Thursday, October 17, 2013

Converting a Mini Backpack Into a Kid's Diabetes Kit

Commercial Kits

We looked at a lot of the commercially available kits out there for kids with diabetes to carry their gear. and we just weren't happy with any of them.  The main objective for us, is to meet Eleanor's needs in homeschool science class at the Heard Museum here in McKinney. Each week they go on a hike.  She needs to be able to carry her gear with her on the trail.  She also needs to be able to test while standing up out on the trail.  There's not a neat little table out there on which to set her meter.  That would be nice, but it just isn't so!

First We Tried The Free Eli Lilly Diabetes Kit 

So, the first couple of weeks back in class she carried everything in the ubiquitous pink camouflage bag that every girl with diabetes gets at the hospital when first diagnosed.  Eli Lilly gives them out to new patients.  We've seen them in dozens of diabetes YouTube videos and we've seen our diabuddies carrying them at JDRF functions.  It works great as long as you're hanging around inside, or at the park where there's a bench or something where you can open out the bag on a flat surface, but if you try to open it while you're standing out on the hiking path, everything will come tumbling out the minute you unzip it.

A Cool Rockin' Orange Diabetes Tool Belt!

Next we bought her a tool bag from Zoro tools.
She liked it because it was orange, her favorite color, and because it was designed to be worn around her waist, so her hands would be free.  She could unzip it, nothing would spill, and she could reach in and still get what she needs while she's testing.  That worked pretty well, but since it was built for a construction worker, it was a little big for a petite 7 year old girl.  Honestly she still loves it, and I think she'll still use it some, but the current favorite is a converted mini Hello Kitty Backpack.  It began life as an ordinary mini backpack I bought from Zulily. I bought it with using it as a diabetes kit in mind.  But I doctored it up a bit.

How We Doctored Up The Backpack

The trouble with a plain ordinary backpack is that it's one single cavernous opening, and everything just falls to the bottom, and it's difficult to find what you need to test quickly, which can be quite a challenge if you're feeling low.  So, we wanted her to have quick access to the items she needed most often.

I added Stretchy Pockets 

First I added a stretchy pocket on the inside of each side panel.  I used two pair of never-been-worn Hello Kitty print panties. We had an entire package that she outgrew before she could wear them when she gained weight quickly after her diagnosis - but you could make side pockets out of any stretchy knit.  I was just trying to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Besides! It was fun that the Hello Kitty print coordinated with the back pack.

Then I added Elastic Loops

Second, on the back panel, (the side that goes against her back when she's wearing it, so the stitching won't show) I sewed a length of elastic with loops in it to hold all the accessories she needs for testing, and anything else that rattles around loose in the bottom of the bag. First I used a quilting ruler and a pencil to draw a perpendicular line across the inside of the pack, to be sure my elastic strip would be level when I was done. Then, I took a piece of ¾ inch elastic and sewed one end of it into the  existing seam of the pack.  I sewed a bit of the elastic flat down onto the back of the pack, to leave a gap between the seam and the test strip bottle, then I held her test strip bottle in place with elastic wrapped around it, and eyeballed the length of the elastic to measure the distance around the test strips. Again, I sewed a few stitches flat across the elastic to leave a gap
between each loop, then I measured a similar loop for her lancing device.  I repeated this process, leaving a small gap between each item, until I had a loop for her test strips, her lancing device, her insulin bottle, her *stingeze, a couple of syringes (which she keeps for emergencies even though she wears a pump), and her control solution.

*Stingeze is just benzocaine in a dauber tube, it's meant for insect bites, but it works great for soothing an occasional "bad" or painful finger stick.

There Was  A Place for Everything

When it was finished, we put alcohol swabs in one side pocket, Smarties in the other, and down in the bottom were, a juice box, a spare pod, tissues, Glucagon, Glucagel, a couple of "Sleek Sleeves"- lycra cuffs she wears if her Omnipod starts coming loose, and on top of all that her PDM for her Omnipod.  It's working out great!  Today was the first day she wore to it science class and I'd say it was a big success on the trail!

She's Ready to Hit The Trail!
Here's what it looks like with all her gear loaded up.
Her PDM, "Pumpie" has eyes, of course!


  1. You're so creative! Some great ideas!!

  2. Great job! Amy wouldn't take her mini backpack this year, so she has a purse with her meter and a low treatment to take from class to class, but she usually isn't far from more supplies.
    Nice to see you back.


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