It was a Monday night. All of the kids were home from school and activities, and miraculously they were pretty much done with homework. So when Evan called and said he was on his way home from work, I said, “Let’s go on a hike!” The hills by our house have been so green lately, and I’ve felt them calling to me… I wanted to be Julie Andrews as she twirled and sang in The Sound of Music! I could think of a million things that we could or should have been getting done, but I was insistent that we use the last hour of sunlight hiking in the hills with the family. And I’m so glad that we did. It felt so nice to have a break from our routine and spend some valuable family time surrounded by nature.
However… I wished that we had been a bit more prepared.
The four oldest kids including Kaitlyn had just been at track practice, and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so I was a little bit worried about her blood sugar levels. Hiking is one of the things that always seems to make Kaitlyn go low. It usually doesn’t require quick bursts of energy, but it does take consistent energy over a long period of time, so it’s usually a huge drain on her sugar supply nonetheless.
We started out and she was right in range. We had a little bit of candy with us, but since we came straight from track practice, we didn’t have a lot. To make matters even trickier, Kaitlyn’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sensor fell off during track practice, so we didn’t have live readings of her numbers. We were already about a half hour into our hike when we realized this, and I had no idea what her number was.
We had checked only a half hour before, but her kit was back in the car, and I began to get really nervous. Kaitlyn was looking tired. I gave her some candy and suspended her insulin pump. We continued on our hike for a little while longer, but she seemed to be dragging a little. We decided to turn back, and my oldest son, Daniel, who has more muscle and endurance than all of us put together, picked Kaitlyn up and gave her a piggyback ride the rest of the way.
When we made it back to the car, we checked Kaitlyn right away and she was perfectly in range. The sugar and the suspended basal had done the job as I had hoped.
It was a great evening, but I realized that we needed to be much more diligent about being prepared even when going on a quick family hike. Just like it’s not smart to go out on a hike without water on a hot day, it’s just as dangerous for a kid with type 1 diabetes to be without a way to check blood sugar and without extra carbs.
Do try to get out as a family while the weather’s still nice, just remember to be a little more prepared than we were!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.