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Travel Checklist for Diabetes

Maybe you’re planning a trip soon and would love a travel checklist for diabetes?

(I made you a travel checklist for diabetes below, make sure to check it out!)

What is necessary to bring along on a long trip with diabetes?

Sometimes I feel like diabetes just has it’s own luggage to bring along, physically as well as emotionally.

The emotional luggage we’ll have to discuss another time, because this time I want to talk about the physical luggage Diabetes brings along. Especially when traveling.

As if packing for a trip isn’t stressful enough (“what shoes should I bring?”, “does this dress go with that jacket?”, “what make up should I bring?” and “WILL IT ALL FIT IN MY BAG?!” – you get the point…), as an added bonus, you also have to haul around on all the stuff that you need for diabetes to keep in line.

I always bring all my supplies in my carry on bag when I fly. That way it’s harder to lose it, and the insulin stays at the right temperature throughout my trip.

The size of said carry-on bag has changed, though, in favour of trying to save my shoulder from falling off from carrying all the heavy stuff. Now I bring along a small, cabin sized wheelie bag where I have all my supplies, from insulin, to pumps, to test strips, to hypo treatment.

I also deposit a few things in my traveling buddy’s, usually my husband’s, bag. At least that way, if I lose my carry on, I’m not completely stranded in terms of diabetes. He has an extra blood sugar meter and test strips, and insulin with emergency-syringes. And glucose tabs. One can never have enough of those.

While I make sure to bring along most things on my travel checklist for diabetes, I don’t always bring everything.

Like ketone sticks, for example. I don’t usually bring those, unless I’m traveling somewhere really remote with no pharmacy within the next hour or so of driving. I figure that I can buy them pretty much anywhere I go.

On the other hand, insulin and BG test strips can get really darn expensive, not to mention inaccessible without a prescription, unless you prepare properly and take enough with you for your whole trip. “Enough” here means way too much, by the way. You never know what might happen, so it’s better to be prepared for most things that may happen.

Food

And, pretty please, get organized and bring your own snacks. Food on the road is generally beyond terrible, and like that you know you can at least eat something. I bring things like nuts and dried meat and other cutleryless foods on the plane, whilst in a car or on the train you can get a little more creative. This time around I’m going to make low carb pancakes and wrap them up in foil to bring along on my long flight, as I know from experience that food on flights is never good.

Another note regarding food, please don’t get fooled by the “need” to snack, which is most commonly masking the fact that you’re bored out of your brain.

Water

Traveling by plane is like sitting in the middle of the desert, although maybe not quite as warm. It’s dehydrating like nobody’s business! Being hydrated can really be one of the keys to better diabetes management, so please do us both a favor and DRINK A LOT OF WATER! (and skip the booze up in the air, but that one is evident, right?)

Security

Getting through airport security can be a lot easier than it’s made up to be. This is of course assuming that you don’t meet an a-hole security agent.

In my 30 years of living with diabetes, having traveled to many different parts of the world (although I have MUCH left to see and visit!), I’ve been stopped exactly twice at security. Once for my test stripes (what, you didn’t mind the syringe full of potentially very deadly stuff in my bag? Ok, then.) And once because my pump set the alarm off. In both cases it was easy to explain, and I didn’t even have to show my medical certificate. Security agents see so many diabetes supplies on a daily basis; they’re barely phased by them anymore. At least within Europe.

Now, I’ve heard that US TSA agents can be a little trickier to handle. For example, they have no problem jeopardizing your super expensive medical equipment and tell you to go through the full body scanner wearing your insulin pump, for example. I would insist on the pat down, not risking any breakages or malfunctions. This of course means that it might take a little longer for you to get through, but it’s worth it, and as long as you know about it, you can plan for it.

The bottom line is, as long as you’re nice and cooperative (enough) to them, they’ll usually treat you with the same respect.

Anyway, let’s check out the goodie in this blog post, my Travel Checklist for Diabetes.

These are the absolute essentials that you need to bring with you (or at least ocnsider bringing with you). If you think “I’ve never needed that before”, you should probably take it along anyway, as traveling can make your body do some funky stuff.

