My D Kit, and how to Keep it Warm

Here I sit, trying to come up with some higher purpose, some totally wise words, getting all philosophical and metaphysical on the diabetes tip, and maybe I should just be practical and tell people about my experience. About how to go in the backcountry with insulin and the whole kit and caboodle. What works for me. Ok, yeah, that’s what this post is about.

So, you want to go skiing. And you’re diabetic. Snow is an all important part of the skiing thing. And, snow means cold, as in below freezing. So, freezing could potentially happen to your insulin, and meter. I hope you’ve heard all about layering at this point. We did it when I was growing up, and I didn’t even know how cool I was. Back then, we got hotter, the longer we played, so we needed to be able to shed a layer. I think part of the layer process back then also had something to do with falling in huge mud puddles. You wanted to be able to get rid of the outtermost, soaking wet layer. But I digress.

So, layers. I always make sure one of my inner layers has some sort of chest pocket. I have an assortment of garments from Patagonia, Marmot, Sierra Designs, and who know what else. But most of them have a small pocket, on guy’s shirt, it’s always a chest pocket, about big enough for a cel phone and wallet. Except I don’t put that stuff there. It’s where I put my insulin pen, and my meter. Above all else. My whole little D kit is actually a little man purse, made by Dakine, as a mini tool kit for snowboarders. For some reason, they need to carry mini tools around. I know a lot of snowboarders, and I know what they carry in their man purses, and it ain’t tools. Well, I guess that depends on what “tools” you’re talking about.

Anyway, in my D kit is the following. Insulin pen, I use the Novolog pen (it’s cheapest with my insurance), a One Touch Ultra Mini meter, the little tube of strips (again, cheapest with my insurance, I wish they came 50 to a tube, instead of 25), the little finger pricker thing (not sure which one it is, I think I’ve broken several, had to remove the lancet and do it by hand, OOW!!) and the most important thing, Smarties. Smarties are my quick BG bringer upper of choice. I know, we all use different one, whatever works for you. I would use the “official” glucose tabs if I could afford them. Whatever.

So that stuff is all in my Dakine man purse, which has a handy inner pocket for used strips. Depending on what I’m doing, I might throw that whole thing in my Camelbak for a bike ride, or backpack if the temperature is OK. But in the winter, if I’m backcountry skiing, I have a bigger backpack on, and the temps in the high Rockies can be way below freezing, so you have to keep the insulin from freezing. That stuff is expensive, you can’t be losing full pens of it, ever. The meter won’t work if it’s too cold, so that’s why I keep my insulin and meter inside, in that chest pocket, under an outer jacket, so my body heat keeps it a good temp. If it’s in the backpack, it’ll freeze. Then you’re up you know where, without a you know what.

So, insulin and meter in chest pocket, being warmed by body heat, under an outside layer. Test strips, pricker and Smarties are fine in backpack. But, if they fit, put ‘em all in the same spot. I’ve also seen little neck purse things, almost like safety travel wallets, that you hang around your neck, but keep under an outside layer, to do the same thing as the chest pocket. The key is to keep it warm with body heat.

Occasionally, I’ll forget to wear the right shirt, but all my backcountry pants have side thigh pockets, so I can put the important stuff in that pocket. Again, keep it from freezing using body heat. Muy importante!

If that all fails, you could also put a disposable handwarmer next to your D kit. I’ve heard of others doing that, but I would guess you’d have to be very careful with that method, cause those handwarmers get HOT. Wrap it in a rag, or towel, or extra T shirt, and THEN put it next to the D kit. I’ve never done that, just cause I have my system and it works for me.

I just had a crazy idea, I need to get a shot of my man purse that all my friends make fun of me for. OK, it’s down there.