Diabetes and holidays – more selfless research

By | 5 April, 2011
Pretty Majorcan mountain

Pretty Majorcan mountain

I’m back! Although from the looks of things you’ve been getting along quite nicely with Tim while I’ve been away. I’ve never seen so many comments, it’s fantastic!

I’ve been hiking in Majorca with the husband for a week. I’m assured that the pain in my thighs is due to too many hills rather than an unexpected diabetes complication so hopefully the aches will subside shortly and just fond memories will remain.

I’m thinking up a scheme where diabetics should be able to reclaim the VAT on holidays as they aren’t actually holidays, they’re health education programmes where you learn to cope with your diabetes in a foreign environment. Because of this, I need to document what I’ve learnt on my holiday to prove it was of genuine medical benefit. Previous sailing trips have been instructive, and I believe my learnings about the relationship between leopard tracking and hypos will one day be given the recognition they so truly deserve. So bear with me while I document the insights I gained about diabetes in the Majorcan mountains.

Sorry to start on a bit of a downer but…

Diabetes can be a complete bitch. While this certainly isn’t news, there are times when it’s sometimes a bit more of a bitch than others. Like when you have breakfast, then – because Spanish bus drivers seem to need a fag break every 10 minutes and not one single German ever has their money ready to pay the driver when they get on the bus –  it takes much longer than planned to get a bus to where you want to start your walk. By which time you’re 17 because you’d reduced your basal and only bolused for half of breakfast because you’re planning to spend the day trekking up hills and would rather do it without the hypos. So now you’re grumbling about diabetes to your beleaguered husband halfway up a beautiful Majorican mountain rather than just enjoying the view. Eventually you climb enough hills and it all settles down and you end the walk as a 7, without having inhaled dangerous quantities of fruit pastilles. Nothing dramatic, just bloody irritating, arghh!

On a happier note…

Dear oranges...I'm sorry, not all of your juice is evil

Dear oranges…I’m sorry, not all of your juice is evil

Proper fresh orange juice isn’t evil. I avoid fresh orange juice because to me, it’s just rocket fuel in a carton. Even if I bolus 3 hours early and am virtually hypo by the time I drink it, I can guarantee the spike from carton orange juice will be stratospheric. Where we were walking, the orange trees were laden with fruit and the hotel had a nifty little juicer thingy where you could squeeze your own orange juice. It looked too tasty to resist so I approached cautiously with a fully loaded pump. And the gracious diabetes gods smiled down and every day I squeezed my own orange juice, bolused just a little more than I would for 2 oranges and rose gently and controllably without any jet propelled assistance. I apologise wholeheartedly to orange juice, I have regularly cursed you and besmirched your name as the root of all diabetes evil. It appears the stuff sold in supermarkets in cardboard containers is your evil twin. The real stuff straight from the orange is really jolly nice.

And finally…

Segways – so much fun there must be a diabetes link somewhere

Segways are an essential diabetes tool (this may be slightly untrue).

If my diabetic-holiday-VAT-reclaim scheme doesn’t come to fruition, my next campaign will be for all diabetics to be given access to a free Segway. Even I am struggling to think of a pseudo-legitimate reason why this should be the case, but we had such a good time haring round Palma on them for a  couple of hours, I find it hard to believe there isn’t some form of health benefit to be derived from the uplift in spirits they provide.

Does anyone else have any important holiday based diabetes learning that we can use to develop the case for VAT free holidays for the pancreatically challenged?

Category: travel Tags: ,

About Alison

Diagnosed with Type One in 1983 at the age of four, Alison's been at this for a while now. She uses Humalog in a combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and any blood glucose meter as long as it takes five seconds or less.

19 thoughts on “Diabetes and holidays – more selfless research

  1. Mike

    @alison Wow, great write up and looks like you had a great time. I’m surprised that the bus drivers only stopped for a fag(cigarette for US readers) break and not for breakfast/coffee!!

    One of the benefit of travel especially this time of year is that you learn about absorption rates. The temps will rise to around 20-25º by mid afternoon, so the difference from 1st thing in the morning can be as much as 10-15º which can dramatically catch you out especially when bolusing. Warmer the temp, the quicker that your insulin will absorb into yer body!

    A good reminder if anyone is prepping for some vacation fun in the sun..

  2. Tim

    He he he! I like the piccy of you and Geoff on the Segways – they are seriously the silliest method of transport about!

