Be safe, take advantage of the opportunity.

Since this blog is about diabetes, naturally, part of it is going to be about my diabetes. Today, it’s about my diabetes and the challenges of travel. I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about diabetes and travel on Twitter recently, and a little on Facebook too. Sorry about that. This is what’s happening in my life right now.

First, what this post isn’t: IT IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. Please check with your physician, endocrinologist, or diabetes educator before traveling, and certainly before making any changes in your diabetes routine.

Now, what this post is: It’s a few things I’ve learned over the years. Not exactly what to do for specific circumstances, but rather some things to keep in mind as you travel from place to place. Feel free to add to the list by leaving a comment below. More information is always better than less.

1. Check with your physician, endocrinologist, diabetes educator, or all three before you travel. A no brainer, right? See “What this post isn’t” above. This is especially true if you haven’t traveled for a while. Your medical team may be able to give you expert advice that would take you hours to gather via blogs and other social media. And they can give you a copy of your prescriptions, which is a must to have wherever you are.

2. Changing time zones? Determine a “best practice” scenario for updating pump settings, basal amounts, and dietary needs. I don’t have great advice here, and it’s not backed up by science. Do research (along with your medical team) to find out how to best handle time zone changes, including the possibility of making no time zone changes at all, either with devices or routines (a lot of athletes do this). Again, it’s not backed by science, but what I do is change the time on my pump to match where I’m going when I’m about halfway through my trip. A six hour flight across the country? I change the time to match where I’m going at around the three hour mark. I can’t tell you why this works for me, but it does. Find out what works for you (read #1 above again), and if you can, make it routine.

3. Check your BGs early and often. Travel usually involves a lot of walking, even if you’re just making your way through the airport. Also, a change in time zones, eating out for every meal, and other influences (drinking, anyone?) can make for weird and wonky blood sugar numbers. I have learned, the hard way sometimes, that testing more than I do at home is not only common, it’s necessary when I’m on the road.

4. Never, ever, go to bed with a low or even semi-low blood glucose reading. I don’t care if you’re traveling with your spouse. I don’t care if you’re traveling with someone else. I don’t care if you’re staying at a friend’s house. We can’t always avoid hypoglycemia. But if we’re sure that we’re in a good range when we go to bed, even if the number on the meter is a little high, we’ll be much less likely to encounter a middle-of-the-night low, a disruption to our time away, and a disruption to the time spent with the person we’re with. Again, this is something I’ve learned the hard way. Don’t make my mistakes.

To provide additional peace of mind, consider adding a continuous glucose monitor to help you manage your BGs on the road. Or, if you’re using a CGM now, consider taking it to the next level and employing Nightscout or Dexcom Share technology.

These four things to remember go in addition to the things we already know: Pack enough supplies and medications, wear medical alert information (it may save your life as it has saved mine), and (in the USA) know your rights as a traveler.

As we all know, diabetes is not simple, and it’s not easy. That doesn’t change just because you’re away from home for a few days. In fact, it complicates things. But that is no reason to avoid travel. For me, I think the emphasis needs to be on staying safe and being as ready as possible for anything that might be outside the norm.

Doing so allows me to take advantage of every opportunity possible when I travel. I love to travel. I don’t want to miss out on anything. Managing diabetes on the road can be very different from how I manage things when I’m at home. Remembering these four simple things helps to provide peace of mind for myself, to those I’m traveling with, and those who are waiting for me at home.

Have any outside-the-box traveling and diabetes tips? Feel free to leave yours in a comment below.

Four things (times 11)

I had something already written and ready to go today, but after I read this over at Scully’s blog and then this over at Jeff’s blog I thought, what the hell, I’m game.

For lack of a better phrase, here are my top 4 lists:

1. Four names people call me other than my real name.
1. Steve (of course)
2. Uncle Steve
3. Honey
4. Hey You

2. Four jobs I’ve had.
1. Delivering papers (when I was 14, I made four dollars each week for delivering a local weekly paper)
2. Radio announcer, program director, freelance announcer, copywriter (I did all of these jobs at one time or another in my late teens into my mid 30s)
3. Retail manager (mostly, I set up, managed, and sold men’s suits for a discount chain in the midwest, again, from my mid 20s through my mid 30s)
4. Senior systems analyst (when I quit retail, I wanted to go in a different direction. I’ve been at my current job for 17 years)

3. Four movies I’ve watched more than once
1. Field of Dreams
2. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
3. Lillies of the Field (I’m a Sidney Poitier fan… what can I say?)
4. Any of the Thin Man movies (I’m also a big William Powell and Myrna Loy fan)

4. Four books I would recommend
1. Balancing Diabetes by Kerri Sparling (see what I did there? It’s a great book!)
2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (a tough but great read)
3. The Frontiersmen by Allan W. Eckert
4. 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn (another tough read, but eye-opening)

5. Four places I’ve lived
1. Cincinnati, Ohio (born and raised there)
2. Columbus, Georgia (during that radio phase back in the 80s)
3. Dayton, Ohio (not far from Cincy, but it counts)
4. Baltimore, Maryland (where I’ve lived for the last twenty years)

6. Four places I’ve visited
1. London, England and Brussels, Belgium (where I was three weeks ago)
2. Ireland (a memorable trip I took a little over ten years ago)
3. Jamaica (on my honeymoon)
4. San Francisco Bay area, California (where I am right now!)