Travel checklist

  • Enough insulin to cover the days you’re gone (this should be a no brainer!) Make sure you bring both basal and bolus insulin, even if you’re using an insulin pump. You just never know…
  • Blood glucose meter & enough test strips, extra batteries (it might even be good to bring an extra BG meter.)
  • CGM sensors
  • Keto sticks (As I said, I don’t always bring them)
  • Glucose tabs (or whatever you use to treat a hypo)  (Bring too much of this, you never know what your body think of your new location.)
  • Snacks. (See above)
  • Glucagon Kit (most airlines don’t have these on board their planes. Better be safe than sorry!)
  • Alcohol wipes (these are great, not just for setting infusion sets and cleaning fingers, but also for wiping surfaces like tables, handles or cutlery that seems unclean.)
  • Other prescription medication and supplements you may be taking (easy one to forget, trust me. I’ve done it before.)
  • If you’re going somewhere really warm (lucky you!), bring something like the FRIO bag to keep your insulin in. (http://www.frioinsulincoolingcase.com)
  • Medical Certificate (This can save you at security checks!)
  • Diabetes ID (If you’re found unconscious somewhere, I’m sure you’d prefer that the EMTs knows what you’ve got.)
  • If you’re going somewhere remote, bring a glucagon set. (Again, you never know.)
  • Your BG diary, if you use one. (Otherwise there’s some great apps for that, for example www.glucosebuddy.com or www.mysugr.com)
  • Address and telephone number of your doctor’s office.

If you are on injections, also bring:

  • Insulin pens, plus back ups
  • Pen needles

If you’re on a pump, also bring:

  • Your pump, as well as possibly getting a back-up pump. (This can be ordered from your pump manufacturer.)
  • Batteries/Power adapter
  • Cartridges (if your pump uses those)
  • Infusion sets, or just enough of patch pumps
  • Syringes/pen for emergencies
  • Basal insulin for emergencies

If you’re planning a pumpcation (vacation without your pump):

  • Your action plan, that you’ve talked to your med-team about
  • Pens and needles
  • Basal and bolus insulin

It’s better to take too much than too little!

I’ve made a pretty print out of this list that you can print out and tick off the boxes as you put the items into your bag.

travel checklist diabetes

travel checklist diabetes

 

Click here to download the list: travel checklist diabetes

What are your best traveling tips? What can’t you travel without? Let me know in the comments!

Travelling with Diabetes

Travelling with diabetes requires quite some extra effort.

And planning. And “in case of” and “in case shit happens” preparation.

Especially if you’re planning to travel far, across the oceans and time zones.

Travelling with diabetes isn’t impossible by any means. I’d say it’s actually the opposite. You just have to know and prepare properly for it.

As I’m leaving on a longer-than-usual trip soon, and as it is my first trip that far with the pump (I really don’t travel enough, clearly!), I went to see my lovely diabetes nurse for some tips and tricks and general good advice.

(Where am I going, you’re wondering?! You’ll find out soon, if you follow me here!)

It turns out A LOT has happened in terms of handling diabetes on the long-go, at least if you’re wearing a pump.

Last time I crossed continents, I was still on Lantus and had very little idea of how to handle it all, with the time zones, different rhythms and change in exercise level. Let’s just say I didn’t handle it optimally well. Partially because I didn’t know how to, partially because I frankly didn’t  care about it then as much as I do today.

As a result, my blood sugar levels were all over the place, I was exhausted, not only because of the time zone change, but also because of the rapid blood sugar changes. Add on to that arriving in a bustling city where I had never been before (NYC that time)  and wanting to explore it ALL in the few days we had there…

Let’s just say that that equation didn’t really add up to work in my favor.

Which is why, this time around, I’m taking much more thorough precautions before setting off.

Hence, I scheduled an appointment with my diabetes nurse.

First of all, I wish everyone had the opportunity to work with a diabetes nurse as awesome as mine is. She has a safely secured spot in my Dream Health Care Team, that’s for sure.

Secondly, she had a really nifty trick up her sleeve for me to use while in transit.

She suggested that I’d set up another basal program on my insulin pump, with a constant basal rate for the first (few) days. Basically as long as it takes me to get over the biggest jetlag factor.

I have pretty low basal rates throughout a 24 hour time period, between 0.4-0.55 units per hour, giving me a total of 11,3 units per 24 hours. Her suggestion was to set up a basal profile with a constant 0.45 units per hour for the first 24 hours, to give my body a chance to acclimatise quicker, and then turn on my normal basal profile (and change the time on my pump) when I either realize weird spikes in blood sugar, or I feel like I’ve caught the worst of the jet lag wave. (Lowering my basal while travelling seems to generally be a fantastic idea…)

This was completely new to me. And, granted, I haven’t tried it out yet, so I can’t tell you how well it works (or not). But it seems a lot easier than the old ways of changing basal injection times and dosages along as your jet lag diminishes…

Perhaps is travelling with diabetes  just that much easier with an insulin pump?  

