Coronavirus, Coping and Diabetes

May 8, 2020
Diasome.comDiasome BlogCoronavirus, Coping and Diabetes
Kelly Kunik
Kelly Kunik is a diabetes advocate, myth-buster, writer, speaker and consultant with four decades of living with type 1 diabetes under her belt. She launched her diabetes blog, Diabetesaliciousness, in 2007 in the hopes of busting diabetes myths, while spread diabetes validation through humor, ownership, advocacy, knowledge - and with the hopes of encouraging others to live their best lives with diabetes. Kunik’s blog has earned well over 2.1 million views and has been recognized by Healthline as a top diabetes blog for the last five years. Kelly has written for multiple diabetes and health publications (both online and off), is a diabetes speaker, panelist, and sits on several diabetes advisory and editorial boards. You can find her on Twitter @diabetesalish, Instagram @diabetesalish, and Facebook by clicking HERE.
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Coronavirus is here. It’s scary.
So much to think about, so many unknowns - it’s a lot to take in.
Our stress levels are running high and our routines are anything but.
We are grieving for what was normal while fearing the uncertainty of our new normal and how long it will last.

It’s overwhelming.

So, how do we deal with all of the above and manage our diabetes? Here are a few suggestions to help you manage.

1.   Keep Trying
Seriously, keep trying.  

2.   Wash Your Hands. Wash Them Right. Wash Them Often 
Washing our hands for at least 20 seconds (the length of singing“Happy Birthday” twice) with soap and warm water is one of the best precautions we can take when it comes to protecting ourselves from the coronavirus.

Bonus: here’s a link to a list of 40 songs to sing when you can’t handle another verse of “Happy Birthday!”

3.   Routines Help
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. “Try” being the operative word. If possible, start working in your home office at the same time each day. Give yourself and your family time to decompress!

Develop a routine for when you do have to leave the house in terms of wearing a mask, and bringing hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes with you. Also, create a disinfecting protocol or routine for when you return home - and allow for extra time to complete it.

4.   Wipe Surfaces DownMultiple Times a Day!
Set daily reminders on your phone to wipe down counters, door knobs, cabinets, faucets, light switches, mailboxes, handles, appliances, remotes, phones, etc.  

5.   Ease Your Mind and Create a Sick Day Game Plan
If you haven’t already, make a game plan with your healthcare professional for sick days. Also, create electronic and paper lists containing phone numbers for your healthcare team, emergency contacts and pharmacy. Also, create an up to date medications list that includes dosages and instructions - diabetes and otherwise. Make sure you have your health insurance card (and an extra copy, if possible) with you. You can send yourself an email and/or pictures with all of the above to store it digitally in one place.

Make sure all your prescriptions are up to date and on automatic refill - many insurance companies have made allowances for early refills and are waiving early refill fees. For a detailed list of health insurance companies that have created new refill allowances, click here.

Keep low glucose treatments (soda, juice, glucose tabs, crackers, etc.) along with your meter and/or continuous glucose monitor (CGM) by your bedside at all times and keep an eye on both your blood sugars and ketones. For the record, high ketones can occur with normal and low blood sugars when you’re sick.

If you do require a trip to the emergency room, bring at least three weeks’ worth of glucose testing strips plus any meter or CGM supplies, if you have them. Hospitals are overwhelmed and may not have the staff to continually monitor your blood sugars properly. Bringing your own supplies during this time is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and allows everyone to maintain safe social distancing. The American Diabetes Association offers more details on the subject here.

6.   Continue to Check and Correct Your Blood Sugars - Cut Yourself Some Slack
We’re all dealing with some major stress and may be experiencing feelings of depression. Many of us are stress-eating and our exercise routines may have been disrupted because gyms and yoga studios are closed, as are most hiking trails, parks and beaches. 42 factors affect our blood sugar - our blood sugar numbers reflect EVERYTHING we are going through.

Check your blood sugars more often than you normally would. If you’re on insulin therapy, check, correct and remind yourself that:
A.   You don’t have a perfectly functioning pancreas/metabolic system.
B.   Nobody living with diabetes has perfect blood sugars. NOBODY.
C.   You are doing your best and dealing with a lot - cut your self some slack and be proud of yourself for getting back up!

7.   Move
If you have a backyard or basement, consider using them as home workout areas. There are boatloads of workouts available via on-demand, streaming, and apps - embrace them! Consider converting your outdoor bike into a stationary one for about $20. Personally, I’m staying close to home, but if you are truly able to safely take a 30-minute walk/hike and maintain safe social distancing practices, OK.

WEAR A MASK, bring hand sanitizer and low blood glucose treats with you. Set the timer on your smart phone for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn around and head home.

8.   Do Your Best to Eat Healthy & Embrace Treat Days
My pantry is doubly stocked with both healthy options and not so healthy options. Like many, I noticed I was eating more often and eating more challenging foods.

I recently signed up for locally owned organic fruit and veggie delivery service twice a month, which results in me wasting less food and eating more fresh vegetables and/or fruit - and at $19 a week, it works with my budget.

Sheltering in place forces me to get creative with new recipes -combining fresh, canned, and frozen foods to make delicious and healthy meals.I also utilize my local grocer’s curbside delivery service for when I run out of staples like almond milk, coffee, laundry detergent, popsicles, etc. Curbside delivery is now free at most grocery stores.

And…I allow myself to enjoy my treat meals and bolus accordingly!

9. Stay Connected to Friends And Family
Check in with your people - call, text, video chat, drop a letter in snail-mail, do a social distance drive-by and let them know you’re thinking of them!

Share your story with us.

Diasome seeks to serve people with diabetes by developing cutting-edge therapies and by serving as a forum for our community to educate and inform others about the challenges and successes in living with diabetes. We actively seek perspectives from the rich and diverse world of clinicians, scientists, thought leaders and people with diabetes. To share your unique perspective with us, email Diasome at info@diasome.com

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