Insulin allergy. Can you even believe those two words can go together?
I was a sophomore in college. I woke up one morning and gave my first shot of the day. A little while later I realized that my lips were swelling up. Not my tongue or throat, just my lips. They were huge. I needed to get to class. I was having an exam that day. My roommate told me that it wasn’t that bad. She told me that I should wear a bandana like a cowboy to cover them. I looked like an absolute dork, but I did wear it. It kept happening. Swollen lips, hives, itchy. I went to see an allergist who tested me for every possible allergen. I had to confess to him that I had recently taken a liking to cherry lifesavers. (oh! Going to diabetes hell) He did a scratch test for that too. Negative for all. As a last ditch effort, I mentioned that the swollen lips seemed to happen right after I gave an injection. He scratch tested that, and surprise, that reacted. I officially was allergic to the drug that was keeping me alive.
My endocrinologist tried to desensitize me to insulin. We never were able to move from even the most minute doses of insulin. (something crazy like .005 units of insulin) My endo started lacing my insulin with dexamethasone, an injectible steroid. This cleared up the allergy symptoms that I was having. Since then, we have tried eliminating or reducing the steroid, but without luck. I use a Deltec pump. I’ve been pumping for the last 12 years. I fill the cartridges with a combination of insulin and dexamethasone. It’s a crazy cocktail, but one that keeps me alive, so I’m happy.
I’ve never known anyone else that has an allergy. I wonder if there is anyone else taking this cocktail?!