No more ransacking the entire house looking for a glucose meter! Straight from the tenacious minds of fellow D-parents, here are some clever solutions to common type 1 diabetes gear dilemmas.
Can’t Find It? Tether it!
“This doesn’t take any effort once you get it set up, and it’s a solution that really works! For any item that gets misplaced consistently, find a way to tether it to a [fixed] spot. We’ve recently done this with some spare testing kits, so Kaitlyn never needs to wonder where to find one. We attached a long piece of elastic to several kits and attached them to her bed, to the kitchen drawer, and to her seat pocket in the car.”
—Kim M., Real Moms Talk Type 1
Hour of Power
“I realized that I needed some good time-management strategies for making sure that James’ meter, phone, CGM (continuous glucose monitor), and pump are all charged up and ready to go when he is. I came up with a good solution with a silly name: For us, the Hour of Power works best when James gets home from school. At this time, I take his diabetes devices and make sure they are totally charged. But in addition to plugging them in, I also take that time to make sure that everything is functioning properly in our diabetes regimen. I look over his CGM graphs, his meter record, and our schedule, and I see if we need to make any adjustments. I look through supplies and make sure we’ve got enough. I might make a call to our endocrinology team or to the school. Just like assigning a physical place for the chargers for his diabetes devices, I’ve assigned a specific time period to assure that I am constantly reviewing his numbers and thinking mindfully about what we can be doing better.”
—Jen M., Real Moms Talk Type 1
Glucometer on Wheels
“When our older son with diabetes was learning to drive, we knew that giving him the keys to freedom really meant doing everything we could to make his testing and treating of blood sugar before driving and when he’s on his own as easy and convenient as possible. To make this happen, we stashed supplies in the car, but we also came up with our own hack by attaching to our son’s keychain a few small canisters that contain a meter, testing strips, and glucose tabs. This way, whenever he takes the car keys, we know he’s also taking along his diabetes testing gear!”
—Bennet D., father of four children, two of whom have type 1 diabetes, and blogger at YDMV.net
Stay Plugged In
“Power cords for the CGM, pump, my cell phone, my son’s phone, our family tablet… Around our charging station, we’ve got cords galore. So to figure out what’s plugged in and what’s not, we use masking tape and different color markers to label the different cords. I’ve wrapped a piece of tape right near each plug and labeled in big, clear letters: PUMP, CGM, MOM’S PHONE, etc. Even when the cords are in a tangle, which they usually are, we can still easily see what’s charging.”
— Louanne M., Portland, Ore., mom of 18-year-old Zachary
Stick It to ’Em
“It was the last straw: Kaitlyn’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sensor fell off after just four days for the third time in a row! I decided that we had to find a solution, so I spent several weeks trying out every adhesive product I could find. The winner: liquid adhesive plus transparent film roll. The trick with the liquid adhesive, though, is that you apply it directly to the sticky side of the site adhesive before you place it on the skin. Peel back the sticker and paint a thin layer of glue on the sticker and wait a couple minutes for it to dry. Then, apply the site as normal. This keeps the black marks to a minimum and actually helps the adhesive stay strong for a long time. The final step is to cover the site with a piece of the film roll. This tape is super thin, flexible, and strong and stays on the skin for as long as is needed. You can put it over the whole site, which is especially nice to keep sand and water out on a beach day or at the pool. You can also cut it into strips and tape down the edges of the site for a nice clean and flat look. It’s amazing how well these two products have helped us!
—Kim M., Real Moms Talk Type 1
A Bag to Match the Shoes
“I’ve got a 12-year-old boy who’s had T1D for eight years. Gone are the days of using a bag for diabetes supplies that resembles anything ‘uncool.’ We have transitioned through the years from basically a diaper bag to a superhero backpack and now to just a simple drawstring sports bag. It looks like a bag everyone else his age is carrying their cleats or football in — only his contains all his gear: plastic bags with pen needles, insulin, a meter, snacks, and juice boxes. On hot days when we know he’ll be outside, we put a small cooler bag inside it to keep the insulin from overheating. It doesn’t have to scream medical bag! And he feels much better about carrying his gear around all the time.”
—Dena P., mom of Reid and blogger at ShotMama.com
Snap the ’Script
“Whenever we open a new vial of insulin, package of test strips, infusion set, and other T1D items, I always snap a photo of the packaging or bottle so I have an easy way to keep track of fill dates and expiration dates, serial numbers, and other any other information that I may need to reference later on. That way if the packaging gets tossed out or the label rips, it’s right at my fingertips on my phone.”
—Amy R., Lebanon, NH, mom of 14-year-old Abigail
“There is a great tip that gets passed around about keeping quarters in your child’s diabetes kit in case the battery compartment on the pump needs to be opened. [Many pumps contain a coin-sized slit to open and close the battery door.] The only problem was that my child, being industrious, kept telling me she had lost the quarter and that it needed replacing. This went on for about a month until one day we were at the store, and my daughter asked to buy a special treat. When I gave my consent, she paid for it…all in quarters. That’s when I got clever and slipped in a few Canadian quarters left over from a trip we had taken last year. They still fit the battery cover, but since they can’t be spent at the store, the urge to remove them from her kit and plop them in her piggy bank appears to be gone.”
—Molly H., Fort Myers, Fla., mom of 7-year-old Cara
A Clear Winner
“For the longest time, I tried to make this multi-compartment bag work for diabetes supplies, and it was just a complete nightmare to have to search for the meter, then search for the test strips, then try to find a snack. Now, whenever we go out, I pack my son’s gear and snacks in two plastic zipper bags. I then place these inside my tote or my son’s backpack depending on where we’re going. This way, I’m not rummaging for a stray juice box or container of strips…I just grab the bag and can instantly see it. Simple? Yes. But also needed! Also, when traveling, having a clear bag containing the diabetes gear has made getting through airport security a little easier. I add a copy of our physician’s note to the bag, unfolded so it can be read without the need to remove anything from the bag. So far, we’ve flown three times with our child since his diagnosis, and not once has security opened the bag or handled any of our items. It’s just a simple thing, but one that has greatly reduced my stress levels!”
—Maggie S., Houston, Texas, mom of 10-year-old Evan
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.