Re-using Insulin Syringes.

Discussion in 'Discussions' started by OmniaNigrum, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    First of all, let us observe the rules in this thread. (And all others if we can.)

    I am an Insulin Dependant Diabetic. I have been for two decades.

    I give an average of three injections daily. 365 * 3 * 20 = 21,900.

    I reuse syringes. I have done this since a few months after I started. Initially I disposed of them, but eventually I decided to try to cut costs and reuse them.

    Insulin is injected into subcutaneous fat. Not into veins or muscle. So the injections only need to go a millimeter deep or so.

    I have sometimes reused a single syringe more than two hundred times. (Two months use.) I do not bother using alcohol or any sort of antibacterial junk either. There is no need. There never was. No organism can live in Insulin. Period.

    Recently I obtained a box of syringes that absolutely seem to have been made defective by design. They needle of the syringe is perfectly sharp, yet they have some sort of junky lubricant that somehow loses effectiveness after only one use. I risk pushing well past the millimeter of depth required by pushing hard enough to get them to penetrate my skin.

    They are BD brand "Ultra-Fine" type syringes.

    As an experiment, I took a sheet of paper and taped it onto a cup so that I could apply however much pressure is needed to get it to penetrate. I tried both the BD Ultra-Fine, and the cheapo knock off brand "Reli-On" syringes I bought years ago. Both are 30 gauge needles.

    My results were simply amazing. The Reli-On syringes could penetrate the paper hundreds of times without appearing to have any noticeable effect on how much pressure was needed. The BD syringes became useless after only a few uses. After ten uses it would be easier to push a pencil through the paper than the syringe supposedly so very sharp.

    Anyone know how to remedy this problem? Anyone know what the actual lubricant they use is? Anyone else upset that the medical community has no environmental concern whatsoever? I am thinking of buying some KY jelly to try manually lubricating the syringe with and see if that helps. Otherwise I will have to ask my Doctor for a prescription for "Reli-On" syringes next time. The prescription he wrote this time was not specific to brands, and the pharmacy decided on these.

    Before anyone asks, you do not even need a prescription to buy Insulin syringes in the USA. You just walk up to the pharmacy counter and ask for whatever you want. I get a prescription because I have insurance that largely negates the expense.

    I do not want my name associated with the cubic meter of disposable syringes that will fill some area of a medical waste area at some point in the future. I have not had one negative side effect of reuse, and even with the expense negated, I will continue reusing syringes as possible.

    ***Just as a note, I do not believe this is political or national in nature. Please delete this thread in it's entirety if you disagree Daynab.***
  2. klaymen_sk

    klaymen_sk Member

    While I cannot add anything worthy to your researcg, I wonder why you don't even sterilize the syringes. You know, while Insulin may be bactery-free, the needle itself may not. And that's why the medics dispose of them after just one use. Therefore there is no need for those syringes to be reusable many times.
  3. Kazeto

    Kazeto Member

    The only way to do so is to simply buy the syringes that you were buying in the past, I'm afraid. Normally-accessible lubricants are slightly different from what they are applying to their syringes, and I reckon there's more to it than just weird lubricant, as they are most likely aware of people re-using syringes and don't want to lose profits (and thus have to make sure that the syringes won't be re-usable).

    And I don't think there's anything wrong with re-using syringes, to be honest. For as long as it is you who is re-using them for yourself, and you are making sure that nothing bad is happening, it's alright. Sure, if it were me I'd probably be disinfecting them after every use, but I'm just weird like that, and you do have a point that nothing can really live in insulin.

    The injections aren't deep enough for anything "serious" to get into his body from the syringe. Or course there are exceptions, but I doubt his luck would be that bad.
  4. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    To the thoughts that I should disinfect every use: I did that right after I stopped only using them once. I initially did exactly as I was instructed by my doctor. I swabbed the injection site with alcohol first, then the bottle of insulin, then the syringe itself. But after more than 18 years of not touching alcohol nor using syringes only once, I have not had one single solitary infection or any other complications.

    Any other questions about this aspect?

    *Edit* Also, some more background information. They *Only* reason I discontinue using syringes that are not intentionally defective is that the paint on the sides starts to wear off from contact to my finger. The same paint that I use to gauge how full the syringe is. If it were not for that, I could potentially use a single syringe for a year or more.
  5. deek

    deek Controller of Bits Staff Member

    I've had a few diabetic friends in the past and some had the pumps and some didn't, I never understood why. Is there something that prevents some diabetics from using the pumps forcing them to use needles all the time?
  6. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    Insulin pumps are expensive. That is the bulk of the problem. They are also problematic in that if they get hit just right, they lose track of how much they were supposed to inject at a given time. They were not available as waterproof devices a decade ago, but I bet that much has changed since.

