Guest Post: Arianna Goes to Africa.
People in general have incredible adventures that impress the hell out of me ... and when people with diabetes have incredible adventures, I'm doubly-in awe. Arianna and I met a few months ago at Clara Barton Camp, where she worked with Abby, and today she's guest posting about her travels to East Africa. (In the meantime, I'll be digging out from email. :) )
About nine months ago (crazy to think it’s been that long) I hopped on a plane to East Africa. There may have been some actual hopping action out of excitement. I had my first brand new digital camera, my intense hiking backpack (mostly for looks), my beginner’s Swahili manual, and my malaria meds in tow. Oh, and that entire other suitcase full of diabetes shenanigans to cover the whole precaution factor. But despite the fact that I was carrying my weight in diabetes supplies, I was determined to make this trip all mine. And although I can’t say that diabetes didn’t play a role in my trip at all like I had hoped, it wasn’t always putting on its mean face.
I met friends that somehow convinced me that they too would have left all their insulin in another country and that it’s easy to forget and totally not my fault (magical???). The precious little kids, were absolutely fascinated with my pump… a long tube with a sticker connected to a cool machine that lights up, I mean seriously, how much cooler can you get? And as if that weren’t enough, I met someone who would listen to The Pump Girls with me and at least pretend to enjoy it. What more could I ask for?
Arianna, surrounded by new her friends
So with the exception of forgetting all my insulin in Kenya while switching to the second half of my program in Tanzania, which might be the definition of diafail if there is one, and having to go on Regular insulin for a couple days (throwback!!!), everything went fairly smoothly in the diabetes department and the health department in general. (Minus the time I got WTS, otherwise named "Weird Tropical Shit." Now, there isn’t really anything the doctors can do, it lasts a couple days and has some fairly gross symptoms but I was taken to the local clinic anyway. And let me tell you, for a developing country, it was the best doctor visit I have ever had.)
There was some slight confusion when I told him I was slightly low, 52mg/dL, that morning forgetting that they measure in mmol/L, but it was a guilt free appointment. I proceeded to ask him all sorts of questions about how they managed type 1 diabetes. I shed some tears hearing about how the tiny munchkins have to come in every week to get new insulin due to the heat and have to travel long distances to do so, as well as only check their blood sugar when they come to the doctor. I knew all of that already, but seeing it first hand was difficult. But what he told me will stick with me forever. “Diabetes is a family disease, and with the support of your family and friends management of blood sugar is so much better and easier.” Brilliance, I tell you, brilliance. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell my doctor for years when she criticizes me for poor control.
So what I’ve learned from my trip to East Africa (besides what to do when being chased/charged by various animals), how to speak Kiswahili, how freaking adorable the munchkins are, and how much I still love the Pump Girls, is that I owe a big shout out to everyone who is helping to manage my diabetes because with your help things are so much easier! Oh and how helpful a Dexcom would have been, for real.
[Note from Kerri: I love Arianna's bio, so I'm leaving it here, untouched. And please, check out her blogs from Africa, because they are amazing. ]
Arianna Jesanis is a senior at the University of San Diego, majoring in marine science solely for the reason that she likes dolphins. Her diabetes is over 17-years-old, well surpassing the R rated movies admission but still waiting a couple months for the adult life. As many of her friends know, she is overly obsessed with Clara Barton Camp and loves munchkins (children) of all sorts, particularly the ones that score high on the sass scale. Arianna loves sleepovers, The Incredibles, and trying to learn how to whistle and likes to impress people with her Kiswahili skills on a regular basis. You can catch all her Africa stories at http://loveandlaughrica.blogspot.com.