Long time no blog! Yesterday I got back from a 5-day trip to Tasmania with friends from uni.
Isn't it gorgeous?
The trip was fantastic, but full of a whole host of hiccups that ended up turning into some unforgettable and hilarious stories, like the time we absolutely shredded a tire on the car (who we fondly named Bumblebee). We had to enlist the help of British and French tourists to change it and ended up with a four-car pile up on a gravel road, which ended with me being low. Not to mention the time we bogged the car in some sand and had to push it uphill.
But there were some diabetes hiccups too. I was really nervous before I left for a few reasons. I’d never flown alone before, and it had been 13 years since I’d last done it, so I’d never flown with diabetes. I was nervous about bad sugar levels so far from home. I was nervous about being far away from hospitals, hiking and not feeling low blood sugars because of exercise. I was nervous about driving in a different state and car.
The flying was actually really great, and airport staff were the nicest security people I have ever met. There were no issues with me not going through metal detectors or having my pump x-rayed and everyone was efficient and polite. Driving was also completely fine (well, minus our tire issues!) and I have so much more confidence about driving on unfamiliar roads at different times of day.
But my blood sugars were hard and something happened that was completely unexpected or planned for. I managed to get a stomach bug on the second day of the trip. This is a problem with t1 because you can’t keep food down, and carbs are very important to maintain sugar levels. So I was sick for two days and had low blood sugars, little sleep and high ketones. Ketones are produced when the body is breaking down fat and muscle supplies for energy. I wasn’t consuming enough carbs so my body went into starvation mode. This caused ketones to appear and made managing my sugars all the more difficult. Usually ketones and high sugars go together, but my sugars were low. So treating the ketones became harder because usually they go away with water and more insulin.
I needed food and less insulin.
I’d never had a stomach virus with t1 so I had absolutely no idea what to do. I didn’t want to stress out my parents because there wasn’t anything they could do about it from home! Luckily my endocrinologist was easily contacted and she helped me through it for those 2 days. Equally lucky was having understanding friends who listened to all the science of what was happening and offered help, water and toast. I ended up not going on the hikes because of all the ketones but I still got to see lots of Tassie and had a brilliant time taking photos, reading and making friends with the local wallabies while the others hiked.
Originally it felt like I’d lost a fight, like I’d let the diabetes win by not doing all the strenuous exercise. But on the flight home one of my friends told me the most impressive thing to her was that I didn’t let my diabetes stop me. I went to disagree, but then I stopped myself. For the first time I’m actually proud of myself for handling that. I made responsible decisions, and still managed to have such a fun time. I still went swimming, and on short walks. I still drove both country and city roads. I still got to experience everything, just in a safer way.
I went on the trip, and I can’t say that I would have done that even a year ago. An enormous thank you to my friends for helping me be a little bit braver and experiencing a trip I’ll never forget. Excited to take on New Zealand next!