To insulin or not to insulin?

By Rader Latest Reply 2010-08-02 12:14:46 -0500
Started 2010-07-20 19:17:56 -0500

I am a type 2 diabetic and I take Metformin, Glipizide and Actos. my BS is pretty much under control but (there is always a but) I am on so many other meds for CHF, BP and neuropathy (17 total) that my Dr is concerned about my kidneys.
He suggested I get on insulin so I can eliminate the three meds I take for my diabetes mostly the Actos because it’s the hardest on kidneys.
I told him I will think about it. I am torn…. Is insulin and the supplies expensive? Is it inconvenient to be on insulin? Any feed back, advice or suggestions would be so appreciated

59 replies

PetiePal 2010-08-02 10:50:35 -0500 Report

Many people look at insulin as some sort of "failure."

"If only I tried harder I wouldn't have had to take insulin!"
"If only I lost weight and ate right I could have avoided insulin!"

The fact is insulin is a necessity for most Type 1 diabetics and it's growing as the best viable option for Type 2s. I'm not sure how old you are, but if you've been a Diabetic long enough that you're on that many types of meds and with such a spread of complications I would say absolutely yes go for the insulin if you aren't shy about it or needles/injections. If your beta cells produce any insulin all still it's best to preserve as much of that function as possible. Reducing medicines and protecting your organs are vital for long-term life enjoyment.

Do you get a lot of side effects from your meds? I know for a fact that insulin tends to be CHEAPER than some of the newer Glimepirides and zides. If you have insurance call them up and see, especially mail-away. Another added benefit is that the less things you have to remember to take the more likely you are to hit all of your medicinal goals/schedules.

Discuss with your doctor but I know a few diabetics who went the insulin route as Type 2s and were very happy with their choice.

Rader 2010-08-02 12:14:46 -0500 Report

Thank you for that info. Everyone has responded with great info and encouragement and its all greatly appreciated. I have made up my mind and I will be going on insulin. : )

Artsbabygirl 2010-07-31 08:34:56 -0500 Report

I agree that you should definitely try insulin.I take alot of pills myself.For HBP and High cholesterol so they took me off of glipizide and now I take metformin,humalog insulin and lantus.Doesn't always work well for me though so I need to speak with my doctor.I am trying to lose weight and all I do is go up and down.Gets really frustrating at times.Wish you luck in whatever you decide.

Rader 2010-08-01 12:08:14 -0500 Report

Artsbabygirl Thank you. I have the very same problem you have with losing weight. Good luck : )

southernroots 2010-07-29 11:39:33 -0500 Report

I take both basal insulin and met, as well as prandin with "carbier" meals. The actos, if I'm not mistaken, can cause edema, which would be problematic with HBP. I think insulin is more natural than oral meds.

Insulin is not very expensive - but, your best best is to talk with your insurance company or check the pharmacy list (my company's is online.) And, I do not find it inconvenient. I take it first thing in the morning right after I check my FBG and I'm done for the day. If I decide to replace the prandin with bolus insulin at some point, I'll be taking shots with each meal, but so far, that's not been necessary. And, I think eating a moderately low carb diet, it may never be.

EmiliaK 2010-07-26 18:08:51 -0500 Report

Hello Rader,

I definitely think you are taking too many pills and it is not a bad idea to consider insulin to get rid of some of them. I noticed you are taking BP medication. I just started a new series of articles in my blog about the effects of hypertension medication. You can check it at

As some of the prior comments have point out to you, too many pills can have an effect on your liver, your kidneys and not the least, your heart.

I wish you the best.

Emilia Klapp,RD, BS

Rader 2010-07-26 21:43:13 -0500 Report

EmiliaK, Thank you so much for the link. I am going to check it out now

Rader 2010-07-26 22:02:14 -0500 Report

That was a lot of great info. I am blessed because I go to a heart failure clinic once a month. I no longer take the IV treatments but they do draw blood and take a EKG. They check my potassium , sodium and triglycerides levels and my kidney function and some other things but I cant remember what they are LOL

Dubbledip 2010-07-25 20:35:57 -0500 Report

I say go for it. I used to be on insulin (Levimir) when I had insurance and I had gotten my a1c down to 4. It was way more convenient for me to take one shot of Levimir (that last all day) than to take the pills. See, for me, the pill (Metformin) and it tears my stomach up, I cramp real bad and have diarrhea all the time. I never had any of that when I was on insulin. It isn't very expensive at all, well, the test strips are about a dollar a strip but they have all kind of programs that will help you get the things you need. I know what you are going through with taking all the pills, my mom was on every pill on the planet and I hated see her have to take all those pills every where she went so, if this will help you stay around longer, you have nothing to lose!!!

