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 As they’re 8 years out of date, I’m guessing they must be there for sentimental rather than practical reasons.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?