Oh boy! If you are new to my blog – here is a little back story!
My name is Danie and I am 27 years old. I was born and raised in Canada, and at 21 I travelled the beautiful land down under – and fell in love with an Aussie. We lived in Canada for a few years but quickly realized Australia was home for us. At the age of 25 (during the time of our wedding) I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We now have a beautiful son who is 1 and a half and since he was born have travelled to Canada twice, and interstate once.
Travelling with a child is hard, but traveling with diabetes is just as hard! Here’s a few of my experiences (don’t be alarmed – just learn from them. I know I have) And also a few tricks that I would like to give you to ensure you have the BEST experience on your trip
** Also, this is for people with pumps but I’m sure if you also use injections some advice would be appropriate for you. Again, I stress that I am no expert, this is just my experiences!
Tip + Tricks
– ALWAYS take your insulin on the plane with you. DO NOT CHECK IT IN YOUR LUGGAGE!!!!!!! If insulin freezes it breaks down the proteins and essentially is no longer insulin.. just a liquid!
– Because you are now going to take ALL YOUR INSULIN ON THE PLANE WITH YOU, you will also be required to have a note from your GP. This is simply stating that you are a diabetic and you require insulin. Carry this note with you in the same bag as your insulin. Not sure if you’ve ever been through America, but they do not have patience… so organization is key!
– Also, any of your consumables – reservoirs, needles, test kits, blood strips ALSO TAKE ON THE PLANE WITH YOU! Do you know how many times my luggage has been lost or arrived days later? Way too many times to count. Or it comes a few days late, oh gawd – we need to ensure you always have your supplies on you.
– If you are on the pump, it would not hurt (but is not required) to have some injection needles. I suggest this because pumps do break, and sometimes it is hard to track down another (although my experience with Medtronic.. they are magicians!)
– I do not remove my pump when I go through security, basically out of principle. It’s my pancreas, yeah pretty cool, eh? Does yours tell you the time… or assist you with getting to the toilet at 2am? Nope, my pancreas is better than yours’ and just like you I need it to survive.
– People have said that taking it through the scanners will mess with the settings, I call BS. I have been through 100 [at least] and mine still is 100% great.
– You can also get a ‘loan’ pump. I have heard people doing this, it would take a bit more research and I believe you do need to pay for it. But if you are going somewhere very isolated I would recommend exploring this idea further.
– Always carry a Glucagen Hypo Injection kit with you.
– When organizing any health insurance (you should ALWAYS have health insurance) make sure they know your a T1D. It may end up costing a bit more, but if you have a preexisting condition (such as diabetes) and there is an incident. Sometimes your insurance won’t cover you. In most cases it’s only an extra $30-$50. But it’s worth it.
– If it’s cold outside – ie) Canada > minus 30. Make sure you pump is close to your body, and not in a side pocket exposed to the weather conditions (this includes the tube as well).
My experiences (for you to learn from)
Here’s a little back story.
Traveling to Canada we had my in-laws, Dean and Harvey. Harvey was 9 months old at the time, so each time we did an activity, someone had to sit out and watch Harvey. Today was Dean’s turn, and this was the worst day of my life.
It was the most magical day. Beautiful sun on the Jasper mountains, and it was a day for our hike! We woke up early and ensured we all ate a big brekky. I indulged in some pancakes and maple syrup… and went for seconds! I knew we were going on a hike today so I decided not bolus for my breakfast. A take away coffee in one hand and camera in the other, I was ready! The in-laws and myself hiked for about 3kms, nothing strenuous and it was about minus 15 at the time. We went up and down some tricky bits but nothing we couldn’t handle.
We got into this beautiful canyon and I hit a brick wall. A fucking large, concrete brick wall. It felt like the floor was ripped out from under me, and it happened within minutes. My eyes were rolling to the back of my head, I could see stars and my body was uncontrollably shaking. Guess what I forgot to bring on my hike.. any lollies or glucagen pen or very myknowledgeable husband. Well that’s grand..
I told my mother in law it couldn’t be a low, I had pancakes for God’s sake! The hike wasn’t that hard.. what’s happening with my body. She ignored me (thankfully) and found any lollies round she could find. She was feeding them to be as I lay in this canyon – on the ice, it was about minus 35. My body went into overdrive and I couldn’t stop shivering, and my mother in law hand fed me lollies. People were throwing me their jackets, rubbing my feet and holding me off the ice. Thinking back on it now, people are really fucking awesome sometimes.
As I lay there absolutely helpless I just thought to myself.. this is it. This is where I die. I laid on my back and thought Dean and Harvey, I hope you both know how much I love you. I closed my eyes and focus on calming my breathe and keeping in the tears. Within minutes the shaking, hand gone away, I could think again, and the sweating under my arms and upper lip has stopped (these are my first indicators of a hypo). I stood up, it’s like nothing had ever happened… I was able to walk out of the canyon and back 3kms to the pick up zone.. WTF… is this disease not the most weird thing to ever happen to you?!!! We were greeted by the rescue team and ambulance, who were going to use this really rad wheel barrel to get me out. Thank fuck for those people at the canyon. I wish I could sincerely thank them. And my fast acting mother in law who saved my life – let’s be honest, she won’t ever let me forget it.
It took me 3 long days to final normalize my levels, and get rid of my ‘sugar hangover’.
How could this happen – Well, it’s a lot of technical lingo that I will let my husband speak to you about, but basically it’s the mountains. The mountains put pressure on the reservoir and basically pushed in too much insulin, which ultimately caused me to have a hypo.
ALWAYS – have a glucagen pen / lollies and even consider turning your basal rates down to ensure you do not ever experience this. It was terrifying.
Well I hope this blog post has helped you, I know it’s not easy travelling with a pump but we’re all in this together xx
P.s do you ever find you tend to have more hypo’s while flying? Same thing as the mountains! Make sure you always put your pump on airplane mode and have lollies with you.
This photo was taken minutes before I was laying on the ice, nearly unconscious.