Rader 2010-07-25 22:35:18 -0500 Report

Dubbledip, firstly I would like to say, I'm sorry you are not insured anymore. I really hope things work out for you.
Thank you for your encouragement, I have pretty much made up my mind that I'm going to take insulin.
My only concern is the weight gain. I really don't need that. I really enjoyed my food back in the day and I look it LOL

MAYS 2010-07-23 21:18:13 -0500 Report

Being on so many meds can be hard, as well as damaging to both your kidneys and your liver, the choice in this matter is between you and your diabetes healthcare team, think it over and explore your options as well as the pros and cons.

Whatever you decide, give it a chance and move forward from there.


Rader 2010-07-23 22:31:46 -0500 Report

Thanks for the link. The weight gain concerns me. I have been trying so hard to lose weight. All I need is one more thing to hold me back from losing weight. If I could just lose weight I could come off of some of the meds without having to use insulin

r maldonado
r maldonado 2010-07-23 22:47:34 -0500 Report

hey rader my name is rachel i used to weigh 309 pounds i am down to 220 and i walk alot but you know they say if we lose the weght we can stop taking the meds it isnt really true i am sorry to say but if you walk daily and your food intake is controlled you wont need your insulin just take your pills but like me i sometimes gorge myself at parties lol but hang in there dont starve yourself just walk as much as you can for 30 minutes a day it is good for you not only physcally but mentally and helps relieves stress

Rader 2010-07-24 21:03:25 -0500 Report

maldonado, Thank you. I have to confess every once in a while I get what I call my hungry day. It seems like I just cant get full no matter what I eat or how much I eat. I will eat a lot on those days. I may get one a month. I also struggle with comfort eating. I have to really be mindful on bad days or if I get depressed.
I find myself eating a lot and not really realizing it. On most days I eat very little. A breakfast is maybe a banana and some pecans. then I will have a large salad mid afternoon and maybe a bowl of mini wheat cereal for supper. then I will have some blue corn chips and homemade salsa or plain yogurt with fresh fruit for a evening snack. I don't eat meat , eggs or processed foods I use 0% fat milk and low fat yogurt. at my house you will find only fresh fruits, berries and vegetables. pecans or almonds. whole grains and low fat dairy. and I still cant lose weight

BEBUBBLE 2010-07-25 14:40:25 -0500 Report

Hi Rachel I am Be, For some people who's pancreas is still doing well, losing weight can help. I have been there. But as we all know the "keeping the weight off" is not easy. I had lost 100 lbs and all my diabetic meds were stopped. But I put 1/4 of my lost weight back on and my diabetes came back. My dietitian expert tells me if I find myself over eating do the "walk water walk" WWW LOL! I found it helps so much. She also recommends to exercise a little more than 30 minutes, if you do not want to gain weight on diabetes medicine.

sisson 2010-07-23 20:45:22 -0500 Report

Hi Rader
Insulin is not for everyone because it was not for me. See around the begining of this year my doctor had retired and before that I was on Metformin 2000mg and Glipizide 20mg and 10mg of Actos but when the new doctor came in he raised my Actos to 30mg and put me on 20 units of Lantus. That was the bigest masstake ever. I can't tell you how many times I was in the ER and they kept me over night one time my bs was 34. Sence then I have change doctors now I am off the Lantus and Actos and only 10mg of the Glipizide. Olny you know your body so you do what is best for you. I'm not trying to scary you I just want you to open your eyes before you do it and know what you are getting yourself into before you do it. Take it Penny

Rader 2010-07-23 22:20:58 -0500 Report

once you get on insulin you cant get off and go back to pills can't ya?

sisson 2010-07-27 02:11:07 -0500 Report

My doctor had never took me off the pills. And now I am only takeing to two and not new one the same ones that I had been on before. But what I had for got to mention before was with all the meds I was on before I had put on 75 pd.

