The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Diabetes Edition


General question for FUDders: Does diabetes figure into your daily calculations regarding potentially getting stuck on an elevator? Potentially being stuck in traffic? Stuck on a subway? Potentially being locked out of your house?

I think about this because I work in a building that is heavily fobbed, and the fobs misbehave often. One coworker got stuck in the women’s restroom due to a fob malfunction…without her cell phone…on a Friday evening…and she was lucky that there happened to be one person left on the floor who heard her pounding on the bathroom door and managed to override the fob to let her out for the WEEKEND. I have been locked out of my office hallway (i.e. trapped in the lobby) while the door fobs were malfunctioning.

Our elevator also misbehaves a significant percentage of the time. My coworker got stuck in the elevator between floors for an hour last month.

On the home front, I’ve had crazy circumstances leading to being locked out of our house.

Do these types of scenarios figure into your planning? Do you keep a phone on you at all times? A sugar source? Or do you not worry about it?



Wait until you see what I recently made. Was planning on posting it but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

I’ll show pics when I get home.

Same page, Alli!


Yep. Definitely figures into plans. When I was doing my practicum last year, myself and a colleague were the only ones staying on a campus over the weekend. The first weekend there we left to go grocery shopping only to find the single fob we’d brought didn’t work. We had phones, but didn’t know anyone in the city. Luckily after a few hours my colleague spotted someone leaving one of the buildings and they were able to let us in.

Because I had all my medical supplies with me, we could’ve gone and stayed in a hotel with little stress.

At home, I always make sure I have about 1000 units of insulin on me. We’re in an earthquake zone and have nine major bridges in the area (and countless minor ones). If “the big one” hit during the day, it’s very likely it would be a few days till I could get home. Especially since I can’t drive and transit would be shut down.


Also, I have gotten stuck in an elevator before. Only five minutes before someone came and fixed it after we hit the alarm button. But since I use one daily in my apartment building, I do think about it sometimes.

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I know that insulin is only half of it. It’s tough to carry a large supply of sugar around. But…eventually the shelf-stable glucagon will make that very easy.

For now, I wanted to take care of the insulin.

I thought of this a few months ago, when the boys soccer team was stuck in the cave in Thailand. I just want to level the playing field if I was in that cave. As long as I have insulin with me, I have about the same chance as anyone else.

It took me a while and some experimentation, but I wanted to have an insulin supply that was always with me, no matter what! With that in mind, it needed to be small and easy to carry, and also with a method of delivery.

Here is what I came up with.

Started with some mechanical pencil cases, because of the size.

Wrapped it in tape to keep the insulin from light exposure (since I am wearing it all the time now):

I went with a 28 gauge syringe, since I would only have one syringe and would need to be reused, the syringe needs to be very durable. The 28 gauge will last longer than the finer needles. I also shortened it by cutting the barrel and the plunging mechanism and also the cap so it just fits with no excess:


I used a NovoLog Flexpen cartridge, because they are smaller than the Humalog cartridges. It has 80 units in it, which is about 6-7 days worth of insulin for me under starvation conditions. Maybe even more if I needed to push it!

Here are some of the parts, before putting them together. The protective cover for the insulin cartridge is one of the mechanical pencil parts. It fits perfectly!


Now, how am I gonna carry it?!? I made a paracord bracelet that wrapped around the mechanical pencil protective cover.



Here are all the parts:

And here it is all together. 80 units of insulin, well protected in a plastic case, and a small but sturdy syringe, all enclosed in a very small paracord bracelet that is now something I am used to wearing. I don’t even notice it anymore, it’s very comfortable.

Once the shelf-stable glucagon comes out, I will incorporate that into the whole thing.

But anyway, this is what I consider a real survival bracelet.

I also made a different version that fits on a keychain. But this one feels pretty cool to me, and I don’t know that I would always have my car keys. So this is the default one I carry.


Very, very clever!


It’s with me everywhere I go. And has a pay phone inside.


Seriously? @Eric??

I have an urge to make fun of you right now…for some reason… oh, yes, that would be to distract myself from my feelings of inadequacy.

That’s really cool… and so impressive. I’d ask for one but know I probably wouldn’t be able to get it open. :smiley: I’ll have to settle for my new, sleek, see through backpack from Target where I keep all of my syringes and credit cards. Baby steps.


Unbelievably cool.


@T1Allison, what an interesting scenario analysis!

My son normally wears his tiny sling backpack with him at all times, along with his cellphone (and an extra battery bank for the phone in his small slingbag).

But I am sure that, if he worked in an office (he is too young for that) he may occasionally leave his slingbag at his desk—so this may not work quite the same way in an office setting :slight_smile:

So now you are making me think. I must say that @Eric’s supercompact setup is quite an extraordinary idea: @Eric, you never cease to amaze me!


While at work, I keep my ID/fob and phone with me at ALL times. I do not use the elevator anymore (it’s only a three story building). Even though the doors leading from the stairwells into the hallways sometimes misbehave due to screwy fob readers, I can always fully exit the building from the stairwells…in which case if I needed a sugar source there is a gas station and a pharmacy across the street if I needed something. I typically keep a GU or juice box or tabs with me for extended meetings or walks around the building. I do not bolus for my lunch until I have it physically with me at my desk…and I never go through a fobbed entry point (i.e. out to the lobby to go to the bathroom or whatever) after taking a bolus UNLESS I have enough carbs on me to cover the bolus if I get locked out for a while (i.e. no bathroom breaks during prebolus wait times anymore!).

I probably wouldn’t be this regimented at work if it weren’t for the number of door/elevator issues we’ve had.

