On Friday I dropped the bomb that we’re leaving for a three-month trip to Southeast Asia in January. It may have seemed a little out of left field because I wanted to keep it quiet out of respect for those who didn’t know yet. But behind the scenes, before we made this decision, we had to figure out a lot of stuff. Money was the biggest issue – but diabetes was right behind that one. Can we take enough supplies with us to last three months? What if something happens while we’re over there? What do I do about insurance upon our return when we won’t have jobs yet? Who can translate a doctor’s note into Thai?
It seemed overwhelming when we first started planning, but I had to step back for a minute and realize “Lexie, you are not the first person to do this who has diabetes.” And I also realized I’ve done something similar in the past when I lived in Spain for four months in college. I figured that one out, and this one wouldn’t be that different. I also reminded myself that there are people with diabetes in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Get over yourself, self! You are not the first person with diabetes to ever be in that country! You’re not an alien, you just have specific needs and there’s a way to do it.
Here’s a short list of things I did to prepare for the trip:
I used the mail order pharmacy of my insurance to order a three month supply of Lantus and Humalog. That way I could use my current insurance to pay for it, and have enough supplies for the trip.
I’m choosing to go back to using insulin pens instead of my pump because of the bulk that the pump pods would take up – it would be tough to travel with those and still have room for my clothes.
I investigated COBRA coverage for my job and found out I can keep my benefits for up to 18 months after leaving – for a price. That cost had to be factored into the math that decided if we could even afford this trip.
I got a doctor’s note explaining that I have diabetes, with copies of my prescriptions. Then I sent that note out to have translated into Thai and Vietnamese, the languages of the two largest countries we will be visiting.
I set up a travel consultation with my primary care doctor so I could get all the preventative medications one might need for traveling in that part of the world – things like anti-malarial meds and antibiotics.
I investigated which country I should try to get to in case we have a diabetes emergency. The answer is Thailand or Vietnam because out of all the countries we’re visiting, they have the most reputable hospitals. But if we couldn’t get to either of those, we’d be ok in the other countries too. I have to remind myself we’re not going out in the back country of some unheard of remote location – we’re going to an area of the world that’s a prime vacation spot and heavily traveled by folks from all over the world, plenty of which I am sure have diabetes.
One thing I haven’t done yet is learn how to say “diabetes” in the languages of all the countries we’re visiting. That’s a must-do in case of an emergency, and Jacob will need to know it too.
Overall, I’m feeling better and better with each step I take to plan for diabetes on this trip. Being prepared is what will help me feel the most secure about it. Even if you never have to use some of your resources, it’s always nice to know that they’re available. Now as for planning for how to bolus for all the carby noodles I’m sure we’ll be eating…I’ll have to wing it on that one!