Any diabetics out there?

Posted on September 13, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

one of the things that has been taking up exorbitant amounts of our time as we prepare for this trip has been our medical supplies. For any of you that aren't already aware, James and I are both insulin dependent diabetics. We were chatting to our friend Chris (hi Chris!) the other day about all the hoops we have been leaping through in order to medically prepare ourselves for this trip, and he suggested that we should chronicle it here in case it might be of use to any other diabetics out there preparing a similar trip. So here goes. For those of you who are neither diabetic nor interested in this, i give you full permission to stop reading…. here!

So, on with the show. We are going on a 6 month trip that will encompass South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and South America. We need 6 months supplies plus a decent just-in-case extra (I have factored in about 15%). We need insulin (3 types; James and I use the same fact-acting but different slow-acting), blood testing strips, needle pen-tops and finger prickers.

Between the 2 of us we basically need a year's worth. Considering we do at least 4 injections a day each, that is a stupid amount of space. Also, insulin doesn't last that long. Insulin that isn't in active use (i.e. in our insulin pens) needs to be kept cold/refrigerated. Otherwise after 4-6 wks (depending on the type) it starts to denature, and you need more of it to do the same job. So we need to keep what we have cold, and not bring too much of it. So we have 2 solutions.

The first is the marvelous Frio packs They are a UK company that make smart cooler packs designed for insulin. You stick 'em in water for 15 mins and the crystals in them turn to gel, and they miraculously stay cold for 4-5 days. Amazing. So we have bought several of those, but they takes up some space I can tell ya! The other plan is to not take all the insulin at once. We are bringing about 10 weeks' worth with us to begin with, and then have had to work out what countries have reciprocity agreements in place (e.g. Australia and Ireland have one, so if I bring my passport and a prescription to an Aussie pharmacy, they will fill it. Sweet!), what countries we can obtain our insulin in (not all countries have access to all the insulins that are made), and what the rules are about obtaining it in the countries that you can get it in. Another example is Malaysia. Unusually you can buy insulin in Malaysia, but most pharmacies won't have it in stock and you have to order it. Takes a couple of days. All these things are worth knowing well in advance. I would recommend talking to the Medical Support people at the pharma companies that make your insulin to find out if they supply the insulin in the countries you are going to, and what the rules are in those countries .

Blood Testing Strips:
These need to be kept in the original container (as they are airtight) but aside from that have no special requirements, and crucially can be posted by airmail. Insulin can't because airmail is flown everywhere (and therefore freezes in the plane which destroys the insulin) and by-land post takes 6-10 weeks. So the plan with the strips is that we get 3 prescriptions for them, postdated for Sept, Oct and Nov. We bring the Sept one with us. Our lovely friends Kathryn and Daniel (hi Kathryn and Daniel!) post the second and third sets to friendly types we know along the way that will look after them until we get there. We are also cunningly saving space by putting double the strips into each tube they come in, therefore using only half the space.

Any other business:
Neither finger prickers nor needle pen-tops are an issue; we won't use that many of them over a 6 month period so can happily bring a little pile of each with us. We are  bringing a couple of full prescriptions from our GP here so that we can show them to GPs and pharmacies abroad when trying to obtain our meds. We also both have letters from our GP outlining that we have diabetes and what medication we take, for inquiring customs officials. 

So that is our madcap plan. It has taken *forever* to work out but we think we are there now.

Anyone have any questions or ought? Leave 'em in the comments..


Posted via email from dreadpiratesarcas


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