Category Archives: Travel

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.

Photo Monday.

Click here to save children – Donate to Spare A Rose, Save a Child

SAR2015
 
This is a (nearly) completely diabetes-free post featuring some photos from my recent business trip to London and my two and a half day stay in Brussels. I’m posting these for myself as much as anything, but I hope you enjoy at least some of them too.

Quickly, the diabetes part: Being in big cities often means a LOT of walking. A lot of walking is still exercise, and I was caught off guard by a couple of lows during the trip. By the way, you should see Sarah’s super blog post at Coffee and Insulin on traveling or living abroad. Otherwise, this was a great experience for me, especially in Brussels where I didn’t speak the language but still managed to keep from getting lost or going hungry.

Here they are… first, the London photos, then the ones from Brussels.

Thanks for looking in. Have a great week!
 
 
London

A panoramic view of Paddington station.  I did not see any bears.

A panoramic view of Paddington station. I did not see any bears.

The Liverpool Street station.  This is Sunday morning, about the slowest time all week.  My hotel was very near here.

The Liverpool Street station. This is Sunday morning, about the slowest time all week. My hotel was very near here.

I actually ate Pheasant Curry... Seems pretentious, but it was also delicious.

I actually ate Pheasant Curry… Seems pretentious, but it was also delicious.

The Hippodrome Casino.  I may have gone inside.  I may have had scotch, neat.

The Hippodrome Casino. I may have gone inside. I may have had scotch, neat.

Picadilly Circus, about 11:00 p.m.

Picadilly Circus, about 11:00 p.m.

I stayed in a nice hotel.  this was one of many paintings on the walls there, and it always caught my eye whenever I walked past.

I stayed in a nice hotel. this was one of many paintings on the walls there, and it always caught my eye whenever I walked past.

St. Paul's cathedral.

St. Paul’s cathedral.

Covent Garden.

Covent Garden.

I thought if they tried to give a place in the USA that name, there would be protests night and day and half of the rednecks in the south would have Dirty Dicks t-shirts.

I thought if they tried to give a place in the USA that name, there would be protests night and day and half of the rednecks in the south would have Dirty Dicks t-shirts.

On the same note, I thought the shape of this building was a little phallic.  Beautiful, but phallic.  Anybody want the office on the top floor?

On the same note, I thought the shape of this building was a little phallic. Beautiful, but phallic. Anybody want the office on the top floor?


 
 
Brussels

Looking down the Rue de la Regence, toward the Palais de Justice.

Looking down the Rue de la Regence, toward the Palais de Justice.

The Belgium parlaiment building.  That's the Belgian flag on the left, and the European Union flag on the right.

The Belgium parlaiment building. That’s the Belgian flag on the left, and the European Union flag on the right.

The Parc de Bruxelles.

The Parc de Bruxelles.

There are city bike stands all over the city.  When I saw this view, I just wanted to get on a bike and ride it all over.

There are city bike stands all over the city. When I saw this view, I just wanted to get on a bike and ride it all over.

Shoppers at Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.

Shoppers at Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.

DSC02010

Grand Place.  This area is extremely touristy.  But the archetecture is astounding.

Grand Place. This area is extremely touristy. But the archetecture is astounding.

The world famous Mannekin Pis.  Meh.

The world famous Mannekin Pis. Meh.

Looking up through Mont des Arts toward the Palace Royale.

Looking up through Mont des Arts toward the Place Royale.

Looking in the opposite direction, from the palace side.

Looking in the opposite direction, from the palace side.

Place Royale

Place Royale

The fellow working on my delicious dinner one night.  Even the Thai take-out food is awesome here.

The fellow working on my delicious dinner one night. Even the Thai take-out food is awesome here.

From my taxi to the train station, my one and only view of the EU general assembly building.

From my taxi to the train station, my one and only view of the EU general assembly building.


 
 
 

Christmas in NYC.

In my continued effort to feel happier and more holiday-like this December, I went with a friend on the bus to New York last Friday. Overall, my diabetes played nice this day.

If you live in my part of the world, you have countless tour bus companies at your disposal who will ferry you back and forth to NYC for the day. In fact, there are two that leave less than five minutes from my house. We take off early in the morning, hit the Big Apple around 10:00, and do and see everything we can until we leave around 6:30 in the evening.

