Diabetes Camp is coming! You may remember my angst in preparation for our first annual Children's National Medical Center sponsored Diabetes Camp last year. In anticipation of another 4 day, 3 night stay in the wilds of Virginia in mid-August, I decided to take a real (relaxing) vacation with a colleague in Narragansett, Rhode Island. We had a week of relaxation, sun, a swimming pool, and reading novels (not diabetes-related books or journals). My colleague has type 1 diabetes and brought all the necessary supplies in triplicate (in case I messed up changing any of her infusion sets or if there were any problems, etc.) We stayed in a beautiful house that faced the Atlantic Ocean -inviting us to take walks along the beach or relax listening to the waves. I was able to observe my colleague's blood sugars (and blood pressure) very closely depending on the activity.... We learned a great deal of information from our 7 days together.
- Stress is an upper (of blood sugars)! Within hours of our arrival (after a 9-hour drive from Washington, DC, to Narragansett), we noted that our tension dissipated. This was confirmed by outstandingly normal blood pressures (we took a professional blood pressure cuff with us). My colleague was even able to omit her blood pressure medication during our stay. In addition, she noted that her blood sugars were well controlled and barely fluctuated on her insulin pump.
- Exercise is a major downer (of blood sugars)! My colleague walked up and down the beach and exercised daily. (I must confess that I cannot claim to be as virtuous, but I did get to read a great Larsson novel!) As a result of her swimming laps in the pool, while I floated and leisurely swam sidestroke, she was able to disconnect the pump and required little basal rate for many hours after the activity. Blood pressure remained within normal range.
- We made an attempt to sample the delights of Narragansett: fish, fish, fish, ice cream, and krazy burgers! My colleague's blood sugars remained extremely stable despite the delicious homemade ice cream.
- An excursion to see the new Harry Potter film in 3D, despite the incredible action and emotional upheavals did little to upset blood sugars!
- A shopping expedition at BED, BATH and BEYOND including heavy lifting, packing, and removing heavy objects did not budge her blood sugars downward. No lows!
We asked the question foremost on our minds: can diabetes actually go into remission? Even if one eats real ice cream? The answer, of course, is no.
CONCLUSION: Diabetes can be very well managed in the absence of stressors, presence of exercise, and general overall well being!
We also asked the question, how does the sun affect blood sugars?
Thus far, my colleague and I had taken great precautions using sun block, avoiding swimming at peak hours, etc., and had no problems (she did get a bit redder and I developed more and more freckles). However, on the last day of our visit, we truly learned how the sun could cause major problems.