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Life in the Wintry Mountains

By Karrie Hawbaker

Public Relations Manager

Posted:  1/24/2013 4:00 PM

Tags:

It is my pleasure today to introduce competitive ski racer, Nick Ward. Nick is an extremely inspirational young guy. After his diabetes diagnosis, he was told he wouldn’t be able to continue his pursuit of a competitive ski career. Passionate and driven, Nick pressed forward and continues on his quest of one day representing our nation as part of the U.S. Olympic Team. Thank you Nick, for contributing to The LOOP, sharing your story, and educating us on how to keep your pump warm in the mountains. Please join me in welcoming Nick to the community and if anyone has additional tips for keeping their pump warm in the cold of winter, please share with us in the comments below.
 
My name is Nick Ward and I am a competitive F.I.S. (Federation Internationale de Ski) Ski Racer. As a competitive ski racer I deal with a lot challenges when on the mountain. I ski out of Northern California from a resort called Squaw Valley, home of the best skiing on the west coast and of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. I have been skiing since the age of 5, and I began racing around the age of 10. I have always had a knack for speed and precision which has helped me become a well-rounded person and ski racer. When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes my life was turned upside down in a matter of days. The simplest task like eating became a daily challenge because of the carb counting and knowing the number of units of insulin that I needed to take. 

Still my mind was being in the mountains on a cold frosty day with the chill in my face and adrenaline pumping as I sped down a race hill. As days turned to months and months turned to a year, I was given an opportunity to try a Medtronic insulin pump. I was told by one of my ski coaches who also has type 1 diabetes that the pump did wonders for an athlete. So I gave it a try and it worked fantastic. It allowed me to keep my blood sugar right in my sweet spot between 140 and 80. 

As time progressed on the cold slopes, I found a perfect way to keep my insulin and pump warm by putting it in the inner most layers of my clothing and then wrapping it with an ace bandage or a tight under shirt. Since I’ve been told insulin solutions freeze near 32 F, this allows me to keep it warm with my body heat so it doesn’t freeze up on the mountain. The difficult part is stripping down to my speed suit during my races. At this time I can’t wear my pump because of the possibility of damaging it during the race. What I do is have a helping hand from a team mate who isn’t running the race take my jacket which has my pump and sugar tablets in it to the base of the course. After my race I meet up with my team mate, reconnect to my pump and if needed take a sugar tablet. 

I have learned that skiing in the brisk cold mountains can be done with type 1 diabetes and is manageable with my Medtronic pump. I hope my experience was helpful to fellow pump users on the slope and hopefully some day we all can shred together to help cure diabetes. 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. 
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms. 

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. 
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately. 

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems
- The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment. 
- Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected. 

Please visit www.medtronicdiabetes.com/importantsafetyinformation for complete safety information.
 

Comments

Audrey

Posted on Fri Jan 25 02:21:37 GMT 2013

How do you deal with practice time? My daughter is 13 and she is on a travel softball team which has 2 hour long practices. They are very hard to keep her regulated during. The games are a little different as they are not as strenuous as the 2 hour conditioning and training times.

Jen

Posted on Sat Jan 26 04:28:24 GMT 2013

Great essay Nick. Can't wait to see you in the Olympics soon!
I love to snow ski too and I'm also on a MM pump.

Audrey, one thing that helps me regulate my BGs while exercising is to do a temporary basal rate. 50% during strenuous activity works for me. Hope that helps!

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