This is no place for a diabetic.

For the fourth of July, my husband’s parents arranged for the family to head three hours north to a beautiful state park, lake and sand dunes. We were renting a three person jet ski for the entire day and it was going to be a day full of sand, sun and fun.

I had done a site change the night before, and battled highs the entire night. I barely slept. By morning, I had reattached to my old site. (I don’t take out my old site until I know for sure that the new one is working well). On the way to the lake, I rode on the back of a motorcycle on the interstate for the first time, and the adrenaline combined with my old site actually working caused my blood sugar to drop pretty quickly back into range. Alright!

When we arrived, we found out that the state park was on the opposite side of this ginormous lake. The only way to get over there would be to make trips on the jet ski. The first group was my husband, me, and my sister in law.


I use the Medtronic Minimed 530g. It is not a waterproof pump. Immediately I was worried. I attached it to my swimsuit and held a towel to my chest to protect from spray, and we tried to take off. Unfortunately, none of us had ever ridden on a jet ski, let alone driven one. Within the first three seconds, we nearly tipped over into the water. But it was too late to try and turn back, so we puttered at about 3mph across the entire lake, fighting the wakes of a zillion boats, to reach the dunes.

We managed to make it without getting wet. We realized it was going to be far too difficult to try to shuttle everyone over on the jet ski. My husband’s dad made the return trip to pick me up. I had suspended my pump and wrapped it in my towel, and we put it in the center console of the jet ski so that way if I fell off, it wouldn’t go in with me. Luckily we made it back across the lake safely.


(You can see my CGM sensor in the back of my arm!)

I ate lunch, and tried to bolus appropriately, still using my old site. It seemed to work, until I decided to swim later. I did a bolus to account for the time I’d be without my basal rate while in the water, but my sugar still rocketed to the 200-230 range and hovered there for hours.

I felt eyes on me as I walked to and from the water to hook a device to my body, a sensor taped to my arm. It isn’t often I feel self-conscious about my appearance, especially when it comes to my diabetes. In fact, it takes a LOT to make me feel self-conscious. But I felt completely out-of-place on the beach. All I could think was “this is no place for a diabetic.”

I eventually took my “new” site out and, lo and behold, the cannula was bent. No wonder it wasn’t working.


My sister-in-law ended up getting thrown from the jet ski and we thought she dislocated her shoulder, so she went to the hospital with my husband’s mom and her husband, so the rest of us hung out around the beach. (Don’t worry, she’s okay!) I read a book and tried to get my blood sugar to come down, to no avail.

Later on, my pump alerted that I was low. I looked and my CGM was showing a 150 point drop in 15 minutes. I looked at my arm and my sensor had popped out of my skin and was just hanging out on the surface of it. Luckily I had brought a spare, and surrounded by dozens of people, we inserted it on my abdomen, right there in the open. I was already being stared at, so what was a little more by that point?


After an insane fiasco of trying to get home in fireworks show traffic, and actually leaving my in-laws at a hotel 2 hours from home because it was too cold to ride the motorcycle home (it was in the high 50’s – unseasonably chilly for July in Michigan!), we finally got home. And of course, the minute I got into bed, my blood sugar finally came back into range for the first time in almost 10 hours. Ugh.

So what’s the point of this story? Well, I got stared at. Which is to be expected when you have medical devices attached all over your body. Also, taking a non-waterproof insulin pump to the beach without a waterproof case is not very smart. Although in my defense, I was under the impression that we wouldn’t have to cross an entire lake to get to the dunes. However, I learned a lot. I learned that although people stare, it’s because they’re curious, not hateful. And I am so grateful for the CGM because I was able to keep an eye on what my blood sugar was doing while I was on the back of the motorcycle and unable to “feel” it. I also learned that even with SPF110 reapplied every hour, I still fry.


So while the beach may be no place for a diabetic, it may be the perfect place for a diabetic. Different folks, different strokes. I learned a lot, and I’m excited to go to the beach again, hopefully a couple more times yet this year.




Filed under vacation

3 responses to “This is no place for a diabetic.

  1. Sorry that the day was a struggle, but know that after a time or 2 figuring out what is necessary and what isn’t, a diabetic can have a BLAST at the beach. And as a helpful tip, look into water proof SPI belts. They are tiny waist belts that have super secure ziploc baggie type things inside to keep cell phones and pumps dry

    • I was looking into getting a spi belt! But it’s so rare that I’m near the water that I actually just bought a flip belt instead. Now I’m kinda wishing I would have gotten the spi! Live and learn =)

  2. Tina Piaquadio

    It’s refreshing to read about another diabetic who had trouble at the beach. (I’m so sorry you did, but nice to know I’m not alone.) Beach, pool, amusement park…all bring on a great deal of anxiety for me. Like you, I wear the Medtronic pump, so I worry about water. I also worry about the heat affecting the insulin in the pump…along with a slew of other factors. Summer is not my favorite time of year 😦
    I feel bad for my family/friends, as I’m not much fun when it comes to these things.

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