« Guest Post: Air Travel, Diabetes, and Burritos. | Main | Diabetes Zoetrope: All We Need is a Strobe Light. »

In-Flight Diabetes Management.

My brain is a swirling dryer of thoughts, ideas, and exhaustion, set on HIGH, and that's without even bringing up the amazing OZ Diabetes Social Media Summit.  Bullets are the only way to release the Kraken
  • The flight from Los Angeles, California to Melbourne, Victoria is 15 hours and 50 minutes long.  I don’t enjoy being on a plane for fifteen minutes, never mind fifteen hours, so this was an experience.  And, of course, diabetes was a pesky bird during the course of this flight.  
  • I changed two infusion sets on one flight.  One was because my insulin cartridge ran out about five hours into the flight, sending me into the airplane bathroom with a bottle of insulin, an infusion set, and a pump cartridge.  With the diabetes paraphernalia spread out along the narrow airplane bathroom counter, (and doing my best to keep anything sterile from coming into contact with the petri dish command center known as an airplane bathroom) I felt like a true traveling insulin addict.
  • And then, thanks to a feisty seatbelt and a sleeping seatmate with active hands, the new infusion set was accidentally ripped out, sending me back into the bathroom with a new spaceship.  
  • Dear Qantas flight friends:  I’m sorry for making the bathroom smell like bandaids.  Twice.
  • I accidentally treated a low blood sugar with low-sugar juice.  Three cups of it.  “Why isn’t this frigging juice working?”  Oh, right.  Even the juice outside of the States is healthier.  
  • Which meant that the lingering 65 mg/dL tumbled into a 39 mg/dL, wherein the flight attendant and I got to know one another over a jar of glucose tabs.  “What are those?”  “Glucose tabs.  I use them to treat hypoglycemia.”  “We have a lot of that on our flights.”  And then she tried her first glucose tab.  “Tastes almost like candy, but not enough to make me want to eat heaps of them.”  “Exactly.”
  • I rode bitch from Melbourne to Los Angeles, with Chris on my right (aisle) and a lady we didn’t know on my left (window).  Nothing introduces a stranger to diabetes quite like a 39 mg/dL, some high-flying jelly beans, and a flight attendant grinning through glucose dust.  
  • Somehow, the Dexcom flagged me as “out of range,” despite the fact that I should have been able to go from the front to the rear of the plane without the receiver breaking a sweat.   And despite the fact that it was in my seatback, ten inches from the transmitter on my body.  Go figure.
  • I watched the sun rise via the creepy camera mounted on the tail of the A380 air bus.  That’s a very curious experience.  Didn't contribute to nice, steady blood sugars as it was a constant reminder that I was on a plane. For fifteen hours. Curious indeed.

    Approaching the coast of Australia.

  • Almost as curious as boarding a plane that’s bigger than the state you grew up in.  (Ish.)
  • But definitely not more curious than me, trying to figure out what time it was.  My pump was set to Melbourne time (I change my pump to the timezone I'm traveling toward almost immediately), my phone was set to Los Angeles, and my CGM was set to Boston.  Telling time required doing math, which means I was horrible at it.  “What time is it?” was a question quickly followed by, “What day is it?”  Confusion reigned.  
  • (As a side note, I had the hiccups for two full hours on the flight home.  Not sure why.  I sounded like a sad creature, hiccupping wildly and loudly for way too many minutes.  Good ab workout, but miserable social experience.)

And then we landed.  And it was over … until we grabbed our second flight, bringing us across the country and home to Rhode Island.  Nothing like a trans-Pacific flight to make a cross country one seem piddly. And nothing like being home after a week away to make me appreciate being on solid ground.


Wow - what an adventure!! I was thinking about you while I was miserable on my three hour flight. I was thinking "poor Kerri, that must really, really suck."

I have to admit that I chuckled about the hiccups though. I caught a miserable case of them one night right before DSMA Live went on the air. Me and my hiccups were quite the entertaining item for that hour of live internet radio. And it's recorded for all to hear! (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/diabetessocmed/2012/06/08/dsma-live)

I always have trouble on flights but mine is usually opposite. I can't seem to keep my blood sugars down in normal range. I hate flying anymore between the constant finger pricks and the motion sickness, I would rather drive anywhere. (if possible)

How long were you in Oz?
When I travelled internationally I would slowly change my pump time over 3 days. That way it synced with my Circ rythyms. Does it work better to change immediately? I did change my CGMS immediately - but I found double readings on my old Navigator CGMS because I was counting the time twice!

I've also had the Dex say out of range when it's VERY close. I figure it's because it's in a skin fold of mine. :)

Welcome back!

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)