At home, I never go outside without my phone, a sugar source, and I leave multiple doors unlocked if I’m not carrying my keys.

I have juice boxes squirreled all through my van and my home. I carry at least 140 grams of sugar, 2 pods, syringes, glucagon, etc in my purse.

I try to keep my bases covered.


Wow. Planning ahead, Allison. At work, I’m on a single story without any super secure fobs, so less problems that way. I keep a candy jar at my desk (Smarties) and a backup meter in my bag, plus more Smarties in the bag. The bag also houses my normal tester and pens.
It accompanies me to and from work, and into the field, when I’m on a project inspection, etc.

This triggers me to think about another element of the plan: making sure co-workers know the basics about diabetes. I think others on this site have informed their co-workers well… I’ve only ever really briefed those who’ve accompanied me into the field, and not really those in the office… They know I’m diabetic, but probably don’t know much more than that. This sounds like a good topic for an informal “lunch & learn” with co-workers, as I think about it more.

BTW, @Eric … That’s really neat mcgyvering, there


I have a spi-belt and a spi-wrist thing for these situations. When I was on my practicum I often left my stuff in one part of the building and taught in another. The spi-belt was super helpful for being able to bring necessities with me (in my case I didn’t put insulin in it, since I do have my pump, it was more things like glucose tablets, epipens, and an inhaler).

Sort of related to this topic, I currently carry a huge backpack like @Nickyghaleb but I’ve been trying to think of how to downsize lately. I not only have medical stuff in my backpack but also assistive technology, food, rain gear (this time of year), and sometimes other things I’ll need for the day. I’m currently dealing with extreme fatigue and a variety of foot issues that flare up periodically (and are currently flaring badly, probably due to my fatigue). Yesterday and today I struggled to walk five minutes to the bus stop and to work and then 15 minutes to another location with colleagues. Today I was even wearing my ankle braces, which helped, but even walking super slow (people carrying heavy stuff ahead of me kept having to stop and wait), my ankles and muscles were killing me, and I’m positive my ankles would have given out had it not been for the braces. Sigh.

I’ve been thinking that the weight of my backpack can’t be helping my issues, but last night I went through it and couldn’t find anything that was non-essential except my swimming gear (which doesn’t weight that much, and would be nice to have because if I want to swim the pool is on the way home). It is really frustrating me, because I don’t have a car (or bike) to store things in like most people do, and although I have an office, I’m frequently working in other locations (this week I’m only in the office twice, for example, the other three days are other locations).

I hope this isn’t too off-topic, but I think it’s related because it’s carrying the essentials that you’ll need during a day and/or possible emergency without carrying too much…


The toughest thing to carry is the sugar, since it is so much bigger.

This is one thing I have seen for an emergency carry option. But it doesn’t hold a whole lot of them.


I think most of you are more organized about this than I am. I too work in a one story building that’s not all that secured, so just leaving my desk for a minute I don’t worry much about it. However, any time I’m going to be in a meeting, or taking a walk around the building or something, I take my phone. I use my phone for Dexcom, so as long as I have my phone, I have that info. There’s a CVS and Starbucks within a very short walk of my office, so in an emergency where for some reason I couldn’t get back inside, I could use Apple Pay or my Starbucks app to buy a quick snack if I didn’t have my wallet. As long as I have access to my desk, I have everything else I need there.


Absolutely. Recently took a 2 week trip to Germany and along with backup pump supplies I brought enough pens, etc. in case of multiple cartridge failures (which has occured). Could have brought a spare pump (loaner) but was traveling with 1 carryon and a backpack so space limitations were a big factor.
But when the tour description states “leisurely 30 minute uphill walk”, it’s hard to plan ahead for an appropriate basal rate. (It turned out to be a steep hill). As well as walking up and down steps in castles, bicycling (is that uphill or steady level pedaling?), sitting for extended periods on boats and trains. I am very thankful for my Dexcom and the phone app!
I always have Smarties with me and my phone when I walk my dog.
Thanks for all your ideas!


This is why I do not ever camp. Like ever.

Haha! I don’t camp ever, either. But for other reasons :joy: hot water and shampoo, please!

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I know it can be harder to execute. But it is quite possible with some planning! Last summer my two sons (including my T1D teen) and I spent a week kayak-camping in the Apostles Islands. Then, later that summer, my T1D son and my wife went traveling for two weeks in Costa Rica, largely (although not totally) in camping conditions.

I never want my son to feel that he is limited by diabetes :slight_smile: I don’t think he is. He just has to be ready to tackle the unexpected when it occurs.


On a related note to my original thought process for this thread, part of my concern in moving houses was my diabetes support network. Being a solo parent so much of the time, I definitely appreciated the comfort of having lots of neighbors who knew my health concerns and could be counted on in a pinch. I was also concerned about my boys’ comfort in running to a neighbor’s house for help should I ever need it.

Very happily, I am very comfortable at my new home. We bought an interior lot…meaning we back up to a bunch of other houses and their yards. Fencing rules in this neighborhood are strict, so it’s basically common green space behind our homes. My boys have already made three friends and I have met three families so far. I’ve gotten phone numbers for some of them. I haven’t outed myself as a T1D yet since I don’t want to come on too strong in new neighbor friendships, but I am glad that my boys are settling in and would probably be comfortable running across some backyards for help. They never were comfortable going out front of our old house and walking long sidewalks to neighbor houses by themselves. Not entirely sure why since we played out front frequently, but it freaked them out.

So, anyways, T1D was a consideration in all the factors about moving…but it did not win and I’m glad that it didn’t because this has already turned out better than expected.