Ok, so I might not have mentioned it but I went to Australia recently. On Christmas Day. Yah.
I put it out there in a loose guise of a YFT1 Challenge in a ‘will I, won’t I be able to manage?!’ kinda way, but obviously I was heading to t’other side of the world by absolute choice. Nightmare, I know.
I gots ta tell ya I love life in Oz as much as I do in England. Potentially more, but we must keep that one quiet for now. But there’s not much that can top getting on a plane, on Christmas Day, with some of my best friends in the world, to see another of my best friends get married alongside some more best friends, then travelling up the East Coast, meeting new people and becoming friends, and experiencing amazing things like scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and laying on Whitehaven Beach and sitting in rooftop bars in Melbourne and seeing in the New Year overlooking Sydney Harbour (OMG THE FIREWORKS).
Oh, and it was, on average, about 36 degrees.
BUT, before you log off in disgust, there is a predicament here. Honest. The nightmare of all this wonderment issss… wait for it… which Type 1 related tales to talk about/ bore you with.
DON’T LOG OFF! I NEED YOU!
There was a lot going on. The month was a contrasting mix of civilised city exploration and anything-but-civilised hoofing up the East Coast in record time sharing a hostel with eight others kinda fun. Both more amazing than I could possibly ever articulate, but the latter slightly more tricky to navigate with a pancreas that has shut-up shop.
In Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne I had the luxury of staying with fridge-owning friends (this is not a pre-requisite of my friendship. It’s just handy to keep your insulin cool), eating very carefully (and AMAZINGLY. We need to spend more time talking about food. Later), and keeping clean (I know, it’s the basics of humanity, but there were times over the month that it was something of a challenge).
Up the coast… ohhh, up the coast. Tricksy little up the coast. It needs a blog in itself but highlights include keeping an emergency can of Fanta quite literally under my pillow so that I wouldn’t disturb the 7 other people I was sharing a room with by falling out of the top bunk with a hypo at 4am. I also had to lie on a medical waiver form to be able to go scuba diving – a dangerous game to play, some might say. Then there was the time we came back drunk at some ridiculous hour and I recorded a BG of 2.9, but in my vodka-induced haze FORGOT about said trusty can of emergency Fanta – the result of which was sending my equally drunk friend on a Challenge Anneka style megahunt for sugar treasure. An overheated, half-eaten crushed bag of Doritos was all we could find. Silly, silly Jenny. We clearly needed Dave the Cameraman. I also broke my toe, but that was completely un-diabetes/alcohol related.
As I said, separate blog.
What I wanna talk about today is THE BLOODY ABOMINABLE FLIGHT. Mostly because it’s something the majority of other Type 1s will have experienced, so I’m hoping to spark some discussion here peeps <inserting subtle Twitter plug here>.
Now, in order to reach aforementioned haven of friends and sunshine there was the inevitable loooonnngg plane journey. Kind of necessary to reach the other side of the world. Don’t get me wrong I was EXCESSIVELY excited about the flight. No really; the heady haze of duty free, the aisle/window conundrum, checking out the films on offer and seeing how many different food groups can be successfully packed onto that tiny tiny tray. And don’t even get me started on the hot towels!
Simple things people, simple things.
Travelling with a bag-load of needles is always going to cause a raised eyebrow or two, but after 16 years of travelling with Type 1 I like to think I have it pretty down pat. The security scan is always a fun experience as I unleash a pharmacy’s worth of supplies onto the belt (going away for a month = LOTS of supplies), but overall I’ve never had any problems getting all the syringes, liquids, needles and co onto the plane. (Shoutout to the non-diabetic readers – insulin freezes in the hold. And I’d also be petrified of losing my luggage and physically not being able to eat for a month. Good luck with that). Anyone out there ever had a Naomi Campbell security strop over a box full of medically prescribed sharp objects? I just think security staff must see it everyday, and it’s probably as common to them as x-raying a toothbrush.
I do have a ‘just in case’ handy little note from the doctor, similar to one that would get you out of PE (and those horrendous plimsolls. Seriously, who invented those?) as a sickly seven-year-old, but not once have I had to whip it out in order to get the green light through the scanner. Which is a good job, as it’s dated May 2002 and has been so crumpled from various flights it looks like it could have easily been written by that sickly seven-year-old. Here, I sound like a nobby jet-setter. That I am not – I count getting on Aer Lingus to Dublin as exotic. This really was the trip of a lifetime. So, all aboard the fun plane, only very mildly excited for take off, as illustrated below…
Those eye masks were a pressie from our other adventurer, bought “to match our personalities”. Devastatingly accurate, we weren’t sure whether to feel delighted or insulted.
