One Thing to Improve: Emergency Preparedness

Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at.  Today let’s look at the flip-side. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

Here’s a reassuring thought: if my trusty insulin pump were to give out right this minute — for any reason: water, trauma, old age, spontaneous combustion — I would have no idea what to do. I have no emergency plan, and that is something I definitely need to work on.

Maybe I’ve grown too trusting of this tiny robot on my hip. In the last 12 years that I’ve used the pump, I’ve only had one real malfunction, and looking back, I don’t even remember how I dealt with it. I’m sure I got on the horn with Minimed and used syringes until my new pump arrived in the mail (which is always ASAP — thanks Minimed), but I don’t recall any details.

And that’s a problem. Were my pump to die this instant, here are the steps I would follow:

  1. Curse. A lot.
  2. Complain on Twitter and Facebook, beseeching the input and wisdom of the ever-present DOC.
  3. Curse some more.
  4. Call my CDE for advice.
  5. Leave work to go home and curse.

There’s no long-acting insulin in my refrigerator, and all the syringes I have are ones that I inherited from my friend Tammy when her diabetic cat went to eat cupcakes in the sky. Worst case scenario, I figure, I’ll just stay close to home, snort cinnamon and jog in place as much as possible.

Of course, I’m assuming everyone else has a holy-shit-my-pump-broke plan, or something resembling one. What does it look like, and where do I get one?

13 comments on “One Thing to Improve: Emergency Preparedness

  1. Drew says:

    Well this is definitely an interesting thing to consider. How often do these things fail? I wonder what others have done in this situation?

  2. Joanne says:

    You’ve touched on something that’s been niggling at the back of my porous brain lately. If Elise’s pump failed, I would know not what to do. We have lantus in the fridge, but considering we never used lantus before she was on the pump, I’m not sure it’s that useful to us. I do have one last vial of NPH in the back of the fridge. Would I dare?

    Hope I never have to find out.

  3. Joanne says:

    And by pump failing, I mean the PDM, of course.

  4. Sara says:

    I don’t think my plan is all that much better but here it is

    1. Call pump company for replacement.
    2. same as #2 on your list.
    3. I have a box of syringes from when I switched to a pump 8 years ago and I get a “sample” vial of Levemir (or Lantus) from the endo when the old one expires.
    4. I’m not sure what the doses would be, but at least I have the supplies, right?

  5. Cursing is also on my top 5 list.

    When my pump died the day I got married (!), they had me split the Lantus into two doses. I have no idea if this is scientific or something they chose based on where a dart landed, but here’s what we did:

    Add up all of your basal insulin that you’d get via pump. (If your dose for 12 hours of the day is 1.0 units/hour, and 2 units/hour for the other 12, for example… you have 36 units total.) Take 1/3 of that in the morning (12 units) and the other 2/3 at night (24 units). Have I mentioned I’m super insulin-resistant at night?

    I never kept back-up crap around until after that happened. Now I always have some Lantus in the fridge (free samples from your doctor – that’s what they’re for) and Humalog pens with corresponding pen needles. Never again!

  6. You aren’t alone. If this were to happen to me, I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t even keep long acting insulin on hand… Whoops…

  7. Lorraine says:

    Cursing a lot sounds like a reasonable plan to me. Not to be an enabler, but getting long lasting insulin probably isn’t too, too hard. I’m wincing as I say this because I should be encouraging your desire to be prepared. 😐

  8. Scott E says:

    Great answer! I guess since I never dealt with the consequences of pump failure, I guess I never really got to see that as a real problem. But it’s certainly something I can do better at.

  9. Colleen says:

    I ask for, and get, a pen(s) prescription each year. The box sits in my fridge for the most part. If we go away – far away – I take one of each pens with me in a cooler. I hate wasting that insulin but, I feel safer.

  10. @kahoffman says:

    My plan looks a lot like your plan, except for the fact that I have a bunch of syringes and so I tell myself “I’ll just do a lot of little injections and eat low-carb until my new pump arrives.” Sucker better not die on a Friday….

  11. I’ve been known to curse, during pump-failure scenarios and just randomly for the fun of it. So I like your plan. But seriously, this fear that I too had no clue how to respond was a big factor in motivating me a couple years ago to take a pump hiatus so that I could relearn what to do without a pump. It was very enlightening, and also helped me lower my A1C. So there’s that. Which is good. In case of emergency, I still think swearing is a suitable first response. Snorting cinnamon and jogging in place aren’t bad, either. :)) Great post, Jacquie!

  12. shannon says:

    yeah, we have the backup supplies and all, but no idea what doses we would give. guess that’s what the 24 hour doctor phone line is for, yeah? glad to read some of the tips in the comments here.

  13. Lindsay says:

    “snort cinnamon and jog in place” HILARIOUS!!!

    I had my pump die on the first day of a trip. I just called my doc and had him call me in some lantus and my pump company had the pump delivered in 1 day. I had no emergency plan either nor do I have one now. 🙂

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