What is a “diabetes station” you ask? Well, first off let me explain that sometimes many of us with diabetes seem to need a “reboot” of sorts, don’t we? I mean, we’re testing and pumping or injecting, counting carbs, exercising, and then oops…a few days go by that we don’t do some of these things as regularly and maybe this turns into a new habit where suddenly you realize it’s been a week since you properly counted carbs. That week can turn into months in some instances-I know all about it.
Anyway, in the past I’ve used a “diabetes station” to get my brain back on diabetes. You’d think my brain wouldn’t leave this high and low blood sugar planet and yet sometimes I genuinely forget that I can’t eat something without paying attention to the insulin I need for it. Someone might be tempted to ask, “how on earth can you forget insulin if it’s what keeps you alive?” In my mind it makes perfect sense. One can forget to brush teeth, fasten a seatbelt, and unplug a curling iron. Giving insulin and other diabetes related tasks are as routine to a diabetic as those things are-only what we have to do with needles and such is much more unpleasant.
So what is a diabetes station? It’s where you place all your diabetes items in a central and easy to spot location in your home or workplace. The first time I tried this was when my kids were 4 months old and I was still pumping milk for them every three hours. I was consumed by milk making to be honest with you. I wasn’t sleeping much and the last thing on my mind was my diabetes. So on the dinner table I placed my meter, insulin, and all the supplies that go with that-including extras. I also had glucose tablets, a bottle of water, a bottle or box of juice, a carb filled snack, a low carb snack, and a notepad and pen for taking notes. It was hard to pass the table without noticing the mini mountain of supplies and think, “oh yes, diabetes” and this kept me walking over there and habitually testing, and if needed, treating my diabetes. The dinner table was convenient because sometimes I’d start eating, look up at my meter and say, “oh yeah, I forgot to test”. Like I said, my brain was not on diabetes, it was on my newborn twins, my bed and pillow, and my swollen appetite due to being a dairy farm to two.
So let’s go over the details of this station along with the reason for each item:
Diabetes Station Supplies (can be conveniently placed on a rotating serving plate)
–meter, test strips, lancet device, extra lancets and strips
Make it visible. How can you look over at your meter and not think “Hmm how’s my blood sugar doing?”
–Back up pump supplies in case an infusion set needs to be changed including extra batteries
When I was on a pump I’d sometimes neglect the battery low and low insulin warnings from the pump because I procrastinated in dealing with it. Having this stuff laid out might make it easier for someone to think, “Well, it’s right here, I might as well change the battery now before the pump turns off.”
–If you use shots-insulin vial and syringes.
Make sure to have extra syringes.
–Paper and pen
I don’t use a pump so during times of stress or distraction, I will write down the time I give insulin and how much on a notepad. It takes one second and later on during the day it’s often very helpful to know how much on board insulin or active insulin I have in my system, and for how much longer. I also note anything helpful that I think of. I don’t do this on a regular basis, just when I find myself slipping in my diabetes routine and set up the “station”.
–Water, juice, glucose tablets, and snacks
High blood sugar can quickly escalate into a bigger problem when we’re dehydrated so I try to have water around me all the time. I might have juice available for emergency lows. I usually have glucose tablets because they’re the ideal treatment for lows. I sometimes have a high carb snack option that is relatively healthy in case of the munchies and a low carb snack option in case my blood sugar is up and I happen to be really hungry.
Someone could set up some version of this anywhere they spend a lot of time, say at an office or at home. I think yes, it can be impractical but when you think of how important your health is and if you’re going through a stressful time and find diabetes on the back burner, something like this can support your goal of bringing it back to the forefront. In this case I find it very worthwhile to do for a few weeks until I’m back in the “groove” so to speak. It’s probably confusing to a non-diabetic who might wonder why we might go to such lengths to remember our diabetes and get into a habit of testing and giving insulin. It’s confusing to me if I think about it while mentally stepping out of my diabetic body. But, I’ve been there and done that and I know that sometimes we need help doing even the most quick and easy tasks because sometimes diabetes tires us out to that extent. So if this happens to you, focus on finding ways to keep managing your diabetes, even if you have to get your screensaver to say “Don’t forget to test!”
Just thought I’d share since this helps me out. :)
If you have any suggestions to add, I welcome your comments!