From the Wilderness to a Wedding: Adventures Carrying a Diabetes Kit


When my brother was first diagnosed with diabetes as an eleven-year-old, he was given a case for his kit and extra diabetes supplies. The case was actually a cloth lunchbox, but it had an unfortunate resemblance (at least in my bother’s mind) to a woman’s handbag. At this point, he was too young to even carry a wallet, so the idea of being encumbered by something as feminine as the supply case was definitely out. When we went to parties as a family, Julian would thrust it at my mom as soon as we stepped through the door.

I, on the other hand, have never had trouble finding a way to carry my kit unobtrusively. As a woman, I’m not exactly bothered by idea of carrying a handbag; in fact, I usually carry a very roomy one, and throw my kit inside it. Recently, however, I found myself in two situations which made me aware of the bulkiness of the kit–and gave me a newfound appreciation for the kit’s velcro strap.

The first incident happened when I was on vacation in Maine. Carrying a diabetes kit isn’t usually difficult for me there; when I’m hiking or walking, I just put my kit in my backpack instead of a purse. But the kit started was cumbersome when it came to canoeing. Of course, there’s plenty of room in the boat for a small kit. But what if the boat tipped? I had visions of my kit sinking to the bottom of the lake or being wafted off into the horizon by the waves.

I tried several ways of making sure the kit stayed close to me–including stuffing it down my life preserver and into my sock–before the friend who was canoeing with me said: “Doesn’t your kit have a strap on the back?”

She was right! I was so excited that the stupidity of overlooking the strap for the past two years didn’t phase me. Conveniently, my life preserver had a loop at the bottom of the zipper to which I could fasten my velcro strap. Now, if the boat did overturn, I could be sure that my kit would float to the top and not be lost forever.

The elegance of a wedding is far from the wilderness of Maine, but it presents an equal challenge to the bearer of a diabetes kit. One of my friends was married the weekend before last, I had decided to bring a dressier (read: smaller) purse with me to the event. I was very pleased with the aesthetics of my choice, and didn’t think much about its size. It wasn’t until I was getting ready for the wedding that I discovered that no matter how I rearranged my makeup or tried to squash my kit, there just wasn’t enough room in the purse for everything.

There was nothing for it–I’d have to carry my kit and my purse separately. Juggling of a plate of appetizers, a drink, and a purse is always a challenge; now I had to add my kit into the mix. Until I remembered what had saved the day last time–that velcro strap. I attached my kit to the strap of my purse; now I could carry both at the same time. The black kit dangling from my greenish-gold purse looked odd, but at least it worked.

Then dinner was announced. As I sat down at my table, the usual series of questions ran through my head: Should I test my blood sugar at the table? Should I give myself a shot now? Or should I wait until after I know how much I will have eaten? I looked around at the other people at my table to try to gauge their potential reactions–I didn’t know any of them. Then, as my glance moved to the person on my left, I noticed a small, black case with a velcro strap on the table in front of him.

“Is that a diabetes kit?” I blurted.

“Oh–yeah.” He laughed. “What would you have done if I’d said no?”

I explained that I’d recognized it because I had diabetes myself.

He picked up his kit and flopped it from side to side. “It’s so annoying, isn’t it?  I just couldn’t fit this thing into my pocket!”

Have you ever been in a situation in which your kit seemed especially cumbersome? What are your tips for carrying your kit with (relative) ease in these situations?

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12 years ago

The First time I saw my friend pull out a kit was in her car coming back from a senior citizens event. I was so shocked and it took me weeks before I got use to her doing this.

Emily Patton
12 years ago

Becca, this was probably one of my first practical concerns when I was diagnosed.  I think of myself as a relatively unattached person and often only carried my keys attached to a little zipper-pocket-wallet.  The thought of having to lug around a meter and a finger pricker and an insulin pen AND pen needles was totally overwhelming.  Everything had changed!  I did buy a beautiful clutch from that’s dressy enough to carry when I go out, but it ain’t no coin purse.

Elizabeth Snouffer
12 years ago

My soon-to-be husband put my glucometer in his inside suit jacket pocket for our wedding service.  Since we were pretty much inseparable for the service and reception it worked.  But you are so right … dainty clutches or purses don’t work and it’s a problem when handbags are not right for the occasion!  I am looking forward to the day when wireless tech has my mobile doing it all – I don’t think it’s as far off as we think.

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