Activities

Just because you have diabetes it doesn’t mean you can’t do all the same things as every other kid. You just have to plan ahead and be smart. My guides will help you plan for when you are doing activities so that you are safe and prepared. There are even some downloadable checklists to make sure you’ve planned right.

Sleeping

A good night’s sleep is important for your health just as it is important for me to get a good catnap. It recharges your body and mind and allows you to focus in school, be rested for sports, and be ready to hang out with friends at your best.

When you have diabetes, sleep also means that for 8 or 9 hours you may not be checking your blood sugar. This sometimes means that it will go way up and down and you might not know. Low blood sugar at night is very common and in the morning you may still feel tired. If you feel like this, it is important to tell a parent and your doctor, so you can find ways to stop it.

Water Activities

Swimming is great exercise for anyone, and if you have diabetes you can enjoy all the same fun water activities as other kids. Unlike most cats, I love swimming, but I'm smart about it. Like with any exercise, swimming can decrease your blood sugar levels so it is important to listen to your body and have a good snack or glucose tablets close by.

Before you get in the water, it is a good idea to tell the lifeguard that you have diabetes or remind your friends what to do if you get low blood sugar and start feeling tired or dizzy. If you have a diabetes ID bracelet, wear this when you swim as well.

If you have an insulin pump, you may want to disconnect it when you swim. Some pumps are “waterproof” but you may not be able to go too deep or stay too long in the water, and if there are any scratches or cracks, the water may get inside anyway. I always take my pump off to swim. Talk to your doctor about guidelines for disconnecting your pump.

Sports

Sports are a lot of fun, and a great way to stay healthy. I play a lot of sports, but soccer is my favorite. Any type of exercise can make your blood sugar low (hypoglycemia) so it is important to pay attention to your body. Make sure that you or your parents talk to your coach about diabetes so that they understand your needs and can recognize problems.

If you have an insulin pump like me, you can adjust your basal insulin for exercise or disconnect your pump during exercise. Both of these can help prevent hypoglycemia, but talk to your doctor to help decide what works best for you. I have some tips for playing sports, or you can download and print out a checklist to keep with your sports stuff to make sure you are always ready to play.

  • Adjust insulin pump basal rate as recommended by your doctor
  • Check your blood sugar; eat a snack if needed to keep from going low
  • Talk to your coaches and teammates; make sure they know about diabetes and how to treat hypoglycemia
  • Water to stay hydrated
  • Glucagon™ emergency kit
  • Emergency contact number
  • Blood glucose meter, supplies & batteries
  • Medical information (diabetes bracelet or ID card)
  • Juice, glucose tablets or other form of sugar to treat hypoglycemia
  • Extra snacks to eat or drink during the game when needed (like juice or fruit)
  • Check your blood sugar during and after playing
  • If your blood sugars are high, make sure you don’t have ketones; playing with ketones can result in you becoming very sick (ketoacidosis)
  • Stay hydrated while playing sports
  • Have Fun!

You can download Lenny’s Sports Checklist for an easy printable list to help you better enjoy the sports you participate in: Lenny’s Sports Checklist.

There are many world class athletes in all types of sports with type 1 diabetes, here are just a few:

  • Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears Quarterback)
  • Adam Morrison (Los Angeles Lakers Forward)
  • Sean Busby (professional snowboarder)
  • Michael Taylor (Oakland A’s outfielder)
  • Gary Hall Jr. (10-time Olympic swimming medalist)
  • Chris Dudley (former New York Knicks center)
  • Bobby Clarke (NHL Hall of Famer)
  • Doug Burns (2006 Mr. Universe)

To learn more about these athletes and to see a list of other athletes with diabetes, click here.

Sleepovers

Sleeping over at a friend’s house is a lot of fun, but it can be a little scary when you have diabetes. If you prepare like me, you can join the sleepover parties like everyone else without worrying.

It is important for you to have a parent talk to the parents where you will be staying so they understand diabetes and what to do in an emergency. If you are comfortable, it is a good idea to share with your friends at the sleepover what you need to do for diabetes. Normally you get to do a lot of your treatment at home, but you’ll find that your friends are more understanding and supportive the more they know about diabetes.

It is also important to bring all the right supplies with you. You can download Lenny’s Sleepover Checklist (pdf) for an easy printable list to help you pack. Important items include:

  • Glucose tablets or other form of sugar to treat hypoglycemia
  • Insulin and insulin pump or syringes
  • Infusion sets for insulin pump
  • Snacks
  • Ketone strips
  • Doctor’s contact number
  • Glucagon™ emergency kit
  • Emergency contact number
  • Blood glucose meter, supplies & batteries
  • Medical information (diabetes bracelet or ID card)

Travelling

I love travelling and have travelled around the world. Travelling supplies may not be available like at home, so it is important to pack everything you need and extras of everything in case you get stuck somewhere.

Remember to pack insulin in a cushioned, insulated, cool container and to always keep it with you. Refrigerate it when you arrive at your destination. If you are flying make sure you tell the TSA security screener that you have diabetes and are carrying supplies. Inform screeners if you wear an insulin pump, that it cannot be removed, cannot go through the x-ray machine, and cannot go into the body scanner It is safe to wear the pump through the metal detector.

If you are travelling to a foreign country learn how to say “I have diabetes” and how to ask for sugar in that language.

You can download Lenny’s Travel Checklist (pdf) for an easy printable list to help you pack. Important items include:

  • Glucose tablets or other form of sugar to treat hypoglycemia  (bring extra in case you get stuck)
  • Insulin and insulin pump and syringes (bring extra for delays)
  • Infusion sets for insulin pump (bring extra for delays)
  • Water to stay hydrated
  • Snacks
  • Ketone Strips
  • Doctor’s contact number
  • Glucagon™ emergency kit
  • ID and diabetes bracelet or ID card
  • Blood glucose meter, supplies & batteries
  • Letter from doctor explaining medical needs
  • Copies of prescriptions
Next: Talking about Diabetes >