Category Archives: List Posts-Diabetiquette

What a Disaster.


I’m kidding.

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.

Mini List!

batteries for glucose meter and insulin pump

alcohol wipes

bandaids/tissues/cotton balls

flashlight with which to read your meter

glucose tablets


syringes, lancets, test strips

juice/fruit snacks

aspirin etc.

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.



Filed under How to: get diabetes., List Posts-Diabetiquette

I’ll never let go, Jack…

Thinking about The RMS Titanic fills me with a weird mix of emotions.

My thought progression usually goes like this:

1. Oh man, I haven’t seen that movie in so long.

2. I wish Rose had said, “I will physically let go of you, but I will never mentally release you.”

3. Physics always wins.

4. That ship was huge.

5. There were real people on that ship.

6. I can’t believe so many died. I can’t imagine how terrible that was.

7. Now I’m picturing the sounds, the smells, the unrelenting cold…

8. Bummer.

9. That ship looks creepy now. Water ghosts?

10. I wonder if both of them (Jack and Rose) could have survived?

BAM! That brings us to October 2012. Myth Busters has settled my mind, they COULD have survived.

I am going to be honest with you, this Titanic talk is only vaguely related to what this post will be about which is being supportive.

I talked about getting yourself a support system before but I don’t think I properly conveyed how important it is, as a partner, to BE SUPPORTIVE.

If your child, or friend, or partner has diabetes (type one or two) I think it is your responsibility to support them even in the most simple of ways.

Some might disagree with me and say that it is only the diabetic’s responsibility to take care of him or herself. That’s fine. We don’t have to agree on everything, but I am judging you and thinking that you’re kind of an a-hole.

 If it helps, think about someone with alcohol addiction.

 I’m a little foggy on the exact steps but I’m fairly certain that if an alcoholic went through all the trouble of realizing their problem, admitting they need help, and going to some type of rehabilitation or meeting and continued to hang around with their “old drinking buddies” in bars or where ever that it would SEVERELY stunt their personal growth and make it almost impossible to change.

It is the same with diabetics.

For someone who is recently diagnosed with TOD or TTD a major lifestyle change is in order. Gone are the days of eating candy by the pound, refusing to exercise and being carefree.

Let me share an example:

A coworker of mine’s wife has TTD. Her TTD has progressed to the point where she needs to take insulin injections. Her doctor has requested she lose weight which she is unable to do.

Her husband routinely comes in to my office and complains about how much ice cream/bread/potato chips/bagels/cookies she eats and then is genuinely surprised that she cannot lose weight and has to take injections.

Are you freaking serious? I ask him every time he complains WHY he doesn’t simply stop buying the cookies/cake/ice cream so it won’t be around to tempt either of them.

He responds with, “Why? I can eat it so why should we get rid of it?”

This, of course, fills me with two things:

1. Rage.

2. A quote from Wayne Brady on Chapelle’s Show which I won’t write here but I will link to a video: Wayne Brady Chapelle’s Show. Go 10 seconds in.

Now I don’t actually say what I’m feeling because I’m from the Midwest, but I feel it hear it really loudly in my head on repeat.

Instead, I try to calmly explain how difficult it is to make these large changes in a world driven by food and sitting in front of computers (I realize this is ironic coming from me) and suggest that next time he does the grocery shopping maybe he should NOT buy the junk food. Not only will it remove the temptation but his wife will see that he is supporting her. Maybe that little burst of support will be the tiny extra push she needs to be healthy.

Something as small as knowing your partner has your back can make all the difference in the world.

I am going to have to defer to a different married couple for an example of what good support can do.

The husband was diagnosed with TTD. He decided to start eating healthy and exercising.

Both of them threw themselves completely into helping each other. They buy healthy food, she packs him a healthy lunch filled with vegetables, they walk together, they bike ride together. She only eats healthy foods now as well.

It was never a question of WHO would have to give up what. It was just unconditional, loving support. And it works. They are both healthy and happy. They look 15 years younger than their real age. The husband’s TTD is more than in check.

It changed the game from “newly diagnosed diabetic” v. “my former lifestyle”, “my family’s lifestyle”, “advertising”, “the world” to a more simple “us” v. “the old us”.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

So if Rose had supported Jack more would they both have survived? Thanks to Myth Busters I think that answer is yes…


Filed under How to: get diabetes., List Posts-Diabetiquette, Random Extras

Things I Wish People Would STOP Telling me about Diabetes

I started writing this: Things I Wish People Would Have Told Me When I Got Diagnosed post and then I stopped.  

