Always Be Prepared: Have Extra Diabetes Supplies On-hand

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Put yourself in the following situation: it’s your birthday, and your friends took you to your favorite restaurant to enjoy a nice meal in good company. You placed your order, and excuse yourself from the table so you can run to the restroom to do a blood sugar test. You lock yourself into a stall and pull your meter out from your purse or your pocket. As you go to insert a strip into your meter, you realize that you don’t have any more in your vial. You feel the blood rush to your face as you go into panic mode. You dig through your bag, your pockets, and your jacket to see if you have any extra vials of strips. You even run out to your car and rummage through the glove compartments, center console, and back seats to check for supplementary supplies. Nothing’s there. Reality comes crashing down as you realize you have to make a choice between guessing your current blood sugar and risking over- or under-bolusing, or ruin your plans for the night by making an emergency trip home.

Unfortunately, I have experienced this situation, and it isn’t fun. You feel awful knowing that you could have prevented it from happening if you had just taken inventory of your diabetic supplies before leaving the house. Over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies that prevent that scenario from occurring, and I hope that other diabetics will be able to utilize them successfully, too.

Strategy #1: Stock up on everything. Make sure you have extra boxes of strips, pen needles, lancets, syringes, and anything else you might need and keep them in places that are easily accessible. For instance, I always carry extra strips in my purse, and I keep a few supplies in my car – make sure you’re careful about where you store certain items. Never make the mistake of putting insulin in a place where it might reach a temperature that will prevent you from using it.

Strategy #2: Take inventory of your supplies before you go somewhere. It can never hurt to take a few extra minutes to check if you have a few spare syringes, test strips, glucose tablets, or anything else you need. Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to see if you’re running low on anything so you can refill your prescription before it’s too late.

Strategy #3: Get into the habit of testing your blood sugar before you leave the house. Not only will this tell you where your blood sugar is heading, but it will also force you to check how many test strips you have leftover.

Strategy #4: Check expiration dates. You might forget, but your bottles of insulin do have the expiration date clearly printed on them. A few months ago, I made the mistake of using expired Lantus. For about 48 hours, I suffered from high glucose readings and had to correct them with large Humalog dosages. I strongly encourage anyone with diabetes to remain aware of expiration dates!

In the end, do whatever works for you to avoid running out of supplies. You’ll be glad that you were prepared, time and time again!

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Scott K. Johnson

Love the idea of #3 – testing before leaving. Like you say, it gives you a chance to get a look at your supplies before heading out.

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