My daughters, Abbie and Hannah, are both type one diabetics. I have learned to overcome obstacles in travel and adventure with them and want to share with you some tips for enjoying an active, adventurous life with diabetic kids. I know, as a parent, when our children are first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we go into a state of shock and uncertainty about the future. We wonder if life will ever return to normal or how will we ever be adventurous again.
Recently, we began preparing for a back country adventure with Abbie into Rocky Mountain National Park. I had a bit of trepidation about taking my T1d up into the mountains, away from cell service and immediate medical care. I spoke with her Endocrinologist, Dr. Jennifer Dyer MD, at COPEDS in Columbus , Ohio and with her help we made a plan for our amazing adventure into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park.
There is this place in a parents heart where the fearful thoughts reside. I have personally had to overcome the thoughts that I was not capable of taking my child on adventures. With encouragement from our medical team and family, I found the confidence to know I had all the knowledge and ability to create an amazing life and adventures for our daughters.
I believe preparation is invaluable for any adventure you want to take as a T1d person or parent of a T1d. Thinking through your itinerary and planning your care out for the trip is one of the first things you should do. Know how many days you will be gone, what locations and days you will be there and how many supplies you will need is extremely helpful. I usually plan everything out extensively and have extra supplies should we have a lay over, get hurt or have a pump failure.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Think through the adventure that you are planning. If you are going into the backcountry, you might need to pack more than normal for diabetes care. You will carry more glucose and emergency items, like Glucagon. When you are hiking in a local metro park you can just carry your normal diabetes pack and a few extra snacks. The activity of rock rappelling will be streamlined and have things close to you and small while you are climbing. Soft glucose gel packs are great for this.
Researching where medical care will be available near your location is helpful. Sometimes Siri or LTE is not working in the hills or mountains where you might be going. A quick search at home and jotting down in your notes where the closest medical facility is located is a great way to be prepared.
Know When to Take a Break
Know when to STOP or not go. I know it is disappointing when you’re out and in the middle of an adventure and blood glucose levels don’t cooperate. Recently, we drove 16 hours to Acadia National Park in Maine to hike the Beehive and Precipice Trails. We arrived and Abbie’s blood sugars were constantly bottoming out. We had to make wise decisions and chose to have the family go on with the hike while Abbie and I headed back to the car. It was extremely sad and disappointing for her, but it was the safest plan. Never push your child to do something when they are too high or too low, it’s not worth it. Abbie and I read, The Secret Garden, in the car and we explored around the trail heads. It was not the same as the “real deal”, but we had fun doing what we could.
Have a back up plan! If your child would pitch a fit that everyone else got to go do XY and Z while they had a low or high, have a back up diabetes plan. Have the whole family stop and go a picnic, shopping for souvenirs or find a local joint at your location and check out the vibe. Have a plan that works for your family.
Don’t Give Up
Planning adventures are amazing and it’s an awesome experience watching your T1d live life to the fullest. As the parent, you hold the keys to giving them all the freedom to overcome obstacles that may crop up. You are the cheerleader and motivator, why not grab a pen and paper and start planning your adventures now!
If you need encouragement, want to talk or learn more about how to adventure with your T1d feel free to reach out to me via our contact us form.
Below I have placed some more pictures and Youtube video’s of some of our adventures.