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Traveling with Type 1 diabetes

My experiences traveling the world with Type 1 diabetes. Photos, stories, and lots of blood sugars and injections.

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"Diabetes can't stop you from going wherever you want." I don't just say this to you — I prove it. Follow my experiences traveling with Type 1 diabetes here — and get inspired to embark on your own travels.

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Videos: Osaka walks

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...

Europe 2014-2015

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 :)...

Day 49: Spiš Castle

The snow in Levoča has stopped falling, and was in fact even melting a little, but no matter: Masayo and I had big plans today that we have both been looking forward to: the famous Slovakian UNESCO-listed Spiš Castle.My BG at 9 am was 121. Between 70 and 130! We had cereal and apples the pension lady had given us yesterday, plus instant coffee, in the kitchen area that is right outside our room.Then it was castle time. We walked to the bus station (that Google Maps refuses to acknowledge, the bastards) and found our bus for the nearby town of Spišské Podhradie. It took about half an hour and was super cheap.We walked in the town half at random; the castle was too foggy to see from the town. A guy pushing a baby in a pram stopped and in halting English told us where to walk to get to the castle. And he was right; I was taking us the long way around on some boring roads, but his path led us straight up the hill from town to the castle.The trail is kind of long, and goes steep uphill, and we were the only people around. We finally started to see some good views of the castle breaking through the clouds above us. It was huge, and really an incredible sight. It is hundreds of years old, and its stone outer walls wind around undulating wildly and picturesquely.We walked around on little paths that still had snow on them and finally found the main entrance, on the opposite side from the town we'd walked from.Indeed, a sign explained that the castle was closed for the season. But we stepped up boldly to the large wooden doors and knocked. A few times. Through a crack I could see a couple buildings, and a truck... but no people. Nobody came to answer our beckoning.We hung around a few minutes, and I checked my BG — I was 121 again, same as I was before breakfast! — but realized that we weren't going to get into the castle grounds. What a pity. I split a chocolate cookie thing I'd brought with Masayo, knowing that this walking and hiking was probably bringing my


Day 9: Bus to Tartu

For the second morning in a row here in Tallinn, Estonia, I woke up with a low blood sugar. This time, however, I didn't want to know what it was so I didn't check; I just drank juice. A total violation of the 70-130 credo: always check. Sorry.We woke up late to catch our bus to Tartu; the alarm on Masayo's phone was set for the wrong day. We still had plenty of time to get there, just not enough to enjoy breakfast somewhere. (We bought tickets yesterday on the Estonian bus ticket website, a simple and painless process. Well done website.)It was -3ºC outside and we were bundled up tight, carrying our various bags through the streets that led to the big bus station (Tallinna Bussijaama). At the station they have little touchscreens where you can input your ticket numbers and get printouts to show the driver. Very nice process again — well done, Estonia!We got coffee and some water bottles at the station — again, as on the ferry from Mariehamn to Tallinn, our coffee cups were only half-filled with coffee. Still cost full price though. We also got some pastries to eat on the bus.On the bus to TartuWe put our big bags underneath in the storage compartment on the big highway bus and got on and sat in our assigned seats. I checked my BG for the first time today — 155. It was 10:30 am. Pretty good!I shot up the Humalog and ate my pastry, which was very crumbly and messy. I did my best. Masayo then ate her fruit pastry, which she said was very good and seemed fresh.The ride to Tartu was our first look at Estonia, and the Baltics, outside of the capital city of Tallinn. It was mostly flat, with fields and trees passing lazily by. The sun was in my face the whole time, but despite that — and despite the fact that the bus had free wifi — I preferred to look out the window and watch Estonia go by.In Tartu, I didn't see a map at the station but I thought I vaguely remembered the way to the hotel I'd booked online. So we set out walking in what I hoped


