Medical

Adventures with Diabetes

IMG_20140729_165205 (1)
IMG_20140729_165205 (1)

When thinking about our lives and the interesting things that we've done as a family, I sometimes forget I am a person with Type 1 Diabetes. For most of the last 12 years, I have been attached to an insulin pump and testing my blood glucose a million times per day. Well, not quite a million...but a lot.

It's strange that sometimes I can forget about Diabetes, even though I have a device tethered to my body 24/7, but I do.

I also sometimes forget that I'm living a really remarkable life:

  • Brad and I traveled to Thailand 6 weeks after my diagnosis, which included a 3-day trek in Chiang Mai.
  • We've trekked the Inca trail in Peru
  • Earlier this year, we took a 38-day / 3800 mile road trip across Argentina with our two young daughters (6 & 1-1/2 years old).
  • I travel internationally on a regular basis, including 13 countries (some multiple times) since diagnosis and lived in/had health insurance in 3 countries.
  • I've been walking approximately 21 miles per week
  • We had an accidental, unassisted homebirth with daughter #2

--- and I have Type 1 Diabetes!!!

I am sure I drive my doctors insane, but I've got it -mostly- under control. I'm in control as much as much as any person with Diabetes can keep the pendulum-that-is-blood-glucose from swinging in one direction or the other.

These stories & details make up the fabric of my life. I guess you can call it adventurous. I guess you have to be when you have a chronic illness and you choose to move abroad anyway and deal with things as they come.

Iguazu Falls, Geneva 5 years old.
Iguazu Falls, Geneva 5 years old.

The best thing I've found is to not view my body as the enemy. We're in this together.

I use my body and exercise as my tools and sometimes, just sometimes, lose myself in my day and forget about my physical tether that is attaching me to my insulin pump. Some days, I just have to let go and be normal- figuratively speaking, of course. Diabetes doesn't take a holiday.

Healthcare In The Rest Of The World

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082101778.html A simple link. Read it.

There is so much wrong with healthcare in the United States and this article from the Washington post discusses the system in the USA compared to other countries, specifically Japan, Germany, France and Canada- although others are mentioned as well.

Here in Argentina, we have incredible healthcare at a fraction of what we paid in the USA. Our current costs are 390 pesos/month for me, the type 1 diabetic and our baby using APROSS, the provincial plan and 970 pesos/month for the other two members of our household (using MET, a private insurer and their most expensive plan). Total: 1360 pesos or $203 dollars/month at a 6.5 exchange rate.

With APROSS, there is a copay of $10 pesos, which is $1.54 dollars for my appointments (all baby appointments are without copay) and APROSS covers all of my Medtronic Insulin pump supplies with no copay. It is wonderful.

Enough said about how great the healthcare is here. Read the article:

 

By T.R. Reid -- Five Myths About Health Care in the Rest of the World

Why Uruguay?

While planning the move and telling everyone about it, the first question, as the blog name suggests was "You're moving WHERE??!?!?", which was quickly followed by "Why Uruguay?" For us, this answer was clear after a long list of considerations.  We wanted:

  • High standard of living
  • Relatively low cost of living
  • Similar time zone to the USA
  • Spanish speaking
  • Safety
  • Cultural opportunities/experiences
  • Good infrastructure
  • Good health care system
  • Stable government
  • Positive attitude towards foreigners

That list rules out our favorite place

Other Great Stuff (that we brought along)

There are a few other things that we brought with us that have been invaluable to an extended stay in a hotel. These were all items that we purchased for previous adventures abroad (Peru and Thailand) and I think they are all nifty little tools to share: Campsuds

Campsuds: This is a multi-purpose, biodegradable liquid soap that can be used for clothes, dishes and body. While we have bathed with it before, we are using it for clothes and dishes right now. There are several scents available and it is concentrated so it lasts forever. We have a 4 oz bottle that has lasted us from our Peru/Inca trail trip a few years ago.

We use Dr. Bronner Castille Soap for showering and other cleansing.  Another excellent concentrated all-purpose naturally derived biodegradable liquid soap.  

Pack Towl: These microfiber towels are amazing and we have them in 4 sizes. Ours are a previous generation, so I assume that they could only get better. They have been great as dishtowels, bath towels, wringing wet clothes dry- you name it. They're light, have a snap loop to hang with, wash perfectly and dry incredibly quickly. What more could you ask for?  Be warned though, these are not cushy towels.  It's a bit like drying with a giant chamois, but they get the job done. 

Frio Pouch: This was the only solution that I could find for trekking in Thailand in 2002. I needed something that would hold my insulin and keep it cold when I was going to be away from refrigeration for extended periods of time. The Frio pouch was/is a godsend. It has a gel that is activated by water that keeps the pouch cool for days. Soak it for about 10 minutes or so and you're ready to go. When the water starts to evaporate, simply re-soak it (I did this in more then one stream during the Thailand trek). The gel dries to a sandy texture and it completely reusable. Saved my insulin from the Thailand heat and has gotten through airport security in my carry on and everything!! MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: I highly recommend carrying a doctor's note when traveling with any medical supplies/devices. I have also found it helpful to call the airline and have a note added to your record if you are traveling with large amounts of supplies (thank you to Brad for recommending this). It saved me a whole lot of trouble this last time! Also, just because it worked for me, does not mean it will work for you and/or the airline you are flying. Check and double check with them first!!