Welp, here it is: July 4th. America’s birthday, the kickoff to summer, the first time a lot of people dust of the ol’ bikini and hope for the best, and for most people, a long weekend filled with memory-making and lobster roll chowing.
This time of year is a tough one for diabetics. There is a pretty big wardrobe transition that requires us to reconfigure all of our sites and pump hiding locations. There are crazy hot temperatures that threaten to spoil our insulin (and our bank accounts), and we might act like we know, but no one seems to have a clue how many carbs are ACTUALLY in a margarita. #TheEternalMystery
Unfortunately for us, summer can be a bit of a bummer (Oh shit! That rhymed!) In a way, we’re kind of forced to be more public about having diabetes. Or at least that’s how I feel, anyway. I’m more fragile in the summer, and that often requires me to be more vocal about my needs and my limitations. It drives me bonkers to be needier than normal, but that’s just the way the sugar-free cookie has crumbled, my friends.
For example, last month my boyfriend and I went on an insanely INSANELY epic road trip out West, and when we were hiking in Moab, UT (where it’s 100+ degrees everyday), I literally cried because I was so nervous my insulin would go bad if we left it in the car too long. I was so angry that I couldn’t just bust out of the car and go. I felt so guilty for holding him back, that my emotions got the best of me. But at this point, Sean knows the drill, and after a quick compromise, a very nice man at a very clean gas station sold me several cheap bags of ice to heal my worry-wounds. The insulin did not go bad, and neither did my trip.
It’s frustrating! It’s really fucking frustrating. I’m a summer baby, and July is when my body really wants to just be free and half-naked, running around shoeless like I’m totally limitless. But now, I have to think and prepare more. I lose stuff more easily. I am more forgetful. And overall, that annoys the hell out of me. Everybody else seems to be having a grand old time, why can’t I? The FOMO on freedom is soooooo real.
But what is our alternative? Sit inside all summer and watch reruns of the Bachelor while everyone else is taking selfies on the beach? Yeah…no. There is so much out there for us to go DO in the summer. And just because we need to take it a little slower at times, doesn’t mean we get to mope around and wallow in a misery that’s as fabricated a Humolog.
Below are some things that have helped make my last 11 diabetic summers much easier. Hopefully they find them as refreshing as a leaf of mint in your cocktail.
Step 1: Treat yoself to some high quality hydration. I don’t if it’s because I’m from Maine, or what. But when I get really, really hot, I panic. And a dehydrated Libby is a really nasty Libby. So I always always keep water on me. S’well makes an amazing water bottle that is so frickin’ adorable I wanna kiss it, and it keeps your liquids cool as a cucumber for a million hours. Also…if your sugars tend to run high in heat, you’ll dehydrate faster than anyone else. Do your due diligence, and drink up!
Step 2: Suit up according to YOUR body. I’ve never liked myself in a bathing suit. Ever. I always feel so floppy and squishy and strange. Add the fact that I now have to find a place to clip my pump and tuck away tubing and forget about it. It’s a lost cause. But I’ve always been a firm believer that the best dressed out there are the gals that know their bodies, and respect their shape. Also, if you’re feeling self conscious about your gadgets, one pieces are so in right now. Floppy tatas spilling out of triangle tops are not. Do what you need to do to feel supported, and like your pump isn’t going to fly off because you were wearing dental floss for a bottom. Nordstrom and Target always has great suits, and I heard a rumor this could be your last chance for a Victoria’s Secret suit (my personal fav because they make big tops for big ladies like me!
Step 3: Pack with purpose. Nothing feels better than having the right size bag for the right size adventure. Invest in a good weekender and a good kit for your pump, cgm, and miscellaneous supplies. To be honest, I never even really unpack my travel diabetes bag – I just do an inventory check and update before every trip. This way, I’m not halfway to Timbuktu only to have one of those “OHHHHHH FU******** BABE WE GOTTA TURN AROUND” moments. I am absolutely OBSESSED OBSESSED with my Bric’s carry-on, my L.L.Bean weekender, and my Baggu travel bag.
Step 4: Walk it out. One summer in college, I was living and interning in London and my blood sugars were bad. I did so much walking all over the UK and Paris, that I had blisters all over my feet from my cheapo sandals. Because my sugars were a mess and I had dinged my feet up badly, I got some really nasty infections that were SO PAINFUL. After that experience I was like, “NEVER AGAIN”, and now that I live in NYC I’m even more careful about what I expose my tootsies to. Converse and Birkenstocks are your best friends this summer. Get rid of the gladiator sandals, and get on board with the Birks, baby.
Step 5: Keep it cool. Frio insulin ice packs are a life saver and I’m an idiot for not using them as religiously as I should. Go buy 10 right now. I mean it. I’m gonna do it, too.
Alrighty, that’s all, folks. Enjoy your 4th of July. Don’t drink too many Americas (aka Budweisers, duh) or play with fireworks near your face or small children. TEST YOUR BLOOD SUGAR OFTEN. And damnit, remember…#MeFirst. It is Independence Day, after all. This (and every) summer should be about you, and what YOU want to do as a happy, healthy, fun-loving human.
Okay, I’m gonna go play with my family on a boat now. Love you all! Happy 4th of July! XO XO!