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St Patricks Day Tradition Meets Diabetes Management

By Amanda Sheldon

Managing Editor

Posted:  3/14/2013 5:35 PM


Growing up in a household full of Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the tradition of green shamrocks, cornbeef and cabbage and Irish music. So I was thrilled when a customer shared a photo of playing a bagpipe in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Thanks Jennifer for sharing your tips for managing to pump while playing the long route. And if you have a unique talent like Jennifer, be sure to tell us all about it through our Share Your Story Facebook app. We’d love to hear from you!

My name is Jennifer and I was diagnosed with diabetes in June of 2009 at the age of 35. I started pumping in May of 2010. Pumping has given me flexibility in the active life style I have. I work as a nurse practitioner (not in diabetes), and volunteer on an ambulance as an Emergency Medical Technician-Critical Care. What a lot of my colleagues and acquaintances do not know about me is that I also play the bagpipes.

I have been playing bagpipes since 2001. The band that I play with marches in parades throughout the year and also plays at various fund raising events. One of the obstacles I encountered when diagnosed was how I could play and march in the parades and keep safe, avoiding low blood sugars. I also had to think about how I would carry my glucose meter, glucose tabs, and long acting carbs. This was accomplished using a leather belt pouch that went on my uniform belt. All of my supplies must be carried either in the pouch or in my uniform jacket pockets in the winter months.

On multiple daily injections, planning was difficult because I couldn't take back or reduce the basal I injected for the day. When I started with my Medtronic pump, it took a few parades, but I finally found out what worked for me. I also had to take into consideration the length of the parade, what the weather was doing, and how my blood sugars were running the day prior to the parade.

I found that running a lower temp basal for one hour prior to the parade and continuing until two hours after the parade worked for me. I frequently also use a protein bar prior to marching to boost my blood sugars into an acceptable pre-parade level which is greater than 150 for me. During the stoppages that occur during the parades I frequently use the opportunity to check my blood glucose and respond as necessary. I proudly wear my Medtronic pump on my uniform belt!

Marching in the New York City St. Patrick's Parade is definitely the highlight of the year for me. Although it takes lots of preparation from a diabetes standpoint, it can be done.

- 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 for complete safety information.


Mike Hoskins

Posted on Mon Mar 18 16:08:50 GMT 2013

This is such a cool story for St. Paddy's Day! Very interesting to hear about the nuances of playing a bagpipe and marching the parade while insulin pumping! Of course, it's always great to "meet" another D-peep via their guest-blog, too! Thanks for sharing this. MM team!


Posted on Tue Mar 19 00:15:07 GMT 2013

Thanks for the feedback Mike. It's my very first blog post.

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