PhilD 2010-07-23 14:56:54 -0500 Report

Wow! All this talk about deciding to go on insulin has really got me thinking. I travel occassionally. Can you take it on a plane? Can you keep it out at room temp? Can you take your meds while travelling and then take insulin at home? I just went to my doctor yesterday, but these are questions that I really need to ask. I have been a diabetic for over 10 yrs, but I have trouble controlling it, mainly because of my diet and lack of exercise. I am also taking a bunch of pills because I had a stroke 2 yrs ago. I have been afraid to take insulin thinking it would permanently have to stay on it.

Question: If I really lose some weight and watch my diet, could I stop taking meds for sugar?

I was on Atkins diet about 8 years ago. My wife thinks it caused my Kidney Stones to form. Has anyone else had that problem? I found that I lost about 10 lbs and was able to stop taking most of my meds.


MAYS 2010-07-23 15:11:48 -0500 Report

This article may answer some of your questions pertaining to air travel, insulin and diabetes:

Only your doctor and your diabetes care team can determine if you can come off of your diabetes medication if you can succesfuly lose weight and control your diabetes via your diet.

Discuss all of your questions and concerns with your doctor.


r maldonado
r maldonado 2010-07-23 22:50:48 -0500 Report

insulin is good but to much can make your sugars drop really fast ..and i know what you mean it is hard to control diabetes

BEBUBBLE 2010-07-25 14:47:28 -0500 Report

R Hi again, Lantus is a slow acting insulin last a whole 24 hours! So your blood sugar doesn't drop fast. Phil, I have been traveling allot lately. Keep all your meds and supplies with your carry on. And keep the prescription the pharmacy puts on the boxes visible when you go through security. The insulin needles are very small and do not pose a threat! Diabetes is a difficult problem in our lives and this site helps us all o voice our beliefs and educations on the subject.

Gentlewolf 2010-07-23 11:30:08 -0500 Report

Hi, I've been diabetic for over 30yrs and just recently had to stop taking metformin bc it was harming my kidneys. I take lantus 2x daily. it cost me about $60 eachmonth and the needles are about 25.00 per 100. Of course this depends largely upon your insurance. if there is an inconvience its preparing the needles ; I do about 15 days at a time and keep them in the firdge, just grab one in the am and stick my tummy and repeat it in the evening. I test 4x daily and the test strips are about 60.00 per 100. my suggestion is you take the insulin…it beats kidney failure. Hope this helps.

Cindy1971 2010-07-22 15:51:12 -0500 Report

Well, I take metformin and insulin shots, I have only one kidney. As far as it being expensive it just depends on your insurance how much it covers. My insurances covers a 100 percent on the supplies and I only pay a 2 dollar co- pay. To me its easier being on insulin and its not an inconvence. Just let me know if you have anymore questions.

Rader 2010-07-22 21:54:55 -0500 Report

I go to a outdoor mall with my brother quite a bit, mostly for the theater that’s there.
Its quite a walk from the parking to the theater and we usually walk around and people watch than
stop and eat before the movie.
How would I carry the stuff around all day and how would I keep it cool?

Diane987 2010-07-22 11:13:57 -0500 Report

Hi Rader,

My diabetic history is the opposite of most people. I have been diabetic for about 25 years and I started on insulin. Then oral meds were added over the years to help with my control. Insulin is definitely easier on your body that the oral diabetes medications. One of my concerns would be how much insulin you will have to take to make up for the other three meds. Unfortunately, the only way to really know is to try it.

In terms of the expense; it depends on the type of insulin and what delivery system you use. The old school method of a syringe and a bottle of insulin is the cheapest but also the least convenient. Depending on the type, they say you can keep an opened bottle of insulin out of the refrigerator, but I have always found that they keep their efficacy better when kept refrigerated. The other option of delivery is the pens with the needle tips. They are more expensive than the other method but certainly more convenient. Which one to choose depends on your lifestyle and what insulin you are using. If you are always home at mealtime or using an insulin that only requires once or twice a day injections, then the syringe method may keep cost down. If you need to inject three or four times a day or have to do it at mealtime when you are rarely home for meals, then the pen system is probably for you.

My only other concern would be to keep a close eye on your weight. Actos tends to make people gain weight. So stopping it is good in terms of weight loss. However, insulin is a growth hormone and will allow your body to store more energy. This means that you could start gaining weight, especially if you are taking a lot of insulin. Weight gain is the last thing you need to occur because it will only complicate things more.

