Traveling May Be Expensive, But Friends Are Priceless

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Airlines are decreasing the number of flights they offer, and word is that flight prices will continue to climb. Travel experts are advising people to buy now for later. So I booked a flight to Germany for November. Far be it from me to disregard advice from the experts.

For latecomers, or for those whose memory is about as good as mine (I’m in mentalpause), I’ll explain: My best friend’s husband is in the military, so I get to visit all kinds of places for not much more than the cost of transportation. This year, they are in Heidelberg, Germany. Since my birthday is in November (it’s a decade-changer—yikes!), it seemed as good a gift to myself as any.

We already have the beginning of my visit planned. She will have just finished working several 16-hours days in a major fundraising event, and I will be jet-lagged, so we’re going to rent some movies, curl up under our blankies in the recliners facing the television…and nap.

That’s the thing about good friends: You don’t have to entertain each other. You can be totally yourself, do what you need to do, and nobody bats an eye. You also get to invite yourself to visit (and vice versa). If it’s inconvenient, the other person says so and you work out another date or just let it go and there are no hard feelings.

Sometimes, even your friends’ other friends come through for you, such as when I went to Germany and my luggage went to Denver, Colorado, and one of my friend’s local friends loaned me some clothes until mine arrived.

Next month, the cost of gasoline will have my friend Sandy and me kicking back on the train when we travel to the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Not only is the train less expensive, it will give us some time to unwind and rest—both on the way there and on the way back. While we’ll have to take coach seats on the way there, we have a roomette for the trip back. After running around at AADE for a few days, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a lot of the scenery on the way home. (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…)

Fuel costs are affecting the travel plans of some other friends, but not in a positive way: Attendance at Camp Lobegon will be a bit sparse this year.

Camp Lobegon, which dates back to the 1990s, stems from an online diabetes group. Most of its members had never attended diabetes camp when they were children, so we started a “camp” of our own. That lasted two or three years, until the online group basically disbanded; then Lobegon got a second wind when the same thing happened with a small group from the Insulin Pumpers’ site. We’ve been meeting once a year for seven years now. Pumpers bring their families and we just hang out.

Just like “real” diabetes camp, Lobegon is a place where diabetes is normal and not having it…isn’t. It’s a good thing. For once, you’re not the only one checking blood glucose, counting carbs, and taking insulin. Nobody panics when somebody slides into hypoglycemia (well, maybe a spouse here and there) and there’s always somebody to take a walk or a rowboat ride with you if you need to exercise off some hyperglycemia.

Which reminds me of the time one person carefully calculated how much cheesecake to eat before bedtime to wake up at 80 mg/dl. Turns out it was less than he ate, because he woke up at 180 mg/dl. but a rowboat ride around the lake brought his blood glucose back down to normal ranges. Ah, the power of exercise

Camp Lobegon is usually about 35 miles from my house. This year, it’s about 1,000 miles away. We were going to drive until I found some decent airfare prices. One of the airlines charges for checked luggage (i.e., you now have to pay the airlines to lose your luggage), so we’re going to try carry-ons. This should be fun, since all that diabetes stuff I need to carry can take up quite a bit of space.

On the other hand, it is a diabetes camp and I’m among friends. I remember a couple of years ago when I was not at all prepared for emergencies. The batteries in my pump died and I had neither spare batteries nor emergency syringes with me. My friends came through for me until I could run home and get supplies to repay them.

My flight leaves this weekend. My grandchildren are looking forward to being with friends they usually only see once a year. I’m looking forward to a week of good times, good friends, and some R&R among people who truly know what it’s like to try and manage diabetes, day in and day out with no time off. Bring it on!

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