Who lives in a house like this?

By | 8 March, 2011
Alison's house, yesterday. Or not.

Alison’s house, yesterday. Or not.

It’s quite hard to spot a diabetic. We’re a varied breed, not easily definable by external appearance. We come in all shapes and sizes, and most of us don’t even have the added Borg like qualities of a pump to mark us out from a crowd. But what about our houses? I suspect a wander round my house reveals more about my pancreas than if you met me in person.

Let’s go through the keyhole…

We start off in the kitchen where there is the usual mixture of food. Relatively healthy, plenty of fresh fruit and veg, but a noticeable lack of fruit juice because it is the food of the devil, causing rocketing blood sugars out of all proportion to the enjoyment of a glass of fresh orange. Nothing remarkable here. But wait, in the cupboard next to the cooker is hidden something that seems to clash with the otherwise normal, balanced approach. There’s a secret stash. A collection of 28 tubes of Fruit Pastilles purchased when they were on special offer. Would you find that many Fruit Pastilles in a normal house?

Diabetes seems to be the domain of the upstairs more than the downstairs of the house. We head up to the bathroom and a quick snoop round the cupboards reveals a couple of urine test pots that I’ve obviously forgotten to fill and take to clinic with me at some point. Plus a bottle of ketone test strips. As they’re 8 years out of date, I’m guessing they must be there for sentimental rather than practical reasons.

The study is where the paperwork side of diabetes comes to life. A repeat prescription request form pinned to the notice board. My clinic appointment letter sits in my diabetes file along with a spare blood test form from 3 years ago that I didn’t use. You never know when it might come in handy I suppose. There’s also a tatty post it note with my blood pressure and cholesterol targets scrawled on it, because I got sick of googling what they should be every time I had a pointless conversation with a Dr’s receptionist who’d tell me they were fine, I’d ask for the numbers and then realise I couldn’t remember what the acceptable range was.

Even the computer isn’t unscathed. The file imaginatively named  “Diabetes” contains info I downloaded about pumps and CGM when I was researching them and spread sheets tracking my HbA1c since starting on the pump. Then of course there’s a huge folder called “ShootUp” which is probably the most interesting of the lot! And even my Outlook that I use for work has a diabetes category where clinic appointments, toe tickles, eye tests and the like are all flagged in blue.

There’s also a dusty looking cable, lying sadly on the corner of the desk. This is the gizmo I plug into my PC to allow my pump to talk to it and download all my CGM data. Judging by the thickness of the dust I don’t think I’ve used this in about 3 years. I hang my head in shame, downloading data has really never been my thing. Perhaps I should put that cable in a drawer.

And finally we arrive at the heart of the diabetic house…the bedroom. My side of the bed is identifiable by the occasional blood spot on the sheets where my finger lick hasn’t quite stopped the bleeding from my bedtime blood test which is always carried out in bed. You can also spot my side because under the bed, within easy grabbing distance, are 20 snack sized boxes of apple juice, purchased on special offer. And sitting on my bedside table are a packet of Fruit Pastilles and my meter. Under the bed is a veritable diabetes fest. Alongside the hypo stocks are two boxes containing all my spare infusion sets, reservoirs, batteries and sensors. The rest of the diabetes junk lives on a shelf in the wardrobe. Apart from the results of my latest prescription which can often be found languishing on top of a cupboard, waiting to be tidied away to their homes.

So, who lives in a house like this? A Fruit Pastille gobbling, infusion set hoarding,  bulk buying, IT literate, data-download hater. Otherwise known as Alison. In a line up of houses and people, it seems you could probably spot the diabetic house before the diabetic person. Who’d have thought it?

13 thoughts on “Who lives in a house like this?

  1. lizz

    I do! Drawer in kitchen full of old machines and pump covers and blood-letting devices in with the plasters and thermometers and bandages… drawer in sitting room full of needles and cartridges (which I insist are called syringes so get a blank silence whenever I phone order them) and spare batteries and tape and alcohol wipes. Purple purse-type thingy in cupboard with stuff to take with me on journeys.

    Ditto saintly food in kitchen small amount of fruit for OH and son who never touches it, fridge stuffed with organic chicken, veg, salad, soya yogurts, oat milk, insulin, including some out of date stuff which I keep in case there’s a nuclear disaster that doesn’t kill me immediately.

