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As you know, any demanding physical activity with type 1 diabetes poses some sort of challenges, from regulating bolus rates, to basal rates to even maintaining energy levels- but with all things in life and diabetes, anything is possible with one key thing....preparation!
As a type 1 diabetic with..how
shall I call it...not very cooperative blood sugars..when I do something out of
my usual routine or comfort zone, I’ve got to practice and plan, so that I don’t
fall into a diabetic coma and die- (dramatic, yet possible). This wasn’t the first time I have hiked a
mountain- I am from the land of the Mourne Mountains in Co Down, Ireland after
all- so my usual routine would be to reduce my basal rate by 50%- so this was
going to be my plan! I also took spare pens with me in case my insulin pump
decided to die on me in the cold.
This was a definite possibility with -4
temperatures, so I used my
to help regulate the temperature
of my insulin- and they worked well! No insulin died.
Camping means you naturally have
restricted access to sweets, sugary drinks etc for a hypo- and even though
there are shops located throughout the W trail in Torres Del Paine, they are overpriced
and expensive, and honestly just come prepared- but at least you know in an
emergency you can find some sugar! I brought 3 bags of sweets with me, 3 juice
cartons, 3 rolls of sweets & a packet of dextrose. I could have brought more,
but I also didn’t want to weigh myself down the supplies which would ironically
lead to more hypos...finding the balance is always a challenge. I think
dextrose are fantastic hypo treatments because they are small, and you don’t need
as many to get yourself out of one..but I can’t find them in South America..And
I only had one pack left from the UK..so..yeah!
I won’t lie to you, it’s been over six weeks since I have
been at the gym, all my hard fitness work was diminishing and when I first
started this walk..
...and that was at the entrance hill. I constantly had a
mental battle in my head of “You can do this, come on just keep going, it’s
going to be worth it”...too...”OMG why are you doing this, you are going to
Bradley was finding this a source of entertainment because I was
constantly swinging from one to the other within minutes.
I set off with a blood sugar of 6.5 (super good- probably
too good for this trek)...reduced my basal rate...and it took half an hour for
my first hypo...YAY- I know the rule for a hypo is..wait 15-30 minutes for your
body to recover...but I was on a time limit, so I kind of ignored that rule,
chugged some sugar, and kept walking
This ultimately meant I took a little
longer to get out of hypo...ps- being sweaty and warm from incline walking and
then sweaty and warm from a hypo means a hell of a lot of sweat and warmth and
just not a pretty picture.
All in all- I had 3 hypos that day...but that didn’t seem so
bad to me for 5-6 hours walking.
I think that
was literally one of those moments were diabetes was trying to piss me off and make
things more challenging- but hey ho- I got on with it, I was not taking any
insulin because I knew I was climbing the steepest hill I have ever climbed.
This climb was 1 hour, and we were trying to get there before sunrise to see
the beautiful three Torres with the sunrise..I knew it was going to be a
magical moment, but ¾ the way up, we could see daylight forming and literally
huffing and puffing, thinking my legs couldn’t take anymore...we feared we wouldn’t
But we pushed through, and we MADE IT,
popped in our sleeping bags and watched the sunrise, and it was absolutely
worth it, and probably the most beautiful scene I have witnessed. I checked my
bloods and alas- 4.6, it was definitely a great idea that I didn’t take any
insulin! No hypos on the way back down...so I can say that was a hypo free
I am super proud for completing what is known as a hard challenge, and not to be limited by my type 1 diabetes. Dream Big &