November 24, 2011

Traveling With Diabetes - 30 Health Posts in 30 Days

Oh packing to leave on a trip is always so fun.  I always think that I'm going to miss bringing something or not enough of something.  It isn't as big of a deal when I go visit my sister since she has all the stuff that I would need anyway, but going anywhere else and especially out of the country it gets a little nerve wracking checking and double checking that I'm bringing everything.  Not only that, but I pack about half of Costco with me when I travel.  You can't always stop to eat in some foreign country, so I always always bring a TON of food snacks with me and then when I go out for the day my  purse or backpack is fill to the brim with things like granola bars, fruit leather, trail mix and fruit snacks.

Then comes the airport.  When I go through security, I just take off my pump and put it in my purse and walk right on through.  It got a little trickier when they started doing the x-rays and I had my CGM sensor on.  I would usually warn them before hand and sometimes I had to show it to them afterwards, or get patted down or get wanded.  Sometimes nothing.  It really just depends.  I almost got stuck in Panama because they did a pat down and wanted to know what my CGM was and couldn't understand what I was saying in English and finally just let me go.  I usually have a wallet card that certifies all my equipment, but I had switched my wallet before going and didn't have it.  Hmm...speaking of which, I hope I can remember where it is right now too...  Anyway, usually airports in the US are really very nice about it.

Before getting the CGM sensor I usually just let myself run a little high with my blood sugars.  With running all over the place and having low blood sugars kinda puts kink in things, it worked out ok.  But with the sensor, I don't have to worry about it as much!  Although traveling adds stress to your body and stress makes your blood sugar levels go higher anyway.  So, yes, when I travel, my sugars usually are out of whack.  I also have to remember to change my pump clock when I go out of the country so that I'm getting the right amount of the steady stream of insulin at the correct times.

So, as I have mentioned before, I can sleep through the alarms on my pump with the CGM sensor, or just turn them off and go back to sleep, but it still takes a while for me to wake up to turn them off.  When I travel I am usually sharing a hotel room and a bed with someone.  I shared a bed with Ashlee when we went to Ireland and every time my alarms went off, she would wake me up very nicely and then ask if I was dying.  I would tell her I was ok and she would turn over and go back to sleep.  Now contrast that with when I have traveled with Lisa and shared a bed with her.  If an alarm goes off in the middle of the night when I'm sharing a bed with Lisa she starts hitting and punching and kicking me to wake me up.  If I don't wake up fast enough she tries to take my pump off of me and push random buttons to turn it off.  I laugh every time!  After a couple days of this I usually feel bad and therefore change the sensitivity of the alarms, but it is always very entertaining for me cuz I probably don't feel as bad as I should for waking people up :)

About seven years ago I went to Hawaii with my parents, Lisa and her two kids.  I had just gotten the Animus pump and it stated that it was waterproof.  So, our second day there I went out into the ocean with it for a little bit.  When I got back to the beach...oh yeah, it was dead!  NOT so much waterproof.  I called Animus and they had to overnight a new pump to me in Hawaii.  It was kinda a pain, but thank goodness Lisa was there so that I could attach to her pump throughout the day to get insulin.  I was told that when I go out of the country that I'm supposed to call up the makers of my pump and they will send me another pump to take with me on my travels to have just in case.  Had no clue!  I actually have never taken them up on that seeing as though I can just bring syringes with me, but it is a nice idea!

Then, about a year ago I went with some friends to Prague/Austria in December.  It was Sunday and we had just finished up church in Prague and hopped on a bus to go to Austria for a few days.  When I got onto the bus I took out my blood tester and apparently the cold had just killed my tester!  PANIC.  I dragged my friends to pharmacy after pharmacy trying to see if I could get a tester there, but all of them would have needed to order them and it would have taken about three days.  We would be heading back to Prague before they would get to Vienna.  Drove me crazy to have no idea where my blood sugar was, so as soon as I got home I ran into my house and found an old tester.  Needless to say, I now have an extra "travel" blood tester that is in with all of my luggage!

This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:


ashlee said...

I just want to be sure that you are okay! I wouldn't want to wake up next to a DEAD Allison!

Miss Chris said...

I've been violated by security due to needles and meds. They need to use more common sense.

karlie said...

how is it that I have known you for so long and did no know these stories. Craziness. I think you are so brave to continue to live life as you should and travel and do fun things. If it were me, Id prob be too afraid to go do those things...and thank goodness for modern medicine and good pumps and insulin testers...

p.s. you are awesome..
pps. my hairs blue...its blue! So not ideal...

Sara said...

It's actually better for your pump (maybe not you, but your pump) to go through the metal detector or the body scanner.

The x-ray that our carry on bags are exposed to is the kind that messes with the mechanisms of our pumps and the machines people go through are weaker and a different type of exposure.

Traveling with diabetes is always frustrating!