I know that it's been a while since my last blog post, and I do apologize for that, but I have a very good explanation. A couple of days after I completed the incredible, inspiring, and just plain awesome outpatient Artificial Pancreas Project clinical trial at UVA I headed out on my first airplane trip ever to vacation with my fiancé Zach. Now the truth is, the reason the trip was even a possibility was because Zach was presenting at an important neuroscience conference in Palm Springs, and we have a lot of family on the west coast that we love dearly and very rarely get to see so we took a couple of extra days to spend some time with our loved ones. I've said it before and I'll say it again, family comes first. And boy am I grateful for the family that I have.
Before I get into that, I want to talk a little bit about traveling with diabetes, specifically an omnipod wireless insulin pump. I've been hearing horror stories left and right about how TSA has been ruining pumps, giving ridiculously invasive pat downs, and just generally being rude to people with Type 1 Diabetes and insulin pumps. But I can say with 100% confidence that traveling with diabetes doesn't have to be difficult as long as you keep a smile on your face and realize that the airports only do what they do in the interest of the safety of all their passengers. All of my equipment and supplies ran through the carry on X-ray with no problems. I traveled through a few different airports, from the major ones such as Dulles International and LAX to the tiny ones such as Palm Springs and Tucson. And with the exception of Tucson which seemed to only have metal detectors, I went through the full body scanner every time and upon telling them I had a wireless insulin pump, all I had to do was touch the omnipod with both hands, have my hands swabbed with a dry circle of paper, that swab was then sent through a computer and after about 30 seconds total I was cleared and on my way to my flight. I suppose my point is, of you're diabetic and wear an insulin pump, just remember that you are in fact a little bit different from the person next to you (but really who isn't?) and if you just smile, stay honest, and try to relax traveling can be easy for someone with T1D!
That being said, vacation clearly agrees with me. I had my basal rate practically shut off at least half of the time I was on the west coast, and if I did the full recommended amount of insulin for the carbs I was eating, I ended up sucking down glucose tabs like it was my job. As if the benefits of the Artificial Pancreas weren't clear enough already this made it painfully obvious to not only myself but to the family around me that doesn't normally get to see my day to day battle with T1D. One night at dinner we were all discussing my recent opportunity to participate in the Artificial Pancreas outpatient trials, and I had said that I can't remember a time that all of this day to day managing of diabetes wasn't just how life was, and my amazing grandmother who is bravely battling breast cancer said something that was so simply insightful that it will stick with me forever. She said "It's a new normal." And she was completely right. Something so unexpected and so life changing can come into your world and in the blink of an eye and suddenly it's just how your life is. I have no family history of Type 1, and to make a long story short, I had a blood virus that triggered an autoimmune reaction that caused my diabetes. Or at least that's the best explanation my doctors have been able to find. So was it bad luck or good luck? I would never wish what I go through on a daily basis on anyone, but I do firmly believe that it is what has made me who I am. The strong, prepared (if not overly so), dedicated, appreciative and grateful for every moment on this planet girl that I am today wouldn't exist if I wasn't presented with this challenge in life.