When you're confused about conventional diabetes wisdom, or you're too hairy to make your infusion sites stick, who you gonna call? Yup, you guessed it: you can call on us at our weekly, quirky diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and community educator Wil Dubois.

{Need help navigating life with diabetes? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

Sysy from Virginia, type 1, writes: I was diagnosed with type 1 seventeen years ago, so a lot of what I was told back then doesn't apply now. One thing I was wondering is... I was told back then that when my blood sugar was over 250 I should NOT ever exercise. What's the new information about this? Thanks in advance!

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: You can safely get a cute little road-construction sign tattoo on your thigh that says "No exercise when high." That hasn't changed and it never will until the cure.

Here's why: First, muscles in action use more fuel than muscles just sitting there watching TV or waiting for someone to bring you a beer. Second, when we type 1s are high it's generally because there's a shortage or absence of insulin. Without insulin the muscle cells can't make use of all that sweet sugar floating around in our blood,  so they go to Plan B and start burning fat reserves for fuel. Third, burning fat creates nasty oily smoke, like the kind you get from burning tires, called ketones—the driving force behind our much-feared diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) comas.

So if you're high and the body is shifting from burning sugar to burning fat, and the ketones are beginning to build up in the blood, the absolute last thing in the universe you want is more ketones, right? But if you start using your muscles, they'll need more fuel, burn more fat, create more ketones, and possibly move you rapidly from a mild crisis into a full-fledged life-threatening emergency.

Type 2s don't need to worry about this as much, unless they've been really, really high—like, say 500 or 600 mg/dL—for several days. If you're a type 2 suffering a garden variety blood sugar excursion from the all-you-can-eat pasta bowl at the Olive Garden, then exercise can actually help bring you back down. That's because type 2's almost always have some insulin to play with and aren't DKA prone. So getting those muscles moving will help vacuum up the excess sugar.

But for us type 1s: No workin' out when high.

Now, how's your blood sugar, Sysy? Really? OK, just stay right there on the couch and I'll go fetch you that beer...


Evan from New York, type 1, writes: I'm not going to beat around my bushy beard on this one: I have such an amazingly hairy abdomen that I could easily serve as a werewolf extra on the set of those Twilight movies (ugh...). This leaves me a narrow hair-free vertical corridor about five inches wide on either side of my abdomen. As I use both a wireless insulin pod (Omnipod) and a CGM (Dexcom), I currently have a severely limited space for infusion sites (trust me, I've tried other parts of the body and they are a definite no-go).

I understand the detrimental effects of not adequately rotating your infusion sites, so I've been considering shaving clean a good portion of my abdomen to provide more real estate to work with. My question is, is there any chance that the hair follicles under the skin might interfere with the operation of an insulin cannula or CGM electrode? For instance, what if a cannula was inserted through or into a hair follicle? Would it still be able to deliver insulin effectively? I know the follicles become even more of a problem after shaving (especially for the first time). Can I confidently go ahead and shave off my stomach 'stache in order to give my infusion sites some lebensraum?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Get out the razor, my friend. And you should take that job with Twilight, there's good money in movies! By the way, no need to be shy about body hair, to the best I can tell after extensive research, about 49% of chics dig werewolves (49% dig vampires, and the remaining 2% say they have better things to do than think about either). Oh, and while I was wasting my time trying to find out those statistics, I stumbled across this quiz you can take to see if you'd make a better vampire or werewolf. To my surprise, I'm the werewolf type. But it's possible that the quiz is off, not taking into account the whole diabetes-and-blood thing.

So, true confession and risking TMI: I've got a pretty good winter coat of hair, too. Not quite so thick as you're describing, but there's very little real-estate on my epidermis that doesn't have some hair growing on it. My solution for years has been running an electric razor over key parts of my body every morning. I personally keep my upper arms hair-free for Dexcom sensors, and a wide patch of stomach free on either side of my bellybutton for pump infusion sites. Done right, it still can look pretty natural, and hasn't affected my part-time job as a member of the Chippendale Dancers in any way whatsoever.

As to hair follicles, go get a magnifying glass and look at your skin where you're wearing your sites now. See all the little dots? Yep. Those are follicles. Odds are that with about a quarter of your insertions you're skewering one of them as it is. No worries. Your gear will still work fine. Any pore on your body is a hair follicle.

In terms of the mowing job ahead of you, I'd advise you to use some sort of electric clippers or bread trimmer to cut the longer/thicker hair first, then get down to the skin with a blade. Give the skin a couple of days to un-freak out, then keep it shorn with an electric shaver.

With your Dex, as you'll probably wear it for the recommended 13 days... What? No kidding? OK, I've just been told you're actually only supposed to wear those bad boys for seven days. Who knew? Only people with good insurance, that's who. Anyway, you'll get some hair growth under the transmitter during the wear period, and you'll probably want to use some Uni-solve to get the gunk off the new hair growth before you shave the site clean again.

Oh, and I just got an email alert saying that zombies are cutting in on both werewolf and vampire popularity. Given all the gear I need to stay alive, I feel a bit like a zombie sometimes. Maybe I can find a zombie quiz somewhere online...

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.