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Posts from the ‘Traveling’ Category

Blood Sugar Turbulence.

“The captain has the seatbelt sign on.  Please stay in your seats until the seatbelt sign is turned off.  This is for your safety.”

The flight attendants were also in their seats, having suspended drink service.

Turbulence sucks, but it passes quickly … usually.  Unfortunately, on this flight it seemed like it was going to be a 20 – 30 minute wigglefest for the plane.  And also unfortunately, we were at 38,000 feet and my blood sugars appeared to be making the same climb.

I’ve noticed, especially since my pregnancy last year, that I need to change my infusion set at the three day mark, or my absorption goes full crumb (climbing blood sugars, sticky highs).  I was traveling home from the TCOYD ONE conference in San Diego (awesome event –  more on that conference tomorrow) and my “it’s been three days – change your site!” alarm went off the day before.  I was on borrowed time, infusion-set wise.

I meant to change it at the airport but time was too tight.  And I had no intentions of changing it at my airplane seat, but my blood sugars were high, seemingly stuck there, and I needed to swap out that site ASAP.  Who know how long the air was going to be rough, and I could already see that my blood sugars were in garbage mode. So, tucked against the window and using my scarf as a barrier between me and my seatmates, I was able to quietly change out my site.

Covert site change on the plane. #insulincognito #latergram

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

And yes, the beeps are usually loud an intrusive but the speaker for the X2 is on the backside of the pump – that series of little holes – so keeping my hand firmly over that part made for a subtle set change.  Shrugged my shoulder out of my shirt and popped the infusion set on the back of my arm and I was good to go without even a side-eyed glance from my seat mates.

Stealth set changes at 38,000 feet without going into the nasty little airplane bathroom? And blood sugars that started coming down within 20 minutes of the set change? Check and check. See ya, blood sugar turbulence.

Your moop or mine?

The first flight out was jumbly, with the plane riding into some kind of air pocket right after takeoff, eliciting audible screams from some of us.  (No, not from me.  Turns out that, if things get scary, I resort to frantically saying the F word under my breath whilst clutching the arm rest.)  Once the plane hit some smooth air, everyone breathed a little easier and tried to mellow out.

In the silence of folks calming down, I heard that low, moop sound that the Dexcom G5 app makes when it is ready to be calibrated, like the sonar ping from a submarine.  It’s subtle but unmistakable.

Moop.

My sensor was fine when I boarded the plane.  I pulled out my phone anyway, just to make sure my CGM wasn’t crying for attention.  Huh.  Not me.  Sliding the phone back into my purse, my peripheral vision caught the movements of the woman next to me, who had her phone in hand and I could see the little pigeon head I knew by heart.

“Type 1?”

She grinned.  “Yeah.”

“Me, too.  Since I was seven.”

“I was 13.”

“I thought it was my CGM that needed to be calibrated,” I said, gesturing towards my phone.  “But it was you this time.”


It’s the thread that runs through all of us, that instant and unfettered understanding of the thing that simmers on the back burner some days and threatens to burn the house down on others.  I know that feeling. So did the woman next to me.

Instantly, she became familiar. I didn’t know her name or where she lived or what kind of history she brought on board with her, but there was an instant connection of, “Yeah, me too. I know that thing you have. I also moop.  And beep. And check. And worry. And celebrate. And dose. And fight. And laugh. And keep perspective. And move on.”

“Don’t you all know each other?”

A few weeks ago, we were in Venice and I almost walked right into the canal because I saw a lady with an insulin pump on her waist and a CGM sensor on her arm, speaking Italian to the shopkeeper and casually wearing her pancreas on her hip.

The flurried rush of emotions – excitement, understanding, the urge to shout “one of us!” – flooded me.  I grabbed my husband’s arm and said, “Hey DID YOU SEE HER PUMP?!” and he was all, “No, where?” and I pointed my finger while trying to make it look like I was itching my nose.

And my daughter said, “Yeah mom, I saw her!  And her pump! Do you know her? Don’t you all know each other?”

(You know, I wish we did.)

And even though we don’t all know one another yet, we can contribute to the growth and collective power of our diabetes community by participating in Diabetes Blog Week.  Sign-up details are on Karen’s blog – this is the 8th year! – and topics will be provided throughout the week.  And if you’re not into running a blog, you’re welcome to guest post here on some of the topics, if you’d like.  (Email me!  kerri (at) sixuntilme  (dot) com. )  Also, you can shape-shift the topics to fit into 140 characters on Twitter, or through Instagram, or other social sharing platforms.  Don’t let the “blog” in blog week keep you from sharing your story.  All voices are welcomed!

Traveling with Diabetes.

Over on the Tandem website, there’s a new bit about traveling with diabetes (that I helped craft up), and that went live this morning.  You can read more here:

But it made me think about my travel experiences this past weekend (I was in Seattle for the ConnecT1D retreat – more on that in a few days, as I’m waiting for some input from the group out there), where diabetes was not at the top of my concern list, and yet I still spent some quality time with the TSA agents.

Most of the time, the issues at TSA screening points are minimal.  There are moments when discussions get a little combative or feel intrusive, but I’m not the most comfortable flyer, so it’s kind of par for the whole travel course.  (As in, everything makes me twitch.)  This past weekend, I was pulled at the Seattle airport for extra screening because my bag tested positive for explosives.

