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 :)...
Today was a long-time dream fulfilled: we finally were able to rent a car, and I drove us around the Dalmatia section of Croatia all day. It was my first time driving a car outside of North America, and my first driving at all since a week in Hawaii a few months ago. (In Japan, where I live, I don't drive.)First, I woke up very early with low BG. I didn't check, I just had juice and a cookie. Later at breakfast I didn't bother to check, figuring I was probably doing pretty good.After breakfast we walked back to the rent a car place. It is a single office that is both Thrifty and Dollar. (I don't understand that.) They had a car, and the guy spoke English, and the price was what the internet said it would be, about €50 for the day. They even had an automatic transmission car, which made me relax a lot: I can drive a manual transmission, but haven't in several years and never did regularly. I was glad I didn't have to try it in a new country with unfamiliar rules. Plus, the internet said the price would be double but it was only €8 extra.We set out in our little car up the road, and I settled into driving pretty quickly. Music is a big part of driving, and as I had no CDs or anything I had to rely on the radio, which played mostly dull, computer-y modern pop music. And a good one every now and then. But we were driving right down the coast of Croatia, and the views were spectacular as always. It was slightly chilly, and very sunny; a perfect day for driving.First we arrived in the town of Omiš and saw an old-looking fortress on a hill, so we decided to park and climb to it. We walked up a narrow stone path and steps behind rows of houses until we got to an iron gate that was locked, despite a sign with open hours on it that suggested we were right in the middle of the opening times. But, closed is closed, and we had to turn around.After a quick stroll around Omiš, another old-seeming stone town, we stopped in a Studenac supermarket for some picnic lunch food, and
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
After a day of pretty bad blood sugars yesterday, I had better hopes for today in Vilnius, Lithuania. On waking at 8:30, I was 243. Bad start. Breakfast was again a small, manageable amount of chocolate cereal with milk, and a banana. Also, Masayo went out to get some coffee for us.At noon, I checked and was 168. Great! Not great, but better. Anything under 200 seems like a miracle to me these days. We left the room to see some parts of Vilnius' Old Town we hadn't seen yesterday. The temperature was a little warmer, and I wore several shirt layers but not my down jacket.We stopped by the Miracle Tile again, because after seeing it last night I'd read on the internet that you were supposed to make a wish, stand on the tile, and turn around. So we did that, then walked up to the amazing St. Anne's Church. I don't know who St. Anne is, but her church is very cool — made of red bricks, but with very ornate and winding construction, not blocky. We went around and inside, taking lots of photos. It was really nice.Then we walked along the small and lovely Vilnia canal to the only section of the Vilnius town wall still standing. Again, the view overlooking the city was nice, but we were getting hungry.Back near the hotel in town we stopped by a bookstore/cafe and got granola yogurt, quiche, and a big cookie we split. (And I had carbonated water, mm-mmm!) I took my shot, hoping this was a relatively low-carb meal and my lower-than-200 BG would remain so.After lunch, Masayo's friend Neringa came to the hotel to pick us up in her car. We were going about 25 km outside of Vilnius to see Trakai Island Castle, a very famous sightseeing spot (and resort, in summer).The drive was pleasant, and the town at the castle was really quiet and pretty. We walked across a couple bridges to get to the castle. We couldn't go inside much, because opening hours were over at 5 pm and it was 4:40. But we walked all around the outside of it. It was dusk, and a 3/4 moon was bright in the sky over
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: X-Wave (クロスウエーブ)BG: 102 mg/dL (5.67 mmol/L)Previous: Waterworks Memorial Hall"X" is another one of those letters in Japan — it hardly exists even in English, and really doesn't in anglicized Japanese. (They split it into a K and an S, sorta.) So I had to get creative, and some online research yielded a place called (pronounced) "Cross Wave" — but spelled X-Wave — in the busy Umeda area of north Osaka. A look on Google Street View showed a large street-level "X" out front. Great!The building itself isn't too interesting or important — it's a hotel/conference center, or something. But as far as being photogenic, it fit the bill exactly.Since I occasionally work in the area at night, I decided to try a photo in the night lights. I hoped the X would be lit up or something. As it turns out, the first night I went there I found that the X was indeed lit up — it was better than I could have hoped — but my BG was too high. I set up my iPhone tripod anyway, to test the photo and lighting and everything for later. As I set the timer on my phone to take the picture, three businessmen walked by. Must have been a strange sight for them, but their presence made me smile self-consciously and all in all it made for quite an arresting photo. Out of context, I imagine it would seem totally bizarre.But I went back another night, and was 102, so that's the photo I got and chose for the 70-130 Osaka project. Not bad for a ghost letter — and only two more to go until 70-130 Osaka is finished
Location: Bara-en Rose Garden (バラ園)BG: 120 mg/dL (6.67 mmol/L)Previous: Arataki WaterfallI checked my blood sugar in various parts of the Rose Garden at Nakanoshima in central Osaka, trying to get a good shot for the 70-130 project. I finally decided on the photo here, where my BG was 120. It seemed to be the best image of the multi-colored roses behind me, plus the skyline is cool.First, my BG was 128, but the picture didn't come out so good. For one thing, the sun was high overhead, and it was hard to see the machine (the still images were ok but the video I also shot was not good). Not being able to see the readout on the blood glucose machine defeats the purpose of 70-130. At this point, fearing a rise in BG, I took one unit of Humalog as a sort of booster.So I moved to a different spot, behind a rose trellis. It was nine minutes after the first shot, and for purity's sake I checked again rather than using the 120 from before. This time I was 114 — but the machine was even less readable than it had been the previous time in the video. (Still photos again were ok. I am still learning how to use the iPhone as a camera.)Bara-EN or Bara-ZONO?At this time me and my official photographer, The 御マ, went over a bridge to another part of the Rose Garden. The bridge had a sign on it, reading ばらぞの橋 — this means Rose Garden Bridge, but is pronounced "barazono hashi". In Japanese, the garden's name is written バラ園 but that can be read either "bara-en" or "barazono". It isn't obvious which one to say, even to Japanese people.This was a problem because in addition to taking photos, I wanted to get good video too, during which I would have to say the name of the place I was. So what should I say? "Bara-en" seemed more likely, but the bridge was called "Barazono Bridge". A dilemma, clearly. In the end, I decided to stick with "bara-en". Good BG is more important than exact Japanese, so I elected not to worry myself over it too much.Anyway, on the
Location: Dotonbori (道頓堀)BG: 79 mg/dL (4.39 mmol/L)Previous: Chuo Kokaido HallAlthough it was a day of bad BGs, in the evening I decided to bike down to Dotonbori to try to get the shot there. I was 155 beforehand, but took no insulin. It was a 20-minute bike ride.At Dotonbori, I set up the tripod in front of the Glico man but I was 65. I ate some Calorie Mate and checked in a few minutes. It was 60 — too soon. After a few more minutes, I was 79 and I got the photo. It was difficult because of the large amount of back lighting that the iPhone couldn't handle, no matter where I touched the screen or where I held the BG machine.Dotonbori is a famous site in Osaka — the lights of this part of south Osaka being a long-time draw. I didn't want to include too many "obvious" Osaka places in my A to Z list but Dotonbori is perfect for "D"