I 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 difficult. 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.
The second part of your hiking article was great. I think it would behoove every diabetic to carry a small kit with them that includes glucose tablets, a meter and test strips (unless they are fortunate enough to have a CGM), some snacks…and keep these all in a little bag in your car which I would consider JIC (Just in Case). This bag shoud be portable enough so that if you go away from your car for a few hours, you can just grab and the bag and go. I know that for us, until recently, there were quite a few times that we were in a store and Marc started to go low and he didn’t have anything on him. I know make sure that my purse always has glucose tablets in it.
Anyway, well written and very informative article…but then again, all of your articles are well written and informative.
I keep a large jar of glucose tabs in my car. You can’t really keep a meter and strips in the car because temperature extremes will destroy them. Even the glucose tabs start looked yukky after a few days in the 80’s and 90’s.
I think that it is easier for women who carry purses than for men. My purse always has a meter, strips, and glucose tabs. Actually the meter case in my purse also has a few syringes, batteries for my meter, and a battery for my pump. I do not buy clothes without pockets and always carry glucose tabs in my pocket.
I’m a guy, and I have a small shoulder bag I carry nearly everywhere with me. It’s got my meter and some juice and cookies and stuff. In the winter all that fits in my jacket pockets. I try to take it even if I’m just going to the store for a couple minutes — if there’s an earthquake here (in Japan) I don’t want to be trapped on the elevator with no carbs!
I saw a news story a few years ago about some T1D kids who were hiking on multi-day trips. One kid was explaining that they tried to aim for a BG over 200, because the exercise pulled them down so easily. I thought that was a strange way to do it, but maybe it worked for them. The kid checked his BG on camera, it was like 230, and he seemed happy.
Very sensible blog Laddie. I was telling Sue earlier that I wear my Spibelt everywhere, with glucose tabs in the pocket. And I wear my Dexcom receiver on the belt. I know the Spibelt is not for everyone, but it sure has made my life easier when I don’t have to check for glucose tabs every time I leave the house.
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