Monday, January 20, 2014

Diabetes below freezing

The sky is a crystal clear blue, the sun has finally popped up and it is -17 degrees C!

Diabetes is a tricky little blighter at the best of times but throw in freezing temperatures and the trickiness is taken to another level.

Blood sugar meters do not like the cold, they and their partners, blood test strips(we use Bayer Contour)work optimally between 9 C and 30 C - so -17is not good. Even temperatures hovering around 0 C can cause an error.

Unwrapping the glucose tablets from their cellophane wrapper requires quite a degree of dexterity, try it with gloves on, no, so gloves off and throw in a wind chill factor of -30, definitely no.

Soft chewy fruit snacks turn into rock hard sticks more akin to a dog chew and the juice box you left in the car is now a popsicle. Even the gel you had in your jacket pocket is now a slushie and brain freeze on top of a tanking blood sugar can't be fun.

Batteries in pump and meter drain away in front of your eyes and the spare is probably dead too.

Oh yes insulin freezes and the thin tubing dangling in the breeze is the perfect place !

Yes we have learnt the hard way but living in a country where winter temperatures are regularly below -10C for 3 months of the year we have learnt to adapt .

Tubing well tucked in and preferably next to the skin, pump in pouch and tucked under shirt/ jumper and outdoor trousers. Doesn't allow for quick access but save bolusing and pump checking for indoors!

Fruit snack kept in inside pocket, put 4 glucose tablets into an old test strip pot, label and put in jacket pocket. This can be opened and dispensed with gloves on!

If we are going out for a period of time such as skating or skiing, we found a small insulated picnic /lunch bag into which we put a warm pad, such as wheat bag, gel pad, hand warmer, next goes the blood sugar meter and other snacks/ juice. It doesn't need to be hot but just warm to avoid freezing. Keeping the blood sugar meter inside your shirt is another option , tucked inside a bra works too!!

I am also learningand even more so for my son, how important good quality winter boots and gloves are. Cold hands and feet are no fun at all.

I love the winter and the beauty and fun it brings, yes Diabetes comes along for the ride, we have problems but we work them out - hot chocolate usually helps! But why does playing in the snow make blood sugars drop so dramatically?

Roll on Summer!
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