Tips for Managing Diabetes in the Summer

managing diabetes in the summer

It’s summer!! I mean it really is finally summer! Some areas have been enjoying great weather for a bit but where I live–well, I kind of wondered if summer was ever going to show up.   Now that it is really here, let’s talk about a few tips for managing diabetes in the summer months.

Keep your insulin and test strips cool.

Summer heat can literally ruin blood glucose test strips and insulin.  If you are on injections, make sure to keep your insulin stored in a cool place. If you are pumping, again, make sure that your pump doesn’t get overheated.  You may even want to consider changing out your cartridges more often to ensure that your insulin is fresh and hasn’t been compromised by the heat.

Frio Pack  for managing diabetes in the summer diabetes advocacy

Test strips also react to extreme temperatures.  Again, make sure that they are stored in a cool place.  If you are traveling to the beach or theme parks, you may want to invest in a FRIO Insulin Cooling Pump Wallet.  They are convenient little cooling packs that will help to keep things chilled.

If you don’t have access to Frio packs, another great suggestion is to use frozen juice packs.  You can keep your supplies cool and are prepared for lows!

Mastistol and Antiperspirant are pumpers’ new best friends.

mastisol to stick infusion sets in the summer diabetes advocacy

Summer often means swimming and swimming can mean chlorine. Chlorine can bring extra headaches for people with diabetes using an insulin pump in the summer. Personally,  the only way for us  to keep sites on in chlorine was by making sure that a product like Mastisol Liquid Adhesive was used on the skin prior to set insertion.

For people using an insulin pump and/or a CGM, you may also want to look at using an antiperspirant on the site.  Apply a light coat of antiperspirant (not deodorant) to the insertion site area.  This will help to keep sites in place when your body begins to sweat!

Have snacks everywhere.

jelly beans to treat summer lows diabetes advocacy

Summer heat can bring its own challenges for managing diabetes. It tends to mean more exertion and rapidly dropping blood glucose levels.  Make sure to carry extra snack foods with you wherever you go.  One parent suggests that you stock up on Freezies.  They are perfect treats for lows and also help ward off dehydration.  Other families have suggested fruit and frozen grapes as must have snacks for on the go.

Drink lots of water.

water diabetes advocacy

Dehydration is a real problem in the heat.  It is especially important for people living with diabetes to stay hydrated because dehydration will cause blood glucose levels to spike.

Check BG levels often.

Blood Ketone meter diabetes advocacy

Heat, exhaustion and the fun of the sun can really mess with blood glucose levels so make sure that you check blood glucose levels often to avoid any serious diabetes-related emergencies.

Bring extras!

infusion sets diabetes advocacy

As I have said, infusion sets can fall out.  Blood sugar levels can go crazy.  It is vital that you carry extras of everything–extra snacks, extra water, extra test strips, extra insulin and extra infusion sets just in case.

Wear sunscreen.

sunscreen diabetes advocacy

I know, everyone is supposed to wear sunscreen so really is this a diabetes issue? Well no…and yes! It turns out that sunburns have been known to really mess with blood glucose levels.  The moral of the story? Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen to help keep blood glucose levels in check.

Have fun!

toddler from Diabetes Advocacy

Finally, in Canada especially, we just don’t seem to see summer for long enough so plan ahead and enjoy all that this summer has to offer you and your family!

If you are planning on traveling to find the sun this year, don’t forget to check out our complete travel checklist so that you don’t forget anything before you go!

Sometimes Your the Windshield

In honor of “throw back Thursday”, here is a post from June of 2009…

Sometimes you’re the windshield,  sometimes you’re the bug

Today I am  definitely feeling like the bug. It was after midnight and of course I was dying to  get to sleep. I set my alarm for early next morning…my boys’ last day of  school. I found a meter and a strip. I grabbed a lancet, waded through all of  the junk that my youngest son had left on the stairs to his room rather than putting away and was off  to test. One last check for a few hours. One check and I could sleep! We had  been out for pizza to celebrate good grades so I was sure that he would still be high. He had been 16 (288) earlier so I was certain that I was going to be able to rest.
Wrong! I  took the meter. I filled his finger with blood. The strip refused to suck. What  the???? Okay, I cleaned the finger. I got more blood. I tried again. It just  barely accepted the blood. I waited for the reading…E5. Error! Not enough blood. Oh the lovely four letter words that were on the tip  of my tongue as I headed back downstairs again. I would try this one more time.
New  meter. This one had to be better. New strip. Same lancing device. Back up the  stairs, this time grumbling and picking up items as I went. I threw the items  off to the side for my young son to deal with tomorrow and headed to his bed. Once  again, I lance his finger. Once again, I got a large amount of blood. The strip  sucked this time. I walked towards the stairs not even considering that I might have to  correct. Good thing…he was 3.2 (57)! More choice words as I shuffled off to get  some juice. I filled a glass, found a straw and went back upstairs for a third time in  less than five minutes.

My son was not keen on drinking. I finally got him to sip.  He drank t all except the last few drops which fly out of the straw and all over his pillow.  My cream pillow cases now have spots of red strawberry juice on them! I am choked. I hate diabetes.  I clean the pillow cases as best as I can and then I wait. Why are 15 minutes a lifetime when  you are dead tired and simply want this day to end?

Yeah! 5.5 (99) and I  was off to bed for two hours. Oh the fun! Oh the joys! Oh where is my DexCom Seven Plus????