Here are a few photos from that trip. For those of you who haven’t made it to New York before, I’ll try to describe each one. If you live in New York, I know… this is all the touristy stuff. But it’s fun to do during the holiday season. However, I’ll be happy to take your recommendation for a good restaurant in Manhattan next time I visit:)

Here we go:

Ground floor at Macy's Herald Square.  This floor had been done up in red for the holidays for a number of years.  Now it's decked out in white.

Ground floor at Macy’s Herald Square. This floor had been done up in red for the holidays for a number of years. Now it’s decked out in white. Note the figurines in the glass ball hanging from the ceiling. These are all over the ground floor.

Ice skating in Bryant Park.  That's the New York Public Library in the background.  Surrounding all this are scores of gift kiosks and places to grab a quick bite to eat.  No wonder it's such a gathering place.

Ice skating in Bryant Park. That’s the New York Public Library in the background. Surrounding all this are scores of gift kiosks and places to grab a quick bite to eat. No wonder it’s such a gathering place.

The Christmas tree in Bryant Park.

The Christmas tree in Bryant Park.

The Christmas tree at the front of the New York Public Library.  The NYPL is a good place to go any time of year.  In addition to their amazing collection, it's one of the few free places in the city that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

The Christmas tree at the front of the New York Public Library. The NYPL is a good place to go any time of year. In addition to their amazing collection, it’s one of the few free places in the city that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

One of the famous lion statues in front of the library, dressed in a wreath.

One of the famous lion statues in front of the library, dressed in a wreath.

The outside of Saks Fifth Avenue.  In the background (look for the yellow & white flag) you can just make out the front of St. Patrick's cathedral, which is in the middle of extensive renovations.

The outside of Saks Fifth Avenue. In the background (look for the yellow & white flag) you can just make out the front of St. Patrick’s cathedral, which is in the middle of extensive renovations.

More ice skaters!  Oh, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

More ice skaters! Oh, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

I've walked past Radio City Music Hall countless times, but I've never been inside.

I’ve walked past Radio City Music Hall countless times, but I’ve never been inside.

Looking down toward Times Square from 49th Street.  If you look up, you can see the crystal ball that will drop on New Year's (where it now says 2014).

Looking down toward Times Square from 49th Street. If you look up, you can see the crystal ball that will drop on New Year’s (where it now says 2014).

This trip did make me feel a little better, for a little while anyway. I hope these photos do the same for you.

Enjoy the weekend!
 
 
 

8 Vacation Observations.

I’m feeling somewhat refreshed after a week away, but also a little bummed about the change in temperatures at home, and mostly about the dwindling amount of sunshine in the days here in North America. To begin the week, since I seem to be stuck at eights lately, I thought I would offer eight observations from the previous week:

Transportation Security Administration: We’re still finding different rules in different airports. In Baltimore, take out your iPad, and take off both your shoes and your belt. In Fort Myers, you can leave your belt on, and you can leave your iPad in your bag. But regardless of where you go, don’t forget to empty your pockets. I got yelled at (and I mean YELLED AT) by a TSA agent at BWI, but my pockets were empty. He was very, very unhappy, and came out from behind the barricade he was behind, walking straight toward me, pointing. Until I pointed out that what he saw was my insulin pump, after which he said “Okay, just go through here and we’ll take care of you right away”. With a smile on his face.

Pump Vacation: I took an unexpected pump vacation for a few days down in Florida. After being in the pool for a while, with my pump in a cooler (inside a plastic bag– thanks Kelly), I took it out, reattached, and started receiving button errors that I’d never seen before. I couldn’t get the ACT button on my Medtronic Revel pump to work at all. I worked with it for about half an hour and started to get some functionality back, but the ACT button was still spotty, so I just took the battery out and went on MDI for about three days. I reconnected Friday night, and everything seems to be okay, but the ACT button still needs a little extra oomph to work properly. I’m happy to report that despite all this, diabetes played a mostly secondary role this past week. But this is a huge wake-up call for me, a big reminder that because my pump warranty expired over 6 months ago, maybe I shouldn’t wait too much longer to decide on a new pump.

How would you like to be cooked? Why is it that while you’re on vacation, you’re always worried about getting too much sun, but as soon as you’re back, you think you didn’t get enough? Inquiring minds want to know.

