I took up kayaking on my move to South Florida in 2004. It quickly became the love of my life and in 2008 I updated my wide slow beginner kayak to my 13 foot Venture Easky. My Dream location, my dream kayak; now to let the adventure begin.
Unfortunately at this time my diabetes progressed to the point where I needed insulin via a pump. I refused to let this deter me. Managing diabetes when exercising requires a lot of planning. Diabetes was not going to manage me or stop my love of paddling. I paid closer attention to the food I ate and I spent a lot of time paddling locally to see how it affected my blood sugars. I became proactive in managing my diabetes. Packing snacks, adjusting my pump settings took some trial and error and I made sure to never paddle alone during this time. My goal was to complete a kayak camping trip to Cape Romano in Florida's 10,000 islands.
This dream came true in 2012 when I headed off to Cape Romano with Kayak Erica and a small group of excited women. In addition to all the things needed to pack for at 3 day 2 night trip, I had to pack the all important diabetic supplies. glucometer, adequate test strips, pump supplies including extras in case the pump was dislodged.
We took off in 50 degree weather with a brisk wind. The one male that was to join our group backed out!
This was truly a challenging paddle for me. open waters, stiff currents, all things I had limited experience with. My fellow kayakers were all supportive. My blood sugars remained stable though out the 8 mile trek to our destination with frequents snacks, and stopping my bolus delivery briefly. Changing my insulin pump site in a 2 man tent with no mirror was my biggest diabetic challenge of the trip which I handled with ease.
I've since had a couple of other successful kayak camping trips; but the memories of this one always remind me that with grit and determination anything is possible. I challenge all others with medical issues to not let them keep you from your dreams.
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