Checklist of “stuff to do” within the first month.

Once you have been discharged from hospital after your diagnosis of type 1 diabetes you are probably wondering what to do next! Well, here’s some help in the form of suggestions from the Starter Kit; a guide for Adults with Type 1 Diabetes. It’s comforting to know that there is a list.

Find out who you can call in an emergency. Your endocrinologist or diabetes nurse specialist might give you their mobile number. Most major public hospitals will have an endocrinologist on call, so you could call and ask for them to be paged. In a serious emergency, call an ambulance. But whatever it is, make sure you have a number in your wallet or programmed into your mobile phone because you can guarantee it will be 3am on a Sunday when you have an urgent dilemma!
 If you have Drivers’ License notify your local Motor taxation office; this is required by law.  The Motor Tax Office will ask you to submit an application for another license, with a GP or specialist’s report and two photos.  A new license will be issued to you at no extra cost.  It will now have a ‘101 restriction’ – all this means is that you will have to submit a medical report when you renew your license on the next occasion – there will be no reference to diabetes on your license.

If you are applying for a drivers’ license for the first time or renewing, your GP or specialist will fill in a medical form which accompanies your application. Essentially what they’re looking for is that you haven’t had a bad hypo (low blood sugar) recently and you get heaps of warning symptoms when one’s coming along - so the doctor basically needs to write ‘no hypoglycaemia unawareness’ in the comments section.

Notify your car insurance company as soon as you can after you have been diagnosed. Don’t worry they cannot increase your insurance premium because of your diabetes unless they can show that you, as an individual, are more at risk than you were prior to your diagnosis, which is virtually impossible. However, if you do not inform them that you have diabetes and you do make a claim the insurer can invalidate your cover.

You can also talk to Diabetes Ireland about this and other insurance cover such as mortgage, mortgage protection and travel insurance.

Get a Long Term Illness (LTI) Book or a GP visit card. Usually, this process has been started for you while you are in hospital but just in case. If you do not have a medical card then you are entitled to a LTI book, which provides all of your diabetes medication and supplies free of charge. You can get an application form from your local health office or your GP, it needs to be completed by you and your doctor and must be returned to your local health office.

During 2012, people who claim free drugs under the Long Term Illness Scheme will  have free GP care. The details for this have not been finalized. Diabetes Ireland will make an announcement when this benefit is available. Watch their website for details.

If you have medical card you are entitled to free GP visits and hospital care, free medication, pens/syringes, lancets and glucose monitoring strips. Most people have to have income below certain limits but if an individual is near the limit and has on-going medical expenses it may be granted. Apply through your community welfare officer at your local health centre.

Work out what sort of hypo supplies work best for you. Some useful places to have some sort of sugar available:
  • Glove box of car;

  • In your handbag/backpack, or back pocket if going out;

  • Desk drawer or locker at work;

  • School locker or pencil case;

  • Beside your bed;

  • At your boyfriend/girlfriend/best mate’s house.

Don’t worry - You are not going to use all these supplies in the first week, it’s just that you can generally guarantee that a ‘hypo’ (especially your first) will take you by surprise and happen when you least expect it.

Blood Glucose Meter. Find one that works for you! (Note: a search on the Internet is likely to also showcase monitors that are only available in the US and Europe). This thing is going to have to go EVERYWHERE with you so choose one that you reckon is easy to use and not too ugly.  They are free and you can usually get them directly from the manufacturer or from your Diabetes Nurse Specialist.

Are you going to be sitting exams this year? If so, make contact with the appropriate person at your education institution and inquire about ‘Special Conditions’ such as being allowed to take in food, for your exam. You should be entitled to these so organise it now as it’s the last thing you want to be worrying about in the lead-up to the exams. If you are a student who is filling out a CAO form you should note that you may be eligible for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE). You will find more information on this on and

Get yourself a medical alert ID. This helps emergency personnel treat you appropriately should the need arise. If this totally freaks you out, there are a couple of other options, (though a well-known bracelet like Medic alert is the most easily recognisable symbol if you get into trouble). Engrave a piece of jewellery you wear all the time with something like ‘Diabetes on Insulin’. Carry a card in your wallet (available if you become a member of Diabetes Ireland). At the very least, this is the kind of thing that relaxes our stressed-out mammy’s!