Vacations, Like Diabetes, Can Have Their Ups and Downs

There was no heat in our stateroom for the first three days of last week’s Alaska cruise. It was, for the most part, chilly and rainy—er, outside that is. Inside, it was just cold. The seas were high a couple of times, causing the ship to climb up one side of a wave and slide down the opposite side, a feat that prompted the captain to quip, "I’ll bet you’ve never been surfing on an 85,000-ton surfboard before." In the ship’s shopping area, items were literally flying off the shelves.

Despite that, it was a great trip. It probably didn’t hurt that I don’t get seasick.


I panned a few flecks of gold in Juneau and saw both humpback whales and a pod of orcas, including one that still displayed the orange coloring of a newborn. The naturalist said only about 5% of people saw orcas and she was jumping-up-and-down excited over the newborn.

It was a rare sunny day when we went to Misty Fjords. We could see the tops of the towering cliffs and follow the numerous waterfalls from where they began their drop to where they splashed into the ocean.

We spent about an hour or so one day watching humpback whales and seals gamboling behind the ship.

A bald eagle flew past our verandah, no more than 10 feet away from where I was relaxing with a glass of wine.

What’s rain, cold, and high seas compared to that? You put on a poncho, you add a layer of clothing and, if you’re prone to seasickness…well, I don’t know what to tell you to do about that. (Dad was in the Navy—maybe it’s genetic.)

I suppose the lesson here is that life is what you make it. You can grumble to yourself and get all worked up over the chattering group of people disturbing the sanctuary of Glacier Bay, or you can move to a quieter area of the deck.

Likewise, we can bemoan the fact that we have a chronic condition that we’ll have to deal with for the rest of our lives. Or we can use our diabetes—and/or whatever other condition(s) we have—to learn; to educate others; to become stronger, more empathetic people; and to live a healthier life than we might have otherwise.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s frustrating. I’ve been known to throw things and cry, “I can’t do this any more!” on more than one occasion. Like everybody, I have my ups and downs; times when I’m very good at managing my Type 2 diabetes and times when I’m…well, human.

For those of you who remember, I’m not allowed to book another cruise until I’ve lost at least 50 pounds and I am giving myself little rewards along the way for every 10 pounds I lose. Before my Alaska cruise last week, I had lost about 15 pounds (gained two of them back on the cruise, but still a net loss of more than 10 pounds). For my reward, I bought myself a bracelet with a design reminiscent of orcas to remind me of the day we followed a pod around, watching them play.

Another weight story is not as positive, and it ruined the warm, fuzzy feelings I was having about the airline I flew on to the point where I’m not sure I want to give them my money any more.

The airline is one that’s known for charging extra if you are too zaftig, which they measure by seeing if you can put the armrests down on your seat. I know that about the airline and it doesn’t bother me. (I also know that I can fit comfortably between the armrests on the seats.)

The woman who was manning the gate called me over to the stand to ask me if I’d flown the airline before (yes), if I could fit in one seat comfortably (yes), was I sure (yes), etc. She didn’t believe me. I went back to where my traveling bud, Sandy, was sitting and told her why I had been called over. “Yeah,” she said in her flippant Sandy way, “some people will do anything to get more money.”

Before boarding anybody else, the gate clerk called me over and accompanied me—and only me—to the airplane where I sat down in the seat of my choice…and put the arms down. She looked disappointed. I asked her if Sandy could come down then. She didn’t respond.

People began arriving in the plane. No Sandy. The gate clerk reappeared. “Did you,” she asked, “tell anybody about our conversation?”

“Yes,” I responded.

Turns out another airline employee had overheard somebody make a derogatory comment about the carrier.

“I didn’t say anything about that,” I told her.

“But an employee overheard…”

“Didn’t come from me,” I said.

She left in a huff. Sandy finally arrived. She hadn’t been waved through—she just went through the door and onto the plane without invitation. She doesn’t particularly feel like flying on that carrier again, either.

Aside from that (and the delay on the next flight), it was a great trip. Rain, cold, high seas, and all.

  • Bob M.

    Speaking of airlines, most of my flights are on Southwest Airlines. Most of their free snacks contain high fructose corn syrup. It is sad that HFCS, which is bad if one has diabetes and will help one get diabetes if one doesn’t have it, is so pervasive in our society. The airlines ought to make an effort to make the little bit of food they provide, a lot healthier than it is.

  • Joan

    About traveling and dealing with diabetes; I have Type I. I have also enjoyed travel to Alaska and the sights are breath taking to say the least! Both aboard ship and a small one engine plane trip – all went well.

    I have always had a wonderful time traveling by many different means. I planned ahead by contacting the carrier well in advance with a follow up phone call a few days ahead of departure. I would explain my extra small suitcase carrying supplies and the food I had with me – just in case. The snacks were usually some almonds, and wheat crackers and brie or peanut butter and crackers. One apple or orange; some stevia to sweeten my coffee.

    Most of the time I would order ahead the type of food I needed and it tasted great! My last flight was a month ago and I knew the food would not be the kind any person with diabetes would want to eat unless in an emergency.

    Homeland Security were very understanding of my extra supply needs. During the flight, While others nibbled on stale nuts and some kind of dried up sweet roll I had my cheese and crackers and purchased a glass of wine. Several passengers wished that they had brought their own food!

    Having Type I for 50 years has presented its tough times but mostly good ones. I have traveled all over the world, lived in foreign countries with only a few small hassels of any kind.

    I believe that to live comfortably with diabetes the best attitude is “anything is possible!”

  • greg

    I just saw that the Diabetes Control for Life site just launched message boards

    They’re kinda cool. The reason I mentioned it is that they have a long thread on vacations.