This wasn’t of course the only advice she had for me. Along with the “usual” tips of bringing (much) more supplies than you need, a doctors note for security checks, an extra blood sugar meter & test strips for it, staying hydrated, getting sleep during night time, paying close attention to blood sugar, bring a glucagon kit and snacks, snacks, snacks, she also showed me the “device” (aka chart on a piece of paper) that she uses to calculate a possible return to Lantus dose.

This is excellent information to have if I ever want to go on a pump-cation (a break from my insulin pump), or, if by any chance against all odds, my whole pump system breaks and I need to take Lantus until a replacement arrives. Because I take on average a total of 18 units of insulin per day, the chart showed that my Lantus dose should be around 20 units per 24 hours. I have no idea about the conversion calculation that is used here, so if you do, please leave a comment below!

I feel really relieved and happy that I’m doing all this preparation work for my trip. Now it’s just to keep fingers crossed that the actual trip itself goes as smoothly as the preparations have done so far.

How do you travel with diabetes? What tricks and tips do you use? Please share them in the comment below!

The Low Blood Sugar Make up

Diabetes gets in the way of life sometimes.

And the other way around, too. But that’s the topic of another story.

Being such a big part of our lives, it would be weird if it didn’t mix in and mash up your plans sometimes.

Sometimes we’re talking about interrupted sleep, another time it’s an unplanned meal on the menu. And sometimes it’s about being so tired, simple chores can be compared to climbing Mount Everest. At least. Not to mention the guesstimation game we play with the pancreas on our hip, in a pen or syringe. Up? Down? A little up and then down? The other way around? Or even *gasp* stable and level? (Watching your blood sugar do a salsa dance on a cgm is sometimes entertaining, as long as you don’t put too much personal attachment to the numbers)

You can almost never tell with 100% accuracy where your blood sugar will end up after a meal, some insulin or just by plain old living.

And sometimes you can’t let the stubbornness of diabetes get in the way, either.

Like the other morning, when I had to get to an appointment I had.

I woke up at 4.4 mmol/l (79 mg/dl), which I was happy about. My cgm curve looked smooth from the night and I was even more happy about that.

I jumped in the shower, washed my hair, moisturized and brushed my teeth. I was feeling a little sleep-groggy, but nothing else.

I went to put on my clothes, got dressed and noticed an odd, fuzzy thought popping up in my head that usually stems from the low-blood-sugar-drawer in my brain.

Nevermind that right now, I had other things to do, like taking my morning medicine (thankfully not insulin) and supplements.

When I got back downstairs from the kitchen, my next task was to do my make up. But I decided to check my cgm first, which showed 4.1 mmol/l (73 mg/dl).

Ok, I thought, that’s not bad, although I’m dropping. More of the odd, fuzzy thoughts popped up, and I decided to check my blood sugar on my blood sugar meter, if only to ensure myself that I wasn’t low.

3.4 mmol/l (60 mg/dl) “treat your low BG!”, my d-companion Doris (OmniPod) was telling me.

“Ahh, eff-word”, I said out loud. “I don’t have time for this!”

I usually don’t treat lows until below 3.5 mmol/l, as I find they usually recover fine from there with just the help of lowering the basal on my pump. But as I was leaving, and it was 0.1 mmol/l lower than my usual threshold, I decided to pop a glucose tablet and shut of the basal on my pump for 30 mins.

Knowing I’d be completely OK within 15 minutes, but had to leave the house in 20, I had little choice but to continue with my morning routine and my make up, which is a fairly effortless task.

If you’ve never experienced a low blood sugar before, let me tell you that it can be quite “interesting”. It feels a bit like being tipsy, without having had anything fun to drink. Or like being in a very fast, accelerating car while standing on the ground. It can be dizzy, vertigo, confused and temporary vision problems all in a big merry go round that doesn’t want to stop right now. (It can also feel a gazillion times worse than that, but thankfully that wasn’t the case this time.)

