Friday 9 April 2010

Holiday highs and lows

Well, Thailand is perhaps one of the most breathtaking places I have experienced. Until now, the hottest places I have been were Florida and Spain. Being hot and dusty places, I wasn't quite expecting the unbelievable and unparalleled beauty of the landscape, the limestone cliffs, the stunning coral reefs surrounding each of the hundreds if islands or the tireless hospitality of the locals. Crystal clear water, cloudless skies and beaches only movie sets could mirror.

But enough about the perfection, this blog is about one thing. Diabetes and how to cope with it. In the past, holidays have been something which have brought a mixture of both good and bad. Great to get away from the grind and enjoy some peace and quiet, an opportunity to let my body reset and get back to a healthy state. On the other hand, the minute I am eating food which isn't perfectly weighed and carbohydrate calculated, those sugars start having a party. Mix that with a time difference, hot temperatures, alcohol and even sleeping in, and you have yourself the perfect concoction of trouble. A mix of trouble which would make even the most well behaved diabetes would fall off the wagon. So many variables that the diabetes runs off like a spooked horse which has no intention of stopping!

There were certainly some challenges which arose with the pump. Of which I will concentrate on only one. Mainly because this was the biggest problem, and because it would be quite a long blog if I listed all the challenges.

For those who read my previous blog about the planning which goes into packing for holiday from a diabetic's point of view, you will know that I planned for every possible eventuality, including tropical bears (!) when I calculated how many cannulas I would need for holiday. Well, it turns out I forgot one. The fact that I would be in the pool or ocean everyday and would be sweating more than normal. For those reasons, my first cannula fell out, or rather tugged out with ease after just one day of wear. Now, I took 10 cannulas, which was enough for one month. I figured that this was enough before I left, but in my new knowledge about the wear that water could cause to the sticking plaster, if I continued to lose them at one a day, I would run out after 10 days! I decided to try my hand back at injections, because I knew I had enough insulin and needles to last.


After just two days, I had had more sugars over 20 than I could remember, lost a whole day to sleeping because my BG (blood glucose) and was so out of control that my body gave up. So I got myself back on the pump quick smart, having never been so grateful of being attached to it. And guess what happened? At 11pm when I re-attached the pump I was 23.2mmol, by 9 am, once back on it, I was 5.6mmol.
So I decided to stick with the pump but to try and keep the site as dry as possible, which meant checking it a lot and having a little tug now and then, just to make sure it wouldn’t pull out in the middle of a trip or god forbid, the middle of my friend’s wedding! Now it was still a challenge, especially on days when we went snorkeling, because of the constant water contact to the cannula. But somehow it all came together ok. I just had to ensure that I was mindful of the time so that I didn’t stay in the water much over an hour. Those who are on a pump should only ever be off it for around 30 minutes – 1 hour. This may sound like a lot, but when you have some of the best snorkeling Thailand has to offer, 1 hour is not enough. But I’m still here and despite some ups and downs, I obviously made it through the holiday, so no harm done. And even though I hit some high highs, and some low lows, my sugars were still nothing like they were when I was on MDIs. I would still wake up with sugars of around 5mmol everyday, and I didn’t worry nearly as much as I used to. Perhaps that one dodgy cannula at the beginning was a fluke, or a faulty, or perhaps I had knocked it on something and caused it to become a bit loose. Whatever it was, I eacked them out to the very end and they lasted. Phew.

The moral of this story (blog)……it may still be rough, but the pump makes it a damned sight easier.

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