A White Christmas With Diabetes

‘Tis the season to start making holiday travel plans. This year we are hoping to fly to New Hampshire to spend Christmas with my dad. Our three boys, born and raised in South Carolina, are dying to have a white Christmas, and my dad is the next best thing to Santa.

When my sister and I were young, we used to walk into the woods with our father to cut down a Christmas tree. Deep in the woods, Dad searched for the perfect tree and carefully gathered greenery to decorate the house. Back home, he arranged the greens on the mantel above the fireplace and on the windowsills in the living room. He placed candles in between the greens, and they were lit from morning to bedtime. My mom, sister, and I strung popcorn and cranberries on the couch in front of the crackling fire to hang on the tree while Dad trimmed and arranged the greenery until it was just right. Christmas carols played in the background while, if we were lucky, snow fell steadily outside. It took most of the day, and by dark, our living room was transformed.

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This is the Christmas I want to give my boys, but flying five people to New Hampshire is expensive, and travel is never easy during the holidays, especially for me. I’ve traveled extensively and love to explore new places, and while I firmly believe that diabetes should not hold anyone back from whatever adventure appeals to them, the truth is that travel with diabetes is a challenge (higher blood sugars from sitting for long periods of time, low blood sugars resulting from a change in diet, time zone changes, and so on). I’ve experienced a fair amount of travel disasters that make me more of a “learn from my mistakes” than inspirational sort of blogger, and I’m realistic (not pessimistic) enough to know that as hard as we try, there will always be challenges.

That said, I dedicated an entire chapter to travel in my book The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes that includes personal stories, tips, and advice. I learned a lot when I was researching this topic and would like to think I have become a smarter traveler. A few of the tips that I think are particularly helpful are:

• Keep supplies in a carry-on bag (God forbid you have your supplies in your packed luggage and the airline loses it!) .

• Pack extra supplies, at least twice as much medication and supplies as you think you’ll need.

• See your doctor before you go. Get a letter describing your diabetes management and a copy of your prescriptions.

So this is what I want for Christmas: I want to spend Christmas at my dad’s house. I want my blood sugar to remain steady during the flight and throughout the visit. I want my boys to see the snow falling outside while they open presents by the fire. I want a Christmas that is memorable for the right reasons.

Dietary overindulgence during the holidays can seriously complicate your diabetes management. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to find out how to manage holiday food and drink from nurse David Spero.