Tuesday 13 August 2013

Swimmer's High (365:7)

Swimming is one of Dylan's favorite activities, and he's a great swimmer to boot. But for someone with type 1 diabetes who wears a non-waterproof insulin pump, managing blood sugar while in the water can be a challenge.

We've been lucky in the past and the carb-burning exercise of swimming has always balanced out the lack of insulin. So much so, that on vacations in past years, we've let Dyl disconnect from his pump for 3 to 4 hours at a time, without an increase in bg afterwards. No pre or post swim bolus required - the swimming simply replaced the pump. Easy peasy...

But diabetes, being like Murphy's Law, throws a curve ball when we least expect it. When we think we have it all figured out. When we try to use almost 8 years experience to base a decision today. It shows us that even after something has worked time and time again, it won't necessarily work today.

Between increased insulin needs, the early onset of puberty, a higher body weight, and possibly dozens of other factors, swimming no longer burns enough carbs for Dylan to be disconnected for any length of time. We learned this the hard way yesterday when he hit the pool with friends for an afternoon swim. 

After 3 hours in the pool diving, flipping, swimming, and playing in deep water, he came home with a blood glucose level higher than I've seen in a long time. A whopping 20.6 mmol/l (370 mg/dl)! A big bolus (6.25 units) and a 30 minute wait later, we faced a 24.8 mmol/l bg (446 mg/dl) and a pump telling us Dylan had too much active insulin to bolus further. A manual override of another unit bolused, and another 45 minute wait, and bg was down to 9.6mol/l (173 mg/dl) and still dropping. 2 hours post-swimming we were down to 6.4mmol/l (115 mg/dl) and I finally started breathing normally again.

On days like this, being a d-mom is extra difficult. It's so easy to focus on the negative and worry about the damage that's being done to his heart, kidneys, nerves, or eyes when his blood sugar is high. It's easy to feel like a failure as a parent and a caregiver, for not keeping my son away from harm. It's easy to let diabetes win.

But this 365 project is about staying positive and not allowing diabetes to be all bad all the time. Because like it or not, he will have type 1 diabetes for his entire life, and I don't want him to think of it as a death sentence, a disability, or a hindrance in any way. I don't want him to mope around focusing on how diabetes gets in the way.

I want him to understand that living with type 1 diabetes can be a challenge, but there is absolutely nothing he cannot do. I want him to accept it, to own it, and to know that when bad s*#t happens, we pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and we get ready to take on the next challenge.


  1. I totally agree with your outlook on raising a child with T1D; praying that Dylan will take control of his care when he's good and ready and that you can relax a bit. My youngest grandsugar (Audrey) was diagnosed (finally by an ER nurse after she almost died from DKA) at the age of 7 (2 1/2 years ago). It has been daunting for her and her family to adjust to the "new normal" of constantly monitoring BCG and adjusting insulin and activities/meals accordingly. But adjut they have...and the techy "tools" now available to T1D'ers help a great deal.

    Onward and upward with faith, hope and a good dose of humor!


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