Thursday, November 10, 2011

Diabetes on Mt Everest

My CDE in the hospital where I went in the weeks following my diagnosis had a poster on her wall (or maybe it was on the door) of a guy climbing a mountain. She pointed it out to me to have a little discussion about how to deal with diabetes in extreme temperatures, because if insulin freezes, it's not good anymore. And as you may know, it's kinda cold on a mountain. According to my CDE, this type 1 guy climbed Mount Everest with his insulin taped to his skin to keep it warm.

I was sitting out in the cold today, getting ready to do a shot. My insulin was plenty warm, but I wasn't. And it occurred to me that the real question is, how did he safely bare his skin for the shot?

So, today's post is about the Everest climbers I can find who've climbed with diabetes.

First, the guy on my CDE's poster was probably Will Cross. As if being a high school principal wasn't enough adventure, Will Cross has attempted to climb Mount Everest numerous times. He didn't go all the way in 2004 or 2005; in 2007 he made it to the top. Will Cross was diagnosed with diabetes when he was nine; it was about thirty years later that he climbed Everest. He was sponsored by Novo-Nordisk, and was using Novolog and described as using Novolin-N (the NPH made by Novo-Nordisk) on his first couple climbs. He is described in the 2007 articles as wearing an insulin pump as well as using a NovoFlexPen. Some of the articles about his climb claim that he couldn't check his blood sugar, but he clearly says he did check his blood sugar- my guess is that the meter didn't always work when he wanted it to. He has a wife and six kids. He is an American.

Geri Winkler, also a teacher, was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 28 years old, in 1984. In 2006, he became the first diabetic to get to the top of Mount Everest. He was sponsored by Bayer, which makes a blood sugar meter and A1c now kits. He is from Austria.

S├ębastien Sasseville first got to the summit of Everest in the year before he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He climbed it again seven years later. He raised money for JDRF on the second climb. He is also affiliated with CWD and triabetes. He is Canadian.

There are a number of posts from John Jackson claiming that he and his son, Dan Jackson, were going to climb Everest earlier this year. His son is 17 and was diagnosed with diabetes + celiac aged 2. But I don't know what happened with that. They are British, and Dan uses a minimed pump. They were trying to raise money.

I thought it was interesting that all three (or four) diabetic Everest climbers used diabetes to help fund their expeditions. Also, that there are three or four type 1s climbing Everest- I think that means that, statistically and humorously speaking, being a type 1 diabetic is a risk factor for climbing Mount Everest!

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