When Zach asked me to write a guest post for him it took a little while to decide on a subject. He wanted me to write about my “travel hacking” hobby, which is a term used for finding creative ways to earn points and miles to travel for free or as close to free as possible. While travel hacking is really important to me it is very complex and not something I wanted to delve into on my first post. I’ll share more on that subject later. Instead I thought I’d share with you how his Dad and I decided to not let his type 1 diabetes diagnosis hold him or our family back from continuing to travel.
Zach was diagnosed with type 1 on his 22nd birthday. We had no family history and very little knowledge of the disease at the time. As scared as Zach was with the diagnosis, I think I was twice as scared as to how we were going to help him adjust. After the initial shock wore off, my thoughts went to fear for all the things I thought he would not be able to do. I thought his carefree, music festival and travel loving lifestyle would be over. And, selfishly, I thought about how our family travels would have to change. Would we ever be able to go back to our favorite spot in Costa Rica? Would I ever feel comfortable with him traveling out of the country again? All of my fears started to subside as I did more research and as I saw Zach’s determination to not let type 1 define his life. I realized if he could be that strong and positive then so could I.
So, we took travel baby steps. A few months after he was diagnosed we planned our summer vacation. Instead of a surf trip to a third world country we chose Hawaii. Knowing that there was a CVS pharmacy and English speaking doctors was the comfort I needed. Zach carefully planned and overstocked on his insulin and supplies. I was very concerned with him having issues with TSA security at the airport and how they would handle his supplies so he made sure to have a letter from his doctor and copies of all his prescriptions with him. It was overkill for us that first trip and he never encountered any problems other than getting a little more tired than usual and finding regular, healthy meals while moving about.
This first trip with us allowed Zach to gain confidence in his ability to travel with type 1 and his dad and I became more comfortable with his ability to manage his health while abroad. It went so well that we decided to go back to Costa Rica over that Christmas break and once again all went smoothly. The day we returned he jumped on a plane to Canada for another 2 week trip. Although he was pretty exhausted he managed it all very well and he’s continued to travel with and without us.
As his mom, I wish I could tell you that I’ve stopped worrying about him but of course I haven’t. It’s just my job. But, I am so proud of how he is living his life despite having to deal with this crappy disease. If you know someone who has type 1 encourage them to keep on moving and not let their fears (or their mother’s) stop them from living the life they want.
Kim Toth is Travelbetic’s perfect, loving mother. A kindred soul of the sea she lives and works in Galveston, TX.
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