So you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes. Once you get a chance to regroup, you’ll realize there are a lot of things you don’t have that you’re going to need. Where to start? Here’s a quick guide to sorting the must-haves from the nice-to-haves if your finances allow.
Glucose meter. This is a small battery-operated device used to test your blood sugars. There are a variety of meters available. You can ask for a recommendation from your doctor. As you are shopping for the right one, the three main features you want to keep in mind are the convenience, quick response, and accuracy. Some meters come with software kits to transfer information from your meter to your computer or smartphone where you can create graphs and charts of your past test results. A feature like this may be especially helpful when you are first diagnosed so you and your healthcare provider can track your progress as you attempt to get your blood sugars under control.
Test strips. These are used along with your glucose meter when you are testing your blood sugars. Although you can buy these over the counter, they can be expensive. Your healthcare provider can write you a prescription for test strips so they can potentially be covered by insurance. Check with your insurance company to see if they only cover certain brands. Make sure the test strips you get are compatible with your glucose meter.
Lancets. These are the needles used to prick yourself for the tiny blood sample you test with your glucose monitor.
Alcohol swabs. When you are giving yourself finger pricks or other injections, you want to be sure your skin is clean first. Buy boxes of individual alcohol swabs to keep with your other diabetes supplies so you can clean your finger or other injection sites before giving yourself a poke.
Sharps container. You may already have something to keep your used needles and lancets in around your house. Use a sturdy, non-see-through plastic container such as an empty, rinsed out laundry detergent or bleach bottle. Once your container is three-quarters full, tape it shut and throw it away in the regular trash.
If prescribed, insulin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 30 percent of people with diabetes are prescribed insulin. All type 1s will require insulin and some type 2s. You and your healthcare provider will discuss the different types of insulin, which will be best for you, and how to properly dose.
If prescribed, medications. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to help control your blood sugar. You’re about to become a regular customer at the pharmacy, so find one you trust and make friends with your pharmacist. Stay on top of keeping your prescriptions filled and taking them as directed. Consider buying yourself a daily pill case that you refill at the beginning of every week so you can be sure you are taking all of your medications.
Glucose tabs. These are used to treat hypoglycemia or dangerously low blood glucose. You can find glucose tabs specially made for people with diabetes, or you can use a few pieces of candy, such as Gummy Bears, or half a cup of fruit juice.
Medical identification. It’s important that others know you have diabetes should you have a medical emergency. You can purchase a medical ID bracelet or necklace from pharmacies and a variety of other sources. If you don’t want to wear a piece of ID jewelry, you can also get a medical certificate to keep in your wallet, but this won’t be as immediately visible to someone trying to help you. Some even choose to get diabetes tattoos as both an encouragement to themselves to manage their condition and alert others of their condition in case of emergency.
Diabetes emergency kit. It’s time to update your emergency preparedness gear. The American Diabetes Association recommends keeping a three-day supply of diabetes needs in a waterproof, insulated container in a safe location. Tell family and friends where the kit is located in your home in case you are unable to get to it yourself.
Kitchen overhaul. Head to your pantry and put the processed and carb-heavy foods in a donation bin. It’s time to restock the kitchen with healthy and delicious foods that will help you keep your blood sugars in check. WebMD has prepared a list of foods that you may want to keep in your diabetes-friendly pantry and fridge.
Journal. Especially while you are learning how to keep your blood sugars under control, it can help to keep a log of what you are eating, which physical activities you are participating in, and what your blood sugar levels are. This will help you track how different activities and foods affect your blood sugar, and it can show your healthcare provider how your treatment plan is working. This can be done with a physical journal, a notes section in your phone, or by using a diabetes app on your smartphone.
Diabetes supplies travel case. You are going to want a single place to keep all of your diabetes supplies together so they are easy to find and easy to take with you when you head out the door. You may consider buying a pouch specifically designed for diabetes from a website like Myabetic, or you could simply use something like a pencil pouch that you can toss in your purse, briefcase, or car.
A second set of supplies. If your budget allows, buy a second meter, set of test strips, and lancets. Your second set can be kept in your car, in your desk at work, or in your purse so you never find yourself without your diabetes supplies.
Gym pass. Staying fit and losing excess weight will be a key part of your diabetes management. A gym pass can help encourage you to be physically active. If this isn’t in the budget, you can always try workout videos or other at-home exercise programs.
This list may seem like a lot to buy and manage, but it gets easier with a little experience as you figure out what your diabetes supplies preferences are.
Some Other Tips To Consider:
- Designate a drawer in your kitchen or bedroom, or a box in one of your cabinets or closets to keep all of your diabetes supplies in, so they are always in the same place and easy to find.
- To help you get used to testing your blood sugar and taking medications and insulin as prescribed, try setting reminder alarms on your phone until doing these things becomes a regular part of your routine.
- Gear up and get ready to do your best keeping your blood sugars and health in check.