Hiking with Diabetes – Part 2

Laddie_Head SquareI started writing the second part of this series and got bogged down in too many temporary basal rates and 50% boluses.  So now I’ll start over on a different tack.

Slowly, but surely, my hiking plan has come down to a couple of rules.  Although my blood sugars may go on a different adventure every hike, these rules/guidelines seem to remain constant.

The first rule is that safety must be the primary goal of my insulin and food regimen.  Actually safety starts with my preparations for the hike.  I have a printed list that I use every week.  On the surface it may seem a bit neurotic, but it’s very easy to go down my list every Thursday evening and confirm that I’ve packed my Glucagon kit, extra snacks, a second tube of glucose tabs, and extra socks.  My list has all the basics including a hat and hiking boots.  That might seem like overkill, but one person in my group did forget her boots one week and hiked 11-1/2 miles in the Goldfield Mountains in sandals.  So don’t laugh too hard at my list.  Then I do another last-minute list for Friday morning:  water in my camel reservoir, lunch, my phone, and a bottle of water for the car.

I’ve been brainwashed by many people on the Internet who claim that they never go above BG 140.  With lower-carb eating, consistent exercise, a pump, and a CGM, I often try to be “perfect” and make corrections on readings that should maybe be left to simmer.  Slowly but surely while hiking, I’m learning to see readings in the 130’s and 140’s and leave them alone rather than correct them.  Most of those readings eventually end up in a good range.  Occasionally the 145 turns into a 185 and that warrants a correction.  What’s frustrating is that I can never figure out why one week 145 goes to 95 and another week it goes to 200.  But I’m working hard to accept that I feel good at 140 and I don’t feel good at 65 with two arrows down on the Dexcom.  So the second rule is:  leave the heck a 140 BG alone!

My third rule is to ask for help if I need it and to stop to rest if necessary.  This rule is not always related to diabetes.  Our hikes are hard and occasionally everyone needs a rest.  Well, maybe not Caroline.  But the rest of us occasionally get over-heated, sore feet or leg cramps, so it’s not always me.  Part of being strong is the willingness to accept weakness.

My fourth rule is to do my best to understand my limitations while having confidence that I am prepared for the hike and that I am strong enough to complete it no matter how Weavers Needle_Framedifficult.  The hardest hike that I have ever completed was a 2012 13-mile loop around Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains.  Some of the elevation changes were exhausting and the day was much warmer than anticipated.  This year in 2013 I chose not to go on one hike because I thought the combination of difficulty and heat would be too much for me.  So I think I’m doing a good job of balancing the goal of pushing myself while being sensible to not put myself in a dangerous situation.

My fifth and final rule is to enjoy every minute of every hike.  Be safe, but not frightened.   Be strong, but admit weakness when necessary.  Trust that I have my diabetes under control while checking constantly to make sure that I am in control.  All in all, a sensible rule to live a successful and active life with diabetes.