Preparing for Diabetes and Natural Disasters

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Pregnancy Tracker: 29 weeks

    Size of the Baby: Crown to rump length is over 10 inches

    Biggest Obstacle: Staying out of the smoky air.


    I live in San Diego, Calif. and have been dealing with the consequences of a natural disaster this week. Several wildfires broke out on Sunday, driven by high heat, low humidity, drought conditions, and intense Santa Ana winds.


    While my husband and I live near downtown, relatively far away from the burning areas, we have been impacted. Both of our offices were closed Monday and Tuesday this week. My office was actually in the evacuated area all day Tuesday. While at home, we sat on the couch watching the continuous local news coverage of the fires for hours.

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    Even though the chance of our neighborhood being evacuated was fairly remote, my husband and I discussed the list of things we'd grab if we did have to leave. My insulin, pump supplies, and glucose monitoring equipment were at the top of the list. Some healthy foods and "low blood sugar reaction treaters" also made the cut. I started to think of all the diabetics that undoubtedly were made to evacuate their homes. With a total population of over half a million evacuees, there must have been thousands. Hopefully they all were able to grab the medications and equipment they needed.


    Yesterday, my mom, my husband, and I purchased items to donate to the evacuees. The city had set up evacuation shelters, the largest being at Qualcomm Stadium. We picked up travel sized hand sanitizer, sunscreen, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, and baby wipes, along with pillows, water, non-perishable foods, and decks of cards. I grabbed some juice boxes which my family thought would be good for kids, but I responded, "Or diabetics." While tons of food were donated to the shelters, when your blood sugar is low, something convenient like a juice box sure is nice.


    I've noticed that the media has focused on diabetics in particular during recent natural disasters. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, diabetics in need of insulin and other medications made the national news repeatedly. I remember having a few spare boxes of syringes and vials of insulin on hand, which I shipped to the Red Cross in New Orleans. Likewise, the local media coverage has put the word out that the shelters are stocking items for diabetics who had to flee the fires without their medications.


    Once you've lived with diabetes for some length of time, your care becomes so ingrained, such a routine, that you forget how difficult the disease would be to manage without the comforts of home. Natural disasters quickly teach us that nothing is assured and that diabetes is an extremely serious disease.


    Even though I'm home and safe, this large scale natural disaster has had an impact on my health. The smoky, ash-filled air is obviously unhealthy to breathe which has kept me indoors, derailing my swimming and walking routine. The lack of exercise means that the insulin resistance I'm experiencing is even harder to combat.


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    Not that I'm complaining! A couple days without swimming and staying indoors almost exclusively might make me a little stir crazy, but ultimately it's not doing me, or the baby, much harm. We're so lucky to be in our home, eating food of our choice, and sleeping in our own bed this week, when so many others are not as fortunate.


    To read more about Kelsey's pregnancy, see here.

    To see ADA's emergency preparedness tips, click here.

Published On: October 25, 2007