One of the big issues with having Type-1 Diabetes is the fact that I can never just get up and go somewhere. It’s not so bad if I’m just heading around the corner to the grocery store or running a quick errand. But even that will have a tendency to involve checking my blood sugars before getting behind the wheel, It can be a onerous process, especially if you’re headed somewhere that will have you out of the house for several hours.
I usually carry a small shoulder sling, which is basically a one-stepped backpack but smaller. No, it’s not a purse, you fuckers! And even if it was, we’re in 2022; I think we should be okay with it even if it was. But I digress. In this backpack I carry some fast-acting carbs on the form of jelly beans, a glucometer, a snack and a small travel-sized first aid kit. All of these things can be life-saving in the event of an incident involving low blood sugar or light injuries.
Things get even worse when I plan to be away overnight. And yes, I know that I promised I’d stay off the vacation posts until we started travelling back to Saskatchewan and I intend to hold to that. But one particular detail happened that directly relates to today’s subject matter. When we were planning this trip across the country, I made a point of purchasing and packing a small cooler pack intended to contain ALL of the Diabetic supplies I would nee in order to survive my trip away from home.
Although it isn’t uncommon for me to forget something, I forgot something rather important this time around; I forgot my CGM sensors. Now, some of you may be wondering why this is a big deal. After all, I survived for three decades before I started using the bloody things so a couple of weeks shouldn’t be a big deal, right? The problem is that consistent blood sugar control is a constant thing when one has Type-1 Diabetes and that control is all the better and tighter when I have the benefit of my insulin pump’s SmartGuard system to measure and maintain my blood sugar by testing through the CGM every five minutes.
As to what exactly happened that I forgot AN ENTIRE FUCKING BOX OF SENSORS ON MY DESK is beyond me. All I know is that by the second day of our journey, the current sensor expired and when I tried to swap it out I realized I had none in my cooler pack. There it was; I was thousands of kilometres from home with no CGM. Okay. No problem. No biggie. I won’t cry about it (much). I figured I would continue on the road and pick up a box at whatever pharmacy I came across while travelling. This has been my practice with things such as insulin and test strips. Hell, I’ve even schmoozed my way into getting free glucometers that way, which is why I have a spare one in the car, now.
But continuous glucose monitoring sensors seemed to be an unfortunate exception to my travelling habits. My first attempt was in a small town outside of Ottawa called Arnprior. I asked the pharmacy technician if they carried Medtronic products. She had no bloody clue. She got the pharmacist for me, who had no idea what Medtronic was. He tried looking it up and I even spelled it for him. He confirmed he didn’t carry CGM sensors. I could see Freestyle Libre sensors behind him, but I intended to use this ONLY as a last resort. The pharmacist added insult to injury by saying that if any pharmacy in town carried something, he made a point of carrying it as well so it was unlikely I’d find what I was looking for in Arnprior.
Alright. Okay. That’s all VERY weird. From a pharmaceutical standpoint, I would have thought that names like Medtronic would be pretty common and well-known. Apparently I was wrong. I left the pharmacy and we continued to travel until we reached a small town in Quebec where we bunked for the night. I didn’t look for a pharmacy that night, running my pump on manual mode. When we finally made it to Dalhousie, I attended the local pharmacy and dearth with a pharmacist I had graduated from high school with.
Besides the pleasure and nostalgia of dealing with an old friend, I was surprised to hear that she also had no idea what Medtronic was. What the hell…? Did no one else in the eastern half of the country use an insulin pump? I was taken aback but I finally relented and asked to purchase a Freestyle Libre, otherwise known as the “poor man’s CGM” to get me through the next little while until I could get my hands on sensors from somewhere, She did me one better and gave me a sample pack she had received from the distributor when they came out with the Freestyle Libre 2. I was set.
I’m obviously running on the Freestyle Libre 2 at the moment and taking advantage of the immediate ability to scan the sensor with my phone and get an immediate sensor glucose reading but it’s obviously not the same as having my Guardian CGM and SmartGuard taking the reins. It illustrates the importance of ensuring I pack properly and don’t forget anything. Having my wife double check my bag can also be a good idea.
Although I should be used to travelling with Type-1 Diabetes, one can never be too careful. And I learned an important lesson that even thought I USUALLY run to a pharmacy if I run short of something, it doesn’t mean every pharmacy will always carry what I need. I can promise and guarantee that I’m going to be more cautious and hug my sensors tight when I get home. It makes the planning and organizing of any trip all the more important to ensure there’s no disruption in the proper care of my Diabetes and blood sugar management. True story. ☯️