We left Brisbane with temperatures of 37°, and arrived to temperatures in Hokkaido of -7°. Cold weather and a 40° temperature swing was a very welcome change. Last time we were in Japan it was so hot that my insulin was only lasting a day and a half before expiring. No such issues this time.
It was such a different travel experience to what I had had before. Sapporo was absolutely covered in snow (It is in contention with a few other places for snowiest city in the world), at points being built up at least a metre taller than my husband and I.
Naturally, once again I had to smuggle diabetes and all of its luggage into my carry-on. I must be getting better at controlling my uninvited travel companion though, because I barely heard a peep from my diabetes in the week I was away. Even on that day that we went to Odori Bisse Sweets and I ate 2 desserts before dinner, then dinner, then dessert again (which you can read about on my travel blog at: http://tonyobyointokyo.blogspot.com.au/).
Of course there were some small blips. Thankfully, unlike in Europe, Japan doesn't believe in trying to sell sugar-free soft-drink alternatives, so not only did I only have to consume a small amount of a soft-drink to treat my hypos, but hypo treatment was blissfully easy to find.
The Japanese have a slight obsession with making food accessible (you cannot walk more than 200m without coming across a mini-mart stocked with delicious goodies). On one particular night, we went to the Sapporo Beer Museum for dinner when just after arriving, as we were standing in the freezing cold, I was alerted to a hypo by my pump. I could see that there was a long line into the beer museum (and therefore to any possible food inside). Immediately my eyes fell on a quiet bus stop across the road. Nearly buried in the snow was my shining beacon of hope. A vending machine. With an endearing exclamation of 'F***ing Japan' and 100Y later, I was guzzling a freezing cold soft drink. The temperature of the bottle made my lips numb and my throat ache as I swallowed the frigid liquid but at least I had hypo treatment.
Later on once we were inside the beer factory we found a beer marketed towards diabetics. Beer is remarkably cheap in Japan, so yea, that beer is 200Y - roughly $2. You can get full alcoholic beer at their mini-marts (like our 7-11's) for about $1AUD.
The day after visiting the beer factory I discovered an unexpected plus to having diabetes in Japan. The very last picture on this 'reserved seating' sign on our tram was described as being for people with 'internal organ failures'. If my Type 1 isn't an internal organ failure, I'm not sure what is. So at the very least, if I really wanted to, I could get a seat on crowded public transport (although I would never use it, it was interesting to see).
|Seat for a Pancreassasin|
There were a few learnings in taking diabetes into such a cold climate. Like how hard it is to calibrate when wearing so many layers. Sometimes the CGM had trouble talking to my pump through my 5 + layers. I usually need more insulin in winter in Australia, but because I used so much more energy to walk in my copious amounts, it all sort of evened out and I barely even had to put on reduced basals.
Having CGM with the suspend before low feature was an absolute gosh-send. Usually my pump was hidden well within my clothes, so I just sort of had to rely on the CGM and pump to make a few executive decisions about my diabetes management for me. Something about punching holes in my fingers in -7° temps didn't make me feel all that enthusiastic about finger-pricking.
Reasons why I'm hypo:
Its the exact opposite right now. After having an AMAZING week BGL wise, I had my first hypo of the week, unclipped my pump, and forgot to clip it back up. 6 hours, dinner and dessert later....all without insulin....my meter is not a happy chappy. Neither am I. #diabetes fail