What to Do If You Run Out of CGM Supplies Away from Home


Have you ever forgotten your continuous glucose monitor (CGM) supplies at home while sleeping over at a friend or family member’s house? Did you ever forget to pack enough refills before you left for vacation? Or has your CGM sensor expired while you were at school or work, and you forgot to pack backup supplies?

You may run out of CGM supplies away from home for many reasons. Having no access to your standard therapies can lead to heightened stress and anxiety about diabetes management! Regardless of where it happens, it’s never fun to experience.

Luckily, there are several ways to stay afloat if you forget to pack enough CGM supplies while on vacation or even if you are ten minutes away from home with no fast way to get back. 

Here are some things you can do if you don’t have enough CGM supplies and can’t get home quickly:

Call your doctor to get CGM sensors from a local pharmacy

Calling is a good option if you are traveling and can get a hold of your doctor or their nursing staff quickly over the phone, are comfortable not running your insurance to pay for a CGM (you can always try to submit a reimbursement claim later), and you have a smartphone. 

If you don’t want to settle for your backup blood glucose meter (BGM) or buy one off a Walmart shelf, call your doctor and ask them to fill a Freestyle Libre or Dexcom sensor order at the nearest pharmacy you can find. 

Freestyle Libre and Dexcom devices have corresponding smartphone apps you can use as the receiver. Your ability to quickly get a hold of it usually depends on whether the pharmacy has CGM sensors in stock. 

Can’t get a hold of your doctor? Talk to the pharmacist about transferring your prescription!

Talk to the pharmacist if you can’t get a hold of your doctor or if you forgot or lost their phone number. You may also be able to get a prescription without enlisting your doctor’s help. Many pharmacies across the United States let you transfer prescriptions between them.

If you have insurance, they may require prior authorization before you fill a new continuous glucose monitor order. However, the Freestyle Libre 2 is often less expensive when paying cash regardless of insurance. In a pinch, it may be a good option whether it’s your usual monitor or not. 

You don’t need to worry about running insurance to fill your order for an affordable price! However, you can always try to submit a reimbursement claim later.

If you have a smartphone, you don’t have to worry about having the receiver. Simply download the app and let it warm up. You will start to get readings within one hour. The Freestyle Libre 2 sensor lasts 14 days.

Lean on a blood glucose meter instead

While not ideal if you’re used to the benefits of a CGM, using a BGM is better than nothing. If you will be away from home for several days or weeks, having some insights into your blood glucose levels is important.

You can usually easily pick up a generic blood glucose meter kit at any local pharmacy. But if the idea of fingerpricks makes you feel down, remember—it’s not permanent! 

What to do when you’re close to home

If you are a reasonable driving distance away from home, such as if you’re at work or school, don’t be afraid to speak up about your needs. 

Raise your hand and ask your professor to speak in private or get a hold of your boss and let them know what’s happening.

If leaving work, you could propose working from home the rest of the day, if your job allows, to use your time more efficiently. Or you could offer to return to work and operate later in the day. However, don’t drive home if you don’t feel confident about your blood glucose levels without having access to your CGM. 

Hypoglycemia unawareness is dangerous and can be life-threatening.

Call a friend or family member for help

If you are at school or work and can’t get home to retrieve your CGM supplies, consider if a friend, neighbor, or family member can help. You are not a burden or inconvenience for asking for support!

Phoning a friend won’t be an option for everyone, but if you can do it, it can help to eliminate a lot of worry and stress over monitoring your blood sugar levels.

Being without your standard therapies can be a major setback to your diabetes management and can even increase the chance of suffering diabetes complications. 

Managing your diabetes day to day can be a lot of work. Life happens, and things will come up that disrupt your typical diabetes regimen! Don’t be afraid to lean on your diabetes care team or social support network to help you stay on track with your diabetes management.

This educational content is made possible with support from Abbott, makers of the Freestyle Libre 3 system, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication. Editorial control rests solely with Beyond Type 1.

WRITTEN BY Julia Flaherty, POSTED 07/07/22, UPDATED 04/17/23

Julia Flaherty is a published children’s book author, writer, editor, award-winning digital marketer, content creator and diabetes advocate. Find Julia’s first book, “Rosie Becomes a Warrior.” Julia finds therapy in building connections within the diabetes community. Being able to contribute to its progress brings her joy. She loves connecting with the diabetes communities, being creative and storytelling. You will find Julia hiking, traveling, working on her next book, or diving into a new art project in her free time. Connect with Julia on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.