Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fire, Water, and Gold

I'm a little bit absent-minded. Well, OK, I'm very absent-minded. That means that sometimes when I plan to take something with me when I go to get groceries, I forget. I live in a rural area, where the closest supermarket is about 20 miles away, so it's a big time waster if I have to go back and get the library book I went to the library to return.

The worst was when I drove to Boston without my purse. That was scary. What would happen if I ran out of gas or had an accident? Luckily, the reason I forgot the purse was that I was delivering a box of lamb to a friend, and when you have one thing in your arms you tend to forget others. The friend paid for the lamb with cash. Phew.

But when you have diabetes, you have to remember more things than library books, and when you're traveling far from home, forgetting medications or testing supplies can cause big problems. These are more serious if you have type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent type 2. If you're out of the country it can be difficult to get replacements.

I once went to Vancouver and was so focussed on packing insulin so it would stay cool and get through customs that I forgot all my oral drugs. Obviously, my control wasn't as good as usual, but unlike someone with type 1 who forgot insulin, I didn't end up in the ER with diabetic ketoacidosis. Still, it was not a good experience.

I mentioned my absent-mindedness to a friend who had been a pilot in the RAF, and  he suggested that I do what pilots do: run through a list of things to check before I leave the house. Good idea.

So I came up with Fire, Water, and Gold. Fire means to check the woodstove to make sure I haven't left the damper open. I also make sure I haven't left a pot on the stove. In the summer I substitue Ice for Fire, which means to put ice in a cooler I keep in the car in case I buy frozen food. Water means to make sure the water isn't running. My water collects up the hill and runs down by gravity, and if it runs too long, it drains the holding tank, which loses the siphon, and I have to pump it back up the hill to get the siphon going again. Gold is my purse.

With time I found I was sometimes forgetting to take my meds before leaving for something that took the whole day, so I changed to Fire, Water, and Gold Pills. Then I added "Plus 2" to remind me to disconnect two computers if there was any chance of a thunderstorm. Fire, Water, and Gold Pills Plus 2. At one point there was also a Plus New and Plus Blue but they weren't essential and now I can't even remember what they were.

This mantra is so simple that even I can remember it, and it's saved me many a time. My list obviously wouldn't work for everyone,  but if you're also a tad absent-minded and you have medications or testing supplies you really shouldn't be without when leaving home, for a trip or just for a daylong expedition,
you can come up with your own mantra. Besides, choosing something memorable is fun.

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