Opening Tablets at 2am could be an Olympic sport!

According to Facebook, I was not alone in my early morning fight with diabetes.  I noticed that many other parents spent more time awake last night than asleep thanks to the dia-beast!

Last night my son was the picture of health and fitness.  I could hear the weights clambering as he lifted and pressed. I watched him haul his body up and down on his chin up bar and tried to convince myself that I could do that if I really wanted to. As I headed off to bed, he sat at our table chopping fruit and adding it to his plain yogurt for a snack.

He had been high the night before but I was guessing that working out and low-fat foods were going to see bg levels in range.  Well, that is what I hoped but at 2am I woke up and decided to see how things were going. He was 5 (90).  I hate five.  It’s a beautiful number during the day and a nightmare in the early morning hours. I just never know which way it’s heading.

Last night, I was pretty sure that I knew.  There was still a little bit of insulin onboard and I was certain that he was going to drop. Just in case I decided to give him some glucose.  I love glucose tabs for just these occasions–a glucose top up. Its perfect for the times when perhaps a tiny bit of sugar is all that you need.

I dug around in my son’s room trying to figure out where he has hid his Dex stash this week.  It was in the chair beside his bed–under the blanket, the hoodie, the pillow and various other articles of clothing.  The next challenge was to find tablets. Every time I grabbed something it was a bottle of liquid glucose.  I finally found a small container of tablets which of course was sealed.

How the heck is a person who is low supposed to get into those things? They are sealed, stretched and locked up tighter than anything else! I remembered that there were scissors on a table in the room. I grabbed them, cut open the tablets and eventually was able to feed my son a couple of tabs.

I headed back to my room to catch up on 2am Facebook and Twitter.  After 15 minutes, I rechecked to see if it was safe to sleep. It wasn’t.  He had dropped.  I dug back in the stash.  It was time for a bottle of liquid glucose. He loves this stuff but once again I was faced with the difficulty of getting it open. I finally slid my nail around the neck, got it opened and convinced my still sleeping son to drink on demand.

By 3am all was good and I could go back to bed and try to sleep but I was still stuck with the thought of what if I was the one low?  Would I be able to open the tablets? How would I get open the bottles?

glucose tablets

I guess you have to plan ahead and have the seals broke before you go to bed or have someone else willing to crack them open for you.  Not good. Not good at all.

 

In case you haven’t noticed, I have moved the blog over from Blogger.  Please follow me from here. 

Hello, I am a pancreas

pancreas diabetes advocacy

I am up at all hours adjusting, dosing, and praying.  A good pancreas knows that lows occur when you least expect them. They usually happen at the most inopportune times. 

The other night a low blood glucose level arrived at 2:30 in the morning.  I woke up, had my usual fight with myself, got up and tested my son.  I was surprised to see him looking back at me in a questioning sort of way. 

“You are low.”

“Okay, I will go and grab the juice.” he said.

Wow, was this the start of something new? Him treating himself? Him waking on his own?  Dare I hope?

He came up with the juice, put it on the counter and headed off towards his room.

“Where are you going??”

“To bed.”

“I don’t think so. I am up and so are you.  Sit down and drink this.”

I let him go back to sleep after his juice.  No sense both of us being awake to retest.  Besides, he is the child, I am the pancreas. It’s my job to be up.

I headed back to bed once he was in range.  Crisis averted. Now time to unwind because I have to be up at 6am later that morning.  I had to take someone to the airport and then get a few other things done.  Of course, unwind time is not instant even for a pancreas.  I toss.  I turn.  My mind races. I say thank you for being woken up once again at just the right time.  Eventually, I fall asleep knowing that in a matter of hours the alarm will sound to begin another day.

We muddle through the next day.  In order to be a good pancreas, I need to see the results of my efforts. I ask my son to fill out his log book so we can see how things are going.

“There are no problems.”

“Gee thanks for the insight.  Now let me see what has been happening.”

Eventually, he begins to transfer the data onto good old paper for his mother to look at.  I know many people are saying just download the data onto your PC. Who uses a log book? Me, that’s who.  I have to “see the stuff” to make changes.

After a bit of grumbling we head to bed and I call out “Turn off that XBox and what was your last reading?”

“Its off.”

“Yes but what was your reading?”  Silence follows. I know he hasn’t checked yet.

“5.5 (99)”

I silently swear knowing, as a good pancreas does, that I will have to check on him soon because, despite the food in his belly, we are liable to see a repeat of the previous night’s low. 

I remain pretty good at my job of chasing the inevitable havoc wreaked on my son’s body by diabetes.  Sure enough, by 1:30 am I have forced myself out of bed and he is rock bottom low.  Darn, I hate being right!

This night however, my son does not wake up.  I feed him glucose tablets as he sleeps. I chew alongside him as if that will make things go down easier.  Unfortunately I slip a little as a pancreas.  In my sleep-deprived state, I cannot chew and count tablets.  I keep putting them in my child’s lips and he keeps eating unaware of how many we have used. I decide that more is better. He will complain in the morning about the “glucose tablet” hangover he has (a horrible taste in his mouth after too many tablets being fed to him the night before).

After an hour or more, his blood glucose level is on the rise and its safe for me to get a bit of rest.  This pancreas is weary.  The pay is poor.  The hours are atrocious but the benefit of my son being alive and healthy each morning make everything else worthwhile. 

Do you monitor blood glucose levels at night or do you have a continuous glucose monitor to help you along?