When the Weather Outside is Frightful: Handling Diabetes in the Backcountry

Posted by sean on Thu, 12/20/2012 - 13:49 in

Watch this video to learn more about the interesting events that transpired on Sean’s expedition
as a result of poor weather conditions.

Last week, I talked about taking my diabetes on the road during expeditions. This week, I want to address what happens after the drive—and if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Winter Weather in the Backcountry

In the backcountry, it’s imperative to make sure that weather conditions are stable before venturing out. On our trip to New Zealand this summer, we experienced a lot of rain and very little snowfall, which led to some sobering experiences for me. Even though I wanted to get out on the snow, there were so many days where I simply couldn’t—there was either not enough snow or the snow that was there was littered with rocks and hazards due to the dry season they were having.

While these experiences make me incredibly frustrated, deep down I know it’s all a part of the game. In the case of my New Zealand trip, I managed just fine because we had our campervan filled with all my diabetes necessities, snacks and food—there were never any worries about diabetes and the weather.

Pre-Planning with Diabetes

Other situations can get a little bit dicier with my diabetes when I’m out on the snow and a storm rolls in. I try my best to research weather patterns and to know what to expect, but weather can have a mind of its own. If I’m out on the snow in a whiteout or in difficult situations, it comes down to my ability to pre-plan.

My backpack is stocked with tons of snacks—both that would have a fast-acting impact on my blood glucose levels and a long-lasting impact. Also, I bring more than enough water and electrolyte mix than I need. It’s the idea of “bringing more than you need” that always keeps you and your diabetes prepared for when things go wrong. I bring extra Omnipod supplies, lancets, test strips, syringes just in case, and extra insulin in a warm container so it doesn’t freeze.

Staying safe overall and with diabetes when I’m out on the snow is about pre-planning and making sure you have more than enough to get you through. Lucky for us, type 1 diabetes requires us to pre-plan all the time…expeditions aren’t any different.