Diabetes and Travel

Looks like I'm going on an overnight trip to Vancouver next week. Should be a fun little trip, with yours truly along mostly as "moral support". Two words seldom applied to me, either together or singularly. I'm relishing the change, though. Makes me feel all grown up and stuff.

While talking to my friend about the trip, I started asking a lot of questions about when we were leaving. Where are we eating? What time do we get there? Etc.

And of course, it began to annoy her, to the point where she finally said "Can't we just wing it!?"

My wounded defence centred around my diabetes, which worked. I said that I wanted to know roughly when meals were so I could plan insulin accordingly.

Afterwards, though, I realized that this is complete bullshit, and has been bullshit for years. I don't need to plan my insulin accordingly. Not anymore. In fact, when I travel, I do exactly what she wanted to do - I "wing it". I do my 28 units of Lantus insulin at 10 pm, every night, and I do my humalogue insulin in response to meals. Beyond that, nothing is set in stone.

This has been the case for about four years now, ever since my endocrinologist saved my life and changed my insulin types. While I have to carry food for low blood sugars, that's always the case, not just for travelling. So why the worries?

Easy. I used to be on different insulins - namely, "R" and "N", which while they sound cool (like the "Mr T." of insulins, or something), are kind of, well, shitty. "R" insulin supposedly had the "R" stand for "Rapid". Except, you had to do it half an hour before eating, and it stayed in your bloodstream for hours after eating. And the "N" was supposedly "Long lasting", but it only lasted twelve hours. And was unreliable.

True story. When I first met my endocrinologist, he was stunned I was still on "R" and "N" insulins. He said something like "Dave, your blood tester was made in 2005, and is state of the art. Your insulin was developed in the 1980s. You are a 1980s diabetic. Do you really want an insulin that's been around since before MC Hammer?"

Or something to that effect. It's been a while.

Anyways, these two insulins were a pain in the ass. They meant that you had to plan out most of your day before you got out of bed. I'm going to have a bowl of cereal for breakfast. At noon, I'll eat a sandwich at that nice deli. Three pm I'll have six graham crackers, and spaghetti for dinner at 6. I'll have cereal sometime around 10 pm, and be in bed by midnight.

Seriously. That was my life. For a good ten years or so, I'd have these charts that I'd have to follow. The "freedom" in the chart was that, yeah, while I had to eat a "fruit" at 3 pm, I got to choose the fruit. Any act of spontaneity in my life had a twelve hour delay. I'd wake up and say, "aw, hell with it. I'm going to eat steak tonight!"

You can imagine how travel would mess that up. If a ferry or plane was late, you might not be able to grab a meal in the right time window, and everything would get topsy turvy. You'd find yourself in the 7/11 at 3:05 in a panic, saying "well, mountain dew is kind of a fruit...." and hoping for the best.

If you were like me, your friends would make it even worse. Because unlike me, they had the luxury of spontaneity. Which I'm pretty sure they exercised just to piss me off.

"Hey, Dave, I know we planned to eat on the ferry... but let's just wait and eat at this nice steakhouse instead. It's only another two hours' wait!"

And then you have to decide whether you eat on the ferry and then watch your friends eat at this awesome restaurant while you have salad... or you skip your ferry meal and feel sick as your insulins mess you up internally. It's kind of the diabetics' version of Sophie's choice, only with better cinematography.

But nowadays? Not the case. So I guess my travel anxiety is kind of a relic. Ironically, though, it only shows up when I'm travelling with other people, because part of me is afraid they're going to throw my meticulously planned meal schedules off. Which is funny, because these days, my meticulously planned meal schedules are basically "Sometime before noon and midnight, eat something."

Which is a schedule I can keep. Most of the time.

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