March Madness in Las Vegas – Diabetes Edition

You may remember Brett Griswold from some of our previous blogs such as On Love and Diabetes, Screening for Type 1 Diabetes and When to Tell Your Valentine about your Diabetes. Today, Brett shares with us how he prepares to manage his diabetes while vacationing in Las Vegas during March Madness. How do you prepare for vacation?

For the past 7 years or so, my buddies and I have gone to Las Vegas in mid-March to watch the March Madness college basketball tournament! Every year we have a new friend or two who has not been to Las Vegas to watch the tournament and their response is always “I can’t imagine watching March Madness in any other way.” We always have a great time and March 21st could not get here soon enough!

The only downside to the trip are the hours spent packing my diabetes supplies which includes, and is not limited to, insulin, my old insulin pump as backup in case my current pump malfunctions, insulin pens in case my backup pump stops working, AAA batteries, pump infusion sets and reservoirs, glucometer, meter strips, needles for fingersticks, alcohol swabs, continuous glucose monitor (CGM), CGM supplies, glucose tabs, juices, and protein bars! After packing my bag I then take all of the supplies out and double check that I have everything that I need. I always find at least one more thing that I feel I need in order to truly relax and enjoy my time on vacation.

After kissing the family “good-bye” and putting my bags in the car I jump in the driver seat and begin heading for the airport. It never fails that just before I get to the end of the street I begin to panic over the fear of leaving a much needed diabetes supply at home. I pull my car over to the side of the road and once again pull all of my diabetes supplies out of the suitcase to do a “triple-check” to ensure that I have everything that I need for my trip! At this time, I have never had to turn my car around to pick up something that I need for the trip, but for some reason I need to do the “triple-check” on all of my travels to calm my nerves.

If you have not been to Las Vegas you may be thinking “Brett, that is understandable, they must not have a pharmacy in Las Vegas which is why you panic about these little things!” Wrong, just like every major city in the United States, Las Vegas is fully stocked with pharmacies on every corner, which happen to have almost any diabetes supply that someone may need. My wife reminds me of this fact before each trip right around the time I start accusing our 2 year old son of stealing my test strips which I soon find packed neatly away in my suitcase!

Once I check-in at the airport and complete the usual diabetes “strip” search at security, I am finally able to relax and begin plotting out which teams I am going to bet on in the basketball tournament. The first two days of the tournament (Thursday and Friday) are the most exciting and we wake up at 4 a.m. and head to the “Sports Book” at one of the casinos to ensure that we have a good seat for the tip-off of the first game. I carry my glucometer with me and check my blood sugar periodically, but I am just one of the “guys” having a good time and losing money as the “other” team always seems to win! (Just don’t tell my wife that I lose money because I describe it to her as a “donation” to the casino for their hospitality which seems to soften the blow when I return home!)

In the 21 years of living with type 1 diabetes one of the things that I have learned to excel at is preparation. Living with diabetes means preparing for the unknown, such as getting a flat tire on your car on the way to the airport and as you are waiting for roadside assistance to arrive, you realize that your blood sugar is low. Being prepared by keeping glucose tabs or juice in your car will prevent the situation from getting worse. Former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden has said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” and I cannot think of a more appropriate analogy for going on a vacation if you have diabetes.

Editor’s Note: If you’re planning a trip of your own, be sure to find more travel resources here:

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