Having to think twice if you’re *actually* using foundation and not the bright pink blusher heavily all over your face is a challenge I’m usually blessed from. I usually know where things go in terms of make up…

Or double-checking that the eyebrow pencil is still brown and you didn’t accidentally reach for the turquoise eyeliner to fill in your eyebrows instead. Or concentrating so hard on getting mascara ON my eyelashes and not only underneath my eye. Not to mention actually getting that blusher semi-equally distributed. Or checking that the foundation isn’t blotchy anywhere.

This can, but probably shouldn’t, be compared to doing your makeup after a good after work drinking session with your colleagues. In short, no bueno.

Throughout this particular mornings routine work, I kept thinking if I actually managed that well with everything, or if, once I was back on track again, would find myself looking like some Cubist rendition of myself. Or like a clown. Or like Gene Simmons from Kiss.

All I could imagine seeing once the low blood sugar fog had lifted was some weird version of myself, as it would have been painted by Pablo Picasso himself. Or something equally scary.

This time I was lucky, though.

When my blood sugar was back in normal range again, I saw that I looked more or less like myself, if only ever so slightly more tired.

What do you do when your blood sugar drops low, do you keep going or stop and wait? What does your decision depend on?

Diabetes & The Long Run

When you’re first diagnosed with Diabetes, it’s a major shock to the system.

The questions are endless. What do I eat? What medications do I have to take when? I have to inject myself several times a day?! What the what? I didn’t sign up for this!!

But what happens after living with diabetes for a long time? How does it feel? How does one cope? Why doesn’t one just give up?

Technically, this year marks a series of “jubilees” for me and Diabetes.

It’s been 30 years since my diagnosis this year. 26 of those I spent on a clueless treadmill/roller coaster without a mission and without a cause. The last 4 have been the best ones, so far, starting with me radically changing the way I ate. I’ve spent 28 years with around 10 injections a day, 2 years on the pump. 1 year with my BFF Dexter (my Dexcom CGMS).

Anyway, I want to focus on the first one of these – 30 years with diabetes.

Living with diabetes for 30 years is like living with the most loyal companion (or enemy, depending on the day) you’ve ever encountered. It never leaves your side, and you never get even a second to yourself.

It takes a lot to get used to living with it being a part of you. And, because it’s always evolving, dynamic and on the move, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with it. Oh, you don’t react well to gluten anymore? Ok, let’s change that. No dairy either? Ok, well, bye bye cheese. Caffeine makes you hyper react? Ok, decaf it is. And that’s just talking about a few food things, completely disregarding certain forms of exercise, timing of medications, or reactions to certain situations.

It’s a silent friend that never talks until it screams. And when it does, it screams loudly. Scary lows, annoying highs, and the possibility of losing a limb or your vision.

The awful feelings and the taste of glucose tablets (or orange juice when your life depends on it, for that matter). Lengthy doctors appointments and the endless needles. Hospitalizations. Advice you should have never followed, other advice you should have followed from day 1. To mention a few.

There are so many things that are so bad with this disease. Horrible, in fact. But there are also things I would have never learned if I hadn’t had this Constant Companion of mine.

It has taught me discipline, timing and humility. It has shown me that life is here to be lived, not to be wasted. Life is fragile, don’t take it for granted. It has taught me about the importance of self-love, no matter what happens. It has helped me see how strong I truly am, “this too shall pass.” I’ve realized that being stubborn isn’t always a bad thing; it can even help you sometimes.

So, what keeps you going throughout the years?

You simply have to. You have no choice but to buckle up and try to enjoy the ride as much as you possibly can. Until that cure comes “in 5 – 10 years”.

Nothing gets better by ignoring diabetes. Trust me, I know.

The mental part of living with diabetes is difficult from time to time. There’s no point trying to sugar coat (ha!) that.

In my teenage years, I didn’t want to have diabetes. I was angry, disappointed at life and everything felt like a huge burden without any light in any tunnel.

Crap endocrinologists, the wrong advice and general teenage turmoil made me ignore diabetes “for a while”.

This “while” made me loose almost everything; my parents, family, friends and myself. And it almost cost me my life.

“Nothing works, why bother?”, I remember thinking. But it didn’t make diabetes go away. Rather the opposite.

Time and again diabetes would show up, scream loudly at me for ignoring it and smack me straight in the face. I was in the hospital from passing out on the street, and other times because I was in a diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), close to death. And everything in between.

Once I got my proverbial shit together, it still took me years to get back to the excellent care my parents had once given me. Many, many trials and errors, wrong paths and terrible turns followed. As soon as I finally thought I had a foot firmly on the ground, the carpet was pulled out under me once again.

