If you have found this blog, saying Welcome does not really seem appropriate. I know you wish you weren't surfing the internet for diabetes. I felt the same.

A big part of me wishes I were not writing about diabetes, nor did I anticipate to become so opinionated or informed on the subject, but it happened. In 2010, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It wasn't really part of the plan… Correction - it was not part of the plan, but it happened. It is not always easy, but I think we are all doing okay, and I hope we continue to do so.

Why the Middle East? I happen to live in Dubai. I don't think that living in the Middle East makes mine or my son's diabetic experience any more unique or challenging than it does elsewhere in the developed world.

I hope you stick around, or read something you like. Feel free to comment and join the conversation, subscribe or follow this blog by liking the Facebook page Diapoint.

Please note: This blog does not give medical advice. I am opinionated, and I share my experiences, but the first rule of diabetes is to follow up with your doctor and/or nurse educator about your care, diagnosis or medication. If you do not have a medical practitioner that is helping you find your way through this crazy world, then do not give up until you find the right one.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What's in my Bag?

Or should I say, what is NOT in my bag?

When packing for a trip with a small child, it seems there are many things to take.  I was somewhat relived after we passed the infant phase and no longer needed to worry about diapers, baby food and all the other little bits and pieces to travel with.

Now I worry about different situations that could occur with all those diabetic possibilities.  This means a lot of prepacking and planning.  I was not a girl scout, so when I think of all the things we might need, and what could go wrong, I have no foolproof, efficient suggestions. 

I long for the days of packing for a week with only a small luggage, but I know that is not really ever likely.  And if I am honest, I am probably not that efficient of a packer anyway. Perhaps those carefree airport entrances only exist on the big screen.

We now travel with about half a large luggage extra in weight than we would if diabetes were not in our lives.  On a daily basis, the Type 1 does not always need that much stuff, but we do try to be prepared.

That, and the first thing I do not want to do after I get to my destination is run out and buy juice for a day or two, or other things we might need.  I hope to have it all there, so I do not have to worry about it until later.

So what’s in that luggage?  Some of the major things include:
  • Insertion sites.  I always take more than I need.  And even back up for the back up.  There will be those times when for whatever strange reason, you will miss and the catheter will not go quite in, so you might find yourself doing three in a row until you get it right.  Its rare, but I when it has happened, it is when we travel.
  • Reservoirs, additional connectors and insertion site covers
  • Juice, snacks and more juice.  I have higher carb juice and some of the healthier low carb juice.  I do not take many because I can buy them in most places, but I do take enough for a couple of days.  I also take a few in the carry on as well.
  • Nonperishable snacks.  This usually consists of some organic brands without too much refined sugar.  In general around 15 carbs or so.   Once we are settled, we encourage fresh fruits and vegetable snacks whenever possible.  It is not always possible on the go, so we are prepared with what we know works for us.
  • Breakfast for the first day.  This could be in the form of a bar, or a small box of cereal.  My son is an early riser and a diabetic cannot always wait to eat first thing in the morning.  With jet late and everything else, I'll give him a light breakfast in the room if needed.
  • Keytone meters and strips.  If you aren’t already, you will be amazed at how many doctors and nurses have never seen a meter that measures these. 
  • In my carry on I have a back up of everything, plus the insulin needed with me.  If I am in a country where I feel I can get an additional vile if easily needed, I will just take the one I am currently using.
  • The cool pack to carry the insulin.  Good for the beach and warm climates
  • Band aids, or other tape to help secure the insertion sites while swimming.  I have noticed that after swimming in salt water, it helps to rinse the insertion site with fresh water right away.  Otherwise it is difficult to remove the cover and put the pump back on.  I assume this is the salt making it stick a bit.
  • Another helpful hint on swimming: I recently read a good tip from someone who uses long lasting insulin for beach holidays and then uses the pump to bolus.  I really like this suggestion and plan to try it in the future.  It will save us from too many highs while he is on the beach playing in the water.
  • Extra glucometers in case something gets lost
  • Tissues, wet wipes, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer
  • Directives from my son’s doctor about how to treat a DKA.  After a hospitalization in a "good" hospital in another country, no one there had a clue about diabetes and DKA, I requested a document I could show to a doctor if we were ever admitted again.  This would at least give them some idea of what to do instead of the fiasco we dealt with in that instance.
  • Medicine to stop nausea and vomiting.  
  • Some kind of hydration drink, or the powder equivalent is even better.  In the event of dehydration and vomiting, if I can get my son to drink that, it makes a huge difference in the speed of recovery and cleaning out keytones.  I have some kind of Pedialite powder equivalent.  I have no idea how a sport drink powder would be in these cases.
  • Glucogen, obviously.  I always take one in the carry on, and at least one back up in another carry on.  For the hand luggage items, I always think worst-case scenario.  If it gets stolen in an airport, I need a back up in another carry on.
  • Extra syringes
  • An insane number of lancets all packed in different luggage.
  • Extra glucometers.  Call me paranoid, but one in every luggage.  One in every luggage is kind of my basic rule for a lot of these items.  Sadly, airlines do loose luggage sometimes.
  • Which reminds me of my inserter.  I also bring an extra in one of our bags.
  • I used to carry a letter from my son’s physician stating he is a Type 1 diabetic.  It is pretty obvious to people as he is wired to a pump, and people have been very understanding.  Although I do not travel to the US often, I have found some security less understanding there than in other countries.  Once I get more into the details, they usually get it.  I remind them that if there were turbulence, and airline staff could not serve juice I would need it if my son's blood sugar went low.  I have only had to explain this once, but if you are ever asked, it is logical… and I did have this experience once when I needed water.  For water, I try to buy a bottle near the gate to take on the plane.

I put our carry on supplies in a backpack that is on wheels.  It is a medium size that easily holds our necessities, snacks, juices and a few other things for the flight.  It fits under the seat in front of me so we can easily access what we need.
I am sure I am forgetting to write something!  Just recalling everything in this list can be quite a task.   I am always open to suggestions for how to travel more efficiently with diabetes, so if you have any tricks that have worked for you, I would love to hear them!

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