Lazy diabetes – by Helen May


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I have just received my invitation to the Freedom for Life course follow-up session and started to consider what I have done differently since the course. Unfortunately, I can’t think of much and I fear I may be drifting back into some of my old habits. This lead me to start making a list of areas I could improve:

1. Despite all the pictures of bent needles, I don’t change mine every time I inject when I am out. It seems too much of a faff to carry spares with me and I would then need to carry a sharps container everywhere I go.
2. I don’t take a blood glucose reading before every meal. I feel ok, have reasonable awareness (hypo and hyper) and when I am engaged in an interesting conversation, with customers, when I’m hungry, … getting out my meter, inserting a test strip, pricking my finger, waiting 5 seconds for a reading, deciding what to do about the reading, stopping the blood from my finger, putting everything away again, feels too much effort.
3. I very rarely weigh the amount of food I am going to eat to calculate the carb contents. I have a good idea how much insulin is needed for meals that I eat regularly. However, as I don’t weigh the ingredients and often substitute one ingredient for what I have in the cupboard, the portion sizes and carbs vary. But life seems too short to live it with a set of scales hanging off my arm all the time.
4. I don’t always take a reading before exercise and, unless I am going to eat or go to bed soon after, I don’t often take a reading after either. See comments above about taking readings before meals.
5. I have never run out of diabetes supplies, but I am always using my “spares” rather than ordering ahead. I have this theory that it would be great to have at least one tub of test strips, one box of needles, two vials of bolus and basal insulin in the cupboard, in case of emergencies when I can’t get to the chemist or they have run out. In reality, I realise too late when I need I start my last vial of insulin, tub of test strips or last ten lancets. Therefore, I run more of a “Just In Time” diabetes supply refresh.
6. I used to take two of everything every time I go away even for a weekend. Now, I take whatever I have in my bag. One Christmas, this was not enough to get me through the holiday and I had to drive home from my parents (200 miles round trip) early on Boxing Day morning before everyone else got up to replenish my holiday insulin.
7. When I was younger (before I had diabetes), there was nothing I HAD to carry with me. Money is useful but not necessary when playing in the park with friends; my parents would prefer me to take my keys but there would always be someone at home if I forgot. Over the years, I have become more independent and remember my purse and keys, but it is still not force of habit to take my dextrose tablets with me every time I leave home. Keys and a ten pound note fit in the pocket of my jeans but dextrose, meter, insulin pens, etc, require me to find a bag that does not clash with my jacket and throw everything in before I go out.
8. My diabetes supplies live in the cupboard in the attic. The kitchen is two floors below. I have found myself transferring a needle from my bolus pen to my basal pen because I couldn’t be bothered to climb two flights of stairs to get a new one.
9. The usual method I use to clean my finger before pricking it is to stick it in my mouth to get it wet then dry it off on my jeans. Using wet wipes requires me to remember to carry (and replenish) more stuff and finding a sink to wash my hand properly is … only a necessity before handling food. To wash before exercise or driving or when waking up with a suspected hypo in the middle of the night is too much effort.
10. I have little piles of used test strips, needles and lancets around the house because I can’t always be bothered to get up to go to the bin or find the sharps container.

I hope I am not alone with my diabetes laziness. At least I am always willing to make the effort to take my insulin. The question, now, is not which of these issues am I going to address first. It’s can I be bothered to decide? Managing diabetes without perfection gives us more to deal with than people without diabetes, so perhaps I should give myself a little bit of slack.

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