Thursday, November 15, 2012

Backing Up the Backups

As I mentioned yesterday, I was away at a conference for a few days. It was two hours from home and in the middle of civilization. In other words I was not hours from a hospital or drug store and I was not in a foreign country.

So I did the bare minimum of packing when it came to diabetes. I didn't bring three insulin pump changes. I didn't bring enough carbs to save my life 50 times. I didn't bring three containers of test strips...just in case.

I brought one set of pump change supplies.

I brought one vial of insulin.

I brought one pack of 25 test strips and a ziplock bag of carbs.

Tuesday night I went to bed with 11 units of insulin left in my pump. When I woke up at 6am for my pre-conference 6k run I had half an hour of insulin left. I figured there was no point in wearing my pump for the run since I would run out part-way through anyway so I unhooked and ran naked. For the record, running naked is extremely liberating!

I returned to the room to a completely empty pump. No surprise since I knew I was low but I just want to reinforce the fact that my pump was completely empty. Not a drop left.

I pulled out my insulin pump supplies and my vial of insulin to prepare for a set change. That's when the little voice in my head started chirping.

"You only have one vial of insulin. If anything happens, you have nothing left." "You only have one set change, if you kink your cannula you don't have a backup."

Gulp. It was seven am. Even if I could find an open pharmacy at that hour there was no guarantee they would have the supplies I needed on hand and no guarantee they would even give them to me without a prescription.

That little vial of insulin suddenly became very very precious.

I carefully opened the packaging on the reservoir and I carefully began drawing the insulin into the reservoir. I was so careful that I actually became more clumsy than usual and ended up dropping the glass vial of insulin and the attached reservoir into the sink.

Nothing broke, thankfully, and I yelled at myself in my head.

"Céline relax! Stop being ridiculous".

I have never dropped an insulin vial. I have never kinked my cannula. I have never screwed up a pump change - not in 3 1/2 years.

"Yes but you have changed your pump and then prompted walked by a door and yanked the fresh new cannula out by hooking it on a doorknob...."

Shut up!

With shaky hands and a sense of doom, I managed to change my site with no more near misses.

I did spend the entire day checking that my tubing was tucked in and at no risk of catching on doorknobs or other innocuous conference items.

The conference ended and I survived the trip home. I made it back on time for dinner with no mishaps.

I learned a lot at the conference. Including the fact that, even in the midst of the Canadian urban jungle, it's a good idea to bring a back up for your back up.

Because you really just never know.


  1. What a dramatic site change!
    hee hee.
    Take it from me - a clumsy ill-prepared girl. You can buy everything over the counter. Insulin, test strips, even pump supplies. Not all pharmacies carry them but one time I was in Ottawa when I totally effed up. Bought reservoirs from a specific Shoppers.

    Just so you know. At least you can ALWAYS buy insulin and syringes over the counter. ;)

    Just don't do what I do and use that as your excuse to not bring back-ups. That would be stupid. (I may or may not be guilty of that)

  2. I always bring one extra of everything. If I know I'll need one site change or a sensor change, I bring two. If I think I need two vials of test strips, I bring three.

    I have had problems in the past with bad infusion sets, so I just feel better knowing that I have a backup to cover my ass. For short trips it hardly adds any bulk, but it can take up a whole lot of extra space in my luggage for longer vacations.

    Glad it all worked out for you, though. For the record, I know someone who dropped a vial of Humalog on a tile floor on her first day of a multi-week trip to Sicily. Eeek!