My last suggestion is to make sure your doctor writes you a script for a lot of testing strips per month. During this switch you may need to test 6 or 7 times a day to know how your body is reacting to the insulin. Where I live as long as the doctor writes test 7 times per day on the script my insurance company covered the cost minus my copay. Every state is different so you will have to check in your area.

Good luck and God Bless,


Rader 2010-07-22 21:47:41 -0500 Report

Diane. .That's a lot of good info. when you are out do you need to keep the insulin cool? weight gain…uhg!!!! I have been on a vegetarian diet for three months with no results. the weight gain concerns me.
But I have pretty much made up my mind to start using insulin. I have a Humana Advantage Plan. I called them and all I would have to pay is $6.30 for a three months supply But I didn’t ask if that’s for the pen or needle and syringe

Diane987 2010-07-23 18:17:38 -0500 Report

I had a juice box cooler that I would keep in the freezer. When I needed to travel with my insulin I used that to keep it cool and protected. It would stay cool for several hours that way. I will tell you though, if you are ever going through airport security, open it and let then see it before they put it through the x-ray machine.

The first time I carried it like that one TSR guy looked really nervous, asked me to step aside, called someone else over to look at the x-ray then they gently moved the bag to the side and started wiping the handle and the zipper with this cloth. They put the cloth in this unidentified machine. I asked the guy, what's that, he told me a mass spectrometer. I said, "Really, a mass spectrometer. What are you looking for?" He tells me it detects all sorts of chemicals and substances. I guess nothing showed up there because now they are very gently and extremely slowly, pulling on the zipper to open the bag, he looked terrified! I finally said,"Dude, whatever you think you are seeing I promise you, you're not, because I know there is nothing in that bag that should make you look that scared." They finally get the bag open. He looked a little better at this point but was still really cautious. They wiped my little juicebox cooler with there cloth. Again, nothing showed up, They finally ask me what is in the container. After I told them they gently opened the container and confirmed it was insulin. I think the insulin in that juicebox cooler and the way I had my bag packed with my power cords from all the electronic gadgets I travel with must have looked like a bomb on the xray screen.

Needless to say, I rarely get through airport security quickly anymore, even though they did not find anything.

Diane987 2010-07-25 15:50:20 -0500 Report

It's OK, laugh, I did. Even when it was happening I was standing there in disbelief trying not to laugh at the guy who was sweating bullets scared to death of my insulin!

r maldonado
r maldonado 2010-07-23 22:55:43 -0500 Report

a diet that has portions of meat veggies and fruit it was hard to limmit myself but i am getting there my meal size is cut in half and a snack it is hard but it could be done

lordwilliams 2010-07-22 00:08:39 -0500 Report

Hi Rader, I understand your concern about the number of pills you're taking, cut back would be a wise choice. To insulin or not to insulin. To insulin would be a better move. It would give you greater control over you BS, and help cut 3 pills off that list. Taking insulin does not make you look sickly. Insulin is what the body makes naturally, so its not the same as taking a pill which is usually meant to suppress or stimulate something in our body. Taking insulin can be expensive. You and your doctor will have to argue your point and reasoning for why they should pay for insulin, and not to sound disrespectful, but you have a lot of reasons. Your doctor, and yourself must show how using the insulin will save them money in the long run, like preventing kidney & liver failure which will cost them a lot of money to repair you. I know your choice will not come easily, but there are a few programs you may use to obtain your insulin. Continue your research and don't give up.

Rader 2010-07-22 09:53:06 -0500 Report

I confess, when my Dr suggested insulin, it scared me. I spent a lot of time yesterday researching insulin and some time on the phone with Humana.
I found with my Humana Advantage plan I can get a three months supply of insulin for $3.60
Through some research I understand how insulin works now and how it will be a benefit to me.
I have decided “to insulin” : )

GabbyPA 2010-07-21 19:31:26 -0500 Report

Insulin is much more natural and causes less side effects so if your kidneys are at risk, I would say find a way to make it work. It might not be "convenient" but either is dialysis, so it sounds like a great option. More type 2's are switching to insulin to gain better control.

Cost is an issue and you want to find out what your insurance company will pay for. That, unfortunately, is a big part of the issue, as insulin is more expensive than oral meds. So talk to your insurance company to see if they will even make an exception for your coverage (my husband's did this) because of medical necessity.

