Cruel Summer by Andy Broomhead
Ah summer! Long warm evenings, sitting out in the sun with your friends, glorious holidays – it’s the best time of the year isn’t it?
Not so much for me. While I do look forward to summer every year like most people do, I always end up resenting it a little bit when it arrives. The hot summer months that we (occasionally) have in the UK can be some of the more difficult times for people with diabetes.
On a personal level, my battle with summer usually begins in late June when my hayfever kicks in for about 7 weeks although fortunately by August I’m usually clear of that particular hassle. I find I have to think about my diabetes a lot more when the weather gets warmer. While I’m as prone to the odd hypo as anyone, it feels like the ‘recovery’ from them is a lot harder in summer and I’m more likely to have another a few hours later than I would be at other times.
My rare frustrations with my insulin pump are a lot more pronounced in the heat too. My cannulas tend to last a good 3 days most of the time, but the adhesive can be a lot less reliable when it’s warm and I end up changing them a lot more frequently over the summer. I had a prime example of that a fortnight ago when I went through four cannulas in just 24 hours!
Of course none of this is the worst thing in the world. Being more selective about infusion sites can reduce the need to frequently change cannulas (as can carrying a roll of micropore or surgical tape to stick them down!) and being mindful that the weather will affect how your body uses insulin can reduce the likelihood of a hypo.
The thing that’s a lot harder to do is to just incorporate all this into your daily life. If you’re lucky, after a while managing your diabetes becomes second nature and a part of your daily routine. When something comes along to disrupt that routine, diabetes becomes something you suddenly spend a lot more time consciously thinking about beyond the usual carb counting. Normally I can be confident that a new cannula will last for 3 days and I won’t need a spare beyond the couple I carry in my car for emergencies. At the moment I now find myself packing up a lot more in terms of supplies even for everyday trips and having to think a lot more about my plans.
Again this isn’t the most difficult thing in the world to have to do, but as we all know, sometimes we’d all just like a bit of a break from having to constantly do carb maths in our head or be able to have a slice of toast without an injection or have an ice cream without having to guess how many carbs are in a 99 with sauce.
I suppose for me, summer makes it that little bit harder to tune out that continuous inner monologue of diabetes and that makes it a little bit harder for me to enjoy my diet coke in the pub garden. Have you got any tips for surviving summer?