People told me SO much stuff when I first got diagnosed, and so much stuff throughout all 20+ years of doctors appointments, support group meetings, nutritionist talks, and diabetic counselor discussions  that I just stopped listening.

Changing gears then, here’s a short list of the topics or phrases I wish lay people (not doctors or nutritionists) would STOP trying to tell me:

1. You can’t eat that!

Excuse me? I’m 24. As long as it’s not poisoned please refrain from shouting “you shouldn’t be eating that!” at me while I’m trying to enjoy my tiramisu. I am fully aware that my body cannot handle copious amounts of sugar, that’s what my insulin pump and carb book are for.

2. Diabetes is chronic.

Thanks, I claim that on my taxes every year.

3. Diabetes is nothing to joke about!

Yes it is. However, the absence of your sense of humor is nothing to joke about.

4. You’re just like everyone else! (Not to be confused with: You’re normal!)

Oh give me a break. This isn’t the hour of Barney I used to enjoy on Saturday mornings, this is real life. That statement implies a commonness.

If you were to say to me, “Abbi you have brown eyes, you’re very common!”

I’d say, “You’re right good sir! Please continue to share your wisdom!” But you didn’t. You’re generalizing things and pissing me off.

Last I heard all people didn’t check their blood sugars, carry around glucose tabs, wear insulin pumps, take insulin injections, etc etc.

I LIKE being different. Don’t take that away from me because it makes YOU feel better.

5. You’re normal!

I know.

6. They’re going to cut your feet off!

Oh really? I wasn’t aware you could predict the future. I guess if you COULD, you’d know I’m planning on dying waaaaaaay before they cut my feet off.

7. Diabetes is a serious disease.

In the words of James Woods:

“I get it. I got the concept.”

8. Maybe they’ll be a cure in your lifetime…

Maybe. I’d feel more confident about it if you didn’t say it with those big stupid puppy dog eyes which tell me you don’t believe it. And honestly, stop getting my hopes up. I feel like that’s just another one of those things people say to make themselves feel better, especially if they aren’t personally involved in some type of diabetic research.

9. You should really be doing that this way. (Or some variance)

I don’t walk around changing your “your”s to “you’re”s and “to”s to “too”s so please don’t think because your pancreas works properly that it makes you an authority on how many times I should check my blood sugar.

10. It’s so great how well you’re doing!

What? Did I just get dumped? Am I a recovering alcoholic? I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the good feelings, but be aware how condescending this can sound depending on your tone of voice.

11. Check your blood sugars.

Check yours.

12. What’s your AIC?

Do you even know what that is? If you can’t tell me the word that precedes those letters/number, you don’t need to know and you certainly don’t need to judge.

As childish as some may seem, these are my top least-favorite things to hear about or surrounding diabetes.

Any to add?


Filed under List Posts-Diabetiquette, Random Extras

Catching ZZZ’s

I’m sure this goes without saying, but sleep is IMPORTANT.

Last night I got between 3 and 4 hours of sleep due to some “domestic” arguments in the apartment below me, some drunk people next to me, and the rest of the apartment complex trying to get those people to shut up.

I was expecting this to be fine when I woke up at 7am and started getting ready for work but I was wrong.

As it turns out, I fell asleep on the bus and almost missed my stop. When I got inside the hospital I consumed more than HALF my daily calorie allowance. Before 9am. Yes the Egg and Cheese McMuffin was delicious and yes, the Strawberry Cream Cheese Croissant made me remember why I like to be alive… but now for the rest of the day I have about 400-500 calories to burn.

This is NOT ideal.

So: sleep is important for regular people and, as these things go, it’s even more important for diabetics.

First, I’ll go through the reasons from Harvard Health:

1. Memory

You  know how you feel after a night of no sleep: drunk. And you know what you remember from the night of being drunk: nothing. That doesn’t need a whole lot more explanation.

2. Metabolism

Lack of sleep alters hormone levels that tell you when to eat. When you’re sleep deprived, your body knows it needs to be awake and it knows it needs energy. So it tells you you’re hungry. And then you eat 900 calories before 9am. See Taco Bell post for the dangers of that one.

3. Safety

Sleepy people fall asleep. While doing things you need to be awake for.

4. Mood

Sleep deprived new parents are some of the crabbiest people I have ever met (no offense). It’s the same for non-new-parents. Anyone who is tired and in a good mood has probably taken some kind of mood-altering drug.

5. Cardiovascular Health

Less sleep = more stress. Stress is bad for your heart. Also: diabetes is a heart disease. Any extra stress put on a heart that is working too hard to begin with is bad news. As a diabetic, your heart needs to be attended to and getting enough sleep is an EASY and EXCELLENT way to not add stress to your life.

