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Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Diabetes Management, Lifestyle, Tips and Tricks

Theme Park Fun, With Diabetes Along for the Ride

Theme Park Fun, With Diabetes Along for the Ride

While so many people compare life with diabetes to a never-ending roller coaster ride, I’m proof that real-life roller coasters can be fun! When I visit my local theme park on a hot summer day, I always remember my sunscreen, water and most importantly, a bag full of supplies.

Upon arriving at the park, it’s standard operating procedure to have to face security, and likely your first line of the day. The staff poke and prod through guests’ bags, tossing food and beverages in the trash and sending owners on their way. In my experience, when going through the security process, it’s easier to announce that you have type 1 diabetes (T1D), so when security digs through your bag they are already aware that they will encounter medical equipment. I let them know they will find things like an insulin vial and extra Pods, and also that there is food and water in my bag and it has to stay with me. I’ve noticed in the past few years that when I tell security (regardless where I am) I have T1D, there are no further questions and I don’t have to explain myself.

A lot of theme parks offer something similar to a line hopper pass free of charge to those who have a medical condition which makes it challenging to stand in long lines. I take full advantage of this offer! The theme park I frequent most often is Six Flags New England, where they offer an Attraction Access Pass which gives me (the person with the disability) and three guests access to the ride through the exit.

Here’s how it works. Upon arriving at the park, I check in and they give me a tri-fold pamphlet in exchange for a doctor’s note stating I have a disability which interferes with my ability to stand in long lines. They then tell me the wait time for the day based on how busy they expect it to be (the last time I went, the wait time was 30 minutes). After picking up the pamphlet, you can head into the park and figure out what you want to ride first. As long as it has been 30 minutes from when I checked in, I can enter through the exit and ride the coaster. Before riding, the attendant signs and notes the time, and after I get off the ride I have to wait 30 minutes from that time to enter another ride through the exit. On busy, hot days, this accommodation definitely comes in handy. On days when the lines aren’t terrible, I often just wait in line like everyone else.

Although most of these passes offered don’t let you just hop to the front of the line without waiting, it’ll make your day much more enjoyable because you don’t have to stand in a stagnant line for what can be close to an hour. It is worth noting that the ride attendant will more than likely be the one to choose your seat, so if you’re adamant about riding in the front of a roller coaster, don’t plan on it when using a disability line hopper pass.

As well as offering the Attraction Access Pass, Six Flags New England offers guests with medical conditions the opportunity to carry their bag with them onto every ride. Normally when I enter the park, I ask the security staff to provide me with a medical bag tag which has the date on it and gets stuck somewhere visible on the bag so upon entering the lines on rides you don’t have to lock away your belongings and can have them with you the entire day.

This works well for me personally in many ways:

1.   I can keep all of my supplies with me at all times, which means I can get at them anytime I need to
2.  I constantly have my food and drinks with me just in case I become low
3.  It’s WAY CHEAPER than renting a locker and better for people like me, who can’t just choose a locker and leave my bag in it all day.

While my experience is specific to Six Flags and I know their policies, I would always suggest calling your theme park beforehand to figure out all of your possible options as a person with diabetes. Some parks may require a doctor’s note or something else proving you have trouble with lines, while others may not. Before I go to a new theme park, I always do this just to see what all my options are because more than likely they have a policy regarding special accommodations for people with disabilities. It never hurts to ask and it might save quite a bit of time and money throughout my day.

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Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in Diabetes Management, Lifestyle

From Diagnosed Middle Schooler to Podder and College Intern: Kayley’s Story

From Diagnosed Middle Schooler to Podder and College Intern: Kayley’s Story

My name is Kayley Christian and I’m 19 years old. I’ve had type 1 diabetes for almost six years. This summer, I am working as an intern with the marketing team here at Insulet Corporation. Through my blogs, I hope to share my experience not only here at Insulet over the summer, but also what it’s like being a full-time college student living with T1D, starting with my diagnosis story. Prior to being diagnosed in May of 2011, I was fairly familiar with type 1 diabetes and what it looked like due to the fact I have an aunt as well as a grandfather who both have type 1. This meant I had an understanding of what was involved in T1D…or so I thought.

Before I had actually been diagnosed with diabetes, I was suffering from extreme thirst and frequent trips to the bathroom. These symptoms alone made my mom suspicious as to what was going on, given she had seen the diagnosis process with my aunt in her mid to late twenties. We made a visit to my neighbors’ home, where the husband was a fellow T1D and his wife was a practicing nurse. I will never forget the looks of fear on their faces when the meter read HIGH after taking in the blood sample of someone who, up until this point, had been an active and healthy kid.

Of course, at that point, I had no idea what that meant, how bad it was or how bad it was seemingly going to get. Almost immediately after checking, my mom and I headed to the hospital. Once we got there, I was immediately admitted, given the severity of the circumstances. It was all a blur −̶ nurses and doctors in and out, pricks and pokes throughout the night and what seemed like more information that I had learned in all of seventh grade thrown at me over the course of less than 48 hours.

