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Real Talk With Dave: My Thoughts on Traveling with Type 1

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!

Live well,

Dave

Real Talk With Dave: Surviving Summer and Type 1, with all the Highs and Lows

Summer time is a fun time when we all kick back and relax. Some go to the beach, chill by the pool, or go on a tropical vacation. Though as a Diabetic, there is one thing that interrupts you having the time of your life in the summertime, and that is this (not so) little thing called Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes should not stop you from having a blast this summer and neither should it restrict the types of activities you do and places you go. Though there are some things to look out for so you can have the best summer ever, no matter what!

First? Insulin. Being the number one thing that you actually need as a Diabetic, it has to be cared for like no other. If your Insulin is sitting around in the blazing sun, it will go bad and will no longer be safe or effective for use, so always keep your Insulin in a cool setting such as a refrigerator or in a cooling pack. Same goes for your blood glucometer and insulin pump, as if they get too hot, they will not work until they cool down a bit. I would highly recommend having a backup blood sugar meter and a set of syringes, along with a vial of insulin, just in case your pump and meter overheat. When I was first diagnosed with Type 1, I remember how during the hot summer months, my blood glucometer would overheat, so I would stick it in the fridge to cool down faster, as funny as that may have seemed.

Always keep your Insulin in a cool setting such as a refrigerator or in a cooling pack

I have had days when I was out all day by the pool and left my pump on the side of the pool, which apparently made the insulin cartridge become warm, so when I went to take my insulin I found my blood sugars going high due to the insulin going bad in the heat. It’s all a learning process in which you have to go through some tough experiences (like your blood sugar going high or your meter breaking down) to learn how to plan for the worst.

As for blood sugar regulation, when the weather outside is blazing hot, that tends to make your blood sugar go high and stay that way until you cool down. My advice, based on personal experiences, is to stay cool and in the shade as much as possible. Always keep an eye out on your blood sugars as the day goes by just to make sure they are in range. Most importantly, drink plenty of water. I cannot stress enough how helpful water is on a hot summer day. If you do tend to go higher in the summertime, as everybody reacts differently, try these tips and tricks to avoid annoying Diabetic issues and spend more time out by the pool or chilling at the beach!

Going on a tropical getaway can also be fun and exciting, but remember to have a checklist of all the Diabetic supplies you’ll need to avoid any problems. It wouldn’t hurt to take extra supplies as well, just in case. Once, a few years back, my family and I took an amazing trip to Hawaii and I remember being so excited! However, the beginning of that trip was not fun at all as I had forgotten my Insulin back at home in California. Luckily, I had just changed my pump site the night before our flight and filled the vial of Insulin, which lasted me three days so I wasn’t completely out of Insulin.

It was a very stressful situation though. I was feeling like I failed myself and ruined the trip. Thanks to my amazing parents, who did everything they could to get me my insulin, there was a new order ready for pickup at the pharmacy in Hawaii as soon as we landed. Once I was reunited with some fresh Insulin, I truly was in paradise! Like I said, we need experiences like this to go through and learn from so that we can know how to handle practically any situation life may throw at us. Since that trip, I learned to NEVER forget my insulin at home and to always put that as number one on my list for all my Diabetic travel supplies.

So remember to stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay prepared to take on this hot summer! Enjoy it to the fullest and do what you love! Swim, surf, travel, you name it, because even with T1D, you can do literally anything you put your mind to!

Live well,

Dave

Real Talk With Dave: Feeling Bad For Having Diabetes – My Worst Experience

This is something that is very personal to me, and I really haven’t shared how I felt about it up until now.

Over Christmas break of 2016, my family and I decided to go on a vacation to Egypt. This was the first time I have traveled with my Diabetes out of the country in the 9 years I have lived with T1D, so I knew I would run into a few issues along the way, but I also knew that I would have my family with me for help and support if I needed it. Many things were planned ahead of time, such as what Diabetic supplies to bring, how much to bring, what to do to treat lows in a foreign country (that may not have the same carb contents as the US) etc. But most of these issues I was worrying about were for when I actually arrived to my destination. I had not realized that problems could still present themselves in the traveling process.

I have never been treated poorly for having a chronic illness, nor have I ever been somewhat judged for this disease that I live with 24/7 and that I did not ask for. I am not going to name where I was when this happened, as I don’t want to call out any country. That being said, I have a lot of respect for the country and people I interacted with as they were just doing their job and trying to stick to their security precautions. But, as we had a layover more than halfway to our actual destination, we stopped in a country where we were not sure how they would react to me having to bring in all my low supplies such as juice bottles, syringes, snacks, etc.

