Sunday, August 26, 2012

Travelin', Diabetic-Style

I'm a wicked over packer, but my diabetes brings it to a whole new level! When I go on vacation, I have enough diabetes supplies to keep me alive for 6 months! Great news in case of a zombie apocalypse!

Since I've been doing a lot of travelling this summer,  I thought I'd share with you my Diabetes Travel Tips.

1a. Always bring extra. I bring double the amount I think I'll need when I'm going away with a few speciality items thrown in for ha-ha's. I usually pack syringes, a back-up glucose tester, and even an extra insulin pen (just in case something goes wrong with my pump).
1b. If using a pump, check with the pump manufacturer about a loaner program for travel. Medtronic offers a travel loaner pump for the low bargain price of $50. Well worth it if you think about being stuck in another country and your pump malfunctions.

2. Always have a way to treat low blood sugar. Most people ask why I don't just carry juice with me. One reason is because drinking a warm juice that's been sitting in my purse for the last week is a little gross. The second reason is that having a juice box explode all of your bag really fucking sucks! Because of that, I like to steal honey packets from Starbucks and sneak myself the fun treat of Annie's Fruit Bunnies!!! Tropical Flavor! Ooooo!

3. Play the diabetic card when it comes to snacking. I always play the diabetic card when it comes to bringing snacks on an airplane! I need food, people! I like to pack snacks with and without carbs, like carrots, celery, and granola bars. You may notice the carb count written in Sharpie on the ziplock bags. I portioned out from larger boxes the correct serving size so I knew how many carbs were in each item. You may call this anal. I call it organized!

4. Be prepared to check blood sugar more frequently. Airplanes do wonky things to my blood sugar. So does ingesting large quantities of tapas and Sangria. Which also leads to...

5. Accepting that you may have need more insulin then usual.

6. A letter from my doctor is a must. Not that having a insulin filled beeper strapped to my side or a carry-on bag filled with syringes and insulin viles isn't enough to let TSA know that I have a medical condition, a letter from my doctor is pretty hard for knuckleheads working at the airport to dispute.

7. Think about where you're going and develop a plan. And not just in that day-dreamy "I can't wait to be sippin' on Sangria" kind of way. More in a "Will I be close to medical care in the event something goes wrong?" kind of way. Not nearly as fun and sexy, but a definite must. Are you travelling state-side? Are you going camping? Or are you going international? Can you speak the language well enough to get needed medical attention? Are you traveling with someone who knows enough about your diabetes to explain it if you aren't able to? Again, not fun stuff, but important!

8. Have personal medical information written in the language of the country you'll be visiting. Diabetes isn't something that one can easily explain through hand-gestures. It's best to have something written out in the doctor's own language. If there is a reason to seek medical care on vacation, you don't want to add to the drama by not articulating your pre-existing condition.

9. Write down your pump settings or insulin injection doses. I did this on the way to the airport and put it in several places. Just in case something goes wrong with my pump or if Jerry needed to communicate by dosage needs in case I wasn't able too.

10. Adjust for time differences. I always forget when I travel into different time zones to change the time on my pump. The same applied when I was using pens. When I was using Lantus, I had to adjust for the time change.

11. Remember that diabetes doesn't have to run or ruin a trip. It's just something that's there.

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