Did you know November is American Diabetes month? Did you know diabetes is an epidemic...and I am not just talking about Type 2 diabetes. My amazing husband is a Type 1 diabetic, meaning he is dependent on insulin to survive because his pancreas does not produce any insulin. Thanks to the insulin pump his diabetes has become more manageable and his health has greatly improved. Diabetics lead pretty normal lives thanks to modern day medicine and insulin pumps, however there is definitely more preparation required for certain things, like traveling. We do a lot of traveling and it was during some of our summer adventures that I realized I needed to create a diabetic travel checklist and create this blog post.
We were traveling through South Georgia when my husbands insulin pump alerted him the battery was just about dead. Normally it gives a warning that the battery is getting low and you have a few hours, even days sometimes to replace it...but for some reason this time it didn't. So there we are in the middle of nowhere with no replacement batteries. We eventually found a little gas station and thought surely they would have some batteries for sale, well they didn't. Ben explained that he needed it for a medical device and the clerk went to the back to see if they had any batteries laying around. Thankfully they did, and Ben paid for the most expensive battery ever. Yup, they charged him almost $5 for one battery. Lesson learned pack extra batteries!
One of our stops on our South Georgia adventure was the Okefenokee Swamp. We were camping for 3 days at the swamp and it was during this stop that we discovered yet another thing to add to the diabetes checklist. If you are familiar with this area, you know it is a pretty deserted. The swamp campground is over 18 miles from the closest town, over 50 miles from the closest hospital and there is virtually no cell service. One evening my husband informed me his blood sugar was getting low. Thankfully we were able to get it back up quickly and it didn't result in a seizure, but this reminded us that when you are in a deserted area make sure you have local emergency contact numbers and if you are camping make sure you know where the ranger or campground host are located.
And then there was our trip to Six Flags. This trip involved two Type 1 diabetics. My husband and his sister (who is also a Type 1) were waiting in line for a roller coaster, when my sister-in-law's blood pressure started dropping. They immediately got out of line and rushed over to a concession stand to get water. After she rested and was re-hydrated she was fine. And later in the day my husbands blood sugar got a little low. You see standing in long lines and large amounts of walking in the heat do not make a good situation for diabetics. It is very important to have snacks and water on hand at amusement parks. It is also important to know about insulin pump safety on roller coasters and other rides. Be sure to read your pumps user manual for details. You may want to also check with park admission to see if they offer free fast passes to diabetes. Explain to them the dangers of standing in long lines (heat issues, blood sugar crashes, etc).
Here is a printable Diabetes Travel checklist that I created to help us prepare for future travel adventures, I hope it will help you too!
Additional things to remember when traveling:
- Talk with amusement parks in advance about getting a fast pass to bypass lines.
- Be aware of time changes as this will affect your sleeping and eating habits which will result in changes to your insulin dosages.
- Keep medications in their original packaging to avoid any issues with security personnel.
- Have ALL diabetic supplies readily available at ALL times.
- Look into purchasing travel insurance if you're traveling out of the country.
- Get any necessary immunizations.
- Protect your feet. Don't walk around barefoot in hotel rooms, showers, pools, etc.
- Stay hydrated.
- Stretch your legs every couple hours to avoid blood clots.
- Remember to continue exercise routines.
- Always pack extra of everything!