I had a separate suitcase that I carried everywhere I went that contained all my Diabetic supplies as we were going to be on this trip for about three weeks. I had a bag full of tiny glucose shots for quick low treatments, and two normal sized bottles of apple juice as I did not know when I was going to find more juice to carry me through the traveling process, and wanted to be safe and secure knowing I had something to keep me alive that could prevent me from passing out, or worse. As we were getting through security, I stopped to tell the officer how I needed these two juice bottles for medical reasons. Right away, he said no and wanted to throw them away. My dad then stepped in and tried to explain to him why I needed them and showed him a letter from my doctor, but he refused to listen. I then began to accept that fact and think to myself that I still had the glucose shots that were actually allowed, so I would be okay if he had to throw away my apple juice. But my parents didn’t want them to throw away something that could actually save my life, as they too were unsure when we would be able to get a hold of something sustainable and in bulk to carry me out of a low.

They then called the head of the security team. She was a very tough person who was not willing to listen or be understanding. As mentioned above, I had a separate bag with all my supplies, as well as a few other bags, and having all these bags somewhat bothered this woman. She rolled her eyes every time she had to check one of my bags. I was shocked at her reaction as she shuffled through my supplies and told me that I didn’t need those two bottles of apple juice as I had other things in my bag to treat lows. First of all, nobody has the right to tell a person with a chronic disease what they “need.” Second, we had a letter from the doctor explaining everything, she just refused to look at it.

As I had things thrown away right in front of me, I was so disappointed in how some people truly are, regardless of what they see someone going through. My parents, being the kind and loving parents they are, went back after we supposedly got done with that awful security check and complained to the woman, telling her how what she did to me was very rude and how I have lived with this disease for 9 years and that I didn’t ask for Diabetes. The woman, remaining tough, had no choice now but to listen. She eventually began to agree that she may have been a bit rough on me, but she was still wanting to win the argument.

As I walked away from the argument between my parents and the security guard over my Diabetes and all the complications that came from it, I have never felt more sad and angry for having Diabetes than that very moment.

I have never felt more sad and angry for having Diabetes than that very moment.

Trying to be the tough, brave, strong person I am, I had to keep a straight face, but if I was alone, I would have cried my eyes out. I remember thinking all these thoughts like, “why me?”, “why Diabetes?”, etc. It was the worst feeling a person can have for feeling judged and emotionally abused for having a disease that can’t go away. I felt crushed. The rest of the day, I couldn’t think of anything else. I was in shock seeing how mean people can be and I just wished I never had T1D. I am ultimately grateful though, for my amazing parents who stood up for me, as difficult as it must have been. I am grateful that they love and care for me so much that they would fight for my rights as a Diabetic.

While this may sound sad and depressing, going through an experience like that taught me something. It taught me to prepare for the worst. It also taught me to be kind. I would never in a million years expect to be treated so poorly and I never wish anything bad on anybody. I believe in kindness overall and that we may not be aware of what someone is truly going through. That is why we must always treat others with love and respect. I now believe that certain people come in our lives for certain reasons, to teach us things, to put us in situations in which we can learn from, and ultimately at times to show us love, respect, and kindness.

Diabetic or not, we are all capable of something great and we should never judge or be mean to people.

Though I still sometimes stop and think of this incident, and it still bothers me from time to time, I have forgiven the security guards and learned to be better and braver than ever before.

Despite what these diseases put us through, that shouldn’t stop us from living the best life and being our best selves.

Live well.

-Dave

Work Out In Your Hotel Room!

Whether you are traveling for a work conference or taking a vacation to escape the cold this winter, going away does not mean you have to sacrifice your workouts or your fitness goals. Our trainer, Ken Yu, has created an easy and effective workout you can do right in the convenience of your hotel room! These exercises won’t take long, and trust me, you’ll be happy you did them!

5 Rounds:
10 Jumping jacks
10 Squats
10 Elevated push-ups (on the bed, or a stable surface.)
10 Shoulder press with a water bottle (or any type of 5-10lb object)
10 Bent over row with a heavier object (15-20lbs, suitcase)
10 Mountain climbers
Young black woman sitting on the floor at home stretching
Share your workouts with us on Instagram with the hashtag: #ExerciseRegularly!

What to Pack as a Diabetic

blog_travel_checklist-1

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 its 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 favor 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 consider 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.)
  • (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 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.

This blog was originally published on Hanna’s website at http://hannaboethius.com/2015/05/travel-checklist-for-diabetes/.

Travel Tips from Lyfebulb

Dr. Hehenberger of Lyfebulb provides us with some key travel tips in this short video that are essential for diabetics and others with chronic disease. Some of her key tips include:
  • Before traveling, do your research and find out where the nearest hospital or medical center is, relative to your hotel.
  • Be sure to always pack your meds in your carry-on luggage.
  • Inform your travel partner of your condition and also ask them to pack a spare supply of your meds just in case there are issues with your luggage.
  • Make sure that you don’t let your insulin is stored in a suitable temperature and make sure not expose it to excess heat.
  • Stay safe by taking necessary precautions and Enjoy Your Vacation!

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