Travel Headaches are Worth Holiday Cheer

Its easy to forget the extra baggage of diabetes with family by your side.

DeannaBy Deanna Glick

Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!

December 2008 — Airplanes and house guests. Since moving to the opposite U.S. coast from our families two years ago with our new baby girl, they have become necessary parts of our lives at least twice a year. The holiday season brings both.

First, airplanes.

We just did a two-week whirlwind in the name of Turkey Day. To save money, we used Frequent Flyer credit to obtain tickets for myself and our toddler, who began fetching full-price fares on her second birthday. This meant the trip began with my husband and I on different planes arriving at different airports. It ended with my husband on an earlier red-eye in order to get back to work and my toddler and I stumbling through the terminal with stroller, car seat, toys, diaper bag and diabetic supplies in tow listening to other travelers drone on about all their great ideas for traveling with a toddler.

Even without all the hullabaloo, I really hate flying. I am afraid. I know it's an irrational fear. My father often reminds me it's the safest mode of travel. Much safer than my Subaru. But that doesn't calm my nerves. Even if you don't mind air travel, being diabetic means more baggage (in the literal sense), time and patience at the airport. And even after 15 years of experience at diabetes management, my blood sugars are never good during travel. I used to like bringing something from home to eat during a five-hour flight, but security rules forbid that now, so the unhealthy or mysterious food options for sale in the terminal can be challenging. There's also the time change to deal with. Before 9/11, I'd breeze through security without a beep or a mention of the insulin pump that's usually strapped to my leg or bra. Now, the sensors are, well, more sensitive. I get pulled aside every time. And now, this means my toddler gets pulled aside too. And if we touch each other after coming through the beeping doorway, then she gets wanded and patted down too. Yes. A 2-year-old. She thinks it's funny. And it is.

Unlike me, my little girl loves flying. She loves running through the airport pulling her little wheeled suitcase and watching the planes out the huge windows. She loves sitting in her own seat with earphones attached to my laptop watching Dora and Diego cartoons. She loves the beverage service. She loves playing with all the toys I've packed amid site change sets, insulin pump cartridges, glucose testing strips, and syringes just in case my pump fails. She loves resisting the seatbelt, but cookies usually change her mind quickly.

Second, house guests.

As much as I miss our native California and love visiting, the challenges and responsibilities of motherhood and my health mean I much prefer having our family come to us in Virginia. This means we set aside space in our home for them to sleep and I usually don't get much work done during visits because we're too busy making up for lost time.

As I prepare for one of my daughter's sets of Grandmas and Grandpas to arrive this week to celebrate Christmas with us, I realize how thankful I have become for our two bathrooms and extra bedroom. Having our families stay with us means more home cooking and more coziness. Much preferred to a coach seat and packaged crackers.

My daughter makes it all worth it. She takes my focus away from my fear when we're flying and injects humor into the headaches along the way. She also builds my tolerance for house guests here at home. So when I get caught up in it all and forget to test my blood sugar or bolus, I try to remember that it's only a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of life that would be a lot less livable if not for the time we get with our families.

dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.


Last Modified Date: June 03, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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