Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The scent of a diabetic

Those who know me well, know that I can spend a long time struggling to find the right word.

I just changed my reservoir, and realized that while I would know that distinctive insulin smell ANYWHERE, I can not think of words to describe it. So - no cheating - don't read other people's comments first - how would you describe that unique fragrance? You don't have to be a PWD to answer this - family members and health care folks (mermaid!) are welcome too!

P.S. Thanks for the resume suggestions!


Blogger Vivian said...

IMHO- I think it has the clinical smell you find in a hospital or nursing home only fresher. So in one word...clinicky?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

I think pungent. Like something burning, maybe plastic.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Journeywoman said...

Ugh, I hate the smell--I generally says it has a funky tang.

My husband can't seem to smell it, I on the other hand can tell in a second when he's dropped ANOTHER insulun bottle (even after he thinks he cleaned it up so well!). Good luck on the job front!

2:24 PM  
Blogger Val said...

I a most reminded of sticking your nose in a box of band-aids....

2:37 PM  
Blogger Sandra Miller said...

A band aid, hands down.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Caro said...


3:39 PM  
Blogger Kassie said...

band aids

3:57 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

metal mixed with band-aids.

Is it sad that I actually had to sniff my pump? LOL

Oh, and don't EVER drop and break a bottle.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I didn't even read down and I got band-aids!!

Ok, so I'm in desperate need of some excitement. :)

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Noelle said...

Like metal. It's the zinc they use as a ?preservative for the insulin, I think.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Oh, that's tough.

That redolent substance is surely unmistakable, though I don't have a good recall for such sensory things.

I've actually just closed my office door, disconnected from my pump and delivered a fixed prime to check it again (how wasteful, I know).

I can't really pin a word on it, either. Kinda like a strong anti-septic of some sort mixed with a mint scent, though certainly not pleasant.

And it tastes even worse than it smells (Don't ask. I have no idea how I ever ended up with some in my mouth before, but it has left a serious impression).

5:00 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

The sharply sweet smell of life or insulodorous?

5:54 PM  
Blogger Kerri. said...

Two words: Dentist's office.

I've had confirmation from family members, friends, fellow diabetics, and every boyfriend I've ever had.

Oh, and from my dentist, too.

6:15 PM  
Blogger art-sweet said...

Funny, Kerri, that our resident dentist doesn't share your opinion...

I am stunned by all the bandaid opinions. I have never smelt any similarity between insulin and bandaids.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Violet said...

I think it's the old kind of band aid. They smelled different when I was little. Or maybe my nose worked differently then.

You have a resident dentist? Pili? I suppose she helps you keep up with your flossing...

Art, thanks for your comment on my blog the other day. I would love to meet you anytime.

Well, not anytime. But at many possible times. You know what I mean. Feel free to mail me.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Minnesota Nice said...

A mixture of nailpolish remover, turpentine, oil of clove and yeah, the dentist's office

8:10 PM  
Blogger mermaidgrrrl said...

I don't recall smelling it to be honest! I only use pretty large amounts of it at a time too, so you'd think that I would recall, but the only kind we use where I work is Actrapid so maybe that one in particular doesn't smell strong? We draw up 50 units at a time into a 50 ml syringe with saline to run as an infusion with hourly BSL's on a big infusion pump thing. Those poor little bleedy fingers on the patients!

12:09 AM  
Blogger justme said...

Hospitals come to mind at first. But I can see the band-aid reference. I am remined of a particular one - the one that really sticks to your skin, more material than plastic? But hospitals, and sick people definitely...

3:11 AM  
Blogger Lyrehca said...

Band-aids. The stuff smells like Band-aids. Now let me see if anyone else said that, too.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

Another vote for band-aid.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Flmgodog said...

A STRONG rubbing alcohol smell. Very hard to describe. ok maybe not rubbing alcohol but something. Hmm I can't put my finger on it.

11:54 AM  
Blogger julia said...

Band-aids. That's what it smells like to me.

9:36 PM  
Blogger julia said...

And I didn't read ahead.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Without looking at anyone elses suggestions: my guess of what insulin smells like is rubbing alchol mixed with "hospital smell".

11:37 PM  
Blogger stella said...

To me it smells like old people.

It's funny because I'm always asking people if they smell me. Everyone always says no, but I can smell it.


9:10 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Like old stinky medical tape the plastic kind.... you bought it like 15 years ago at the dime store (which doesn't even exist anymore) and now you are trying to use it to put on a bandage...ick stinky!

7:57 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Burning bandaids is what I always think of. Not that I have ever burnt a bandaid.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...


Not the generic brand

Band-Aid Band-Aids

Both David and I agree.

And, no I did not read ahead :)

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

bandaids. definitely. my friends think so too. and i promise i had that in mind before i read the other comments.

1:50 AM  
Anonymous Mikayla said...

I once broke a vial of insulin all over our tabel and my automatic thought was that it smelled like per

10:07 PM  
Blogger Gordon said...

Seriously, I have to say Chloraseptic spray! Try spraying that in your mouth then smell the insulin again, dead on , almost as if they are the same thing...

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insuline itself does not smell. It is meta-cresol (a solvent used to dissolve other chemicals in water) that has a 'medicinal' smell when it is dissolved in water. This chemical is also present in tar and crude oil, so the people who said it smelled like tar... By the way; not all insulines use meta-cresol. e.g. Isuhuman by Aventis (formaly Hoeghst)does not have this 'funky tang'.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

It smells like band aids. I've thought that from day one!

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the smell is weirdly satisfying when i draw it up for patients. I think I would learn to hate it if I had to inject myself everyday.
I agree with the bandaids odor but associate it more with the smell of metal box they used to come in.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Call me crazy, but it smells a lot like Scotch whiskey, specifically Johnnie Walker Red Label and Ardbeg 10.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It smells like camphor, to me. It's very distinctive. I can't quite place it, but camphor is the closest I get.

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES!!! I told my former endocrinologist that I always knew when my sister had just injected while she had gestational diabetes - I would walk in the room and smell that smell and start retching; my doctor looked at me like I was insane and insisted that "insulin has no smell." It's definitely an acrid, chemical, medicinal odor. It must be from the meta-cresol or one of the other inactive ingredients in insulin preparations. I'll be starting insulin therapy soon and I'm not looking forward to it. I just hope the smell doesn't translate into a taste in the back of the throat like some other injectable drugs produce (like demerol). Here's another funny: I've had examinations at two different bowel clinics, and both offices smelled like raw pumpkin. I've never been able to figure that one out.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first endocrinologist I ever saw (and switched to a new one right away) claimed that insulin has no odour. Liar! Insulin itself may have no odour, but the preservative used in insulin does. The main culprit is m-CRESOL, which stinks and can cause dermal irritation. Look it up, but don't freak out too much when you read about its other medical and industrial applications. I find that using a flavour extract (vanilla, almond, kola) rubbed on the skin after an injection really helps. I used to get dry heaves in response to the smell.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Faith said...

Chloraseptic or campho-phenique

11:36 AM  

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