I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve only been to Cedar Point a handful of times and I’m an Ohio native. *gasp*
Last weekend I took on Cedar Point, my first amusement park since being diagnosed with diabetes. At this point, you may be thinking, how are visiting Cedar Point and diabetes linked? I was curious/concerned about some aspects of visiting the park with diabetes including how the rides might affect my pump, if the stress from roller coasters would drive my blood sugar up, the entire food situation and if the constant walking would drive my blood sugars down.
I did some incredibly last minute research about handling diabetes at amusement parks and the good people of Twitter pointed me in the right direction… Among many of Bennet’s posts covering diabetes at Disney especially, I found this one. The main points I took with me to Sandusky were:
1. Scientific study found: “That severe short-lived mental stress, as documented by markedly increased heart rate and blood pressure and salivary cortisol, barely affected glucose control in patients with type 1 diabetes.”
2. This advice (which came in the form of a concise tweet later): have fun. check blood. <– in that order.
We drove up the night before and stayed at the Breakers Express, which got us early admission to the park on Saturday. That evening we walked to a nearby bar to enjoy time with our friends and celebrated our friend Tyler’s college graduation.
The moment we were allowed into the park, we rushed over to the newest coaster, GateKeeper. The line was long and the weather was colder than forecasted, but the ride was fun. I was less than thrilled when a Cedar Point employee insisted that I put my small backpack in a rented locker before riding. I simply assumed that there were no bins on the platform and sent the bag, with my test kit and PDM, with Brad to be locked away. If I didn’t have diabetes, I honestly wouldn’t have needed to carry a bag at all and I was uncomfortable not having my snacks and supplies for the rest of our wait. I should have just refused because, as it turned out, there were bins on the platform for belongings during the ride.
Aside from GateKeeper, there were no other bag issues. I selected not to ride Millennium Force, the only ride that I know legitimately doesn’t have bins because you exit at a different platform.
We put a lot of mileage on our sneakers and had a lot of wind in our faces. After GateKeeper, we rode Iron Dragon then headed back to Maverick, which is probably still my favorite coaster. The Gemini, Magnum, gondola, bumper cars, multiple train rides and a lot of walking later, we were cold and worn out and heading home.
Throughout the day, my Dexcom maintained a consistent 15 minutes behind my actual trends so I tested often, ate often and came out at the end of the day with an average blood sugar of 99, caught between a low of 62 and a high of 156. Not too bad… except I did experience the “post-workout high” that night when my liver decided to compensate for the day I spent running around.
One thing that’s a major issue is that amusement park food places rarely publish nutrition information… you can print a guide for food allergies but you can’t find carbs in anything that isn’t from a pre-existing chain (i.e. Dippin’ Dots, Johnny Rocket’s, Subway, etc.). Walking the park was enough to keep my blood sugar on the low side all day, an over- or under-estimation of carbs in a meal can turn a fun day sour pretty quickly.
A couple of pieces of personal advice for doing amusement parks:
- Stay hydrated. Cups of water are provided at any park restaurant for free.
- Wear good shoes… don’t wear flip flops to an amusement park… that’s asking for problems.
- I chose to hide my robot parts to avoid problems.
- Test often.
- Keep your insulin cool. I left mine in a lunch box in the car with an ice pack.
- Bring snacks.
- Be courteous to other park goers.
- Have close-able pockets (buttons, zippers and such).
- Have fun.