Getting Used to an Insulin Pump

Posts tagged ‘ANZAC Biscuits’

Australia – A Really Badly Written Travelogue

Some Native Wildlife

Some Native Wildlife

In case you hadn’t realised Deanne, the Young ‘Un and I went to Australia for a month in March. This was partly to show the toddler off to the in-laws (Deanne is from Australia originally), partly because we hadn’t visited for five years and partly so we could all have a month off work/nursery and relax bit. I took the advice offered at the last Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group meeting by Dawn, she was rather handily (for me) talking about travelling with Diabetes. The main thing I was interested in, which she did actually mention was the fact that when she’s changing time zones she leaves her pump set on UK time until a few days have passed and she is more or less over the jet-lag. That may not be exactly what she said but that’s what I made it out to mean so that’s what I did.

The day of departure came and our bags were packed. My hand luggage obviously contained the requisite number of bags of Jelly Babies, a recently purchased Frio Insulin Travel Wallet (another suggestion from Dawn, thanks Dawn!), many, many infusion sets, insulin cartridges, blood test sticks and lancets and all the other Diabetes rubbish that we need to take when we go overseas. We arrived at Birmingham in plenty of time, which was lucky ’cause we had off site parking and had a bit of a job finding it, but then we got on the bus and it dropped us, with all our bags outside the main departures door at the airport.

The plane ride over was fine, although the service on the Birmingham to Dubai leg of the flight was less than we had hoped for, they (Emirates) hardly offered anything in the way of drinks (not talking alcoholic here, just water/soft drinks/etc.) and when the food eventually came they didn’t clear the trays up until about an hour later, which when you have a two year old makes doing anything in the already limited space available to you quite challenging.

Twenty odd hours after taking off we arrived in Perth. It was a bit of a change from the UK, it was about tea time when we arrived, eight or so hours ahead of the UK and the temperature was around 26 degrees (centigrade) when we left the airport. It was nice!

We actually went on a mini holiday the first few days we were there, drove a couple of hours south to Busselton which is a kind of hot version of Weymouth, only it’s nice! Being a bit further south the weather was nice but not too hot and we spent a lot of time going to chocolate shops and playing on the playground at the place we were staying at, it seemed to tire Deanne and myself out more than it did the Young ‘Un.

When we got back to Perth we had the important and serious task of meeting up with family and friends which included going to lots of parties and spending a lot of time sitting in coffee shops by the river. It was hard work! My control was relatively stable even though I was eating some pretty strange food. Certainly a lot better than the previous trip I had five years before where I was neither carbohydrate counting or dose adjusting (also didn’t have a pump at the time). Admittedly I had a few high blood sugars, seemingly for no reason although I worked out afterwards that it was actually due to ice cream cones which apparently had an awful lot more carb’s in than I was expecting (like 80 instead of 40 grams that I was guessing).

Me at Diabetes WA

Me at Diabetes WA

Anyway, once I had sorted that out everything went much better, I had a relatively low number of hypos and most of my blood sugars were below 12 with the exception of a few after meals out, however that happens to me in the UK too so it was nothing to do with being away. I even managed to do some Diabetes Web-Monkeying while I was away, I found a few bits and pieces in local papers and magazines which I posted on-line when I got the chance and also decided I’d go visit the local branch of Diabetes WA to find out what it’s like being Diabetic in Australia.

The main difference seems to be the fact that they don’t have a National Health Service, like what we do! Instead you have to take out health insurance which then covers the cost of a large percentage of the things you need as a Diabetic, e.g. needles, insulin, etc., etc., etc. They were very forthcoming and I in turn offered them some advice on how we use Twitter, Facebook and other on-line resources to keep in touch with people. It was interesting to speak to some people on the other side of the planet who have the same everyday problems and annoyances that we have over here.

After being on an insulin pump for over a year now my Diabetes certainly seemed to be a lot easier to manage and although I had highs and lows the way the pump adjusts them down and up again seems to be a lot more natural and my body seems to respond well to that, I don’t feel ill for hours after a high result and I don’t keep dropping and rising all day long like I did previously. I also feel like I can eat whatever I want while away and have almost got the hang of guessing carbs well enough to keep me fairly straight and narrow without needing to refer to my Carbs & Cals book all the time.

Now however I’m home again, in fact we got back about a month ago now and it’s taken me all this time to get this written down what with one thing and another including a Little ‘Un with chicken-pox, work, getting the house back to a manageable state after being away for a month and all those things you have to do upon returning from a long holiday.

The main difference between this trip to Aus’ and holidays I’ve had in the past is that whenever I’ve been overseas in the past I worried almost constantly about my control and about getting high or having hypos from having strange and exotic foods and experiences, this time however I didn’t worry, partly due to the pump, partly due to the fact that I have become a lot more confidant in controlling my diabetes with a pump than I ever was with injections and I guess mainly because when you have a toddler to look after you spend more time worrying about them than you do yourself!

We’ve already booked our next holiday in fact, we’re headed for Barcelona in the not too distant future, is there anything I’ll be doing differently because of my experiences down-under? Well no, the time away just went to prove to me that I am coping as well as I can with a chronic (/annoying) illness and all I need to improve even more is further practice. Which you only get by living it and doing things which you want to do rather than worrying about what might happen!