    Right now I am using an altered synthetic insulin that lasts ~24 hours per injection. I still have to take supplemental insulin several times a day since it would be dangerous to take a fixed amount and potentially miss a meal. (Hypoglycemia is like being very dumb. Most people would think a person was drunk or drugged up.)

    The insulin that lasts 24 hours is called Lantus. It is different from most insulins in that the method of keeping it from all being absorbed and put to use is by making the PH lower than normal, and it is resistant to binding until the PH normalizes. This is greatly advantageous over the proteins that were used in other insulins to prevent them from being absorbed and used all at once in that there is no protein to eventually be identified by the immune system and resisted. (After years of using NPH insulin, I was using more than twice as much as I started out using, while my weight and caloric intake had not changed. If I had continued, I may be taking several times as much by now for the same effect.)

    Back when I looked into it last, pumps cost around ~5k and then you had to get a specialist or even several to "Program" and educate you about it for a long time. But one day if you fell down a flight of stairs, that fall would likely destroy the pump, and would require you to buy a new one and wait a week or more for it to arrive and be calibrated for you. And if the needle was torn out, you would have to be re-fitted for it at a new location. This also means you would have to stop sitting the way you had likely gotten accustomed to, since it is now in a different location.

    Syringes are easier. :)

    Not to be a jerk, and I certainly understand what you mean by your choice of words, but I chose to use syringes. I was never forced. I am not chained to a device that costs more than all my possessions combined. I like that. (I could probably get a pump under some awful federal subsidy program. But in that case, the price doubles or more. It would just be my fellow tax payers paying the bill.)
    Kazeto likes this.
  7. Kazeto

    Kazeto Member

    Insulin pumps are expensive, so they only tend to get used when someone's diabetes is weird (by that I mean, things like blood sugar levels jumping constantly) or when that person needs constant injections.

    So I believe the answer to your question would be "money".

    Congratulations for the ninja manoeuvre, OmniNegro.
    OmniNegro likes this.
  8. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    Perfect timing. :) And you are exactly right. :) :) :)
  9. deek

    deek Controller of Bits Staff Member

    Thanks to both of you for the explanations. I can hear the "The more you know" sound in my head now.
  10. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    My brother used to say "And knowing is half the battle" an agonizing amount of times. He thought it was funny. I guess it could be, but I swear I heard it a thousand times from him.

    You are most welcome deek. :)
  11. jadkni

    jadkni Member

    I use the BD Ultra Fine needles, but I've only been taking insulin for two years, so I honestly have never used any other needle. I've not even seen "Reli-On", and you have me curious now. So thanks for the unintentional tip-off ;)

    I'd just assumed that all needles were only "good" for one use. I've gotten into tight spots due in no small part to my own carelessness where I'm stuck with one needle for a full day or two at a time, and it isn't pretty.
  12. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    I have been using my first Ultra Fine syringe for a full week now. (Since a few days before I started this thread.) They can be reused, but it gets bad. Very bad. I intend to get the needle to nearly a month of use before I start trying lubricants to see if I can solve the problem without "Solving" the plastic the syringe is made of. (Pun intended. Lame, but intended.)

    If my memory serves me, Reli-On is the Wal-Mart brand of products. I do not shop there anymore, but I still have a goodly supply of syringes. Note that Wal-Mart buys the products they sell under this brand and only sells them. They literally have nothing to do with the manufacture of them unless I am drastically mistaken. And also note that almost if not every pharmacy with a chain of stores will usually have generic syringes. Either their own brand, or another. But it is rare for a pharmacy to not have a generic alternative.

    And speaking of such things, You do not have to buy the entire boxfull in most pharmacies. Most will sell you a smaller quantity if you ask. And if you bother to explain you want to test the syringe before committing to its use, they may just give you a few. They have to fill prescriptions for odd numbers of syringes at times, so they usually will have a box that is opened and has been split already.

    If you find a generic available that works for you, please do not hesitate to inform me. I would love to hear the brand, and where you got it. I will update the thread if my cheap ass ever gets an alternative brand or finds a way to make Ultra-Fine syringes actually work as they should.

    I am very nearsighted, so I can see the perfect edge of the needle of the syringe. I have no idea why it works as if the needle were dull when in fact it is sharp as anything I have seen.