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!

 

Diabetes highs and lows

5 Challenges & 5 Small VictoriesMake a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

 We are winding down the month and coming to the last few posts for the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge but the challenges are still just as thought provoking.

The five most difficult parts of living with diabetes (in no particular order)

1.  Sleeping.  Every night when I go to bed, I wake and wonder, “Should I test? Is he low? Is he high? Is it okay for me to sleep? Is he alive? Did I sleep through something that I shouldn’t? Will he ever wake on his own when he is low?”  This happens if he is in the next room or across the province.

2.  Letting go.  My oldest son slowly (and sometimes more abruptly) pushed me away as he spread his own wings and learned to sink or swim on his own.  For my son with diabetes, spreading his wings means more than just issues of handling drugs, drinking and other peer pressures.  It means being able to handle his own health care. Its testing, avoiding lows, dealing with highs, bolusing food and being prepared for emergency site changes and low insulin cartridges.

3.  Trading a diaper bag for a diabetes bag.  I look at women with small purses and wonder how in the world they do it? Each time I have to fly without my son, my purse becomes a few pounds lighter as I begin to remove things like spare insulin, syringes, lancing devices, meters, glucagon, glucose gel, glucose tabs, alcohol wipes and more. For small trips, we must remember all of those things plus a few more…just in case!

4.  Living life on a roller coaster.  Never knowing if he will be high or low or living through the days when he is both.  The uncertainty of diabetes can mess with vacations, outings and just your daily routine.

5.  Knowing it won’t get better. The absolute worst part for me has been knowing that no matter how hard I work, no matter what I teach my son, he will not get better for all of this care. He will avoid complications. He will live a normal life but there will be no respite.  He will always need to test. He will always need to count carbs.  He will always need to bolus.  He will always need to be on guard.  He will always need to look at how his body reacts to his actions. It never ends. There is no break.

The five things that keep me going?

1. Amazing friends.  The support network that diabetes has brought into our lives is second to none. I do not know what I would do without my amazing friends. We don’t see each other every day.  We don’t talk every week but when you are in need—because of diabetes or just life, they are there for you 100%.  They have become family in their own right.

2.  Technology.  The changes that have happened over the years have made our lives better.  We get excited when we see new meters on the market to try out.  We enjoy seeing what technology the latest pump will make use of.  These little victories in our diabetes care brighten a few moments in our lives.

3.  Emails from strangers.  When I feel like I have done nothing and I am helping no one, I get an email or a phone call out of nowhere thanking me for all I have done.  They (you) lift my spirits and empower me to keep going.

4.  Victories.  Getting the federal government to change the Disability Tax Credit to make it more fair.  Advocating more and more provincial governments to cover insulin pump therapy.  Teaching schools and personnel what diabetes really is and how to help our children.

5.  Bringing people together.  Going to events, especially ones that I have help organized or am a part of, and seeing people with diabetes come together.  During these times we talk to old friends, we work together to help new ones. I walk a way with a sense of purpose and pride. I know I can go on to fight another day.