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 Burnout

This morning I read a post about an adult who was suffering with depression and struggling to keep his diabetes in check. He knew what to do but just could not always bring himself to do it. The post really struck a chord with me.

As a parent of a teen with diabetes, I don’t have to remember to test before and after every meal or intensive activity.  I don’t have to remember to bolus for every meal. I don’t have to watch my pump for reminders of site changes, low cartridges and low insulin. I do not have to carry around constant reminders of my diabetes.

My son leaves the house and takes diabetes with him.  When he sleeps elsewhere, he is in charge of his own care.  I technically get a break.  I still think about it. I still count the carbs in a meal out of habit. I will still keep an eye on dates and ask about site changes. I will look at trends and deal with adjustments. I get tired and yet I am not the one living with diabetes 24/7. This scares me.

My son came home a few days ago after spending time with his father and other family members.  He didn’t change his site.  I avoided looking at his meter until later that evening. He had come home alive.  I did not want to ruin our reunion if things were not as they should be…and they weren’t.  When I finally scrolled through the meter that he used, I found times that he went over 12 hours without testing! The readings that were all “in range for the most part”, included a 28 (504). 

I was too tired to scream despite having just had five days away from diabetes. I was too tired to fight about it. I read through the readings aloud.  I asked him if he had used another meter because there were a LOT of missing readings.  He gave me his usual look of “of course I must have used another meter because I would never do something like totally neglect myself just because you were not there to remind me.” I knew otherwise. He knew I knew. I walked out of his room.

If I can get this tired, this frustrated, this worn out after 11+ years and its not my disease, how do those living with it handle it? How can we not expect depression? How can we not expect burnout? We can’t.

We can only offer help and be there to lean on.  My son has been able to bolus on his own for many years but there are still times when he hands me his pump after a meal.  He has been doing his own site changes since he was at least 11 or 12 but he still calls me in now and then to do them.  I am okay with those breaks. He knows what to do but some days its just nice to let someone else deal with it. I hope I can continue to do this for him…not forever but whenever we are together.  Hopefully it will help when he has to battle his own diabetes demons.