Imagine you're heading out for the day. Now, ordinarily, one would've packed the usual suspects — the hairbrush, face wipes, loose change and credit cards. However, if you are a diabetic, getting ready for a day on-the-move needs a little bit more. You'll need to learn how to control diabetes. For starters, they won't all be things you can pack up in a bag and run-off to take on the day. If you've just been diagnosed, you'll need to understand how to control diabetes hour-by-hour. Your sugar levels, if not well managed, can dictate pretty much everything thing from the mood of your day to productivity and energy levels. So, in order to take back control - much like our spirited AD Shivani - you need to be able to dictate your diabetes. We're going to help you figure out how. It might seem like a little bit of work to begin with but as is the case with any new habit, you'll switch to auto-pilot before you know it. Most of it is pretty basic. What plays a key role is your self-awareness and understanding of how your body reacts to the rise and fall of blood sugar levels according to your physical activities, food, medications and the stress at work or home, each day. Once you've got this sorted .....all you need is getting your diabetes bag all set to for a fully equipped arsenal to keep diabetes from taking over your day.
A diabetes bag is a handy kit that contains all that you need to keep your blood sugar levels in check when you are away from home. This must include the tools and medicines that should be at hand at all times of the day, devices to test the sugar levels, as well as glucose tablets to help you get back on your feet when your sugar levels drop and you feel unsteady.
The contents of a diabetes bag, namely MSP - an acronym for ease; feel free to create your own version - (medical supplies, sugar and paperwork), can sustain you through endless meetings, traffic jams, a surprise party with friends and even, a sudden change of plan! Here's trying to decode it piece by piece:
M for Medical Supplies
The Journal of Indian Academy of Clinical Medicine recommends that you keep, on you, 25 to 50 grams of glucose while traveling, even if you're just traveling from home to your workplace. So be sure to pack extra supplies in your daily kit. It may feel like an overkill, but such a comprehensive diabetes bag ensures that your diabetes management isn't thrown off by life's little surprises.
Do you use oral metformin tablets or do you prefer insulin? If it is the latter, do you inject your insulin dose or pump it in? Pack a double supply of insulin pens and vials, syringes, lancets and batteries along with your glucose meter or testing strips. Many people with diabetes seem to prefer the latter during emergencies. Diabetes India suggests that you can store your insulin at room temperature as long as you keep it out of direct sunlight or heat. So to avoid exposing insulin, glucose meters and testing strips to heat and humidity. There are insulated bags available that can help keep your supplies at the right temperature.
S for (Blood) Sugar Helpers
Physical activity (or the lack thereof) directly affects your blood glucose levels causing sudden drops or spikes, so it's important to have snacks on hand to help self-correct your numbers. Store a small bottle of water and stock up on diabetes-friendly foods—protein bars, glucose tablets and dry fruit mixes are smart choices—in your diabetes kit. Remember, high blood sugar levels lead to dehydration, so, medical practitioners recommend you to drink 236 mL of caffeine-free fluids, like plain water, every hour. Here's where your keen sense of self-awareness plays a key role too. Pre-empting a drop or spike, and acting on it can make all the difference to your day; and who can listen to your body better than you?
P for Paperwork
While self-awareness is key, it is best to be equipped for emergencies. It is important to keep some paperwork on hand for reference on your condition and case history. So, do include a copy of your endocrinologist's prescription along with a list of emergency contacts in your diabetes bag. It's also a good idea to keep contact numbers of local hospitals and pharmacies on your person and a copy of this information in your bag, too.
Lastly, it's important to let your friends, colleagues and family members know that you are diabetic. Carry some identification to indicate this. Educate your family on how to control diabetes—hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia, and always keep them informed just in case there is an emergency and they need to speak for you.
This is one of surest ways to help you understand how you can control diabetes and move full steam ahead without anything holding you back.
Another key aspect of this handy Diabetes Bag is customisation - Start with MSP and then make it your own. No two people experience spikes or dips in the same way. Feel free to expand the MSP to include your additions to this little lifeline. Finally, sharing ideas, in this case, will only make things better. Inform your peers of this Diabetes Bag, discuss their customisations or bounce some ideas with them; you might just chance upon some smart hacks. Together, build a smarter version to help you take control of your diabetes and do more, do better, each day.
Being a diabetic should not kill the fun. A little knowledge on how to control diabetes and preparedness are all that's required to stay healthy and safe. Here's a checklist to get you started:
Snacks for Sugar-Level Management
- Whole grain or peanut butter crackers, popcorns, fresh or dry fruits
- Glucose tablets
- Water bottle
- Extra vials of insulin, insulin pens, oral tablets
- Extra syringes
- Alcohol swabs for disinfecting post glucose tests
- Glucose monitoring meter or testing strips
- Batteries, lancets, pumping accessories
- First aid kit to immediately attend any wound, especially on the feet