Day 17: All Saint's Day in Vilnius

At 9:00 am I checked my blood sugar: 298. What a way to spend my first morning in Vilnius, Lithuania. Serves me right for eating that heavy-carb Pakistani food last night. The rice, bread, and lassi was still in my system, thwarting all attempts to bring BG down.I tried to keep breakfast simple — I was high and not really hungry anyway; I had Choco Blast and milk cereal plus half an orange that Masayo cut up. And I took plenty of insulin to get my BG down and to handle the cereal (which I ate out of a coffee cup — self-catering style!).After breakfast, I did some laundry with the Scrubba and hung it around the room to dry. I'm getting low on Dr. Bronner's liquid soap already, and I don't know how I can get more while traveling here.At 11:00 I checked again, hoping I had managed to bring my BG down to normal levels. Nope — it was 354. Stunned and highly annoyed, I took a shot of Humalog, and Masayo and I left the hotel to check out Vilnius' Old Town.There were hardly any people around, and most things were closed. It was really strange; last night this area had been really busy, and today was Saturday. Where was everyone??The first thing we saw was a bust of Frank Zappa on a pole on the western edge of Old Town. This is an infamous tribute to Frank's individualism and iconoclasm (if not specifically his music). It was put up by Lithuanians who objected to being under Soviet rule. Now, the Zappa head and its pole are in a small, quiet cement lot on a quiet side street. I think Frank would love it.Walking back to Old Town I continued to be in an angry, bad mood because I didn't know why I had been so high. That huge meal last night, I guessed. Anyway we found a cafe called Klaipėdos Senamiestis and stopped in. I was not hungry, but I was cold.I had cheese soup and coffee — simple, and low-carb (I hoped). My BG however, was a mere 82. Great, but I had been 354 only 90 minutes ago. I wanted to drop, but dropping that fast made me nervous. I ate my


Osaka A to Z

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: 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"


70-130 Osaka (intro)

As a Type 1 diabetic, I think having good blood sugar is very important and makes one feel much better day to day, not to mention the importance of avoiding unnecessary complications. And I like the place I live in, Osaka, Japan.So I made a list of places within Osaka Prefecture from A to Z — one place for each letter. I will go to each location and take a picture of myself, holding my BG machine with a reading on it.Rules of 70-130 Osaka- The reading has to be between 70 and 130 mg/dL.- The reading should be a live reading taken at the spot.- When possible, only one location/photo per BG cycle.The point of 70-130 Osaka- To have fun and go to places I wouldn't have gone otherwise.- To remind and inspire other Type 1 diabetics — maintaining good blood glucose is important and makes you feel much better.The photos will all be taken with my iPhone 4. I'm not a camera person, and the quality seems to be good enough, and the phone is very convenient. I have a tripod that I can mount the iPhone on for hopefully better photos.Each place I go, from A to Z, will have its own page with photos and an explanation on 70-130.com. Take a look, enjoy the tour of alphabetical Osaka... and if you are diabetic, watch your BG!The list starts with 'A' — Arataki Waterfall


Expo '70

Location: Expo '70 Commemorative Park (万博記念公園)BG: 110 mg/dL (6.11 mmol/L)Previous: DotonboriThe famous Tower of the Sun, at a large park commemorating the Expo that was held at the location in 1970, is one of the more curious landmarks in Osaka, for obvious reasons. I like to think that this is the first-ever blood glucose machine photograph ever taken here. I'll believe that until proven otherwise.Getting there is fun, because you have to ride on the Osaka Monorail, which arcs over part of the prefecture north of the city. Anything unusual and out of the normal routine is welcomed.Although I like this photo particularly so far among my 70-130 Osaka pictures, the truth is that this 110 was actually taken while my BG was falling rapidly and dangerously, though I didn't know it at the time.I had woken up with an 89, and after a shot and breakfast was 211. This began an unfortunate cycle of shooting up Humalog and eating, trying to land between 70 and 130. The problem came about 20 minutes after this photograph, sitting down to eat lunch in the museum restaurant. I felt extremely weak, drank a whole bottle of juice (45g of carbohydrates), slooowly ate lunch, took no insulin for an hour, and still was only 195. WIthout the juice I think I would have ended up in a hospital, at least for a while.I am enjoying the 70-130 project, but I am learning I can't "sculpt" my BG by nudging it with insulin and food in really short time frames. I need to take a more holistic approach to how insulin works and the timing of everything.But, all's well that ends well, and I got the photo of my and my OneTouch UltraMini with a 110 mg/dL reading in front of the mighty (or mighty weird) Tower of the Sun! Booyaa


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