Swimming Uphill By Andy Broomhead
Whilst on holiday recently, we decided to take my daughter to an waterpark. There were three entry options: pay for two hours, pay for 4 hours or pay for a full day. Now a full day was out of the question anyway so I was psyching myself up for a 2 hour slog with a load of screaming kids when the heavens opened outside. “Let’s do 4 hours instead” suggested my wife “we can’t go to the beach in this rain”.
As you might have seen from some of my other posts, I’ve got a big soapbox I like to stand on sometimes and extol the virtues of how much easier it’s been to control my diabetes since I switched to a pump. (A pump which I have to return before Christmas as my clinical trial ends *sob*). But for all those amazing benefits, there is one thing that remains my nemesis – swimming!
Being disconnected from the pump for a little while makes me anxious. I get very conscious that I’m without any basal insulin and I find it difficult to fully concentrate on something else while I’m not hooked up. That’s despite the advice I was given when I first picked up the pump was that it’s OK to disconnect “for about two hours”.
You can see that four hours in a waterpark is already feeling like a challenge.
The first time I went for a prolonged swim without the pump I got it all horribly wrong. I ended up with BG levels in the mid 20s for hours into the evening and went through a few new infusion sets in an attempt to convince myself everything was going to be OK. As is common with our diabetes, we learn from these things and improve as we go along. The next time I went back to the changing rooms after 90 minutes, did a test and then reconnected briefly to take some more insulin on board. Whilst that wasn’t fool proof, it made things a little better.
I’ve started smuggling my pump out into the pool area (they’re not cheap remember!) to save having to really get out and give myself a bolus in secret. This is a pretty good plan if you’re confident your pump won’t go astray or get dropped/soaked. You have the security of knowing it’s nearby without stressing (too much) about being disconnected. But I didn’t feel like I could do that on holiday. I was in a foreign country and in an unfamiliar place. Being thousands of miles from home with a broken or lost pump felt like too big a risk to take.
After about two and a half hours, I admitted defeat, fetched the pump from my locker and settled down on a sun lounger to watch my daughter continue her ongoing battle with the wave machine. I think I’m going to have a couple more attempts at mastering swimming (with a pump, not learning to swim) before I have to give it back. I think the best way would be to have it with me and maybe connect every hour and do a bolus dose equivalent to my basal for each hour. If you’ve got any experience of this then please let me know!
We talk a lot about diabetes not stopping us doing things we want to do, but I think it can slow us down from time to time. There’s nothing to stop me doing a four hour stint in the pool if I’m prepared to suffer for it a little bit later on in the day. Or perhaps my next test will remove all these issues. Regardless, diabetes hasn’t really stopped me yet and I don’t plan on letting it any time soon.