When my sixteen-year-old daughter Jenny was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a certified diabetes educator gave her a rubber bracelet imprinted with the words “TYPE ONE DIABETES,” and told her that she should wear a medical identification bracelet at all times. It didn’t have to be this exact bracelet, the CDE continued, but it had to be a bracelet which identified her medical condition and which would be noticed by first responders in an emergency situation.
Knowing my daughter well, I thought to myself, “There’s no way that she’s going to wear that rubber bracelet every day.” Later, I suggested that Jenny and I look online for a bracelet that she would feel comfortable wearing.
While searching online for diabetes bracelets, I discovered many other non-prescription diabetes aids and accessories. Some products were purely aesthetic, making one aspect of diabetes management more attractive, stylish, or appealing to a certain gender or age group. Others were functional, solving a specific problem in diabetes management.
Many of the diabetes aids and accessories I found online were invented by parents who had identified a problem for which there was no good, available solution and decided to create one themselves.
Little did I know when Jenny was diagnosed with T1D that I would join the ranks of parents who identified a problem in diabetes management and decided to create a product to solve it. My product is the DON’T FORGET YOUR DIABETES SUPPLIES door hanger.
What parent or individual with Type 1 diabetes has never left home without the diabetes supplies? For years, before we left home for an overnight stay or vacation, I would scribble “diabetes supplies” on a sticky note and post to the inside of the door. This was my reminder method, but I always knew that it wasn’t a good solution. A sticky note was small and easily overlooked. It could fall to the floor. It creased and tore easily, and it wasn’t usually reusable.
From time to time, I looked for a product that would be an effective reminder to take the diabetes supplies with us before we left home, but I never found one. If one had existed and I had found it, I definitely would have bought it.
I am lucky that Jenny is a responsible individual, but she too has left home a few times without her diabetes supplies. Most recently, she and her college housemates left their off-campus apartment in Washington, D.C. to attend a formal event their university held at a historic location in the city. In the excitement of getting dressed up, meeting other friends, taking pictures, and boarding the Metro to get to the event, Jenny forgot to take her diabetes supplies. She realized it as soon as her group arrived at the event. She requested an Uber car, and asked the driver to take her back to her apartment, wait outside until she returned with her supplies, then drive her back to the dance. She solved the problem, but it cost her money, time and energy she wouldn’t have had to spend if she had remembered to take her supplies in the first place.
Leaving home without taking the diabetes supplies has happened to all of us because we’re all human and we all make mistakes. Life is busy, and it’s easy to forget something every now and then.
The moment when you realize that you have forgotten your diabetes supplies, you panic. Then you scramble to somehow get your hands on these supplies that you need as soon as possible to keep you alive and well. Wouldn’t it be great if you never again had to deal with the predicament of forgetting to take your diabetes supplies?
A few months ago, before Jenny left home to study abroad for a semester in New Zealand, I decided that I was going to actually create the DON’T FORGET YOUR DIABETES SUPPLIES door hanger, an idea which I had been considering for months. It would be similar to the “DO NOT DISTURB” door hangers used in hotels, but would be hung on the inside of the user’s door. The last thing a person touches when he or she leaves home is the door knob or handle of the door to the home. The DON’T FORGET YOUR DIABETES SUPPLIES door hanger, which hangs on that very door knob or handle, would serve as a final reminder when leaving home. I wanted to have the finished product ready and in hand to give to Jenny to take with her before she left for New Zealand.
I had certain qualities in mind for the door hanger I wanted to produce. It had to be:
• easy to hang on door knobs or door handles;
• made from high-quality, durable material;
• reusable; and
I designed the door hanger myself and found a professional printing company that made the door hangers to my specifications. I originally wanted the door hanger for my own family, but I soon realized that others would want the item too. I ordered a large quantity and began selling them in person and online.
The door hanger is for sale through my website. One door hanger costs $4.99. A three-pack of the same door hanger costs $9.99. I am also selling the door hangers on Etsy and eBay.
The reaction to the door hanger has been tremendous. Buyers really appreciate its simplicity and effectiveness. They like that it is affordable and that it solves a problem in diabetes management. Buyers are using it in their homes, dormitory rooms, offices, and hotel rooms. Some buyers tell me that they always keep it hanging from a door knob in their home. Others reserve it for times when they are going away for a night or more. Many people have bought the three-pack and hang one inside all the doors from which they may exit their home.
Diabetes management is burdensome. The DON’T FORGET YOUR DIABETES SUPPLIES door hanger eliminates one small, but critical, part of that burden. It is an item that I definitely would have purchased for my own family years ago if it had existed. Since it didn’t, I decided to create it– for my T1D and yours.
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