Aannnyyywwhoo… So we’re on, seatbelt is securely fastened, chair is in the upright position and all electronic devices are switched off. Fellow type 1 aviation fans will know that it’s safe to assume there’s going to be some mild blood sugar-related upset on any flight. The weird hours you’re awake, the time zones, the air pressure yada yada all makes for a fun time even without diabetes. But navigating (geddit?!) control on two planes over 24 hours turned out to be a lot more difficult than anticipated. I’ve had a little browse on your generic popular search engine and it seems to be more commonplace for blood sugars to drop on a flight due to stress, adrenalin, air pressure and the like. Not so for this one; try as I might I could not get them down to normal, and I was stuck with results in the mid-teens for a lot of the journey, particularly the second leg. The excitement of the above photo rapidly faded into a sluggish and bleary-eyed shadow of its former self. Although having various Ryan Gosling movies to occupy myself with definitely helped. SWOON.
I’m not sure why this was the case, but it left me feeling pretty groggy. I’m not sure if it was the plane ‘food’ – I use the term loosely – as up until that day I’d been living life pretty much sans carbs in an vain attempt to not resemble a beached whale amongst the Bondi babes (FAILED) and hadn’t really eaten much in the way of processed food for a while. So suddenly consuming four meals spawned from a devil made of pre-packaged shite (i.e. sugar and preservatives. Yummy) was not going to help matters.
The bit that got me was I went to sleep at a normal UK time with a BG of 8.9. My blood sugar generally drops in the night, to the point that I worried 8.9 was a little low for a pre-bed reading, so I diligently got my emergency cereal bar out of the overhead and pretty much sat on it just in case I needed it. But then I woke with a BG of 15. Whhhhaaaattt?? No entiendo, mes amigos. No, I did not sleep-eat the cereal bar, although that is EXACTLY the kind of thing I’d suspect I’d do. I even did a smug video for you guys pre-snooze to show off my most excellent diabeteeez skillz. *WARNING: It’s had been a veeeerrrrrry long day at this point, and I’d just taken my make-up off. I look GREY. It ain’t pretty*.
Enjoy that? I really didn’t. All for you lovely people, all for you. So from that reading of 15, I endured the rest of the flight ploughing jab after jab into my belly. That’s another great look for the beach – plane injection bruises. I quite simply get better and better.
It doesn’t help that you’re not moving. 24 hours is a long time to sit still. You’re not burning anything, you’re just trying to sleep enough to make sure you land without falling off the plane, blinking wildly into the sunlight on the other side, having forgotten why you were on a plane in the first place and wondering why it’s so hot when it’s Christmas Day and was snowing when you got on the thing you’ve just stepped off. Ok, that really didn’t happen, I was GIDDY when we landed. Ha-Lu-Giddy I think was the exact word I tweeted, a lovely bit of word fusion for your Tuesday there.
(Happy, Lucky, Giddy. I know).
But until that point, I could feel my metabolism grinding to a painful halt with every hour that passed. Woe. Then there was the slight issue of working out whether to jump my nightly basal dose forward and go without for a few hours, or skip back and do a bit of a double dose to match the time difference. Decisions, decisions hey.
SO you wonderful lot, regale me with your tales please! How do you find flying? What precautions do you take? How does it affect your sugars? I think the lesson I mostly learnt here was to eat as little as my greedy face can possibly resist. Hmm. Not ideal.
Just need to give a little bit of love to my stunningly gorgeous and golden-hearted friend Laura, or Brum as I’ve called her for the eight years I’ve known her. (She’s from Brum. Original, I know). She is the reason I bought the flight in the first place, as on 29th December she married a wonderful Aussie guy we call Clinton. We call him that mostly because that’s his name. It was an absolutely ridiculously stunning and gorgeous and beautiful and magical and amazing day, and if I’d flown out for the wedding and then got back on the plane the next day, it would have been money well spent to witness her special day. The month of travelling was an absolute bonus. In fact, I would absolutely travel for another 24 hours with a steady BG of 150 to witness it again. Not sure I’d make it alive, but y’know.
Big Love to Brum and Clinton xxx