Between refrigeration and Frios, it’s easy enough to keep insulin cool on hot summer days. Keeping ourselves cool, however, is not as easy. It’s so hot in Tel Aviv that we’re sweating even with the air conditioning on. Yesterday, after a 5:00 a.m. run, Mike spent thirty minutes standing in the bathroom trying to cool off before his shower. The sweat just wouldn’t stop. And my sweating is at its worst now, too.
My sweating condition, palmar hyperhidrosis, has nothing to do with diabetes or exercise. I often have sweaty palms as a result of an overactive sympathetic nervous system. Normally, it’s not such a big deal. I’m way past being embarrassed about it, and laugh at memories of melting Scantron test sheets in school so that they couldn’t be read. But now I’m faced daily with tests I can’t afford to screw up- blood sugar tests.
For days Mike and I have been talking about our frustrations with sweat and blood sugar testing. Sweat ruins diabetic test strips, or interferes with the accuracy of the reading. I have to pour my test strips out of the bottle because if I stick a sweaty finger into it, I risk ruining all the test strips. Drying my hands doesn’t help. The minute I start thinking about my fingertips being sweaty, I sweat even more.
My solution is to use Abbott’s FreeStyle meter which allows me to test my blood sugar on my forearm. It’s a less accurate reading than a fingertip provides, but it’s the best I can do. When testing on the forearm, you need to rub the area before pricking to increase blood flow to the surface. Because I can’t use a wet palm to rub my arm, I use my other forearm to rub. This leaves me looking like some sort of crazed traffic controller.
Mike’s situation is more complicated; it’s even dangerous. If he’s running with low (or high) blood sugar, he needs to know it! He absolutely must have an accurate reading. I’ve been thinking about this and wondering, what do athletes with diabetes do when they need to check blood sugar levels mid-run, mid-ride, mid-game, etc? Does everyone have a CGM? Is a CGM reliable enough? In a recent blog post, Mike mentioned that he stopped running and wiped his finger on a wall to try to get rid of the sweat. Like me, he can’t stick his fingers into the test strip bottle or pour one out into his wet hand. This means he has to be in a place where he can pour test strips out onto a dry surface… not easy when you’re in the middle of a marathon. “Do you have any idea how many strips I waste?” he has said to me. “Do you know how many times my glucometer says error?”
Interestingly, when it comes to sweat, the better the test strip, the more it errs. I love the new FreeStyle butterfly strips. But Mike and I both agree that at the slightest hint of moisture, they fail.
Mike and I can’t be the only ones sweating it. Anyone else? What do you do? Carry a little microfiber finger wipe? I don’t think it would help enough. I have no good answers. I do, however, have some product name suggestions for the makers of glucometers and test strips, should they decide to create a sweat proof glucometer system.
Roche: Accu Sweat
Bayer: Cool as a Breeze2
LifeScan: One Touch UltraWet Mini
(Feel free to add to my suggestions!)
And while I’m throwing out names, it occurs to me that – at least during the summer months – perhaps this website would better be called ASweatLife.org.