Trying to design a daily routine or decipher the ins and outs of blood sugar control to keep numbers in zone is immeasurably difficult, and I won’t claim that I’ve figured it out. In my everyday life, I have good days and bad days when it comes to my BG levels, and I feel I am in a constant battle for more good days. While it hasn’t made this management any easier, outside of work and school I love pursuing adventure sports that push me out of my comfort zone; and learning to govern this disease and adapt my normal management procedures to fit into the constraints of sports like backcountry skiing, spelunking, and paragliding has been immensely gratifying. Paragliding has become a particularly obsessive passion of mine, and offers some unique challenges to diabetes management.
After taking lessons and getting my paragliding license, I started flying at some of the smaller hills around Bozeman to perfect my launches and landings. This meant a lot of short hikes and vigilant monitoring of blood sugars as launching and landing any aircraft takes finesse, correct timing, and mental capacity that would be hindered by lows. This motivated me to look into CGMs, and I started using a Dexcom which has been an unbelievably helpful tool in management in and out of sports. After a couple hundred flights off the training hills (150-250 vertical feet) and “the M” (900 vertical feet), I was pushing for longer flights. I remember flying Mt Baldy in the Bridger mountain range with two friends, a 4,500ft peak that took two and a half hours of hiking, two glucose treatments to stop dropping BGs, and finally a 20-minute flight. This was the first time I truly got to feel like I was in the air with other people as my friends Jerad and Eric and I were near each other enough that we could holler back and forth. I learned the hard way on this flight that temperature drops about 3.3˚F per 1,000ft which adds to the cold of the constant wind imposed by moving through the air, all resulting in excruciating pain in my hands as they started to thaw about 5 minutes after landing!
My flights became much longer as my group of paragliding friends and I found conditions for lift. We started in ridge lift at Point of the Mountain near Salt Lake Utah. Ridge lift is caused by wind hitting a hillside and moving vertically up and over the hill; under a paragliding wing, we can climb higher up into the sky in this vertical airflow. Here my flights changed immediately from minutes in duration to 2 or 3 hours in the air, thousands of feet above where we launched, taking in incredible views of the expansive Wasatch mountain range and the city below. I found more sites to soar in ridge lift, including one of my favorites in Montana that has brought me up a few thousand feet above paradise valley, watching the sunset cast orange and pink light onto the Absaroka mountains as I make my approach for landing.
Blood sugar management posed a new challenge due to the duration of these flights.
Donate to Louise's ROI Coaches Crew page here.
When someone asks me what I "do", I say I "am" a homeschool mom. My three children represent every level: elementary, middle and high school. Everything about them keeps me busy. If someone asked me where I saw myself in five years, five years ago, volunteering with ROI would not have been part of that vision. Not at all.
Five years ago, I was a homeschool mom of two. Our youngest, Avery, was four and our life was typical. When Avery was five and a half, we made the devastating discovery that his blood was over 500. My husband and I cried. We knew what that number meant. We had checked his blood with his daddy's meter.
My first exposure to T1D came on an early date with my future husband. We were going on a hike. To me, it was simple stroll across a meadow. It was not a hike. To him, it was an adventure. It was also an opportunity to introduce me to a box of Nutri-Grain bars, sugar in a tube, and his propensity to bring a huge container full of fear and supplies.
We went to the opposite extreme in the months ahead. He passed out on me twice.
In partnership with the highly respected nonprofit, Indo Jax Surf Charities, Riding On Insulin is beyond stoked to announce our first-ever surf camp in Summer 2019.
The three-day surf camp for ages 7-17 will take place at Morro Strand Beach in Cayucos, California on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, July 30-August 1. There will be surf sessions all three days from 9 AM - 12 PM.
Register and get more details here. The cost for the 3-day camp is $250. You can fundraise your camp fee here.
All equipment, including surfboards, wetsuits and life vests are provided for this event.
Indo Jax is the absolute best at what they do, teaching disadvantaged, medically fragile, special needs and, very soon, T1D kids and teens, how to surf. This is Indo Jax's first time teaching T1D kids how to surf, which is where ROI comes in. We will have Sean Busby, Dustin, as well as a few coaches there to join in on the fun and provide the very important T1D mentorship role.