    And food cupboard full of healthy organic tea, coffee, soup and makings for son and non-carb eating mother, plus vitamin D, B12, echinacea, Wellness tablets, olive leaf capsules etc etc and one whole shelf full of Jelly Bellys, licorice, sherberts, jelly beans, etc charting my progress through getting fed up with one sort of bring me up and getting another.

    Also have the slightly and irritatingly blood stained sheets… pile of used testing strips (at the bottom of every bag, in strange nooks and crannies round the house, and ina one pile on the bedside table, which is in fact a dog crate pushed close enough for the do to smell whether I am hypo or not – so we also have blood testing kit and a pot full of high quality dog treats for rewards.

    On the computer a file with documents explaining how poisonous meta-cresol and phenols are (yes the preservatives we inject daily), the research documents published by the FDA for Lantus and Humalog and various other stuff, info about a filter a scientist in Sweden has made to filter out said phenols in the syringe, and loads of other relevant info to me like comparisons between pumps etc. Plus everything also printed out in a cupboard should anything happen to my computer.

    And on a surface in every room sugar, used testing strips, timing devices to remind me to do stuff and treats for the dog.

    OMG, the house is a diabetic museum.

  2. Rohan

    i like this post, if only cause it’s put a great song in my head. I can now go shopping singing to myself ‘Who lives in a house like this? Who lives in a house like this? (Who lives here, man?)’ 😀

    Also, talking to my landlady last night, turns out she figured out I was diabetic (despite not being herself, or knowing anyone with it) after one look in my room! I think the prominent placement of my huge sharps box has something to do with it…

  3. Tim

    He he he! This is so true! I have most of my junk in an IKEA chest of drawers lodged in my wardrobe – top drawer is full of supplies, bottom drawer full of manuals for the pump and other less-used crap.

    Oh, and another thing – bookshelves crammed with books like “Everything Diabetes” “Diabetes and You” “Living with Diabetes” “Insulin Murders” and so on…

  4. lizz

    Ooh, do they get away in ‘Insulin Murders’? If so, I’d like to borrow it…

      1. lizz

        OMG it’s a real book! I thought it was a spoof for comic effect! Am – confabulated!

  5. Andy

    I use my sharps bin as a handy side table for my bottle of scotch…..

  6. Annette A

    Bottle of lucozade in every room and two bulk packs on the fridge (bought on special offer) ditto bulk pack of glucotabs bulk refills; lancet drums (turn up almost as often as used teststrips, these days); recipe books with ‘healthy’ and ‘sugar free’ and ‘fruit and veg’ in every title; jars of sweetener/low fat drinks alongside the sugar and full fat stuff for the husband; vanity case full of emergency kit to grab at a moments notice should I need to vacate the house for an overnight without having to think about what I need to take (dont know why, just seems like a good idea to have it ready…); shelf of books on the whole setup and manuals and so forth, and records and empty record books and a thing to download the reults from my meter to my computer that hasnt worked since I upgraded my computer to Windows 7 and Accuchek didnt upgrade their systems; box in fridge, two drawers in bedside table, crate under bed; etc etc etc. Oh how true.

  7. Cecile

    @lizz: Does the dog’s do smell different when you’re hypo? 😀

    Along with the functional, yet-to-be-used bits (replace bargain Fruit Pastilles with Jelly Tots and a butter tub full of glucose powder), thanks to my obsessive-compulsive hoarding habit, I’ve amassed 6 years’ worth of empty disposable insulin pens (art material)…and Lantus boxes (the same)…and strip vials (you’re going to need such a nifty little container any moment)…and needles (pin uppers)…and the single layer of diabetes limerick drafts that adorn my bedside floor (papier mache to be)…it’s really nothing next to the stack of newspapers 🙂

  8. Patti Evans

    Walk into the hall and find a handbag permanently inhabited by a pouch that holds a BD needle clipper, several needles, a packet of biscuits, a tube of Lucozade tabs and sweeteners for tea. Onto kitchen, in residence on the Island unit a test kit and a case with Humalog pen. In the larder 30 tubes of Lucozade tabs bought online due to a fear of national Lucozade tab shortage living alongside some 40+ herbs and spices designed to make healthy food interesting. In the fridge insulin…. on the shelf with the Tea/Coffee containers a plastic box containing a box of needles, several packs of test strips, Lisinopril, Thyroxine and a pile of repeat scripts. Beside that on the shelf a spare meter, and about 5 meter cases Abbott sent me when I asked for ONE! Several barely opened boxes of lancets in the cupboard below. 1kg sharps box by the radio.

