So, vacation was an interesting experience. As those of you who come here regularly know my son recently got married in Oregon, several states away from home. Since we were going so far, we decided to make a two week vacation out of it, the kind of trip we have always dreamed of, but never done. We spent two days in Vegas before the wedding, then two days in Los Angeles after, ending in Tombstone, the setting of one of our favorite movies, plus a dozen wonderful places in between.
Traveling with children is never an easy thing to do. This time, however, I was less concerned with packing for my two kids than I was my diabetes. My six year old was actually a great traveler, only asking a few times if we were there yet on the initial fourteen hour drive to Vegas. My insulin, on the other hand, gave me fits from the start.
It is a quandary that I am sure many diabetics face. How cold do you need to keep your insulin when traveling? When should you grow concerned about the 112 degree temps at your destination? I had my insulin in an insulated lunch bag with a bag of ice over layers of cloth. However, by the end of that first day’s travel we had stopped at the Arizona Meteor Crater for several hours and had some trouble navigating the busy check in process at Circus Circus, leaving my insulin in the car. Might have been a mistake.
By the time we got to our room after traveling for more than eighteen hours, my insulin was hot to the touch. I was convinced that it was ruined. We went on the internet to find out if I should even bother to use it when my pump next needed a reservoir change (thank God for free internet access!) and learned that Novolog, the brand I use, can safely be used even after it has reached high temperatures. Still, I was a little concerned about using it, afraid our vacation might be over before it even began.
On our second full day in Vegas, I changed out my infusion set and crossed my fingers. Thankfully, my sugars remained under 140, as usual…vacation not over, yeah!
But that was not the end of our insulin adventure.I learned my lesson and took the insulin out of the car each time we stopped and made sure there was an adequate amount of ice or cold water covering them…However, I was not prepared for the unpredictable temperatures of mini refrigerators. When we reached Oregon, the hotel had mini refrigerators in every room. This set my mind at ease about the constant care of my extra insulin. I simply shoved it in the fridge and forgot about it, not unlike what I often do at home. However, the night after the wedding (which was another ordeal I will spare you from), I discovered that some diet coke we had bought and placed under the insulin in the fridge had frozen. Panic. Everyone knows that nothing is worse for insulin, along with high temperatures, than insulin that has frozen. I quickly checked the insulin, recalling a story from another diabetic who was wearing a pump one freezing cold Christmas when she stood outside for hours hanging decorations and ended up in the hospital the next day with diabetic ketoacidosis because of frozen insulin. Luckily, my insulin did not appear to be frozen. Another anxious wait for a pump change and another breath of relief when my numbers remained steady. Insulin is a much more demanding traveling partner than any child could ever be, especially when you have never gone on such an extended vacation before and do not realize how complicated it can be. But we made it through….next time, though, I think I might invest in one of those coolers that plug into the car’s cigarette lighter… I feel intensely lucky that our car getting broken into in Los Angeles, are the only bad thing to happen on our two week adventure!