Type 1 Diabetes

Camping in California with Type 1 Diabetes

In my last post, which you can find here, I talked about how moving away from North Dakota was really difficult because I was leaving behind all of my friends. Well, I think one of the best things about adult friendships is having ‘adult money’ and being able to spend that money on adventures with your friends! This adventure was a particularly special one because I got to spend time with my friend Morgan and her boyfriend, Jake, who were traveling across the country in a van, and my friend Kelsey who moved to Minnesota a few months prior to my departure from Fargo. Kelsey and I flew out to California where we met up with Morgan and Jake, and then we set out to explore Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks.

Kelsey, Morgan, and I at our first campsite in California

My favorite thing on planet Earth is the National Park System! So for me to able to cross more parks off my list was the best use of my PTO, and to be able to do it with two of my closest friends was even better. I love being outside and being away from the hustle and bustle of it all, but my Type 1 Diabetes always makes me a bit nervous to go camping. Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘Sam you’ve gone camping before as a T1D, and you’re always talking about how you don’t let you diabetes stop you from doing anything. Why are you anxious?’ Great question. Let me explain:

Yes, I don’t like to let diabetes run my life or keep me from doing the things I enjoy, like camping, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a level of anxiety that comes with doing those things with diabetes. For me, it’s mostly the unknowns; the ‘what ifs?’

  • What if I run out of low blood sugar snacks and we aren’t anywhere near a store?
  • What if I have a low blood sugar episode, but sleep through my Dexcom alarms?
  • What if I sleep through my Dexcom alarms, and Kelsey doesn’t hear them either?
  • What if I sleep through my Dexcom alarms, and my mom can’t contact me because I don’t have service?
  • What if I go low during a hike and nothing brings my blood sugar back up?
  • What if I go high during my hike, and then have some nasty side effects because I was exercising while high?

Obviously, I could spiral on this for awhile. 😅

One of the biggest things that helps me do the things I want to do as a Type 1 Diabetic is trying my best to prepare for any scenario I might come across. And having really supportive friends who understand that sometimes you have to eat, stop and rest, and tolerate high/low alarms while sleeping is helpful, too! This was my first camping trip where I flew to the camping destination so that also didn’t help with any anxiety I may have had, but I tried to make a list of things I would need or need to buy to ensure a successful trip. Here’s what I either packed or bought to ensure I had the most successful camping trip possible:

  • Glucagon, to bring any extreme low blood sugar up. Note: I only use this in ‘true’ emergency situations.
  • Twice the amount of all pump/Dexcom supplies. You never know when technology will fail you.
  • Extra insulin and a way to keep it cool. I like the FRIO Cooling Wallet. I also made sure to bring both fast-acting and long-acting insulin.
  • A whole 24-pack of Gu Energy Gels. I use these while I’m running longer distances to help keep my blood sugar within range. They did great with ensure my levels stayed within range during my hikes!
  • Syringes, just incase my Omnipod PDM stopped working.
  • Manual blood glucose reader, incase my Dexcom stopped working.

Because I flew to California, and I wanted to minimize the amount of the carry-on items I brought. Once we got to Cali, I stopped at Target to pick up some other items. Here’s what I picked up once we got there:

  • Granola bars. These are some of my go-to low blood sugar snacks!
  • Juice boxes, because this is the fastest and easiest overnight, low blood sugar snack.
  • Dried Mango. I was feeling extra ‘granola girly’ on this trip, and wanted the option of some dried fruit to bring my blood sugar up on the trail.
Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

Because I was prepared, it was easier to reassure myself that whatever diabetes related issued happened on the trip, I was equipped to handle them! The trip came with some complications: we were, unfortunately, not able to visit Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Park due to a blizzard, but nothing diabetes related stopped me from having a grand ole time! Kelsey was an absolute champ, and didn’t seem to notice or mind any of my Dexcom alarms overnight. And as always, her and Morgan always made sure I was feeling okay during our hike. It was a lovely time spent outdoors with two of my favorite people!

Prepping ahead makes any activity, like running, camping, or even work, easier to deal with! It makes those ‘What-ifs?’ easier to deal with. Sure, having Type 1 Diabetes makes me plan for a trips a little bit differently than let’s say Kelsey or Morgan, but the planning ahead is what ensures the trip is as enjoyable as possible. It’s what helps me keep the mindset that diabetes can’t stop me from doing anything I want to. So go out there, and plan your next camping trip with your friends!

Yosemite National Park Scenic Over Look

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