Category Archives: Type 1

The challenges of traveling with Type 1

For the first fourteen years of my life, I didn’t have a worry in the world. I would pack my bags and leave with my family to a conference or go on a long hiking trip and only have to worry about having enough clothes along and maybe a book to read. If I didn’t pack enough undies or socks it would maybe make me a bit uncomfortable but certainly
would not be life-threatening!

canstockphoto71865801Since my diagnosis last April those days are no more. Now my very life depends on having a proper supply of insulin and other supplies at all times. You would think something this important would be easy to manage right?

Perhaps if I was living a more conventional life, spending most of my time in one house with my medicine in one fridge it would be a bit easier. We on the other hand are full time travelers and move from country to country and hotel to hotel. Sometimes we get up early and catch a shuttle to the airport at 5 AM for an early flight making it even more difficult to manage.

If you have type one diabetes and are struggling to adjust to the new lifestyle, and occasionally forget your medicine, don’t worry you are not alone. I guarantee you will feel better about yourself after reading my story.

I have had several “insulin management” challenges all over the world.

The first time was about 6 weeks after I was diagnosed. We were in Oregon and I left all of my supplies at a restaurant. I didn’t think about it until we got back to our camp almost an hour away.

We were able to retrieve it after a few phone calls and a few hours of driving.

We were visiting my Grandmother in Salem Oregon and as usual we put my insulin supply in the fridge. Insulin needs to be kept cold or it can spoil. After a nice visit we headed out to Bend Oregon about 2.5 hours drive away. When we arrived I realized I had left my supplies behind. My Aunt Arwen was kind enough to drive them all the way out to us! Thanks Aunty!

I left it again a few months later in a restaurant in Texas this time we got it back more quickly but the problem had yet to be solved. My Dad is a systems guy and he said to me “we need to develop a system to help us manage this better”. I agreed.

My next big “Insulin management” challenge came when we went from New Zealand to Australia. We decided to leave our main supply of insulin at our friend’s place in New Zealand.

We packed enough for the 25 days we were planning to be there and carefully placed the package in the fridge at our hotel room – ready to go for our 5 am shuttle ride to the airport. When we arrived at the airport and began checking in for our flight we suddenly realized that we had left the package in the fridge at the hotel. My dad quickly called the hotel. They ran up to our room, found the package in the fridge, gave it to the shuttle driver and instructed him to deliver it to us in departures. He made it on time and we still had time to get through security and make our flight to Australia.

We had a lovely “incident free” time in Australia. We visited some lovely places and met wonderful people.

A month later, just as we were about to fly back to NZ, we received news that our Jeep wasn’t going to arrive in Auckland for another 24 days as the ship was delayed due to a large Hurricane.

We made a quick last minute decision to stay in Australia for another 24 days. This of course left us short on insulin. I was able to visit a doctor’s clinic, get a prescription or “script” as they call it and then buy a backup supply of for Lantis, Humalog, test strips, needles and lancets. One nice thing is that in Australia they actually sell the AVIVA brand of tester supplies like I was used to from Canada. Some countries like New Zealand will carry different blood glucose testers which makes it a bit difficult to manage your BGL because you get used to your system and it’s hard to change. We bought enough to last 3 months just to be sure of no further issues.

Because of the length of the delay of our jeep we decided to visit Bali now rather than after our trip to NZ as originally planned. A few days later we packed our bags and headed to the airport.

An hour into our flight from Adelaide to Denpasar, Indonesia, my Mom jumped up and yelled “KEVIN!!” actually she said “oh no! we left your insulin supply in the fridge! Not much we could do, there was no turning around now.

I did a quick calculation and figured I would be ok with the partial insulin pen I had in my backpack. Our visit to Bali was for about two and a half weeks and I had enough to last if I were to eat a very carbohydrate conscious diet.

A week into our trip and I realized that the Balinese diet was anything but low carb and soon I began to get low on both Lantis and Humalog insulin. My Dad began calling and dropping in at local pharmacies to see if he could buy some more. Finally after much searching we were able to visit a remote hospital where the very helpful doctor sold us some of their supplies. The applicator pens were different than the ones I am used to, but after reading the labels and documentation it appeared that the product was the same. We had enough supplies to make it back to Australia safe and sound.

Now what have we learned from all of this?

Here are the main challenges:

One. Leaving my daily insulin bag under tables at restaurants.

Two. Leaving my main insulin supplies in friends’ and hotel fridges.

