If you think Lady Sandy is nothing to worry about you must be Lindsay Lohan AKA a completely insensitive illiterate doofus.
As of noonish yesterday (October 30th) Hurricane Sandy had killed more than 80 people, left MILLIONS without power and cost an estimated $7 billion worth of damage. But you’re right Linds, just project positive energy to those people who’ve lost their homes, their loved ones and their cities. It’ll warm them right up.
I heard that more than 90 hospitals had lost power and/or had to be evacuated. It made me nervous for what would happen if my own hospital had to be evacuated. What would happen to the people on life support if we lost power? I know most hospitals have a generator system but how long does that last?
Similarly, every time I think about the Zombie Apocalypse I wonder what my best course of action would be? I know, I know: fill the bathtubs with water but what about AFTER?
In any type of apocalyptic situation (be it a natural disaster or the undead) my first priority as a diabetic is finding insulin. And lots of it.
I know the mantra for life, “3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days with water, 3 weeks without food” but how long can I go without insulin? Hours? One day?
Basically I would end up playing a risky little game of balancing NOT eating food so my blood sugar wouldn’t go up but eating enough food so my body and brain don’t shut down.
My pancreas is a ticking time bomb. (I still look happy though, don’t I?)
Naturally thinking about these situations makes me worry and worrying makes me plan.
So I have come up with a Diabetic Emergency Contingency Plan or DECP:
1. Be alert.
Watch the news, read the paper, go to college for meteorology. If you don’t have ANY idea what’s coming it is much more difficult to prepare.
2. Be ‘That’ guy.
You know the person everyone makes fun of because they are constantly nagging about the impending flood or the British? Well guess how many of those people died?
While I wouldn’t suggest living your life in a panick, it is more than within your reach to share imminent doom with others. You might save a life.
3. Stock up. Remember Y2K? Slightly embarrassing. But if you’re watching the news like I told you to you will probably be able to tell with a degree of certainty when the hurricane/blizzard/tornado is going to hit and where. So call your pharmacist NOW. Not later, NOW.
Oh you need test strips and insulin? Get. Them. Now. You don’t want to be the yahoo wandering around the wreckage of your hometown trying to find the CLOSED Walgreens which has probably already been looted for the good stuff. Of course I mean insulin, lancets, syringes and those types of things…
I read somewhere once that you should have a backup insulin pump. That to me is completely unreasonable because I am not made of money. The suggestion fills me with Wayne Brady rage. If I had an extra 5 grand lying around… well I wouldn’t be buying insulin pumps.
But there is a point to that. If you are an insulin pump user, you’re going to want to have some backup syringes on hand. You never know what kind of flood/fire/evil spirit will knock out your pump. You might need a prescription for those and that is something else that you need to GET RIGHT NOW. I guarantee your doctor is going to be too busy to fax you a prescription while he’s taking care of the hundreds of people injured by X disaster.
4. Stock up.
I know I already used that one but there are SO many things you might need that are easy to forget.
batteries for glucose meter and insulin pump
flashlight with which to read your meter
syringes, lancets, test strips
5. Waterproof that shiz.
Well before you go waterproofing things, you should first get copies of ALL your prescriptions. I’m talking insulin, metformin, test strips and whatever. Get a copy from your doctor. She or he WILL give them to you if you explain what they’re for and if you get them renewed once a year. It will not cost you anything to get a copy of your prescriptions because you’ll already be paying for the doctor’s visit and insurance won’t charge you until you fill.
So take copies of ALL your prescriptions, a copy of your insurance card, a list of numbers and addresses (doctors, friends, family) of people who know your medical situation, and whatever else (I don’t know, your birth certificate if you live in Arizona so they don’t try to deport you for getting insulin) and put it in a waterproof, fireproof pouch.
I don’t know of a company that makes something both water AND fire proof so my best bet would be buying a fire resistant pouch and putting that inside the waterproof pouch. You’ll thank me.
6. Identify yourself.
Hark, who goes there? A diabetic.
On the off chance that something terrible happens to you, it would be excellent for whatever type of medical personnel find you to know that you have diabetes. That is on the list of pertinent information.
There are tons of cool medical alert bracelets now, my friend Kelsey has this rad version from American Medical ID. They look more like Livestrong bracelets instead of medical alerts.
I still have a jewelry type that my mom got me ages ago from Lauren’s Hope. You can hardly tell it’s not just a bracelet.
The important thing is that people check your wrists for medical information. Getting a tattoo of “diabetic” on your neck might look BA in prison (just kidding, you’ll get shanked) but no EMT will think to check your neck for anything other than a pulse.
7. Protect your meds.
I lived in Hadar, Ethiopia for a couple of months, desert-style, and the average temperature was 110 degrees F. We were 12 hours away from “civilization” which was a town with no electricity.
While this experience was a total dysentary-filled blast, it required a lot of planning on my part. With no electricity and no shade, figuring out how to keep my insulin the proper temperature for WEEKS was terrifying.
Luckily, Bill Kimbel researched himself a solution!
He found the Frio Cooling Wallets which turned out to be literal life savers. They come in all shapes and sizes.
Not only would they keep a bottle of insulin cool, but there would be room for test strips and other medications as well.
They also make an insulin pump pack which not only keeps the insulin inside the pump cool, but it protects it from minor mishaps. Like falling and breaking your tailbone.
It does require some cool-ish water to activate, but hopefully that’s around. And it doesn’t have to be clean or drinkable water so that helps a little.
8. Take care of your other human needs.
This means food, water/water purification tablets and things like that. I also think it’s really valuable to have an emergency phone charger. The one I’ve linked to is a hand crank version. That seems to make the most sense because the battery ones can die and the solar chargers are expensive and take a lot of time to charge. The hand crank should work for everyone unless you don’t have an arm and then I’m sorry for being insensitive.
Your phone can be a major resource for you and anyone else that might be trapped with you. Consider it.
Being prepared for a disaster might be the thing that saves your life. Who knows, maybe you can save someone else’s life who isn’t as prepared as you are. If nothing else, you have a really kick ass survival pack that you can show your friends at parties.