Island life and Diabetes

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to go on holiday to the beautiful Island of Mauritius with my mum, dad and sister.  Now, I have travelled plenty before so was not worried about any element of the trip however, since my new found appreciation and awareness of my diabetes and my health, I did actually realise that there are lots of extra things to consider when travelling with T1D.  These are the things that crept in to my mind before the trip which if I am honest, I had never considered before…..

  1. The flight and food

As a vegetarian, I am very used to logging in before a flight and selecting a ‘special’ meal option therefore this is something I was already geared up for.  On thinking about it with a more diabetes focussed mind though, I remembered that the veggie option is almost always some sort of pasta dish, of course accompanied by the standard bread roll and an equally carb laden dessert.  This had never bothered me before as I had never been quite so concerned with keeping my blood sugars so tightly controlled however, since my DAFNE course and using the libre, the carb content and consequences of this was at the forefront of my mind.  I therefore logged on to the Emirates website and ended up choosing a raw vegetable meal which essentially ended up being a selection of crudites and a fruit salad.  I had been warned against choosing the diabetic option so thought that this was my best bet.  I also ensured that I had plenty of snacks in my hand luggage and had a good meal at the airport before boarding the flight just in case the meal provided wasn’t quite what I expected (I have been given chicken before as a vegetarian so you never know!)

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2. My libre

I had thought about this long and hard in the run up to the trip and had decided that I would rather not have the sensor attached to me when flouncing around in a bikini and dipping in and out of various bodies of water.  I therefore timed my sensor to finish on the first day of the trip so that I had it during the flight but could remove it on arrival.  In preparation, I ordered some suitable test strips to be used on the libre handset and packed my trusty one touch ultra as a back up.  Thank goodness I packed this as the strips ended up not working with the libre reader so I had to use this the whole time instead.  This was my first break since starting with the libre last November and I have to say, I did massively miss being able to swipe whenever I wanted as pricking is just that little bit more of a faff.  I definitely didn’t test as much as I should have done and am sure I had a few out of range readings especially after some of the awesome meals that we enjoyed.  It was, however, a fairly active holiday with plenty of swimming and except for the couple of nights that I indulged in dessert, I was able to stay pretty low carb with lots of lovely fresh seafood and veg.  I was definitely happy to apply a new sensor as soon as I arrived home though!

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3. Hand Luggage

It has always been a big bear or mine that I have to take such a bigger hand luggage bag than my friends when we go on holiday in order to accommodate all my diabetes supplies.  I HATE carrying stuff around, to the extent that I will always get a trolley in the supermarket rather than carry round a basket even though I am almost never buying enough stuff to warrent a whole trolley!   This means that it stresses me out a bit trying to whittle down the potential contents of my hand luggage bag so that it is as small and light as possible. Not a big deal at all I know, but one of the extra things we T1D’s have to consider. #firstworldproblems

4. Insulin cooking

I have always been oversensitive to insulin getting too warm and consequentially, rarely finish a whole cartridge without changing it as I am convinced it has got too hot and is no longer going to work.  I have been assured both by many HCP’s and my very scientific sister that it actually only denatures at 37 degrees therefore, in the UK I am probably very unlikely to cook it!  In 32 degree Mauritius though, this was a different story!  I purchased a new Frio wallet especially for the trip and re soaked it every day so that I could keep my Novorapid cool in my beach bag – Levemir was kept in the minibar fridge in the room so this was ok.  I am a sucker for new ‘stuff’ so was quite happy to purchase my pretty new polka dot Frio wallet for the occasion!

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5. General running out of stuff anxiety!

This has NEVER been a worry before, actually, I should rephrase that, it’s just not ever been something I have even considered.  I am sure had I been prioritishing my health and diabetes in the past it is something that would have crossed my mind however, I am lucky enough not to have come a cropper throughout my various travels and therefore have not worried.  This time though, as I was much more engaged with the whole diabetes thing, it is a thought that crossed my mind on numerous occasions in the run up to the trip.  I definitely over packed as suddenly all these ridiculous situations whereby I lost or damaged all my insulin became distinct possibilities in my mind – some of them not dissimilar to Joey and his racoon stories in Friends (a racoon came in and smashed all my insulin cartirdges whilst I was sleeping!)….you get my gist!

As we all know, basically, T1D is not a hindrance when it comes to travelling and as long as we consider everything in advance (including that bandit racoon!) there is no reason we cannot travel to the furthest flung corners of the globe. My next trip is to Canada, I am super excited and have already written my diabetes packing list – I should probably write one for my clothes as well…..!  It does make me realise that when I was a young waderlusting idiot jetting off to Australia, the US and Dubai amongst other destinations, I was very lucky not to have had any mis-haps due to lack of preparation!  We live and learn eh?!


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