Diabetic Hoarders

On Labor Day, I am came downstairs and turned my TV on – I like to watch CNN while I am drinking coffee in the morning.  I had been watching something on A&E the night before so when I turned the TV on that morning, A&E came on.  They were running the show Hoarders all day.  I have seen the show a few times before so started watching it.  I find it amazing that people can actually live like that, but it started me thinking about all the supplies diabetics tend to have in their homes. 

The definition of hoarder is:

       an accumulated store hidden away for future use

Now if you have ever watched that show, you know that when someone opens the door to one of those homes, there is stuff everywhere – all over the floors, stairs and whatever furniture is in the house. And it is not just “stuff,” but actual garbage, old food and even dead animals.  I am sure that most of us don’t live like that, but aren’t we diabetics and parents/guardians of diabetics technically hoarders?  We certainly have stuff hidden away for future use! 

Back in the old days, I would go to the pharmacy and pick up one vial of NPH and one vial of Regular insulin.  You would use those until you were down to almost the very last drop and then go back to the pharmacy to get a replacement vial.  I would get a box of syringes and use those until I was almost out and go back for more.  I would go to the supply store to get one box of test strips and when I was almost out of those, go back for another box.  I didn’t have all this extra stuff in my home like I do now.

Fast forward almost 27 years and now we test blood sugar more than the old 3-4 times a day.  I test my blood sugar 18 times a day.  Now I don’t go to a pharmacy or local supply store, but have to user a mail-order supply place.  I get a three month supply of test strips so they send me 33 boxes of test strips at a time.  A huge difference from the one box at a time days!

I quit using syringes a couple years ago and switched to the insulin pens – the box of pens is much smaller than the box of syringes were.  I never tossed out the remaining syringes that I had and those are stashed away in the cupboard above my stove along with the containers of tennis balls I get for my walker.  I am glad I didn’t toss those syringes because I now use them to get all the insulin out of the vials I am using for my pump.

Besides the box of syringes in the cupboard above the stove, I have two drawers in my kitchen that have “diabetic” stuff in them.  One drawer has the box of old lancets that I actually bought in 2003 (don’t ask how I know that!).  Like others, I rarely put a new lancet in so that box of 200 lancets has lasted a long time.  At some point, I switched to the Accu-Chek Multiclix lancet so have a box of those lancets.  My reasoning for not tossing the other lancets was if the Multiclix lancet breaks, I will at least have some lancets to stick myself with even if I don’t have a stabber to use them with.  I also have a small plastic basket that has some odd ball lancets and clickers that I obtained with different meters I had.  Not sure why I am saving those!  And I have two OptiClik pens that will soon become obsolete as soon as I use the last Apidra cartridge I have in the fridge.

In the drawer with the lancets, I also have a box of pen needles.  Now that I am on a pump, I am not using those but have them in case I do need to use an insulin pen.  I change out my infusion sets downstairs because the insulin is in the fridge so I keep a box of alcohol pads (you have to use alcohol pads with the Orbits, not skin preps) and a couple infusion sets and cartridges in the drawer.  I have changed my infusion set a few times after having a bad site.  It seems a waste to change out the tubing when nothing was wrong with that so I have a baggy with tubing in.  I have actually used that tubing because I ripped it when trying to pull the cartridge out.  Fortunately, my cat hasn’t tried to play with my tubing yet but you never know if she might try to take a bite out of it and I would need some. 

In the other drawer, I have a bunch of containers of glucose tablets.  I always keep a container on my desk downstairs plus a container on the nightstand.  I usually keep a backup container upstairs so if I do hit the bottom of the container, I have some.  I also keep a ziplock baggy in my purse filled with some.   Because I can’t drive and I live in a small town with very limited public transportation, I make sure that I have more than enough glucose on hand.  The world won’t come to an end if I run out of milk, but it is not a good thing to run out of glucose.

Then of course, there is the fridge.  I have my Apidra vials for the pump.  I also have a backup box of Levemir pens and Apidra.  Sanofi Aventis quit making the cartridges for the OptiClik pen – I have one cartridge left in my box and I got a box of the Apidra SoloStar pens in case of an unplanned pump vacation.  Even into my short pump use, I have already had to dip into those pens.

Modern technology brings us the CGMS and insulin pumps.  Even more stuff stashed away for future use!  Last year when I got the Navigator, this huge box came and I had to find a place to put all that stuff.  I cleaned out two shelves in the linen closet upstairs and put all the Navigator stuff in the linen closet.  I always say something good comes out of something bad and everything happens for a reason – if my Navigator had not broken, I probably would not have my pump today.  Besides the fact that when I did my Dexcom trail, I used the Animas sales guy’s demo Dexcom, I would not have had a place to put all the pump supplies.  The Dexcom boxes are much smaller and I can fit my three month supply of three boxes on one shelf leaving the other shelf for my pump supplies. 

When I bought the Navigator, I also bought a small plastic container to store batteries, Opsite Flexifix tape, Cavilon skin preps and a pair of scissors.  I don’t need the skin preps for the Dexcom, but I still need the container to stash the other stuff.  I have a second box of alcohol pads upstairs because I use those for the Dexcom. 

And then we have the pump supplies.  Originally, I was sent three months worth of pump supplies with my pump.  I had problems with the first round of infusion sets so I sent those back and traded them in for Contact Detach.  The Contact Detach boxes were smaller, but I don’t like them.  I decided on the Orbit Micros.  ICU Medical was nice enough to send a whole box for my sample request and yet another box to hold me while they were working with my pharmacy to get them set up as a distributor.  The pharmacy does not do three month supplies, but I am getting two boxes of those at a time.  The pharmacy is also working on getting the Animas pump cartridges for me, but in the meantime, I had to get a three month supply from another supplier. Yet more boxes!  They shorted me, but it still looks like enough boxes in my closet.

In my spare room, I have a couple backup meters on the shelf.  I pretty much only use Accu-Chek meters but saved the Wavesense Presto because my insurance paid for it and I feel guilty throwing it in the trash.  I also had a free offer for a OneTouch meter and have one of those because the meter remote uses OneTouch strips. 

And no diabetics home would be complete without the stray, used test strips showing up in odd places.

So do I fit the definition of a hoarder?  My home certainly does not look like the homes on the show Hoarders but I have lots of stuff hidden away for future use!  How about you?  Are you a diabetic hoarder?
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2 thoughts on “Diabetic Hoarders

  1. I too am a hoarder of diabetic supplies. Unfortunately, I do not know how to or where I can find a poor person who needs supplies. I do not trust just anyone…I need to know how to sell this stuff at a very inexpensive price…less than what I paid for. It is not acceptable to sell them through the diabetes websites or ebay. Any ideas?

    • Gail, I have heard people say that you can sell stuff on Craigs List, they seem to allow people to sell just about anything. InsulinPumpers.org supposedly will take donations of pump supplies – they won’t buy them from you. You can also check with shelters in your area and even your hospital to see if they of anyone that can use them. Ask your doctor also.

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