    Interesting about the orange juice thing – normally it sends me sky-high too. But I like it too much to avoid (or I’m just stupid…!)

  3. Alison Post author

    @mikeinspain Good point re absorption rates. I didn’t really see it much because by the time afternoon came I was bolusing a very tiny amount for some bread and fruit for lunch anyway as we still had more walking ahead of us which had more impact than the heat. Normally the heat gets me though, especially when it gets above about 25.

  4. Alison Post author

    @Tim You look ridiculous on a Segway and everyone stares at you, but they are so much fun. It was like being in the Italian Job tearing through the narrow, windy back streets of Palma slightly too quickly!

  5. Mike

    @tim & @alison – I personally think we should hold a ShootUp Segway Meet.. Although one would have to stick to pedestrian areas.. Dangerous enough crossing the bleeding road here at a crossing.

    @tim would be great to see you on a segway.. The security guards seem to like them in some of the shopping centres here. Lazy gits!

    @alison Anything consistently over 25º will get most people (even some of us that should be use to it by now) and that perhaps highlights another bonus with a pump. Temp basal rates etc…

  6. Diana Maynard

    I do loads of walking and cycling holidays (just back from 2 weeks cycling around Cuba in 30+ degree heat), and find the only way to prevent the soaring BG after breakfast due to other people faffing around and delayed starts, is to take the usual insulin and then decrease the basal for the following hour or so, possibly supplemented with some glucose as you start. Agree about the OJ, especially first thing in the morning. Your experience with the freshly squeezed stuff may have as much to do with the type of orange….
    My biggest diabetes challenge on my last trip was starting a 70 mile cycle with a breakfast of cheese omelette and coffee (not a carb in sight) since I can’t eat bread!

  7. Diana Maynard

    Oh and here’s another holiday-based diabetes tip. Ascensia Breeze meters do not like getting damp. 7pm in a remote village in Cuba, blood sugar hitting the floor, and the discovery that my meter will not turn on, I have no spare batteries or meter, and no chance to find any for at least another 2 days (and possibly the remaining 10 days of the trip, given the fact that they’re odd batteries). Problem solved when one of my companions realised the case was wet due to my water bottle having leaked in my bag…we dried out the meter overnight and bingo, it worked again.

  8. Alison Post author

    @drdeath Hi Diana. I see you’re from sunny Sheffield (I went to uni there so have a soft spot for it) so you must be pretty used to hills! I think you’re probably right about the just bolus as normal and then eat something before you start thing, I try and avoid it because I don’t really like eating as I’m walking, but in reality I think it’s pretty much the only option.

    I’ll definitely be looking for Soller oranges in future, they are the way forward when it comes to diabetic friendly juice!

    What a nightmare with the meter. I live on the wild side and rarely carry a spare meter with me either, but I’m always conscious that it would be a complete nightmare if it broke. Not like the good old days when you could read the strips by comparing the colours against the pot, not much that could go wrong there apart from it being too dark to see!

  9. Alison Post author

    @mikeinspain Ah, that could be a problem and must be especially debilitating when trying to decide which flavour fruit pastille to eat first. Good job your pancreas held out until they invented meters!

    1. lizz

      Alison! Do you do that too! I waste precious ‘getting sugar up’ time sorting jelly bellys into the same flavours before I eat them.

      1. Alison Post author

        @Liz Oh yes, I like to eat the orange fruit pastilles first and finish with black one. What goes in the middle doesn’t matter. This is of course a hugely sensible routine to go through when you’re a 3!

          1. Dave

            Or proof of the slightly surreal mind of a hypo experiencer.

            My favourite once was pursuading myself that 2.6 was perfectly reasonable and I had time to complete hoovering the lounge before grabbing a coke.

  10. Mike

    For sure 🙂 think through pure luck more than anything though.

  11. Annette A

    Less holiday based diabetes learning than diabetes based holiday learning – I can read/interpret the ingredients/nutritional information/menus in more languages than I can ever expect to speak…So if we were all paid to go on holiday (or had holidays paid for) to foreign speaking contries, we’d all be multi-lingual 🙂

  12. Marijn

    The direct link between a Segway and a diabetic device might be Dean Kamen.

    ps. like your blogs

      1. Dave

        This is indeed a Top Trump dinner party fact / quiz question. I feel boldly knowledgable now that I am aware of this.

        Thank you Marijn.


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