The other day my husband was poking around on the interwebs and came across a forum where someone was discussing “Prepping” with Type 1. This prompted him to ask me if I had ever thought about it, which lead me to say I’d be screwed and he has permission to eat me should he ever need to. We used to live in a hurricane prone area, so one would think that I’d be prepared but the great thing about hurricanes is…you usually know they are coming. Of course, since the husband kinda digs me, he decided to come up with a plan should the crap hit the fan due to a fire, blizzard, alien invasion. So, without further ado, here it is…
A Guest Post by Laura’s Husband
The funny title and all joking aside, I wanted to try to make an informative guest post about “prepping” – an often sensationalized topic in this day and age. I wouldn’t say that Laura and I are “preppers” in the sense of the pop culture stigma. However, I was a Boy Scout when I was a kid and as the motto goes – I like to “Be Prepared”.
In case you’ve seen it, please know that I don’t like the TV show “Doomsday Preppers”. I think they highlight more of the eccentric personalities of prepping more than providing any useful real world education. I am however a big fan of TV shows like “Lost, “Revolution” and movies like “Castaway”. So I ask – What have you done to help prepare yourself or your loved ones for any real life emergencies related to the treatment of diabetes? How about a situation like one that may come up on TV or in the movies? Those are obviously the extreme and if you think about everything up to that extreme – you’ll be prepared for anything in between.
Preppers often organize their preparedness into a number of different “bags”. I thought it would be good to create a quick primer on these different types of bags and some of the situations where you might like to have them with you.
Most T1 diabetics are already great at keeping their “Day Bag” stocked out of necessity. Obviously you’d keep your daily insulin, meter & test strips, syringes, alcohol swabs, pens, tips, and glucose tablets here. Laura likes to keep some small snack foods in her purse, such as a granola bar or a rice crispy treat. Maybe some small candies like Smarties. Not ideal ways to treat lows, but there if you need them.
Get Home Bag
I like to think of this bag as the bag that gets you through the 12 hours you get trapped in your car on the interstate during an ice storm. This isn’t something that happens often where we live, but when it does happen every few years it is crippling. This is a bag that is kept in the trunk of your car.
Related to the D, this bag might have a reservoir, an infusion set, more syringes, lancets, more pens and tips, some extra pump batteries, maybe a spare meter and test strips. If you’re not carrying your Glucagon in your Day Bag, one would be here and you would tell everyone that its there. This would also be a good place to have more snacks and maybe a few bottles of Coca-Cola and obviously bottled water. This is an area where some extra care is needed, especially in the dog days of summer where a soda might explode due to the intense heat. I don’t care what Mythbusters said, it is totally possible.
Since folks may not be used to having a bag like this in their car, this bag might also have some things like comfortable shoes, extra layers of clothes, gloves, hat, sunscreen, headlamp / flashlight, knife / multitool, dust mask / handkerchiefs, matches / lighter, extra money (around $100 recommended), etc, etc, etc. Laura currently works about 9 miles from our house. This bag should have the supplies needed to literally walk those 9 miles home if needed.
Bug Out Bag
The one that gets made fun of the most… but be honest – if your house caught fire, do you have a bag ready to go at a moments notice that will help you survive the next 48 to 72 hours related to T1D?
One of the best things you can have in this bag is a copy of all your prescriptions and a thumb USB drive with your health insurance and medical information. Next is some cash and a credit card to begin replacing anything you might need, refilling those prescriptions, etc. In this bag are also more infusion sets, extra sensors for your CGM, an extra charger for your CGM if you have one, more batteries, more Glucose tablets, more syringes and most importantly – Insulin. Unfortunately insulin is the biggest challenge with prepping for someone with T1D. It’s recommended to stay cold, has an expiration date, and once opened needs to be used in a month or so. This bag should have a small cooler or something like an insulated lunch box for your insulin.
The exit plan from your house is completely dependent on the situation at hand, but if time allows there are 3 stops that are made and all can be done in less than a few seconds.
1) Grab the B.O.B. (obviously the bag, not the fun times B.O.B., but hey, I’m not one to judge your priorities)
2) Grab insulin from the fridge and ice packs from freezer.
3) Grab important papers from the safe such as passports / birth certificates.
In a fire, I might be able to make those 3 stops… maybe not. Obviously, get yourself and loved ones out if the situation is dire. But if I didn’t have that bag prepared, there would be many more than 3 stops and probably no chance at making them.
Long Term / Permanency
It’s obviously not likely that something like “Revolution” will ever really develop… but if it did, there would be some significant challenges related to T1D. Test strips run out, there is no way to keep insulin cool, it also runs out, etc. Unfortunately, we don’t have the means to buy a ~1 year supply of T1D treatment supplies to keep a stockpile… but it might make sense to try to stockpile expired insulin or those old test strips and meters from the brands you didn’t like or the insurance company stopped covering. If you find an expired vial, don’t throw it away… clearly mark it and save it. It may not be as potent as fresh stuff, but if you’re at the end of the rope and your life depended on it – wouldn’t it be better to try than nothing?
For many reasons, I used to think about getting Laura a diabetes alert dog. Though now that she has a CGM, I don’t really think about it. Again – it’s extreme from a prepping perspective, but without test strips an alert dog might be a way to help monitor blood sugar. Unfortunately, you then run into the challenge of needing to prep for your dog! This won’t be something we really explore as we don’t have the funds to properly train a service animal and with the price and availability of CGM it simply doesn’t make much sense financially.
We’ll save the discussion of burying a cache of insulin somewhere out in the woods for next time. Just kidding about that last part, but as you can see – being prepared never ends. You don’t need to be a Doomsday Prepper, but any step you can take to make sure you can take care of yourself in an emergency is a positive step to being prepared!
If anyone has suggestions on better T1D preps, please leave a comment below. Insulin is by far the area where more thought and consideration is needed.
Until next time…