Advance Australia Fair

Diabetes Australia

Diabetes Australia

We’ve recently booked our tickets to go to Australia next year, the main reason for this being that Deanne is from Australia and all her family (and by extension my in-laws) live there, in Perth to be precise. Therefore the only ones who have met the Little ‘Un face to face are his Nana and Aunty Donna who came over last year just after he was born. So we’re going to go visit and show our boy off to all his relations. “Sounds nice” I hear you think (didn’t I mention I’m telepathic?!?!?) but with a trip to Australia come a number of  Diabetes related challenges:

1. Time zone

2. Heat

3. Food

4. Routine

5. Supplies

I have been over there before but never with an insulin pump so I’m going to have to relearn some of my coping mechanisms. For point 1. I think it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, rather than a big bang I think I’ll do a phased time change altering the time on my pump by two or three hours starting the day we leave. The time difference is around eight hours so it’ll take a few days to normalise but the jet lag usually takes that long to get over so this might even help that process…

UPDATE… I had my checkup at the hospital and my consultant suggested that it would be simplest to set my basal rate back to the original setting of half a unit an hour and see how I get on, can change it to the right time zone after a few days when my body has caught up or leave it if it seems to be working then!…END OF UPDATE

For 2. it’ll be autumn over there when we go and so the temperatures should be between 30° and 24°, which is obviously a darned site hotter than it is over here, even in the middle of summer! ThereforeI’ll have to keep a close eye on my control and possibly drop my basal and meal rates depending on how I go.

3 is only really a problem if I do what I have done in the past and snack between meals, however I seem a lot less inclined to do that now I’m on an insulin pump as I know the slightest amount of carbohydrate can send me sky high, so I’m guessing I shouldn’t have too much of a problem as I just give myself more insulin if I’m eating more food.

The difficult one of course is number 4. While I may not do the same things every day I do generally have a fairly standard list of things that I do, both inside and outside work, being on holiday is more like a weekend, only for a whole month or so. I guess we’ll have a routine of sorts as with a 2 year old child you can’t really help it but even so it’s not the same as being at home.

Finally I have to do some forward planning which, frankly, I’m a bit rubbish at. For number 5 I have to make sure I have plenty of infusion sets + cannulas, insulin, blood test sticks and lancets, batteries for the pump, batteries for the monitor and to be honest probably loads of other things I’ve forgotten about at the moment. This means I need to contact and probably have an appointment with my GPs surgery in order that they will allow me to order, e.g. twice the number of things to normal, as well as ordering new stuff from Accu-Chek in enough time to actually have them arrive (when no one is in the house as per normal) then have enough chance to go to the post office collection depot to pick the stuff up which was delivered while there was no one at home because we both work…as I would imagine is the case for most people. “Not too much of a problem” you think (see I’m doing it again) but did I mention that I’m not a good organiser and only tend to remember these sort of things at the last minute.

On the bright side I’ve added an appointment to my calendar at work which will keep reminding me so hopefully that’ll be enough to actually get me to remember to make a call to Accu-Chek and an appointment with the doctors!

Anyway, aside for all that and any worries I might have about travelling with a two year old and adjusting my regime for foreign climes I’m actually pretty excited really, the other two times I’ve visited Perth have been brilliant, admittedly one was to get married and the other was to attend a wedding so you’d expect it to be relatively cheerful, but even so I feel a lot more confident about my Diabetes these days and hope that it isn’t a misplaced sense of confidence!

Holiday Time, Sort Of!

An Umbrella

Not that Kind of Holiday Sadly 😦

After today the updates may be a bit intermittent for the next couple of weeks as I am not at work for a bit. However I’ll do my best to keep updating every now and again until normal service is resumed.

My blood tests yesterday afternoon did not finish as I expected staying pretty much where they started for the rest of the tests, even going up a bit towards 6pm. I believe the reason for this is because once again I’m not entirely well, I have a sore throat, a cough and am apparently snoring like a herd of Aberdeen Angus (sorry Dee)! What with this and my annual leave I’m going to leave the fasting blood tests until after I’m back at work again.

I also badly misjudged the amount of mashed potato I had served myself at dinner time last night and ended up with a blood sugar around 18mmol/l which just goes to show that you’re much better to check if you’re not sure, which I wasn’t!

My time off work is going to be spent doing a variety of things including trips to Dorset and Cornwall, another (final) birthday party for the Little ‘Un and a host of DIY tasks at home so it should be a good test of my pump management skills.

The party should be good as all three of my brothers are making it, even the one who lives in Brazil, so it’s a nice way to celebrate my son’s first birthday, even if it is nearly a month after his actual birthday. There will be cake and chocolate and all manner of interesting foods.

Talking of tasty food I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but Deanne is from Australia and with it being ANZAC day we should be having ANZAC biscuits on Monday (the 25th of April) so I need to figure out how much carbohydrate they have in them, not such an onerous task really 😉

Volleyball tonight should be okay, I’m feeling a little more confident about how to not have hypos and not get too high while playing now but I shouldn’t get too complacent because that is always when things go wrong.

I’ve also got the Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group website fixed and have updated that, including details of the talk I will be doing on the 7th of June on how I went about getting hold of my insulin pump and then how I’ve been dealing with adjusting to having it so be sure to check that out and keep the date clear in your diary.

So for the time being I’ll sign off and until I’m next on-line I’ll bid you farewell and have a nice bank holiday.

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