My Trip to Africa

Maintaing good habits while traveling abroad.

kalimah bioBy Kalimah Johnson

February 2012 — Once again, I had the opportunity to visit Ghana, West Africa! I was so blessed to have had the chance to usher 13 other women on this journey as well. They were mostly students and staff at the college I work at and signed up for the course to participate in service learning. As the lead faculty member, it was my responsibility to introduce topics to students related to the history of Ghana — the politics, the infrastructure, and educational systems of this West African country. We had ten days to get everything on our packed agenda done. At times, I wondered if I would test and take my medication in a timely fashion, or if I would become negligent because of my schedule and excitement! I am notorious for skipping meals, not testing, eating too many sweets and carbohydrates, and forgetting to take my medications, even when I am at home. So, I ask, how can I travel abroad with type 2 diabetes with these preexisting bad habits and return home whole? Not so easy, but at best manageable.

The first thing I did was inform the college of my condition, then I informed the travel abroad coordinator. I also shared my situation with the travel agent (who I learned also has type 2 diabetes) and I explained to the person I was rooming with that I had type 2 diabetes. It is always best to let at least one person know of your condition in the case of an emergency. I thought it would be a good idea to also let them know where my instructions were for signs of low or high blood sugars and what should be done for me if I showed any symptoms.

Secondly, I packed all the items that I thought would help me on my journey. The last time I went to Africa, I shared with dLife readers that I forgot my monitor. Not this time! My monitor was the first thing I packed. I also changed the battery and made sure I had alcohol wipes, test strips, lancets, and all of my oral medications. When traveling abroad, it is best to bring your prescriptions in the original bottle they come in for security reasons and to ensure the pills are what you say they are (long story). I brought my insulin pen and needles and actually brought an extra pen, just in case. I packed one pen in my suitcase and an additional one in my carry-on bag. The flight was 15 hours and I was able to easily inject in the restroom and one time I injected through my clothes while sitting in my seat (longer story).

Third, I was certain to pack snacks that would help balance my blood sugars throughout the day. If we went for a long amount of time before having a meal, I would just eat peanut butter and wheat crackers, nuts, turkey jerky, energy bars, trail mix, or Twizzlers. (I did not pack the Twizzlers with me, those were from one of the students and I could not help it!) However, I must say that when it was time to eat I made sure that I ate in proportion and I always tried to take a walk after a huge carbohydrate-filled meal.

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Last Modified Date: June 10, 2013

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by Nicole Purcell
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