Floating the river is one of my favorite Summer activities. Here in Texas we have plenty of beautiful rivers and I make it a point to grab a tube and go for a float a few times a year. When diagnosed with type 1 diabetes I wasn’t going to let D keep me from one of my favorite pastimes. After a great Father’s Day float on the San Marcos I came up with some tips for managing T1D on the river.
Keep your supplies safe in a dry bag
Where you go, your diabetes supplies must go too. You already know this, but how do you keep everything safe and dry while navigating a tube through rapids? A dry bag! Place your meter, CGM receiver, phone and anything else that must stay dry in a zip lock bag and stuff it in a dry bag like my 1 liter Sea to Summit dry sack. Then either clip the dry bag to your tube or cooler with a carabiner or place it in the cooler to keep everything safe from the sun.
Leave back up supplies in the car in case of the worst on the river
Stuff happens, thats life. But if you are properly prepared you can continue enjoying your day on the river even if your diabetes supplies decide to take a plunge. Always travel with a back up meter and leave it in the car along with extra insulin, needles, test strips and snacks. Be sure to keep insulin in a cooler with some ice to protect it from the heat. The inside of a car can easily reach over 100 degrees F in the summer, especially here in Texas.
Remember, extended exposure to the hot sun will increase your insulin sensitivity
Hot and humid weather can increase metabolism in many people which increases the rate at which their body processes insulin. Faster than normal metabolism when taking insulin can increase the risk for hypoglycemia. Consider slightly lowering long acting insulin rates and be cautious with large bolus doses. Also be sure to stay hydrated! Drink a bottle of water for every beer you have.
Secure your pump and keep it out of the sunlight to avoid insulin degradation
If you use a pump be sure it is secure and won’t rip off while getting radical on the rapids. Try a waterproof tape such as flexifix to secure your inset site or pod and stash your pump in a waste belt such as this SPI pump belt. The belt will keep the pump secure to your hip and shield the insulin inside from the sun. If your pump absolutely cannot get wet then consider leaving it in the car (in a zip lock bag in your cooler) and taking flex pens or vials and syringes with you on the river. (You should always travel with an alternative insulin delivery method in case your pump breaks or fails).
Bring a lunch and plenty of snacks
I learned this lesson the hard way. Always know where your next meal is coming from and have plenty of snacks on hand to keep your BG up. You never know what may hold you up on the river and delay your return to the car.
Don’t let diabetes keep you from enjoying yourself on the river!
Just remember, nothing bad will happen to you as long as you plan and prepare accordingly. Even in a worst case scenario, if you follow the above tips you will be just fine. Diabetes sucks but it doesn’t have to keep us from enjoying life’s adventures just the same as those lucky enough to still have beta cells.
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