Simplifying Sick Days

We are in a new era of sick.

COVID-19 has altered the way we look at being under the weather and how we approach sickness.

In fact, it has changed and continues to change the way we do almost everything.

When I felt congested and more rundown than usual, my mind immediately gravitated to “you’ve got COVID-19.” And so out came Google. 

I scroll through the symptoms. I have enough to prompt a test.

Not Covid-19.

It felt like no other cold or flu I had ever experienced.

Simplifying the Complexities

Type 1 diabetes is a part of my life. ALWAYS.

When you catch a cold or fall ill with the flu, it puts stress on your body.

Being sick stresses your body and causes cortisol to be released prompting the body to make glucose. This signals the pancreas to lower insulin levels causing resistance.

When you feel nauseated or are struggling to keep food down, it can be hard to keep your glucose levels in range. In this situation, I find carbohydrate rich liquids help me avoid hypoglycemia. 

But this time I wasn’t trying to avoid low glucose levels. For the first time in a long time, I was struggling with consistent insulin resistance and elevated glucose levels as my body was fighting off sickness. And I was so grateful for my Omnipod DASH®.

Higher glucose levels meant I needed more insulin. A sick day using Omnipod DASH looks very different to when I was on multiple daily injections. Being able to increase my basal rate and effortlessly administer correction doses when needed, without any extra needles, means my sick day management is not only simplified but vastly improved.

Even if my symptoms are not. Another test.

Not Covid-19.

Having a sick day plan that is up to date, along with my Omnipod DASH, is what helped me navigate all the hurdles of what I affectionately refer to as Not Covid-19.

An Ounce of Prevention

Those of us living with T1D are already making up to 180 extra decisions every day, so being as prepared as possible will certainly help you navigate potentially problematic glucose levels. 

If living with type 1 diabetes has taught me anything, it is to be prepared for everything.

My grandmother used to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure.” It wasn’t something I necessarily understood as a child but certainly something I now take to heart especially when it comes to diabetes management. More than ever during sick days.

Whatever was brewing inside me was making fast work of the energy I had, so I revisited my sick day plan to make sure it was up to date. 

Below is my general plan for sick days. It is important to discuss with your healthcare team to determine what is best for you.

  1. Take your usual amounts of insulin and medications. Sometimes when you don’t feel well you really don’t want to do anything. Including managing diabetes. Life on Omnipod DASH not only simplifies my diabetes management but helps reduce any extra mental stress.
  2. Test your glucose levels more often. I am grateful for access to the Dexcom G6 CGM System* because it allows me to easily see my glucose trends and be proactive versus reactive in my decisions, something especially helpful when sick. However, I still finger poke at least 4-6 times per day when sick. 
  3. Test for ketones. It is important to understand when and how to test for ketones and ensure to have a ketone meter. Speak to your healthcare provider for your personalized sick day plan including what to do if you have ketones in your blood or urine.
  4. STAY HYDRATED! This is important. I increase my water intake when I am sick.
  5. Track your results. In this digital age, keeping a logbook may seem old school, but it really does help you move through sick days more easily when you have more information.
  6. Use The Kit and follow your sick day plan. It is important to be gentle with yourself but especially when sick. Sometimes a gentle reminder to follow the plan is necessary. More information about “The Kit” follows.

As the days wore on, the sickness shifted. And that meant my insulin needs also changed. The role my Omnipod DASH played in my management was undeniable.

Following my sick day regime, as set together with my healthcare team, I was able to adjust my basal rates with confidence and administer correction boluses to maintain in-range glucose levels.

Interested in learning more about the tubeless Omnipod DASH® Insulin Management System? Register for a free Pod Therapy 101 webinar here .

The Kit and Not Covid-19

Whatever this sickness was, it came in waves, carrying my glucose levels through its up and down motions.

And even though the symptoms shifted slightly, they all still appeared on that list when I launched Google. So. Again I tested.

Not Covid-19.

Let’s address “The Kit,” what it is and why you need one. And why I was grateful for mine during this last round of sick. 

Stemming from my need to be prepared, The Kit blossomed. It really isn’t anything fancy, just a small collection of easy to assemble items to keep stocked and on hand for when you get sick. Because getting sick is inevitable, so why not do what you can now to make it easier to navigate when it happens?

The Kit

  1. Extra diabetes supplies in an easy to grab location makes things like site changes or frequent glucose level testing easier to do in your current location (whether it’s the couch or your bed). Having extra ketone urine testing strips or a ketone meter should be included. When you are sick you don’t want to have to think any more than necessary. It can be overwhelming if an unexpected diabetes-related hiccup happens, having everything you need to navigate that at arm’s length is helpful and comforting.
  2. Your sick day plan should also be included and regularly reviewed. I have mine printed off and tucked in with my extra supplies. You could also keep a copy on your phone.
  3. Sick day food and drinks to help keep your glucose levels in range and keep you hydrated. Plus, a few things to bring you some comfort. Me? I always have a couple cans of sugar-free ginger ale and a sleeve of saltine crackers reserved for when I don’t feel well.
  4. Cozy comfort items like a big quilt or blanket are key to recovery. We are a household of blanket lovers. There is always a stack of sick day designated blankets. Freshly washed and ready to offer a cozy cuddle.
  5. Helpful reminders sometimes need to be front and centre, and that means keeping little notes and cards as cues. Notes reminding me to ask for help. And to give myself grace should my glucose levels wander out of range.

See below for example. Click here & here to download and print your own.

I was grateful to have The Kit, the fresh blankets were particularly lovely and the reminders gentle. And I cannot thank my support system for their attention and kindness during those few weeks. It was scary and emotional. I broke down several times.

Successful Sick Days

Whatever befell me over the better part of a month knocked me flat. It robbed me of mental and physical energy, left me feeling scattered and sometimes scared. 

The simplicity of increasing basal rates when I noticed my glucose levels were elevated allowed me some mental freedom.  I was also able to easily navigate the PDM to deliver correction boluses when I needed to.  The Omnipod DASH helped me manage these sick days better than I had in the past when I was on MDI. 

Living with diabetes makes navigating sick days more difficult. 

The presence of a global pandemic certainly has not helped, especially as COVID-19 shares many symptoms with the flu. It highlights the importance of having a plan but also the need to review the one you have. 

Know when to seek professional help. Reach out to your diabetes healthcare team whenever you have questions.


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*The Omnipod DASH® System is not integrated with the Dexcom G6 CGM System

Refer to the Ominpod DASH® Insulin Management System User Guide for complete safety information including indications, contraindications, warnings, cautions, and instructions.

At the time this was written, Insulet paid a fee to engage Rebecca as a content creator and had a commercial relationship with Rebecca as a Sponsored Podvocate however the views expressed in this testimonial are solely those of Rebecca. Rebecca has since become an employee of Insulet Corporation. This blog post is not a substitute for medical advice and/or services from a healthcare provider. This blog post is not to be relied upon in any way in connection with your personal health care related decisions and treatment.