Let’s round out the week by sharing our best diabetes tips and diabetes tricks. From how you organise supplies to how you manage gear on the go/vacation (beach, or skiing, or whatever). From how you keep track of prescription numbers to how you remember to get your orders refilled. How about any “unconventional” diabetes practices, or ways to make diabetes work for YOU (not necessarily how the doctors say to do it!). There’s always something we can learn from each other. (Remember though, please no medical advice or dangerous suggestions.)
The tricks and tips you learn from people with diabetes are always going to be different to the ones you learn from HCPs. Ours are usually a little bit more…unorthodox.
If you want to learn things like how to keep on track with your prescriptions or remember if you’ve already taken insulin, I am the wrong person to ask. RUN. RUN AWAY NOW. MY FORGETFULNESS IS CONTAGIOUS. Seriously, my life regarding that aspect of my diabetes looks a little like this.
STOP IT. TOO MANY THINGS TO REMEMBER. Thank god for the history function on my pump and Post-It notes. I’ll be reading every post on this topic to pick up some tips from everybody else!
However, there are a few things that I’ve picked up over the years, and they’re things that you’re not told at diagnosis, and wouldn’t expect to be. Best bras for pump wearing? The educators rightly have more important things on their mind! They’re little things, but there’s room for shallow advice in this space too. Sometimes it’s the little things that can really make a big difference. Disclaimer – everything I say here is advice from a 20 something type 1, and is intended as something to consider, not medical advice. Don’t take it as gospel and don’t be stupid about it, always be safe!
Tip #1: If you’re pumping, choose your bras carefully.
If you wear a bra and use an insulin pump, chances are your pump will end up in there 98% of the time, especially if you’re blessed (or cursed…) with a large chest like me. It’s so convenient, it just sits there so neatly…EXCEPT IT RUINS YOUR BRAS. I didn’t know this for years – I was told by diabetes friends only last year that the reason my underwire would always break through at the bridge/centre panel so quickly was because I clipped my pump there every single day. I just thought I was putting them on too enthusiastically…if you’re pumping, the best bra to buy is a well made one with a high bridge, so there is room to clip your pump and less chance of it a) breaking through and b) dangling down and giving you a weird shaped beeping growth in the middle of your chest. Buy the sexy low-bridge bras too, we all need some gorgeous lingerie, just don’t expect to clip your pump there (but if you’re buying a sexy bra, the pump won’t be there for long anyway, am I right ladies?)
Tip #2: Don’t match your cartridge buying with your inset buying.
This tip also took me wayyyyyy too long to figure out! For those playing at home with a healthy pancreas, a cartridge is what the insulin is in inside your pump, and an inset is that cannula-y thing with the tube I insert into myself every three or four days. When I started pumping, I would fill up my insulin, insert my set, then once I was due for a set change I would throw away both of them. WHY?! Pump supplies cost a lot, I was throwing away money! When you finish your cartridge, keep it! Re-use it, fill it up again, chuck that sucker in, use, take out, and repeat. As a diabetes friend once said to me, “Keep going until it won’t!”. Re-using this cartridge means you can order multiple boxes of insets and only 1 box of cartridges, saving you a massive amount of money. Don’t think you need one box of cartridges to one box of sets! Obviously keep it sanitary though, don’t do a me and have a cartridge needle and cap rolling around at the bottom of your bag for weeks…
Tip #3: Be friends with a Physio – they have the best tape
I once texted a physio friend of mine to “Please bring tape! My site is falling out and cbf doing a site change!” before a night out, and she brought the wonder-tape. The tape to end all tapes. This tape is easy to rip and sticky as hell, and it’s always in my handbag in case my temperamental set thinks I’m getting too sweaty and tries to fall off. I have no idea what it’s called, but they use it on the wards and the best thing I’ve ever encountered. That’s another tip – tip #3.5: have tape with you. There is nothing worse than having to go home because your site peeled off. Stick that sucker down and don’t let it interrupt living your life!
Tip #4: Invest in a proper diabetes ‘clutch’
Before I bought my ‘Combi Clutch’, I would be that person who went everywhere with a massive handbag. Honestly, it looked like I was a mother of five with a bag full of baby wipes and spare clothes. Buy a purse that you can take out with you and pretend that you’re one of those people who just has their keys and phone. Is your mind ready to be blown?
You have a purse like this…
Nice right? Super cute! Wait, let me just get my card…
BOOM! This baby carries your diabetes stuff, but also has places to put your cards, cash, and sneak in two hypo serves. This baby will change your life, you can just pop your purse on the table like a normal person and not worry about waiters tripping over your gigantic ‘Mum bag’. Mum bag no more. I’m not being paid by this company, I just really like their clutches (If you’d like to hire me to spruik your products, I’m your gal!)
Tip #5: If you’re getting burnt out, go back to basics
My DNE taught me this one, and it has served me well. If you’re sick of diabetes and want it go away, the next best thing to completely ignoring it (not recommended…) is to go back to basics. Set injections, set meals, and let it fade into the background as you piece yourself together again. This may not be for everyone, but this really helped me last year when I was completely burnt out. For a week, I just injected set doses, ate the same thing, and tested the minimal amount. It gave me time to get myself back in the right headspace – my eating habits were boring, sure, but by the end of that week I was rested enough to attempt to get back on the diabetes horse.