This resulted in having everything screened with an extra level of scrutiny, including but not limited to the TSA agent unfolding all of my dirty laundry (actual dirty laundry, not metaphorical) and inspecting it.  Made me feel weird that I folded all of my dirty clothes before packing them and also grateful that I didn’t accidentally bring something dodgy on my trip (waves giant exploding sex toy).  My bag kept flagging as an issue, to the point where they spent 20 extra minutes examining everything in it, from my laptop to my phone to the hair brush at the bottom of my backpack.  They even took a good look at my baby, who was kicking wildly at the inconvenience and making his presence visibly known.

“It might be your curling iron,” the TSA lady said, putting it in a bin and sending it through the x-ray screening for the second time.

“Maybe,” I said, wishing they’d give me my shoes back so I wasn’t toes’ing all over the highly trafficked airport floor.

“Your baby seems amused, though,” she said, watching my stomach undulate underneath my shirt.

“Yeah, he would prefer I visit the bathroom soon,” I said, while my son bounced around on my bladder.  “But he’s definitely amused.”

40 minutes later, the agents concluded that I was not a threat and that my items all cleared.  The agents barely looked at my pump and my CGM was a blip on their radar.  I was sent on my merry way, realizing after a few waddling steps that diabetes played a role of ZERO in my TSA hold-up.  Which was a weirdly nice change of pace from the “Excuse me, miss – is that a pancreas in your pocket?”

Weak Away.

I accidentally took a week off from blogging, but there are reasons.  And they involve dinosaurs.  Bullet list, because that’s the only way to organize what’s swirling in my brain?  Yeah, let’s do that.

  • Last week started strong – a good visit to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on Tuesday to confirm a strong and healthy growing boy.  More on the third trimester of this pregnancy in a bit, but for now, I’m holding very steadily without any blood pressure issues, no swelling, no protein spilling in my urine, and a baby of a healthy and normal size.
  • I think my son has the same nose as my daughter, which is weird to notice in an ultrasound.  And he definitely has my husband’s dance moves, which contributes to his cuteness.
  • The next day, I took a flight out to Salt Lake City (after putting Birdzone on the bus) and then drove out to Vernal, Utah for a diabetes event with the Tri County Health department.
  • Per my daughter’s request, I wore a bracelet she made me while presenting. It is as important as my medical alert bracelet, to be honest.
  • The people in Vernal are nice.  Super nice.  And there was a lady whose due date was the day before mine, so we had the chance to bond over babies.  (Hi, lady!)
  • The drive from Salt Lake City to Vernal is also nice, but extremely rural.  Like there’s one rest stop on the three hour journey on Route 40.  I saw lots of red rock formations.  And Strawberry Reservoir.  The drive through the mountains was beautiful.  If I didn’t have to pee every 25 minutes, this would have been a truly relaxing drive.
  • My cell phone didn’t work perfectly throughout the duration of the drive, so it felt weird to be tooling around in a state I’m unfamiliar with, in a car that’s not mine, entirely by myself, save for the seven month along fetus that was dancing while I drove.  There was a vulnerability to being out and alone that I liked and feared, simultaneously.
  • I did meet Dinah the Dinosaur upon my arrival in Vernal, which was a highlight.  Sending this picture home to Birdy earned me some mom points.
  • I found a dinosaur. #travelbetes

    A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

  • After presenting in Vernal and having the chance to connect with folks at the dinner, I went to bed and then made the three hour trek back to Salt Lake City for my flight out the next day.
  • Note:  I wore compression socks while driving.  Yep, I’m that old lady with the paranoia.
  • Second note:  The socks at least had a decent pattern, so at least it wasn’t a total loss.
  • Last sock note:  I neglected to remove said socks before going into to grab a snack at a rest stop.  Was also wearing a skirt.  May have looked a little off.  Do not care.
  • Then it was off to San Antonio, Texas for the TCOYD conference, where I rolled around like a hamster in one of those plastic hamster balls.  Only I was the hamster ball.
  • We talked about the emotions of diabetes-related complications, with the conversation tipping in favor of emotions related to diabetes on the whole.  The group attending the session was diverse in age, diagnosis length, and emotional response, which made for a very engrossing discussion.  As always, I learned a lot from my peers.
  • And at the end of the session, I saw people exchanging contact information, helping extend the conference bond beyond the moment.  Damn, that is my favorite part of any diabetes conference: the connection with peers.
  • After the conference, I crashed hard (sure, I may have watched three episodes of OITNB back-to-back before bed – don’t judge).
  • Sunday – Father’s Day – I was back at the airport to make the flight home to Rhode Island.
  • “Did you take a direct flight home?”
  • HA HA HA HA HAAAAAA
  • “The flight home to Rhode Island” isn’t ever direct, unless I’m coming from Chicago, Baltimore, or DC.  Every other location takes a ridiculously long time to get back from.  It took six hours of flying time to get home from Texas.  America, you sizable.
  • And on the first leg of the flight home, a PWD (T1D) in the back of the plane struggled with a serious low blood sugar, causing a bit of controlled chaos on the plane.  Thankfully, there were some smart and capable folks on board who were able to step in and assist, but it was unnerving to recognize that the good samaritan running to the back of the plane had that familiar orange case of glucagon in her hand.
  • Then it was home.  Beautiful, quiet home for a few days before the next leg of travel kicks in.  (See you in Seattle?)
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