Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tropical Climates + OmniPod = Bad Insulin

How do people in tropical climates use insulin pumps?

For our honeymoon we spent a week here. It was magical and perfect and everything you think it would be except for one thing. The insulin in my pod kept going bad. Luckily, I was living in this bubble of, “it’s my honeymoon and I don’t really give a rat’s ass what my diabetes is doing this week”, so dealing with this only reached a level of “annoying” rather than “enraging”.

The vials of insulin I brought never left the fridge in the resort room, so it wasn’t an issue of the vial going bad. However, within 24 hours of filling a pod – and always after spending the entire day at the beach – my numbers would be coasting 100-200 (!!!) points higher than they ever are and they would stay there until I changed the pod. 

I have two theories:

A. Because the pod is placed directly on the skin, and the skin was hot all day long, the insulin cooked itself inside the pod and went bad

B. Drinking 12 hours a day for 7 days not only kills brain cells, but insulin

I’m going with A because I’ve spent all day drinking in other climates and the insulin never went bad. I think if I wore a tubed pump, I could have stayed connected, but put the pump in a small cooler next to my beach chair every day, but how lame would that be? “Honey, doesn’t my mini-cooler look sexy?”

This same problem happened to me when I spent a week in Ft. Lauderdale back in July 2013. I went through so many pods on that trip. I so rarely spend any time in a climate like Florida or Mexico, but the next time I do I’m going to strongly consider going back to Lantus and Humalog (MDI) to get me through the trip. At least with Lantus injections you KNOW the insulin got into you and isn’t going to have the opportunity to get hot in the sun. Not having consistent basal insulin KILLED my blood sugars. 

Does anyone else on an OmniPod have success when on a beach vacation? What do people do who live in this type of climate year round? 

*What I did LOVE about OmniPod was how easy it was to go into the ocean and also how easy it was to wear all my cute dresses I brought on the trip. OmniPod wins hands down for being discrete and comfortable.
First day at the beach.
Our last day.


  1. I like the photos... very jealous of you while I sit in my cold climate. I think your Theory A sounds like the reason. Sorry it messed up an otherwise fantastic week.

    1. Thanks, Stephen. It was a great vacation! Today I am watching the snow fall outside my office window, but at least my insulin isn't rotting!

  2. Love the photos!

    We recently returned from Puerto Rico, and my T1 guy was high the whole time! He isn't on an omnipod. He uses a medtronic pump instead. But no matter what I think the insulin does get over heated ... plus there is the change in schedule, not sleeping same hours, eating different food, stress and excitement that I guess mess with blood sugars as well ... so when we travel I have kind of given up on trying to keep my son's BGs in a nice low range.

  3. I've never actually had insulin go bad on me in extreme heat. I 9 hour days at the renaissance faire in the summertime with temps in the 90's, and it's never gone bad. I never refrigerate my insulin either. I've never understood this whole "insulin going bad" thing. On a brighter note, CONGRATULATIONS!

  4. Someone should make a sexy mini-cooler.

    Dolore/Katie in back-to-back tropical vacations has been KILLING ME. I'm glad we're all home now for the next snow storm.

  5. I have lived in Puerto Rico most of my life and have not had any issues with insulin/pod combination. My BGs are much better with the pods as opposed to MDIs w Lantus/Humalog.

  6. I did a beach week last year and my blood sugars were AWFUL. I didn't even think of it being because of the heat but more because I drank a lot :-P. I wouldn't "sweat" it too much; it was just one week and you had fun! No idea what people in really hot weather do though...

  7. I find this really troubling. I am looking at getting a pump after 20 years on shots but I live in a warm climate and spend a good deal of time in the sun. I'm very adept at keeping my bag in the shade and keeping my insulin/vials in my little Frio wallet but I have a lot of concerns about going on a pump that will be out in the sun all day if I'm out biking, walking or at the beach. Changing pods frequently seems quite expensive.

    1. I wouldn't worry about it. The drinking (and any other changes in diet), combined with the stress of travel (even on a honeymoon) are far more likely the cause than the warm weather. Mixed drinks are loaded with sugar.
      Unless you are spending time in a hot tub your insulin should be fine. I don't refrigerate my insulin vials once I start to use the vial and have not had any problems with the insulin going "bad". I used a Medtronic pump for almost six years and have used Omnipods for 6 months. I may change the type of pump I use, but I hope to never go back to multiple shots/day.

      And a belated Happy One Year Anniversary to Katie and her Husband!