My experiences traveling the world with Type 1 diabetes. Photos, stories, and lots of blood sugars and injections.
I have followed several train and subway lines in Osaka on foot, in an effort to get some exercise, learn how to exhaust my body yet maintain good BG, and to visit some parts of Osaka I wouldn't otherwise see, all at a leisurely pace. For each walk, I took photos and videos and recorded my BGs, food intake, and impressions of the neighborhoods I passed through. I learned a lot about handling BG while exercising. See my video diaries here...
I traveled for over four months — 131 days, to be exact — through several European countries over 2014-2015. I started in Sweden, went down through the Baltics, then parts of Eastern and Central Europe, the Balkans, and finally to Norway. I kept a daily travelogue here, with details of what I did and saw, and how I handled diabetes during the trip. Lots of photos of my blood sugars, meals, and shots can be seen on the pages along with the regular travel photos! I was with my longtime travel partner Masayo the entire time. She was a great help to me and lots of fun to travel with. Enjoy the travelogue. If you believe diabetics can do anything they want, help me spread the word: share an article or photo on Facebook or Twitter or whatever you like! Thanks :)...
The day after Christmas was our day to go further into Croatia, having spent the last two days in a very pleasant but mostly closed Zagreb. Masayo and I had decided to head east into the Slavonia region of Croatia, and the city of Osijek.The day didn't begin well at all, diabetically, and in fact was pretty rotten throughout. Despite my solid and good BGs in the hours after dinner last night (141 and 110), I was 315 at 8 am. Clearly, something had gone wrong during the night. Evidently my liver had decided to give me some emergency glucose. I don't know why.So I had my eggs and bacon, courtesy of Masayo, and a chocolate croissant, plus yogurt and fruit and coffee for breakfast. I took a lot of insulin for it, plus to bring the 315 down. Then it was time to head out. We left our key on the table as instructed and walked to the tram stop.A tram came soon, and we got on and paid the driver for two tickets. On the way to the bus station, we noticed that the hills in the distance north of town were dusted with frost, or possibly even snow. We like snow, and so enjoyed seeing it. I wonder if we'll get any snow before we head down the warmer Adriatic coast? I guess it's not likely.We had bought our tickets for the bus online last night, so we had seats. The bus pulled out and we were on our way to Osijek (pronounced "oh see yeck").On the bus I checked to see how well the Humalog had done its job. Not good enough: I was now 342. Unaccountably high, based on what I ate: my liver must still be loosing carbs. Please stop. I've got everything under control, liver.So I took another shot, but had no food.We arrived in Osijek at 2 pm, and walked the 1.5 km to our hotel. The town seemed really nice, and had a small-town feel, but everything was closed. I have lived in Japan for ten years, where Christmas season exists for shopping but it isn't a religious or national holiday, so everything is open (until New Year's, when almost nothing is open). And I don't really remember how the opening
Today was New Year's Eve, and it was a quiet day for Masayo and I. My BG got pretty low at one point, and it sprung back real high. But that didn't prevent us from going out to join the crowds welcoming the new year 2015 in the town square.At 9 am my BG was 81, continuing on from the excellence yesterday. My breakfast was a cinnamon roll and instant coffee in the room here in Pula, Croatia. After breakfast we went to the office where payment is handled for the apartment we're renting through New Year's here. We paid, and then asked the guy about car rental.We wanted to rent a car tomorrow, New Year's Day, and drive around the Istrian peninsula to see some of the towns and sites. It would be my first time driving in a while, and first in Europe, so I was excited. Plus, virtually all rental cars here are manual (automatics are rare and twice as expensive to rent), and while I have driven such a transmission I would be pretty rusty. So that was exciting too.But the guy couldn't find any car rental company with a car tomorrow. He said locals like to rent cars to drive up to Austria and Italy to go skiing, since it's so cheap and they don't have to put wear on their own cars. So our car rental plans would have to wait.We walked around town some, including by the big ancient Roman amphitheater that dominates Pula. It's a huge, round structure, looking old and strong and weathered. Just like in photos, but this is the first actual ancient Roman ruin I have seen with my own eyes. Amazing.We also walked by the waters of the Adriatic Sea. Ferries from Pula go to a nearby national park on an island, as well as Venice, Italy.I felt low and decided to check my BG. Sure enough, I was 48, close to my lowest-ever reading since the trip started. I had a Snickers bar, and half of another one, and we kept walking, looking for a place to eat lunch.We settled on one of the only places we could find that was open and that wasn't a pizza/"kebab" place. It was a real restaurant, called Pompei
Our time in Poland had to come to an end today. After eleven nights there, it was time to conquer a new country. From Kraków, we found a bus at TigerExpress.eu that would take us to Ostrava in the Czech Republic. From there we'd find trains to the small town of Kroměříž, where I'd made a room reservation for two nights.At 8:00 am, I woke up to a blood sugar of 266. That pizza from yesterday still working its foul magic. (The Humalog and cookies I'd try to sneak in while my BG was 359 I bet didn't help either.) Breakfast was in the room: yogurt we bought yesterday, instant coffee, plus the rest of the cookies we'd bought a couple days ago. Not much.On the way walking through town to the bus (near the train station), Masayo and I stopped and each bought a giant pretzel bread thing. These are sold all over Kraków, and cost about $.45 each. We didn't eat them yet; they were for the bus.The bus people didn't have our reservation (I paid online last night) but after a phone call it was straightened out and we got on. They gave us free coffee on the bus, and we motored along the boring roads out of Poland.When we actually crossed the border I was dozing, so I didn't see it. I like to try to get pictures of the welcome signs when we cross a border. Oh well.The bus dropped us off at Ostrava Svinov train station in the town of Ostrava. First we found an ATM in the station and got some Czech koruna, then bought tickets to a stop called Kojetín.We wanted to get some food for the train. While Masayo waited on the platform, I ran to a nearby minimarket to find something. I bought some pieces of individually wrapped cheese, chocolate soy milk, doughnuts, and what I hoped was sparkling water. They didn't give me a bag so I sprinted back to the platform, train approaching, with everything in my arms.On the train we found some seats (hoping we were in the right car) and I checked my BG. It was 157. I'll take it. I shot up and ate this tasty but probably unhealthy lunch. After a
I picked twenty-six places in and around Osaka, Japan, where I live as an English teacher, from A to Z. Over the course of a few weeks I traveled to each place and took a live blood sugar reading on the spot. If it was between 70 and 130, it was usable; if not, I had to come back. Just something fun to do on my days off...
