Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Overcoming Fear of Water Parks

One of the things I have feared most since Alex was diagnosed is spending the day at a water park. And, the two time we dabbled in water slide adventures prior to a water park visit reinforced my fears.
  • Test 1 was a water slide visit at my mother in law's community pool and slides. In about 45 minutes, Alex went from a blood sugar in the high 200s to 46 just by going up the stairs and down the slide for that amount of time with friends. It scared the crap out of me. 
  • Test 2 was a birthday party with an inflatable slide. Blood sugars remained decent but her pump site and dex site were compromised a number of times. She ended up in tears and angry over the constant interruption of dealing with failing adhesives. When we gave up on the sites and ripped them off, she then was angry and upset that mom had to stay at the party and then pull her aside after the slide fun was over to insert new sites. It was a stern reminder than diabetes does get in the way sometimes.
Alex has been begging and pleading with me to take her to Wet-n-Wild since May. She knows the names of all the rides. She had mapped out all the things she wanted to do there. I knew I needed to take her...because the only reason not to take her was diabetes. And that just wasn't a fair reason to say no.

Being my OCD self, I've scoured the Internet for advice on water parks and diabetes. I spoke to her doctor last month who advised me to lose the Dex altogether for the day and take an ice pack to store the pump when on the rides while testing every hour or so. We discussed switching to shots for the day but we both agreed that was a less favorable option over staying connected to the pump which is waterproof and which could be stored when we decided it wasn't needed if she was having lows, etc.

I finally decided yesterday was the day we were going to face this fear. I purposely decided to NOT invite friends with us in case things went badly as that would just cause more tears for Alex if she was low, etc. and a friend was made to wait or went on without her on rides. So, it was Alex, Ben and I for the day and I knew that also meant I wasn't going to be parking my butt in a chair in the shade and asking the kids to check in from time to time. Not with diabetes.

I bought a dry pack with a lanyard and packed a roll of glucose tablets, a small cheap mini meter, strips and a lancing device.  I left her expensive Ping meter at home with the dex. I wrapped the mini meter in a Ziploc bag inside the dry pack (we tested it the day before in the pool and it stayed dry!)

I also packed  large insulated bag with the normal water park needs and her red ADA lunch bag with an icepack to hold her pump. Then I packed the following supplies:
  • 2 pump sites
  • Opsite Flexfix tape
  • Tegaderm dressings
  • scissors
  • 5 shots in case we needed to switch to Novolog by shot (drawing it out of her pump reservoir if it came down to it)
  • Glucose Gel (3 tubes)
  • Glucagon
  • Alcohol Wipes
I stuck a temporary Type 1 tattoo on Alex's hand and gave her a rubber Type 1 bracelet (no metal bracelets on the slides).

When we got to the park, I rented a locker and was pleasantly surprised to see the park really wasn't THAT big. It would not be a big deal to go back and forth between the locker and rides when needed and I knew we would need to more than normal. I just didn't feel comfortable leaving her expensive pump somewhere under a lounge chair while we were on a ride even "hidden".

I went to first aid as soon as we entered the park and asked if we were going to have any problems with her wearing a pump on the slides. The first aid staffer was very nice and said it was absolutely no problem and if there was any questions to explain it was okay to any lifeguard that asked. For the record, no one asked us and we never had a problem with her wearing her pump or either of us wearing the dry pack with the meter and tablets. 

We started out the day with Alex attached to the pump.  Her BG was 215 and I chose not to correct. We started out on some double tube water slide rides and had a ton of fun! I'm not sure I would have gone on the slides so many times without diabetes. It was hysterical. One of the rides was a "bowl". Ben went on it by himself in a double tube and shot right down the bowl into the hole without stopping. Then Alex and I got on. We circled the bowl twice and got "stuck" in the bowl and the next thing I knew our tube slid backwards down the hole. We came out laughing hysterically. I'm sure the lifeguards were laughing at us too. The pump was just fine.

After about 7 times down the slides, we went back to the locker and Alex tested and was 197. We stored her pump in the locker to go to the wave pool. We spent about 40 minutes in the wave pool. It was very stressful. We all went out to the deep end (the kids choice of course!). We were up and down jumping the waves. Alex being my little rebel kept going farther and farther away from me and liked diving into the waves. I of course was in fear the entire time. What if she got tired and wasn't in arms reach. I am sure I was the annoying mom who kept asking "are you okay?" or sending Ben out to check on her because I just wasn't comfortable so far out in the waves. Part of me longed to be one of those moms sitting at the beach entrance chatting with a friend with our feet in the water. But...part of me really enjoyed jumping the waves like a 10 year old too. And it was way better exercise.

After the wave pool we again visited the locker. Alex tested and was 147. We reconnected the pump and headed to some more slides. After several times on some slides, this old mom couldn't manage the stairs again. So I decided to grab my camera and take some photos and let Alex and Ben go on the slides while I stayed at the bottom. I gave her the lanyard with the meter and sweated it out at the bottom while they waited in line on the stairs. 

At about 11:45 I decided it was time to eat lunch. The kids of course ordered the pizza and breadsticks. I bolused about half the normal amount (I guessed on the carbs) as Alex was 101. I am sure the pizza and 2 breadsticks were somewhere around 70 carbs. I bolused Alex for 40 carbs. She ate her lunch and a couple of my french fries too.

We went around the lazy river after lunch which we all found rather boring. Then, we went to the play area with the big bucket that spills water and a ton of mini slides and climbing areas. 

Alex was on the thing for about 20 minutes and came over and said she felt low. She tested and was 47. I handed her 2 tablets and had Ben sit with her while I ordered some ice cream. We all had ice cream and that just felt better than making Alex sit and eat tablets and watch others play including her brother. Instead it was more like just a break for ice cream and not a break because she was low.

She retested and was 151. We spent about another 2 hours on the slides and back in the wave pool. I suspected she was now high because she was getting cranky and saying some unkind things. She was mad when Ben and I got too far from her on one of the rides. She was mad when we moved to a different ride. Her site peeled off around 3 PM. Sites and water parks just don't mix! I decided not to insert a new site because we planned to leave in an hour and she was 221 but we were still running around on the slides. When it was time to leave for the day she was just plain ugly. She tested and was 300. I had no way to bolus her until we were home. So we drove home and she showered and then threw a fit about getting both new pump sites and dex sites. But we got them done and she had normal numbers for several hours. She had a few lows in the 50s and 60s between about 8 PM - 11 PM but came up with tablets. She woke up this morning at 161 and Dex showed a nice stable line all night.

So...we survived! We had some fun! We would go back. But I won't lie and say it was easy. It was very stressful for me. I felt on guard all the time. I had to take a lot of deep breaths and act like things weren't a big deal in front of Alex so that she didn't start getting upset and saying how much she hates diabetes.

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