If ever there were an accessory-laden chronic condition, diabetes has got to be it. Whereas the actual human pancreas is neatly tucked within the abdomen, acting as your own pancreas requires lugging around a lot of junk (a.k.a. diabetes supplies). What’s more, diabetes gear carries with it a double challenge: all the individual pieces are small enough to easily get lost, but are big enough when combined that they simply will not fit into the pockets of most clothes.
When I was a kid, I never liked the idea of carrying around a purse – it seemed too dainty. But when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 22, I realized that after two decades of freedom, I was never again going to leave the house without a bag slung over my shoulder. More than a decade later, I still won’t call them “purses,” but I’ve come to appreciate the satisfaction and comfort that can come from a good, diabetes-friendly bag. Here are some of my favorites:
1. eBags Piazza Day Bag
This is my current go-to bag, and though it’s not specifically designed for diabetes, my reason for loving it can be summed up in one word: pockets. Despite being small enough to easily sling over my shoulder, it’s got more pockets than I do categories of stuff – and that’s saying something. In addition to convenient spots to stash my phone, water bottle and other non-diabetes necessities, I’ve found discrete homes for each category of my diabetes gear. Sturdy, easy to wash, it comes in seven colors and is $35 online. What’s not to love?
Myabetic’s line of bags, which includes wallets, clutches, and full-on purses, is for those living with diabetes – both male and female – who don’t want gear to cramp their style. Fully designed with diabetes in mind, each bag has a compartment specifically made to hold diabetes testing gear (right down to a removable waste pouch to collect used supplies), and separate areas for your non-diabetes-related accessories. Forget that boring black pouch your glucometer came in – Myabetic bags come in everything from businesslike black leather to bags that you can personalize with a photo. The Marie Wallet even comes in gold!
If gold isn’t enough for you, check out Sugar Medical Supply, started by a woman living with type 1 diabetes (and a self-proclaimed fashionista!) who was inspired by the playful bags her mom made her when she was a kid. Their “sugar bag” series is small enough for children, and accommodates most brands of glucometers and insulin pens. They’re great for adults, too – you can either tuck one into your favorite purse or carry it on its own.
If flowers aren’t your thing – or if you’d like a diabetes-friendly bag that can accommodate all you need for work – check out The Messenger Diabetic Bag from aDorn Designs. Extremely guy-friendly, it looks like a normal messenger bag (it accommodates most laptops up to 15”) – but flip it around and you’ll find aDorn Designs’ signature diabetes clutch: a special compartment designed to hold all your supplies, with an additional slot for an optional ice pack.
5. Frío® Insulin Cooling Wallet
Sometimes, the point of a bag isn’t convenience or style, but purely to protect your medications from getting too hot or cold. Meet Frío®, a clever pouch that keeps its contents cool for up to forty-five hours without need for refrigeration (you dunk it in water, and its absorbent crystals maintain a cool temperature as they dry). I traveled around the world for seven months in plenty of uncomfortably warm places, and thanks to Frío®, never had a problem protecting my meds.
Catherine Price is a freelance journalist and type 1 diabetic who has written for The New York Times, Slate, Popular Science, and O Magazine, among others. She blogs about diabetes at asweetlife.org and you can follow her on Twitter @Catherine_Price. Catherine is currently working on a book about the history and science of vitamins, to be published by the Penguin Press. Price is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor and interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
1Myabetic is a registered trademark.
2Sugar Medical Supply is a registered trademark of Sugar Medical Supply, LLC.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience