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!

 

What we got out of a CWD Conference…who knew?

My family and I recently went on a vacation.  I foolishly booked our travel for two full weeks knowing that I had a lot of family to see and wanting to get full value for all of the money we were giving Air Canada. By the end of our two weeks we had enjoyed time with family and friends. I had introduced my boys and my fiancé to the pleasures of west coast British Columbia.  We had seen giant trees, they had tried fishing, one child had done his first bungee jump and everyone had tasted blackberries.

The end of the trip was something that I wasn’t as sure about.  We were going to the first Canadian Friends for Life Conference about diabetes.  My oldest son loved FFL Florida.  He had a lot of friends and still talks about going back.  My youngest son is a hermit who isn’t much for socializing and has little time for most people.  My fiancé was considering staying on with us if his work schedule allowed.  I was excited that he wanted to see what I do and to learn more about a disease that was moving into his house but I worried that he would be bored because I knew I would not be around all of the time.

As the conference date arrived, my three guys enjoyed some sightseeing while I reconnected with old friends and helped to prepare for the arrival of about 500 people who would make up the Friends for Life Conference.  I suggested that they come down during the social and perhaps I would get to break away or at least they could see the exhibits. 

Sadly, I didn’t get to break away.  Things were crazy as a number of us worked to try and assist everyone who came to register and ask questions.  I caught glimpses of faces that had previously only been names but rarely got a chance to really chat.  That didn’t change much when my family came down to see me.  Thankfully my fiancé did a great job of taking the boys around, finding them some food and chatting with other people at the event.  I kissed him when I found out that they ate with Joe Solowiejczyk.  He is someone who has had diabetes for 50 years and works for Animas helping people and families to cope with diabetes.  While Joe didn’t turn my young son into a social butterfly, he remembered him and continued a dialogue with him throughout the conference.

The next day the boys began their sessions and I was asked to introduce some speakers and assist in a room during the afternoon. Thankfully my fiancé had family in the area and he was able to meet with them for the afternoon.  Time remained busy as people came by asking questions, wanting to learn, and just stopping to say hello.  It was wonderful for me but I was sure it was probably very dull for the poor man who came with me.

Sunday was the last day of the conference.  The boys were excited because they were going to spend the day at Stanley Park and the Aquarium.  No more lectures and sharing…it was a day of fun!  I had two sessions to deal with this time and both involved me presenting.  I had been asked to talk with my friend Michelle Rago about Managing Diabetes in Schools and on Saturday night, I was asked if I would join in facilitating the Moms’ Group discussion Sunday afternoon. I was really honoured to be asked to join and appreciated the warm welcome I received from the other members of the team.  They wanted me to open things and get it all going.  This still left Larry with little to do…except shop! He still had gifts to pick up so I suggested a trip to Granville Island and provided a shopping list just in case he thought we didn’t have enough souvenirs for our own home.

Our schools session seemed to go well and I was amazed at the turn out.  The moms’ group was also a success with a few learning points for Heather and I should we get to be involved again.  It was great to see so many familiar faces in the group. I was excited to have hugs from women who had emailed me for years and now were meeting me. Finally however it all came to a close.  My boys were upstairs waiting in our hotel room and my fiance was there with me to watch the close. I felt pretty lucky.

The next morning we headed on the plane back home. We were exhausted and ready to put our heads down on our own beds.  As we settled on the plane, Larry said to me, “Maybe we need to get that $100 meter. Who cares about the cost.  It will tell Liam that he needs insulin and remind him to test.”  I was so very touched. He had listened.  He had heard.  He wanted to help make our lives better. I explained that I hoped to have that new meter at no cost soon to try out but more importantly, my son’s pump already does all of those things and he ignores it.  The thought was truly in the right place but unless the meter had electrodes that would shock the kid, we were out of luck. He said that he would just have to start reminding him as well then.  The next day at dinner he did just that.  He told my son that he had better start remembering to do his own care or he was going to hear all of the reminders twice.  He then said,”Did you test? Did you bolus? Did you set your travel basal?”  I laughed and said he could save the last one for our next vacation!

I guess despite being bored, and despite the fact that he felt he had already learned most of what was said from me, he took a bit more in and is more than willing to put it to use.  It made me feel great to know that I finally had someone on my side.

The conference impact didn’t end there however. Our first day home was also a day to go and meet our new diabetes team.  As we were waiting to see this person and the next one, my son and I began to talk about a lecture that I had heard.  Joe had been talking about a “diabetes meltdown day”.  I explained what that meant and my son thought that was the greatest idea ever! When we got back in the truck after the appointment, he immediately told Larry that he was going to have a diabetes meltdown day and Larry had to tell him how wonderful he was. Larry suggested he would kick his butt and motivate him instead.  My son was okay with that.

When the conference first began, I would ask my boys what they had done in a session. What did they learn? What did they talk about?  I got nothing. Slowly over the past 24 hours my youngest son has been pouring out more information on what went on, how others deal with diabetes, and diabetes conversations in general than he has in his lifetime of living with this disease. I haven’t pushed it. I have let it go where he wants it to but I have been amazed. I thought nothing sunk in. I thought that they were just there in body because Mom made them.  I was wrong and I am so very grateful!

Once again my CWD family…and the family in my house, continue to amaze and impress me!

Back from Vacation

Each year we take off for a bit of time away. This year was no different. My oldest was dying to see AC/DC live in concert so we all headed off to enjoy their outdoor concert. It was definitely an experience as you can read in our earlier blog post. My boys loved it and that made the hours of standing very worthwhile…even for those of us with aging bodies!

This trip was different in so very many ways. One of the biggest for me was the fact that Liam has become so self-sufficient in his care. When he is at his grandmother’s house, she always makes him look after his own carb counting, etc. She will remind him to test and such but he is in charge. This is because he can–and he is not keen on her nervous attempts at testing or site changes. With Liam on his own and taking charge, mom is able to take a bit of a diabetes break. There were no worries when I went anywhere without him. There were no concerns when he went off for a day with his grandfather. Diabetes was there. Highs were there and even a few lows but we took it all in stride. What a nice change!

Another difference in this trip was FINALLY getting to meet a family that I have been corresponding with and have helped on a few issues for years. I am in their area at least once or twice a year but we have never managed to get together. This time was different. This time we planned ahead and made sure we would connect! Sure enough, the first free evening we both had it was arranged that we all meet for coffee. It was fabulous!

I love meeting my extended diabetes family in the flesh. It is always so comfortable and amazing. This meeting was no different. The three of us sat and talked until our bottoms and our backs could take no more! We talked about diabetes care. We spoke of transitions. We spoke of everything you could imagine and then some. They complimented me on what I have done but they really inspired me as well. As we chatted about this and that, they kept saying that I should write a book. I laughed, and when I sit and talk to people I can go on so who knows! I do have a book written. It needs a lot of work. I have no clue as to how I would go about getting it published or even having someone interested. As I said, it needs a lot of work and I am sure some professional guidance. Their encouragement has made me think however. Perhaps this winter will see me bring it back out of my archives and see what can be done. Taking my blog to the printed page….who knows!