Solution 1:

The first thing we thought of was to buy a bigger better
bag to carry my daily insulin and supplies. The one I was leaving behind was a very small fanny pack style bag. Initially we thought the smaller-the-better, but all that did was make it easy to leave behind.

To solve the problem, we chose a “Patagonia Atom Sling”. Any brand will do but this bag is made tough, has lots of room and is comfortable to wear.

 

I have been happy with this solution. The larger bag easily carries my gear, is comfortable to wear even on long hikes and doesn’t make me feel like a tourist carrying a fanny pack.

 

Solution 2:

The next thing we thought of was to pack all of my insulin the
night before we leave removing it from the fridge and placing it in my luggage with an ice pack. This prevents us from accidentally leaving it in the fridge of the hotel before an early flight.

Solution 3:

The third system we implemented was to use the alarm system on my iPhone. We normally set an alarm to alert us of an early flight or departure. Now we name the alarm “REMEMBER TO CHECK INSULIN SUPPLIES”. Before turning off the alarm we are reminded to check our supplies.

All three of these systems have really helped me manage my insulin supply better and have made traveling with T1D a much better experience even though I still forget from time to time.

A few weeks ago I forgot my bag in a restaurant in the town Te Anau and didn’t notice until we were 3 hours south in Bluff NZ. We called the restaurateur and he went looking for it and found it. He said hang on there for a minute and left the phone.. a few minutes later he came back and said “you’re in luck. I caught the last truck out. The driver is a friend of mine and lives near where you are staying. He is going to deliver it to you”. What a relief, I was so thankful! Along the way we’ve met some very kind and caring people.

Let me know if you have found this post helpful and please share any tips or tricks that have worked for you in the comment section below.

Peter Jr van Stralen @petervanstralenjr

Things I am learning from life. (by Carol vS)

This is my first blog post so it’s not perfect, and a bit longer than I expected, but I really hope you find value in reading it.

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image2Hi I’m Carol.

Peter and I were married 18 epic years ago. It was love at first sight. I am originally from Oregon, USA and moved to Toronto, Canada to start a family there with my husband.

We started with very humble beginnings, living in a small upstairs rented apartment with almost no furniture and a three-dollar coffee table. Some of our fondest memories are sitting around that little coffee table getting to know each other better. One thing we understood sitting around that little table was that if we weren’t happy in a small apartment we wouldn’t be happy living in a mansion.

We both had a strong work ethic, not knowing that “normal people” took weekends off or drove vehicles other than their work trucks. It never phased us, we were too busy working and having fun.

Soon Caroline came into our lives and then Pete Jr. The doctors told us we were at too high a risk with each birth, and that having more would most likely not happen, then along came Daniel. I feel so lucky and blessed to have each one.

As a snow plow and salt truck operator back in the early days of our marriage, Peter was often gone for days at a time. We wanted to spend time together but also knew he couldn’t abandon his work responsibilities. That’s when I had an idea. Yes, you guessed it. In the truck I went baby seat and all. Once during a particularly nasty ice storm the salt dispenser on our truck broke and we were far from the shop. That’s when Pete taught me how to drive a 5 ton truck in low gear with the instructions to drive around in circles. He then jumped up in the salt hopper  with a shovel and proceeded to salt the entire office complex by hand. What great memories and family bonding experiences these were!
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Fast forward through the years of building our first home then selling it to build another – selling it and renovating another home where we lived happily for 10 years. These were busy times and we used to wonder what it would be like to just sit around and have a BBQ on the weekends.

Peter was thriving in his new role as CEO of the family franchise business. My passion other than our little family was to help and support him however I could. I would contribute in little ways like helping on a garden crew when they were behind or washing trucks or picking up uniforms and supplies. There was a time when we would sit together as a family at night in our living room and stamp, label and pack 4000 envelopes for our monthly company newsletter. I loved how we could balance work and family even while not always being able to be together physically!

When Peter had to leave on business trips, I would find notes by the kids beds telling them how much he loved them and how he was counting on each one to do their part

in helping mommy and the business by bringing in firewood or keeping their rooms clean and being on time for school.

Doing a morning huddle at home helped me and the kids be a part of everything. This face to face time gave us the opportunity to share good and bad news, to celebrate each other and to reassure each other that we are not alone. It was awesome to hear the kids talk about a test they were nervous about, or a new trick they had learned on their snowboard. We never felt we were on our own even though he worked around the img_2031clock.

