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This article has been reproduced in an edited version by kind permission of its author, Riva Greenberg, on whose website, www.diabetesstories.com, it first appeared.
I've been doing a lot of flying lately, and it's given me time for reflection. While aloft a few days ago in JetBlue's comfy seat, as I took out my syringe and Humalog to dose for my snack, I realized how many things I no longer do that I was once taught to do.
I stopped using alcohol swabs before injecting in 1986, when I moved to Tokyo for six years. At my new Japanese clinic, the nurse, who apparently had never seen anyone with diabetes before, gave me a jug of alcohol and a suitcase-sized bag of fluffy cotton balls, the type that shred and stick to everything. As she handed me the bulky paper bag, we shared a look of dismay. That was the day I stopped using alcohol before an injection. (I later learned from an official diabetes source that it is not advisable to use alcohol swabs because they dry out your skin.)
I don't use cooling packs for my insulin. Maybe I'd need them if I were going into the Ecuadorian jungle, but my usual jaunts always seem to have a refrigerator at the end and moderate temperatures on the way. As for insulin overheating in the car: I don't have a car.
I don't have special compartmentalized bags for my supplies. My syringes get disbursed throughout everything I wear and carry. There are always a few in my pocket, my purse, and various zipper linings. When I'm travelling, my insulin goes into my fanny pack or purse. Right now, I'm trying out the new UltraMini meter from OneTouch. It straps right onto my fanny pack, and I can fit it in my purse. I just don't see the need to take a big carry-all.
I don't use new lancets each time I finger test or a new syringe each time I inject. Really, does anyone? I know that the points on these instruments become dull over time and can be tough on your skin. But I must have magic fingers - they heal immediately after being punctured. So I change lancets and syringes when I pay my monthly maintenance or when I notice my pain threshold lowering.
I don't check my feet or in between my toes every time I see them. When I step on crumbs in my house, fallen acorns around someone's pool, or that darn pen I couldn't find, it reminds me that my feet are more than capable of delicate feeling. (If you have neuropathy in your feet, ignore this advice!)
I don't necessarily advocate that you do what I do. We must all be responsible to our own bodies and needs. I am only making the point that much of what we were taught is outdated.
If you're new at the diabetes game, you're probably overwhelmed with all you think you have to do. I heard once that a group of diabetes educators stopped counting diabetes tasks when they reached 150! So I'm going to lend you my "To-Do" list. It is very small, and it has served me well.
At fifty years old, after 32 years of living with type 1 diabetes, Riva Greenberg consulted a diabetes educator for the first time. That experience led her to combine her growing knowledge of diabetes care with her writing and illustrating talents. Today she is educating and inspiring others to live well with diabetes through her articles, research, and motivational lectures across the country. Riva is a contributor to Close Concerns, a diabetes consulting services firm in San Francisco. She also serves on the editorial committee of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International in New York City and on the Advisory Board of Methodist Hospital's Diabetes Education and Research Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. To learn more about her work and read her blog, visit her web site at: www.diabetesstories.com.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.