Chapter 10 – More travelling and a split in basal

Unfortunately, the nurse was not so thrilled with my Hba1c. “It’s too low,” she chastised me, “you must be having a lot of hypos and they’re very dangerous”. She followed that with a lecture on losing hypo awareness. I looked at her with disbelief. “It’s been hard work getting that Hba1c” I told her, “and it hasn’t been achieved by having multiple hypos, it’s been achieved by looking hard at my diet and trying to match my insulin dose to what I’m eating.” I felt deflated in a way, but by the time I got to work my spirits had risen again and I couldn’t wait to get home and post my new success on the Newsgroup, with a big “Thank you” to all those who had helped me achieve it.

Unbeknown to me, probably because I was focussing so hard on diabetes, my Doctor was at that time closely monitoring my Thyroid. My memory is vague as to the actual timescale, but sometime during the first nine months of 2004 she diagnosed me as being hypothyroid. In a way it was a relief, because it explained the tiredness that had been dogging me and the vague woolly headed feeling I had all the time. In another way I was quite upset because it came close on the heels of being told that my Cholesterol was at a dangerous level, so within a few months I was taking two Thyroxine tablets, one aspirin, one Lipitor for my cholesterol, Perindopril, an ACE inhibitor, for my blood pressure and a Quinine Sulphate tablet for cramp on top of my four injections a day. I felt rather depressed and wondered what was going to go wrong next. Although I’d suffered with various digestive issues since being 15 I had always regarded myself as being a healthy individual and had never before been on any long-term medication. Oddly, at some time after diagnosis I had stopped suffering indigestion at all.

Meantime, I had been given a promotion at work and was no longer on Reception, but had taken on more responsibilities and moved into the upstairs office, I’d also had my contract extended for a further 6 months on top of the original 9 month contract. The increase in responsibility had brought with it a pay rise that was very welcome since we were planning to visit my husband’s younger brother who lived in California at the time. He had had a tumour on his breast bone, which had been treated with radiation and he was at that time in remission. The two brothers are very close and it seemed to me that we shouldn’t keep on putting off a reunion “until we can afford it”. So we went ahead and booked a flight for the September of 2004.

I was excited, but a little worried about how I would cope with my insulin on a long haul flight and how to handle the time change. I needn’t have worried, on advice from the newsgroup I decided to split my Lantus dose on the day I travelled. It was a good decision and I never ever went back to a single dose of Lantus after that since the split seemed to suit me. I asked my nurse for a letter to “whom it may concern” explaining that I had to take my diabetic supplies on board with me and that I would be carrying needles.

When I was put on insulin shortly after diagnosis I had initially thought I was Type 1 as I explained earlier in this tale. At some point after diagnosis and when I had first been researching on the internet and had realised the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 was not defined by whether or not you were on insulin I had asked my nurse what type I was and she had said “Oh I think you’re probably type 1.5. We’re seeing more and more people who don’t fit the conventional types”. I’d then looked up Type 1.5 and had discussed it in the newsgroup, so I was fairly convinced by that time that that was what I was. It came as something of a surprise therefore that the letter described me as “A type 2 diabetic dependant on insulin”. However, the letter proved to be a bit of an asset in an unexpected way!

Security was very tight at Heathrow, as it had been ever since 9/11 and all passengers had to report for check in a good two hours before departure. There was a huge queue for the 3 operational check in counters and it seemed to take forever until we got to the desk. We hadn’t finished checking in when the computer system crashed just as I’d handed over my letter explaining that I was carrying needles. It apparently broke the ice because the airport security guard who was to accompany us for a security check in a special room was diabetic too, so we fell to chatting whilst waiting for the system to reboot. It took ages and the check in clerk was apologising profusely to us. We told him there was little he could do and we did understand since we had worked for the airline for a long while and were used to this sort of happening. By the time we got checked in we were all good friends! The check in guy said he’d marked us down as “suitable for upgrade”. We thanked him for the nice gesture.

In those days you had to take your checked baggage into the special room to be searched before proceeding through immigration and personal security into the departure hall. A long procedure, so by the time we arrived airside they were calling our flight. We quickly bought some duty frees and some of the latest best sellers from the bookshop and hurried to the gate. Various people were called to the desk there, but not us, so we thought, “oh well, no upgrade”. However as we were proceeding to board and offered our boarding passes, they were taken from us and replaced with others. On board we were delighted to discover that we had indeed been upgraded to “World Traveller Class” which meant we had larger seats and only two to a row instead of the normal three, plus an in-flight telephone and various other perks. Very nice indeed for a long flight! As icing on the cake we knew some of the more senior crew and they looked after us like royalty.

Jon met us at San Francisco airport and drove us into the city where we booked into a motel close to Fisherman’s Wharf. We’d been up extremely early that morning in the UK and we’d forgotten just how draining an 8 hour time change is so we tried (unsuccessfully) to have a nap. We ate that evening on Fisherman’s wharf and it was surprising how familiar it was even after so many years. The next day we picked up our niece, Jon’s daughter, who had come up on the train from her university and we proceeded to drive down the coast to Monterey. A strange drive, we enjoyed shrimp salads on the beach in the hot sun and explored a lighthouse in freezing mist which came from nowhere! We spent one night in Monterey, then breakfasted in Carmel where Clint Eastwood is mayor. The coastal drive was just spectacular that day and we stopped numerous times to enjoy the view. We spent a couple of nights in Cambria and visited Hearst Castle on a beautiful hot day. From there we turned inland and spent the next few days staying with Jon and his wife Sue in Fresno. We visited the beautiful state parks at Yosemite and King’s Canyon. In King’s Canyon we picnicked in the snow, shivering in our shorts and Tshirts!

We then hired a car and drove to Russian River where we were to meet up again with Jon who was attending a conference nearby. We fell in love with Russian River and the Village Inn with its’ pretty rooms, lovely view over the river and some of the best food ever! Not to mention great hosts! We enjoyed Coconut Shrimp (to die for) at the River’s End restaurant and stood on the beach at River’s End looking up in awe as a vast flight of Pelicans took off over our heads, whilst elephant seal babies played in the shallows at our feet.

Jon returned to Fresno and we spent a further two nights at the Village Inn, relaxing before driving to San Francisco where we met up with Jon, Sue, her son and her niece. We enjoyed a great Chinese meal in Chinatown (probably the worst meal of the holiday diabetically) and the following morning we took the champagne breakfast cruise around the bay before returning to the hotel to pack, return our hire car to the rental agent at the airport and catch our flight home. A wonderful holiday!

The diabetes hadn’t spoiled this trip for me at all. The cooked breakfasts and abundant shellfish salads had been perfect. Unlike the aircraft diabetic meals, which were appalling, but even they hadn’t bothered me overmuch as I had obtained salads in the airport to take on board. I had developed an irritating dry cough when staying in Fresno and still had it, but even that hadn’t spoiled things because to my delight a choice of sugar free “Diabetic” cough sweets were available in all the pharmacies. On my return home I found a letter waiting telling me that they would be discontinuing the Perindopril and replacing it with Lisinopril as a cost cutting exercise. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when I mentioned my irritating cough in Chat several people pointed out that this can be a side effect of the ACE inhibitor. To back that up, as soon as I changed to Lisinopril the cough went and has not returned. Though that’s odd since Lisinopril is also an ACE.

To be continued….

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