Diabetes Springtime Tool Tips: Cleaning, Sorting, Renewing

If your diabetes tools, supplies and habits are in chaos, there is a perfectly good reason: “We adore chaos because we love to produce order,” wrote M.C. Escher.

Now, spring has arrived to remind us of new beginnings, renewal and taxes.

Since your taxes should be done, this is the perfect time either to let bloom your love for producing order – or make yourself produce order to avoid unwanted consequences – and spring clean your diabetes “house.”

Meters and Pumps

Not only do you want your diabetes management tools to be in top-working order, you need to have backup supplies if a tool malfunctions or accidentally falls into the toilet bowl.

  • If you do not clean your blood glucose meter regularly, do it now, and see that you have at least one fresh replacement battery. Make sure your test strips are current, calibrated, and stored at room temperature. Many meter cases can be tossed in the wash, then hung up to dry.
  • Check the insulin pump replacement parts you have stored to confirm that they are in good supply, sealed and sterile. Be sure to change your pump parts regularly. Remember to inspect your infusion site, and rotate it often.
  • Have a backup glucose meter or a supply of urine test strips on hand. Make sure the strips not outdated or that the meter still works. If you have a glucagon pen know where it is and check the expiration date. Consider keeping a fresh supply of long-lasting insulin on hand for emergencies.

Meds and Supplies

Check the dates on your medication vials, bottles or pens, and toss any that have expired. Make sure your meds are being stored at the correct temperature.

Look over your supplies and order any that are running low. If you store your extra supplies in one place with the expiration dates facing out, it will always be easy to see what should be used next, and what is in low supply. If you have several vials of insulin in the refrigerator, line them up in order of expiration as well.

One reason diabetes necessities can turn into a jumbled stash is the various torn open boxes of partially used supplies that accumulate. By purchasing a few bins, or using the bottoms of sturdy shoe boxes, you can open each supply item when you get it, store the contents in its labeled bin, and toss the packaging.

If you have supplies that are old, unused, and unopened, or working equipment that is not being used, consider donating them:

  • Google “donate diabetes supplies” to find organizations that might be thrilled to receive your gift (e.g., children’s diabetes camps, educational organizations).
  • While spring cleaning, remember that much packaging, infusion set cartons, and protective plastic needle caps can be tossed in your recycling bins.
  • To find out where to recycle any electronic waste (e.g., old glucose meters) go to earth911.com.

Review and Renew Your Management Plan

Review your diabetes management plan and assess whether it is still working well for you:

  • Make an appointment with your doctor or nutritionist if you believe your plan needs adjustment.
  • If you have not visited the dentist or eye doctor for more than a year, or have been skipping Endo visits, its time to make some appointments. Seeing these specialists is important for preventing or diagnosing diabetes complications.
  • Notice also where your glucose management discipline is flagging, and make a plan to improve that area. For instance, if you have stopped walking regularly, come up with a way to get back in the exercise groove such as walking with a friend.
  • Consider using a diet and fitness tracker – such as fitbit.com – that provides the motivation of accountability for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Sources: Diabetes Connect; Serving Up Diabetes

Photo by John Nyboer

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