Being prepared means packing heavily.
By Kerri Sparling
May 2007 — If I was a kangaroo, being diabetic would be a little easier.
(Stick with me on this.)
Aside from the lack of opposable thumbs being detrimental to testing my blood sugar or priming my insulin pump, having that built-in pocket would be fantastic. My little pouch would have my glucose meter, some glucose tabs, a back-up insulin pen, and a little bottle of juice. Oh, and let's throw in some peanut butter crackers for good measure. Armed with a constant, traveling supply of diabetes accoutrements, I would be best prepared to face any diabetes emergency.
Unfortunately, I am not a kangaroo. I am a human being, fortunate to have opposable thumbs but no built-in pockets. I am also a diabetic, which translates into needing to carry a bunch of things with me at all times.
Pawing around in my purse is not unlike spelunking in the darkness of a cavern. All of my diabetes supplies are careening around in there like they're in the Gravitron at the county fair. Chock full of reaction treaters, insulin devices, back-up supplies, and all the snacky bits I carry to keep the low blood sugars in check. This is all in addition to my wallet, cell phone, lip gloss, gum, and keys. Not to mention the assortment of used test strips and loose change collecting in the corners of my purse.
While it may seem overly paranoid of me to tote around all this stuff, I have learned to pack heavy the hard way.
There was one time when I was at a movie theater, armed with only peanut butter crackers and no juice, crumbling to a halt with a blood sugar of 27 mg/dl. My lack of preparedness led to an altercation with the lady at the snack counter, which was an ugly scene and illustrated my need to have juice at the ready, instead of depending on the mood of a store clerk.
Consider my lesson learned. I started carrying juice everywhere with me, even when it didn't seem necessary. Like when I went to dinner with my fiance – sure, we're at a restaurant and there's food available, but I felt safer knowing that a low could be treated immediately with the juice in my purse. No need for flagging down the waitress.
To illustrate my point, I was standing in line last week at the local "Bed, Bath, and Bedlam" store with my purchases. As I waited to pay, I felt that familiar headache start to creep up on me. The fluorescent lights of the store tangled with the merchandise on display, throwing out confusing shadows. I test: 48 mg/dl. My brain in a fog, I forage around in my purse and unearth a small, green juice box. Fumbling with the cellophane wrapper around the straw, I plunge it into the foil hole and drink down the juice as quickly as I can.
The woman behind the counter looks at me as though I've sprouted extra elbows. I try to put myself in her shoes, watching as a seemingly normal looking twenty something woman in work clothes clutches onto a juice box with two hands like a four-year-old, drinking desperately. I realize how odd I must look.
"My name is Kerri,"
(It's a standard speech that I let loose with when I'm low. Normally, it includes my full name, my condition, and what I'm thinking about at that precise moment.)
"I have diabetes and I'm having a low blood sugar. I feel a little nervous. But I am buying a comforter, which looks comfy."
The woman behind the counter takes a step back, as though my ramblings were contagious.
"Okay. Um, would you be more comfortable at the back of the line?"
I shake my head, the straw coming out of my mouth.
"No, I'll just pay. I'd rather be here, so you can keep an eye on me."
I pay. Wheeling my purchases out to my car, I collapse into the driver's seat and drink down another juice box. Quick check with my glucose meter reveals a blood sugar of 94 mg/dl. On my way to safety, thanks to having juice at the ready.
Traveling with all these things can be admittedly cumbersome. Toting around a purse that weighs more than 5 lbs is awkward, but the contents are clutch when it counts.
I do alright, for a human.
Visit Kerri's website.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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