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As most of my regular readers and followers know, I have some issues with cold and cold weather — poor peripheral circulation, Raynaud's, and a tendency towards hypothermia in the best of conditions. The worst of these issues for me, diabetes-wise, is that I can't trust my blood glucose readings (my fingers are too cold to draw any blood — much less the fresh blood that is key to anything resembling an "accurate" glucose reading, and my forearms are either covered by several layers of thermal garments, or are themselves cold. I also tend to have higher blood pressure readings and lower blood glucose readings for no apparent reason (although hydration may play a factor when it's too cold to drink the water my body desperately needs), and I lose sensation in my fingertips and toes.
The biggest logistics issues for me are keeping warm, and keeping my glucometer and strips at operating temperatures.
As I move from perimenopause into the more usual symptoms associated with a woman's change of life, I find that my best method for dealing with body temperature at night is to pre-heat the bed with my electric blanket, and then turn it off to prevent overheating, subsequent chilling, and the follow-on hypothermic convulsions, blood pressure spikes, and adrenaline-mediated glucose responses. During the day, I've been experiencing short (very short!) periods of warmth that ranges from feeling overdressed to feeling like I'm in an oven, followed by a gradual chill back to my normal "freezing in a drafty apartment".
Conversely, this past year — or has it been two? — The Other Half has been cold enough at night to need his electric blanket kept on "you're only supposed to put it this high to preheat the bed" full-blast, and the past few nights, we've needed to move the electric space heater into the bedroom and keep it on while we slept. (Yes, we are aware that this is a high risk behavior. Please do not do this at home, unless the alternative is literally freezing to death.) With all of this, The Other Half has been wearing sweatshirts (unprecedented for him) and putting on long pants to keep from getting convulsively chilled.
My sister claims to be the most affected of us three. She has a down comforter and has not considered an electric blanket, but she's not comfortable wearing long sleeves, sweatshirts or hoodies, or lounge robes, so most of what she does is huddle under the covers with an electric heater running full-blast in her room. (And yes, we've warned her about it.)
As much as we've been affected by the cold (and as much as my reactions, and The Other Half's, may be diabetes-related), this is but the tip of the iceberg for those living with insulin-dependent diabetes, and for those living with severe neuropathic complications of diabetes.
While the major logistical issues with insulin supply in most developing countries is that of heat denaturing the medication, the challenge in these parts is keeping the fluids from freezing. We normally don't think of this as an issue, but after Hurricane Sandy and the following nor'easter, there are still many people living in tent cities and depending upon outdoor volunteer soup kitchens. For them, keeping anything warm is an issue. Worse, while affected towns are being gradually touted as "safe for residents to return," many homes are still missing or damaged, or have been demolished, and the people they housed are still "out in the cold" as they wait for relief and repairs.
As much as we may be affected by summer heat, and as worried as our beachfront businesses may be about the coming season, many of us are hoping for this winter, albeit relatively mild, to be over.
Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes. (Read More)
Nicole Purcell lists having type 1 diabetes last when she's asked to provide information about herself - because that's where it belongs. (Read More)