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27/02/2013 / katnewman

Errm, you want me to stick needles in my baby? How not to panic too much…

Following on from my initial post, we will get into some details here in respect of the actual injections because that’s the scariest part. We will talk about diet etc later. In this post I’m going to go through my supplies and next time we will do the injection bit.

Firstly, I have to tell you, the injection is SO not as traumatic as I built it up in my head. While you are having your inevitable freak-out just remember this, the first one is the scariest and also the biggest relief. You will wonder what all the fuss is about when you are done. My cat’s diabetes came at a time in my life when I was suffering from another major trauma – don’t they always come in 3’s! – and it was a massive deal for me. Not helped by lack of knowledge and practical advice. My vet is fantastic, but the practical information he gave me in terms of the blood testing was a bit thin, it took a good couple of weeks to be comfortable with it and to find a method that worked. They test blood by taking it from a front leg, but obviously you can’t be doing that every day with only one set of hands so I guess he’s never ‘tried this at home’ so to speak.

So – injection and blood testing. I was lucky enough that they had just brought out the ‘Vet Pen’ when Harry was diagnosed. Before, you had to get a big proper needle and syringe and draw the insulin from the bottles. This is a canister that goes into a pet version of an epi-pen. Its expensive at first but over time it evens out, and its so easy, I highly recommend it. The other method is still available but I can’t comment on that as I haven’t used it. You will need the pen, a cannister of insulin – mine is called caninsulin – spare needles for the pen (will get a few in the initial pack). Insulin must be kept in the fridge at below 4 degrees until you put it in the pen and then its ok to keep out of the fridge.

The blood tests are a slightly different ball-game. You can get the testing device from the vet but its very expensive and there are human ones on the market that will do just as well – you just need to allow for the fact that the reading will be a little way off from his actual reading but when you’re in the swing of it that’s perfectly acceptable. Once you have your testing machine take it with you to the vet next time you take your pet in for a blood test and compare, so that you have a better idea what sort of margin you have for error – but your cat’s levels will probably be sky high at the beginning so you’ll be concentrating on getting this down.

Important note. Some pharmacists do not approve of you using these on pets. In fact the pharmacist in Boots was downright rude. You’re not purchasing illegal drugs, or the things with which to use them so I don’t see the problem, but just don’t let on its for your cat, ok! So, you need a test gadget, and test strips. I have the aviva nano, it was around £20.

Another tip – the strips have an expiration date on the packet- check this before you buy! Finding that it was out of date and unusable on day 1 on top of all the other things to contend with wasn’t good for the stress levels!

The test kit will also come with some sort of needle applicator where its supposed to shoot the needle into the skin. Harry hated this, the clicking sound wasn’t helpful, especially as its right on his ear (will get to that) so I actually purchase needles from the vet for this now. I get just the tips, and I get the ‘blue’ ones as they are the second finest needle so I can see what I’m doing but I’m not making too much of an impression in the skin.

The strips are pretty expensive, almost £7 for 10, so the wastage from the first couple of weeks while I was trying to get to grips with this was an expensive learning curve! Hopefully my experience will save you a bit of money too. Do keep the part of the instruction book that details the error messages and their meaning – and grab a spare battery as the one in the machine initially doesn’t last very long at all.

So your supplies list should look like this:
Vet pen or syringe
Can insulin cartridge or whatever bottles come with the syringe
Spare needles for the vet pen

Blood testing gadget
Blood testing strips
Needle for pricking

So, shopping done and everything ready – next time we will get to the injections. Deep breath, its not so bad, honest!


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