There are many things that we were fortunate to get when Alex was diagnosed, but if I had to design one, here is what I would do (some will be repeats of what most people already get):
- Calorie King Book - this book was given to us at the hospital and it really saved us in the beginning. AND, I would include a card with it that showed you where and how to download the Calorie King app for your phone. I use that app almost daily and use the book as a backup.
- Type 1 Diabetes Silicon Bracelets - one of the things we were told when leaving the hospital was to order some medical alert bracelets. And, I agree that a custom engraved one is great. However, when you are leaving, there are a TON of things you have to remember. And when you order a bracelet, it takes a while. These silicone bracelets have been great to have around - Alex has lost her expensive bracelet twice now. These bracelets are cheap and easy to wear and can be used in the interim.
- A Bracelet for Mom - those first few months are rough! Something to look at that's easy to wear that says something as simple as "hope" or "faith" or "courage" in relation to caring for a child with diabetes could be that little boost you need sometimes.
- Laminated index or smaller sized cards with easy to read instructions for using Glucagon and treating lows. I haven't seen this but I wouldn't be surprised if this exists somewhere. I'd love to have these with a keychain ring that could be clipped on a diabetes bag.
- Glucose Tablet Keychain and Starter Tablets - I love this keychain. We have one clipped to Alex's meter and my husband and I have them clipped to our bags/keys too. Alex can go to play at friends that live within a few houses and take her meter with her and the 4 tablets. She has called me on several occasions with a low and taken the tablets while I walk down there. It's easy for her to carry.
- A CUTE meter case - Kids need things that are fun and those boring black cases don't help when you're getting used to poking yourself several times a day! About a month after we came home, Aviva sent us this case (and meter). We LOVE the case. In the ideal setting, kids could get cute cases at the hospital. I don't really care what brand but this is the one we ended up getting and we have used it ever since. It's small enough to carry and fits what she needs. Of course in an IDEAL world I'd LOVE one of these Skidaddle Bags but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be feasible financially to offer in a free care package! One can dream though since this is the perfect care package!!!
- The JDRF Bag of Hope - this is something that is usually given out and if not can be ordered. Alex received one in the mail a few weeks after we came home (they were out at the hospital). This is just a wonderful thing JDRF does for kids. Alex takes Rufus many places and the book Taking Diabetes to School was great for her, her brother, and taking to school and friends to talk about diabetes. Now that I'm thinking about it, that might be where we got the cute meter case too. I just wish we had them at the hospital and in the perfect situation, that would always be the case.
- Re-Usable Ice Packs - these come in handy when you're on shots and carrying insulin or snacks that need to be kept cool like cheese sticks.
- A kid friendly, specific low carb snack list - when Alex was on shots she much preferred snacks under 5 grams of carbohydrates between meals because that meant no shot. So one of the first things we had to do was do some searching for snacks that fit the bill- string cheese, pepperoni, sugar free peaches cups, carrot sticks with ranch dressing, 14 fish crackers, 11 pretzel sticks, etc. How I wish a list like this was laminated and given out. This became less of an issue once we moved to a pump, but those first 6 months, it was Alex's preference to stick to the low carb list between meals most of the time. Whenever I visit forums, I see this question a lot from a parent who has just come home from the hospital with their child. And a lot of times people come back with ideas but others will go into the whole "they can have whatever they want" speech. Yes, they can, BUT some kids prefer low carb over shots between meals...
- Cotton Balls, Alcohol Wipes, and FUN bandaids - these aren't prescription items so they don't tend to come home with you - and you have enough to deal with those first few days. It would be nice to get a nice big bag/box of each of these. Remember kid themed bandaids. Why bandaids? I know for about a month, Alex wanted bandaids on her fingers after poking them. Did she need them? No! But they made her feel better emotionally!
- Infant Heel Warmers - What? We smuggled a few of these when we left the hospital! We had one HECK of a time with Alex's first meter (which ironically she now uses AGAIN). I still don't love this meter. I have to be honest about that but it works with her pump so we use it. It takes a LOT more blood than the Freestyle Lite meter which I LOVED. It is also unforgiving if you don't get all the blood you need IMMEDIATELY. In the beginning, when we didn't realize there were other meters that took less blood, that meter was the bane of our existence. Alex's fingers did NOT want to give up a lot of blood. Those heel warmers helped warm her fingers and get the blood flowing until we got the hang of what we were doing. Loved those things!
- That leads me to another thought. Why not have a chart showing a comparison of meters on the market. After 2 months of struggling with Alex's meter, I took it upon myself to find charts online that compared size, cost, strips, amount of blood required, and whether the meter company had a program to help with out of pocket prescription costs for strips/supplies. Wish I realized there were true differences between meters/programs from the get go and that the meter you get at the hospital isn't a one size fits all deal.
That's probably enough items - too much is overwhelming when you're overwhelmed enough.