I especially loved when we started We Care Day (Link) in honor of Peter’s sister and her children. This initiative really became the heart and soul of our office and franchise family and inspired us to learn to give.

We Make a Life by what we Give

One day a dear friend of ours told us about a mission trip they were all doing in Haiti. She invited us to participate in purchasing, assembling and delivering solar light kits to a remote poor community in Haiti. Our role was to assist with the donation, but also our time img_4263teaching the families how to operate and maintain their new lights. Spending time in the village really had a positive effect on us. I think we received as much help from this experience as those we were trying to help. 

Balancing work, play and CARE became our motto.

img_2037As a family we began to rethink our own life style and looked for ways to give back to those in need. Not just money, but time. Not just our own people, but also the unseen, unpopular and lowly.  – “the least of these my brethren.”.

We became very aware about whom we surrounded ourselves with and how we chose to live each day.

Why are we striving for “things” to impress other people? Success is not in material things is it?

Every month we made it a habit to read out our personal goals. Over time we realized that what we dreamed about were experiences but, what we spent our money on were things.

We are doing all of this for you guys, we’d tell the kids. Don’t you want nice things, and to live in a big house? we’d ask. As only a child could reply, “not really… we img_6604only use three rooms as it is.”

Our kids helped us realize that “time” was the best gift we could give our children and others.

We stopped thinking about money and what we could GET, and started thinking about what we could GIVE. That’s when it all changed for us.

For the next seven years we were on top of our game. Our business was growing img_2042rapidly and we were closer than ever as a family. Although it cost us at least four times more to do so, we traveled together as often as we could to trade shows, speaking engagements, conferences and expos. We knew we may never have a rich bank account doing this, but our lives would be richer in the fellowship and experiences we shared together.

img_2034Our vacations were usually work related events where we attended and participated at a conference and took an extra day or two to unwind. We would combine work and play so that they became one. We bought 5 longboards and between meetings would be seen longboarding through Central Park in New York or along the beach in Florida. We couldn’t afford the time or money to go on long trips around the world, so we explored our own local area and had a blast making so many memories!

I released that people won’t always understand the way you think! This time in my image1life really taught me to make our own family traditions and way of life. What works for one doesn’t necessarily mean it works for all. I loved meeting new people at franchise Expo’s and landscape shows and best of all I loved being in our home office surrounded by our team. You could say they and our franchisees became family. img_2046

In 2008 Peter told me that he had written a goal to travel around America in an RV. I laughed out loud because it just seemed impossible! We can barely take a few days off, how could we ever just go away like that? It took 8 years of hard work, but that dream came true!

It’s amazing how things fall into place when you are clear on your goals, and when you are working for a greater purpose. In 2015 Peter’s families’ business where he was part owner, and had been working for 25 years, was acquired by our business partner The Dwyer Group. The timing was right and was a good move for our franchisees our family and the Dwyer Group.

After a six-month transition period however Peter was essentially out of a job. With Peter’s experience in the franchising industry, he had many employment opportunities available but instead decided to put our money where our mouth is and choose a simplified, minimalist life-style that would allow us to spend lots of time with our kids. If Peter had owned the whole business, perhaps we could have retired, but as part owner we needed to continue making an income. Together we started a small speaking/ coaching business we call “Work Play Care” where we help others create success through a balanced, holistic approach to life.

What a year!

rv2This last year was exciting being on the road full time!  It was also a bit of a culture shock from the “norm”, and initially going from 2,500 ft2 to 250 feet was kind of hard.

img_2032I was enjoying our trip and travels, hiking, biking and meeting new people, but sometimes I’d miss the “comfort zone” of my routines – my house and friends and little things like cooking with an oven.

Then something happened that took us all by surprise and shock! I remember it clearly. We were hiking in Joshua Tree National Park in California. There was no cell phone service in the valley but as we climbed to higher elevations Peter’s phone began to beep with incoming messages.

When I looked back, I noticed he had stopped down the trail and then called for me to come back. I thought that’s odd, and saw on his face that something had happened. He gave me his phone and I was in shock!! I was looking at pictures of our home having been robbed and ransacked!

The same home we had worked so hard for. All the things we had collected over the years were all taken or trashed! The kids toys, jewelry, paintings, computers, TVs – everything was broken or taken! A feeling of violation and hurt came over me. Who would do such a thing? Do you know how hard we had to work for that?!

