Exercising My Right to Go Low
Finding new inspiration is a walk through a park
By Kerri Sparling
A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our daughter to Disney World as our family trip. We look forward to spending a week together because our jobs keep us very busy and traveling often, so for all three of us to be in the same place at the same time is an appreciated novelty. (To clarify, my daughter does not have a job. Or at least not a formal one. She's three, so I suppose her job is to color and play outside. Not a bad gig.)
After a few hours of airports, airplanes, and the rental car, we were finally at the parks and ready to take it all in. As a seasoned traveler, I thought I had packed everything we needed, including all of my diabetes supplies. I had enough test strips, pump infusion sets, and back-up insulin pens to medically mind at least three people with diabetes. I even remembered to bring the charging cords for my Dexcom and my glucose meter – score!)
But I forgot about one, key component of a Disney World vacation: the walking. And with the walking comes a special treat: especially clingy low blood sugars.)
Basically, I needed a whole carry-on crammed with glucose tabs.)
I was prepared for the blood sugar drops, as best I could be. I had two full jars of glucose tabs (80 tabs) and my continuous glucose monitor was ready to BEEP!! when my blood sugar dropped out of range. Besides, walking around Disney World offered a constant (and tempting) opportunity to treat every hypo with ice cream bars shaped like Mickey Mouse's ears, so emergencies involving lows were simple enough to avoid, right?)
Sort of. What tripped me up was the duration of the hypoglycemic episodes. Even though we sat during the course of the lines and shows, we were walking all over the park, from when we entered in the morning until we left at closing time. According to my pedometer, I was clocking in between five-seven miles per day, and my blood sugars stood as proof positive of the mileage accrual. Throughout each day we were at the park, I consumed my normal amount of carbs – plus some – and still bottomed out, blood sugar-wise, at least twice a day. Bringing my basal rate down and under-bolusing for meals and snacks still had me in the hypo trenches, thanks exclusively to being on my feet and active all day long. And lows didn't last minutes, but 30–40-minute stretches, with stacked exercise causing steady and determined blood sugar drops. Staggering around Magic Kingdom in the midst of a blood sugar of 53 mg/dL? I can check that one off my bucket list.)
Was it the magic of Disney World? Nah, even though it was great to be there, the magic of seeing Disney through my daughter's eyes wasn't mimicking the action of insulin. It's something simpler that kept hypoglycemia as omnipresent as the silhouette of giant mouse ears; It was the power of exercise.
While we were away, there were a few too many lows, but I barely saw the whisper of a high blood sugar and I'm trying to hang on to that trend now that we're home. Sometimes I'm inspired to exercise by the need for pants to fit differently, or to alleviate stress. But now, I'm inspired to get moving and stay moving because it makes my diabetes so much easier to manage on just about every level.)
Visit Kerri's website.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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