Looking back, I really ended up getting very lucky as far as diagnosis stories go. I never got sick and only spent two nights in the hospital mostly to learn how to care for this new part of me. After being discharged, I was expected to resume life as normal. This meant going back to school, sports and trying to get my life back on track at 12 years old. I knew the journey wasn’t going to be easy, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

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Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Diabetes Management, Fitness, Lifestyle, Pump Therapy, School

Benched for Diabetes: Trying to Educate Others on Diabetes Management

Benched for Diabetes: Trying to Educate Others on Diabetes Management

kayley-field-hockey-with-diabetes-400x225

I just finished up my third year of Varsity field hockey and found this past season to be a giant personal challenge. The coach I had is the same coach that I have had for the past two years and I have struggled with trying to get her to understand diabetes.  This season we started an intense conditioning process before practice with a trainer. I found that I was going low – very low – during practice on the days that I had conditioning.

My mom was in contact with the nurse after a number of times when my blood sugars were dangerously low. The coaching staff really did not seem to understand exactly how low my numbers were. On a number of occasions, they allowed me to walk away from the practice field on my own to treat numbers that were in the high 20’s and low 30’s. It got to the point where I was so uncomfortable asking to be able to check my blood sugars that I actually stayed on the field a few times in spite of the fact I knew that my levels were heading down.

After a few weeks of working with the nurse, my doctors and my parents – making adjustments, eating more and treating lows – things were still not where they should have been. I tried suspending insulin delivery with my Omnipod insulin pump, I tried reducing my insulin at lunch so I would go into conditioning a little higher – I tried basically anything we could think of. One day I came into school and the nurse informed me that until I had a clinic appointment she and the coach had decided to bench me. I was surprised and very upset, as we were actively working together trying to take care of the situation and this came out of nowhere.

I called my mom and let her know. My mom was also very upset and called the nurse to inform her that she thought this was inappropriate, as we had been working together and it was unacceptable to decide to bench me based upon my diabetes. My mom was able to reschedule my clinic appointment to the next day. When I informed my nurse practitioner of what had occurred she was amazed that someone would make this choice. She wrote a VERY clear letter to the nurse and my coach explaining that their decision was inappropriate and that if they had any questions in regards to my diabetes and treatment, they should contact her. I felt very grateful for her support and help.

The next day we had a night game and I was allowed to play based upon my visit to Joslin and the letter from my nurse practitioner. Our field hockey season ended last week and we as a team came in second in our district. I worked hard all season and love the sport of field hockey – although I must say it is a little worrisome for me to think that next year, I will more than likely have the same coaching staff. All I can do is try to educate others and help them understand what living with type 1 diabetes is like. I will not let anything stop me from pursuing my passions!

Insulin pumps help regulate blood sugar levels by reducing the instances of high and lows. Try a free Demo of the Omnipod insulin pump by clicking here.

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Posted by on Mar 12, 2014 in Diabetes Management, Fitness, Lifestyle

Ski Racing with Diabetes

Ski Racing with Diabetes

Ski-Racing-with-Diabetes
Photo Credit: Beignyreih Pearson.

When most kids around my age are asked what winter sports they play, many say basketball. But I have a different answer; I’m a ski racer!

I started skiing at the age of three with my dad being the main coach in my life. As I progressed, I started going to a weekend program at my local mountain to learn more basics of skiing. When my parents felt I was ready, they got me involved in the race program at our mountain around the age of seven. Skiing became a bigger part of my life than it ever was in the past. It became what my life was focused around in the winter. I’d have practices every Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM, and when I wasn’t training, it was a race day. Everyone gets so excited about race day, because it’s like game day for any other sport. As I got older and further progressed into racing, it just really grew to be more and more part of what I live for.

Getting Diagnosed with Diabetes During Ski Season

As the 2010-2011 ski season was coming to a close, I never would’ve thought that in just over two months my whole life would make a 180 with me getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As the next season approached I had no idea what my teammates would think of the fairly new-to-me disease. I was still at the point where I didn’t want anyone to know about it, because I was embarrassed that kids might think of me as different for having diabetes. But as I have learned, if anything, diabetes makes you more of an amazing athlete. Not only do you succeed at the sport, but you do it while controlling your diabetes at the same time.

Becoming More Comfortable with Diabetes

As time went on and I became more comfortable with sharing my diabetes with other people, it really became an amazing experience. If I just pulled out my blood glucose meter on the slopes and pricked my finger, all my friends would ask if I needed a snack or if I was ok because they knew what to do. Skiing also became a lot easier after I realized that people didn’t judge me for having diabetes and most definitely didn’t look at me differently. I think I became a better athlete because of it. Not only was I succeeding as a skier, but also as a teen with diabetes.

Managing My Blood Sugar While Skiing

Now during ski season, I keep a very close eye on my blood sugar numbers throughout a day spent outside skiing, especially since the cold weather has a tendency to make my sugars drop faster than just exercise alone. When I ski I ALWAYS keep some type of fast-acting sugar in my pocket, because you never know when or where a low blood sugar could happen.

Another way ski racing affects my blood sugar is from adrenalin. A lot of times when I’m in the start gate there it so much built up tension and excitement that my blood sugar skyrockets. And most times when I get to the bottom of a race course I’m shaking and breathing heavier than if I had just run a mile, so sometimes I have misinterpreted these signs for a low when really it’s the complete opposite.

Skiing has and will always be a huge part of my life and, with or without diabetes, will always be my favorite sport. This is mostly because how often do you meet a 16-year-old girl that says “I’m a ski racer” when you ask what winter sport she plays.

The tubeless, two-part nature of the Omnipod insulin pump is convenient when you’re being active with diabetes. To try out a free Demo for yourself, click here.

 

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