Travelling with the diabetes beast

I should have written every blood sugar reading down. I should have noted my basal rates going in, and my basal rates leaving. I should have kept tabs on my insulin dosages every time I ate, and the foods and activity that accompanied every dose.

I should have, but I didn’t.

About two months ago, I suggested Big Ring and I go on a four-day getaway within the two-week break between the end of winter semester and the start of summer semester. I’d been going hard with my studies for nearly two straight years; I needed a break, something to free my mind and refresh me before the attack of yet another summer of chemistry hell, er, I mean, awesomeness 😉

It was between San Francisco or Portland. Initially Big Ring was championing for San Francisco as he’d only previously seen it on a day-trip during our Sonoma County/Levi Leipheimer adventure four years ago. But Portland has always been a go-to for us. We love the neighbourhood we stay in; we love the walking culture; we love the people; the shops; the relaxed vibe, and the fact we find something new every trip we go.

Plus, Portland = my happy place.

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Dear Portland, PoP has arrived!!!

The thing about travel and diabetes though, it can be a beast. At least, for me it is. Pretty much, I am challenged with non-stop low blood sugars from the moment I step off the plane to the moment I get back on.

This trip was no exception.

A lot of the foods we ate are not typically foods I eat regularly, nor the times we ate them at. And happy hours every night, most definitely not the norm! And because travelling is mostly a restaurant culture, I don’t know the exact carb counts for what I’m eating so I’m having to guess my intake of carbohydrates, meaning I’m also guessing my intake of insulin.

Portland6-2016
Carb counts anyone? Anyone???

And maybe I’m just a cruddy assed carb-guesser, because my blood sugars were crashing practically every two seconds. Although, I find that highly unlikely as I’m fairly decent at it when need be at home, and I was a superstar at it before going on the insulin pump. More likely it’s the endless walking we do when vacationing. Oh, and the fact Portland is home to the BEST North American ice cream EVER (Hello Salt and Straw!!!) and the fact said ice cream was ohhhhh like a five-minute walk from our hotel, and the fact, we were being so insanely debauched eating Salt and Straw at like 10:30 at night – yeah, that can totally mess you up too.

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One night, there was Salt and Straw with a craft brew chaser; like I said, totally debauched!

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And we weren’t the only ones; every night, lineups out the door and around the corner!!!

The entire trip, my blood sugars averaged 4.2. There were a lot of borderline lows, some slight lows, and one massively horrible, freak the ugly crud right out of me low.

That night we had a late dinner at a tapas restaurant. I had the paella. Now, I’m pretty well versed in what it does to my blood sugars as we have it frequently at home during the summer months. Paella is a rice-based dish (we use arborio) that generally shoots my blood sugars up if I don’t first load myself full of insulin. So I did just that. My blood sugars were 5.7, and I calculated a conservative 60 grams of carbs for the meal based on the successive lows I’d already been having. After dinner, we walked for about 20 or so minutes before deciding to stop in at Salt and Straw to which I ordered a lovely split scoop of their Strawberry Honey Balsamic Black Pepper and Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache ice creams (Yummm!!!). My blood sugars pre-ice cream were 4.7. I knew I was in a bit of a pickle. My blood sugars were dropping, but if I didn’t give myself any insulin they would surely shoot up from the ice cream later.

What I should have done was eat the ice cream, wait until my blood sugars rose, and some of the dinner insulin wore off, then give myself a half dose and test a couple hours later to see if a further dose was required. That’s what I should have done. But I didn’t. Nope, I gave myself the half dose before taking my first mouth-watering bite.

Portland8-2016
How can you possibly think straight with that staring at you, waiting for you to dive in???

Retrospect is a bitch.

Before bed, my blood sugars were 3.7. I chewed on 5 salt water taffies courtesy of the hotel, and was feeling thoroughly ill at this point. I turned the lights out, and flitted off into an unsettled, herky jerky sleep. About 30 minutes later I opened my eyes with a start, and I don’t know what it was about the way I was feeling, but something had me fumbling for the light switch, needing to test my blood sugars. They were 2.7. I didn’t believe it. My mind was bouncing all over the place, my words were nonsensical, I was stuttering, getting half sentences out. I told Big Ring I needed to wash my hands and retest; he tried reasoning with me that I would only need to do that if my blood sugars were high. I stared at him; I didn’t understand what he was saying. I couldn’t eat anymore sugar, my body couldn’t take it. He grabbed an apple and told me to chew.

Slowly, the haze lifted, but the fear and shame of the low didn’t; I should have known better.

As much as I Iove travelling, and oh man I do, I do NOT like the diabetes beast it often presents.

Portland4-2016
If only I had the diabetes brain of saaaay Linus Pauling!!!

I did, however, get the diabetes equation right one night: the night we took advantage of our in-suite kitchenette and whipped up omelettes – a travelling staple of ours 🙂

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Pretty much, every adventure has us making omelettes at least one of the nights!

Next time, I’m making graphs… at least, that’s what I say now 🙂

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Until next time dear Portland…

Ps. If you want to read more on our actual trip, here’s a lovely post from Big Ring’s blog all about keeping it weird 🙂

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2 responses to “Travelling with the diabetes beast

  1. debbie hickey

    dear katie – i don’t know if it would help, but http://www.livestrong.com has a massive list of foods including many many restaurant foods which is broken down in detail re protein, carbs, fats and calories…perhaps it might help you when you are away or just out for lunch at home.

    glad to hear you and mario had a “get away before summer class begins”.
    freeman and i are “the berries”…take good care. hi 5 to Little Ring!

  2. Dear PoP … you are SO hard on yourself!! But you also consume some of the strangest concoctions I have ever heard of!! Who could possibly calculate (much less guesstimate) the carb count of such exotic edibles!!
    You’d think there really would be an app for that!!😳
    Maybe some sharp cookie reading your blog will develop one!!
    Meanwhile, happy trails, my friend!!🤗

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