Recently we had a bit of a moment at work. It’s happened before, and this is why if I were given a locker I would never use it, and why I always keep my things in my desk drawer (and if I had a key to the drawer, I would never lock it).
The morning is going fine, I’m about to start on another little project, and then…
The fire alarm goes off.
We’ve had a few false alarms in recent memory, but this girl is taking no chances. I know there is a common advice to Get Yourself Out, Your Things Can Be Replaced You Cannot and generally speaking I would say that’s very sound advice, but I have a Jack Sparrow moment each time this has happened.
“Not without my effects!”
Because here’s what I have to grab, and then I’ll tell you why.
Pocket things: Insulin pump controller, phone (with my Dexcom CGM app).
Purse: Money, ID, glucose tablets, snack bars, and fruit strips. Backup pump and extra insulin. All the swabby cloths I need to change pumps in a sanitary fashion. Test strips and lancing device. Ketone strips. Keys.
The rest: Bottle of water if I have one. Hat, jacket, scarf, coat, whatever extra clothes I brought. Lunch if I was about to eat.
The why: (Deep breath.) Because I have to be prepared. For everything. Because even the seemingly small things can turn a discomfort into an emergency.
It could be cold or windy that day. I need the jacket or coat. I am not eager to be exposed to the elements outside, across the street where everyone is supposed to wait for who ever knows how long.
Hydration is super important. Now, to be honest, I don’t focus on it a whole lot most days, but in case of an emergency, I need to make sure I have that water and sip on it. Dehydration and stress can very easily bring my blood glucose up and in a hurry. Trying to stay hydrated while waiting for the all-clear, and giving myself something pleasant to put at least a little attention on, can help.
My purse carries emergency supplies along with regularly needed equipment on a daily basis. Stress can also make my blood glucose go down, it just depends. And if that’s the case or if I need food (or if I’ve dosed insulin because I was expecting to have lunch or a snack, for instance), I have to have those foods or glucose tablets or juice or fruit strips or something (carbs)(and protein is good too) on hand. Which means, I need what’s in my purse, either the edibles or at the very least money with which to purchase something from one of the nearby food places in a hurry.
Also, if I have a pod failure, if it accidentally gets ripped off, or I’ve nearly used all the insulin in it and run out while we’re waiting, I have to have a new one and insulin to put in it right away. Since I use a pump instead of multiple daily injections (MDIs), I have to have constant insulin or my blood glucose can jump to the sky in no time.
Keys and ID of course in case for some reason we can’t go back to work, I need a way to get home.
And last but far from least, if I don’t have my pump controller and phone (or test strips and lancing device), I can’t make adjustments as needed, such as checking my blood sugar and dosing a little more insulin, or cutting back how much my constant (basal rate) insulin is given, or increasing it if I notice stress is sending my numbers up. Also without the pump controller I can’t deactivate my old pod and replace it with a new one if I have to.
It doesn’t take long. I keep everything nearby, so just a few seconds. And the last time the fire alarm sounded, I was on my feet gathering my things before anyone else was rolling back from their desk.
I don’t mess around with this. If it’s ever a real emergency, or even if it’s not but we have to wait, it can quickly become a real emergency for me. I have had low blood sugar while waiting for the signal that it was safe to return to work, and I had to wait extra time to go back in while the candy I had just eaten raised my numbers.
When I was in high school and college I felt bad for carrying the “mom” purse (one of my friends dubbed it the “Mary Poppins” purse. “Hermione bag” would work too.). I was the only one who kept so much on hand, but I was always prepared as best as I possibly could be, even though back then I had no emergency worries about blood sugar. But often I was the one who had snacks or other needed things for my friends when they had none. As it turns out, that practice of preparedness has helped me improve my technique and I can face most situations well.