Travel, Type 1 Diabetes

How Not To Start Your Holiday As A Type 1 Diabetic

April 12, 2015
Sunset at St Paul's Bay, Malta

Holaaaaa.

If you follow me on the social meeds, you may be aware I skipped off to Malta for the Easter holibobs.

Malta? Destination for the retired?

Not so, my little adventurers.

Annie Mac, who I’m sure you’ve heard of, was hosting her first festival on the island. We also happen to share office space, unsurprising considering that we both have the same employer. Given her existence as a general all-round kick-ass lady boss of a human absolutely killing it on her own terms (my favourite kind of human by all accounts), I was HELLA keen for this. As was Ian, as was a sizeable portion of the office. That’s the really nice thing about Radio 1 Towers. Everyone is always up for supporting each other’s stuff, front row and centre. Everyone also happens to be partial to having a damn good time.

Sunset at St Paul's Bay, Malta

Happy Easter to us.

Tickets bought, hotel booked, flights secured. Aside from the panicked Primark purchasing (because obviously you need 12 bikinis for four days away), fake tanning (suffice to say mine and Ian’s relationship has reached new heights/plumbed new depths depending on your view) and group WhatsApping pandemonium around booking adjacent seats/packing enough hairdryers/making sure we’re getting to the airport three hours earlier than is necessary, this was also my first trip abroad since ditching the injections in favour of the Omnipod.

Was I anxious?

Perhaps a little.

So was I organised?

Ohhhh, guys. If only. I’m masquerading as an adult, remember?

Cue NOT hurdling across Oxford Street for a final (!) Primark trip the evening before take off, and instead legging it to the pharmacy 10 minutes before closing to pick up the Novorapid vials I was pretty sure I had enough of in the fridge but not quite sure enough to not give myself anxiety about not paying the pharmacist a visit at the last possible second.

I had four vials (two months’ worth) sitting in the fridge all along.

The rest of my planning was slightly less frantic. Plenty of pods to cover the time away? Tick. I’d read on Twitter that the heady suncream and sweat combo that usually comes with holidaying abroad can affect the stickiness of the dressing, so I packed one pod for every day away, despite normally only changing every three days. I’d renewed my annual Special Person’s travel insurance (I’ve used AllClear for many years without issue), and made a bulk purchase of Sesame Snaps for emergency low blood sugar situations (sadly my preferred juice option is entirely unwelcome through airport security). I had a month’s worth of testing strips with me, as well as a back up injection and glucose meter should I lose the one piece of kit that tests my blood sugar AND delivers my insulin, thus the one machine that is responsible for keeping me alive. That thought is entirely terrifying if I pay it too much attention.

Type 1 Holiday Packing

Not your normal holiday essentials…

Moving on…

So, all set? In theory, yes.

On changing my pod the night before I decided to place it, for the first time, on the back of my hip. It’s one of the recommended areas but for some reason I always favour legs and tummy. Why the experiment? Well, as comfortable as I am with being permanently attached to a piece of plastic, I figured that in a bikini, it would be more subtle and thus I would be more comfortable if it was stuck to the back of my person rather than the front.

All logical stuff, right?

What definitely wasn’t logical was waking up on the morning of the holiday with a blood sugar of 16.1, having tested before bed at 6.3.

Huh.

I bolused 5 units, slightly miffed, and jumped in the shower.

About thirty seconds into the lather, there was an almighty thud.

My pod had FALLEN OFF MY PERSON and clattered into the bath.

Whaaaaat?

Let me give you a little heads up… don’t change your pod straight after you’ve fake-tanned and heavily moisturised your entire person. Don’t then pop the pod slightly too far into the small of your back, giving you the opportunity to knock it off when turning over in the night.

Ah.

Fast forward an hour, new pod attached, off we trot with our wheelie suitcases to the tube station, wholly excited to let the adventure begin. HOLIDAYYYYY! PARTAYYYY!!! SUNSHINEEEE!!

About three stops in I felt that unfortunately familiar thick, claggy, sicky feeling in my mouth.

My blood sugar was 20.2.

Turns out if you bolus a correction dose and then realise your pod has detached itself in the night, chances are that bolus hasn’t made it into your system.

Cue next correction dose, cue holiday spirits slightly dampened but hey, we’re ON OUR WAY TO THE AIRPORT!

A few minutes later with around 13 stops to Heathrow, I start beeping. It’s high-pitched – piercing in fact – and constant. There are a few raised eyebrows from my fellow commuters, clearly and understandably worried I’m potentially about to detonate.

Oh FFS.

My meter informs me the pod is blocked and it’s stopped delivering insulin. I’m a good 30 minutes from getting anywhere that will allow me to replace it for the third time in just 12 hours.

Thoughts? Thank god I packed five pods.

With a bit of hurried guestimating plus a nod of reassurance from Ian, I pull out the back-up injection and dose an amount high enough to have an effect on the 20.2, but low enough not to send my blood sugars crashing through the floor a few hours later, no doubt mid-flight. I feel sick, I’m insatiably thirsty and I’m on a stuffy tube. All the space in my brain that should be occupied with wondering just how much wine it’s acceptable to drink on a flight is now panicking about whether I should be going to a festival in a foreign country at all.

Ohhhhhhhhh Jen.

Thankfully once I’d made it to the airport, through security and into the toilet to rather unglamorously replace the pod yet again, the rest of the holiday went without too much of a hitch. Aside from the festival site not serving ANY diet mixers (writing to dear Annie about that one is on my to-do list), I navigated festivals, frolics and foreign food without disaster. And after all that, I needn’t have worried about the suncream affecting the pods – Malta was rather chilly. I didn’t need to put the pod on my back to ensure I felt as comfortable as possible in my panic-purchase bikinis. Because in the end, I didn’t wear a bikini at all.

Ladies

Ladies

Gentleman

Gentleman

4 Comments

  • Reply Maria m April 13, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Malta looks super awesome!! Glad you were able to navigate diabetes well after the initial day bullshit :)

    • Reply missjengrieves April 17, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Didn’t need to bother with the bikini diet ha! xx

  • Reply Pip pop April 13, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Love it!

    • Reply missjengrieves April 17, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks Pip! Are you going to the next discovery? Hope you’re well! x

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