Location: Jizo statues, Shi-tennoji Shrine (地蔵堂、四天王寺)BG: 85 mg/dL (4.72 mmol/L)Previous: Ikune ShrineShi-tennoji Shrine is a big Buddhist place near Tennoji in Osaka. There are festivals and events there, and it is one of the most important shrines in this area of Japan. And they have a whole lot of "jizo" statues, which in this form are a Japanese innovation within Buddhism, and which wear little red bibs and protect children. Something like that.Anyway I thought that, although there are a lot of choices for "J" in Osaka Prefecture, "j"izo statues would be pretty good. And the fact that there is a lot bigger group of them at Shi-tennoji than in most places made it a photogenic addition to the 70-130 Osaka project.I often pass by the shrine by bicycle on my way to work, so I decided to stop by the shrine and get the photo on one of those days. Unfortunately, my BG was too high the first couple attempts, so much so that I didn't even bother trying. The second time was particularly annoying — despite many Humalog shots and little food and some exercise, I was still 269.Anyway, on this day I felt better and went — for my first time ever — to Shi-tennoji Shrine. I parked my bicycle and walked around looking for the statues. They are hard to find — it's a large area with many buildings, and I didn't know whether or not these statues were inside or outside. Eventually I asked a guy wearing a guard uniform.And there they were — off a main path tucked behind some little shrine-looking things: hundreds of little bald statues with red bibs. I checked my BG — it was 85. The place was fairly quiet, and I wasn't sure how cool or uncool it is to set up an iPhone on a tripod and start talking into it with a big smile. But I did my best; I got some video and a still photo.That was it! "J" is done; 70-130 Osaka continues
Location: Q's MallBG: 117 mg/dL (6.50 mmol/L)Previous: Palace of Naniwa"Q" is a hard-to-come-by letter in Japan; when transliterating Japanese into English, there is no Q (it would be ku with a K). But there is a place with the English name "Q's Mall", so I think that's as good a place as any. It's one of Osaka's many huge, soulless centers of crassly overpriced clothing stores and curiously unusable trinkets — but there is a big "Q" on the side of the building. Fits in well with the 70-130 photo project.So on this day, after my work finished around 5:00 pm, I checked and was 111, so I decided to ride the train to Tennoji and get a BG photo at Q's Mall. '111' was a new number that I don't yet have in my project; I was trying to save strips so I decided I would use that reading, even though it would be a half hour old or so.I had brought my iPhone tripod, and once at Q's Mall I set up the shot in a thankfully not-too-busy place outside. I decided to check again — it was 117, so I used that number because it's also new. The shot was good; the lighting was perfect and by chance I framed it and balanced it all well.Project's coming along nicely! Just nine more to go
Location: Waterworks Memorial Hall (水道記念館)BG: 81 mg/dL (4.50 mmol/L)Previous: Viet Nam Consulate-GeneralThere are a few choices in Osaka Prefecture for "W" for my 70-130 Osaka project, but the Waterworks Memorial Hall seemed like a good place to get a photo. I'd never heard of it before starting this project (like many of the places) but it looked like an interesting building, and it was just close enough to bike to, hot though the day was. Plus, it's in a rather out-of-the-way area that I don't know much about yet.Before leaving I ate a rice ball, Calorie Mate pack, and a banana, but felt a little weak — not diabetes-wise, but food-wise. Nevertheless, I set out to the Hall while I still had time before work. In honor of Ray Manzarek, who died recently, I listened to The Doors' first album on the way, and Strange Days on the way back.When I arrived at the Hall, the gates were closed and a sign indicated that it was closed as of April 1, with no indication of when it would reopen. This gave me a sinking feeling. I biked around the outside of the building, and found an entrance on the other side staffed by a guard. I asked him if I could go in and take a picture of the outside of the building; he said no. He also said he didn't know when it would reopen. Strange.So I found my way to the embankment across the street from the hall; it was quite a bit out of my way, but I got there and and there was a pretty good angle on the building. I checked and my BG was good, 81, so I took some videos and some stills, and headed back home in the very warm sunny afternoon. I ate some Calorie Mate and drank juice before leaving because I felt I was getting low.The Doors and I made it home okay, and I had my "W" photo. Thanks to whomever decided to put that embankment there between the Yodogawa River and the Waterworks Memorial Hall! No thanks to Osaka City for shutting the place with no information about it reopening (there is, or was, apparently a museum inside)