Luckily, I managed to find a road leading towards my path.

Diabetes IS a part of you, whether you want it to be or not. And it’s up to you to find a way to work with it in a way that works for YOU. It has to become second nature to you to check blood sugars, (gu)es(s)timate carbohydrates in a meal, take your medications and to accept your (new) reality. Not to mention finding the small things that make you feel better.

For me it was a long-winded road, the batter part of 26 years, to get to the point where I am today. And I still regularly find out new things about my life with diabetes. It’s a disease that keeps you on your toes, that’s for sure.

You cope because you have to. You don’t give up because it’s not an option. And just for being in this position, you deserve a huge medal! But along the way, you may just find a wonderful path through it all that is made just for you.

What are your biggest struggles and questions when it comes to diabetes? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Traveling with Diabetes

I truly love to travel, it’s one of the biggest passions in my life.

To get to see, feel, sense, experience and smell the smells of a new place, is sometimes what keeps me going through a rough patch.

I try to travel as often as I can, meaning as often as money allows me to. And although I’ve never pursued this passion without diabetes, it still makes sure to keep me on my toes.

Like the other week, when I was traveling back from Stockholm.

You know those low blood sugars that you do e v e r y t h i n g in your power to turn, but they just stubbornly hang on as if they were the ones in danger?

The ones that leave you in full panic mode, because what if your blood sugar doesn’t turn in time? What happens if you pass out and become unconscious?

Normally that’s not really an issue for me, my lows usually respond quite well and fast to my figured out and well-rehearsed treatment.

Just this particular low blood sugar wanted to stay with me. And stay and stay and stay.

So, for a little background info… Ever since I got my insulin pump, every time I fly I have to turn my basal rate WAY down. As in to -85% of the normal dose. It doesn’t matter when during the morning, day, night or evening I fly, unless I basically turn off the basal, I will invariably have a hypo.

The first couple of times when this happened I didn’t understand anything. I asked the company that manufactures my pump if, by any chance, high altitudes could influence it? Of course not was the answer, which was later also confirmed by my lovely diabetes nurse.

To this day I still don’t know why my blood sugar plummets as soon as I’m in the air. But that’s not the point of this story.

So, before this particular flight, my husband and I grabbed something small to eat before boarding the plane, because airplane food is beyond terrible and shouldn’t be eaten by anyone.

My blood sugar then was kind of highish, around 8 mmol/l (144 mg/dl), so I bloused a minor amount for the food, bearing in mind I had to turn down my basal rate anyway. It’s gonna work out, I reassured myself.

We boarded, I sat down, and turned down my basal before having to stow my bag in the overhead bin as we we’re seated by the emergency exit.

The take off was smooth considering the weather conditions. The fasten seatbelt light went off, and I went to grab my phone from my stowed bag to finish an audiobook I had on there. “Might as well take down the whole thing” I remember thinking.

Suddenly, I get a massive urge to just talk, talk, talk to my husband. This should have been my first sign that everything wasn’t right in the blood sugar department.

We talk about a future holiday and where we should go, when I suddenly get vertigo while sitting down in my seat. “Wooow, what’s going on?!”

I grabbed my Dexcom and saw it at 5.9 mmol/l (106 mg/dl) and sinking, fast.

“Oh shit.”

Basal was already basically turned off, so couldn’t do much more there. I grabbed a portion of glucose powder with 10 g carbs and chugged it, as I could feel how fast I was falling.

I waited the obligatory 10 minutes before checking both the Dexcom and manual blood sugar again. Dex said 4.5 mmol/ (81 mg/dl) and still falling. Manual check said 3.6 mmol/l (65 mg/dl).

“Fuck. What do I do?” I asked my rationally thinking better half.

“Have more glucose.” And I did. I had another 2 or 3 glucose tablets, munching on them like they were the lifeline I needed.

Considering my normal, total hypo correction is usually 4-8 grams of fast acting carbs, this was starting to worry me. I was up at more than double.

I was also running out of glucose tablets, as I barely ever need to use them anymore, I don’t carry an endless amount of them around anymore.

My darling husband called the flight attendant, asking her to quickly bring me some juice.

By the time the orange juice ran down my throat, I was in full-blown panic mode. Dexcom was still stubbornly pointing downwards.

This had now gone on for so long that my husband asked if they happened to have a Glucagon set in their onboard medicine kit, just in case. Of course, I hadn’t brought one with me. Why would I, I never need it and it’s one more thing for my poor back and shoulders to carry?

