You’d think after almost 18 years of living with type 1 diabetes I’d have mastered it. I’m afraid not. I’ve been caught out a lot lately, forgetting some of the real basics and if I’m truly honest I should know better.
We all make mistakes and most of the time there are no major consequences. However when the little mistakes are related to diabetes and they’re frequent, the results can be disastrous.
It all started when my diabetic team realised I wasn’t changing my insulin pump site every three days. I knew I should be changing the site frequently to prevent infection and ensure the insulin is fresh. I’d done this properly in the past but somehow I’d fallen into a bad habit of only changing my pump site when the insulin was almost empty. I’m not sure how I’d overlooked this one.
During the school holidays I packed Miss 6 and our little man into the car and set off to the river for a walk, some sunshine and fresh air. As we pulled into the park my blood sugars plummeted. I’d spent all morning getting everyone else ready, I’d forgotten to pack food to treat any hypos. Luckily I found the world’s smallest juice box at the bottom of my bag. Unfortunately this meant I had to cut our walk short. I couldn’t risk my blood sugars dropping further, with two children in tow and no way to treat a hypo. What an amateur.
One of the benefits of using an insulin pump are the built in alarms to keep things ticking along smoothly. Late one evening it alarmed and said the battery was low. No big deal, I normally replace the battery every 3-4 weeks so reached for my stash of batteries in my diabetes case. It was empty. Shit.
The final straw was when I went to change my insulin pump site and discovered I only had 30 mls of insulin in the fridge. I would need at least 170 mls to fill the cartridge inside my pump. What an absolute rookie mistake. How had I missed this?
It’s no surprise that after the arrival of baby No. 2 and recently returning to work, life is pretty busy at the moment. Some might even say chaotic. Perhaps that explains why I was making such silly mistakes. Whatever the reason, I had to get focused and create a plan to make managing my diabetes a little easier.
I started by restocking everything. I ordered more insulin, test strips, ketone strips and lancets. I bought juice boxes, jelly beans, dates and two AA Lithium batteries (they’re not cheap). I was off to a good start but to ensure I didn’t fall into bad habits, I had to put a few systems in place. This is how I would combat frequent mistakes in an office environment, surely it could work at home as well.
I set a reminder on my phone to replace my insulin pump site every three days.
When I use an item (batteries, insulin, test strips, juice boxes), I replace it!
As the last line of defense at the end of the month I’ll do a quick stock-take of my supplies and order anything that is getting low.
With a few minor tweaks and new processes I should never get caught out again! Well that’s how it should work in theory. It’s worth a try.