Jengle Bells! Packing For Travel With Type 1

Really sorry about that title. I had an impromptu Christmas-themed pun-off with a friend (as you do) and that, quite rightly may I add, won. Thought it needed a bigger showcase.


Happy Christmas Eve everybody! Hope your homes are full of chaos of the best kind, and pets and other creatures (like my brother here) in acceptable-at-this-time-of-year-only attire…



The Christmas period is, in my eyes, pretty much a Get Out of Jail Free card for Type 1 good behaviour. All diabetes-related sense (well, the teeny tiny portion that I try to exercise) goes out the window as I faceplant as many cheese, meat and carb-based goods as possible. Life’s too short to be carb-counting amidst pulling crackers and laughing at Auntie Ethel’s attempt at charades (I have no Auntie called Ethel, by the way). HbA1what? I don’t care, tis the season to be jolly, and jolly greedy and that. In comes the food, and in goes the insulin. It’s only a week month… WEEK. It’s a WEEK.

That said, I still TAKE my insulin, I still test, and I may have one less potato than the rest of my family on my Christmas Dinner Everest of a plate. Just one, mind. I prefer cheese anyway.

Mmm... Christmassss...

Mmm… Christmassss…

Buuutttt… This year I have found keeping my hand out of the tin of Quality Street a little easier so far, for reasons that are not AT ALL diabetes related, but entirely vein. In two days I will commence a month of heavy bikini-wearing based activity, and the fear of standing next to my friends channelling my best beached whale look has had a dramatic effect on my ability to resist the carbs…

I’m going to Australiaaaaaaa!!!

Yep, YFT1 is going further than she’s ever gone before. Across the globe, international, strewth, g’day mate and all the other stereotypes you can think of.


Like the other ladies I’m travelling with, the last couple of months/weeks/days have been preoccupied with everything from visa applications (it’s fair to say I had more fun getting a root canal than I did trying to sort spending three nights in Shanghai for four girls) to how many bikinis is too many (never too many, in case you were wondering), and all the while still caught up in the whirlwind of Christmas planning at work, Christmas partying outside of work, making sure I see the family I won’t be seeing because I’ll be on a plane on Christmas day, Christmas shopping, being festive and merry and generally the most over-excitable human being in existence, and indulging in a fair bit of this kind of behaviour:

Si meet everybody. Everybody meet Si.

Si meet everybody. Everybody meet Si.

And then…

There’s the small matter of a little extra sense needed to plan globe-trotting a la Type 1.

Now, where do I find that…?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could hire a working pancreas for a month and skip off onto the plane and up the East Coast of Australia without making sure my insulin’s cold enough/not covered in sand/not accidentally packed in the suitcase that’s in the back of the bus instead of my handbag? Yeh, of course it would I CAN SEE YOU ALL NODDING! But it would also be great if my pancreas worked in the gym, or when I’m out at 2am and realise my pen’s run out of insulin, or when I’m super busy at work and stopping to fix a hypo is just plain inconvenient. That’s the thing with this bad boy. It doesn’t give a shit where you are in the world or what you’re doing. So all we can do, like every single day in London, or anywhere else, is give this attention-seeking disease a little bit of love.

Somewhat begrudgingly, yes. But thems the rules.

This year I think I’ve taken some really good steps towards stable control (whaddayawant woman, a medal?!). Ahem… Mostly thanks to the fact that my life is approximately 100% more stable than it was this time last year. I have a flat that I call a home, a job that I call permanent and a lifestyle that has some sense of normalcy. I’m not commuting four hours a day, I’m not spending a large portion of my current contract worrying about the next contract, I’m not staying on various friends’ sofas or stopping at the Waterloo Travelodge for a grand total of three hours as part of a 24 hour shift. I know my local area, the tube routes and night buses. I know where I can get a carb-free lunch near work (why hello, omelettes…). I have a regular running route. People at work know I am likely to whip out a needle at my desk and no longer bat an eyelid. I don’t have to explain to them while reaching for the cereal bars that I’m not actually drunk at 11am, just hypo. Honest. I’ve even – and this is a HUGE deal for the hobo of the M1 who lived in four different cities covering 300 miles over a four month period – changed to my local doctor’s surgery HURRAH!! (It’s only taken me 18 months. Utterly ridiculous). But likewise, when I WAS doing all those things, my diabetes didn’t go away then either. Now it’s just that I have far less excuses to give myself when I do make Grade A Type 1 cock-ups, which have happened quite frequently enough to keep this blog going for another year. But despite this, I’ve surprised myself a little bit. So here comes the challenge…

Can I successful manage my diabetes while travelling like a dirty beach bum in 40 degree heat for a month?





So here comes your little bit of love, you pain in the arse disease.

I’ve made it to the doctors in time to get my latest repeat prescription BEFORE the Christmas break, also making sure that I ticked the stuff I would run out of while half way around the world. Not a problem I particularly want to be faced with while I’m scuba diving off a boat in the Whitsundays. (Okaaayyyy, I put that in there just to be smug. Because I’m REALLY REALLY SMUG).

I’ve spent forethought and money on getting myself one of these, which came highly recommended via Twitter (thanks you lot)…

A nice bit of product placement, why not.

A nice bit of product placement, why not.

This is a Frio, which I will soak in water while I’m melting/frying in the Australia heat and it will keep my insulin cool for about two days, when I will then soak it again. Nifty, no?

I’ve got a letter from my doctor that lets me carry needles on the plane, I’ve got spare insulin pens in different bags to the ones that are currently in use, I’ve got special diabetic travel insurance, I’ve even photo-copied said special diabetic travel insurance and given it to my Dad. God knows why, but it feels like a responsible thing to do.

I know, who is this chick and what have you done with Jen?!

Soooo, here we go. This one’s for anyone reading this who hates their diabetes because they feel it makes them different, or that it means you can’t do what you want to do.

YES YOU BLOODY WELL CAN. All it needs is a little bit of love.

That probably just made you want to get sick in your mouth a bit didn’t it? Sorry. See, that’s MY different – being a complete and utter unashamed cringetastic fluent-in-cliché cheeser. Not because I have a pancreas on lockdown.

It’s unlikely I’ll manage any Aussie posts in between the scuba diving and the sunbathing (SHURRRRUP YOU SMUG COW!), but until I return, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Thank you for giving this blog so much love this year; I am beyond grateful you wonderful wonderful people. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013.


Mmm… cheese…



2 comments on “Jengle Bells! Packing For Travel With Type 1

  1. Have a wonderful time Jen! Hope when you say you have insulin pens in different bags, they’re all hand luggage bags – insulin doesn’t like the cold hold! I look forward to hearing all about your trip 🙂

  2. Its great as your other blog posts : D, thankyou for posting . “In the spider-web of facts, many a truth is strangled.” by Paul Eldridge.

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