I was recently on my last portage of gear through Quetico Park in Canada after a wonderful two weeks of canoeing in the remote backcountry. As we hiked across the portage to our final lake and exit, an adorable family was entering the lake region through the Canadian check point. Dad was carrying the canoe, a two year old and an eight year old were following mom, who was carrying a backpack Yeti (read heavy) cooler. It seemed a bit strange to see someone choosing an ice chest as one of the items to bring along when you need to carry all your gear. So I asked “Do you really enjoy your ice chest that much and does it keep everything so cool?” Her response, “Well, my son has type 1 diabetes, and I need to keep his insulin cool. “
Oh my – I could not believe she was hauling an ice chest around! Didn’t anyone talk to her about options such as the Frio cooling case? I introduced myself as a diabetes educator and we started to chat of course. She not only had not heard of such an item, when asked if her little buddy was on an insulin pump, she stated his pediatrician (from a major city no less) suggested that children really do not do well on insulin pumps. So, he suggested they wait a bit. He has had diabetes for two years! He did just start on a Dexcom G5 – and mom was so delighted! Glad they were at least up on that! They had another glitch, the insulin pen he brought stopped working, so they had to quickly find a pharmacy and obtain a vial of short acting insulin and some syringes. Where was their back up plan?
We as educators can add so much value in helping families live their lives to the fullest; with ease now that there are exceptional technological options available.
As I thought of this family, and their enthusiasm to take their children into the back country, I was saddened that they clearly had not spent time with a diabetes educator (at least I hope that was the case). Mom appeared to be very much on her son’s care, but had not been introduced to the importance of backup supplies and ways to keep insulin cool in the heat. She had also found a barrier to obtaining an insulin pump, which she indicated she would very much like her son to have.
It was a short conversation and there may be more to the story, but I think of it is a lesson. We as educators can add so much value in helping families live their lives to the fullest; with ease now that there are exceptional technological options available. I encouraged mom to find a diabetes educator that was familiar with pediatrics as well as outdoor adventuring and I congratulated the family on not letting diabetes get in the way of a wonderful family adventure in the out-of-doors.
About the Author:
Cox is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She has been a certified diabetes educator for over 25 years and served as an assistant adjunct professor for 14 years, teaching in areas of sports nutrition and exercise physiology. Currently she works for providence medical group in Missoula, Montana and consults on diabetes technology nationally.
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