By: Tyler Stevenson
It’s spring break again, when thousands of people head to the beach. A lot of wonderful things come with being out and about on spring break, but if you have diabetes, there are also several things you should consider. There’s going to be more traffic, fewer parking places, lots of people, an abundance of uncalculated carbohydrate sources, and longer waits for everything, to name just a few.
The best laid plans can fall apart under these circumstances, so be prepared. Before heading out, remember to have all your diabetes supplies with you. Don’t let the excitement of having a great time cause you to take off without being prepared for blood sugar highs and lows. You don’t want to have to slow things down or change plans because you forgot a few (but important) items.
Most people have the freedom to be spontaneous, especially while on vacation. Unfortunately, people with diabetes don’t have that freedom. Running out the door without a care in the world can get you in real trouble. That doesn’t mean you can’t have as much fun as anyone else: You just need to give it a little thought and make sure all your diabetes needs are addressed before leaving.
Having lived in Florida my entire life and having had diabetes for over 11 years, I have become something of an expert on maximizing fun in the sun on spring break while at the same time handling the surprises that arise when you have diabetes. Here are a few of my suggestions on how to enjoy your spring break and keep your diabetes from getting in the way of all the fun.
Step 1: Eat a hearty breakfast that’s familiar to you and will help stabilize your blood glucose. It should be filled with protein but have a generous amount of carbohydrates for energy. My favorite is eggs, oatmeal, and strawberries.
Step 2: Always remember to take an insulated container of some sort with you. A cooler with several pockets is probably best, because having a place to store extra insulin, juice, and snacks is a benefit, especially if they need to stay cool.
Step 3: Make sure you have all the necessary supplies before leaving the house, including glucose tablets, syringes, blood glucose monitors, and a sugary drink with a screw-off top. I find that a bottle with a screw-off top allows me to drink only as much as needed when my blood sugar is running low. While you’re in the “gathering up supplies mode,” don’t forget other important items like a towel, sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
Step 4: Remember, dehydration is the enemy, so bring plenty of water. This should be on your list no matter who you are. If your blood sugar is high, you will become dehydrated faster than the average person. Plus, it’s spring now and temperatures are warmer.
Step 5: Never leave your diabetes supplies unattended. If they were stolen, you’d have to leave, which would ruin your day. Diabetes supplies are expensive and critical to your wellbeing, so put them in a secure place.
Step 6: Make sure you have glucose tablets with you at all times, no matter where you are. If you don’t like carrying the whole package of glucose tablets because it’s bulky, you can individually wrap them. Most craft stores sell tiny plastic bags for beads or buttons that fit a single glucose tablet perfectly. Fill up a few bags and put them in your pocket.
Don’t let diabetes rule your spring break; have fun, get a tan, and enjoy the weather. Just do a little preparation before you leave for a new destination. I hope you have a great time, I know I will.