6. Disease

Getting too little sleep affects how your immune system works. Let me give you a hint: it doesn’t make it work better. The same with heart disease, sleep is an EASY way to help your body work properly. Give yourself a chance to be able to fight off the infections that you’ll be more prone to anyways with your diabetes.

Second, let me break it down for you:

Sleep will lift your mood, keep your weight down, and help keep your diabetes under control. Don’t add to your body’s stress by keeping it from resting.

Thanks Harvard, for spelling that our for us.


Filed under List Posts-Diabetiquette, Random Extras

Parents: 4 Things to Own for Your TOD

1. A glucose meter.

     There are 5 million on the market. Choose the one that’s most convenient for you. I use the OneTouch Ultra Mini

Diabetiquette One Touch Ultra Mini

 because it’s cute and small and comes in a variety of colors. It’s also speedy and accurate. All meters do different things. This one is very basic so if you’re looking for features (like longterm memory, backlight, whatever), go another way like the BD or AccuChek.

This is a semi-helpful site that gives glucose monitor reviews.

P.S. If you don’t have one of these for your newly diagnosed kid, you’re sunk. I’m sure you know this.

2. A notebook.

     Sounds simple. You need to think of a way for kids to record their blood sugars so you as the adult can see patterns. If you buy them a tiny Batman notebook, or a three-ring-binder, or a Blackberry they’ll most likely use it. Really, they’ll use anything that looks interesting that they’ll enjoy carrying around. I’m not seriously suggesting that you buy your 5-year-old an iPhone to keep track of their ‘betes but the more creative you are, the more they’ll like using the tools. As I’ve aged I’ve tried many things. The most fun and horribly embarrassing was my “Blood Sugar Board”. I bought a Dry Erase Calendar Diabetiquette Dry Erase Board and hung it up on my bedroom door. Each day I recorded my blood sugar on it for my whole family to see… It was embarrassing but it made me remember to check, it also encouraged me to control my sugars better, as everyone could see them.

3. Medication.

     This is a no-brainer and no doctor will let you take your fresh TOD home without some insulin and test strips but if your kid is new it’s easy to forget. Mark it on your calendar, watch out for weekends and evenings when some pharmacies aren’t open, more is ALWAYS better, make sure you’re timing it right so insurance covers. Honestly, sit down once and get all of those things hashed out. Set an alarm on your phone so you remember. Once it’s a habit, no worries, but right away you’re going to add extra stress to your already stressed-out self. Just set the alarm.

4. Wholesome Food.

     My mom did a really good job of this. Kids are such a pain in the butt to feed because they only they’re afraid to try new things. Who cares? You’re the parent. Be authoritative. I think you’re supposed to make your child try a food something like 27 times before you “give up” on it. Just keep pushing and they’ll get the nutrients they need. Diabetes makes you low on energy and having proper nutrition can add that energy back.

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5 Things Not to do About TOD

1. Pretend you DON’T have Type One Diabetes.

 Type Two’s can get away with forgetting about it for a while (not recommended!) but us TODs will just get sick and eventually end up in the hospital or with a kidney or two that’s stopped functioning.

2. Blame someone else for having TOD.

Although this is very tempting and everyone goes through a phase or two or fifty like this it’s not productive. I  know this is easier said than done, I thought I had all my TOD anger worked out but just last week I cried myself to sleep in the middle of the day over the “unfairness of it all”. We have to work through our feelings a such a way that we aren’t constantly victimizing ourselves.

3. Depend on someone else for care.

It is very easy when you’re young to just let mom or dad do everything for you. I will tell you right now, if you don’t take charge of your own care you will just “forget” you have it. Been there, didn’t end well. I’m not saying don’t ask for help, but you need to primarily count on yourself.

Diabetiquette Mountain Dew4. Drink Regular Soda.

Ok, it’s not a great idea. People do it and if you use insulin responsibly that’s ok but your body does not need that much sugar at any time. I know it’s fun when you’re younger to get all hyper with your friends and act like a total moron (also done it) but sugar soda is one of the easier things in life to just say no to. So try it.

5. Get Low.

Sing it with me! No I’m just kidding. You cannot always prevent lows but what I’m talking about here is getting low and driving. You will hurt yourself or someone else. Try to always have juice or glucose tablets or something in your car. You’re getting to the age where thinking about being responsible BLOWS and totally cramps your style. But accidentally killing someone else in a car accident because you were too lazy to pack a juice will cramp your style for a lot longer. Just FYI.


Filed under List Posts-Diabetiquette