Kit inspection before Christmas

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On the first day of the Freedom for Life course, we were asked to bring along our diabetes equipment for a kit inspection. These words, “Kit Inspection”, bring to mind a military exercise. A group of soldiers, standing to attention at the end of their beds after hours of shoe cleaning and trouser pressing and personal grooming.

I (nearly) always have my diabetes equipment with me. But it is in a “well-loved” bag which would not pass military muster. The sergeant major would not be able to see his face in my meter. And the scratches on my pens would let down my battalion.

So, as the Diabetes Nurse approached me, I opened my tatty case with some trepidation. I smiled a nervous grin to my fellow students and prepared to say “but it works ok for me”. However, the Nurse was no army corporal. She was an early Santa Claus:
– one look at my bolus pen and it was replaced with a new one that kept track of my last dose
– a short conversation about my basal pen and a new one of them appeared which can administer 1 unit doses (my old one goes up in units of two)
– a shiny box appeared with a new, more accurate meter and another one to keep as a spare (which takes the same test strips)
– she exclaimed “why are you using 6mm needles?” and a box of 4mm ones materialised

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I was given my insulin pens and meter. Since then, the only changes made to my kit were due to necessity: the numbers were rubbed off my pen and I received a letter from the meter manufacturer to say that the strips were to become end of life. The only changes I have made are due to necessity that I have initiated.

In the early days, I requested changes but was told 6mm was the shortest needles available and my basal insulin could only be dispensed in two units at a time. I assumed, if you accidentally dialled up too much insulin you just had to waste it and start again. I kept my old meter and some test strips until I realised the strips were past their best by date.

Whilst I consider myself well read on new diabetes treatments such as pumps, continuous glucose monitors and trials for artificial pancreas, I realised, I have not been keeping myself up to date on the minor changes to the equipment I rely on day to day. In hindsight, it seems strange: my phone is only eighteen months old (and considered old by some of my friends), so why would I trust my life with a ten year insulin injection system?

I do not know if my experience is typical. Or whether I have only missed out because I do not have annual (or my frequent) appointments with the nurse. But, I would highly recommend a Kit Inspection if you fancy an early Christmas present, less bruises from injections and a memory jogger for your insulin. I will be making a mental note to request another Kit Inspection in a couple of years by which time there may be some more updates and I would have made good use of my new kit so not unnecessarily wasting NHS money.

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