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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 Jul 5, 2017 in Diabetes Management, Lifestyle, Pump Therapy

Independence Day and Firecrackers Galore

Independence Day and Firecrackers Galore

Everyone has a secret favorite holiday. When you think of favorite holidays, the usual suspects come to mind. Christmas is the leader for most because of the decorations and the gifts. (Eggnog? Not so much.) Thanksgiving and Easter usually follow behind because of their family and spiritual connotations, respectively, and then we start to get into slimmer pickings. Valentine’s Day is charming but can feel a little too commercialized; New Year’s Day seems like an excuse to recover from partying and get naps between football games. Labor Day is sad, really, the punctuation to summer and the last opportunity to wear white. But mixed in among those are the twin delights of Memorial Day and Fourth of July. Memorial Day signals the start of summer with all its warmth and potential, and then in the middle of summer, embedded in the heat, is the wild parade of the Fourth of July.

I love the Fourth of July. I love America, but more than anything, I love the community of celebration that gathers around the Fourth of July. People are going to have fun and they don’t care. Head to the lake and ride boats? Sure. Shoot off fireworks in the middle of the night? Why not?  Race to the amusement parks and ride screaming rollercoasters into the sun? Absolutely. Think about it: the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, an event built around dangerous levels of gluttony, is held on the Fourth of July. And it fits.

So what does this have to do with diabetes, you ask? A lot, actually. The day is memorialized around America gaining independence and marking its footprint in the world. That alone was brave, dangerous, and exhilarating. The activities I mentioned speak to the same sensibility, and Americans willingly partake in them. Diabetes, in a unique way, marks your independence in a dangerous but exhilarating manner. Having had Type I Diabetes for 24 years, this mentality is not one to easily embrace, but necessary to accomplish things in life. You are different. You live with a condition that can be difficult if not properly monitored and controlled. Like a rollercoaster. Like a boat ride. Like a firecracker. But if you do, it can bring you an amazing gratefulness for life and its many experiences. I have suffered through some terrible lows, literally and figuratively, during my time with diabetes. But I have achieved some amazing highs, and I will continue to, because I refuse to let the relentless drum of this disease defeat my indomitable spirit. I’ll fill up my Omnipod insulin pump and place it on, step out of the shadows and embrace the day. It will be a little dangerous, a little wild, but I will make it fun.

This year, for the Fourth of July, I took my two beautiful daughters to a parade and to watch fireworks. I checked my glucose levels but I still had burgers and ice cream like the rest. What about you?

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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 Jun 26, 2017 in Lifestyle, Pump Therapy, Technology, Tips and Tricks

It’s Good to be STUCK! Strategies for Keeping Your Pump Securely in Place

It’s Good to be STUCK! Strategies for Keeping Your Pump Securely in Place

For those of us who use insulin pumps, we need insulin delivery to be seamless. Interrupted delivery can mean a major change in blood sugar, and it often happens at times when we are not prepared. While there are several reasons for interruptions, such as air bubbles in the tubing, periods of disconnection or insulin delivery suspension, it’s extremely frustrating when it happens because our insulin pump site doesn’t stay stuck to the skin. Shouldn’t that adhesive hold for at least three days?

Unfortunately everyone’s activity level and skin (and the oil it makes naturally) is a bit different. Some people have no issues with a site staying securely attached. In fact, they have to use something to loosen the adhesive in order to take it off! Others fight to keep it stuck even hours after a new site has been attached. Different times of the year such as summer can mean sweaty skin that decreases the adhesive quality of infusion sets or pod adhesive. Different activities (heavy exercise, a day at the beach, time in the pool) can also create adhesive challenges.

Where to Start

Surprisingly, one of the best strategies for keeping you pump site in place is to choose the right body part. Pods and infusion sets placed on the arms, legs (compared to the lower back and buttocks) are more likely to get bumped. The skin on the arms and legs (as well as the abdomen) also tends to perspire more, pull/stretch more, and have greater oil secretion. Likewise, hairless sites tend to hold in place better than hairy sites. So choose your body part wisely!

When placing a Pod or infusion set on your skin, make sure that the site is clean. Things like the natural oil in skin, moisturizers (lotions or moisturizing soap) as well as dirt can decrease the “stick” of the adhesive. Use an alcohol pad or soap and water to clean the site and then ensure that it is entirely dry.

Many options are available to help keep the adhesive in place, and remove it when it’s time.

Skin Preparation and Adhesive Removal Products

Some people use Antiperspirant (solid or spray instead of the cream or gel type). Put it on the skin where the infusion set will be placed and wait until the area is completely dry before attaching the infusion set/Pod.

There are sticky products like IV Prep (which cleans the oil from the skin and makes the skin sticky which helps the site stay attached). There are also products like Mastisol or Skin Tac which are kind of like a rubber cement for skin. When placed on the skin before the infusion set is inserted, they help to make a barrier to prevent the skin’s oils from loosening the adhesive. These are very sticky and usually require a product like Detachol to remove the site from the skin. Another alternative for easy removal is to soak a cotton ball in baby oil, dab it around the adhesive and let sit for a few minutes before pulling off the Pod or infusion set.


Some tapes are a bit like a thin plastic tape, but will fit over or under the Pod or infusion set adhesive to keep it securely attached.  These thin tapes can be used under the Pod or infusion set and will allow the set to be inserted through the “tape,” create a barrier (which can help those with skin allergy to the Pod or infusion set adhesive as well as keep it stuck), and keep the site intact.  These include:

Hypafix, Opsite Flexifix (by Smith and Nephew), Tegaderm, and IV3000. Another good option if you have skin allergies is ToughPads by Johnson and Johnson.

These types of tape can also be used over the top of the Pod or infusion set adhesive, if needed.  Smith & Nephew’s Infusion Set IV 3000 is popular because it has a pre-cut hole to allow access to the infusion set’s disconnect mechanism.

Other types of tape are a bit more like fabric and some come pre-cut in fancy shapes and designs to make your pump site a bit more fun and less “medical” looking. These include:

  • RockaDex
  • Kinesiology tape or Rocktape (not pre-cut, but available through local pharmacies in a roll with many colors available that you can cut to the size and shape you need for your product).
  • GrifGrips have excellent adhesive quality, stylish designs, and pre-cut holes that are custom-sized for Omnipod, CGM transmitters, or traditional pump infusion sets.

Granted, there are about as many products available for keeping that site stuck as there are skin types. It often takes some trial and error to find the product that works best for you. But keeping yourself connected is well worth it!

-Gary Scheiner MS, CDE and the Clinical Team at Integrated Diabetes Services

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