    Upstairs in the bedroom blood spotted duvet cover and bottom sheet on one side of the bed. 1kg jar of Gourmet Jelly beans on the side table.

    Upstairs again to family room/office, where (so like you all, there’s an abandoned cable for downloading results that’s never been used for months – no be honest – years! On the desk “Think Like A Pancreas”, “Using Insulin” and Collins Gem Carb and Calorie counters (yeah bought the wrong one first.

    Throughout the house, including in my underwear drawer and my boots and shoes, countless little used test strips. They can work well as an introduction as I once discovered in Heathrow… when I sat down and said to the person on the next table “are those yours? Get everywhere don’t they?”

  9. Hairy Gnome

    If you came to visit me at the Gnomery, the first thing you’d notice is that I rarely use my front door, so you’d follow the back path, under the arch encrusted with the dessicated remains of a clematis incongruously named Pope Paul II; incongruous because its owner is a confirmed atheist. Skirting the somewhat tatty green shed, you’d trudge across the mud flat that used to be a lawn, unable to use the footpath as it’s occupied by my cripple cart, parked close to the outdoor power socket, and hidden under a camouflage tarpaulin that’s ingeniously fastened to the wall.

    Stepping across the cluttered decking you enter through the patio doors. The first thing you’ll notice is that I love wildlife as the living room floor is covered with warrens of dust bunnies, and the spiders shout, ‘Hi!’ from the corners of the ceiling. There is however, nothing that would tell you a T2 diabetic gnome inhabited this space. The same is true in the kitchen until you open the fridge, then you find boxes of insulin cartridges; large white ones filled with Lantus for the OptiClik pen, and smaller ones of NovoRapid for the NovoPen 3. There’s probably enough insulin here to kill the whole population of the village!

    Leaving the kitchen you enter the bathroom, well, shower room to be pedantic. Here it’s immediately obvious that the place is inhabited by a diabetic. A red plastic box containing two insulin pens and needle clippers, ready to use cartridges, and a small purple Ikea box filled with needles, are perched on the edge of the shower tray within easy reach, so that pins can be pushed into Gnomy’s porcine paunch whilst comfortably perched on the pedestal. If you perch on said pedestal, there is a small pedal bin to your left; lift the lid and you’ll find it brim full of the detritus from a couple of weeks worth of MDI, empty cartridges, needle covers, paper seals and needle carriers with the needles clipped off.

    Leaving this masochists paradise, you can wander across the cluttered hall, past the dust covered vacuum cleaner and look into the bedroom. This is dominated by a comfortable, executive style, office chair, in front of a large, Ikea, corner computer desk on which there sits a 21″ wide screen monitor, a curved Microsoft keyboard, and a Logitech trackball. The shelves above and around the monitor are cluttered with software packs, zillions of books, and correspondence a foot deep. Anyone in the know would spot the blue flashing light of an Accu-Chek 360° infra red sensor, and facing it an Accu-Chek Mobile test meter, just waiting to be uploaded. Cluttered roundabout are a Ventolin inhaler, a seven day pill storage box, various batteries, salt and pepper pots, a coffee mug, and various other items.

    To the right of the desk sits a small, three drawer cabinet. If you sit in the chair and pull open the top drawer, it will reveal a cache of drugs fully capable of murdering any of the villagers that survived the insulin attack. There’s everything here from Cialis to Simvastatin, Gabapentin to Tramadol via paracetamol to help with everything from heart failure to hypertension via back pain and neuropathy. A plastic bag adorned with a pharmacy logo is kicked under the desk to contain the overflow.

    Finally overcome by the polluted atmosphere, you run from the Gnomery into the fresh air, your clothes now impregnated with the smell of stale tobacco. I am not the world’s best housekeeper!

  10. Alison Post author

    I’m glad mine isn’t the only house full of diabetes junk then! It’s amazing how blind you become to it all, reading your comments makes me realise I didn’t even notice my vanity case full of overnight kit like @Annette‘s or the Robinson’s juice bottle masquerading as a sharps container next to my bed!


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