It’s always refreshing and helps me see new perspectives. Ilka recently asked Anne, our support lead, about her diabetes and what she keeps in her toolkit.
Anne, when did you get diabetes?
It feels like a lifetime ago! This May will be 14 years, so that would mean I was diagnosed in 2003. I remember the day before when I went to the forest with my mom. We were collecting leaves for a school project. Every step felt like a marathon and my mom thought I was just being slow and trying to procrastinate. She felt guilty when the doctor measured a BG of ‘HI’ a day later, but nobody could have known. In retrospect, my parents say they could see the typical clues but didn’t know anything about diabetes at the time.
What’s your secret weapon for hypos?
Eat! Eat anything! I have to confess, if I can find something other than glucose tabs or Dextrose, that’s what I go for. Lately, my number one hypo-helper is this packaged fruit (lovingly called “Fruit Pinch”). It fits everywhere, whether you’re out walking the dog or you’re exploring the shopping mall. It’s easy to carry and easy to use. And I don’t have that disgusting grape-sugar-paper aftertaste in my mouth from the typical treatments. Blargh! If I need something even smaller, then it’s Maoam candy (still no Dextrose). A small package has plenty of carbs and absorbs quickly.
What meter do you use? Why?
I use the Contour Next Link 2.4 which connects with my Minimed 640G insulin pump. This meter and my Enlite sensor have made a big difference for me, and I’d hate to be without them. The look and feel of my meter are also important to me. If I have to use something several times every day, then it should be pretty! So I’ve decorated my meter with a sticker, and the bag I use to carry all my stuff isn’t the standard black and gray zipper pouch. It’s a beautiful and practical bag by Prikkedief. Of course, soon after I got them they had blood spots on them – I bet you can relate. And that makes it uniquely mine, right?
How do you manage your diabetes?
I’ve used an insulin pump for more than nine years now. I can’t remember what it’s like without one anymore. In 2008 I got my first Medtronic pump because I got so tired of injecting. My Lantus wasn’t working the way I needed it to, and I was just done with the whole syringe thing. Yeah, a 17-year-old rebellious teenager with diabetes. Go figure. My HbA1c was around 11% and I wouldn’t do more shots than I was already doing, so my care team switched me to a pump. Since then, my pump and I haven’t been apart and I’m doing much better. However, it was challenging during university; my student life needed a lot of attention, and I didn’t want to focus on diabetes very much.
I recently spent a week in the clinic to overhaul my diabetes therapy. I’ve had some serious hypos in the past few months along with not being able to feel when I’m low (hypo-unawareness). A very scary combination. Thankfully, the addition of the Enlite continuous glucose sensor has made a big difference, and I’m feeling a lot better. No more upsetting situations in the middle of the supermarket!
What’s in your diabetes toolkit?
What do I have in my colorful bag?
- BG meter and associated stuff (strips, lancing device)
- Fresh battery for my pump
- Dextrose (for when I’m desperate)
- Bandaids (less for lancet misfires than for my awkwardness)
- Miscellaneous everyday things (comb, hair pins, rubber bands – you never know!)
- And of course, used test strips!
If I’m relatively close to home, I usually don’t carry extra infusion sets or pump supplies. I have a backup insulin pen in the office, and for everything else, I can get home quickly enough if necessary. For holidays or travel, of course, half of my suitcase is full of backup supplies. I have trouble with infusion sets coming out when I’m active and sweat, unfortunately, so I always have to plan ahead for that.