Meet My Pancreas - The Type One Diabetic's Version of "What's In My Purse?"


That's something you never thought you'd hear someone say, huh?


I will admit, it is an odd thought... meeting a pancreas... but lucky for you, I am just referring to the bag I carry around that has all the essentials for my Type One Diabetic care routine, and then some.


So, are you curious yet?


Yes?


Okay, good.


If you're reading this, you're reading an all exclusive article introducing you to all the things inside my pancreas!


Above is an aerial view of what I carry around with me everywhere every day. The only thing that isn't pictured is my cell phone because it takes better pictures than my laptop does.

 

WHAT'S INSIDE?

 

- The first thing worth mentioning is these Medical ID Tags (pictured left).


It all began with these tags. They came in a free JDRF Diabetes Care Package that Boston Children's Hospital sent me shortly after my discharge date.


As time went on, I began adding to them, personalizing them.


When I celebrated my 6-month Diaversary (anniversary of diagnosis), I added the butterfly carabiner to remind myself that even though most days feel like an uphill climb God is still working on me during those days and every day.


One of the tags is in English, and the other is in French. Even though I no longer reside in a predominantly French-speaking country, I still carry the second tag because why not?


- In a small, snack-size Ziploc bag are a business card (with contact information for my first nutritionist who saw me during the days just after my diagnosis when Boston Children's Hospital Room 7 West was my temporary "residence") and three sticky notes (containing ideas for my next three novels ---- assuming the first one I began writing in Room 7 West ever gets finished).


- My wallet is in there somewhere. I got it as a gift from my mom one Christmas while we were in Senegal almost 5 years ago. I have gotten other, newer wallets from friends and family since then, but none of them ever felt the way that one does. This one has a history, a smell that just brings me back in time.


- Jot notes on the back of a shopping list that I took during my most recent telehealth visit with my endocrinologist. Some of the notes I took I can't even read, others are really important reminders, and one is a direct quote from her that I found encouraging at the moment.


- A new, empty Ziploc bag to dispose of dirty latex gloves in after wearing them to sanitize and wipe down surfaces and door handles when I work as the custodian for the Barrington Center of Arts here at Gordon College. I find it easier to peel them off and seal them up in a baggie in case I can't find the trash can. I know, that sounds a little weird, but some days my shift overlaps with the janitor who takes the trash out and on those days all the trash cans are usually either bagless or just not in the building.


- A bottle of hand sanitizer that I've been refilling for the last three years. It was originally a gift from one of my aunts, but since then it has visited two continents and it has taken a layover in Washington Dulles and JFK. The cap is sort of loose, but like my wallet, this particular bottle has a history.


- Two different flavors of chewing gum. One is Strawberry from JuicyFruit Gum, and the other is Mint from another company that I hadn't heard of before September 13th, 2020.


- A bag of syringes for "sick days" where I don't need a full dose of Glucagon.


- An Emergency First Aid kit from my friend Joy.


- My Massachusetts Driver's permit (well, both of them, actually).


- A "rince doigts", or wet wipe, for that moment when I can't get my finger to stop gushing. I haven't had a gusher like that in a good long while and I'd like to keep it that way, but you can never be too prepared.


Can you imagine if I hit a gusher while out for dinner at a restaurant? Or at a semi-formal while wearing a white dress? Yikes!


- Cell phone numbers from my aunt and uncle in Senegal because I never bothered to throw that index card out.


- My Senegalese residency papers because those will *totally* get me places in this country.

- My Bluetooth glucometer equipped with a sticky note (reminding me of the most recent changes my dad and I made to my insulin therapy routine), a "blot pad" (otherwise known as a tissue that I wipe my excess blood on), and a set of spare CR2032's for when the batteries in my glucometer die.


- Two tubes of glucose tablets in various flavors. I highly recommend the pineapple ones... not! Those ones are disgusting but they look JUST LIKE the orange ones so how am I supposed to know what I'm putting in my mouth?!


- Glucagon (otherwise known as the orange needle) which in my almost three years of being Type One Diabetic I've never needed to use.


- An extra straw in case I go for a juice box when I'm low that doesn't have a straw. I actually think this was an extra on a juice box in Senegal... they have the opposite problem there. There are often two or three straws to one juice box, but here in the United States, there's typically only one or none at all (even though this is rare).


- An attachment for one of my lancer tools that allows me to prick my arm or my thigh (as if I'd ever actually considered doing that).


- A mini calculator for when I need to calculate for a meal or a snack but don't have my phone handy.


- A bandaid for the really bad gushers (it's Hello Kitty, I mean, who could resist?).


- 3 dull pencils (because when I first started out I used to keep paper records of everything I ate and how much insulin it was worth. Just a few months ago I switched to digital record keeping, thanks to my Bluetooth meter, and it's much easier. It's funny how each pencil marks one year that I've lived with T1D... I never thought about it until now, but I did grab a new pencil each Diaversary.)

- 2 cereal bars that are 30 grams of carbohydrates each for hypoglycemic or "low" episodes.


- 2 Capri Suns that are 14 grams of carbohydrates each, also for lows.


- A snack-size Ziploc bag of 32 gauge by 5-millimeter (32Gx5mm) needle tips for insulin dosages.


- A snack-size Ziploc bag of alcohol swabs.

- Inside my purple mini cooler (see the second picture, in the far upper right corner) are my two insulins with an ice pack to keep them cold.


The gray insulin pen is Basaglar. Basaglar is responsible for holding my blood sugar steady and it also takes care of the things that take longer to break down like transfats, proteins, and triglycerides. This injection is only once every 24 hours, and I prefer to take it at night around 8 PM.


The blue and orange insulin pen is Novolog. Novolog is responsible for all of my immediate carbohydrate intakes (such as meals or snacks) as well as the correction of hyperglycemic, or "high" episodes. I take about three to four injections of this per day. If I'm snacking more than usual, I've had upwards of 8 dosages in one day.

 

Well, there you have it!


That's everything, and I mean literally everything, inside my pancreas.


I hope you enjoyed reading about all the ins and outs of my "purse". I know I enjoyed taking some time out of my day to go through everything. You'd be surprised that I had forgotten about half of this stuff since I don't normally use all of it.


Until next time, dear readers,


Happy Reading!