A Diabetes Dream Home


You’re welcome to use the bathroom in my house but please, don’t look up. As Jess and Mike learned on a recent Philadelphia visit, our bathrooms are something of a disaster zone: the ceilings have been ripped out, there are missing floor boards, and  one of our sewer stacks is covered with a plastic bag. Even odder: we paid someone to make them look like this. 

Our reasoning actually did make sense — we needed to redo the bathrooms, and needed to find out exactly what was wrong with them before figuring out a plan. So we had them partially demolished in order to identify any potential leaks or structural issues that needed to be fixed. Problem is, the contractor that was supposed to reassemble said bathrooms dropped out of the project last week. 

There are definite downsides to this development — one of them being the conditions described above. (In fact, my husband knocked into the cast iron tub in the middle of the night the other week and actually chipped a piece of bone off his ankle — it’s floating around under his skin and is truly disgusting.) But the upside is that it gives us a fresh chance to make sure we design them just the way we want them. While thinking/reading about home renovation, I came across the concept of “universal design” — which roughly translates to designing your house in such a way that it’s usable and accessible to anyone, regardless of age or disability. That made me think about things like installing a shower bar (despite the fact that I’m only 33 and have good balance), or making sure that there’s no severe step up into the shower itself. 

Then, as is so often the case, I started thinking about diabetes — namely,  how you could design a house that accommodated diabetes gear (“diabetes design,” I’d call it). I was inspired by that horrible feeling you get when you walk past a doorknob or kitchen drawer and are pulled back by your insulin pump tubing, which has wrapped itself against the doorknob and now may or may not have been pulled out of your skin. In my diabetes house, I decided, I would only have diabetically friendly knobs and pulls — namely, ones that diabetes tubing cannot catch on. 

Like this:











Or this:

















Oh my god — just looking at those edges gives me chills. 

I’d also design a refrigerator with a specialized compartment or box for my insulin and medications (no more Novolog sharing space with the butter!) and a clever kitchen cabinet that would dispense out pump supplies as I need them (at the moment I have repurposed the drawers and counter of a Hoosier cabinet to serve both as storage and a pump set changing station). 

For people who actually have complications like neuropathy, there should be kitchen accessories like pots whose handles change color when they’re hot so that you know not to touch them (I recently spoke with a diabetic chef who can’t feel pain in his fingers, so often gets burned) and finger guards to avoid cutting yourself with kitchen knives. 

It seems like there are tons of little details that could be incorporated into a diabetic dream house, whether you have complications or simply want to avoid getting your pump caught on a door knob. What do you guys think? Have you made any accommodations in your own homes? Any whimsical ideas come to mind?

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Scott Richard
10 years ago

Just go tubeless.  I wear the OmniPod, no tubes no remodling necessary.

10 years ago

How about a built-in Sharps disposal in the kitchen or bathroom? I’d also love a handy way to store all by supplies instead of having them stacked on a shelf. 

Regarding storing Novolog, I bought a plastic shoe box and put all my insulin in it and slid it into the fridge. Works for me, but I like the idea of a dedicated drawer/shelf in the fridge….  

Robin Cacopardo
10 years ago

you have no idea how many times my tubing got caught on door knobs (really hurt) and different things when I was traveling, staying at other people’s homes. Very important to keep that in mind  when designing your home :)

Dr. Margaret A. Morris
10 years ago

“Yeah, I need all surfaces to be resistant to blood stains. Kind of like in Dexter.”

Jane Kokernak
10 years ago

A little obsessed with where garbage goes, I’d like a special yet unobtrusive place to put my sharps container — maybe in that special cabinet for supplies that you’ve described above. I keep it right now in the cabinet with tea bags and take it in and out when I need it.
I am so with you on the door handles and the hazards to insulin pump wearers!

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