Frio: Appropriately Named

A few months ago, when I found out I was going to be an insulin dependent diabetic the rest of my life, my biggest immediate fear wasn’t getting my feet chopped off (though that ranks high on the list). My biggest fear was that I was never going to get to travel again. And I don’t mean traveling to some air-conditioned hotel in Miami. I mean backpacking across Europe and hiking up to Macchu Pichu.

The thing with insulin is that it’s got a temperature window. If it goes below 40 degrees or freezes outright, it’s gone bad, and even attempting to shoot up is worthless. If it goes above 86 degrees, it may not be immediately bad, but it loses its potency, and you’ll find yourself injecting more and more from a bottle that’s getting less and less effective by the day.

You can keep it from freezing by carrying it inside your clothes, against your skin. So that’s not too bad.

But how the hell do you keep in below 86 degrees when you’re backpacking through Brazil in the summer?

Well, after a lot of angst and some research, I found a company called Frio that puts out “cooling packs” that you activate by getting wet. The gel inside expands and insulates your insulin for up to 48 hours. It keeps it around 60-70 degrees. Not cold, by any measure, but certainly less than 86 degrees.

Turns out that all the diabetes outlets sell them, so I ordered one from Amazon, still a little dubious about this whole “insulating gel that you just get wet” idea, but it arrived and I used it the first time yesterday.

I don’t have a thermometer on me, but inside the gel pack is definately cooler than outside. Again: not cold. Don’t expect miracles.

But keeping my insulin at 70 degrees is miracle enough for me.

It’ll be interesting to test it when it’s really hot outside again – but they say it’ll keep it under 86 even when the outside temp is 100. So… we’ll see.

And, you know, I’m hoping.

Cause the hope of having freedom again after all this bullshit is just far too wonderful a thing to lose again.

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