7. Four things I prefer not to eat
1. Beans
2. Chili with beans
3. Mushy peas (I noticed it on a lot of menus in London, but… no)
4. Any type of egg other than scrambled (they’ve made me gag since I was a kid)

8. Four of my favorite foods
1. Pizza
2. Cincinnati chili (which is usually eaten with pasta or with a hot dog– carbs,anyone?)
3. Pie (any kind except the kind with merengue)
4. Farm-fresh produce (especially tomatoes and corn on the cob)

9. Four TV shows I watch
1. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
2. Major League Baseball (whenever it’s on and ESPECIALLY when the Reds or Orioles are on– see #5 above)
3. The Big Bang Theory
4. Parking Wars (especially the episodes from Philly– guilty pleasure)

Four things I’m looking forward to this year
1. Diabetes UnConference, March 13-15
2. Visits from family
3. Spending time with friends, at home and on the road
4. More chances to advocate for those living with/affected by diabetes

Four things I’m always saying
1. “Can you e-mail that to me?”
2. “Sorry, I don’t have a smart phone.”
3. In response to the question: Are you low? “I don’t KNOW if I’m low unless I check!”
4. “I support you… no conditions.”

Got anything you’d like to list?

This has been a fun exercise for a Friday. I hope your weekend goes well, and is free of snow unless you don’t want it to be.

You can’t always see NED coming, but you are not alone.

So many of us are familiar with NED. We know him by his first name.

Like the obnoxious uncle who swings by for an afternoon then stays for the weekend, NED can be hard to get rid of. He may only be around for a short while, but NED is always lingering in the back of our minds.  NED’s effects are often devastating and long-lasting.  Often, the guilt and shame that comes with a visit from NED gets swept under the rug, adding pressure to the lives of people who already have more pressure on them than they need or deserve.

We need to put NED in his place.

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Why am I using space in a diabetes blog to talk about eating disorders?  If you live with diabetes, or if you even know someone living with diabetes, you are familiar with eating disorders.  Our wacked-out endocrine system that causes strange blood glucose numbers can also cause wacked-out eating habits. If you live with diabetes, you know that. It’s sucky, but it’s natural.

Let me tell you:  We all need to be part of a solution that uplifts and inspires success for everyone working their way through difficult health issues. And eating disorders are a very difficult health issue.

If you’re living with diabetes and dealing with eating disorders, you are not alone.

Visit nedawareness.org and get started on the road toward a happier, better, healthier life right now.

If you’re living with Type 1 diabetes, you can also visit wearediabetes.org and reach out to people who provide support and advocate for others who are going through what you’re going through.

As always, please remember:
You are not alone. I support you… no conditions.
 
 
 

Congratulations Ryan Reed.

I got to interview NASCAR Xfinity series driver Ryan Reed last year, and to be honest, it wasn’t that great an interview. We were both pressed for time, and though I got my questions answered, it wasn’t a great experience. That’s the way it goes sometimes. He did send me this cool photo:
Reed

Now the good news: Ryan Reed, one of our Champion Athletes With Diabetes medal winners, was the winner of the Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway Saturday.

Ryan got a little help from teammate and second-place finisher Chris Buescher, went around Brad Keselowski on the final lap, and got his first series win on the biggest stage in his sport.

Afterward, as he climbed out of his car and answered the first question from an interviewer, he had this to say:

“Four years ago I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, thought I would never drive a race car again, and now I’m standing in Victory Lane at Daytona…”

He also managed to say this:

“This is not only for me and my family, but every kid that gets diagnosed with diabetes – or anything that says you can’t do something. Just go out there, overcome it, win it, and do the best you can.”

To me, that’s worth more than my crummy interview.

We all have our chance to advocate for others living with and affected by diabetes. Ryan Reed got that chance before a national audience Saturday night, and he took advantage of it. And I’m grateful.

He’ll be advocating again on Saturday in Atlanta.

Here’s a look at the final two laps, plus the beginning of his interview just after the race:

 
 
 

Throw me a frickin’ bone here…

I was a victim of one of those stupid unexplained, recurring lows the other day.

Near the end of my workday, I had to excuse myself from a meeting and reschedule because I couldn’t focus. I knew something was wrong. A quick glucose check revealed a 47 mg/dL reading.

So immediately, I shut off my pump. I did not have any insulin on board at that time. I ate a fruit cup that was hiding in my desk drawer for just such an occasion, and just for good measure I ate a couple of pieces of candy too. Okay, three pieces.

I performed another check half an hour later (it’s supposed to be 15 minutes, I know, sue me), and I was at 170 mg/dL. This was at the end of my day, and figuring I was at a safe number, I turned my pump back on. I should also note that to err on the safe side, my basal setting between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. is significantly below what my basal rate is at any other time of day, because that’s usually when I’m finishing up my day and traveling home.

I made it home, let the dog out, looked at the mail, and then did another BG check. Can you believe it?

52 mg/dL

I made my kicked-up ramen noodle recipe for dinner
, and due to the day’s previous events, I definitely under-bolused. Or so I thought. 2½ hours later? I was at 62 mg/dL.

Sometimes diabetes throws us a curve ball, and we need to try and deal with it the best we can.

It would be nice, however, if diabetes would throw me a frickin’ bone now and then.


 
 
 

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