Overcoming obstacles (quite literally) with T1D

One thing I’ve always been adamant about is not letting diabetes stop me doing anything I want to do. I think I’ve been pretty good at that over the years – I’ve been to (and loved) Uni, I worked on a summer camp in America, I’ve spent a year studying abroad in Switzerland, I run, I snowboard(ish) – the list goes on.

But, as I think many type 1 diabetics would agree, as much as I endeavour to live this way, it’s hard to deny that diabetes does (annoyingly) still make me hesitant to try certain things – and that’s exactly what happened when my sister asked if I wanted to do a 10 km water obstacle course with her in July.

Now, a few thoughts were running through my head at this point:

  • Firstly – ‘err, YES!’ (I’m a sucker for ridiculous fun like this)
  • But then came the classic diabetes doubts: ‘Right – this’ll mean haywire blood sugars. Hypos. My blood meter’s not waterproof. My Freestyle Libre’s definitely not obstacle proof. Right…’

Of course, I went with my gut instinct and said yes – the race looked way too fun to miss, and besides, I wasn’t going to let diabetes get in the way of this. Now it was just a question of planning how to get myself round the course hypo-free, let alone getting around the course itself (to say my upper body strength is ‘somewhat lacking’ would be a bigggg understatement. I’m a little weed 😊)

So first things first – the Freestyle Libre was a no-no. This course contained mud baths, gigantic water slides (SO fun, by the way), and squeezing your body through tiny spaces it probably shouldn’t ever be squeezed through. I imagine the Libre would have come off in the first five minutes when I graciously tripped over a hay bale obstacle, to be honest. So I made sure that I timed my Libre to end the night before, and stuck to my Aviva Nano for the race.
Another issue on my mind was that blood glucose meter + water = a mess. We were told in advance to expect a lot of swimming, and they weren’t lying. Based at Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre, the race involved wading through swamps (literally), sliding into river/ponds/other various forms of water, and swimming along the site’s white water rapids course. For a while leading up to the race, I just accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to test my blood sugars en route – “It’s just a 10km, that’ll only take a couple of hours – I’ll be fine,” I kept telling myself. But, as usual with me, the closer we got to the day, the more I started to worry. Remembering that diabetes sometimes (!) has a tendency to be quite/very unpredictable, I started to think that I could realllllly do with having a glucose meter on me.

So I started browsing online, and quickly found this Aquapac, which was ACE – my Aviva Nano fit into it perfectly, along with a few test strips and jelly babies. And best of all, it was small enough to stick down my sports bra (elegant, I know!) and not worry about in the race – sorted, right?!

the aquapac!

In theory this was a brilliant idea, and kudos to Aquapac – that thing really is waterproof. However, when we reached the 5 km mark and I decided to test my blood, I whipped out my beautifully dry Aviva Nano, turned it on with no problems – but of course, as my whole body was soaking wet, I managed to make the meter wet when I held it, soaked the test strips whilst scrambling for them in the bag – and sadly, my meter gave up the ghost 😦 To make things worse, by this stage, my finger pricker (which I’d had in my pocket – probably not the best place for it in hindsight) was so clogged up with mud that there was naaaada hope of using that.

So there I was, feeling a little diabetically hopeless at this point. But after starting the race at a blood sugar of 18 mmol/l (eek, I know – I’ll come back to that), I felt absolutely fine, pumped and buzzing to carry on. So, I chucked some jelly babies down me, chewed a soggy Glucotab and did just that.

wasn’t joking about it being muddy

On that note of starting/ending blood sugars, knowing that I was about to put my body through a physical nightmare for the next 2.5 hours, I wanted to start the race with my sugars a little higher than usual, preferably around the 13 mmol/l mark. Although this was another great plan, I managed to get this quite wrong (!), and raised them to a mighty 18 mmol/l. Opps. .

Unsure whether to inject or not, I decided that chucking myself over walls and into mud pits was only going to bring my sugars down, and so I just went for it. After the 10km and a few sweets along the way, I am pleased to report that the gamble paid off – ending the race at a respectable 9.2 mmol/l. PHEW.

us after wading through a pond

I guess the point of this post is to say GO FOR IT. Yep, putting your body through harsh conditions which encourage hypos is a bit scary, and the thought of not having access to your blood glucose meter for a few hours can be daunting. But all it takes it a little extra planning, a pack of jelly babies, and a couple of understanding friends to enjoy it with you (and eat your extra jelly babies), and you really can do anything! I had so much fun at the XRunner Water Wipeout, and I was absolutely fine – even my Aviva Nano started working again later that day! As long as you take care of yourself and have the right preparation in place, you shouldn’t ever hesitate to say yes. Besides, I’ve got nothing to complain about – a couple hours of haywire blood sugars are nothing on the bruises my sister collected!

She’s rocking a good look
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9 thoughts on “Overcoming obstacles (quite literally) with T1D

  1. Love this! My sister just asked if I wanted to do Total Warrior with her (12km of muddy obstacles!) in September for her birthday… off to buy an aquapac, thanks for the tips 🙂

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    1. I just googled total warrior and it looks amazing!! There are also usually marshals standing at each obstacle for these kind of things, so can always ask them to hold your blood kit bag if it’s ever in the way or you have any water ones! Hope you enjoy 🙂

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  2. Followed this from the BBC news article and found it very useful. Main thing I picked up was the Libre, I had never heard of it before and am terrible at monitoring hating all that finger pricking. The Libre looks expensive but might well be worth it to save all the usual pains. Thanks and keep up the good work.

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    1. Thank you! Unfortunately it’s not the cheapest, but really has helped me see spikes and patterns I had no idea happened! Also encourages to monitor and correct more when it’s so quick and easy to test, and is simple to see if your BGs are in range or not 🙂

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      1. You can go to your GP and apply for individual funding for Libre. I just stated the savings compared to test strips and also less chance of emergency hospital visits plus quoted a few parts from the new NICE guidelines relating to lack of hypo awareness.

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      2. That sounds great – am currently chasing my doctor for an overdue appointment at the hospital, and want to mention it there! Was at the GPs a couple weeks back but no mention of individual funding 😦 !

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  3. I can recommend the Freestyle Libre also – my husband has it and although he’s only been using it for a couple of months the difference to his blood glucose control has been amazing. He’s more engaged with keeping it within recommended levels (Never easy I know!) and after suffering from periods of diabetes burnout, I can really notice a difference in him 🙂

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    1. it’s amazing isn’t it 🙂 can definitely relate to the greater engagement – I think before the Libre, I found my diabetes so hard to track and follow, that I almost wrote good control off as ‘unachievable’ and ignored it all. Following it on the Libre makes its SO much easier (and interesting!), I can’t imagine not using it now!

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