Number 5: Being disorganised! – by Helen Whitehouse

I hate to admit it, but my next blog really is about something teenagers hate to admit to…. BEING DISORGANISED!

Organisation is key with diabetes. Most people know this – it’s like the timing, the doses, the prescriptions…
So, I decided that I was going to do Leedsfest again this year, like the last few years. In my head, when I think about going to a festival, I see a sort of photo montage filled with sun and confetti canons and UV paint, all with some song played over the top. Life affirming.

In reality, however, it’s me with a massive bag covered in rain and mud with a vague tinny musical sound in the background…

So, I arrive at my tent. And literally tip everything out; my friends have been staying in it for two days, there’s biscuits and mascara everywhere. I make a space for myself around this, plan on doing a quick blood test before going back into the main arena to spend a blissful evening watching The View and eating pancakes.

I find my diabetic kit, I look for my test strips. I find no test strips.

I climb inside my bag, looking for them rolling about in the bottom. I look in the sleeping bag. I open the tupperware full of jellybeans. I even look inside my pyjamas to check I haven’t just thrown everything together, but there’s nothing. I fly into a slight panic, only to be vaguely reassured that there is a medical stall selling paracetamol and whatnot, on site.

I have a flashback to the night before, of me standing, at 10pm, looking for a tarpaulin in my wardrobe. Then this morning, opening my kit and putting the strips on the table, before remembering to put in some trivial item of clothing and spare socks. As I sit inside my tent, I can visualise the strips on the table at home.

The thing is, most other people could get away with being this unorganised. But diabetes is like an extra step, and I couldn’t help being hard done by when I handed over my money for the test strips which I get on prescription at home.

The whole thing makes me worry about impending university and ordering my own supplies. Shamefully, my mum does it all now. Like, what if I run out of insulin before I have ordered more? It is something I need to think about more than other people, especially now the university application processes have started.

Having said that, in a lot of respects, being diabetic matures you in other ways. I just wish it magically made me more organised.

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Hi Helen
I read an earlier blog of yours about doing the D of E and I was wondering if I could ask you for some specific information on how to handle type 1 on an expedition. My 15 year old daughter will be heading out in June and i would like to avoid any problems if possible. many thanks, Ashley Dartnell

What a nightmare, Helen! I’ve only recently been diagnosed with Type2, so have the benefit of getting one of the latest types of meter. It doesn’t use test strips but comes with a cassette of 50 tests that you just load up and go! Have a look at my blog for more information about it – I find it really easy to use.

Similar thing happened to me at this year’s Download festival – It was so appallingly flooded and wet that when I was searching for my box of needles (i’d packed about 20 – just enough to get me through with a couple of spares coz you never know) the box had shrunk so badly and compressed that I started freaking out that I had no needles to inject insulin with! I went to the medi tent and the on site pharmacy and everything and what with it being 9pm or thereafter none of the local pharmacies would be open for me to get needles from.

So I went my first 24hours without insulin – only to find the blasted needles soaked at the bottom of my bag and no longer sterile. So by now i’d had such a freak out that I rang my mum and got her to pick me up – I spent the remainder of the festival at home drinking tea, taking insulin and watching the festival on a very poor quality webcam :(

Then developed a chest infection from all the wet weather.

Note to self – next year requires much more organisation.