Diabetes and Coronavirus Series (Article 5): How Living with Diabetes Has Helped Us Prepare For Living in a COVID-19 World

Kelly Kunik is a blogger and advocate from the U.S. who writes about her life with diabetes on http://diabetesaliciousness.blogspot.com. Describing herself as a “Diabetes Humorist” Kelly uses her comedic lens to describe her experiences and is passionately spreading the word about living a great life with diabetes. Kelly is active on Twitter (@diabetesalish), Facebook (@diabetesaliciousness), and Instagram (@diabetesalish). 

The opinions presented in this blog post are those of the author and may not represent the opinions of Ascensia Diabetes Care. Ascensia have paid Kelly an honorarium for her services as a contributor to this blog.

A friend (who also happens to be a D mom) and I were talking on the phone the other day about the state of our COVID-19 world when out of the blue, I uttered the following statement: It cracks me up when people complain about all the “extra stuff” COVID-19 requires them to do and or take with them on a daily basis and every time they head out the door. Mask, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, isopropyl alcohol. I get that people are getting used to a new way of living, but sometimes I want to say “HELLO - welcome to our diabetes world!” When’s the last we left our house with just our keys? When’s the last time you carried a tiny handbag or had empty pockets? 

Who knew that having to pay attention to your health all the time is incredibly annoying albeit incredibly necessary? People with diabetes and other chronic illnesses, that’s who!

She laughed and replied with an emphatic: RIGHT?! Seriously people, get a bigger bag, wear a mask, wash your hands, do the right things and stop complaining!

After our phone call I kept thinking about our conversation, then I made a list of how living with diabetes has helped prepare us when it comes to living in a COVID-19 world.

Here’s what I came up with.

Needing Kit For Diabetes and COVID-19
People with diabetes carry our diabetes kit with us every damn day. In my case, my Omnipod and CGM are literally attached to my person.

I carry my diabetes tech of choice (Pod PDM, glucose meter, test-strips, spare pod, syringe, insulin and low treats) with me wherever I go.

COVID-19 also requires EVERYONE to carry and use protective equipment. People have to wear a mask, carry/use hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, practice physical distancing and continually wash their hands.

This need to carry/wear/use our protective gear and remember to do certain tasks is something people with diabetes know all too well. Yes, COVID-19 means more crap to carry and things to do - but that crap and those things are paramount!

Is it frustrating? ABSOLUTELY, but I embrace and actively engage in COVID-19 protocols - not only for my safety and wellbeing - but for yours. And out of respect for the medical professionals who are battling on the COVID-19 frontlines every day.  

Endless Checklists
Diabetes requires us to make a Diabetes Supply Checklist each time before we head out the door. COVID-19 not only requires a checklist re: supplies before we leave the house, it also requires a protocol for when we arrive at our destination (as in wiping down shopping carts, keeping my hands to myself and only touching what I buy, etc.) and disinfecting EVERYTHING when I get home - including me.

Needing More Time For Everything
Sometimes diabetes requires more time and unexpected effort. Unexpected pod/pump site changes, out of the blue low blood sugars that stop us in our tracks and have made even the most punctual PWD late.

COVID-19 makes everyday tasks more laborious and time consuming. For example: Grocery shopping now means lining up to get into a store, disinfecting groceries and showering when we get home.

Sick Day Game Plans
Diabetes requires us to have a sick day game plan. We need to know what to do to manage our diabetes when we are sick and most people would be able to just rest.

COVID19 19 takes our diabetes sick day game plan a step further - to include a diabetes emergency preparedness plan re: bringing our own diabetes supplies when heading to the ER or hospital.

Diabetes Burnout Helps Me Cope with COVID-19 Burnout
Every single one of living with diabetes and no matter the type has struggled with Diabetes Burnout. Diabetes is hard, and there are times when diabetes is incredibly overwhelming. Thanks to the Diabetes Online Community I’ve learned that diabetes burnout and guilt are real and have developed coping mechanisms to help me navigate through diabetes burnout.

COVID-19 has rocked our world and changed it profoundly - there are times when it’s scary, overwhelming, anxiety inducing and depressing – and incredibly isolating.

Like the rest of the world, I’m slowly learning how to deal with and pilot through COVID-19 burnout and all its current and future incarnations. I don’t have the answers, but I have no doubt that having experienced diabetes burnout in the past, can only help PWDs in a COVID-19 world and set them on the course towards better managing their mental health.

And now that we have this extra stuff to take out with our diabetes kit, we will definitely need even bigger bags!