Preparing my Type 1 Diabetes for a Hurricane…

On my layover in London last night, I was thinking about how lucky I am. We had a hurricane come perilously close to my home. The eye sat some 30+ miles of the coast, which means 31 miles from my house. I was thinking about all the preparations I go through to prepare the house and , while it probably sounds strange to you, to prepare my diabetes. While preparing the house, shutters go up or down (depending on the type), outdoor furniture gets brought in, and things get tied down or removed entirely (all my bird feeders) . Then there’s the shopping (we try to start in May and buy a little at a time)….batteries, canned goods, shelf stable items, and junk food (to ease the fear during the height of the storm). And water, lots of it. We need water for drinking, for pets, for flushing, for cleaning etc. The list goes on and on . It’s all in preparation to exist after the storm…in case there is no power, in case there is no running water. We buy propane to run the grill to cook, I also have a one burner butane stove.

But, to prepare my diabetes, I had to invent my own system and hope that it works. If you’re new here, I have type 1 diabetes and my pancreas makes no insulin, which is an essential hormone to live. So, I take insulin. That insulin is somewhat fragile and must be refrigerated…..which requires power. So my system consists of 5 coolers. The day prior to the storm, I fill all five coolers with ice. 4 of them get duct taped shut to (hopefully) preserve the ice as long as possible (at times I’ve even wrapped the coolers in blankets to further insulate them). The first cooler to get used has the insulin (after the power goes out) and then we progress to the other coolers as needed. I also try to keep all my insulin pump supplies and continuous glucose monitor supplies in a cool place to preserve the adhesives. All these items would be replaced if damaged, but take time to be delivered. And, it’s usually blisteringly hot right after a hurricane and one tends to “sweat off” devices more easily than normal.

I’ve found that my blood sugar tends to run high post storm, so I don’t eat as much (and who wants to eat when it’s so hot). But, I do need to drink extra water.

I’ve found that these days something else one needs for diabetes preparation is extra charging blocks (fully charged, of course). Because, in my case, the pdm for my pump is rechargeable, as is the receiver for my cgms and my glucometer. This storm, I had 3 charging blocks, but I think I will buy a few more (now that so many devices are rechargeable).

I like to keep everything together in a plastic tub, so that individual items don’t have to be hunted down. I thought of something else that might be useful to put in the tub and that is an index card with all the medical supply numbers to call after the storm. This year the companies all seemed to send out emails with storm phone numbers.

I’m sure everyone has their own method for preparing and storing items for a hurricane, but for someone just diagnosed or new to a hurricane prone area, I hope my list helps.

I was lucky this time, the eye passed off shore and we received no damage. The power didn’t even go out. But, the people of the Bahamas were not so lucky. I’m sure, by now, you have seen coverage of the devastation. And, I ask if you are able to help them please do. If you don’t have a donation point where you are, just ask in the comments and I will send you a link to online donations. I can’t imagine going through that devastation and having to find insulin. You see, the maximum amount of time that I can be without is is about one hour. At that point , my blood sugar will rise in an upward spiral . The situation becomes dire in 1-3 days. So you can imagine how necessary it is to get help to those with Type 1 diabetes in the storm’s path as quickly as possible.

For those of you living in hurricane prone areas, I’d love to hear how you weather the storm. What are your tips for living with Type1 diabetes after the storm? And what do you do differently to prepare?

#Type1diabetes #Type1 #T1D #HurricaneDorian

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