Pretty Sure the Heat Hates Me

Every time I spend more than 20 minutes in the heat my blood sugar skyrockets. This is a terrible predicament to be in because I live in Las Vegas, and I love going to baseball. I went to a Las Vegas Aviators game tonight. I would put money on it that anyone with diabetes can tell what time the game started and when I got back into the air conditioning.

My actual interstitial glucose readings for July 1, 2021 14:00 to present – no range shown because high is set at 110 and low is also set at 110. Loop works better for me this way.

I’ve spoken to multiple care teams about this. When I was in Central California for college, they simply said to stay inside if it was over 90º. Living in North Dakota, I was more worried about my pump tubing accidentally freezing! In Kansas City, they recommended I keep my pump in a cooling pack. Where I grew up near Eureka, CA, this was not a problem: highest average high is 63º, lowest average low is 41º.

I have only been in Las Vegas for 5 years, but this is a trend that happens for me every year during June, July, and August.

I’m currently using Omnipod Eros, Dexcom G6, OrangeLink, and my iPhone 11. All of these devices can overheat. The insulin inside the Pod can overheat. Your body can overheat. Any of these factors can be bad news when it comes to staying out of the hospital, so let’s brainstorm ideas for keeping our devices safe, our insulin safe, and our bodies safe.

  • Drink a bunch of water. I don’t mean one bottle of water every hour, I mean 32oz of water every hour. Dehydration is a killer, and not just for people with diabetes. In fact, when in the heat and dehydrated, people with diabetes are more likely to have increased blood sugar and slip into heat exhaustion. To make matters worse, we know the faucet that poses as a bladder when our blood sugar is high. It simply exacerbates the problem.
  • On the other hand, high temperatures can make some people’s blood sugar drop. If you don’t have a CGM with active alerts, checking your blood glucose every 30-60 minutes can help catch lows early, or find highs to detect dehydration while it’s still manageable.
  • Keep insulin at home. I know some people (formerly, me included) have a habit of keeping insulin vials in their purse, or pens in their pockets. If you can manage to leave it at home, do it.
  • If you can’t leave insulin at home, check out cooling pouches. I recommend checking Etsy for “reusable insulated sandwich bags”, second hand stores, or hitting the back-to-school section after school starts. I got one of these at a closeout retailer (Home Goods, maybe?). The other I found in a thrift store – I use 4 frozen Otter Pops to keep the inside cool (TSA has never taken them from me, either!). There are also Frio brand bags that you wet to keep the items inside at or below room temperature. AND THEY WORK! I used to have one, this was just a cheaper way to replace it after one of my dogs made it a chew toy.

  • Cooling Towels are a great way to keep yourself cool. They have become more affordable in the past 5ish years – I have even seen them at dollar stores! I tend to hold the cool towel to areas like wrists, neck, chest, and lower back.
  • A personal fan. I’ve even seen them made as necklaces, on hooks, and as cell phone accessories. I feel like it’s a no brainer where it’s humid.
  • Prep for a day by drinking extra water or electrolyte drinks. Be cognizant of the amount of sugar in electrolyte drinks, although some come in “zero” now. I am not the T1 who will bolus for soda (because I can’t stand sugared soda), but I know many people do and I do not blame you! Just make sure you keep on top of it so you don’t accidentally make yourself high the day before, increasing your risk of heat exhaustion.
  • Make your own shade. I have season tickets to the Las Vegas Aviators. I work overnights, so I only really use them one or two days a week. I know that on Sundays (day games), my seats are in direct sunlight. I sell them instead of going. And if I wanted to go, I would take advantage of the few air conditioned areas in the ballpark for an inning or two. I have also brought an umbrella to use as a sun shade, just be careful not to burn yourself on the parts!
  • As for my devices, I keep them in my purse, and I keep my purse out of direct sunlight. They seem to do fine unless they are in direct sun for more than 5-10 minutes.

What do you do to stay cool? How do you keep your devices cool? Do you take insulin with you in the heat? I want to hear your stories! Let me know in the comments, or check me out on Twitter https://twitter.com/SonjaT1D. And as always, feel free to reach out to me at sonjac@nevada.unr.edu.

Stay safe and have a good weekend! Please be kind with your use of fireworks. I know my dogs are already pretty upset, and those with past trauma may have a hard time as well.

Benjie says to please be kind with your use of fireworks!

Published by

Sonja Cunningham

20 years survived with T1D, 2021 Executive MBA candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno

One thought on “Pretty Sure the Heat Hates Me”

  1. Depending on how hot it is and how much I am out, I will usually toss my pump insulin when i get home. Of course i keep it in the shade under my shirt away form my body (I use a Medtronic pump). I also do the one thing that keeps me cool. I wear a very unstylish Tillys hat with a cool pad underneath. Ahh cool.

    https://www.tilley.com/collections/hats/Airflo+Brimmed

    https://www.tilley.com/collections/hat-accessories/products/hyperkewl-evaporative-insert

    Like

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