I remember Peter just said oh well it’s just stuff, we still have each other, but I wasn’t feeling the same way.. yet.img_2028

We decided to drive up to Oregon and have the kids stay with my family while Peter and I flew back to Toronto to clean up the damage. We  also had to fly to Ottawa for the Canadian Franchise Conference and then back to Toronto for a speaking engagement. For the first time in a long time I cried on our flight. I didn’t want to leave the kids.

When we arrived at our home and saw the police tape on our doors it became real. Looking around at the mess was horrible! I didn’t get really upset till I went in the garage and noticed that even my garden tools had been taken.  WHAT!? Anyone who knows me knows I love my tools. It was heartbreaking to see things like the boy’s paintball guns that they had worked so hard for, or my great grandmothers necklace gone. 

We decided after talking with the kids on the phone we would put the house up for sale. This was not a new idea for us, we had been talking of it ever since Haiti. It was clear it no longer felt like our home nor did it make sense to keep it now that we were on the road full time and had sold the family company.

We managed to clean up the mess by staying up till sunlight loading a large rubbish bin and burning the broken furniture in a big bonfire. In the morning we caught our flight to Ottawa then back to Toronto two days later.

img_2039After Peter’s speech we had a few hours to drive back to our home, buy a few pictures for staging and meet the real estate company to take pictures and sign the listing papers. As we were running out the door to catch our flight back to Oregon I remember looking at Peter shutting the door with this look of peace and excitement. We had talked of being free from material things, and now we were actually doing it. We had taken the leap!

It felt like a weight lifting off our shoulders as we opened the door to a new way of living.

fam-4We had no idea that the weeks ahead would test us even more. More than the sale of our business, more than our home being robbed and more than learning to live on the road.

A Life changing turn in the road

On one of our hikes in Yosemite National Park our son Peter Jr. began to feel very ill. We took him to a local hospital and were shocked when the doctor diagnosed him with Type 1 diabetes. His body had stopped producing insulin and as such despite eating and drinking liquids like crazy he was slowly starving and dehydrating. There is nothing quite as difficult as seeing your child lying in a hospital bed on multiple IVs and monitors. As a parent it really makes you realize just what is important to you in life. Wouldn’t you give all that you own just for another day with your child? (YouTube video of that moment here)

Pete’s positive attitude through his ordeal and recovery has been such an inspiration to us and to anyone who has heard his story and we know God had great things in store for him. (see Peter Jr’s Blog Post Here) climb

Things I am learning on this journey

  • Know YOUR dream and then take the leap.

First and foremost, it’s about knowing your own dream and not someone else’s dream for you. Be crystal clear on your dream and then make the leap required to achieve it.

  • Be grateful and content with what you have.

Be content and happy with what you have and you will be in a position to receive more.

  • Your calendar and wallet will show your priorities.
  • Anyone can do this, not many will.

Just work 19 hrs a day for 20 yrs and then sell everything and go. (I know people much smarter than us that have done it in much less time)

  • Maximize the time with your family while you can.

We never know how much time we have with our health and with our precious loved ones. Don’t wait.

  • Integrate work, play and care.

Work to integrate these three no matter what stage of life you are at. Just starting out with your career? Work will likely dominate, but don’t neglect the other two. Someday things will change and you will need to maintain the balance.

  • Enjoy life in the process!

The best days of my life are right now. Not 5 years from now. Not once we achieve this or that, but right now. Enjoy the struggle, enjoy the learning and enjoy the success. Enjoy life in the process.

Thanks for reading this, I hope you found some value in it. I am not usually this long-winded but this is my first post. I welcome you’re feedback. Do you have any comments or questions? Please comment below and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram etc. Click follow below as well.

Thank you!

Carol

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My Type 1 Adventure


The first time I felt something wrong was in Canyon lands National Park Utah. We were on a hike circling a huge crater, it was called the sync-line trail it was listed as only 8 miles round trip so we didn’t think to much of it.

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Overlooking the Canyon Trail ahead

As the hours passed and the trail showed no signs of ending we started to get a little worried, we were a long ways out in the wilderness, the trail was hard to find and the sun was starting to set. We just went deeper and deeper into the canyon and we all started to wear out a little. Eventually we came to the part of the trail that started upwards, a trail sign said 4 km to the trail head. We thought we would be back in an hour or so until we realized that the trail was 4km straight up the canyon wall.

canyonlands3
I was full of energy on the way in to the Canyon
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We still had to go all the way down to the riverbed and than up the other side.

