I wish you didn’t believe me

I am wrapping up the last few days of my family vacation. We got back Sunday afternoon from our camping trip. Because my brother lives in the high desert outside of Las Vegas there was a 30 degree temperature difference from his house to our camp site. Try packing for that!

This was actually the first time I have gone camping (legit camping – IN A TENT) since I was about 13 which means it was also the first time camping since I was diagnosed with diabetes.

After arriving at our site we set up all our supplies and got ready for lunch. We were talking about going on a hike, so I asked if we were planning to do that right after we ate. As we confirmed our plans, I decided to cut my lunch bolus in half to account for the upcoming exercise.

The scenery was beautiful (can you believe we were only an hour outside Vegas?!) and I wished I could have spent the whole time just taking pictures and enjoying my family. Unfortunately, shortly after our hike started I knew my reduced lunch bolus was not going to be enough to counteract the exercise. About 30 minutes into our hike, I had a few of the glucose tablets and decided to set a temp basal.

My family kept asking if I wanted to turn around. I told them that I would NOT be the reason we ended our hike.

Twenty minutes later and a little bit further down the trail I needed a few more glucose tablets. The hike became a battle to stay above my low threshold.

We finally reached the end of our trail and each selected a rock to make a monument of our adventure.

I was feeling a little bit better on the way back down the hill and my niece wanted to skip so…

We got quite a bit ahead of the rest of the family so we waited a bit for them to catch up and I took that opportunity to catch my breath as well. When they got to us, I heard the end of a conversation where one family member was saying something like “well, exercise is good for them.”

I asked this person what she was talking about and she said something unconvincing like “we were talking about how exercise is good for people.” I was still low-ish and I tend to be emotional, so in order to avoid an argument I just said, “well, I don’t believe you but that’s fine” and walked away.

We were all pretty tired when we got back to our site so most of us headed to the tents for a rest.

I checked my blood sugar and thought that I had finally gotten back in range. I tried to read but couldn’t quite focus; I tried to nap but I couldn’t sleep.

I finally tested again and I don’t think I can adequately express how frustrated I was by the result.

I continued the temp basal and ate a sleeve of cookies (50 carbs) out of frustration. I barely cracked 200 mg/dL by dinner time.

Having been diagnosed as an adult and mostly on my own, my family has seen very little of my actual life with diabetes. I don’t want my diabetes to interfere with any of our time together so I put a great deal of work into making it look like it is easy, making it look like it is no big deal.

But it is.

I prepared for the hike long before we started. I adjusted my insulin as the situation demanded throughout the hike. I continued on so that everyone else could enjoy the day, even though my body and my blood sugar would have preferred that I turned around. Sure exercise is good for “us”, but during and after our family hike, I also probably ate more calories than I burned.

I spend a lot of time and effort to convince you that living with diabetes is not that difficult, but I wish you didn’t believe me.

See also: This and this and this and this. I am not the only one who “struggles” to make it look easy.


  • you and I are in the same boat y’know. being diagnosed at 22 it wasn’t a family ordeal. It was mostly my own to deal with.
    It wasn’t until my family started reading my blog that they really started commenting saying, “I don’t know how you do it.”
    I wouldn’t be surprised if your family DOES know how difficult it is.

  • This happened the first time we went on a hike in Gatlinburg with my boss and his wife. By the time we reached the waterfall, I had exhausted all of my candy and my husband’s regular soda, and came back down with a 54mg/dl or somewhere around that range. It was absolutely CRAZY how low I stayed even afterward. The next time we went back, I was more prepared with fast carbs plus protein snacks. Worked out a LOT better. 🙂
    The feeling, though, that you know that diabetes does interfere as much as you don’t want it do SUCKS though. Hugs to ya.

  • Wow, I know the feeling. Just this morning I was thinking about how people so often think it’s easy for me because I work so hard at it.

    Family can be a challenge when you are diagnosed as an adult. The last time I saw my mother, a nurse and diabetes educator(!), she said, “so it’s Type 1 that you have? Not Type 2?”

  • I like to believe that people with diabetes can do anything, but there are two things that I am honestly terrified of doing with D: hiking and camping. It goes on for hours, and it brings you so far from civilization. I must say I admire your persistence to push through it! And I’m sure you learned a little bit on what to do next time – if there is a next time. Yes, managing diabetes is a big deal, but you know what Kim and her Project have to say about that…

    Personally, I’ve never in my life been camping, and I only went on a hike once. On that hike, I met the woman who would become my wife… so all’s well that ends well!

  • Well I will say that it may not be easy but you make it look easy!

    Still it just sucks that it cannot be put away for a while, just to enjoy a hike or something.

    Diabetes sucks.

  • Heartbreaking, and so true! I’m glad I’m not the only one who talks it down to limit the impact on others. I’m pretty sure I eat more calories than I burn every time I go to the gym, so I feel your pain! Brilliant post.

  • I can so relate to the frustration you felt. Nothing worse than someone who thinks that they “know” what it’s like or what’s “good” for you, having never lived a day with diabetes. It’s not simple…it sucks…especially when you’re low!!

    But I’m glad you were able to enjoy your hike!

  • That last line is priceless. Just like most things in life, sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not. We can put on a face or adjust our attitudes or routine to make it look like it’s no big deal and just go on, but sometimes it does interfere. I just push to let it be a “big deal” on my own terms, and define that as I see fit rather than letting others set those definitions for me. Can’t be easy in that situation where family hasn’t been a part of your D-Life, so I admire your ability to navigate the whole thing while out in camp land! Thanks for sharing this, Sara.

  • While exercise is good for all of us, the general population just can’t get it through their heads that exercise can cause constant lows during and, even worse, the muscles will replace stored glycogen the minute you go to sleep that night, stealing the glucose out of your bloodstream. Exercise, like insulin, is a double-edged sword. When our child exercises even a little more than usual, we are up every couple of hours, checking through the night. The one thing I wish the general population understood is that not only can diabetics have sugar, they often must have sugar to survive. There is a lot of confusion about that. Sugar can be medicine…

  • Oh Sara, I know the feeling.

    I mean, my mom knows all the work involved because she was the one who always took care of me, but the rest of my family doesn’t.

    It is so FRUSTRATING when diabetes interferes in moments when we are trying so hard to be “normal.” Like when I have to call in another teacher at work. Somewhere there must be a balance, between making diabetes look easy but yet letting people see how difficult it is. I have no idea where that balance is or how to find it. All we can do is our best.

  • Thanks for sharing this with me! Your last sentence is so true. I wish family members understood better. For me, it was my mom (that raised me when I was diagnosed at age 9!) that thought my diabetes wasn’t “real”. I didn’t want to say it in my post and call her out like that, but since it was my mom it was so hurtful. Even though what you went through wasn’t fun, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one going through similar issues.

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