The Walking D – by Andy Broomhead
Much to the incredulity of my work colleagues, I’m only a very recent convert to The Walking Dead. It appears I’ve been about six years behind most people for quite some time without even realising what I’ve been missing. Fortunately I’ve seen the (grave) error of my ways, and I’ve finally caught up with everyone else. (For those who have no idea what I’m on about, The Walking Dead is a TV series about post-zombie apocalypse life in the USA – I’d recommend you watch it!).
It got me thinking about how well people with diabetes would survive in such a world. Are we doomed to be picked off first by the un-dead, or do we have a special kind of resilience that will see us emerge victorious?
Let’s start with what’s stacked against us first (and get the bad news out of the way). There’s no getting around the fact that we as people with diabetes need stuff. A LOT of stuff. Certainly for me as a person with Type 1, I need insulin, cannulas, reservoirs, test strips and needles as a bare minimum. I wrote earlier this year about the planning that’s needed to visit Canada for a couple of weeks, and the sheer amount of supplies I had to pack. I think a post-apocalyptic world would probably magnify those challenges somewhat.
Keeping insulin cool is another likely stumbling block that we’re up against. It’s likely we’d be on the move and so carrying (hopefully) large amounts of insulin and keeping it cool could be a problem. Lugging a cool-box around isn’t practical at the end of the world and there’d only be a certain amount of time that would really prove effective. If we’ve got transport, a mini fridge with a car adapter is definitely a viable short-term solution.
Another foreseeable problem is infection. Obviously as people with diabetes, we’re at a bit of a disadvantage as our bodies don’t handle infection as well as our non-diabetic peers. With medicine (and insulin) at a likely premium, we’d be up against it if one of our group were to fall ill, suffer from DKA or a severe hypo.
So is the outlook for us really that bleak? Should we just wait for the un-dead to come for us? Or do we have a few tricks up our sleeve that will save us?
I think our resilience will stand us in great stead if the worst should happen. As people with diabetes, we’re used to dealing with huge challenges on an almost daily basis and so throwing a few zombies into the equation shouldn’t slow us down too much. I think we’re equally resourceful too, and so we’d be pretty quick to adapt to our new surroundings. We could manage our supplies problem by switching to pens (and carry a lot less stuff along with us). The likelihood of doing a lot more travelling/exercise might mean a reduced need for insulin (increasing the lifespan of our supplies still further). It might also give us an opportunity to try the Low Carb High Fat diet (though this might be borne out of necessity rather than choice).
We’d probably be able to stop testing quite as often (e.g. before driving) so those test strips would last a little longer too. There’s the opportunity to copy the method I pioneered when I was on pen injections and changing the needle with the cartridge – a definite winner when it comes to scarce supplies (though not one I’d really recommend otherwise).
But what really gives us a head start is our sense of community. Today we already do a great job of rallying round and supporting our peers when it comes to living with diabetes. We all bring our unique experiences and points of view to living with what is undoubtedly a very tough thing to manage. We know how difficult it is to get through those periods where our blood glucose won’t come down (or go up), and how much the support of our diabetes friends can help us through it, be it face to face, or through the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). If we can come together to help each other manage diabetes, imagine how easy we’d find fending off a few zombies!
If you were hoping to find some actual diabetes Christmas advice, fear not – here’s a link to one of my first-ever Diabetes UK blogs which I think has some pretty useful information in for getting by at Christmas.
Thanks for reading the blogs throughout this year. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, a happy new year and a generally fantastic festive time. See you in January!