Right now, as I type, I have a knot in my stomach. It’s a familiar feeling, often accompanied by an inability to take deep breaths, that is my body’s way of telling me that I am very stressed out.
The reason, in this particular case, is that my husband and I have decided to move back to the east coast, and are going to be leaving our lovely Oakland home in a matter of weeks. Before we settle in, we’re going to be going on a big trip — stay tuned to the blog for details — that’s going to include some pretty diabetically unfriendly places. Like Latvia, for example. Or Russia.
I had my last appointment with my San Francisco endocrinologist this morning, and instead of discussing basal rates or boluses, we focused mostly on a checklist of prescriptions for me to take with me while abroad, just in case my supplies get lost or stolen or I find myself in a foreign country with a bottle of Humalog that’s expired. It was actually a pretty funny interaction — I’m quite worried that a Chinese-speaking pharmacist is not going to know what to make of Symlin to begin with, let alone if it’s written in my doctor’s handwriting. So as he kindly created a ridiculously long list of prescriptions for me, I kept gently prodding him to, you know, write a little clearer. (“Thank you so much!” I said, as he scrawled out a prescription for test strips. “Can you just write that a little more neatly?”)
He tried, and I now have a stack of prescriptions for any sort of diabetic calamity I might face. He also gave me some valuable travel tips, including the fact that apparently most insurance companies allow you to do a “vacation override” where you can get more than three months’ worth of prescriptions at a time (I’ll believe it when Blue Shield sends them to me), and suggested that I get a Frio, a carrying case specifically designed to keep your insulin cool. The office even provided me with five copies of a doctor’s letter stating that I have Type 1 diabetes, and that any delay in treatment could result in “serious, even life-threatening, medical problems.” Take that, Mr. Customs agent! You will allow me to receive that shipment of test strips!
I’m now moving into the real planning stages of this trip, and am very frustrated at the fact that, in addition to dealing with normal concerns like finances, plane tickets, vaccinations and the like, I have an entire litany of diabetic concerns that most world travelers don’t even need to think of. Forget the fact that I’m likely going to be in some places where most dishes include noodles — I have to pack a separate bag with enough diabetes crap (and backup diabetes crap) to last till I come home.
I’ll be posting more about my travel planning and adventures as the trip draws close, but in the meantime, I’m interested in hearing from other diabetic travelers out there. What resources did you find useful? What packing tips do you have? Did you bring all your supplies with you, or was it possible to have them shipped from home? What do you know now that you wish you’d known before?