The Rollercoaster Ride of Diabetes

Some people might find this hard to believe, but perhaps less so when I explain- but in the seven years plus that I’ve been on an insulin pump (diaversary next week) I haven’t had to find out what to do with my pump on a roller coaster. Which might seem strange as I blogged last year about going to Disneyland, but I’m a bit afraid of roller coasters. So it seems that I’ve just managed to avoid going on one until now. But luckily I vaguely remembered the rep telling me when I got mine, that insulin pumps and roller coasters do not mix. I was staying away from home the night before we visited the theme park, but luckily my pump manufacturer had a 120 page guide I could download on the rules and regulations of pumping and theme parks. As each insulin pump brand is different, then the advice may differ also, so it’s definitely something worth checking before you go.

The advice that I received from my pump manufacturer was that my insulin pump needed to be removed before going on all roller coasters due to the strong electromagnets used within the construction of the rides. The theme park we visited was Chessington World of Adventures on the outskirts of London and on the morning we were due to visit my blood sugars were good. But it came as even more of a surprise that after the 2 hour car journey to the theme park from where we were staying, my blood sugar levels were 5.8mmol. Never one to leave my hypo treatment options in the hands of anyone else, I’d brought jelly babies and sugary drinks with me ‘just in case’, that I was able to carry into the theme park without problems. The jelly babies were particularly handy because there was so much walking around to do in the park and I find that I’m very sensitive to insulin, especially where exercise is concerned. 

The first roller coaster we decided to go on was a big old mining/ Western styled ride, that thankfully didn’t have a long queue to get onto. So when my family and I reached the front, I disconnected from my pump and put it in a clean and secure pocked in my bag, which was stored next to the ride where no one else could get to it. I had a great time on the ride and as soon as it came to a stop I was able to get to my bag, reconnect my pump and carry on to the next ride. There were three roller coasters in all, that we went on, that were spread around the park between the animal viewing attractions and other types of rides. So I didn’t have to disconnect from my pump that often. I tested my blood sugar levels every hour or so throughout the day and ate my meals as normal and the whole day my levels stayed between 5.8mmol and  11.2mmol.

This really surprised me because when I experience adrenaline before a race in athletics, the effect it has on my diabetes is to raise my blood sugar levels. But as I mentioned earlier, the walking around the park combined with the short bursts of adrenaline seemed to have a good effect on my blood sugars throughout the day. But I continued to test them throughout the evening, just in case there was any backlash from being disconnected earlier in the day, but there wasn’t. Having good blood sugars really added to the great experience of the day for me. Being prepared and testing regularly allowed me to have a day at the theme park just like anyone else, which was a thrill I wasn’t expecting!


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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