Hot Tips for Managing Diabetes in the Deep Winter Cold

winter tips with diabetes The weather outside is frightful! The temperatures are dropping and we are in the midst of deep winter cold.  Managing to stay warm can be a challenge on days like these.  How do you manage your diabetes as well? Here are a few things to remember…

Insulin freezes.

Insulin is liquid. It can freeze. Make sure not to leave insulin in your car.  When you are outside, keep it close to your body. This also means that if you are pumping, make sure to tuck your pump close to your body to keep things running properly.

If you think your insulin has been froze, throw it out! Don’t take any chances.  It will not work as efficiently once the proteins have been frozen.

Keep warm!

That means keeping your diabetes devices warm as well! I just told you to keep the insulin in your pump warm, but did you also know that your pump (like your phone) also needs to stay warm? Keep your pump and CGM under your winter clothing and as close to your body as you can.

If you are using a tSlim pump, watch for the low temperature warning on the pump.  This will tell you that your pump is not functioning as it should because of the cold.

Check your blood glucose level.

I know, you normally check but when it is cold out make sure that you still check…a lot.  Some people see their bg levels rise in the cold weather while others see it go up.  Don’t guess or go by how you feel–check then adjust with food or insulin.

Before you check, make sure that your meter is warm as well.  Glucometers function poorly below 40F (4C).  If you feel that your glucometer could be too cold, warm it in your armpit for a few minutes. It will quickly return to a functioning state.

Keep your hands warm.

It can be hard to check your blood glucose levels when fingers are cold and blood isn’t circulating properly.  Keep your hands warm and toasty to help making finger sticks a bit easier.  Wear warm gloves. You may want to consider using  mitts that have removable fingers to make it easier to check .

removable finger gloves for checking blood glucose
We found these gloves online.

Carry glucose that won’t freeze.

Juice packs are a handy way to treat lows but when you are playing in the snow, glucose tablets and granola bars are probably a better choice.  Also make sure to keep your glucagon warm and safe.  Frozen glucagon will be as useful as frozen insulin.


Winter activities can be fun but make sure you are prepared.  Follow some of these few hot tips and  enjoy your time in Mother Nature’s deep freeze!


Looks Can Be Deceiving

For the past few weeks, I have been going through old photos for a variety of reasons. I came across this picture.  My young son looks so sweet and innocent.
You would think such a picture would evoke the “ahhhs” of a mother right? Wrong! I know the stories behind this precious image. I remember the many faces of this child during those long car rides that were less than sweet. 
liam asleep july 2003
It was the summer of 2003 and my mother, my sons, and I were driving across Canada to see friends and spend time with family. It truly was an amazing trip but we also had diabetes along for the ride and so the challenges were a little more. 
While driving for 8+ hours, I would read Harry Potter to my oldest son when my mom was behind the wheel. It killed time and seemed like a great idea. A four-year old who was high did not share those feelings.  At one point, that sweet little boy you see in the back seat, took a Harry Potter book and flung it across the car leaving a mark on my window.  We were done reading with him in a car for a bit.
Why was this child high? Well, it could have been the insulin that got cooked in the cooler in the trunk of the car.  It may have been the insulin pen that quit working but Mom did not realize it right away. It could have been the long hours in a car and not getting quite the right mix of long acting insulin to balance the drive. The reasons were plenty but the results were flying books and a need to pee at the most inopportune times.
He demanded that we pull over while speeding along in rush-hour traffic on a Vancouver freeway.  This resulted in the creative use of spare coffee cups and extreme gratitude that he was a boy.
Being high when traveling also meant that he demanded that we not proceed flowing  the pilot car despite being stuck in sweltering heat on an Ontario highway for hours.  We had been held up in the same spot for literally over an hour and he had not needed to use the washroom during that time but the second the truck came and allowed us to proceed, my sweet little angel began “the pee dance” and was adamant that we had to pull back over NOW!
When asked if I would do that trip again, my answer was always the same…in a heart beat. I didn’t mind having a 4 and 8-year old in the car with me for hours…most of the time.  We stopped and enjoyed parks to break up the days.  We met wonderful people and got a chance to see the Canadian landscape up close.  And we have memories….some very interesting memories!

Diabetes Goes to Grad

As I had mentioned at the beginning of last week, the May long weekend was especially important for my family this year.  It was the weekend of my oldest son’s graduation ceremonies. As we now live about 10 hours apart from each other, there was a bit of travel involved to get us to the event but it was completely worth it. I was so proud of how handsome and poised he was.  He appeared to completely enjoy his day.  It was amazing for me to see him with all of his friends–now young adults, and remember so many of them as tiny, little children.

My graduate and his beautiful date

The day progressed wonderfully. Diabetes stayed in the background and the day belonged to my oldest son and his proud family. Diabetes would not stay quiet for too long however!

Because we had driven so far, we also took the opportunity to spend some time with dear friends in the area. My youngest son enjoyed traipsing through the woods and catching up with his best friend but all too soon the weekend was over.

We headed back to our hotel room and prepared to make the long trek home the next day.  As we got ourselves ready for bed one last time, my son said to me “By the way Mom, I am 2.4( 45)”  You have to be kidding? It was close to 2am. It had been a long, long week and I was exhausted. 2.4? So much for sleep.  We sat up and pretended we were awake while he ate some glucose tablets.

“Mom, there are some cookies here too. Do you think I can have them too?”

“Do you remember what Joe said? You will send your readings through the roof if you just keep eating.”


“Alright, give it a try.”  I was way too tired to argue with any conviction.

Thankfully it did not take long for the low to come back up and we all could go to sleep.  We were up bright and early the next morning and on the road for home.  Part way into our 10 hour drive, I heard those words again…”Mom, I’m low. Have you got any glucose?” 

Crap! I knew I had some somewhere but where? I dug through my purse (it could double for a suitcase so digging is really an apt term!). There were two bottles in there when we left. What did I do with them? I had a small purse that I carried during the grad. Did I forget to take them out of there? I found two lollipops and tossed them to him, hoping it would be enough. He was quite happy and felt that they should be our new “low treatment”.  Not a chance!

I realized afterwards that the glucose in my purse had been used the night before and were packed in a bag behind him.  Oh well, crisis averted…for now.

We safely made it home and Diabetes was quiet.  There have been a few more lows and a lot more activity. I know that there will be a lot more adjustments to be made in the coming weeks and a lot less sleep to be had, BUT we made it through graduation weekend and that is what counts!

Thanks Larry for being our photographer for this one 🙂