I’m the forgetful type – I’ve locked myself out of my apartment, forgotten my phone on the way to important meetings and, yes, even managed to leave behind my life-sustaining medication. I still remember the heart-sinking feeling of ordering food at a restaurant and then realizing that my insulin pen was nowhere to be found.
That day at the restaurant, a woman sitting on the other side of the table noticed I was upset and asked if I was okay. When I explained to her that I had forgotten my insulin, she reached into her bag, produced her own pen and an unused pen-tip, and offered to let me dose.* With that, I ordered dessert! I was touched by her willingness to help.
This experience came full-circle for me last year at work. A coworker asked if I had any extra pen-tips, as he had left his at home. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any unused ones on me and I was unable to help. This left me feeling quite peeved at myself.
I’ve come to realize that it’s important for people with Type 1 to support each other. I now keep multiple pen tips in my backpack at all times. I also keep a stash of lancets, glucose tablets, and sometimes even spare insulin vials. While this is partially an effort to be more prepared for my own forgetfulness, it also makes sure I’m equipped to help diabetic friends in need.
It is amazing to see the diabetes community pull together as a team. Once, a friend messaged me to ask if I knew where to track down a specific kind of pump reservoir. She had friends visiting from out-of-town and one friend had left his extra supplies at home. We called around to several pharmacies, tweeted the pump company and online sales companies, and put out several social media posts asking for help. The outpouring of offers to help from friends and companies made us feel good about the world. The pump company even offered to ship me, a past customer, a box of reservoirs at no cost to help this friend-of-a-friend. In the end, we found a pharmacy that carried the reservoir.
Another time, a good friend of mine ran out of insulin while in-town for the holidays. He rushed over to my apartment on New Year’s Eve to borrow a vial and it felt like an episode of James Bond – quick text messages, fancy clothing, and a hand-off of a vial.
These stories, awesome as they may be, are just a drop in the bucket. Whether it’s pump companies going out of their way to assist a customer, tweets of available supplies for donation, or just an online friend who can offer advice, the support of the diabetes community has been invaluable for me. It’s helped me in my moments of need, and I’ll continue looking for ways to pay it forward.
*Yes, I’m aware that it is not proper medical protocol to share pens. This is not something I can recommend others do. There can be a risk of bloodborne pathogens, even with changed tips.
Insulin Nation does not endorse sharing diabetes pens.
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