Diabetes Blog Week – Diabetes Life Hacks

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Today’s Diabetes Blog Week topic was actually partially submitted by me :).  I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while and when Karen was looking for topics for DBlog Week, I thought this would be a great topic for everyone to share because I feel like I can learn the most from others.

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!

In no particular order here are some tips/tricks I use and have accumulated over the 20 years of my life (some I’ve learned from the DOC):

Having an emergency supply bag is important!  (but also make sure to keep it updated so supplies don’t expire)

Supplies inside and outside the bag

Supplies inside and outside the bag

My Fitness Pal is AMAZING for carb counting (also for calorie counting and sodium counting).  They have even recently included a new feature on their app that has a bar code to scan food packages.

I’ve also started to weigh meals at home to get an “accurate” carb count.  For certain foods, I will even weight the food then put them in baggies to consume later.  Plus pre-packaged meals are my best friend for carb counting (but not necessarily the best for sodium intake).Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.34.27 PM

If you have a Medtronic pump, you can find out how much active insulin you have on board with one easy button push.  If you hit the up arrow, like you are going to do an “Easy Bolus”, it will show you the active insulin on the bottom left screen-just make sure to hit the down arrow so you don’t accidentally enter an easy bolus.Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.48.12 PM

Did you know the Medtronic sensors’ (not the Enlites) box has this cool opening?Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.38.32 PM

Did you know that you could re-start a Medtronic sensor to get more than 3 days out of it? (thanks DOC!)  After your first three days and the sensor ends, if you go to the Link to Sensor screen you can hit Link New Sensor and it will reactivate the old sensor you have been using.  I will caution you that after 5 or 6 days, it’s either extremely accurate or extremely inaccurate.  I’ve gotten to day 7 before but that doesn’t happen very often.Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.52.04 PM

I used to HATE putting the Medtronic CGM in because I would always bleed a ton and it would hurt.  My advice/tip for getting over this was to numb my tummy with an ice packIce pack helps to insert CGM sensor

Pre-bolusing really is amazing!  I’ve recently been pre-bolusing (especially at breakfast) and I still see some spikes but they aren’t as dramatic as they were before using a pre-bolus (YDMV-Your Diabetes May Vary) (While doctors always suggest this, it was the DOC that really got me to believe in it).

You can use expired sensors.  For a long while, the only sensors I was using were expired ones because I hated my CGM the first 6 months I had it so I wasn’ using it, resulting in a stock pile accumulating.  While my CGM was never the most accurate, I found that using expired sensors weren’t necessarily any more inaccurate (don’t quote me on this and YDMV-not medical advice).

At a cookout, one of the best things I do for myself is increase my temp-basal some.  I’ve found that cookouts are really tough for me because I’ll be grazing on food for several hours and I will completely under-estimate my carbs.  But please consult a doctor first!

I have used Tegaderm tape for most of my pumping years.  I have to put the tape on my CGM just right because otherwise, it won’t cover the entire CGM area and I’ll have to use two pieces of tape, which I’ve found sometimes allows water to seep in.  I put the little tabby part at the top-it makes it easier to remove so the tape doesn’t get messed up.  Also, I’m not sure if others do this, but I cut a whole in my tape to put over my infusion set.

Loyal Tegaderm user

Loyal Tegaderm user

Put this tabby part at the top

Put this tabby part at the top

Cut a whole with scissors in the center of the tape

Cut a whole with scissors in the center of the tape

When traveling, diabetics are allowed an extra carry-on bag.  I LOVE this because I am guilty of overpacking so I love being allowed an extra bag. (Also, when traveling (unless going outside of the country) you don’t need to take your entire diabetes supplies cabinet with you…it’s taken me a while to learn this :-P).

This was just for two people :-P

This was just for two people 😛

Finally, remember it is OK to change your endocrinologist if you aren’t happy.  You have to be your top advocate and I’ve learned over the past year what that really means.  I’ve had bad luck in the past with endocrinologists but I think I’ve finally found one I love :).  Oh and also remember that A1C is just a number.  I’m still working on this one :-P.

Honestly, in 20 years with diabetes, I’m sure I have a TON more life hacks or tips that I could share but they all seem second nature to me at this point that I can’t think of any more.  I’m excited to read other people’s life hacks/tips to recall some that I couldn’t think of on my own or to learn some new tricks.  You can find that list here.  But please remember my life hacks might not work for you.  I’m not a medical professional so please take these tips as something to think about, not something to do without consulting your physician (unless it’s using My Fitness Pal-you probably don’t need a doctor’s permission for that) ;-).


8 thoughts on “Diabetes Blog Week – Diabetes Life Hacks

  1. I knew you’d have a ton of great hacks to share. I saw the extra carry on tips on another blog today too, and I always always forget about that!! So thanks for the reminder – now when I go to FFL I won’t have to work so hard to shove so much in one carry on bag.

    • Yes! I’m the worst at overpacking so when I learned that (I think it was sometime last year, pretty sure I heard about it from someone in the DOC) I was so happy 🙂

  2. What??!!! Diabetics can have an extra carry-on bag?? How could I not know this? And, thanks for posting that it is ok to find a new endo — I think a lot of us need to hear that.

    • Yes! I felt so guilty when I made the change a few months ago but I’ve been so much happier since! You have to do what’s right for you and hopefully the old endo will understand (at least that’s what I hope!)

  3. My supplies in my emergency bag don’t expire but I keep stealing stuff out of it and don’t replace it. I really should go thru that bag and restock it!

  4. Helpful hints, totally. Especially the extra travel bag, for those who need or want it. I don’t really like carrying a lot onto the plane, and only take my laptop bag, but it is good to know that if I had a need for another I could get it on there.

    • Yes, I remember that!! I wouldn’t have thought of that as a tip otherwise so hopefully others will benefit as well! Glad you are using it 🙂

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