If you have found this blog, saying Welcome does not really seem appropriate. I know you wish you weren't surfing the internet for diabetes. I felt the same.

A big part of me wishes I were not writing about diabetes, nor did I anticipate to become so opinionated or informed on the subject, but it happened. In 2010, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It wasn't really part of the plan… Correction - it was not part of the plan, but it happened. It is not always easy, but I think we are all doing okay, and I hope we continue to do so.

Why the Middle East? I happen to live in Dubai. I don't think that living in the Middle East makes mine or my son's diabetic experience any more unique or challenging than it does elsewhere in the developed world.

I hope you stick around, or read something you like. Feel free to comment and join the conversation, subscribe or follow this blog by liking the Facebook page Diapoint.

Please note: This blog does not give medical advice. I am opinionated, and I share my experiences, but the first rule of diabetes is to follow up with your doctor and/or nurse educator about your care, diagnosis or medication. If you do not have a medical practitioner that is helping you find your way through this crazy world, then do not give up until you find the right one.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Learning to Ride

My son rode a bike for the first time without the training wheels yesterday.  Knowing him well, I asked my mother-in-law to have her neighbor remove the extra wheels before we arrived to her summer home in the rural Marmara region of Turkey.

I am not one of those pushy parents that drives their kids to do things before they are ready - actually quite the opposite as I feel kids are under so much pressure to achieve at such a young age in the modern world.  However, I have realized that as a parent, sometimes we need to insist to encourage them to realize their potential as they grow.  Or this is just a big assumption on my part that will result in an epic fail.

Living in Dubai our children have access to many great things, but sometimes the simple things like riding a bicycle through the neighborhood is not possible.  There are a few cookie-cutter neighborhoods where it is possible, and there is an amazing bicycle track but you have to drive to get there.  It is not always easy to just go outside and hop on your bike.  This is the make up of the city and the weather is not always great in the summer months.

The first day without the wheels, he refused.  He wanted the bicycle the 4-year old across the street was using.  Unknown to him, she has the training wheels from his bike.  The second day he was still not pleased with the situation.  The third day, with a little help to start, he was riding almost immediately.

I am forever amazed at the stories I read about diabetic children.  They take many needles every day - pricks to check blood sugar, long needles to insert catheters if they use an insulin pump, or several injections every day if they don't pump.  Not to mention the blood draws from veins for regular check ups that are so hard to find on small children.  - All much more difficult than riding a bike for sure.

I have learned a lot as a parent, and maybe even a bit more as the parent of a diabetic child.  This week's lesson learned: You are always stronger than you think.  Most likely, your fear to try something new is a small drop in the bucket compared what you've already accomplished or endured.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What's in my Bag?

Or should I say, what is NOT in my bag?

When packing for a trip with a small child, it seems there are many things to take.  I was somewhat relived after we passed the infant phase and no longer needed to worry about diapers, baby food and all the other little bits and pieces to travel with.

Now I worry about different situations that could occur with all those diabetic possibilities.  This means a lot of prepacking and planning.  I was not a girl scout, so when I think of all the things we might need, and what could go wrong, I have no foolproof, efficient suggestions. 

I long for the days of packing for a week with only a small luggage, but I know that is not really ever likely.  And if I am honest, I am probably not that efficient of a packer anyway. Perhaps those carefree airport entrances only exist on the big screen.

We now travel with about half a large luggage extra in weight than we would if diabetes were not in our lives.  On a daily basis, the Type 1 does not always need that much stuff, but we do try to be prepared.

That, and the first thing I do not want to do after I get to my destination is run out and buy juice for a day or two, or other things we might need.  I hope to have it all there, so I do not have to worry about it until later.

