Maintaining access to insulin was a big component of planning our trip to SE Asia. Kasenya requires several insulin injections per day to manage her Type 1 diabetes. Accessing insulin presented a couple of major challenges:
• insulin must be refrigerated until used
• the types of insulin that Kasenya uses are not available in Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam.
After considering our options, We decided to bring a four months supply of insulin with us. Our contingency plan was to fly to Singapore or Hong Kong , if need be, if our insulin was lost or became unusable. In a desperate situation we would have used whatever insulin was available locally, although this could have presented some problems because of different concentrations and questionable quality. Insulin is a vital hormone and a person with diabetes can only manage a day or two without insulin injections before becoming ill.
In order to take insulin with us we would need some method of keeping it cool. We extensively researched portable refrigeration units and discovered a device called a Medi-Fridge which is made to store insulin for travel. The only down-side of the Medi-Fridge it that it does not run on batteries, so access to electricity was important. We had electricity in every place we stayed however in most hotels to you must insert your room key into a slot to turn on the electricity to your room. This is a brilliant way to ensure that guests don’t leave the air-conditioner on because you must remove your key from the slot to lock your room and unlock it late. But it meant that the Medi-Fridge was not running when we were out of the room. The Medi-Fridge will stay cool for a few hours but insulin refrigeration was definitely compromised at times.
We learned from the Diabetes Clinic at the Children’s Hospital in Saigon, that refrigeration is a large challenge for families and suppliers in Vietnam. For us, it was merely an inconvenience. In the end we had no problems.
SE Asia is such a contrast to life in Canada that each day we were presented with something new to marvel at or be surprised with. We experienced a plethora of new things and most were pleasant. But of course, there are things that we miss about home and things that were less than pleasant about SE Asia. Here’s a few:
• the constant honking of horns and maniacal drivers
• lack of cheese and dairy products in general
• a constant barrage of people trying to sell you things
• a constant barrage of smells (many that are not pleasant)
• taxi drivers that try to rip you off
• taking Malarone every day to prevent Malaria
• bargaining for everything (although Dave kind of likes it)
• people who must beg for a living
• garbage in the streets and along the roads (especially in Cambodia)
• sketchy looking dogs
• tourists that dress inappropriately for the local culture (ie wear far too few clothes)
• oh those Asian toilets!
Undoubtedly the most difficult thing about being away was missing the happenings at home!
Bissky Dziadyk Family
Travelling the world as a family since 2008.
In September 2008 our family embarked on a four month journey through South East Asia. Traveling with a child who uses a wheelchair presented its challenges, but following the Mekong River through China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with a wheelchair was truly an adventure.
When we move beyond our fears and embrace our dreams, the Universe has an odd way of not only supporting us but giving us more opportunities than we ever imagined. Embarking on a journey with an open heart we can not help but be changed forever by the experience. Indeed it would be a waste to return untouched in the spiritual realm.
September: China (Beijing, Xi’an,Kunming, Yuanyang)
October: Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay) and
Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane)
November: Southern Vietnam (Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta)
December: Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampot and Sihanoukville).