Many students with diabetes have participated in the trip or led trips. These are a few things we have learned over the years to help you have a good week on the trip.
Tell us About your Insulin Regimen
When completing your health form, let us know about your daily insulin regimen. Are you taking insulin orally, spray, by injection, or an insulin pump? What type of glucose monitoring meter do you use? What are the temperature requirements for your medication and meter or pump? All of these things can help us place you on a trip that's in the right environment for you.
The late August and early September often leads to huge variability in temperature. We've had conditions in the low 60's during the day and up to the high 90's. Insulin storage becomes an issue at temperatures about 86 degrees. You should bring a small soft cooler with you with 2-3 of the chemical cold packs for each day. Keeping your insulin in the cooler wrapped in something like a sock (you probably don't want to cold pack to be directly in contact with the insulin) with the cold packs should keep it below 86 degrees.
Monitoring your Glucose Levels
Based on past experience some electronic glucose monitors operate within a limited temperature range. Please make sure that your monitor is rated for temperatures below 45 degrees and above 100 degrees. If not, it is possible that the device could stop functioning on the trip. This happened once to a student. We recommend that you have a back up option in the event that your meter stops working.
Adjusting your Insulin Dosages
You already have a good idea of how to manage your insulin levels with your current activity level. However, most of us don't lead as active a life as you'll encounter on the Frosh Trip (hiking or canoeing 6-8 hours a day) so you may find that you need to make adjustments in your dosage levels. For example, one participant commented that because of the activity level, she could reduce the amount of insulin that she was taking. She found that she didn't have to take any of the short acting insulin (Humalog) because of how active she was. Now, each person is different, so please talk with your doctor about the trip before going if you aren't used to this type of extended daily exercise level.
Talking to Your Trip Leaders
You know best about how you feel when your insulin/glucose balance is off. Please let your leaders know what to look for and let them know right away so that they can keep an eye out while you readjust your system.
Issues to Consider
- Insulin Temperature – usually should be kept below 85. Bring a small collapsible cooler and 1 cold pack per day. Wrap insulin in a sock and put in cooler.
- Glucose Monitors – some monitors have temperature limits (one was rated only to 90 F another to 111 F). Make sure monitor can withstand high temperatures. If not you will need to keep that cool (perhaps with your insulin) and/or have a backup system for checking your blood sugar in the event your monitor fails.
- Day Insulin Doses – diabetics are used to monitoring themselves and adjusting for physical activities (sports, running, etc.). You may not be used to extended physical activity like 6-8 hours of hiking which will place a different load on your body. Talk with your doctor about how to manage this if this will be a change in your normal routine.
Comments from former Diabetic Participants