Our first holiday with diabetes was so tensive! Did I have enough insulin and test strips with me? How should I store everything? And where was I supposed to go with my child if I needed medical attention? All the care you have to deal with at home continues in a different situation. And then some more added...
Before traveling: when you fly always bring medicine, snacks, supplies for diabetes (in their original packaging) and a medical certificate in your hand baggage, as checked-in baggage can get lost or you may not be able to access it for a longer period of time due to unplanned delays.
Let's start with the airports... It can be such a hassle at security - to make sure the insulin pens and Kaio-with-pump don't get scanned, even with all the necessary paperwork and doctor's certificates. Since pumps can be taken through the gates (metal detectors), but not through X-ray scanning devices (total body scanners). Now it seems that some people don't have any issues at security, but with us it's always hassle. Faro was an exception. Here we even got medical assistance and were allowed to go through our own little customs room. Schiphol on the other hand has been a disaster so far. It's shocking how little security knows about diabetes...
Then comes the flying itself. Kaio is more sensitive to insulin while flying, so if we're not careful he gets into a heavy hypo. I take caution therefore: I have lots of dextrose with me and skip some carbs in the counting with meals.
Food at your holiday destination is up next: Carb counting in another country is a challenge in itself. For our holiday to Turkey and Spain I googled many dishes in advance and made lists with the amount of carbohydrates. Even so, things sometimes still went wrong.
Different weather conditions also affect the blood glucose levels. Heat causes blood vessels to open up, which makes insulin work more strongly. Therefore many diabetics have a higher risk of hypo's in summer. Others get high blood glucose levels in hot weather, like my son Kaio. Heat puts the body under stress and stress can cause the blood sugar level to rise. (In a warm bath on the other hand Kaio usually gets a hypo, but a bath doesn't stress the body). Insulin can also get damaged by heat - so always make sure you carry it in a cooler bag.
By now we have been to Turkey, Spain and Denmark. And in the last two countries Kaio had an insulin pump. For Spain I ordered a cooling bag for the pump, but it had slow delivery and arrived when we were already gone. So we're making those ourselves now. AND we make sure they arrive on time of course! I know what it's like... In Spain I had night shifts, since Kaio's blood sugar was doing a roalercoaster thing, taking the pump out of automode so I had to check his blood sugar every half an hour. And then I discovered that I had forgotten his ketone meter. What a tragedy! In Denmark his blood sugar was a lot better and I only had to react to the pump once a night. And this year we are going to Turkey for the first time with a pump, so that will be exciting. Since Kaio's blood sugar is high in hot weather, it will be night work again. But I'm not going to forget the ketone meter this year!
Nowadays I use a checklist to make sure that I have everything with me. You can download it here.
No matter how well you prepare, you can never avoid all unexpected situations. Don't forget to enjoy your holiday to the fullest! That's what we do! Despite all the dramas, challenges and worries, we make sure we are having such a good time together. On holiday, everything is allowed. Then we'll have fun. And despite all the stumbling blocks, there are still those treasured moments that - for a little while - we forget all about diabetes. Enjoy!
Do you have an exciting or fun holiday experience? We'd love to hear about it!