Posts Tagged With: insulin pumps

Triathlons, Beaches, Kayaking, & Keeping Your Pump Dry

This week’s post comes a little earlier in the week than usual because we are headed to the beach tomorrow morning, and I always like to unplug at the beach! I am lucky to live close enough to the ocean to warrant a couple beach trips each summer, and boy am I ready to go!

The trip brought up an issue that I have yet to find the perfect solution for…keeping my pump dry when I’m swimming.

Every time I go to the beach I attach my pump to my bathing suit and wear it until I get in the water. No, it’s not cute and I don’t love it, but it’s a necessity. I have a cover up that masks the fact that I am wearing it, so it’s a little less obvious. I’m not much of an ocean swimmer, so even when I do go in it’s not for very long. Detaching my pump is usually okay, although I definitely prefer to leave it on continuously. Time without my pump attached always means blood sugar problems! The beach is just one example of a time when I really need a good, waterproof solution for my insulin pump…

Several years ago I did a sprint length triathlon. Not having ever done one before (and not knowing any type 1 diabetics who had experience with them), I figured I’d just leave my pump with my husband during the swim portion of the race, get it from him on my way out of the pool into the transition area, reconnect it and be on my way. Terrible idea. I was in line waiting to start my swim for a lot longer than I expected…which means I was without my insulin pump for a long time. When I reconnected my pump and tested my blood sugar, it was through the roof! I gave myself a correction bolus, but it takes some time to work so my bike ride felt like I was riding through molasses. It was a terrible race for me but a really great learning experience.

My husband and I went kayaking in the Outer Banks of North Carolina several years ago and I ran into the same dilemma…what on Earth am I going to do with my insulin pump while we’re kayaking? I mean, I certainly hope we don’t roll over in the boat, but if we do I need to be prepared and my pump needs to be protected. Again I searched for a solution.

I haven’t found the perfect solution yet, but I have found some that work really well. So, if you’re looking into ways to keep your insulin pump dry while you’re in the water, here are some ideas to explore. It’s worth noting that I am in no way guaranteeing that these work 100%. It’s always a good idea to do your homework and test these out before you dunk your pump in water!

1. I have a SeaLine Seal Pack. I bought this for my kayaking trip. For that reason, the orange color appealed to me, as did the fact that I could wear it so in the event that my kayak rolled, it would stay with me. It works well (although my boat didn’t roll, thankfully). My complaint is that I can’t use my pump when it’s in there because there’s no window. It has served it’s purpose on several trips however.

2. Aquapac makes some great waterproof products. Specifically they have one called the Insulin Pump Case. This one does have a window, so you can use your pump while it’s in there. It looks like it’s a little lower profile than the SeaLine one. It comes with an adjustable belt so you can wear it, which is a feature that I like. It’s officially certified at IPX7 which equals up to 5 seconds to a depth of 3 feet. Aquapac has received a lot of feedback from users who have used the case to swim with their pump and have had no problems at all. I definitely plan to purchase one and look forward to giving it a try!

3. A friend of mine (and fellow type 1 diabetic) uses the Pelican i1010 case. It’s a waterproof case that is designed for mp3 players, but he rigged it somehow to work for his insulin pump. I have no idea how, but it works for him. The nice thing about Pelican cases is that they are hard cases, so they are crushproof and dustproof in addition to being waterproof. If and when I have a use for a hard case for my insulin pump, I will definitely give this one a try. I have Pelican cases for other electronic devices and they are amazing!

As you can see, there are pros and cons to each of the solutions I’ve come across over the years. Compounding this is my worry that some of these pinch insulin pump tubing a bit, which results in blood sugar problems. So, I’d recommend keeping an eye on your blood sugar while you’re using them! There’s no perfect solution that I’ve found yet…but I’m still looking! In the meantime, these are some pretty good options.


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Diabetes Gear

I’ve been lucky enough to have had an insulin pump for almost 19 years. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1995, when I was 18 years old (2 months after I started my freshman year in college). For the first year I took insulin shots 5 times a day. After about a year, my incredibly realistic endocrinologist (at the time…she’s no longer my doctor) said to me, “You’re 18 and a freshman in college. I can preach to you all day about what you need to eat, testing your blood sugar, and being very regimented about your insulin shots but you’re not going to listen to me. So, let’s talk about insulin pumps.” What a blessing that was! My first A1c was 13% I think….13%!!! Now it hovers between 6% and 7%. Insulin pumps have done a LOT for me.

My first insulin pump was the Medtronic Minimed 506 back in 1996. I admit at first I had a love/hate relationship with it. It stuck out. I couldn’t wear dresses. People asked me all the time if it was a pager (I know, I know…it was the 90’s). When you’re in your late teens and early twenties, these things are a big deal. However, I eventually got to the point where I appreciated everything it was doing for me. It took meeting a fellow diabetic who was legally blind and had lost several toes for reality to really set in, but it finally did. In any case, insulin pumps have come a LONG way since then! Over the years I’ve had a variety of pumps. They’ve all been wonderful and done amazing things for my A1c numbers. I’m really loving the one I have now though, so I thought I’d share it with you:

I just received the 530G with Enlite system from Medtronic Minimed. This is a pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and it’s fabulous. It does everything you’d expect from your continuous glucose monitor, and then some. My favorite features are the predictive alerts (it tells you that your blood sugar is going to be high or low a certain amount of time before it happens so you can treat it) and the Threshold Suspend feature. Threshold Suspend is great for diabetics like me who generally have trouble feeling their blood sugar dropping until it is REALLY low. It will automatically suspend the pump’s insulin delivery when your blood sugar drops below a predetermined number, and won’t turn back on until you tell it to. It can be a real life saver for those of us who have trouble feeling their low blood sugars and folks who tend to drop low overnight and don’t wake up!

I know there are other insulin pump manufacturers and continuous glucose monitoring systems out there that are incredible. My decision to go with this one boiled down to two things: my history with Medtronic Minimed products and insurance coverage. If you’re looking into pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems I encourage you to explore what’s out there and find the best one for you!

I end with another “lesson” from that first endocrine group that I saw when I was diagnosed. The doctor that treated me in the hospital said that there is so much diabetes research going on that there will be huge strides, if not a cure, in my lifetime. However, while advancements may be able to help them treat or cure my diabetes, they won’t be able to undo any complications that I suffer because of it. He advised me to do what I had to do to find a balance and keep my health and blood sugar levels where they needed to be. Fantastic…and very real…advice.

It took me years to really figure that out (I admit I wasn’t the “best diabetic” in my late teens and early twenties), but insulin pumps helped me get there. Staying active and working hard to find a balance between activity and diabetes also helped me get there. Hopefully hearing about this stuff, as well as the rest of the content of this blog, will help others who may still be trying to find that balance!

I’ll discuss more gear next week…stay tuned!

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