Even more selfless diabetes travel research

By | 26 June, 2012
Alison on glacier

Wearing multiple layers to hike on a glacier means you needn’t worry about where to hide your pump. Actually finding your pump amongst the layers is a completely different challenge.

As I continue to dedicate myself selflessly to the diabetes research agenda, I have just completed another research field trip. This time I investigated the impact of travel on diabetes in the Canadian Rockies and Alaska. Key learnings include:

• When you’re wearing thermal underwear, two layers of clothes, waterproofs and a life jacket while sitting in a kayak with a cover over you so you can’t access anything below your ribs, finding somewhere to keep your pump so you can actually reach it is a bit of a pain. The solution involves sticking it in your cleavage (which is also where you’re storing your binoculars to keep them to hand but out of the rain) and unzipping your life jacket when you need to access it. Brighter diabetics would remember to take longer pump tubing with them to avoid the need for contortionist type activity simply to bolus.

• Cameras can survive a glucogel/pocket explosion, but brighter diabetics would keep the two things in separate pockets in future.

• Altitude cures diabetes. When driving the Icefields Parkway at an altitude of around 6,500 ft, despite doing more driving than walking, I needed minimal insulin and maximum fruit pastilles. Thankfully the husband was driving or it would have taken us weeks if we’d have had to stop for every low.

• Pumps will always bring amusement to any dining situation. As I bolused while chatting with a lovely couple from New York, one of them said to me, with a straight face “Oh, are you charging that?”. I love the idea that I might have a power socket in my belly button through which I can charge all my electronic devices!

Category: Living with diabetes 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.

9 thoughts on “Even more selfless diabetes travel research

  1. Tim

    Nice work co writer, you’ve done a great job advancing diabetic research. I wonder if you could get a grant for your next trip?

  2. lady up north

    I love the idea that I might have a power socket in my belly button through which I can charge all my electronic devices!

    I think that teenagers believe they already have this – or is it just my son ?

    On a more serious note, I am just so envious of your trip. Next time you go, can I stow away in your luggage ?

    1. Alison Post author

      @ladyupnorth You should know me by now – there’s never room in my luggage due to the vast quantities of diabetes junk in there 😉 It was even worse this time because I took loads of spares as I was nervous of something going wrong out in the wilds of Alaska where I couldn’t just nip to the nearest pharmacist.

  3. Tim

    I have to confess that when I was looking at your pictures on Facebook, the first thing I thought about was – not the the views, the whales, the sealions or the magnificent scenery – but how the hell you got to your pump under all that stuff. So thanks for answering that conundrum!

    1. Alison Post author

      I have to confess – it was a far greater challenge than I’d anticipated, especially because I really needed to check my CGM pretty regularly to see what was going on with blood sugars because of the cold and all the activity! And I realised I’d made a pretty fundamental error first time out in the kayak when the whole kayak started vibrating to tell me I was high and I couldn’t get to the pump to turn the alarm off.

  4. Mike

    Shame the Veo ‘Fisher Price’ styled remote completely ignores the whole CGM thing. Would have been ideal. Dear Medtronic… again!

  5. Aoife

    Hehe, I had a similar experience, a couple of years ago I spent Christmas at the Ice Hotel in Sweden, 200km north of the Arctic Circle, -25ºC outside, wearing thermals, base layers, fleece, ski pants and jacket topped off with a thermal jump suit provided by the hotel! Forget getting to any bare flesh! Glucose meter highly disliked being called upon in those temperatures and I’m not sure I actually had any decent circulation to my fingers until we landed back at Heathrow! Sticking to warmer climates now 😀


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