My friend Gevon just posted some useful tips for winter photography. He’s got everything covered and after reading his post there are a few things I need to add to my winter kit. But there is one more thing I must add to my kit that most photographers don’t need to think about.
I have type 1 diabetes. There are medical supplies that I need that I must take with me everywhere and a few things I need to think about when outside.
For my diabetes I need a test kit. This kit includes a blood glucose meter for testing my blood glucose, test strips for the meter, alcohol wipe to sterilize my fingers, lancing device and lancets for making small blood drops. I must always remember to pack enough of these for the entire day even if I plan on being out for a few hours. I never want to be in a situation where my plans change and I don’t have enough supplies. Because technology can fail I pack a second glucose meter just in case. It’s like packing a second camera battery and memory card.
My diabetes treatment regimen involves taking multiple daily injections of insulin. Without insulin my body is not able to convert the glucose in my blood into usable energy. My insulin travels with me everywhere. Before I leave home I always check how much insulin I have remaining to ensure I have enough for the entire day. Even if I know I’ll be gone for just a few hours I want to make sure I’m covered.
Currently I inject my insulin using insulin pens. When I pack my insulin I always ensure that I pack enough needles and then a few extra. Nothing feels worse that sitting down to a meal and realizing that I forgot to pack enough needles or insulin.
One other diabetes related device that I must always remember is my continuous glucose meter system (CGMS). My CGMS is a combination of a sensor embedded just under my skin, a transmitter attached to that sensor and a receiver. The CGMS takes continuous glucose readings and helps me determine if my blood glucose is in safe range. This is helpful when I am outside shooting for a long time. It is so easy to become absorbed in taking photographs that I forget to pay attention to my health. The CGMS keeps track of my blood glucose and will alert me if it goes too high or too low.
The last thing I pack in my diabetes kit is a sugary snack. If my blood glucose gets too low (hypoglycemia) some quick acting sugar – I like smarties – helps bring my BG into safe range. Smarties are compact and made of glucose. One roll is about 15g of glucose and is cheaper than glucose tabs.
Insulin must be kept within a certain temperature range to be effective. The sort of insulin I use needs to be kept between 59–86ºF. I can never let my insulin be exposed to temperatures outside this range for any length of time. In the summer I have to be careful to keep my insulin cool and in the winter I have to worry about freezing my insulin. I have a special insulated pouch for keep my insulin that helps keep things safe.
The same rule applies to my diabetes meter, test strips and CGMS. In the hot summer and very cold winter I need to be careful not to exceed the operating temperature of the test strips and the glucose meter. I use the pockets of my camera bag and to keep things in proper range. In the summer I bring an ice-pack.
Since I am currently on MDI I need to be aware of meal times. Nothing is worse than a massive hunger headache and eating on a schedule helps me mange my blood glucose. It is important that I follow my schedule. If I’m with a group and I’m unsure of when they plan to eat I will usually bring along a peanut butter sandwich. Just in case.
While I can’t be as carefree as my photography friends with a little planning I can enjoy being out and about creating great photographs.