Hoarders: Diabetes Edition

This past weekend, I decided to do a large-scale bathroom and bedroom purge. And it was scary.

Not just because I hadn’t cleaned out my Rubbermaid bathroom storage drawers in something like 9 years, and not just because I discovered that they held untold varieties of rancid lip gloss and crumbling pieces of Target jewelry. No, the scariest part of the project was this realization: when it comes to diabetes supplies and products, I am a full-on hoarder.

I’m no psychologist, but I’ve watched enough episodes of A&E’s Hoarders to recognize that I have a problem — and the thought patterns that contribute to the issue. The way some hoarders collect bottle caps and empty plastic bags, I’ve been stockpiling pump reservoirs with just a little teeny bit of insulin left inside each one. And I know that my reasons for saving these reservoirs are similar to the reason a real hoarder might save, say, a bottle of glue that’s almost completely empty. “I can use this someday!” I think to myself. And then I toss the reservoir into a drawer with my dental floss and safety pins and half-used containers of hand sanitizer.

You can’t really blame me, though. For the past 20 years, I’ve needed insulin at virtually every moment of my life just to survive. All it takes is the realization that I’m running low on the stuff to send me into a fit of anxiety. Insulin is expensive junk (there’s no generic option available), and there are countless diabetics around the world who suffer because they don’t have convenient access to it. These are the thoughts that spring to mind when it’s time put in a new reservoir, and I see 15 mL of Humalog left at the end of my old one. So, I save the reservoir — and the few drops of insulin inside it — just in case. Of something.


Ye Olde Insulin Pump

But that’s not all. I also took stock of the following diabetes treasures:

  • No fewer than 9 used syringes of varying ages and sizes, all of which I disposed of in my homemade sharps container
  • Several dozen stray individually wrapped alcohol swabs and Skin Prep wipes, all of which I kept
  • About 10 of those little snappy caps that insulin vials come with, in Humalog’s trademark maroon and the old-school orange colors
  • A bunch of used infusion set needles from my current pump
  • Needles from my 508 pump infusion sets
  • The 508 pump itself, and the little tiny brush that you’re supposed to use to clean the insulin gunk off of the pump’s screw
  • More fresh lancets than stars in the sky (See Holly’s post re: the rare event of lancet changing)

All these and more, and I haven't even bought lancets in at least a year.

It’s almost enough to open very own treatment museum. Thankfully, no flattened cats or raccoon carcasses were uncovered during the project.

The supplies I’ve got stocked away in the spare bedroom are a different story. Most of them I need and just haven’t used yet. But there are several boxes of reservoirs I never got around to using in my first Minimed pump, and now they’re obsolete. They’re probably expired, too, but they were very expensive. And now? I don’t know what to do with them.

Can I donate them somewhere? Have them incinerated? Tie them to a helium balloon and send them into the Florida sunset? Do I need a therapist and a professional organizer to stop by the house, so they can encourage me to explore my anxieties as I carry the boxes of overpriced plastic tubing out to the dumpster?

The Goods.

In any event, I’m proud to say that — at least for the time being — my supplies are in a state of semi-organization. I know what I have, what I need, and where it’s all located. Most of the used test strips are in test strip heaven, hanging out with their dried-out alcohol swab and adhesive backing friends.

That’s not to say that the bathroom cupboards are completely bare, however. There’s still plenty of girlie product left to clutter up the drawers and shelves — but all of that just helps to make me feel a little more normal.

13 comments on “Hoarders: Diabetes Edition

  1. Courtney says:

    Hi Jacquie,

    Since you’re a diabetes hoarder 😉 I wonder if you might have a plethora of these hanging about: http://bit.ly/b0JYZK


  2. Jerry Nairn says:

    Hmm. I save the insulin, but in a vial marked with an X. That’s my “Use this only in emergency” mark. I use a syringe to take out the last of the insulin in a cartridge and put it into a vial. If I’m traveling or in a hurry, I just throw the cartridge out, but usually I save my “left over” insulin. I now have two vials full, and I’ve used my “emergency” insulin a few times.

  3. Sara Golemon says:

    I have a large vase shaped like an insulin vial filled with, you guessed it, insulin vials. They’ve been washed out, the labels, stoppers, and aluminium caps removed, of course.

    Probably hoarderish, but I think it catches the light nicely.

  4. HVS says:

    I can so relate-I too have pump supplies left from Ye Ole 508. I need to do a purge,& send them somewhere( like Insulin Pumpers-they distribute to those in need) because I’m sure that there probably are people who still use that pump & would happily use unopened supplies.Even if they are out of date. Insulin Pumpers has some sort of re-warranty program for donated pumps too.(although I’m not sure it would apply to antiquitated pumps) You could ask.

  5. k2 says:

    Reading your post is like a freaking window into my diabetes hoarding world!
    I also have several, almost empty reservoirs sitting on my night table for “just in case” and I have a drawer filled with 21 boxes of unopened lancets.
    And there’s more d-stash but I’m not going there!
    kelly k

  6. Wow, I relate so much to this! I end up sorting my supplies out every few months but things quickly turn messy again.

    The joys of being a diabetic!

    Love your blog…


  7. Rachel says:

    I can so relate to this post too! I cleaned out my stash recently, and it was not pretty.

    One thing I found was a glucose monitor that sucks up your arm to test your blood sugar! It’s GIGANTIC and of course a huge waste of money, since insurance didn’t cover the test strips.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a lifetime supply of lancets! WTH, why does every single diabetic I know have a huge supply? HAHA I have a huge ziploc bag filled to the BRIM with lancets. Lordy!

  8. Jerry Nairn says:

    I forgot to mention that I have about a dozen meters. That’s hoarding.
    I used to hoard empty insulin vials, boxes of them, hundreds. At some point it just got so ridiculous that I had to get rid of them. I put them all in recycling, and I haven’t saved them since.

  9. Ooh! I remember that model pump! It was my second, and it was so very weird to me how it “clicked” to deliver the insulin.

    I think I’m a diabetes hoarder too. But who among us is not? I blame the insurance companies for denying us our supplies sometimes. We’re all scared to death that we’ll run out of something we need.

  10. Ursula says:

    I see this all the time. Empty boxes give us a false sense of security regarding the number of test strips that are left in the house. Our latest problem has been used needle heads from M’s insulin pen. Sometimes we ask her if she’s emptied her fanny pack lately, and she comes up with some crazy amount of unsanitary needle heads. I think this a direct result of us not permitting her to leave them on her place mat at the dinner table.

  11. Matt says:

    Um I have no coverage and I still use the paradigm 511 with the 1.8ml reservoir( the short one) I would gladly take all the supplies off your hands if you still had it.

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