Happy (almost) Mother’s Day! I’m Erin, a PatientsLikeMe senior copywriter living with type 1 diabetes – and a very busy toddler. My sister recently joked that my purse is “quite the Mary Poppins bag.” And it is. Between my diabetes “jazz” and baby paraphernalia, I need a big bag. The spread of stuff I lug around is far from those sleekly styled “What’s in my bag?” features you see in tabloids, where celebrities flaunt their favorite eyeliner, seaweed snack and fur keychain.
So what’s in my bag? This is just a sampling of things I bring when I’m running quick errands with my daughter (longer trips call for larger and/or multiple bags).
- Glucose meter and all the fixin’s: needles for finger sticks, test strips, alcohol wipes to use when I can’t wash my hands before testing
- Insulin, Humalog (insulin lispro), and needles for injecting it
- An empty medication bottle, which works well as a mini, childproof “sharps” container
- Snacks! I try to pack a few kinds – like popcorn, whole-wheat crackers, protein bars and string cheese – for a mix of carbs and protein. Manufactured foods have been demonized lately with the (positive) trends toward “clean eating” and whole foods. But my doctor assured me that the healthy packaged snacks are great for people like me who are always on the go and need to check nutrition labels and count carbs (to balance with insulin intake). Also, I always have water on me because diabetes can make me super thirsty.
- People taking insulin always need to have candy or something purely sweet on hand in case of low blood sugar. I keep glucose tablets at my house and in my car, but Smarties are a nice, compact treat to keep in the pocket of my glucose meter case.
Diapers, baby wipes, spare clothes, a sippy cup, snacks, books and a toy (usually a doll – because babies love babies) are the “momming” basics in my bag. Car keys make a great teether when molars are coming – fun! Oh, and a lone shoe: One little shoe always ends up in the mix because my daughter is happiest when she’s wearing just one.
What have I learned about managing all this stuff (in my bag/life)?
- Pouches win. I store my diabetes things in a zippered pouch to limit some of my rifling when I need to dig it out. A cute pouch can bring a little bit of joy when you’re toting meds for a chronic condition.
- I’ll always forget something. I’ve forgotten my umbrella on rainy days, my wallet for grocery trips, and diapers or wipes during, uh… inopportune times. I failed to grab my insulin for my birthday lunch last month, so I rolled with it and ordered chicken Caesar salad and a sugar-free mojito. [Confession: I was pretty mad.]
- Planning ahead – not my strong suit – pays off. I didn’t get the “checklist-y” gene most of my relatives inherited. I’m more of an on-the-fly packer, but that just doesn’t work well as a mom with diabetes. During the week, I pack my work bag and my daughter’s daycare backpack the night before. [Confession: Not always true.]
- Cliché but… don’t sweat the small stuff. Until recently, we sent my daughter to daycare in her footie PJs because we were juggling so much in the morning – nobody judged/we didn’t care. My “beauty routine” is roll-on under-eye concealer and maybe some blush, on a fancy day. No biggie.
- “Adulting” is hard. Sunglasses are great for both sunny days and the occasional tough day when I need take a walk and shed a few tears – which is so healthy. My (amazing) mom died when I was in college, and balancing motherhood and diabetes isn’t easy, especially without her in my life. Big props to my husband – who is incredibly helpful, patient and supportive – and to my daughter, who makes life sweet.
Keep on hustling, moms! You’re awesome – even if your bag is a big ol’ mess.
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