How to Make an Emergency Preparedness Plan

The reality of living in a time of a global pandemic, such as COVID-19, is slowly starting to sink in for millions of Americans. Without any preventive antibodies, vaccine, or cure, it is extremely scary when the closest thing we can do to protect ourselves is to wash our hands, avoid sick people, and remain socially distant at all times. With society all but shut down, here’s our guide to creating an emergency preparedness plan if you get sick and/or need to quarantine in place for a long period of time.

What and How Much to Stock Up on to Shelter-In-Place

With shelter-in-place mandates in all but a handful of states, it’s important to know what you’ll need for (ideally) several weeks without leaving home. People with diabetes are more susceptible to having severe complications from COVID-19, so even though grocery shopping and going to the pharmacy is permitted under a shelter-in-place order, it’s not necessarily recommended. Even though the food supply-chain will not break down, it’s best to not be running to the grocery store any more often than you absolutely need to, so try and stock up on at least two weeks’ worth of shelf-stable food, water, and toiletries. In a pinch, apps like Instacart and Amazon Fresh offer online grocery orders, so if you’re running low on some staples but don’t want to leave home, these are a great option to have.

Shelf-stable foods:

  • Dried beans
  • Rice
  • Lentils
  • Flour
  • Pasta
  • Canned and frozen vegetables
  • Canned soups
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned and frozen fruits
  • Canned meats and seafoods

In a March interview with NPR, Dr. Peter Jacobson, a University of Michigan professor of health law and policy, advises a stockpile of at least 90 days for medical supplies:

“People should not be caught short of having enough heart medications, diabetic medications, or any potentially life-saving medication that they need on a routine, daily or weekly or monthly basis,” he said.

Sometimes this can be as easy as signing up for your pharmacy’s mail-order option or talking to your pharmacist and asking if they can fill your routine medications for 90 days instead of 30.

Contacts to Have on Hand

Now is an excellent time to gather all of your important phone numbers for doctors and family members should you need to get in contact with them quickly (or if you fall ill and your spouse needs to contact someone quickly). Important numbers to gather and have in a communal space (like pinned up on the refrigerator):

  • Endocrinologist
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP)
  • Your Employer
  • Immediate Family Members
  • Trustworthy Neighbor
  • Local hospital (where your insurance is accepted!)
  • Your Pharmacy/Pharmacist
  • Water Company
  • Power Company
  • Internet Provider
  • Children’s School or Daycare

Have a Plan B If You Need to Evacuate

Have a plan in place if you’ll need to evacuate your home or city. Reach out to your support network of family members or close friends should you need to self-isolate due to COVID-19 exposure, or if you feel your city is becoming unsafe and you need to get away. Make sure you prepare a packing list, have a to-go bag ready, and prepare your home if you need to leave quickly. Conditions can change quickly, so it’s important you know where you can go, how to get there, and what to bring if and when you need to leave.

Important things to pack in a to-go bag:

  • All medications, insulin, and diabetes supplies
  • Cold and flu medicines
  • Low supplies
  • Toiletries and extra towels
  • Clothing/pajamas/exercise clothes and extra socks and shoes
  • First aid kit
  • Copies of important documents, such as prescriptions and ID
  • Chargers for CGM, cell-phone, etc.
  • Vitamins and self-care essentials
  • Books and important mementos

What Do I Do in the Case of…?

It’s a scary time to be quarantined in your home, away from many friends and family. It’s even scarier when you have diabetes. Here are some common conundrums and resources to help you:

  • I Suspect I Have COVID-19: Read up on COVID-19 , and if you suspect you’ve been exposed to the virus, self-isolate immediately and call your physician to describe your symptoms. They will guide you as to what your next steps should be.
  • I Have a Bad Low and I’m Home Alone: If you’re home alone and are battling a bad low, call 911 immediately. If you can access your glucagon, get that while you’re on the phone with an emergency dispatcher. It’s best to know how to inject glucagon before you ever need to know. Learn how to do so here.
  • I’m Sad and Scared During This Time: If you are having trouble managing the emotional toll during this time, check out our top ways to protect your mental health. You can also take advantage of telehealth, and schedule some time with a counselor to talk about your feelings during this hard time.
  • I’m in DKA: If your blood sugar has been persistently high, you have ketones, and you think you may be developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), it’s time to either go to your local emergency department, or call 911 (if you are unable to drive). Be sure to act quickly, as time is of the essence when it comes to extremely high blood glucose levels. Medical professionals will be able to re-hydrate you, better regulate your glucose levels, and monitor you, keeping you safer than you will be at home.

Whether you come down with coronavirus, you are quarantined, or you are self-isolating, you may be unable to venture out to pick up your prescriptions. You may be able to get your medication delivered directly to you. Here’s how:

  • Reach out to big chain drug stores. Both CVS and Walgreens are currently offering free home delivery of prescription drugs.
  • Call your regular pharmacy. Many smaller pharmacies will usually deliver medications for free.
  • Try a mail-order pharmacy. They often offer great discounts (sometimes as much as 90-day supplies for the co-payment of 60 days) as well as free shipping. Find out if your insurance company will cover a mail-order option.
  •  If you need a new prescription, but either can’t get to your doctor’s office, nor can you take advantage of telehealth, consider using HeyDoctor, GoodRx’s telehealth service. HeyDoctor visits cost a flat fee of $20, regardless of your insurance (and even without insurance). They’re currently offering free COVID-19 screening consults.
  • Check out new programs directly from insulin manufacturers. Eli Lilly , Novo Nordisk, and Insulet have recently set up new affordability programs.
  • I Lost My Job: This global pandemic has quickly turned into an economic crisis, with millions of Americans losing their jobs and having their work hours cut, in short order. In the US, losing a job can often mean also losing your health insurance, which is terrifying for someone living with diabetes. Check out our guide to finding affordable health care if you find yourself recently unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

We’re living in extraordinary times, but having an emergency preparedness plan in place can help you manage circumstances in these extreme conditions. What are some ways in which you’ve planned for the worst (but hoped for the best?). What has helped you the most? Share this post and comment below; we love hearing your stories.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Automated Insulin Delivery: Six Universal Observations and Understandings

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Laurel Messer

Six universal facts about automated insulin delivery systems, and the things you should keep in mind about this revolutionary technology

Automated insulin delivery (AID) systems are moving towards the forefront of diabetes management. AID systems combine continuous glucose monitors (CGM) with smart algorithms to automatically adjust insulin delivery.

