If you’re anything like me, you probably feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of supplies required to take care of a child with type 1 diabetes. Do you spend a lot of time ordering them, tracking them, and paying for them? Join the club! Diabetes management takes a daily effort on the part of the parent. I always think about the effort I put into testing, counting carbs, administering insulin, etc., but recently I started thinking about the amount of time and energy I put into making sure we have plenty of supplies too.
I realize that this can vary depending on your care regimen and insurance plan. When we first started out, we were signed up with a great service that delivered a box of supplies containing almost everything we needed right to our door. It came like clockwork every month.
Now, things are not quite as easy. We like our insurance company and can get many of our supplies through mail order. The process is no longer automatic, though, and I confess that I’ve found myself down to my last box of test strips and needing to take a trip (usually with all four kids) down to the pharmacy for a refill. Oh yes, that has happened for sure!
Then there are the items that I NEED to have on hand but don’t really count as a pharmacy supply — like juice boxes and candy. Necessary, for sure, but not a prescription item, so no help from insurance. Also, little things like alcohol prep pads and bandages are definitely out-of-pocket items and not included in any of my deliverables.
Now that James has an insulin pump, we also order our supplies through the pump company directly. In the last year, he’s also started regularly using a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device, so that’s more supplies to keep track of.
Then there are the fun changes that our pharmacy suppliers will make. We went through quite a process a few years ago to find someone — anyone — that would let me buy (out-of-pocket no less) blood ketone test strips. We went through several major chains before finally finding a place — a bit off the beaten path — that could help us out.
Just recently, we went on a major hunt for our preferred brand of tape that we use to help fortify the pump infusion site and CGM sensor. This particular brand is one of the few that doesn’t cause James’ skin to break out in a rash. Our old supplier stopped carrying it, but luckily I found a new place. I thought everything was perfect, until I realized that somewhere along the way, there must have been a miscommunication. I received a two-box shipment that included over 80 rolls of tape. EIGHTY. This necessitated a trip to the post office to return the mega surplus I received in error.
Can you tell that I am not awesome about keeping track of my supplies? Well, I’ve resolved to do better going forward. Here’s my plan:
First, I’m going to make a master list BY LOCATION OR SUPPLIER of everything that I need. I’m including juice boxes and bandages in addition to prescriptions and test strips. That way, I can get everything I need at once, either in the store or by phone.
Second, I’m going to write the refill dates for anything covered by my insurance into my main calendar. That way, I’ll be sure to fill them before we run out of anything. This sounds simple, but now that we’re dealing with multiple prescriptions and multiple locations, the refill dates keep coming and going until we find ourselves with empty boxes and vials.
Finally, I am going to assign one day a week to surveying our supply situation. My day will be Friday, because that is the day I check out James’ supplies at school. It only seems natural that I’d do the same at home.
I’m hopeful that these steps will keep us stocked up and maybe will help you do the same! I do think that being organized with supplies makes diabetes just that much easier to manage. Every little bit helps.
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. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.