Thursday, 14 April 2011

Travels with my chronic condition

50 slow release metformin tablets? Check. Large supply of soft-touch true track finger pricking needles? Check. Blood testing kit complete in black zip-up carry case? Check. Now, main luggage or hand luggage? No question, if my luggage ends up in the Dolomites and not Dalaman with me, I'm going to miss my kit and my pills most of all. But wait, can I take through the needles or, in this new era of paranoia, will they be seen as offensive weapons? So I packed about ten in my testing kit and the rest in my luggage.

Drugs! What if I get stopped at customs and they find the big box of pills, it won't look good.

"Now then, that is a lot of pills you've got there sir, you're only going for 10 days."

"Delays! What if there's a strike or the planes all break. I can't be without them, I need my metformin, I'm trying to quit, I swear, I'm exercising, losing weight, give me a break officer, I need these drugs."

I figures what the hell and I packed them up in hand luggage and took them through and there wasn't a problem. It does make you wonder how much illegal drugs are being shipped around in this way, sealed inside foil wrapped Glucophage packets. I cut it fine picking them up from the chemist beforehand. Number two on your checklist (after passport) has to be; do I have enough pills to last me the full length of my stay plus a little extra, plus some emergency pills? Number three should be; how much are all the hidden extras going to cost me, such as air conditioning in the hotel - what a scam!

I don't know if it was the heat and the swimming, the Turkish food, the lack of snacking or the stress free existence of being on holiday but my blood sugar levels were the best they have been since I was diagnosed, usually around the 5.4 level when I tested. And I tested at irregular times so it wasn't just before breakfast and after dinner. I think part of the prescription for diabetes should be regular holidays to Turkey - paid for by the NHS. No? Oh go on.

I even treated myself to ice cream. Two scoops of the coldest, most chocolatey, most sensational ice cream I had ever tasted. The first since I had been diagnosed in May just over four months beforehand. The sensation, as with the second spoonful I uncovered a soft sticky chocolate addition to the smooth rich ice cream, allowed me to once again live life to the full.

No longer was I living vicariously through my friends - encouraging them to buy and eat the chocolate I couldn't, asking them to describe the taste, the texture, the release of endorphins - I was experiencing the full exquisite bucket of emotions and senses associated with rich sweet ice cream.

The great news is that it put my sugars up to 8.8 but by that evening I was back down to 6.4 and within tolerance levels. This is not intended to say to fellow sufferers that they should eat ice cream on a regular basis. Rather it is to proclaim the fantastical nature of eating the stuff on the very odd occasion, and to fully appreciate it when you do. Live in the moment of not just consumption but of life in all its sweet, textured, colourful and wondrous nature.

I believe prepared well for my holiday, I enjoyed it and I treated myself to paragliding and ice cream, two things I would normally avoid. These are my tips to a happy healthy holiday.

(see my previous blog on travel insurance for details - however note that I might have gotten a bit paranoid and read 'invalidate' instead of 'validate')
These are Andy Kliman's personal views, experiences and opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Diabetes UK

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