Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cleaning out the closet - Expired Meat and Medications

My Kitchen Cabinet
The bane of my wife's existence
Today's prompt is to talk about cleaning out your closet.  I'm going to stick pretty close to the theme that Rick over at RadDiabetes talked about.  And that is developing a rational and manageable approach in our lives to "What if?"  Many of us have very real dangers and fears in our lives, that our doctors and insurance companies will conspire to deny us vital treatments, medications and insulin.  That Snowmageddon will hit and our ability to get out and get vital supplies will be gone.  So we start to act like little survivalists.  We keep hoards of supplies.  And we want them convenient.  So it seems I must show my own distressing hoard to the right.  And I admit, I don't just do this with diabetes supplies, I do this with food.  I have a large fridge inside, a second large fridge in the garage (I used to have two in the garage) and a large chest freezer.  I have enough food to feed an army for six months.  And that brings me to key issue in my blog today which is actually exemplified by my behavior with food.  I admit it, I buy food that is expiring and I hoard it and then actually have to throw a bunch out when it get's really "bad."  This behavior is notable in my purchasing of expiring meat which I buy at discounted prices, then vacuum seal and freeze.  Have you seen a piece of meat in the bottom of the freezer that has an unknown date (I now date my meat, but it can still be scary).  And so we come back round to diabetes supplies (and medical supplies in general).  I am terrible about throwing expired stuff out.

OneTouch Lancets
From 2/2006
So today, I made a mini project to just make a little progress.  I think we all have a story about lancets. I still have a full box from 2006.  I'm sure that there are others that have me beat, but this is just an example.  I absolutely knew I didn't need these, I have actually tried to give them away, but basically nobody seems to want them they are worthless.  And who wants a bunch of nearly 10 year old rusty lancets?   Worst of all I stopped using the OneTouch lancet when I upgraded to my VerioIQ and started using the Delica lancet which can't use the old lancets.  So these lancets are not even of any use to me anymore.  So why is that box sitting in my hoard of diabetes supplies?  I wish I had a rational answer.  So today I took the first step and I carefully placed it in the trash can.  This seems like a small step, but it can be a big step in getting a handle on hoarding issues which can overwhelm your life.

Part of my "Hoard" - All totally expired.
So I wish I could tell you this was my only infraction, but this is like the tip of the iceberg.  If it wasn't for my wife regularly going through and throwing stuff our I would probably still have a stockpile of baby aspirin from when I was an infant.  So to the right you just see a sample of some of problem in my kitchen cabinet.  Below are a couple of closer shots of some of my more egregious medications.
While not a diabetes medication, here is a prescription filled in the year 2000 and expired in 2001.  Seriously?  That is 15 years old.  Fifteen.  Why do I have that around?  I wouldn't even feel safe taking it even if it worked.  And that brings us to a key issue.  Why do we feel like an expired medication is still appropriate to take?  We always bargain ourselves down.  We ask ourselves whether a metformin pill one month past it's expiration is still good.  We convince ourselves it is still as good as ever.  And the next time we actually think about it the metform pills are 5 years old.

Backup Insulin
Four years old, expired in 2013
And what about insulin?  We all get nervous about our insulin supply.  What happens if it goes bad, it is particularly vulnerable to hot and cold.  Remember Snowmageddon?  And we hate waste.  If there is a drop in a vial or a last unit in a pen we squeeze it out.  So throwing away insulin seems like treason.  So to the right is my backup insulin.  I swear I have kept it in pristine conditions.  It has sat there in my fridge in perfectly controlled conditions.  I thought about donating it but never followed through.  I don't know if you can see but that insulin expired 2 years ago, making it four years old.  That is Two years past expiration. That isn't a backup, why would I have faith in that insulin?

So I threw out all those long expired medications and those lancets.  They went in the trash.  It may mess up the water supply but it is very small amounts.  I felt good.  But I was not totally successful.  I put that ancient insulin back in the fridge.  I know it doesn't make sense.  But I also know that a lot of my food hoarding doesn't make sense either.   Sometimes we just have to try to take one step at a time dealing with our issues.  Actually throwing out those lancets while a seemingly trivial act was actually a groundbreaking.  Now if I can just continue to make progress.


  1. Brian, I am exactly the same! and I do have you beat, I have a full box of B-D Ultra Fine II lancets from 1999, that actually have 99 refills. These lancets were revolutionary at the time, being so much thinner. I now use the Fastclix, which use drums. I forget now why I'm keeping these, but they do come in handy when you need to poke little holes in things.


    1. Thanks Marie. I hope you don't have as much meat as I do in the freezer.