1. SuttonMichael254

    SuttonMichael254 Active Member

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    Thoughts on insulin for character

    Discussion in 'Research' started by SuttonMichael254, Dec 3, 2016.

    I'm at a block in my current project. Without giving you pages of the storty, to sum it up, it's a post apocalyptic scenario, the main characters brother has just been diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, and in order for him to survive for the long run, insulin is a nesesity.
    Seeing that it is a post apocalyptic scenario, the manufactured insulin that you get from pharmacys and doctors are gone, so in order for her brother to survive something must be done.

    I have banged my head against this keyboard for a couple of days now with the research about what could be done, and there are two ways to extract or create insulin, both requiring a ton of laboratory equipment, which would be highly unlikely to be accessible in her current situation.
    There is a story about a lady in WW2 that was able to extract insulin from the pancreas of water buffalo and saved hundreds of life's but even then she had acsess to the necessary equipment.

    So what are your thoughts on the situation, is there a viable solution, or does her brother just need to die off? If he does die off that takes the only motivation the main character has to overcome her obstacle.
    Thoughts are appreciated, thanks
     
  2. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    If you don't want the brother to die, make him a type-2 diabetic.

    If he has to be type-1 and you don't want him to die, sinceit's science fiction, you have there be a cure (stem cells or the like) and make part of the story their efforts to find someone who can give provide it before their insulin runs out. Keeping him supplied with insulin by finding old supplies could also be start of the story.

    Or have him die.

    Your world, you can change anything at any time. If you write yourself into a corner, move the walls or put in a door.
     
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  3. Scot

    Scot Senior Member

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    http://www.defeatdiabetes.org/diabetes-history/

    I lost my brother (52) to long-term complications arising from diabetes. He started off using insulin extracted from animals, pigs I believe. The doses were very high by modern standards and the insulin dissolved subcutaneous fat, meaning after a few years he had difficulty finding a suitable injection site. Then along came human monoclonal insulin requiring two injection every day. Towards the end he was injecting small amounts several times a day using a gadget that looked like a fountain pen. When he died he was mostly blind; liver and kidney function were shot to hell; he had peripheral neuropathy, hardened arteries and chronic heart disease. As he said himself, "Apart from that, I'm in pretty good shape."

    It's possible diabetes runs in the family as my great-uncle was one of Banting and Best's guinea pigs. The side effects were so horrendous he ended up throwing himself under a tram.

    In 1897, the average life expectancy for a 10-year-old child with diabetes is about 1 year. Diagnosis at age 30 carries a life expectancy of about 4 years. A newly diagnosed 50-year-old might live 8 more years.

    By 1945, a newly diagnosed 10-year-old has a life expectancy of 45 years; a 30-year-old has 30.5 more years; and a 50-year-old might have 16 more years to live.

    The life expectancy for people with diabetes in 2004 is still lower than that for the general population by about 15 years.

    I doubt very much if your MC's brother would survive for long.
     
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  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Finding a stock pile is probably the most realistic solution - although as scot noted the various issues that come along with type 1 would not be easy to look after in a post apocalyptic setting.

    I have a friend who's little boy has type 1 - hes had issues with decaying tissues in his knees (two operations so far) and with failing sight - he's only 6
     
  5. SuttonMichael254

    SuttonMichael254 Active Member

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    Damn good advise. I appreciate the comments everyone. And sorry about your brother Scot

    I'm do a revamp. A buddy of mine just told me about a insulin substitute from lizard spit. I know that sounds far fetched but I just read the article on it. I'm a go back to the drawing board and rework it.
    Thanks again guys
     
  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I'm a type 1 diabetic. Feel free to PM any time if other questions come up :)

    If your character can get to a pharmacy with a stockpile of insulin, it could last a really long time. I use vials with 1,000 units per vial, and a slim person on a low-carb diet could be on as little as 20 units a day. The vials are about two inches high and one inch in diameter, so if he can get his hands on a pile of them he's all set for potentially years. Of course, he'd also need syringes which are bulkier and can only be reused a few times before they're too blunt, or he'd need a pump which needs specialised equipment not available in pharmacies...
     
  7. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributor Contributor

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    Any insulin already manufactured in your pre-apocalyptic world would be useless within a couple of years. Much faster if there's no refrigeration.
    If you make the character a type II diabetic (adult onset) you can adjust some of the parameters. Many type II people survive perfectly fine without insulin & only use oral medications. Those will last several years longer. Also, there are people who become diabetic simply because they lack exercise, have a shitty diet & are overweight. Living without all of the modern conveniences and junk food could improve the character's condition.
     
  8. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Good grief, just give him a different illness.
     
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  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    good plan - although tbh in an imediately post apocalyptic scenario most people with any serious illness are going to die - if they depend on drugs, hospitals, doctors etc with the collapse of society they'll be petty much screwed .

    That sort of situation is very much survival of the fittest
     
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm sorry, but this is really bad advice. There is a place in fiction for characters with all diseases. Who knows? How it's handled in fiction might spark something in the medical world. There is power in literature. And writers should not be encouraged to shy away from writing about real life struggles, disabilities or illnesses because they maybe aren't so easy to pull off in fiction. These sort of things can be very important to a story.
     
  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    But is it important to the story? The solution is difficult enough that it could become the primary focus of the story. Is that desirable?
     
  12. S~A~W

    S~A~W Banned

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    Unfortunate thing about apocalypses, all the niceties in life are sort of...gone.
     
  13. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This^

    If your goal is a story about a character that dies because a med is not available, diabetes is a reasonable choice. But if you want a character that needs a med which is in scarce supply, pick something that doesn't need to be refrigerated. Then someone can find a supply, or find limited supplies more than once as the risk of death looms again and again.

    You could also pick an illness that one can survive without meds but which would severely limit him/her in order to stay alive. So the illness weakens or puts barriers in front of a character that fit in the story.
     
  14. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't believe this fits with what I said. o_O
     
  15. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    I'm a big fan of find another disease, if you please. Using generic logic doesn't account for plausibility. A lot of the permutations of this idea smack of a lack of realism brought by experience. The entire point of advanced civilization (with regard to medicine) is you now don't die from diseases. The entire point of "post-apocalypse" is all these things are destroyed or now unavailable. That being the case, guess what. People now die from diseases they didn't die from before.

    If you need to obtain insulin, you have a drop dead date from the time all the refrigerators were unplugged. Your search will end when that expiration date arrives, and your character will then succumb. So, as Ginger Coffee is trying valiantly to say, the story then becomes a desperate search for any insulin stockpile. It's a big world, town to town, drug store to drug store? Do you raid doctors' offices first, find records of diabetics, then search their home refrigerators?

    Sure. Your word processor faithfully puts that text down for you. If you want to write a post-apocalyptic story about "radiation" turning everyone into peppermint giraffes, you are free to do so. No one can stop you. No one can tell you its wrong. Madonna made a career out of wearing her underwear outside her clothes....something our elders told us not to do. So....free world. Knock yourself out.
     

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