May 12, 2012 GMT

There does not appear to be too much more to do now. That is, apart from worry. Stupid niggles, worries, thoughts so far in the future that they ruin today. One thought is this whole thing is stupid. I can’t speak any language well, the bike is liable to let me down, some places are a bit flighty. And then, reassuring thoughts of 'should I just go to Blackpool for a month and make up some monumental stories'?

This is an era of foundless worries manufactured and used by politicians, the media and every company with a product to sell. I need to forget about worries!!!

I have been a Type 1 diabetic for over 20 years now. I have hated the thought of any medical condition preventing me from doing what I wanted to. As I have gotten older I have had to accept a Clint Eastwood rebuke. 'Man's gotta know his limitations'.

That is not to say I am booking myself into a wheelchair anytime soon. Diabetes introduces some limitations, but not that many. The secret is to listen to Clint…… PUNK.

Motorcycle travelling with Diabetes is not hard but there are things that need to be taken into account. So here are my thoughts (I put these up as something for others to look at and expand on in the future)

1) Motorcycling can be very strenuous, especially off road, or, very easy going. It will place a different load on your body as to ‘normal life.’ If you can, record you blood sugar on a test out trip to see what the changes are, then this is great and will help to plan. If not, record your blood sugars at every stage through the first 4-5 days of a trip to see how they differ.

2) As a solo traveler you’ve got to wake up each morning without feeling death’s boney hand on your shoulder. Be in control of you evening, make sure you eat well and keep in mind your carbohydrate intake. Better to go over, rather than under if you are not in control of the situation. This is especially important when alcohol is on the scene. Always test your blood sugar before bed and think about what you have eaten. Sugars disappear fast, potatoes, pasta, rice…. Less so.

3) Pack insulin well. Keep away from heat but do not be overly concerned. I travelled across the whole of North America over 3 months with relatively fragile Insulatard, and had no problems by keeping it in the middle of my clothes in my rucksack. These days there are many products that will help to retain the cold. Just remember to pack when it is cold, usually at night. These days Insulin products appear to be much more robust, but don’t push it too far.

4) Motorcycles can produce all sorts of sensations. Usually they are fun (I own a 650 single!!!), but sometimes they can mask sensations that would indicate you are going low. This can be magnified by long days in the saddle, unfamiliar foods, sensations and smells. If it feels you can’t just buy that feeling……. now is the time to pull over and test the blood. It’s no problem, people will understand, everyone wants a safe ride.

5) A little over is better than the possibility of going under. You are far from home, eating all sorts of usual stuff, You won’t have this experience for a while, so enjoy it, but do you best to estimate, and back it up by testing later on if you may feel that you could cause offence.

6) In your pack of insulin products print out a sheet stating ‘I am a diabetic, this is my medicine’ in every language for the countries you will be hoping to visit. Learning it by mouth may mean you say the word ‘drug’ and that may get you in trouble.

7) Always have a mega safe CHO. Two things that are so horrid, you would never touch it in real life. One would be a high sugar pick me up like a full on chocolate bar. Let it melt a few times and get severely out of shape. You will not want to eat this – ever…. Unless you are low and know you need some sugar. It is a good idea to back up the emergency sugar, which will pull you up for maybe an hour, with some more long lasing emergency food. Some emergency complex carbohydrate like granola, cereal bars, crackers, or biscuits will keep you going longer than pure sugar as you find sources of replenishment. Keep them separate and close to hand.

8) Some people really let go at the sight of a needle and it will universally cause problems if it is spotted. Prepare acting scenarios where injecting will look like some other activity around the bike, checking the clocks, getting stuff out of panniers. The creativity of these moments will create unknown Oscars, but enjoy the fun of it!

9) Some people really need to know your condition, such as fellow riders, and they need to know what to do if things turn out bad. Give a basic talk to your travelling companions that will let them know what to expect if you go low, make it funny, engage them, don’t make it sound like it is a major disaster. If you are not functioning you want you travel partners to know exactly what to do and be happy to do it without worry.

10) Diabetes is condition, it is not a life sentence. It is not a disability, it just means that you have to think and take the healthier and more measured option. Otherwise, fly to the moon brothers and sisters!!!!!!

Here is an incredibly high tech map of my trip:
trip overview.jpg

Posted by David Bailey at May 12, 2012 11:27 PM GMT

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