Turns out they didn’t have one. And even if they did, my husband, who has been brainwashed in how to use one of those things, wouldn’t have been allowed to administer it. It would have to be done by a medical professional.

As my blood sugar was still stubbornly going down, by this point at 2.4 mmol/l (43 mg/dl), I started to really panic.

Fast acting carbs were clearly not helping in time, there’s no Glucagon set and we still had 45 minutes until landing. If I pass out and lose consciousness now, I’m as good as dead. I don’t want to die here in an airplane, somewhere over Germany. Shit, piss, fuck.

I hear a flight attendant call out over the intercom: “One of our passengers is in need of immediate medical attention. Do we have any medical professionals on board?

I had to laugh in the middle of my panic, that was a definite first for me. Very rarely have I needed to rely on complete strangers for help in treating a low blood sugar.

The most amazing thing was that on this flight of ca 200 passengers, there were 7 medical professionals. Seven, including a lovely doctor that kept me talking and drinking more orange juice.

The taste of the juice was so repulsive by this point. Eugh, how much I truly hated the taste of orange juice then. But it was my key back to life, so it was just to keep drinking it, especially as my blood sugar was still at 2.4 mmol/l (43 mg/dl).

After what seemed an eternity, panic, too many chalky glucose tablets and way too many glasses of yucky orange juice later, my new doctor friend told me to check my blood sugar again. 4.0 mmol/l (72 mg/dl) – thank all holy powers above, it was moving in the right direction!

By this point we were approaching landing, meaning I would have had to stow my hand luggage again. My husband kindly said that this wasn’t an option, and asked if they could re-seat us somewhere where I could keep my things right by m, in case things got ugly again.

Being a fully booked flight, the only option to re-seat us was in business class. I clearly didn’t care anymore at this point, I just wanted to land and get home to shower, have a hot tea and sleep. The other people in business class weren’t quite as understanding…

The last 20 minutes of the flight I got to sit in business class, which I had never done before. So, in order to lighten the mood, you could say diabetes got me upgraded for free. 🙂

Having buckled up for landing, I checked my blood sugar again. Seriously, my poor fingers. Anyway, it was 5.5 mmol/l (99 mg/dl) and I could finally breathe. Long, deep, oxygen filled breaths, which I hadn’t taken for the past hour or so.

Despite all the glucose and carbs I had had throughout this horror-hour, my blood sugar didn’t start to go up again until after leaving the plane. And it never went higher than 9.5 mmol/l (171 mg/dl), which was remarkable for that amount of carbs, which is guesstimated to be around the 60-80 gram mark.

My husband led me out from the plane on shaky legs, thanking the flight attendants for their amazing help and asking me if I was ok and if he should get me a wheel chair. Being mortified at the fact that diabetes caused me a scene, I told him I’d rather crawl to the exit than get in a wheel chair.

Getting home had never felt so good. Home where I was safe, and where I had Glucagon kits if I needed them. The day after was awful, I had the biggest hypo-hangover I’ve ever experienced, I was pretty much useless all day.

So, what’s my lesson in all this? 

Even though everything turned out ok in the end this time, doesn’t mean it always will. I can’t even fly with active insulin from a previous meal, it has to be off. Completely. Also, always bring your own Glucagon. Airplanes don’t have them.

So, in light of this, let me share my 5 best traveling with diabetes tips with you:

  • Figure out how YOU (and your blood sugar) react to air travel. Do you go high or low? Test, test, test and correct accordingly, either with food or with insulin.
  • Wear something medical alert-y, whether that’s a piece of jewelry or a tattoo.
  • Bring more supplies than you’d ever need for the same amount of time at home. It’s better to bring too much and not end up in the dark forests of Sweden without enough insulin… This includes hypo treatment. Bring L O T S of that. You just never know.
  • Check your blood sugar more often. Is it going up or down? (This is especially where a CGM is truly worth its worth in gold (as they don’t weigh much…))
  • Choose the pat down at security checks that use full body scanners (especially if you’re wearing medical equipment such as an insulin pump or CGM. You won’t get a new one if the scan damages your equipment.)

Although diabetes sometimes needs extra precautions before you set off, I would never ever stop flying and traveling. It’s one of the most amazing things in life, and all the extra work is worth it. You just need to find out how to counter-act it.

I would love to hear your travel tips, with or without diabetes – how do you make sure you stay healthy and well during travel?