The Tandem Control-IQ system was recently cleared by the FDA, and the Insulet Horizon and Medtronic Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop systems are beginning pivotal trials. These are encouraging developments. As more systems move through the pipeline and eventually into the commercial market, important patterns are emerging in user expectations and user experience. As a diabetes nurse, certified diabetes educator and research investigator, I, along with my team at the Barbara Davis Center, have worked with nearly every AID system in the pipeline, and other systems that will never make it to market. Here are six insights we have gleaned, which seem to be universal (thus far) to all AID systems:

1. You can always beat an AID system with compulsive diabetes management

Many people with diabetes compulsively attend to diabetes care in order to achieve ultra-tight glucose ranges – and are the first to ask about automated systems. What ends up happening is that these “super-users” are invariably frustrated that the system is not yielding the same results that they were able to achieve with their own calculations and management. An important point is that many automated systems are excellent at reducing mental burden for taking care of diabetes, excellent at reducing hypoglycemia, and adequate at improving glucose levels. Humans can beat automated systems if they attend to diabetes care near-constantly. The individuals who will likely be satisfied with AID are those who are comfortable with an A1C in the 7s or above, but they want to reduce the mental load of adjusting settings and micromanaging high glucose levels. The most important question to ask is, “Why do I want to start using an automated system?” If it is to achieve near-perfect glucose levels, the system will likely disappoint. If it is to reduce the burden of “thinking like a pancreas” all the time, it may be a good option. AID will excel at the marathon of diabetes care but may disappoint in the hour-to-hour sprint.

2. Systems work best when you let them work

Using both research and commercial systems, we have seen all the ways to “trick” AID systems—entering phantom carbohydrates, changing set points, performing manual corrections, overriding recommended doses. More often than not, these behaviors lead to glucose instability – reactionary highs and lows from the system destabilizing. All systems will perform best if they are used according to user instructions. This is difficult for the individual who would prefer to micro-adjust settings or desire control over all insulin delivery. Most systems work best when users learn to trust them.

3. Give the system a chance – 2-4 weeks before deciding long term potential

It may benefit us to think about AID like a new significant relationship – it can take some time to “settle.” I mean this both on an interaction level (learning how to respond to alerts, when to intervene, when to let it ride) and on an algorithm level (allowing the system to adjust internal algorithm parameters based on usage). In addition, programmable user settings may need some adjustment in the first few weeks of use, so working with diabetes educators can be helpful for initial set-up and early follow-up.

4. Bolusing is still king

If I could go back in time, I would caution device manufacturers against any whisper of not needing to bolus with AID systems. Bolusing is the singular most important action a person with diabetes can do to optimize insulin delivery on current and near-future automated systems. This will be true until insulin action time gets exponentially faster or artificial intelligence gets better at predicting human behavior, neither of which is on the immediate horizon. In order for people with diabetes to see the best performance on any system (automated or manual), they need to bolus before carbohydrates are consumed. Specific to AID, the timing of the bolus (prior to carb intake) is especially important, as the system will automatically increase insulin delivery after an initial rise of glucose levels, so a late bolus (e.g., after the meal) could lead to insulin stacking and hypoglycemia.

5. Rethinking low treatments

Low glucose levels (hypoglycemia) still happen when using automated systems. What is different with AID is that the system has been trying to prevent the low by reducing/suspending insulin, possibly hours before the low occurs. This means that an individual may need to consume significantly fewer carbs to bring glucose levels back into range – perhaps 5-10 grams of carb at first, reassessing 15-20 minutes later. This can be difficult when wanting to eat everything in sight; however, it can reduce the chance of rebounding into the 200s after over-treating.

6. Infusion sets are still infusion sets

While AID algorithms are revolutionary, the infusion set is not. It is the same plastic or steel cannula that occludes, kinks, or inflames. This hardware limits automated systems and can very quickly lead to hyperglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). It is important for people using AID to recognize signs of infusion set failure – persistent hyperglycemia, boluses that do not bring glucose levels down, ketones, vomiting, etc. Knowing how to treat ketones (via syringe injection of insulin and set change) can prevent a hospital admission or worse.

I love that the diabetes community learns from its members and experiences. Check out our Barbara Davis Center PANTHER (Practical Advanced THERapies for diabetes) website for our team’s latest insights on automated insulin delivery, and tools for people with diabetes, clinicians, and engineers.

Are you considering AID? Feel free to share this article with your healthcare team. For more information about AID systems that are currently available or in the pipeline, click here.

About Laurel

Laurel H. Messer is a nurse scientist and certified diabetes educator at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO. She has spent the last 15 years studying how to best utilize new diabetes technologies, and remembers fondly teaching families to wrap up their corded CGM system in a plastic shower bag for bathing. Ok, not that fondly, but look how far we have come! Dr. Messer works with the Barbara Davis Center PANTHER team (Practical Advanced Therapies for diabetes), conducting clinical research trials on promising technologies to make life better for children, adolescents, and adults living with type 1 diabetes. Get in touch at Laurel.Messer@cuanschutz.edu

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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