Samantha Markovitz, NBC-HWC
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you have probably noticed an impact on your diabetes management and supplies. It's not just you — it's been a challenge for many to stay on top of diabetes-related tasks! With fewer trips to the pharmacy and limited opportunities for in-person interactions with your physician, you may have eased up on things like regular prescription refills and stocking up on snacks.
With scientists continuing to work toward developing a vaccine, there's currently no end date for these unprecedented times. However, this is an excellent time to take stock of what you've learned so far — and prepare for the uncertainties ahead. Even with the current unknowns, there's reason to remain hopeful moving forward and actionable steps you can take to be safe and successful in managing your diabetes.
Here's what supplies you should be securing for your daily diabetes management and tips for navigating it all safely:
Everyday (and emergency) essentials to keep on hand
First things first — it's important to check your supplies to see what you have (and what you need more of). Here's a list of items you'll want to make sure to have throughout quarantine:
- Insulin delivery method (pen needles, syringes, and/or pump supplies)
- Test strips
- Blood glucose meter
- Continuous glucose monitor (CGM) supplies
- Lancing device
- Alcohol swabs
- Device overpatches and/or adhesive
- Batteries/charging cords
- Additional medications (diabetes-related or otherwise)
- Fast-acting sugar to treat lows
- Glucagon emergency kit
- Contact information for your endocrinologist and any other important members of your medical team
- Designated bag for grab-and-go diabetes supplies in case of hospitalization or evacuation
- Ingredients for healthy snacks, shelf-stable food options, and meals that work well for your diabetes management
5 ways to stay flexible and prepared
In addition to maintaining your supplies, flexibility in dealing with your diabetes management and supplies during quarantine makes life much easier. As a person living with diabetes — or someone who cares for one — you're likely no stranger to the mantra "be prepared."
To face any challenge head-on, take note of the following tips:
1. Take inventory
Whether you're more of an "itemized list" or "general idea" kind of person, you'll want to keep an updated inventory of things you need to manage your diabetes. As you do this, take the opportunity to clean out expired items and rearrange boxes so that soon-to-expire items are used before those with a later expiration date (first in, first out). Also, gather important contact information — such as your endocrinologist's or primary care doctor's phone number — and keep it all in one place.
2. Be prompt
Fill your prescriptions on time to prevent running out of insulin and other important items. Stay in touch with customer service at Edgepark, your doctor's office, pharmacy, insurance company, or any other entities that play an important role in receiving your prescriptions on time. The goal is to avoid any last-minute surprises, like no more refills being available on an item you need that day. Automatic refill programs or services like Edgepark ContinuCare make reordering prescriptions a breeze with reminders and online order confirmations, so you can be sure to receive your supplies at the right time.
3. Maintain backups
If it's financially feasible, consider keeping backups of your non-prescription items so you don't have to rush out to the store right away, or have to wait several days for a delivery if an item were to run out or break. When it comes to non-prescription items (like low treatments and device overpatches), keep as many on hand as makes you feel comfortable.
4. Keep your (virtual) appointments
Telehealth has become the new normal for most endocrinology practices, at least for the time being. Make sure you're clear on any technical questions prior to the appointment and designate a quiet, private place in your home where you can meet with your doctor virtually. This can help you can get the most out of each scheduled Telehealth visit with your provider.
5. Stay safe at home
Consider switching your prescriptions to home delivery to help limit your exposure to crowded indoor spaces. Some insurance policies have relationships with mail-order medical suppliers and pharmacies. You may also be able to use local pharmacies that do courier delivery, or take advantage of chain pharmacies that offer delivery as a COVID-19-era service for those who opt in.
Nobody knows how long the current situation will last. Now is the time to lean into the prepared and empowered approach to your diabetes management! By creating helpful habits during this pandemic, you can develop a strategy for maintaining your health that will continue to serve you — even after the "all clear" is issued.
Curious to learn more about the impact COVID-19 is having on individuals in the diabetes community? Visit Edgepark Health Insights to read up on the latest developments.