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I am a diabetic planning a thru-hike. I'm looking for any advice or anecdotes from other insulin dependant (type 1) diabetics. I haven't been able to find anything worthwhile online. anyone ?
I've been hiking for 19 yrs. as an insulin dependent diabetic. I plan to thru-hike the AT in 2005, although I've hiked about 450 mi. in sections and also several trails in the Southwest.
It takes a lot of experimenting and note taking to make your needed insulin reductions. I will say for sure that you will reduce your injections by more than 50%. I'll be glad to help you because I also could not find any writen info. I will contact you by E-mail tomorrow with some advice.
Fear not, it will not hold us back; besides, it's the only time that I can eat a Snickers!
I have Type 1 diabetes and have several years of backpacking experience, mostly short trips of less than a week. I hope to be able to start my thru hike when I retire within the next few years.
One tip; freezing destroys insulin. If there is a chance of freezing temps during the night put your insulin in your sleeping bag with you.
I am glad to see this thread. I look forward to learning tips and tricks that have been successful for others. I will try to share my knowledge as I think of things.
Interview with Space Monkey, a diabetic, in Duncannon on June 16, 2002.
“What’s that bracelet you’re wearing?”
“It’s a diabetic medical bracelet. Diabetes is a balancing act whether you are at home or on the trail. You have to keep the blood sugar not too high or not too low. Your body is processing more sugar than usual so you don’t have to shoot up as much.”
“What all do you carry?”
“Insulin syringes. Originally I took two shots a day, but on the trail I take four shots per day. I carry two vials with 100cc each. I’ve been resuppling vials every four to six weeks and I get one vial upon resupply.”
“Space Monkey, how much weight is it?”
“The ziplock bag of diabetes stuff weighs about ¾ pound. There’s an insulin vial, syringes, four per day times multiplied by how many days till resupply, blood sugar testing strips, lancets for pricking a finger to test and a machine that counts blood sugar levels.
I’d say for most young diabetics, it’s a fine thing to do the AT.”
I have seen these carbohydrate gel packs in the store. They hold about 25 grams of carb in a neat foil packet that I can squeeze into my mouth in case of low blood sugar. I also plan to carry some powdered gatorade (this should help with the water flavor also) My biggest concerns are running out of food and having aserious low blood sugar out of range of all the 7-11s I am used to living near. I think I will also bring a glucagon shot along with me although I have never needed one and I'll be alone so if I was that far gone who would know to give me the shot?
I'm pretty confident about everything though I am sure I will overpack supplies due to paranoia. Anyway I'm starting next week, but I'll be checking in here before I go so keep the advice etc. coming...
carry a tube of cake frosting, its pretty much the same as a tube of glucose, only it tastes better. Our ambulance carries the glucose tubes and ive heard they taste pretty bad, but ive known other rescue squads who have replaced it with cake frosting and it has worked very well. just dont get the blue kind, if somone comes across you with a blue face they might think your in worse condition than you might be, however im sure it would not get that bad. so long as your conscious enough to swallow cake mix is a very fast and very affective glucose sorce. although like the glucose gel, you dont eat it, you put it between your gum and cheek and let it abosorb. (i figure youve probably already heard most of this but i figure itd be good to say anyway) good luck to you all and your hikes.
one question for me though, but dosnt insulin degrade if it is not kept cool?
When I developed diabetes about 26 years ago I was told that insulin must be refrigerated at all times to keep it from degrading. Now I believe the thinking is that it can be kept at room temperature for several weeks with no degradation. I still keep my spare bottles in the refrigerator but not the ones I use daily.
However, as I stated in my earlier post, freezing ruins it for some reason.
It has been some time since I have read anything about short term storage. Someone please correct me if my information is wrong.
As for glucose sources, I use the B-D tablets that come in the three tablet pack, two packs per box. I find that the packaging is much more durable than the foil gel packs. They work for me since, so far, I have been able to recognize the warning signs of low blood sugar and can stop and chew the tablets. The gel probably would be better if you get so low that you need super quick absorption.
Every diabetic is different as to thier bodies reactions to food, insulin and exercise. I'd like to use myself as an example so you can have an idea of some control methods. I am 57 and have been diabetic for 19 years, and am currently about200 lbs. I take Lantis at night, 20 units, and Humalog as needed, usually one unit per 10 carbs.
While backpacking I cut my Lantis by 1/2, 10 units, and I take only one unit of Humalog for every 30 carbs.
This works well for me, but make your changes gradually and always be ready with carbs in case of low sugars. I find peanutbutter tortillas or crackers work fast and are satisfying.
With my doses, I have had some low B/S while hiking, but never while sleeping. Just in case I keep a tube of icing in my pocket, unopened to keep the bears away, the tube is easy to bite open if needed.
Remember to test often and when you stop for the day, your body is still burning carbs for a good 2 hours afterwards.
For a quick glucose source, I use CVS's chewable tablets. They're cheap, have different flavors, and you have a choice of a 10-tab tube or a 50-tab bottle. I took a 50-pack on my Springer-Tesnatee section hike, but I know now I should have just brought one or two 10-tubes. I was just paranoid, I guess, as it was my first long hike since I was diagnosed.
I'm a Type-II diabetic, BTW. So I'm afraid I can't help on the insulin issue.
My mother is a Type-1 diabetic(we think she developed it after having her thyroid removed); she takes Humalog and Lente. My dad just keeps her bottles she's using at room temperature, as someone earlier posted.
My best wishes and admiration for all you diabetic hikers; I've seen what this disease can do and I admire your strength. Since hiking is such great exercise, hopefully you all will be ahead of the game in terms of your health with your diabetes.
well, I never came back to this thread but just so you all know everything went ok. I had a few near disasters but now they are all just funny stories. I've discovered I manage my diabetes much better on the trail than when I'm off the trail. Plus, I was never as far away from people or civilization as I thought I'd be. Things might be a little different on some of the more wild trails out there. This year at trail days I met another guy called Ketone hiking this year. He had a neat little invention made out of a nalgene bottle to hold his insulin in to keep the temperature down. It won the backpacker magazine hiking gadget contest at trail days so if your curious enough you could check with them about it, I think he's doing journals also so you can look for him there. Again my insulin never went bad and i didn't do anything special to insulate it but better safe than sorry, especially if your on a hotter or more remote hike. As it turns out you just have to do the same things you do at home. Monitor youe blood sugar frequently, track your insulin, excersise and food intake on a chart and adjust doses accordingly, and keep glucose handy in an easy to consume form. I'm as prepared for getting in my car to drive as I need to be for hiking. So get out there and hike.