Monday, April 23, 2012

Have glucose, will travel...

Today is a blogger's choice day for HAWMC (day 23) - I can write about whatever I want

Maybe since I just got back from an international business trip, I can talk a little about the challenges if you have diabetes, particularly type 1 or insulin dependent.

Packing: This is probably the hardest part. Make a list and check it twice! I got stuck in Vienna a couple of years ago when the volcano erupted in Iceland.  Fortunately I had enough extra pump sets and glucose test strips with me to make it through the extra week.  But it started getting stressful when I got down to the last of my supplies. So I always have to pack extras of everything - strips, pump sets, CGM sensors, glucose tabs, batteries, syringes, insulin - I've even packed a spare meter for more remote destinations or extended trips. You can also get a spare pump from Minimed for trips, but it costs 50 bucks.  But I did have a pump failure last summer while in Europe for a two-week trip (combo business and family vacation). That really stunk.

So pack a lot of extra of everything. Since I have other issues, I also have to pack other medications - several for "just in case".  And the regular stuff everyone packs like ibuprofen, Excedrin, band-aids, neosporin, etc.  But I only pack extra stuff for prescription meds unless I'll be in the middle of nowhere.  Even so, my pouch full of medical supplies was larger than my entire toiletry bag. And that doesn't count my standard blood glucose test kit or the pouch I always take with me that has the basics for changing pump sets and CGM sensors.  What really stinks about all this is that I rarely travel without checking my bag. But I still have to carry at least a couple of days worth of everything on my person. And I never put my insulin in the checked bag - not even the extra vial(s).  Technically you should keep all your medications with you, but I don't always do that if it is a long trip. I'm not very consistent I guess...

Airport security:  Liquids in a clear bag, medications can be in their own separate bag.  To be honest, I don't usually bother to put my insulin in a clear ziploc for the security check and no one has ever noticed.  I have been asked for a bag inspection a few times - usually it's batteries or something like that setting it off.  I usually remove my pump and send it through with my stuff.  I have no idea which way is better for the pump itself, but even the tiny metal parts on that thing result in patdowns almost every time I wear it through the scanner.  If I'm within a day of a sensor change, I'll forego CGM for the flight - you are supposed to turn off the RF on your pump anyway, so it wouldn't do much good.

One time I forgot to reconnect my pump until it was time for a meal on the flight. That wasn't so great - it had been at least 2-3 hours so I had to make a correction bolus.

Flying:  Oh I forgot to mention: make sure to pack some snacks. Drink a lot of water. Test your bG a couple of extra times because flying just seems to be stressful on the body in general.

Time difference/Jet Lag:  This is the trickiest part of managing diabetes and other medication schedules.  For what pills when, I try to stick to the regular cycle - so when I'm overseas I take the morning meds in late afternoon and the night meds in the morning. I don't have any night meds that make me drowsy, so that would add an extra challenge.  Diabetes is typically more unpredictable when I travel.  The pump is a godsend because when I used to take multiple injections my bGs would be over 200 mg/dl for 2-3 days. Except for the middle of the night when I would invariably have a hypoglycemic episode.  Alone in a hotel room. It was sometimes pretty scary.  This past trip, for some reason I was low quite frequently. Go figure - it's usually the other way around.

So again, pack some snacks in your bag - I take Luna Bars these days. Often I'll go to a grocery and get bottled water, biscuits, and a couple of yogurts to have in my room.

I also take Ambien if I can - but I have to be able to sleep at least 7 hours so it's essential to take it early enough and often I'm late from a business dinner and schmooze-fest but have an early meeting.  I've been much more disciplined about getting enough sleep and skipping the nightcaps on business trips this year. And that has been really good.

That's it! Sounds really simple, no?

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