Knowing Hong Kong was my best bet I researched and contacted the two largest pharmacies for details of Humalog supply and cost. Only Mannings responded confirming they can supply Humalog and it would be 408 HKD, around £30 a bottle. This was great news, I would need 3 bottles to last me the rest of the trip.
Feeling high, in a bad way
As we finished our last few weeks in the Philippines, I got more and more suspicious that my defrosted insulin was not working correctly. I struggled bringing my blood sugars down from being high and experienced mixed results from using the insulin. It was working, but I needed to get off this quickly, my results for the last 2 weeks clearly showed something was not right.
YAY Hong Kong
Arriving in Hong Kong we went direct to the Mannings pharmacy that where holding two bottles of Humalog for me, unfortunately this was all they had - still I was delighted!
YAY! Look what I found in Hong Kong! Finally! pic.twitter.com/GC1BOF73cB— Timothy Omer (@tim_omer) July 24, 2014
The pharmacists in Mannings was very helpful and even rang around a few local pharmacies to see if they had Humalog vials in stock, they did not but one location did have cartridges (for insulin pens, not insulin guns!) that would work fine. With my new found relief I decided we would pop into a few other pharmacies in town in the next few days to ask for vials and if no luck grab the cartridges.
Obviously, this just never happened.
New country, same problem
Before we new it we where in China after having to make a quick getaway from our hotel - story for another day.
I was chomping my way through my insulin quicker than expected, a vial should last me 21 days (3 weeks) based on my original calculations and amazing spreadsheet, but i was getting around 19 days, I needed two more vials.
Unfortunately the pharmacies in China just had no interest, this was not due to lack of medical development or a language issue. We where in Changsha one of the more prosperous cities in China and my brother who lived there spoke Mandarin - the pharmacist just didn't care!
Lost in a Chinese hospital
After a week in China we went to Xiangya hospital one of the largest in Changsha and where directed to the hospital pharmacy. This is where things got complicated, without a local perception you cannot talk to the pharmacist, I needed to find a doctor but a busy hospital with lines of people queuing at every window the process did not appear very clear and we did not have my brother with us.
Seeing our confusion a local lad spotted us and offered to help (very common as we discovered in China). Explaining my situation and the fact I was not very keen to wait or pay to see the diabetes specialist (I already know I have diabetes you see) he was able to direct us to the correct queues and within minutes where talking to a general doctor for the princely sum of £1!
At this point we still did not know what insulin the hospital stocked, if any. After reviewing hospitals supplies on the doctor's computer we found a close match and our helper ran to the pharmacy to grab a sample for me to review.
On close inspection all looked good, the hospital only had 100ml cartridges available, 7 of these would do fine £8.36 a cartridge.
What happen next surprised me. Our local assistant and the doctor appeared to be having a little debate. After a few mins I quizzed what was being discussed and was told that the doctor was concerned that I did not have the correct equipment for the medication and did not want me to purchase so much too avoid a costly mistake. What contrast compared to the uninterested pharmacies!
After a few reassuring words I had my persecution and enjoyed two more queues too pay and collect my medication. We exchanged contact details with our helper but unfortunately never got a response to meet up, maybe his back loitering around the hospital grounds looking for the next westerner to assist.
China Xiangya Hospital came up trumps with the remaining Humalog suppply! pic.twitter.com/iev3b32Bl1— Timothy Omer (@tim_omer) August 10, 2014
Here ends the misadventure, as I write this I am on a (very bumpy!) train in north Myanmar using my second Humalog cartridge that's working well and still have the Humalin R as backup. It's all been a bit of a pain in the arse, but at least I got 3 blog posts out of it!
My new insulin has not touched another fridge.
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The contents of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Diabetes support team or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition.Sorry, have to say something like this!