I recently attended an event about chronic illness and there was a woman on a panel who has severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). She was about 28 years old and told me about the extensive thought process she had to go through before attending various events, including the one we were at that day. Although our diseases are very different, it got me thinking about my own diabetes, and the mental checklist I need to go through before I leave the house. It's as though I have a newborn baby with me at all times, and I never get to put her down. She's unpredictable, often demanding and heavy--especially when I have to lug around a giant bag with all those supplies and anticipate her needs. BG (blood glucose) monitoring kit? Check. Back up pump supplies (insulin, at least 2 insertion changes and reservoirs), and glucose tablets. Check, check, check, check, check and check. This task becomes even more complicated if I’m being fancy and carrying a small purse! Where is all this stuff supposed to go?! Not to mention that many of the guys I know with diabetes often carry backpacks, so what would they do if they were trying to be fancy?! I’d like to see James Bond haul all this stuff around in that tuxedo he wears. My point is, diabetes, as well as many other chronic conditions, often require additional mental energy. Over the years, we learn “diabetes life hacks” to make these things a little easier. For example, I carry juice and extra pump supplies in my car and I have multiple tubes of glucose tablets in each bag/purse so that I do not need to continually switch them as I rotate fashion accessories. I also keep a list by the door of the things I need to have with me when I leave the house (PICKIT: Pump, Insulin, Cell phone, Kit, ID and Tabs). Another thing that has been very helpful is having a network of people who have diabetes and could loan you glucose tablets or other important things should you find yourself in a tight spot. But constantly being prepared can be tiresome. One of the most helpful thing has been to pay attention to when I’m feeling overwhelmed and to “keep tabs” on where I’m at with the diabetes tasks. Some days I feel fine and have no problem. Others I feel burdened and bogged down. Just noticing these things helps because they’re flags that let you know you might need a little bit of extra support that day. When you express this and ask for the things you need, you avoid blow-outs because that frustration is going to creep up one way or another, and it’s often better to say what it is that’s actually bothering you as opposed to getting in a fight with a loved one because they asked if you’ve checked your blood sugar. Sometimes my partner will ask me if I’m low and it won’t bother me but other days, it will. This is a sign that 1) he’s right and I’m actually low—arg! or 2) my tolerance level for diabetes is going low and I need some support—whether that’s a hug or an offer to carry my glucose tablets in his pocket so I don’t have to put them in my tiny purse.