This past week, my family and I took our annual summer vacation to the Pacific North West (Portland & Seattle) and though it was very fun, I was constantly seeing how much extra “work” T1D brings to the table of the person living with it, even on vacation. It’s been said before, but there is no vacation from Type 1 Diabetes. I get that. And I know that I have to accept the fact that T1D is here to stay until there is a cure, so as I remind myself of that, it does become second nature to me. However, on my trip, my mind was actively observant on how it’s really like to travel with this chronic disease.
…on my trip, my mind was actively observant on how it’s really like to travel with this chronic disease.
First things first: packing. Packing for a trip can be pretty fun, but having to remember to pack all the necessary medical supplies as well and more can be a pretty stressful task (I recommend making a standard checklist for every single medical supply you own, this way, you can check your way through the list as you pack to avoid forgetting any important items). Aside from all that, once the trip begins, that’s when the real stress takes place. Though you may have someone to travel with on vacation with whom you trust in any situation, most of the responsibility of your Diabetes management is on you, the person living with this disease. For example, I don’t necessarily enjoy air travel, as being a Diabetic with an Insulin Pump and Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), I am not able to go through the metal detector, which means I have to get a pat down (practically one of the most awkward and uncomfortable things a person can experience).
However, I do believe in the idea of being safe rather than sorry, so I do applaud the TSA in airports for what they do to keep everyone safe. Also, I don’t typically flaunt my medical devices as they can look like suspicious objects to some who may be uniformed about what they really are. It almost makes me feel ashamed for my condition when that shouldn’t be the case at all, but it’s okay I guess, I’ve been at this for 9 years now, so I’m pretty used to the feeling.
On our trip, there were two separate days in which my Diabetic feelings came into place. One of those days was simply amazing, the other wasn’t bad, it just made me feel a certain way. While we were in Portland, Oregon, we visited the beautiful Multnoma Falls and as soon as we drove up to the sight of the waterfall, it was so surreal to me! I couldn’t stop feeling (and saying) how blessed and thankful I was to have been there to see such an incredible sight! I guess you could say that I was just so happy to be alive and feeling well that day, given T1D. It just made me realize how great the gift of life is and how T1D isn’t all that bad.
The second day I want to talk about, was when my family and I took a tour of an incredible museum. At this specific museum, they were very tight and strict on security, what can be brought into the tour, and what needs to be left out. Of course, bags, food, and drinks were strictly prohibited and of course, I needed all three of those things with me to carry around and have at all times incase of an emergency. All I did was kindly explain to the security officer that I had Type 1 Diabetes and that I needed those items for any emergencies. Once he heard the word “Diabetes”, he was very understanding and said it would be okay to take in what I needed.
That was not the problem though, what did upset me was all the stares I got from people on the tour with me. I was the only one with a backpack, which to them may have seemed sketchy, but again, had they known why I had it with me, the stares would have been way less. And again, I have gotten used to these little things over time, it just comes to show all that people with Diabetes or any other medical condition really put up with. It gets to us from time to time, but we know better and are strong enough to overcome them!
So to sum up, traveling is great, though it can be stressful. I have traveled all over the U.S. and once out of the country in the 9 years I’ve lived with T1D and each trip has taught me a little something! I have gained more knowledge and experience, as well as self-confidence, with myself and my Diabetes as a result of these different travel experiences. Each trip has had their ups and downs, difficult moments and beautiful memories, but that’s what keeps this life with Diabetes interesting and exciting!
Don’t sweat the small stuff, travel and tell your story!