Tag Archives: basal

In praise of the temporary basal.

I’m ramping up the workouts in anticipation of another ride in September. This will be the Tour de Talbot, which covers a lot of the same ground that my ADA ride covered in May.

Without a doubt, getting older means a lot of things when it comes to training. It means getting up at 4:45 a.m. to get to the gym is tougher (but not impossible). I get a few more aches and pains than I used to. No surprise there. Recovery seems to take a lot longer than it used to. That’s hard when you’re a guy who’s used to powering through the pain. Mentally, once I get started, it’s tough to take a break.

One of the things that’s interesting about working out as I get older is that when working out, my insulin needs haven’t really changed a bit. In the three-plus years that I’ve been wearing my insulin pump, whenever I work out, I’m doing a temporary basal of ½ unit per hour. That’s roughly 38 percent of my regular basal rate in the morning.

To be honest, nobody told me about temp basals when I got my pump. That’s another thing I learned from the DOC. I guess everybody just wanted to make sure I could handle changing my infusion set and counting carbs at the beginning. Lucky for me, in my early days of pumping, I just disconnected my pump before my workout began. I remember reading about temp basals online for the first time and thinking “Wow… I can work out for an hour or more and not be at 300 mg/dL when I’m finished?… Brilliant!”.

It does seem kind of weird that my temporary workout number is still the same. Of course, I haven’t been attached to a pump for very long yet, so maybe it’ll change over time. Plus, I still have to be in a good place BG-wise before my workout begins, or I might wind up with less than stellar results after. Still, I like when I can just set something one way and forget about it. And still feel great diabetes-wise when it’s all over. So here’s to the never-changing temporary basal rate for my workouts. Always true, always keeping me in range. Everything about my diabetes life should be this foolproof.

Note: DO NOT take what is written here as advice. If you’re thinking about altering your basal patterns, for workouts or otherwise, you should seek advice from a medical professional first.

Don’t try this at home.

Mostly (at least in my mind), the day revolved around this:


Sunday was our annual holiday open house at the homestead, with nearly 40 guests, a kitchen helper, and a piano player all crammed into our little house. With all of this bolus-worthy goodness in front of me, I decided before the start that I would set a temporary basal rate to help me manage the BG’sus out of my glucose.

Sometimes, I know just enough to be dangerous.

I’ve set temp basals dozens of times in the last couple of years. They always worked out well too. Set for just the right amount of insulin, just the right amount of time. Mostly for workouts, where I set the rate for an hour or an hour and a half at 0.575 units per hour. That’s a little less than half my average basal. Once in a great while, I’ll set one that’s higher than my normal basal rate because I know I’ll be eating a bit more than usual over an extended period of time. This was one of those times.

The problem is, when you’re hosting your own party, you don’t get much of a chance to graze at the buffet. And that’s where my trouble started.

Instead of eating my way through the afternoon and being helped along by my over-basalness, I was greeting people, taking coats, taking out trash, refilling drinks, but not eating. A couple of hours in, I realized I had made a mistake.

I realized I was going a bit low (spoiler alert: nothing to worry about in the long run), and I had to cancel the temporary basal rate then get something to eat. Only… all of my temporary basals had worked great before, and I never had to cancel one early. So I didn’t know how! Never even had thought about it before.

Fortunately, I found it rather quickly, right next to the option to set the temp basal. Crisis averted.

Don’t try this at home, folks. Read up on your pump settings before you start to freelance.

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