My packing-for-travel routine is pretty relaxed. We left for New York at 8am on Boxing Day and I started packing when we got home from our five millionth family gathering at about 10pm on Xmas night.

Admittedly, my laid back attitude to diabetes-supplies packing could be because I usually spend my time travelling surrounded by other PWD who are far better organised than I could ever hope to be. I know that if I run out of insulin, pack the wrong glucose strips for the meter I’m carrying or forget a charging cable, someone will be able to help me out. (I know this because these things have all happened. More than once. Way more than once.)

Anyway, I thought that I had done a pretty damn good job of throwing everything I needed together for New York, with back up supplies and contingencies. As we headed to the airport bright and early, still full of my mother’s Xmas zippoli, I felt comfortable that diabetes was going to be a relatively easy companion on this trip.

Turned out that I got it mostly right. Just not completely!

Issue one happened when I got a transmitter low battery warning the first week we were in NY. ‘Bugger,’ I thought, remembering back to the last time I recharged my Fenix G5 transmitter*. It was while I was sitting at breakfast one morning in Boston at ISPAD. I recalled that I definitely hadn’t had the transmitter plugged in long enough for a full charge. At the time, I thought I’d charge it fully the next time I did a sensor change…and then promptly forgot.

Of course, I had forgotten to pack the very specific charger required to recharge my Fenix. And I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was called. ‘It has two little magnetic-y things on the side. And it’s kind of shaped like this,’ I said sketching a rough picture to the people behind the counter in about fifteen electrical stores around the city.

After getting nothing more than blank stares, I went directly to the source – Facebook – and sent a message to a couple of tech friends back home (including the bloke responsible for building the device). I had a response minutes later, placed an Amazon Prime order straight away and two days later my Fenix was charging on the kitchen counter in our apartment.

I had a re-batteried travel transmitter with me that I used in the interim (with layer upon layer upon layer of waterproof tape over the top of it because I had also forgotten to pack the resin needed to finish off that little device…),  but as soon as the Fenix was fully charged, I reset it and shoved it back into the still in situ sensor. Crisis mostly averted.

And then there was the run in with Dex sensors. I’d sited a new sensor a day or two before we left and took two spares with me. I usually get three weeks out of a sensor, so thought that if lucky I wouldn’t even need to change one at all during our time away. But if I did, I would be right and have another there … and a spare just in case.

Well, best laid plans and all… the original sensor failed after less than a week. The second sensor did too, and the third sensor was actually faulty – the needle scarily poking out the end as I released it all from the packaging.

I believe the word I used at that point was ‘Fuck’. Loudly. And then turned straight back to Facebook with this:

A few NY friends reached out and shared the post, and within an hour, I had organised to meet up with someone who could help me out. Thanks a million to Stacey for connecting us, and thanks two million to Caroline who rode into Manhattan with her ridiculously beautiful baby to drop off sensors to me and have a coffee. (Off topic, but Caroline and I thought this was our first-time meeting, but we realised later that we had met for dinner one night in New York back in 2011!)

I am forever grateful for the support I receive from my peers online – and being my back up plan because I am so crap at diabetes. I do promise to try to do better when getting myself organised for travel, but I know that I am still likely to get things wrong. Diabetes is a hard task master and demands a lot. Slip ups happen.

But there is always help at hand. I was off Twitter at the time, feeling particularly vulnerable after the brutal time on there at the end of the year. Thankfully I had Facebook to turn to and a huge group of diabetes friends there to help me out. But what if that wasn’t the case? This is why our online spaces must be safe at all times, and why that power imbalance between HCPs and PWD, and how potentially harmful that can be, needs to be recognised. We need to feel safe reaching out wherever our peers are for whatever support we need. I did that and that’s why this blogpost is called ‘Peer support on the road’ rather than ‘Loopless in New York’!

Back to the important things.

* I use a rechargeable G5 transmitter with my Dexcom, built by a very clever bloke in Australia.