So what’s in that luggage?  Some of the major things include:
  • Insertion sites.  I always take more than I need.  And even back up for the back up.  There will be those times when for whatever strange reason, you will miss and the catheter will not go quite in, so you might find yourself doing three in a row until you get it right.  Its rare, but I when it has happened, it is when we travel.
  • Reservoirs, additional connectors and insertion site covers
  • Juice, snacks and more juice.  I have higher carb juice and some of the healthier low carb juice.  I do not take many because I can buy them in most places, but I do take enough for a couple of days.  I also take a few in the carry on as well.
  • Nonperishable snacks.  This usually consists of some organic brands without too much refined sugar.  In general around 15 carbs or so.   Once we are settled, we encourage fresh fruits and vegetable snacks whenever possible.  It is not always possible on the go, so we are prepared with what we know works for us.
  • Breakfast for the first day.  This could be in the form of a bar, or a small box of cereal.  My son is an early riser and a diabetic cannot always wait to eat first thing in the morning.  With jet late and everything else, I'll give him a light breakfast in the room if needed.
  • Keytone meters and strips.  If you aren’t already, you will be amazed at how many doctors and nurses have never seen a meter that measures these. 
  • In my carry on I have a back up of everything, plus the insulin needed with me.  If I am in a country where I feel I can get an additional vile if easily needed, I will just take the one I am currently using.
  • The cool pack to carry the insulin.  Good for the beach and warm climates
  • Band aids, or other tape to help secure the insertion sites while swimming.  I have noticed that after swimming in salt water, it helps to rinse the insertion site with fresh water right away.  Otherwise it is difficult to remove the cover and put the pump back on.  I assume this is the salt making it stick a bit.
  • Another helpful hint on swimming: I recently read a good tip from someone who uses long lasting insulin for beach holidays and then uses the pump to bolus.  I really like this suggestion and plan to try it in the future.  It will save us from too many highs while he is on the beach playing in the water.
  • Extra glucometers in case something gets lost
  • Tissues, wet wipes, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer
  • Directives from my son’s doctor about how to treat a DKA.  After a hospitalization in a "good" hospital in another country, no one there had a clue about diabetes and DKA, I requested a document I could show to a doctor if we were ever admitted again.  This would at least give them some idea of what to do instead of the fiasco we dealt with in that instance.
  • Medicine to stop nausea and vomiting.  
  • Some kind of hydration drink, or the powder equivalent is even better.  In the event of dehydration and vomiting, if I can get my son to drink that, it makes a huge difference in the speed of recovery and cleaning out keytones.  I have some kind of Pedialite powder equivalent.  I have no idea how a sport drink powder would be in these cases.
  • Glucogen, obviously.  I always take one in the carry on, and at least one back up in another carry on.  For the hand luggage items, I always think worst-case scenario.  If it gets stolen in an airport, I need a back up in another carry on.
  • Extra syringes
  • An insane number of lancets all packed in different luggage.
  • Extra glucometers.  Call me paranoid, but one in every luggage.  One in every luggage is kind of my basic rule for a lot of these items.  Sadly, airlines do loose luggage sometimes.
  • Which reminds me of my inserter.  I also bring an extra in one of our bags.
  • I used to carry a letter from my son’s physician stating he is a Type 1 diabetic.  It is pretty obvious to people as he is wired to a pump, and people have been very understanding.  Although I do not travel to the US often, I have found some security less understanding there than in other countries.  Once I get more into the details, they usually get it.  I remind them that if there were turbulence, and airline staff could not serve juice I would need it if my son's blood sugar went low.  I have only had to explain this once, but if you are ever asked, it is logical… and I did have this experience once when I needed water.  For water, I try to buy a bottle near the gate to take on the plane.

I put our carry on supplies in a backpack that is on wheels.  It is a medium size that easily holds our necessities, snacks, juices and a few other things for the flight.  It fits under the seat in front of me so we can easily access what we need.
I am sure I am forgetting to write something!  Just recalling everything in this list can be quite a task.   I am always open to suggestions for how to travel more efficiently with diabetes, so if you have any tricks that have worked for you, I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Diabetes & Travel

I have gone kind of quiet the last few weeks.  It has been busy, and with summer travel and the ramp up and down to manage work to get away, and then the catch up upon coming back are always insane.  It does not help that I seem to have the flu now our first week back from two wonderful weeks of travel.

I say wonderful because we went to two great places, and the previous two times we travelled we dealt with very bad DKA. One of those put us in the hospital in the summer of 2013, the other earlier this year put us out for a few days where we could have easily gone to a reputable hospital had there been one nearby... thankfully he was still drinking fluid, but more to come on those experiences later.

For about two months now I have been wanting to write a post about how to prepare for travel.  Many people ask this question, and I am always looking to understand how to do it better, or reflect on what I could have done better myself, so it is important to share and discuss it with other diabetics and other diabetics and caretakers.

Once my head no longer feels like it is about to explode, my throat no longer swollen, fever gone and I do not feel so manic at night as a result of this flu, I will write about this, and many more subjects on my mind.

In the meantime, I just hope I do not share this flu with my son.. his numbers have been pretty good and he is happy and healthy, so I'd like to ride out the rest of the summer healthy before school starts and everyone comes back to school with their colds and flu!

Stay well and happy summer travels!