The Orange Box – by Helen May


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My fridge has the usual contents: cheese, milk, beer, fresh vegetables (no meat because I’m a vegetarian)… and a long orange box. The orange box gets taken out every so often and opened. Then later in the day/week it is returned. When the use by date is reached, it is replaced by a new orange box.

The content of the box is a syringe, some powder and a little bottle of liquid. It’s my glucagen.

I wonder why I have it. I know the theory about the need for it in case my blood sugar falls too low and I pass out. That’s why I have shown friends and partner how to use it. But will they have the box if they need it?

The recommendation is to keep the glucagen in the fridge so I only take it out when I think I am most likely to need it: when participating in a sporting event or on an active holiday. Unfortunately, if I ever need glucagen, I wouldn’t be injecting it so I have to rely on someone else.

So is there any value in carrying the glucagen with me when there is no one willing to use it or if there is no one I trust to use it? if I passed out in the street, would a stranger look through my bag, find the orange box, know it is glucagen and use it correctly? I suspect the chances are very rare.

Thankfully, although I experience some hypos I am lucky to be sensitive to them and have managed to top up my blood sugars when needed: the glucagen has never been used.

If I was dependent on someone else, for example, if I was a child with parents looking after me, I could see the point in carrying my orange box in my bag. But as an independent adult, my glucagen lives in its orange box, in the fridge and comes out when I remember to carry it on those occasions when I think my blood sugar levels could be unpredictable. I don’t think that makes me an irresponsible person with diabetes.

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I have had type 1 diabetes for almost 50 years and my wife has only had to resort to the “orange box” three or four times during severe night-time hypos.
Interestingly, during a cruise holiday my wife mixed and injected the solution quite correctly but it still failed to recover me, and she had to call the ship’s doctor to intervene. Fortunately, after a battle, he managed to bring me round.
At home, my Glucagon is kept in the fridge as per the instructions, but I do recognise the potential problems for those who live independently.

Oh ‘The Orange Box’ …..my son is 13 and was dxd at 2 years and whilst we were shown how to use it we were also told “you probably wont ever have to” – famous last words.
To date we have had to use it 4 times always in the middle of the night when sugars went so low my son started to fit.
So whilst it is one of those things I look at and dread i also have a debt to pay to the little ray of orange I see in my fridge everytime I open it because without it I dont think my beautiful brave boy would be here.

The glucagon kit doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge. It has an 18month life span when kept out of the fridge. Mine stays in my bag 24/7 and everyone knows where I keep it. Keeping it in the fridge seems odd to me as what’s the point when you are more likely to forget it. Better to replace it every 18months than to not have it when you need it.

Wow, lots of interest in the ‘orange box’ – its funny how anyone with or related to someone with diabetes immediately knows what the ‘orange box’ is and if you are anything like me, when you say ‘orange box’ you do so slowly and in a deep gravely box or in a tiny whisper!!

My 8 yr old son got the ‘orange box’ a few weeks after diagnosis andI got an indepth training session on how to use it – not sure I would remember when the time came but as Angela (toucan scraps) says, by the time I got it out of the fridge and recalled what to do the ambulance would have arrived to do it for me!

It will be making a trip on holiday with us later this year though and my fridge wouldn’t look the same if it weren’t there so hopefully there it will stay and its purpose in life will be purely to put me at ease and it will never be called upon to revive Ewan X

Like many others I too have an orange box in the fridge. If it was ever needed I think my husband will be so scared to use it or has forgotten what to do if I ever do need it.

Mine lives in the fridge as I have only ever needed it once, during a night time hypo, 11 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child. (I have been diabetic for 24 years) I would never go on holiday without it though, especially a holiday abroad. It is better to be safe than sorry!

unless you live out in the sticks the paramedics will get to you in time to do glugagon and they carry it with them.
I got an orange box for my daughter a few months ago as we were going to camp in the middle of rural Wales, no mobile phone reception and 20 mins drive to nearest telephone box. Didn’t ever need to use it though.

My 11 year old son is type 1 we too have the orange box in the fridge we have had to use it a few times it scares me as the needle is so big but it does the job it is for and sadly makes him so sick when he has come round.

I have been diabetic since 2001 and was only given a glucogen injection during my second pregnancy last year. It too lives in the fridge and has never been used, and long may it stay that way!

My partner has been Type1 since birth and we have never had Glucogen either. We use either Lucozade or jelly cubes if his blood sugar drops drastically low – we would never let it get to the stage of passing out.

I’ve been diabetic for 13 years and i’ve never had glucogen, whether it be in the fridge or in my bag.

i now exactly where you are coming from i have had diabetes type 1 for 26 years and a few years ago now i lost all the warning signs of hypos…i have the glucagen kit but never carry it with me as if i was found in the street people would not know what it is for and how to use it…if i am out on my own i just keep praying i dont take a hypo and make it home in one piece….for people who dont have any hypo warnings there must be some company that could invent an alarm that sounds when it detects your blood sugars are low…that would be a great help to the many of us who dont get the warnings

You’re right – it is the greatest irony that when you need it and you know you need it, you are not going to be able to give it to yourself.