Earlier this month, I took my first trip to Martinique as a person living with diabetes.
Since 2008, I’ve been visiting the beautiful Caribbean island located in the lower Antilles frequently.
There were a few things that made me nervous about having to bring diabetes along for the ride this time.
#1-I swim almost every day when I’m there. But now, I’ll have to check my glucose before and after swimming which means carrying a glucometer to the beach and making sure that it and the extra strips don’t get exposed to too much sun. The carefree days of a 2-minute walk to the beach with just a towel are over. Hello tote bag with supplies.
#2-Like Black American cuisine, Martiniquais meals are rich in starches, so I had to be strict about carb counting. This was a challenge when visiting friends and family who like to whip up all the local favorites. Plus, I knew that I wouldn’t get to enjoy a large cold glass of freshly squeezed sugar cane juice from my favorite juice stand. These types of drinks don’t come with a nutrition label, so I assume that 8oz is packed with enough sweetness to last for entire day.
#3-I wasn’t quite sure how to I felt about telling my in-laws about being diagnosed with diabetes. The diagnosis came a couple of weeks before my husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and I felt guilty about it. I figure, who wants a sick wife within a year of marriage. While he and I are working through this (mainly him reassuring me that he’s here through sickness and in health), I wasn’t quite sure how his parents would take the news. Besides, I am not yet fully fluent in French, and I wondered if I would be able to understand their first reaction.
These were the things that occupied my mind before going.
However, the trip ended up being another amazing experience!
On the flight over, I had a low blood sugar. I’m not sure where it came from, but it caused me to inform half the flight crew (in search of someone who spoke enough English to understand) of my situation. It turns out that when people hear that you’re diabetic and that you are in need–they want to help (what a pleasant relief).
For two and a half weeks my eating schedule was all over the place. I was sometimes visiting family, sightseeing, or swimming and then realized that too many hours had gone by since the last time I ate. I couldn’t figure out a balance because each day was new, so there wasn’t a routine that I could rely on.
But, alas, I made it through the vacation. I had some low points, but overall it was well worth it. I did go by the fresh juice stand, but the only thing I got was this cute picture of me holding fresh sugar cane stocks.
The “big reveal” to my in-laws was completely loving. We ended up having a discussion about diabetes with one of my husband’s Aunts who has had diabetes for many years. It turns out that he has about four relatives with diabetes, so it was totally different than my own family. I had a private conversation (in French) with his Aunt in which I thanked her for sharing her story with me because these past four months have been turbulent. I didn’t have the vocabulary to tell her that I worried about how they would feel about me being having diabetes and that I was completely OVERJOYED to be loved (and perhaps even more) by them.