Finally the sun has blessed Westdale after what seemed like a month of cold, rainy November-esque weather in May! Walking around town, it seemed that many people were taking advantage of the sunny weather to go for a walk or a bike ride and soak up some UV rays. I have always loved summer and everything that it brings; sunny days at the beach, sandals, sweaty runs, ice cream, summer dresses, swimming, and the general good vibrations that seem to accompany the fair weather.
As a diabetic, summer also brings some concerns. I’ve always found that a surge of warm weather causes my blood sugars to run low. I had been led to believe that this was related to the general increase in (particularly outdoor) activity that generally accompanies warm weather, but I’ve noticed that if the weather suddenly warms up on a day that I spend sitting and studying, my blood sugars will still run low, despite my lack of activity. Whatever the cause, it’s always something I have to watch out for, particularly when I’m planning on taking advantage of the weather to spend some active time outside.
Yesterday, inspired by the sun, I grabbed a pair of rollerblades and a friend and headed to a beautifully scenic, well-paved, lakeside path, where the cool breeze coming off the lake nicely complimented the heat. I set a temporary basal rate to 0 units for 2 hours, about the same duration of time I expected to be rollerblading for. We rollerbladed for about an hour to our destination- a cafe- at which point my blood sugar had already dropped to 3.5 mmol/L. I ordered a large mango smoothie, and we sat around for about half an hour, enjoying the weather and the view. Before heading back, I tested again only to discover I was still low (drats!). I finished off a juice box (those are generally what I keep handy for hypoglycemia) and by the time we had rollerbladed back to the car, my blood sugars were in a normal range. I considered it a pretty successful outing, as I managed to control my blood sugars, enjoy the good company and drink a delicious smoothie without my blood sugars dropping low enough to make me grumpy or sluggish.
Another nuisance of being a diabetic in the summer is the issue of how to hide a pump within one’s clothing when wearing shorts and t-shirts. When I was younger, I usually used a black spandex “holster” (like a spy, cool, I know) for my pump that fit around my thigh and had a little pocket for the pump. I still use that when I’m wearing nice, flowing dresses or skirts, but I quickly discovered that the pump holster was pretty obvious when wearing shorts or tight jeans. I know a popular option is to wear the pump like a pager, in a clip on your waist, but I’ve never been a particular fan of this style because I find it gets in the way. I always cursed the ease with which diabetic boys could hide their pumps, as their clothes were always loose fitting and well equipped with big pockets, unlike the typical tiny, tight clothing fashionable for girls.
My solution to my pump-placement problem came one day when I was sitting in my high school cafeteria and noticed a girl reach in to her shirt and pull out her cell phone. Though I had always found the trend of girls storing their cell phones, keys, money, combs (really?!?) and other important items in their bra rather strange, I realized that a pump, which is only slightly bigger than a heavy duty Blackberry or iPhone, could also be stored in a bra. Since that day, I’ve discovered ways to strategically place the pump in my bra so that it isn’t really obvious that it’s there, and it is now definitely the number one place I keep my pump. The biggest drawback is that I still find it awkward to reach into my shirt and whip out my pump in public, so I often go to the washroom to do this, or tactically place a backpack or sweater so that what I’m doing is less evident.
All the things about summer that I love -the shorts, the outdoor activities, the icecream- are just as enjoyable with my diabetes as they were without. Summer with diabetes just means a bit more planning, especially on those long rollerblading trips, and a bit more innovation, especially with pump placement.