Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Diabetes Takes No Vacations.

last week i went on a trip to mexico with my mom, step-dad, 2 brothers, step-sister, cousin, and family friends (there were 11 of us in total).  we all (with the exception of my cousin) went away together last year and had a blast, so i have been anticipating this vacation for a while now.  however, as it approached, i began to get a little nervous as i realized it would be my first real vacation (and a beach one, at that) with diabetes.  june 20th marked 9 months for me, so the "firsts" are becoming less and less frequent.  this one, though, was pretty daunting.

diabetes or not, the trip was amazing.  it was fun, relaxing, ridiculous and wonderful. we ate delicious food, drank an obscene amount of giant margaritas (see below), swam in beautiful water, and laid in the hot mexican sun for hours on end.  it was over way too quickly and i am already anxiously awaiting our next adventure.



that all being said, there was one area of my life that i was not able to leave in NY and take a break from, and that would be the full-time job of being my own pancreas.

i knew it would be an interesting week when we got off the plane in mexico and got onto a bus to go to our terminal.  i was feeling a bit funny, and thought i should test and make sure i wasn't low.  i stuck my hand in my purse and rummaged around for my meter...but it wasn't there.  i of course had packed extras of every possible thing i could think of, but only brought one meter.  the bus was getting fuller by the minute, the plane almost empty, and i had to think fast.  i ran off the bus, up the stairs to the plane (in a torrential downpour, no less) and down the aisle to where i had been sitting.  "what'd you lose?" the flight attendants laughed as i frantically looked around.  as soon as i said the words "glucose meter" the smiles went away and they ran over to help me.  it wasn't in my seat or in the front pocket where i had it during the flight.  it was in my brother's seat across the aisle (!?) and must have fallen out of my purse when we were getting off.  as relieved as i was to find it, i suddenly felt incredibly vulnerable.  what if i hadn't felt like testing at that exact moment?  i cringe even thinking about it.  and after all that?  110 mg/dL.

we spent the rest of the day settling in and went to bed early, exhausted from a day of traveling.  when i woke up the next morning feeling rested and relaxed, i went to test before breakfast, and my meter flashed a picture of a battery at me and then shut off.  i have had this meter since november.  i have had to change the battery once before this.  once.  and now i'm in f-ing mexico and my battery dies?!  i get it, i should have brought an extra meter, extra batteries, whatever, i already learned my lesson!  luckily i had a very understanding family/crew who all ventured to wal-mart (yes, there are wal-mart's in mexico, thank god!) with me to get a stupid lithium battery.  oy.  vey.

then there was the swimming issue.  looking back, it all worked out completely fine.  getting in and out of the pool/ocean was anxiety provoking for me at first, just because being disconnected feels so strange, but after the first few days i developed a system and my blood sugars were staying in range even when i was off the pump for a while.  even the swim-up bar meals (aka meals eaten with 0 insulin) did not wreak havoc as i thought they might, though it probably helped that i ate very low carb at those meals.  the whole disconnecting/reconnecting business was also an opportunity to educate my family/friends who hadn't spent much time with me post-diabetes/pump, and it was nice to see them showing an interest in the whole 'betes deal.

as the week went on i felt more and more comfortable being on vacation con diabetes (like that little bit of spanish there?).  of course, diabetes decided i was getting a little too comfortable, and threw me this lovely experience: on thursday, the second to last day of our trip, we went to xel-ha, a big freshwater meets ocean water swimming situation where you can snorkel, cliff jump, swim in natural caves, etc.  i put my pancreas (as i took to calling it that day for some reason) and my meter in a zippered plastic bag and kept it on the sidelines as we journeyed through the park.  reattached for lunch, took it off again to swim more, etc. etc.  the day was fun, but long and tiring.  we had to get on the bus at 7 am and make the 2 hour drive to the park, it was about 1000 degrees or so, and by the time we boarded the bus to leave at 5, we were all pretty beat.  i was wearing a dress with pockets, and i was too wet and tired to care if my pump was exposed, so i put it in one of the dress pockets.  you couldn't see the pump itself, but my tubing was coming out of the bottom of my dress and then up which looked kind of funny.  well, turns out it also wasn't so smart.  as i trudged down the aisle of the bus to my seat in the back, i felt a pinch in my butt.  "ow!" i yelled, whipping around and expecting to see one of my family members smirking after pinching me in the rear.  instead, i saw A (the dad in the other family we were with) holding my tubing with my infusion set attached to it.  the tubing had gotten caught on the arm rest of one of the seats and ripped the whole set out of my body.  and we were about to sit on a bus for 2 hours.  cut to me standing in the steamy, gross coach bus bathroom trying to shove the tiny tube back in the tiny hole it came out of, praying that some insulin will go into my body over the next 2 hours and that i won't get a staph infection from this entirely unhygienic scenario.  well, 2 hours later, 88 mg/dL.  all was well in the end.

diabetes itself really behaved for the most part.  i did stick to low carb things which definitely contributed, but regardless, staying in range for most of the week made things a lot less stressful.  i learned that you can never have enough "extra" things, and as long as you do, most situations can be dealt with.  i also learned that, unfortunately, diabetes cannot be left at home when you take a vacation.  damn.

3 comments:

Karen said...

Vacations with diabetes can be so tough. But it sounds like you handled everything beautifully and had a really great time. And next time, you'll feel even more confident when you go away. Good for you!!!!

Sarah said...

Thanks so much Karen! That means a lot :) Any travel tips for the next time around?

Brenda W said...

I've never HAD to stick an infusion set back in the whole, but I've always wondered if I COULD. I'm glad it worked out, I'd never heard of anyone actually doing that before!! I guess you do what you have to do though, and it was better to try that than go without insulin for hours on end.

I'm glad you had fun!!! I wish diabetes would've taken a vacay too, but you seem to have handled everything very well. :) Good job! I saw the pictures on Fbook and it looks like you had a super amazing time!! I'm jealous of those margs!