DBlogWeek #5: Life Hacks: Lifesavers and Rubber Bands

Until this topic came up, I never really thought about the little things I do to manage my diabetes a little better. I, like everyone I suppose, have my own shortcuts and tricks to make life with diabetes easier.

The first one is Lifesavers. I always have Lifesavers with me when I leave the house. And I don’t mean any old Lifesavers. I’m talking about a roll of Lifesavers. It doesn’t matter the flavor (unless it’s mint, which I can’t really eat quickly in case of low blood sugar) but I am partial to five flavors. Lifesavers are convenient, small, and fit easily in my pocket. Other roll candy, such as Mentos, are too long or are not wrapped sturdy enough. Sometimes they break and spill into my clothes.

Lifesavers, which have been around since 1935, never let me down when my blood sugar does. That’s because when I have the first inklings of hypoglycemia I want something more than just something that can bring my blood sugar back up quickly. I want something that, if I eat it in pubic, is unobtrusive so I don’t get everyone around me freaked out. Plus, I want something that tastes good because sometimes hypoglycemia makes for a nice excuse to have a treat. And lastly, when it comes to fighting low blood sugar, you can’t beat a name like Lifesavers.

I also use rubber bands for my insulin. I hit upon this recently. When I leave the house for the day, or for work, or to go out overnight, I don’t take my Lantus and my Novolog in their bottles with me. What if they break? What if they become exposed to high temperatures? (I live in Arizona.) So, I withdraw measured amounts out of my two bottles of insulin and inject them into empty bottles, leaving my main supply in the refrigerator. Then, I put a rubber band around the glass bottles with the travel doses. That allows me to knock them around in my pocket or bag without worrying about them breaking. The rubber bands also let me differentiate which bottles are which when I have to grab one and go in a hurry.

The last little trick I use, although rarely, is how to figure out if your blood sugar is high without a machine. I learned this when I was researching a book about clinical trials. In 1776 a physician tasted the urine of a diabetic and noted it tasted sweet. That, of course, is from the excess sugar the kidneys are trying to flush out of the body.

The last time I had to resort to this rather unpleasant trick was when I travelled to Uganda. The Ugandan guards in Brussels for flight check in to Entebbe didn’t like my blood testing machine. So they took it. Who was I to argue with a guy with an AK-47?

For the next three weeks in Africa the only method I had to at least get a sense of where my blood sugar was—a very general sense of not high, high or very high—was by running a finger through a stream of my urine and tasting it.

This trick works when all other resources are unavailable. And, while it’s not as gross as one might imagine, all things considered, I prefer the taste of Lifesavers.  

Comments (1)

  1. Jerry at

    Where do you find a source of sterile vials for your travel insulin?  Reusing emptied insulin bottles is not a good idea. Infection would be a problem. It is not just that the insulin which had been in the bottle got old, and then became unreliable/unsuitable for use. The day the Insulin is first accessed by needle, minute contamination becomes possible. Therefore, only 20-30 days of use are recommended. Even if the insulin were stable, the contents may be contaminated. Reusing the emptied bottle only compounds the possibility.

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