I know there are a dozen different strategies for dealing with diabetes while traveling in different time zones, but I've never found one that goes off without a hitch. If you're pumping insulin and rocking different basal rates throughout the course of the day, adjusting to a new time zone can be a total pain in the hey, look, something shiny!
Throughout our vacation, my blood sugars actually behaved themselves. And I can't figure out how, since we were five hours off on our natural schedule, our meals were carb-filled traditional Irish breakfasts and chicken and champ, and we were in the land of Guinness. It makes NO sense that my numbers were in range, better than they were the week before, when I was home and cruising around in my regularly scheduled chaos. But I think part of it came down to dumb luck with the timing of my basal rate changes. And the alignment of some planets.
The flight from Boston to Ireland was just over five hours long, which also accounted for the time difference. With Irish time five hours ahead of Rhode Island, I had to decide how to best manage the change. Did I want to spend the first day adjusting the clock on my pump every few hours until it was synched up with the new timezone? Did I want to change it right away when I landed? Or did I want to keep it as is and hope that a week wasn't enough to muck with things?
I decided to change the time on my pump as soon as we took off, because I knew it was going to be a very tricky travel day. Here's why: After boarding the plane in Boston at 6 pm and flying some awkward version of "overnight" (where we landed at midnight our time, but 5:30 am Ireland time), and by the time we arrived at our hotel in downtown Dublin, Chris and I were giddy from the lack of sleep. Thanks to the luck of the Irish, we were able to get into our room well before check-in time, and we collapsed and slept for almost six and a half hours.
This is precisely why I changed my pump right away. My basal rate is 0.45u from 11 am - 11 pm, drops to 0.25u at 11 pm until 3 am, and then it goes all apeshit from 3 - 11 am. At 3 am, it jumps up to 0.60u. At 9 am, it jumps again to 0.9u, where it hangs out until the 11 am rate kicks in. In those wee morning hours, that 0.6u is a lot of insulin for me. Without it, my blood sugars creep up into the 180 - 240 mg/dl range. With it, I'm solid. But if it's delivered at the wrong time, I could end up with a really nasty low blood sugar. So there's a lot to juggle when considering just that one thing. (Never mind the addition of driving, new foods, BEER, and sheep. And sheep drinking beer whilst playing paintball.)
Too many variables, too much guesstimating, and too few hard and fast rules of diabetes make traveling through time zones tricky. But we've all done it, and we're all continuing to do it. What tips would you have for a PWD traveling through time zones? Do you make one fast move, or are you a slow transitioner?