Type 1 Diabetes and Whitewater Rafting

So, how do you (or did you) handle your whitewater rafting trip? What precautions, items, etc did you bring, and what was YOUR thought process about it? I’m still working on ours.

Not that we’ve booked the trip yet… and there lies the problem. We’d like to go on a 2 1/2 rafting trip with our 12-year-old son who has type-1 diabetes. Now, I’ve become used to dealing with calculating enough carbs for after-school tennis practice, and volleyball games. But Whitewater rafting can be more intensive - especially with the adrenaline rush you can get from navigating some of those rapids. So, how many carbs will he need? For tennis, he needs about 1 carb choice (15g) per hour, but should I increase that for the trip - making him consume it ahead of time?

I did speak with the company running the trips, and they assured me they could accomodate a tube of glucose tablets in a waterproof pack (which they would provide). So, I should think that would cover any chance of my son going low while out in the water. But then they also pointed out that, should my son need medical attention, it could take as long as an hour for it to get to him (much of the area is pretty remote).

Frankly, that scared me a bit. I’m sure my son could handle the physical demands, but I could sure use some reassurance that he’ll come through this okay. Hearing from other type-1 diabetics who’ve made a similar trip would REALLY help.

Thanks for any thoughts you can provide.

My advice would be:

  1. Have him run a bit high; if this is more exercise than he usually gets, reduce his basal or long term insulin.
  2. Bring lots and lots of sugar, including glucose tablets and something that’s a mix of carbs and protein (like granola bars).
  3. Get your own waterproof pack (I’m sure you could find one somewhere) and stick those in there. I doubt you’ll need all of them, but you’d probably feel better if you did.

But I wouldn’t be too worried. When I was a kid, my family went camping in the woods or on a houseboat for a weekend or sometimes a whole week. I would be really active, and we were very isolated; out on the boat, it would have taken a couple of hours to get paramedics or to someone who could have helped. But I was always fine. I’d get low, but, so long as we had enough food, I wouldn’t have problems. Anyway, I’ve been in some really rural areas. (I currently live in Alaska, and a friend has a cabin; we went once and there was a blizzard, and we were stuck for several days; there was no way emergency help was getting in.) But, generally, I’d say, so long as you have enough supplies, you should be fine. You might want to test more than usual, and I can’t see him needing medical help (for diabetes). Even if he gets really low and can’t swallow glucose tablets (which is unlikely), you can get frosting and squirt it in his mouth.

(I don’t mean to minimize the dangers of lows, but I also don’t want you to worry, and I don’t want to see you limit what your son can do because of his diabetes. In my opinion, so long as you take proper precautions everything will work out well.) Enjoy your trip.

Well I live right up the road from the olympic site where it is a world known whitewater river and my husband and his uncles has or are still river guides and have been in a lot of situations. Myself being diabetic, I would overpack a bag of goodies to bring the sugar back up. On the river just make sure he has those tabs. Also check and double check before you take off. Make sure the day before the trip he drinks a lot of water, you get really dehydrated on those trips. Running around or a little above normal would not be such a bad idea. I myself am on a pump so I would use my temp basal also. Relax I am sure you will enjoy the rush and your son will have a great memory. Just prepare, prepare, prepare. Make sure you river guide gets a clear picture of how his diabetes may effect him.

Is this a 2 1/2 HOUR trip? Just want to make sure I understand before replying. :slight_smile:

Yes, it is. We aren’t going to be gone all day - the rafting trip is advertised as being 2 1/2 hours long. Thanks for asking.

I agree with the advice of the others here. Take along some glucose tabs “just in case” and enjoy!

That adrenaline rush pushes BG up in most cases, so there’s less of a chance of going low.

I went on a whitewater rafting trip less than a week after getting my OmniPod insulin pump and I was really worried! All that worry for nothing, as it turned out. I had a great time and my BG was just fine.

Thanks so much to the people who have responded so far - and to any others who may respond! It’s so hard to know what to do sometimes. I was pretty certain we could do this (our doctor always tells us that my son can do anything except go into the armed forces) but it’s good to get that affirmation from others! Saying thanks doesn’t seem sufficient - but it will have to do.