We spent New Year’s in Utah this year, and it was the first time in a long time that my kids have gotten to experience real snow! Yes—the falling white stuff that’s cold and makes you slip if you’re running too fast across a frozen sidewalk! Being from Southern California, it’s such a foreign thing for us. While the rest of the country is hoping for the cold temperatures and snow to finally stop, my kids are begging to go back to their aunt and uncle’s house so they can go sledding again and build snowmen. My oldest son, Daniel, actually asked to shovel the snow off the driveway and sidewalks every day while we were there. It’s ridiculous, I know, but we just ate it up!
Along with the snow came freezing cold temperatures. One day, we were supposed to go on a sleigh ride up the canyon, but the temperatures were so low that the company canceled all sleigh rides for the day. With wind chill, they said that the air felt like about -20 degrees. For several days afterward, we experienced the coldest weather we had felt in a long time. We realized that not everything about winter weather is great. The driving was very difficult. Slipping and falling on frozen sidewalks was no fun at all. Gearing up with about 10 layers of clothing every time we wanted to go out was a big ordeal.
But most surprising were a few cold weather challenges that type 1 diabetes threw at us. We had to fumble through layers and layers of clothes with gloved fingers to try to reach Kaitlyn’s pump and CGM. Every time we needed to check her blood sugar, her fingers practically froze in just the time it took to get a blood drop.
Then there was the problem of keeping the insulin from freezing. The insulin that was in her pump was just fine, because it was so close to her body. The pump and tubing was safely inside her warm jacket. The extra insulin in her supplies was a different matter however. We accidentally left her supplies in the car one day and came back to find it very cold but not quite frozen. The water bottles that we left inside the car door were frozen solid, but luckily the insulin was closer to the middle of the car and layered with other things around it. If we had left it in the car for very much longer, it probably would have frozen, and we would have had to go through the hassle of calling the doctor for a new prescription. I have never used frozen insulin after it has been thawed, because the label instructs against it.
This is something that we’ve never had to deal with before. Trying to avoid frying the insulin in a hot car is something we’re used to, but the cold temperatures threw us for a loop! Despite the new challenges, we feel like we learned a lot. We look forward to our next snow trip, and I know we’ll have a much better idea of what to expect. Maybe Kaitlyn will even want to volunteer for snow shoveling duty….
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.