That’s when I felt something wrong, I just started to lose all of my energy rapidly and cramped up to the point that I just stopped. My Mom stayed back to encourage me and she gave me some energy gel. That got me going again. My dad went on ahead to see if he could mark the trail before it got dark. When he saw my predicament he climbed back down to where we were and carried my backpack on top of his own. Eventually we all made it back to the end of the trail.

Watch the YouTube video of our epic hike here: https://youtu.be/lE9HrbHNC2E

I had never felt that way before and I was embarrassed about it so I said nothing. I would have good days and bad days, one day I would be surfing all day without any problem and the next day I would sleep in and stay in our RV. They say once you finally figure out whats going on it all makes sense, but at the time we just chalked it up as the signs of a rapidly growing teenager.

birthday
Sitting (Daniel and Royce) on Hammock (Aliza, Beatrice,and Braydon) Standing left to right (Remington, Caroline, Izzy, Kate, Sylvia, Sam, Emma holding Luna, Me, Harrison)

My birthday party was at my cousin’s house in Salem, Oregon. Most of our West Coast family was there. I looked fine on the outside, but I noticed that I was drinking water obsessively and going to the bathroom a lot. One time when I went to the bathroom I looked in the mirror and opened my mouth because my tongue was hurting, and it had a white film on it. I didn’t know why and didn’t think much of it, so again I didn’t say anything.

I woke up the next morning , looked outside and noticed that I couldn’t see more than 5 or so feet in front of me. These symptoms had slowly worsened but I felt so tired all the time I didn’t really notice till then. I thought it was from over sleeping and not being really active, because every time I would start to do something I would cramp and get even more tired.

I discussed my vision issues with my parents and we agreed that maybe I should wake up earlier and go with them on their morning bike rides. At this point I had been feeling every symptom of type one but had no idea that I had it. 

We headed down to Yosemite in California and set up camp in the National Park. The next day, everyone was excited to hike the amazing Yosemite falls trail except me. This trail is a strenuous 6-8 hours round trip, 7.2 miles (11.6 km) , 700 ft (823 m) elevation gain. Normally I would be at the front leading the way but this time I could barely muster up the energy to go. That’s when we all agreed that we better pack up and head out to get a Doctor’s opinion on whats going on.

We were 5000 kms away from our family doctor, so we probably delayed the visit to the doctor longer than we would have done if we were at home. We found a clinic in the tiny town of Oakhurst CA and waited 4 agonizing hours until a nurse finally saw us. She listened to my description of symptoms and suggested that I go to the Valley Children’s Hospital near Fresno to be tested for diabetes. Amazingly this hospital specializes in

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Giving Thanks – Today we were released from the hospital.

Pediatric Endocrinology and was only an hour way. Once we checked into the hospital I was immediately put on an IV drip to help re-hydrate my body. I was also given blood glucose test which showed my blood sugar was very high. The doctor confirmed that I indeed had new onset Type 1 Diabetes.

We were in shock.

(Watch youtube video blog of that moment here: https://youtu.be/YC0nk-AHnLs)

He assured us that there was nothing I did to cause it and nothing I could have done to prevent it. It is an auto-immune disease where my immune system accidentally attacked the beta cells in my pancreas stopping them from producing insulin.

Thankfully I recovered quickly and my family and I have since been learning to manage my blood sugar levels through, diet exercise and by administering my own insulin injections. It is not easy though and takes a lot of self-discipline. Thankfully my family is very supportive and together we have all adapted to a diabetes friendly low-carb diet.

pete-mt
Sitting on top of the world

Two months later I was feeling well enough to join my family on a climb of Oregon’s third highest peak. It is 10500 ft to the summit.  Every time we stopped for a break I would test my BGL levels and eat something to bring up my level to where it should be. At 9300 ft. (Pictured here) I was feeling a bit off so I made the decision to stop and rest rather than carry on to the summit. You have to listen to your body and not be afraid to make the right decision. My Mom and Brother stayed with me as Caroline and Dad summitted and then rejoined us for the long descent.

 See our YouTube video of the climb here. https://youtu.be/aIOZwI-3PMM

In the past 7 months since my diagnosis I have climbed several mountains, hiked, mountain biked, rock climbed, traveled the ultimate road trip to Alaska and flown across the globe to New Zealand and Australia.

My goal is to encourage other young people with Type 1 to carry on and be strong. You may have diabetes, but it doesn’t have you! I wish you all the best on your adventure. – Peter Jr van Stralen