Speaking of not enough: When did I get the mentality that I’ll never be able to do enough diabetes advocacy? When I started this blog, I wanted to help where I could, thinking that I probably wouldn’t be able to do much. By this point, I’ve accomplished about ten times more than I ever thought I would, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Oh well… I guess I’ll continue to try to help where I can, as long as there is a need. And unfortunately, there is still a need.

Reading: My reading at home is mostly at the rate of ten pages at a time. That’s how many pages I can read on the train to work, during my short lunch, and on the train home. Thirty pages per day. So vacation is usually when I get a chance to dive into something without missing a stop (I’ve been known to do that). On this trip, I read the fabulous Billy Crystal autobiography Still Foolin’ ‘Em, which will make you laugh out loud in public places, often. Great background stories on the projects he’s worked on over the decades too. I also read through Blog Inc., by blogger Joy Deangdeelert Cho. It’s mostly about monetizing your blog, which I’m not much interested in. But there are some great tips on blogging in general that I found useful, and that you might find useful too. I especially liked the interview with Emily Henderson on page 115 where she talked about why she started blogging.

The ATL: Travel both ways this time was routed through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. For the life of me, I can’t understand why an airport that claims to be the busiest in the country makes my wife with arthritic feet walk half a mile (literally) to find out what gate her next flight departs from. And while we’re at it, why do pilots still make an announcement that says “If you need help finding your next flight, an attendant will be at the end of the jetway to help you”? Because those attendants don’t exist. They were “right-sized” out of the company while you were adding 50 bucks to my fare so I could actually take the luggage I’ve never paid extra for before. We did find someone at an empty gate a few gates down, who refused to look up our connecting flight and pointed us in the general direction of where we could find our departure. If we moved fast enough so we wouldn’t miss it.

Bonus: The ATL does include sharps containers in the restrooms. I found this one in the back of the Men’s room in terminal D next to the urinals. Great idea, bad placement.
Sharps-container

DSMA: Despite wi-fi that was slow as molasses, I was able to sit in on last Wednesday’s DSMA Twitter Chat, and it was still one of the highlights of my week. I think it’s safe for me to say my life would be a little LOT less happy without that crazy hour of questions, answers, encouragement, and support. Even on vacation.

Finally… Pictures! Here are a couple of sunrise photos from Sanibel, Florida. One, sunrise looking toward Bonita Beach and Estero at low tide, and one showing the famous Sanibel Lighthouse. Enjoy your Monday!
Sanibel-Sunrise

Sanibel-Lighthouse
 
 
 

Meeting Mike Hoskins.

I made my yearly trek to Cincinnati recently. I grew up in Cincinnati, and for the last four or five years, thanks to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, I’ve been making the trip at this time of year to celebrate that most Queen City of holidays, Opening Day.

One of the great benefits of the journey the last two years has been the opportunity to make a side trip to Indianapolis to meet diabetes friends. Last year, I got to meet Cherise Shockley in person for the first time. This year, I got to sit down for lunch with Mike Hoskins.

MHoskins

For those who don’t know yet, Mike is a writer for Diabetes Mine, and he also has a blog of his own, called The Diabetic’s Corner Booth. On top of that, he’s also one of our brave Champion Athletes with Diabetes medal winners.

For someone like me, who grew up in the midwest, having lunch with a guy like Mike Hoskins is like having lunch with one of my brothers. I’ve changed a lot in the last twenty years since I’ve moved to the east coast, but there’s still a lot of me in Mike’s mannerisms, and in the way he speaks.

I enjoyed hearing his stories, though in retrospect, I did pepper him with too many questions. We talked about his recent pump decision, telling our stories online, our spouses and parents, work and diabetes, and phones (I’m considering an upgrade and I need all the advice I can get). All in all, it was too short. Especially since I had trouble with a detour in the Indiana countryside and wound up getting there late.

In case you’re wondering, in person meetings with others who are living with or affected by diabetes are worth their weight in gold. I came away from a simple lunch chat with a great feeling that I can’t really explain. But it made the trip more than worthwhile. So if you know of someone near you or where you’re going, and you think it might be nice to meet that person, don’t wait to reach out. Make that connection. I promise you it’s worth it. That’s my Monday advice.

Mike, thanks for lunch! Hope all the days in Indiana this year are as sunny and warm as last Tuesday.
 
 
 

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