Diabetes takes planning. Ahead. Lots of time ahead. Mum and I worked hard at this. I wanted everything to be right. It was my first time travelling since being diagnosed so there was a schedule and a plan. There were contingencies. There were lists. Lots of lists. I needed them all!
Plan: When booking the plane ticket I made sure that I picked a diabetic meal. I didn’t know what that meant. What would they feed me? Would it tell me how many carbs were in it? Would I get fed before everyone else? What if I needed something inbetween meals?
Reality: Upon check in I confirmed that the diabetic meal was booked for me. All confirmed. Thank goodness. I would be looked after. As the meals were getting served on the plane I anxiously waited for my diabetic meal to turn up. My sister got her vegetarian meal and the guy next to her got his special meal but nothing turned up for me. I could feel that my sugar levels were low and I was hungry! Waiting, waiting….nothing! All the other meals were served and still nothing for me. So I buzzed for the air hostess and she said they had no meal for me and there were no meals left and all she could give me was fruit! I started freaking out. I needed food. I was going to pass out from low sugar levels. Nobody cared!! Getting quite hysterical I got up and saw the supervising air hostess. She could see I was upset so she managed to get me a sandwich from the business class menu and a banana. It was enough to see me through.
So what happened? I was all ready to write a damning letter to Etihad when the supervisor came up to me and told me that I was sitting in the wrong seat! When I had got on the plane in our three seat section there was already a guy sitting there so my sister and I had just taken the two vacant seats. But he was sitting in my seat and he had eaten my diabetic meal!! Apparently the staff had asked him if it was his special meal and he had said yes. Moron!
(NOTE: on the internal flights and on the way home I did get my diabetic meal. FYI you do get your meal before everyone else, it does not tell you how many carbs are in it and it is really just a basic meal without sauces. I generally was given fish and rice. Which was OK but I don’t know that I would bother booking a diabetic meal again. I think this is more catered to type 2 diabetics)
Plan: I need to take my Lantus long acting insulin every night at the same time. I take it at 8pm. With the time difference the plan was to move the time back half an hour every night so that by the time I landed in Thailand I could continue to take this at 8pm every night Thailand time (as 5pm equivalent time would be too early if we were out and doing things).
Reality: I kept forgetting to move it forward! It was two nights before leaving and I still was taking my insulin at 8pm Dubai time! So we had to adjust back to 7pm over those two nights and then do the rest of the adjustment in Thailand. It was OK. But it was not the plan!
Plan: Get a doctors letter saying that I am carrying insulin and able to take this onboard the aircraft in my carry on luggage. I was very worried about this as I did not want them to take it away. So I was very diligent on getting the letter and taking it with me.
Reality: After six radar checks and immigration passes not once was I asked about the drugs and liquids in my carry on luggage!
Plan: Pack my favourite diabetic snacks that I take when I am low in blood sugar.
Reality: Forgot to pack favourite diabetic snacks that I take when I am low in blood sugar! And let me tell you, there are NO diabetic snacks available in Thailand. I struggled even to find diet soft drinks. It seems the Thais are not into dieting much! This was a big hassle as I struggled to find any appropriate snack with the right carb levels at the right time. I had to guess on a lot of things. Often getting it wrong resulting in high or low blood sugar levels.
Plan: Stick to regular meal patterns to avoid going too low in blood sugar.
Reality: Did not do this at all and paid the price. On my first night in Bangkok I woke up at 1am very low (43 – I should be between 80 and 120. You generally passout around 30!). I had no food with me to eat because…..I forgot those favourite diabetic snacks, didn’t I! So I was on the phone to room service, ordering a tuna sandwich which I had to eat in the middle of the night. So much for getting my sleeping patterns right.
There were a few instances of this during the holiday as I would generally just eat a big breakfast and then not want food until dinner time. But this usually resulted in me getting low in the afternoons. Then I would find myself having to eat before going out for dinner which really annoys me.
And the lack of available diet soft drinks was really annoying. I ended up having a few virgin mojitos and just guessing how much sugar was in it. Also because I was on holidays I often ate later in the night than I usually would. It was a bit of trial and error and I found that my blood sugar escalated between too high and too low the whole holiday.
Plan: Keep medication with me at all times
Reality: Often forgot my medication meaning I had various dashes back to the hotel to pick it up. Even left it in the restaurant in Bangkok! Seems my brain took a holiday as well!
All in all, I found it quite difficult over the holiday to be constantly thinking about my diabetes and making sure that I remembered everything. I wanted to be eating all the food and drinking all the drinks and be relaxed about when I ate. It was hard. I know this was a learning experience and I will hopefully be better next time.