Rader 2010-07-21 21:16:27 -0500 Report

Gabby…Ouch!!! your comment about dialysis is a inconvience too, really hit me right in the middle of my forehead. That is so true. I did call Humana today and I can get a three months supply via mail-order for $6.30. I thank God for that.
in talking to everyone on here I have decided when I see my Dr in OCT. I am going to have him start me on Insulin.

GabbyPA 2010-07-22 10:03:05 -0500 Report

I debated putting that in, but since it was a concern, I felt you could take it. I am so glad that with your insurance it is still a low price. That is fantastic. My mom started insulin by choice a few months ago, and while it does have it's moments of inconvenience, her control has been excellent, even with several surgeries and a tooth abscess. So it is a great option.

BEBUBBLE 2010-07-25 14:59:28 -0500 Report

Good for you Rader! I think you will see the impact the insulin has on your life. And 6.30 for 3 months is a fantastic deal!

LKeplinger 2010-07-21 09:33:06 -0500 Report

You are 39 years old and in congestive heart failure (CHF)??

Rader 2010-07-21 21:20:39 -0500 Report

Lkeplinger…Yea, I ignored my type 2 and high BP for so long it damaged my heart. My life is a testimony to take your health seriously and take care of yourself because there is no reset button on your health

nw7272000 2010-07-20 20:05:45 -0500 Report

If your Dr is wanting to get you off the first three of your sugar Meds and replace them with Insulin then I say GO FOR IT! If you can afford those three then believe me you can easily afford the insullin and syringes. While I am sorry you have neuropathy I thank God for it every day when I have to take my shots! or test my blood sugar for that matter. I don't feel it…LOL…thats my silver lining for having neuropathy! The shots are not inconvienient really. Really you take them the same time each day so you pick the times that are best for you. Think of it this way Rader, It is going to help you physically in the long run so less on the Dr bills and more control over your sugar will lead to a better life for you. It will also help your neuropathy problems as well from escalating. Sounds like a solid gold trade to me! I would not hesitate to switch! And if you take your own BS test then you should have no trouble giving yourself a shot.
I had my doubts to at first , till i did the first one…then I just laughed…couldn't feel a thing…God bless neuropathy! If ya have to have it it might as well be good for something…LOL

Rader 2010-07-20 23:47:08 -0500 Report

NW…Thank you so much for your feed back. You make some very good points. Oh and my Neuropathy is only at the end of my feet so I guess that wouldn’t be a benefit to me LOL

Rader 2010-07-21 00:19:57 -0500 Report

Oh and about the cost. combined I pay about $6.00 a month for the three diabetes meds. I am on a fixed income and I am on a Humana Advantage plan.
I looked around on the net after I made the first reply and from what I see insulin is quite expensive. I barely make ends meet now and I worry that it may be out of my price range. Being able to properly take care of yourself is a luxury item

Rader 2010-07-21 00:45:09 -0500 Report

The more research I do the madder I get. Apparently Humana doesn’t cover insulin!!
How in the hell do you insulin user pay for it?
Why don’t so many insurance companies cover the costs?
How many shots are in a vial?
I am officially more frustrated than when I started !!!!!

Harlen 2010-07-21 07:13:41 -0500 Report

try using 1 vile every 9 days and thats with the pump it was three days befor the pump.

healthygir1 2010-07-22 19:02:00 -0500 Report

i'm always one to think the less medications, the better. so if insulin gets you to eliminate 3 medications, i say go for it!

Harlen 2010-07-20 19:54:43 -0500 Report

I was in your place and I am glad I whent for the shots .
I am now on the pump and so happy I dont need to do the shots any more .
My BS is real good and I am as happy as I can be.
Best wishes

Rader 2010-07-20 23:54:36 -0500 Report

Harlen… I do think the better BS control makes it tempting. Its hard to explain my feelings. Its just switching to insulin is yet another step towards being sick. that’s like I refuse to get a handicap parking permit because that’s a move in the wrong direction. I just want to be a normal 39yr old

Harlen 2010-07-21 07:10:05 -0500 Report

I feel you
For me I dont look at it as closer to being sick I am sick my body has benn dameged and I need it to live a long and happy life.I wish to keep it that way.
I have never benn normal lol so at 47 life is still good and there is lots of fun to be had and I plan to have as much as I can lol Go watch peaple on dialices and ask your self if thats where you wish to sit???? I dont wish to be haresh but there it is .I wish to live as much life as I can,my wife is a blessing to me and life is good I will do what ever I need to too live with as little complacations as I can .
Best wishes

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