Omnipod: Pros and Cons (or Happy Birthday Doris!)

Today it’s time for a little look back in the mirror.

To a huge step, at least for me.

Because, exactly one year ago today, I got my first insulin pump.

I had been considering it for YEARS, and various endocrinologists had been trying to throw one at me for about as long.

It was never really a though choice of which insulin pump to get for me, although there are many other excellent brands out there on the market.

My diabetes nurse and I both quickly agreed on the Omnipod being the best fit. Why? I simply don’t like the tubing of other pumps. Tubing makes me feel more sick than I actually am, more attached, and diabetes becomes more visible. Something I’m generally really OK with, but sometimes it’s nice not to be the center of attention.

I was also able to continue with the insulin I was already using (Novorapid/Novolog), so we knew that wasn’t going to be an issue.

And I could finally say the long-awaited good bye to Lantus. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that insulin was not good for me. For example, I had a lump (muscle knot) in my shoulder that my poor husband tried for months to get out through spending every night massaging my shoulders. To no avail. Not until I could stop taking Lantus, I noticed three days later that the lump was gone. This isn’t scientifically proven, of course, but it is my empirical observation.

So, exactly one year ago, I was scared.

Scared of the unknown. Scared of having something attached to me all the time, scared of feeling trapped. Scared of people’s comments, because injections aren’t visible on the outside. Scared of that the insertion would hurt. Scared of effing everything up. Scared of “failing” and having to go back on injections. I was basically just being a general scaredy cat.

Oh, how wrong I was going to be proven!

My life truly changed that day, exactly one year ago. And it did so for the better.

This is my pros and cons list for the Omnipod insulin pump:

Pros:

  • No tubing

I’ll say this again and again, but I’m so happy there’s no tubing involved!

  • Lifestyle improvement

For me, being on a pump means more freedom. Not in terms of eating-whatever-and-just-inject, but more like being able to correct a high while out on the run. Or being able to temporarily change the basal rate, avoiding an impending hyper/hypo.

  • Stick on and forget

Fill it, inject it, and forget it. For 3 whole days.

  • Easy to fill

Filling the pods could not be easier. It primes itself, and you don’t have to do anything.

  • Easy to apply

At first, I was so scared of the auto-injector (naturally I had consumed ridiculous amounts of youtube videos on how the insertion etc worked). But now it’s almost my favorite part of it.

  • Waterproof

It’s waterproof, so there’s no need (or chance) to disconnect it for showers or going swimming. It also doesn’t matter if you’re caught in a huge downpour.

  • Lasts exactly 3 days (+8 h)

Until it shuts off, which means no infections and you’re sure to change your site on time.

  • Incorporated blood sugar meter

Less junk to carry around with me – yay!

 

Cons:

  • Bad batches

Some batches of pods are just bad with many failures, and increased pod changes. But Insulet are amazing at replacing these, it’s just to report and wait for a new pod in the mail.

  • Insulin waste

If you haven’t used all the insulin you filled the pod with within the 3 day period, you lose much of it. Even if you try to withdraw it from the old pod.

  • Placement

A badly placed pump = uncomfortable sleep and irritation for 3 days.

  • Wasteful

Because you remove the entire pod when it’s time to change, it creates a lot of waste. Although Insulet does have a recycling program where you send back the old pods to get recycled. Great initiative!

  • Plaster

The plaster might not hold for the entire 3 days, especially when it’s warmer outside. Medical tape can, and should be, one of your BFF’s. (not just for pods, but things like cuts, CGMs and blisters, too.)

 

Granted, I don’t have any insulin pumps to compare the Omnipod to. But generally I’m so happy with my choice of insulin pump, and wouldn’t want it any other way. And I definitely do not want to go back to injections.

As you may or may not know, I’ve (of course) given my pump a name. She’s called Doris.

Doris, my Omnipod

Doris, my Omnipod

 

On her first birthday, I’d like to take the opportunity to THANK Doris for being my closest friend, always being there for me, knowing everything about me, for helping me calculate dosages, see trends and help me be a healthier diabetic.

Without you, Doris, I would never be able to get 24 hour graphs like this one:

 

cgm_graph

The past 24 hours on my CGM – thank you insulin pump!

 

You’re a true star, Doris, and I’m not sure I could live without you!

 

Happy, happy birthday, sorry I couldn’t give you the day off.

 

Do you have an insulin pump? If so, which one? If not, why not?