The camp takes place at Morro Strand State Beach near Cayucos, California. It's smack dab in the middle of Southern California and Northern California, meaning no more than a four-hour drive for families. There is a nice campground right on site and plenty of lodging options nearby. Please see the "Make it a vacation" page for more lodging details.
Indo Jax believes that the ocean, and learning to surf, has profound healing properties and can build self-esteem. They have seen that children who take part in their surf camps inevitably move from a feeling of skepticism and reluctance around the ocean to empowerment and confidence, giving them the sense that “If I can surf, I can do anything!”
There is also a campground right on site. Cayucos is a four-hour drive from the Los Angeles area and about 4.5 hours from the San Francisco area.
Please email Dustin@RidingOnInsulin.org with any questions.
When a person living with T1D faces burnout, or gets frustrated and overwhelmed by the disease, all we need to jumpstart our "betes battery" is a little inspiration from an unexpected place, or a reminder the T1D community is a tight-knit family.
When I spoke with the founders of a nonprofit called Type 1 Willpower, located in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, they provided me with the jolt of inspiration I needed, both personally and professionally.
Type 1 Willpower was founded by an inspiring young person living with T1D, named Will, and his parents, Shaun and Joe. Just four years after diagnosis, Type 1 Willpower has already achieved 501(c)(3) status, started its own Turkey Trot, and donated more than $35,000 to various organizations, including $2,775 to ROI for five winter camp scholarships in 2019.
Read below for more about Type 1 Willpower from co-founder, Joe Oliver. Sean and I are super stoked to meet the family very soon in the Poconos to kick off the 2019 season.
William’s father, Joe, writes “William was diagnosed December 8, 2014 at the age of 4. He is now 8, turning 9 in February. His story is like many others. William started exhibiting many of the warning signs of Type 1 diabetes. His mom Shaun noticed and we took him to the doctor. Shaun caught it early, so his BG was "only" in the 400s at diagnosis. He is currently an Omnipod and Dexcom user.
In September 2016, we participated in a 5K to raise money for JDRF. On the drive home from the race, William asked, "Why can't we have a 5K in Mountain Lakes to raise money for Type 1 diabetes?" We then went to a jazz concert in NYC that had a $10,000 fundraising goal. William saw the event had raised $6,700, and told me that we only had to donate another $3,300 for them to reach their goal.
Charlie Rabe, longtime T1D, Level 2 PSIA Snowboard Instructor:
"Typically you have a ton of pockets on your gear. Knowing where your stuff is located can be critical. For that reason, I assign pockets for my diabetes supplies that stay constant through the season. Example: right ‘hand warmer’ jacket pocket is always my candy pocket, or low supplies pocket. Candy pocket just sounds more fun. Also, all the sour patch kid sugar that spills out is confined to that one pocket and the rest stay pretty clean."
Emily George, T1D, skier and graphic designer:
" I reuse a M&M's Minis tube for my low supplies (any kind of candy in there really) for a winter coat. The key difference between this tube and a standard glucose tab tube is the cap is attached. Easy to pop open with a glove on and resealable. No fumbling with taking gloves off and opening wrappers. Also: keep a hand warmer near your pump."
Geoffrey Kruse, Insulin Pump software developer for Tandem Diabetes Care:
"Pumps should be worn as close to the body as possible (innermost layer) to prevent exposing it to extreme temperatures and wind chill. This includes tubing for tubes pumps. The insulin in exposed tubing can freeze pretty rapidly. I’ve seen pumpers who have the pump nice and warm next to their skin but the tubing is hanging out."
Riding On Insulin is stoked to announce an exciting partnership with clothing and lifestyle brand Wears Woody.
As ROI prepares to host more than 350 kids at its U.S. winter shred camps in 2019, Wears Woody is joining us in our mission to activate and connect with the Type 1 diabetes community through shared experience and action sports.
Cruising the country in its funky Wagoneer for the past six years, Wears Woody has built an amazing following and outfitted thousands living with or impacted by diabetes. Mike Norwood, the brand’s founder, has lived with T1D for forty years and he couldn’t be any more passionate for the cause and our partnership.
“I’ve always believed that diabetes should not be a barrier to a great, meaningful life. Being active and taking in all the outdoors has to offer is an important piece of that. The programs Sean and his crew have put together, and continue to build at ROI, align perfectly with the way I look at life and the mission at our company: Chase your wildest dreams and look great doing it.”
The partnership features three key elements for this inaugural winter season: