Diabetes Self-Management Blog

For as long as I can remember, my family has been driving on one trip or another. Our family and family friends span great distances here in the States, so we’ve driven from our home base in Philadelphia to Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas, and Florida, just to name a few! And when we’re not driving, we’re flying to diabetes conferences or other engagements. We’ve been taking these trips from before I was diagnosed, but after getting Type 1, we had to learn how to manage my diabetes while on the road.

This weekend, a very dear family friend of ours got married in Pittsburgh. Originally my mom, brother, and myself were supposed to go, along with my cousin and aunt. But at the last minute my brother couldn’t go, and my mom got sick the night before we were supposed to leave.

Pittsburgh is a second home to me and my family, and I didn’t realize until I got there that this was the first time I would be in Pittsburgh “on my own.” Pretty much my entire extended family was there, but this was the first time I would be there without my parents. It made me quite nervous realizing that if anything went wrong, my parents wouldn’t be there to fix it.

It’s funny, because despite the fact that I went through an entire year of college dealing with diabetes seemingly on my own, I still got nervous! There’s something different about traveling and being out of town versus being at home or on campus — a semi-stable environment where I know I have my backup supplies and my CDE just down the street. At any rate, everything pretty much went well except for Sunday morning.

That morning, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (for breast cancer) was being held. A few years ago, a very dear aunt passed away from breast cancer, and finally this year I was able to make the 5K that our family has been participating in for years in her honor. The problems on Sunday actually started on Saturday, when I realized that I forgot sneakers at home and had only brought a pair of flats, sandals, and two pairs of ridiculous high heels. Not prime choices for a 5K.

Thankfully, my aunt was able to lend me a pair of Shape-ups for the walk. (Let me tell you, Shape-ups WORK! I was sore for two days after wearing them for the 5K!) But I digress; regarding diabetes, I woke up on Sunday with a higher-than-usual blood sugar level, so I changed my site and did a correction. We had to be out of the house by 7:15 AM, meaning we were all “awake” by 6:15.

There was no real time for breakfast, so I had a Special K granola bar and some coffee. I realized on my way out of the house that I shouldn’t have given myself a full correction, considering that putting in a new site makes my body respond more to insulin as opposed to a site that’s been in for at least 24 hours. At the last minute I grabbed an extra granola bar in case I felt myself drop on the way to the walk. Lo and behold, on the car ride over I knew I would need to eat that extra granola bar to keep myself from going low.

By the time we got to the race, I had turned my basal off and figured I’d be fine. But 25 minutes before heading over to the staring line, I felt myself drop. I checked and was 82…not a good blood sugar to have right before starting a 5K. I had a few glucose tabs on me, but definitely not enough to sustain me for the walk.

This is when things got frustrating. I was with some of my cousins, and I told one of them that I had a low and needed to find a snack. With my experiences at many JDRF walks, I figured that this walk would have to have some snacks around. But instead of my cousin helping me out, she questioned why I didn’t have something with me and why I let my blood sugar get low.

I honestly hate being questioned when I’m low by those who don’t deal with diabetes on a daily basis. It’s one thing for my mom to get irritated, but for some reason it feels like entirely another story when a cousin or friend gets up in arms. It’s more them being irritated than actually concerned, which is the worst because I just feel like screaming out “GET OVER YOURSELF! I do this every single day!”

But there was no time for frustration. Instead I meandered off to find myself something to eat. I could hear one cousin scolding the other for making a scene and for letting me walk off on my own, but I quickly reminded myself that they don’t understand how to deal with Type 1. I can’t expect those who don’t understand to suddenly come to my aid just because I’m low.

I finally saw someone walking around with boxes of bananas. Unfortunately, when I got closer I saw that they were the greenest, most unripe bananas ever. Even worse, I had to suck it up and just eat them because I had limited options. Let me tell you, forcing myself to eat that horrid banana was a lesson in never forgetting to bring extra snacks with you wherever you go. It’s something I should obviously know by now, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in things and forget to pack an extra juice or tabs. Seriously though, that banana was so unbelievably disgusting that I had to shut my eyes and chew as fast as possible in order to force it down.

I couldn’t bring myself to eat the second one. Instead I walked back and found another one of my cousins who was HUGELY helpful and quickly found a stand that was giving out Rita’s Water Ice, and she grabbed two for me and made sure I ate them both. Then at the very start of the race there was a booth with candy bars, so before I knew it my blood sugar was 176 and I was more than ready to tackle this 5K wearing Shape-Ups and all!

By the end of the walk and for the rest of the day, my blood sugar was stable. I definitely re-learned a lesson in always being prepared and not relying on others to get you out of a sticky situation. Had my parents been there, they either would have had an extra snack with them or they would’ve immediately set out to find something for me to eat. This time around I had to re-learn the hard way that you can’t always rely on others to help you out.

I’m sure that my parents will be rather unhappy reading this post, but hey, it’s the truth! I don’t EVER want to find myself eating a green banana because I have no other options!

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