Friday, May 16, 2014

D-Blog Week Day 5: Diabetes Life-Hacks

On the fifth day of D-Blog Week, Ms. Karen gave to me...

Five hacks of D!
Four portion shortcuts
Three clothing mods
Two carb counting tricks
With the warning that YDMV!

Share the (non-medical) tips and tricks that help you in the day-to-day management of diabetes.  Tell us everything from clothing modifications, serving size/carb counting tricks to the tried and true Dexcom-in-a-glass trick or the “secret” to turning on a Medtronic pump’s backlight when not on the home-screen (scroll to the bottom of this post). Please remember to give non-medical advice only! (Thank you Rachel of Probably Rachel and Kelley of Below Seven for this topic suggestion.)

On the “Diabetes Lifehacks” front, it occurs to me that either I have very few official lifehacks, or few that will apply to more people than me. Diabetes is such an individualized illness, which is ironic when you realize that the world even tries to lump the two types together (not even dealing with variants like LADA and MODY), let alone recognizes that YDMV (your diabetes may vary). So, most of the things that I do are either general (decreasing basal 50% an hour before a workout), or specific (I crash overnight most of the time, so if I’m under 8 or 9 I don’t correct, and if I’m anywhere between 4-7, I can essentially “eat for free” right before bed. (This is the opposite of a weight loss hack, unfortunately)

A few things that might be helpful:

  1.  Empty pill bottles or glucose tab tubes are great as improvised sharps containers on trips. They even fit infusion sets! This comes to mind, as I’m actually travelling across the country as you read this. My choir (The Amadeus Choir) is on tour in the Halifax area, and is the keynote choir for Podium, the national choir conference. I have never been to the Maritimes, so I look forward to scattering my sharps across the country!
  2. If you find the plunger on your pump cartridge is annoying to use or you don’t want to carry one, and you use insulin cartridges, you can use the cap of the needle to push down on the base of the insulin cartridge. I find that it gives a more controlled flow into the cartridge, and I’m far less likely to suddenly over-pull and leak insulin everywhere as the bottom comes out of the pump cartridge.
  3. Reuse and refill the small glucose tab tubes from the big bottles; it's cost-effective. Watch out for putting a different brand in without testing sizes first, and don't force it. I had tabs get permanently stuck, which is not good when you're desperate.
  4. For me, the thigh thing never works for pump clipping. underwear is the way to go when you're wearing a dress. Never wear a dress the day you fly, if you want to get out of security in a timely fashion with your dignity intact. (I flew on Thursday so it's on my mind).

Less, or possibly more, seriously, here are some other hacks that have helped me live my life:
  1. If you're contemplating quitting entirely, don't. (But you can ease up for a bit, as long as you maintain a baseline to come back to.)
  2. If you're frustrated, take a breath and count ten carbs.
  3. If you're about to tell someone off, consider telling them "on" instead, with positive information.
Least interesting/adequate life hacks ever? Perhaps. I’m not sure if I’ve discovered any magic. But there are probably things that I do as a matter of course that other people would consider “hacks” and vice versa. I just haven’t thought of what they are yet.


  1. I reuse glucose tab tubes all the time, but I have a hard time keeping the caps on them after a while. Boo on that. In terms of dresses, if I'm wearing thigh high tights I put it in the thigh band. I've even harvested a thigh band for use without the tights. These are useful tips!

  2. I have to be honest, I've thought about clipping my pump to my underwear when wearing a dress, but I'm always afraid the weight of the pump will pull my underwear down. That would be kind of awkward, wouldn't it? LOL But if that's what you do I'm gonna give it a try. (Maybe just around the house at first just to be sure though, huh?)

  3. Ok so I'm INCREDIBLY behind in my reading lol and I've been neglectful in my blogging but I LOVE this post!!! We always refill the small dex tab tubes. They fit perfectly in my girl's d-bag! Using the needle cap to push on the penfill to fill her cartridge is one I'm going to have to try. And as for the pump attached to the underwear trick.....she does that all the time when she's wearing a dress. Works like a charm!!!