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Don’t let diabetes stand in the way of amazing experiences

Local Young Leader Felicity, who lives with type 1 diabetes, completed her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award during Diabetes Week. Here, she explains why diabetes shouldn’t stop anyone from taking on personal challenges.

I spent Diabetes Week (10-16 June) in a rather unique way. I was on my Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Gold Qualifying expedition in the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

For those unfamiliar with what the DofE is, it’s a scheme for young people that incorporates volunteering, taking part in physical activity, learning new skills, and going on an expedition. For me, the Gold Award involved 12 months of volunteering, 12 months of physical activity, and six months of learning new skills.

My qualifying expedition was five days and four nights and involved walking in a group of four to seven people, navigating the Welsh countryside, and camping in different campsites.

Packing sufficient supplies

With my type 1 diabetes, I had to make sure I had packed enough supplies. The initial prospect of going camping with type 1 diabetes seemed daunting, so to reduce my worries I packed my diabetes supplies in dry bags in case of wet weather and placed them inside pockets or near the top of my bag, to make sure that my teammates and teachers could easily locate them in case of an emergency.

It’s important that people know about your condition, so they can help you if you need them to.

The expedition involved a fair amount of hill walking and mountain hiking, so I had to take that into consideration, as exercise can lead to a drop in blood glucose levels. I placed fast-acting carbohydrates, such as Jelly Babies, glucose tablets and glucose drinks in easily accessible side pockets. As well as this, I packed longer-acting carbohydrates, such as cereal bars and dried fruit, to snack on while walking.

My blood glucose levels dropped low and refused to rise whilst on top of a mountain on the third day, so after consulting my Diabetes Specialist Nurse over the phone, I decided to reduce my insulin dosage to compensate for walking long distances, since I was walking around 20 km per day. I also ensured I had a substantial dinner every night to keep my blood glucose levels in target range.

No regrets

Overall, the experience was very enjoyable, even with the occasional rain, mud, and being cornered by an ‘overly affectionate’ sheep!  The beautiful views of the Welsh countryside and the fond memories made were well worth it!

I’d highly recommend the experience to anyone and would encourage anyone living with type 1 diabetes not to let the condition stand in the way of taking on new experiences and challenges. You can do anything you want, you just have to invest a bit more time in planning.

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