LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Packing for disaster


“Few things wreak havoc on your blood sugars more than travel does. Your body clock unravels when traveling across time zones, sleep patterns change, eating habits get blown out of the water, and the assorted stresses and excitements that travel provides all add up to destroy even the best controlled blood sugar. You need your CGM when traveling. American Express and CGM. Don’t leave home without them.”

--Beyond Fingersticks


Actually, I’ve never had such a boring trip. Blood sugar wise, that is. I only drank one glucose bottle the whole time, and I’m not even sure I needed it. My CGM was coasting nice and level at 115 mg/dL while the nice lady from American Airlines was telling me that with the holiday travel in full swing she didn’t know how many days it would be before I could get home. I started to feel lightheaded. It might or might not have been a hypo, and I didn’t want to take time for a fingerstick.

Other than that, like a sober driver, I was right between the lines pretty much the whole time. Everyone kept asking to see the new gear, then would stare at it in disappointment and make comments like “Is it broken?” or “But I thought you had diabetes?”

It’s not broken. I do have diabetes. I’m only eating salad and meat while traveling.

But one thing I wanted to talk about is being prepared when you travel. I like to travel ultra-light, mainly because of my fucked-up back. I took a carry-on bag and my “Go-Bag,” and that was it. I did discover, however, that a well-appointed sport coat is as useful to a man as a purse is to a woman. And if it’s cut well, you get many an admiring gaze from flight attendants and traveling females. So it really doesn’t get any better than that. And the Dex G4 is slim enough that you don’t have any bulges where you’re not supposed to have them.

But here’s the thing. If you’re going on a three hour cruise or a three day trip, do you pack a spare seven day sensor? Do you pack the charger? Every ounce weighs you down. So why take anything you don’t need with you?

Because sometimes three hour tours lasts three full seasons. And sometimes a three day trip lasts four days. Or even longer. It’s ironic, because about a month ago I was asked by the School of Medicine to present a didactic—that’s a fancy word for lecture with a PowerPoint—for primary care docs on emergency preparedness for insulin-using patients. This was before Sandy. To keep it lively, I chose to take a play on the Spanish words for very small and very large: Poquito and Grande. My theme was that a poquito emergency can advance into a deadly diabetes disaster just as assuredly as a grande emergency can, so that it is best to be fully prepared for any outcome at any time. Right after Sandy, my dLife editors asked me to write something on the subject for my column over there, too.

Ironic that a month later I am stranded at an airport. Hardly an emergency. But what if I had only packed enough insulin for my short trip? Then an annoyance could have elevated to an emergency, and possibly even a personal diabetes disaster.

In this case I took a spare sensor. I didn’t need it. But had it. I took spare insulin, which I did end up needing. After some back and forth about the charger, as the new receiver holds a charge so well, and there’s always a risk of losing a charger when traveling, I decided to take it along just for in case. I didn’t need it either, but had I been marooned a day longer than I was, I would have.

Shit happens when you travel, to places far and near.

So like all diabetes supplies, you need more CGM stuff with you than you think you’ll need when leaving home. Oh and speaking of CGM, this is post number 30 of 30 days of posting about the G4. I’m not quite done with the story, but I’m done in. Going forward, let’s get together one day a week for a while. What do you say to Wednesdays with Wil? We’ll start next week, after Thanksgiving. Have a good one.


3 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Hoskins said...

Thanks for the post, Wil. I agree: Always plan for the worst. That's typically what I do - plan for something to go wrong so I'll need more. I usually take a spare sensor for every day I'm gone, plus one extra. So a three day trip? I take 4 infusion sets. Sensors? Usually have two extra sensors... because I'd figure mine would get pulled out and I would need the spare. This has actually happened once, where I needed that full arsenal of extras... but glad I had it.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Penny said...

Thank you for writing so much about the G4. My T1 daughter's comes this week. I can't wait to slap that puppy on her and see what it can do. If it holds the range between her bedroom and mine, I may weep.
As for packing for calamities, I learned a while ago that with a T1 kiddo, there is no such thing as overpacking. Took a 3 day trip with her, packed 5 Pods just in case, came home with 1 after 2 fell off in the pool and 1 alarmed. Now I WAY overpack. Better safe than really, really sorry.
Happy Thanksgiving Wil. Thanks for all you do for the DOC and all of us.

7:01 PM  
Blogger NeurosurgeryNP said...

I am a crazy D overpacker. I packed about 15 infusion sets and two extra sensors for a 7 day cruise and we stayed one extra night before the cruise, and one unplanned night after the cruise no thanks to the airline. I always plan for 2 sites a day during a cruise vacation where they are exposed to water almost all of the day (on a Caribbean cruise ). I also bring an extra vial of insulin, syringes, a loaner travel pump, and a vial of long acting just in case. I'd much rather bring stuff back then go on MDI.

8:26 AM  

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