Using an Insulin Pump While Swimming

Kim Benjet Health Guide
  • My son and husband were laughing out loud when they read this short piece in the February 16th Sports Illustrated. Peyton Manning and two other Pro-Bowlers tossed Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler into the pool during the days leading up to the NFL Pro-Bowl in Hawaii.  Rookie hazing you might say.  I loved Manning's comment, "bad audible on our part," when they realized they had saved the cell phone but failed to remove Cutler's glucometer from his pocket.  Oops.


    We've done that. A few years back my then 7 year old dashed into a pool with his Cozmo insulin pump and attached glucometer still on.  Being a mother, there was both the reaction I kept to myself and the reaction Josh received.  He was a mediocre swimmer at the time so I was not too happy that he jumped in impulsively, but I was secretly excited that he was just being a kid and completely forgot about diabetes!! 

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    Anyway he realized his mistake pretty quickly and we were grateful that the insulin pump is waterproof.  What is the typical consequence for seven year old's bad move like jumping into a pool unsupervised - a time out, sitting on the edge for awhile? My consequence with Josh was - "sit next to me while I call Deltec to see if the meter is covered by warranty:"  Luckily for Josh, Deltec had very efficient customer service that day; within minutes the agent assured us that this first drowning of a meter was covered, but any additional "drowning" would not be.  Five minutes later, Josh was back in the pool with his pump and glucometer safely detached and stored in my cooler. However, that pool trip was cut a bit short because we didn't have an extra meter with us. All in all, though, I'm still happy Josh has moments when he completely forgets he has diabetes and he can just be a kid.


    Now back to Cutler. The star QB had to think fast.  How could he go into a big event like the Pro-Bowl without the ability to check his blood sugar?  If he were ten, his mom would probably have a back up meter available. When we go out of town, our diabetes team has warned us to always bring double the supplies that we anticipate needing.  But from the SI article, it seems like Cutler didn't have a back up.  In this day and age that's not such a big deal. He got his replacement at a local pharmacy.


    Walk into any Walgreens, CVS or neighborhood pharmacy and you'll find a shelf of glucometers.  You may even get a free one if you look for the rebates that abound. Mary Kate wrote about their meter mistake a few years ago when her family went out of town and forgot test strips. She was pleased to find that the Wal-Mart brand glucometers were cheaper than the brand names.


    My advice: live life, jump in the pool and be thankful that diabetes and its slew of machinery is easier to obtain today. And, take it from a mom - always pack extra supplies of everything!


    P.S.  The supply I worry most about when we travel is the infusion sets and supplies for the insulin pump. I haven't seen any pump supplies in the stores I frequent. I would love to know if any of you have found "emergency" pump supplies at a retail outlet.


Published On: February 23, 2009