health care providers would be so aloof with answers especially since your daughter is newly diagnosed. I would definitely be looking for a new doc. After all, they work for you! You should be able to find some diabetes support groups in your area. A place to start might be the American Diabetes Association office in your area. If you have a teaching hospital (like Vanderbilt in my area) they will often have support groups and such. You may be able to find a doc that is positive to the prepping life style that will write scripts that allow you to build a small inventory of supplies. If you have a Mormon Church in your area you might call them to see if they have an endos in their congregations. They seem to take a very positive view of prepping. Just a suggestion, I don't know that it will help. Here in TN you don't need a script to buy insulin so I haven't run into your problem.
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