Monday, July 09, 2007

Diabetes and Driving

Recently I started learning to drive, and although it is tremendous fun, there are some concerns for drivers with diabetes.

- Firstly, when I sent off to get my provisional licence from the DVLA I made sure to tell them I was diabetic, which meant that I got a 3-year licence instead of the usual 10 years. They had to write to my doctor enquiring about my level of health and the number of times I had been submitted into hospital. Unless your diabetes has become quite so bad as to be submitted into hospital fairly frequently, then you should have no problems getting your licence.

- Getting insurance is now a fairly simple process, as insurers no longer ask if you have diabetes. This is because it is proved that drivers who have diabetes are no more of a risk than drivers without. Although, some insurers still do ask, so do give them the correct answer.

- One of the most vital things about driving is to ALWAYS keep food, blood sugar tester and glucose in the car. This is so vital and important, because you need to be prepared to sort yourself out at the very FIRST signs of hypo/hyperglycaemia. You ought not wait 10 minutes to find a petrol station for a chocolate bar, because your low will get worse and you will have to wait longer to recover before continuing your drive. Pull over at the first signs.

- Test your sugar level before and every hour during a long journey. This is especially important for those with poor control, as your sugar levels can fluctuate quite rapidly. Also, if you can see your sugar level is going up or down you can treat it before it becomes a real problem.

- Do not drive if you feel ill or wobbly. I have (accidentally so) driven whilst going low and going high. I can safely say that it is NOT a good feeling. In both instances - high and low - ones perceptions and control over the vehicle are very limited. Plus, because going low is very similar to feelings experienced when drunk, it is in fact illegal to drive whilst you are in this condition.

Overall, check your level and make sure the DVLA and your insurers know you are diabetic. This way you and other road users are SAFE. Enjoy driving!!

Diabetes and Driving

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Cure for Diabetes?

At a recent visit to my nearby hospital doctor I enquired about the new, upcoming diabetes "cures". I asked about stem cell research and other things, and wondered if these would be available to me in the future.

Stem cells are blank cells that can grow into any kind of cell; this means they can grow into the all-important insulin producing islets. These could then be transplanted into the body and potentially cure the disease. As a young woman with type 1 diabetes I felt that this research was something I would be able to benefit from in the next 10 years, at least this is what I was told by another doctor 4 years ago. However, my doctor said that the best possible way for me to maintain good control and keep a great amount of freedom would be to stay with my Minimed insulin pump. I didn't realise how risky the procedure might be or the amount of anti-rejection drugs I would have to take after such an operation. It seems to me that I need to make the best use of my insulin pump in order to keep my body at a good level of health and my sugar levels stable. And although there are great improvements constantly being made to stem cell research, it seems best to make the most of what we currently have and just hope for the future.

A Cure for Diabetes? - Stem Cell Research through the eyes of a Type 1 Diabetic

Monday, April 16, 2007

how to handle airport security with an insulin pump

Well, even after having been through many European airport security checks I can tell you with some authority that I still get really nervous until I am through. Not that there is any chance that one could be stopped, it is a medical device after all and they have to let you through.

Before you even set off from your home, make sure that you have a signed doctors note with you. This will get you out of any problems you may get stuck in.

At the security desk the thing to remember is to make sure you do the following two things:

- 1. State which bags have got needles in to the person putting your bags through the scanner, this should then no longer be a problem.

- 2. Make sure that same person knows that the thing on your hip is in fact not a mobile phone, it is an Insulin Pump, be really clear about that. I was at an airport in the south of France recently and I said "Its an insulin pump" several times and still wasn't heard.

It may be a good idea to have with you a small piece of paper with the translations of important words you might need, especially if you don't speak the language at all, that way you can get past the confusion. Although most airports will have come across insulin pumps or diabetics before, that certainly does not mean that every person/security guard has, so be prepared.

Another thing to always remember is never to panic. This will only increase the amount of security guards around you. Along with this, remember that every airport has a different way of checking security, so don't be worried if they do something different. Here are how some different airports sort out security:

- In an airport in Austria I had to be escorted to the gate by a senior guard, who then had to notify the pilot that I had an insulin pump and needles in my bag, and ask if it was ok that I come on board (thank goodness it was!). At the same airport I had all my bags checked, opened and searched. I had to identify everything in the bag that looked suspicious.

- At an airport in northern Italy, they didn't ask me anything at all or question the needles or insulin pump.

- At an airport in London, they swabbed my insulin pump, which I found out afterwards was checking for traces of dynamite.

- At an airport in the south of France I had to go into a 'booth' with a security guard whilst she checked every single part of me for something suspicious. This was because they did not want to send me through the gate as it may have damaged the insulin pump. Most places won't do this, but this is also why it is important to make sure that someone knows before you walk through in case it is potentially damaging to your insulin pump.

Any questions you want to ask about this article, feel free to ask.

How to Handle Airport Security with an Insulin Pump by Alissa Evelyn