If you were on Twitter during the first episode of the latest season of The Amazing Race, you know how excited I was that there was a contestant with diabetes. I rooted for Nat and Kat all season, not only because Nat has Type 1 diabetes, but because they ran such a clean race free of drama and bickering.
Several hard-hitting questions were on my mind as I watched and I am thankful for the opportunity to have Nat Strand answer them here today on D-Mom Blog.
D-Mom Blog: I’m a long time fan of both Survivor and The Amazing Race. I have to admit that one of the thoughts that went through my head since my daughter’s diagnosis is that she will never be a contestant on one of these two shows. Obviously you have proven me wrong!
During the season opener when we saw Kat hand you up your meter to check your blood sugar I stopped my DVR and got on Twitter to exclaim “OMG, there’s a contestant with diabetes!”
When you set out to become a contestant, did you want to do it for yourself, to prove a point that you can do anything you set out to, or to show the country that diabetes doesn’t have to hold a person back?
Nat: I would have to say it was for both myself and for all of those who have lives affected by diabetes. I really wanted to show that diabetes does not have to hold you back from doing anything that you dream of doing.
D-Mom Blog: I can only imagine that the basal rates on your insulin pump would be off kilter when spanning time zones and being active at times of the day when maybe you are not normally. Did you consider going on multiple daily injections (MDI) for the course of the race so that you didn’t have to worry about basal rates? Or do you think that MDI would have slowed you down?
Nat: I thought about all possible options. In the end, I thought it was best to go with what I am most comfortable with, which is the insulin pump. Of course, I had plenty of syringes and insulin vials with me … just in case.
D-Mom Blog: When we travel 200 miles to the endocrinologist or take a vacation, I pack about three times the diabetes supplies that we need for the trip. Were you required to carry all of your own supplies that you would need for the duration of the race or did staff keep your supplies and dole them out as needed?
Nat: I was required to carry all of my own supplies. Production has strict rules, and there are no exceptions! I tried to get them to carry glucose or cold insulin, but it is against the rules to have access to anything other than what is in your backpack.
D-Mom Blog: Are there medical personnel that follow each team to assist when needed?
Nat: There are medics who are with us during the race. They are not with each team all the time, but they keep a close eye on us.
D-Mom Blog: I have heard a lot about tighter TSA regulations and screenings. Have you had issues traveling with diabetes supplies and your insulin pump, whether officially on the race or in other travels?
Nat: Surprisingly, no! I was prepared to be questioned about all of my supplies, especially since I was always carrying on. I never had a problem. Kat, on the other hand, had her batteries confiscated in Ghana! LOL.
D-Mom Blog: Were you given any special accommodations because of your medical condition during the race? If you had to stop to treat a low, for instance, did that count against your time?
Nat: I was not given any special accommodations. Again, they are very strict about treating all of the teams in the exact same fashion. Yes, if I had to stop to treat a low (or take my pump off because we were going in water) it counted against our time.
D-Mom Blog: What was your hypoglycemia treatment of choice on the race?
Nat: I always like plain old glucose tablets the best because I know how I will respond to them. I also had some Power Bar Shot Blocks, they are great because they are full of sugar, and also replace electrolytes.
D-Mom Blog: How did you possibly estimate the number of carbs and bolus correctly at the Asian buffet?!
Nat: I tried to stick to the Sashimi!!!
D-Mom Blog: What’s your favorite “free” snack (5 grams of carbs or less) and what’s your favorite 15 gram carb snack?
Nat: My favorite free snack would have to be almonds. For a snack with more carbs, I like fruit – bananas and dried dates are my current faves.
D-Mom Blog: My six-and-half-year-old daughter was diagnosed with diabetes just before her fourth birthday. What advice do you have for young children with diabetes that have their whole lives ahead of them? What advice for us parents?
Nat: Dear kids, please don’t hate your diabetes. Although it can be a lot of work and really hard sometimes, it is a part of you and learning how to work with it will make is so much easier than trying to ignore it or pretend you don’t have it. The great news is that you can still do everything that you want to do! You may have to carry some extra snacks or make some extra plans, but it’s not that bad. Don’t ever be afraid to do something because of your diabetes. Don’t let it hold you back from chasing your dreams. Diabetics have been Olympic athletes!
Nat: Dear Parents, I can only imagine how hard it is to balance the responsibility of managing diabetes with the freedom to let your kid be a kid. One thing my parents did was always remind me that I was a person with diabetes instead of a diabetic. I always saw myself independent from my disease. I was encouraged to do anything that I wanted to do. My parents still gave me the freedom to do all of the normal things like sleepovers, sports, and trips. A little teaching with other parents went a long way with them feeling safe leaving me in the hands of others. Also, remember that diabetes rarely (if ever) behaves. Don’t get down if the numbers aren’t perfect.
D-Mom Blog: Congratulations on being the first all female team to win The Amazing Race and for putting such a positive face on diabetes!
Told ya, hard-hitting questions! But I seriously wanted to know about the Asian buffet and who carried all of her supplies. Inquiring D-Moms want to know.
Video clip of Nat and Kat on The Amazing Race discussing diabetes: