The Open Road Has No Pharmacies…

If you’re anything like me, you tend to pre-plan most of your daily activities. I, for one, usually have my day mapped out before my head hits the pillow on the previous evening. When I wake up the next morning, I have the benefit of being able to hit the ground running with only a few adjustments or details to iron out. Even on a day off, my hours are usually filled with a number of things that need to get done, and I rarely have a moment where I can stop and say, “Wow, I have nothing to do…”

Not everyone is that organized. In fact, even while being THAT organized (and I’m no KonMari), it’s easy to overlook some details and forget things you may have needed. If you have Type-1 Diabetes, overlooking a small detail can mean the difference between healthy holidays or spending Christmas in an emergency room.

First, let’s cover the basics. Unless you were diagnosed last week, you should have a pretty good idea of how much insulin you use and how many supplies you require over a specific period of time.Every person is different, of course. But if you can’t do simple math and figure out that you use X number of insulin units in Y amount of time, therefore you need Z number of bottles, you may have a problem.

Enter: The Holidays! This is a particular time of year, when different pharmacies and businesses have strange and off hours of business, and can be closed on unexpected days. The obvious being that almost all businesses are closed on Christmas Day, of course. But every business is different.

Given that for the most part, we tend to consume higher amounts of food, baked goods and even alcoholic beverages over the holidays, we also face the fact that we may go through more insulin than we’re accustomed. Even IF you have your dosages and supplies down to a fine art, you may find yourself falling short.

Another important aspect of the holidays is the fact that many of us travel. Whether it’s to visit family or go to a warmer destination throughout the holidays, planning out your trip in relation to your Diabetes supplies can be crucial, especially when faced with the possibilities of being stranded due to mechanical breakdowns, snowstorms or other emergencies.

Back in September, I had travelled back to New Brunswick for work. I had only intended to be there for a week, but a change in plans and schedule saw me gone for almost two. I don’t mind saying, shit hit the proverbial fan! I had packed enough supplies for a full week plus a buffer, but now the extension of my stay would outlast my extra supplies.

The town I was staying at did not have a location belonging to the pharmacy I use, my prescriptions were from out-of-Province and a hospital wait to acquire a local prescription would have taken hours that I didn’t have available. I was unfortunately forced to purchase the required supplies out of pocket. And the kicker is that the pharmacy I went to didn’t even carry the pump supplies I use, so I had to purchase insulin (short and long acting), syringes and blood testing supplies (they had my Freestyle Libra sensors, but they were too expensive to pay for up front).

This was a costly lesson, but an important one. I could/should have planned for that contingency. If I had simply brought an added pump set with me, I likely could have gotten away with buying a single bottle of insulin instead of spending several hundred dollars on supplies. Even if you have a buffer, you should also bring a buffer for your buffer!

Although this applies to the entire year, be sure to consider your health and safety over the holidays by ensuring that your supplies are plenty and that you have enough to get you past the black hole in your pharmacy’s business hours. Nothing says “bah, humbug!” like waiting 8 hours in an emergency room for a short supply of insulin! ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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