Excited to get back on the slopes?! Here’s some advice on how to take your diabetes along for the ride. Meet 11-year-old Hamish Bell, competitive snowboarder and T1D from Australia!
How did you get into snowboarding?
My first trip was to the Australian slopes. I wanted to snowboard but had to have skiing lessons first. The next time I went back, I got on a snowboard and have never skied again!
When I went to a trip to Japan, it was very different to the snowfields at home and it’s definitely my favourite place. Last year was one of the best seasons they had seen in 30 years and it was awesome, dumping every day!
What’s the biggest challenge when snowboarding with T1D for you?
I tend to have big blood glucose level swings at the snow — very high and very low. My best tip is to keep a few snacks in your pocket to keep your levels up while you are snowboarding.
Not only am I using a lot of energy but I eat a lot more and drink a lot of hot chocolates. This means my Dad has to keep on top of my levels, especially at night, when I can drop because of all the activity during the day.
Last year was the first time I had my CGM so it made it a lot easier to keep under control and stay ahead of any highs and lows. We also found that at night if I drank a bit of Coca-Cola before I went to sleep, my levels stayed pretty good all night. Not sure why but it worked, but it did. (I’m not allowed to drink it at home so it was a treat!)
We always bring extra insulin and supplies. The first year I went to Japan, we almost ran out of insulin and one time I lost my kit for a few hours. It taught us to take a spare diabetes kit with everything in it, just in case (insulin, BGL tester etc). Before we leave for holidays, we always check before that we have them both packed in different bags, in case one gets lost.
Warm and Cold Stress for Insulin
We also find my insulin tends to lose a bit of effectiveness in the snow. After using MedAngel One for the first time last year, we realised that it was getting too warm when the insulin was in my pocket on the slopes and too cold when it was in the fridge at the hotel.
It made a lot of sense then why we would struggle with keeping my levels under control as the trip went on! I use a pen and MedAngel is great for keeping track of the insulin temperature. Plus we always travel with a FRIO wallet that keeps the insulin at room temperature.
Hamish’s Top Tips for Snowboarding with T1D
- Use a CGM or measure often! You’ll likely have BGL swings.
- A sugary drink right before bed time helps me with lows at night.
- Our MedAngel alert and FRIO wallet prevent my insulin from going bad.
- Always have snacks in your pocket on the slopes!
- Pack an extra bag with surplus insulin and a spare diabetes kit.
I also want to tell everyone: Just because you have T1D doesn’t mean you can’t do anything that anyone else does — or go as good as anyone else! I never let it stop me and do everything, that someone without T1D does.
Hamish Bell lives in Stanwell Park, Australia, with his mum, dad, and younger sister and brother. His parents, Jen and Brad, founded an online shop for diabetes accessories Oneand2 after Hamish was diagnosed with T1D at age 4. He does lots of sports and is currently on his third trip to Japan, his favorite place for snowboarding.
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