Until our grandson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes we were completely unaware of what’s a D bag let alone what may be in one.
First, let me clarify that I don’t in any way mean the slang version of a d-bag meaning dirtbag.
I am referring to a Diabetes bag and anyone who has type 1 diabetes or has a family member with it will be all too familiar with it and its contents.
This bag goes everywhere you go. You are never without it and it is always within easy reach.
Our grandson actually has two.
One is quite small and is used for short trips. Driving him to school, or when he comes here to visit.
He also has a larger one that is used for when he will be away from home for a longer time like overnight or on vacation.
Regardless of which bag he has with him it is important we never forget it and never lose it.
His life depends upon it.
Our grandson’s small D-bag is the one that gets used every single day. It goes with Alex everywhere he goes even if we think we are only going to be five minutes.
Lows can happen anytime, anywhere and for no apparent reason so it is important to always be prepared.
Our grandson is also hypoglycemic unaware which means he hasn’t yet learned to feel his lows coming on.
Another reason to keep that little D-bag handy at all times.
Diabetes supplies are temperature sensitive so you need to be sure you use an insulated bag.
So what is in his small D-bag?
The outside pocket of Alex’s D-bag contains the scanner for his CGM (continuous glucose monitor).
This little piece of equipment has saved a LOT of finger pokes.
It is so simple to use, we just scan the little disc he wears on his arm and it tells us his blood glucose levels.
The one Alex uses has a fifteen-minute delay which we need to always keep in mind.
If he scans low, we always do a finger poke before treating him to get a more up-to-date number.
Glucose testing kit
The glucose test kit contains everything we need to test his blood sugar levels manually or by finger pokes.
The contents are:
- alcohol swabs
- lancet device
- test strips
- blood glucose meter
Insulin Pen Needle
Type 1 diabetics will need to take insulin and your diabetes care team will help determine the best delivery method for you.
Insulin delivery methods include:
- traditional syringe
- pen needle
- insulin pump
We use a pen needle for our grandson.
He has been asking about an insulin pump so that may be something we switch to in the future.
Ketone Test Strips
When a type 1 diabetic has high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) over a long period of time they can develop ketones risking diabetic ketoacidosis which is a life-threatening complication of diabetes.
If Alex has been running high we always test for ketones and call his doctor if ketones are present.
Fast Acting Sugar Snacks
Because we frequently check Alex’s glucose levels we often catch lows (hypoglycemia) before they are serious.
When lows occur a fast-acting sugar snack will start raising those blood sugars again.
Be careful though, you don’t want to overcorrect and cause a spike.
So what do we use?
With Alex being so young, 6-years-old, we have found Skittles, fruit to go or apple juice tends to work great for him.
We also keep sucrose tabs on hand in case we don’t have snacks.
Glucagon Emergency Kit
Every type 1 will carry a glucagon kit.
There is now a new type of nasal glucagon that is apparently easier to use.
We still have the syringe kit.
The glucagon kit is only to be used in an emergency.
For instance, if Alex were to go so low he was unconscious or unable to eat any sugar snacks on his own.
Simply follow the directions and give the injection.
The person will usually come around quite quickly but you should still seek medical advice after a severe hypo.
As I mentioned earlier, the large bag is used when he comes for a sleepover, or anytime he is going to be away from home for a long period of time.
Alex has a duplicate large bag that stays at his school in case he needs anything that is not in his small bag while he is at school.
So what is in his large bag?
The large bag contains the small bag plus several other items.
We are using so many needles or lancet tips in the course of the day that we need a safe way to dispose of the sharps. Here in Canada, our local drugstore supplies us with multiple sharps containers. We simply return them to the drugstore when full for safe disposal.
Extra alcohol swabs
With so many finger pokes and injections throughout each day, you can never have too many alcohol swabs. It is actually surprising how many you go through.
You don’t want to be caught without them when you need to do a finger poke or give an injection.
It has happened where a tip has bent and we need to replace the lancet while we are out and about. Always have extras with you so you can easily and safely test blood sugars.
Extra Sensor for CGM
With an active 6-year-old, you never know when the sensor may get bumped and need replacing. This has happened several times and thankfully we have had a spare with us.
Charger for CGM scanner
I don’t know how many times I have gone to scan Alex only to find the battery is low and it can’t read the results. When this happens we resort to doing a finger poke until the reader is charged again.
Any time Alex comes for a sleepover his parents include the charger in his large bag.
Extra needles for pen needle
With a minimum of 4 injections a day we need to ensure we have enough needle tips for his pen needles. The big bag contains a box of tips.
Bottle of test strips
You don’t want to get caught without any test strips so it is a good idea to always carry extras. We keep the current bottle with the test kit and a spare bottle in the large bag.
Ketone test strips
Ketone test strips are another thing we always keep extra of. You never know when they will be needed.
We have found that in summer, the hot temperatures tend to keep Alex running high.
In order to avoid full-blown DKA, we test for ketones when he is running high and not coming down enough with his regular insulin ratios.
It is imperative to always have enough insulin with you. You can’t just go pick up more anywhere and you certainly don’t want to run out when you need it.
Each diabetic takes their long-lasting insulin at different times depending on what your doctor has told you.
Alex takes his at 6 in the morning but he used to take it at bedtime.
There is always his long-lasting insulin in his big bag when he comes for sleepovers.
His big bag at school doesn’t have long-lasting in it.
Lows can happen anytime and anywhere so you need to always have enough fast-acting sugar snacks available.
Things that are either individually packaged or have a long shelf life are perfect.
Glucose tablets are kept in his big bag as well as his small bag.
Diabetics react to different foods differently. For us, it was a bit of an experiment to find what worked best for Alex.
We typically give him 5 skittles then wait 15 minutes and test him again. If his levels have started to rise we are good to go, if not we give him another 5 skittles and test again in 15 minutes.
He usually only needs about a quarter cup of apple juice to start raising his blood sugars.
Some people find that small Halloween size chocolate bars work. For Alex, they don’t work fast enough when he is low.
Fruit to go works well also and they are individually wrapped.
For Alex, we give him half and see if that starts raising his blood sugars.
Traveling with a diabetic requires a LOT of pre-planning but it can be done.
Before traveling with a type 1 diabetic be sure to talk with your doctor about where you are going and how long you intend to be there.
Make sure you have enough supplies with you because they may not be so easy to access in foreign countries.
Will you be flying?
Be sure to keep your temperature-sensitive diabetes supplies in your carry-on bag.
Enough snacks are even more critical when traveling because mealtimes may be different and delayed meals can really mess up those blood sugars.
For more information on traveling with a diabetic check out my article Travelling with type 1 diabetes.
We now know what is in a D-bag and each diabetic will carry a D-bag everywhere they go.
It is important for type 1 diabetics to always have blood glucose testing equipment handy as well as a supply of insulin and fast-acting sugar snacks.
Some items will be needed even for short trips out and others mainly for longer trips or overnight.
We all know how expensive diabetes supplies any savings are certainly welcome.
Do you have a D-bag?
What is in yours?
Do you have any useful tips that may help others?
Leave your answers in the comment section below and remember to check out saving on diabetic supplies.