Wednesday, June 15, 2011

guest blogger: sarah

summer is upon us, and for many people that means it's time for a vacation! to get everyone ready for this vacation season, i have some awesome guest posts about traveling to share with you from some of the amazing members of the DOC. today's post is written by sarah from smartDpants! thanks so much sarah :) 

the time(s) I boiled the insulin...
Yes, you read that right. I've ruined my insulin by leaving it in the car when it's super hot outside, and I've done it more than once.

No matter where I'm headed or how I'm going to get there, traveling with D is an annoyance--sometimes minor, and sometimes off the charts in Annoyingland. I rock the security line at multiple airports to fly to conferences for work every couple of months, explaining my extra ziplocs full of juicy juice boxes and Novolog to TSA. I often ride the city buses throughout San Francisco, and suck down the glucose after sprinting to catch the 43 Masonic or N-Judah. I've changed pump sites right in my seat on the airplane in front of everyone because the bathrooms are just too tiny and skeezy. But road tripping? That's a special d-trip for me.

One might think that after one hideous episode of leaving my insulin in a super sweltering car, I'd learn my lesson and never do it again. No, not me. Summer road trip? I'm in! Keeping the sustenance of d-life properly cool and usable? Not so much. It usually happens when I'm trying to get to or experience awesome, once-in-a-lifetime events like, say, my brother's wedding or Lilith Fair. 

Insulin + car + summertime 90+ degrees - icepack or cooler = Sigh.

July 2005: My brother's wedding. He and my now-sister-in-law had their ceremony in the middle of some of the most gorgeous Big Sky Country near Bozeman. True Montana summer was everywhere. Sunny, clear, dry and hot, upwards of 95 degrees. In all of the excitement before the rehearsal dinner, I didn't pull my d-supplies out of the car, which was sitting outside in the sunshine. As you have probably already guessed, my pump reservoir ran dry during the rehearsal dinner. I kept drinking refreshing cocktails and eating yummy food, however, thinking I'd just fill it after dinner. When my partner and I went out to the car to go back to the hotel at the end of the evening, I realized that my insulin had cooked.

At midnight, and with no Walgreens or any other pharmacy in the vicinity that could fill my prescription, we headed to the emergency room at the local hospital. I had to be admitted to the ER in order to get a bottle of insulin. The nurses and dr. on call weren't quite sure what to do with me, as my blood sugar was high but not that high, I didn't have ketones and wasn't in ketoacidosis. After a while, they brought me a bottle of Humalog, the only kind of short-acting insulin they had at the hospital. I filled my pump and was released.
Since my medical insurance was from out of state, I was 100% responsible for the charges for that night's d-festivities: $105.00. Relatively cheap expense for putting myself in what could have been a really dangerous situation. 

The Lilith Fair road trip was MUCH more expensive, not all due to diabetes. Late June, 1998: Lilith Fair in Bernalillo, New Mexico. Beloved partner and I were on our way from Boulder, Colorado to Albuquerque for the concert. Our fuel pump blew in the 105 degree heat as we came to the top of the mountain pass. We were stranded in Raton, a small town on I-25, for 2 days while we waited for a part to come in and for a rental car to be delivered from a tiny town on the other side of the Colorado state line. Once we got the rental car, we made it--barely--to Bernalillo a few hours before the 3pm gate opening at the fairgrounds. We parked the car, with the insulin in the back seat, about a mile from the entrance. (It wouldn't have mattered if I brought the insulin with me. It was so hot it would have cooked even if it weren't in the car.) We walked the mile to the entrance, found that there was just one gate, and walked another mile or so to the end of the line.
We felt like eggs with the skin on the backs of our necks, arms and legs frying as we stood on line. We could feel our skin crackling in the sun--so gross! Some nice residents came out of their houses in the neighborhood and sprayed us with their garden hoses, a moment of delicious cool in the midst of the desert. Some of them were nice enough to share the temperature with us: 117 degrees. No shade.

My pump didn't run dry while we were having the whole Lilith experience, and it was so hot that I barely ate anything for about 8 hours while we were there. But the insulin still boiled and was useless the next day when I needed it. Thank goodness again for Walgreens, and an insulin prescription that they could fill in any state. A big relief and much gratitude for not getting myself into massive trouble.

13 years since Lilith-New Mexico and 6 years since my brother's wedding. I'm older and a parent now, and trying really hard to keep myself--and my D--pulled together. I don't have all, or many, of the answers, and I make tons of mistakes all the time. But we are going on two camping trips with friends and family this summer, and damn if I'm not going to keep the Novolog cool and safe. No hot insulin drama this year.


  1. I remember a few things very vividly from when my CDE was giving me post-diagnosis education. One of them was this: "Insulin is like a dog."

    Nowadays, I like to keep my "puppy" cool in a Frio.

    Have fun camping!

  2. Ugh! I feel your pain. I cooked mine in Mexico...and had some extremely high hospital bills when I got home. Glad you're planning ahead for your trip. Good luck!