Being A Digital Nomad With Diabetes

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One of the reasons I quit my job was because during 2014 I felt ill, a lot. My blood pressure was through the roof and numerous trips to the doctor didn’t really result in any progress.

For the past few months I’d get periods of up to a week where I was constantly exhausted, then I’d completely bounce back totally fine and resume training.

For the last 2 weeks, after Easter, I hit one of those periods and it just got worse and worse so I went to the Bangkok Hospital in Phuket to make an appointment. 90 minutes later I’d had the results back from a series of blood tests and a diagnosis of diabetes.

Diabetes Blood Test Results

Below is my diagnosis and the results of the tests that were made. My blood glucose was measured at 514 mg/dL (or 29 mmol/L) which is extremely high, to put it in perspective normal is 90 mg and 600 mg is coma.. My HbA1C was 12.7 where normal is around 5. It’s not looking good. My electrolytes are all out of wack as well which could be kidney issue, I have more tests next week.

Diabetes Hospital Cost

Everyone is always concerned about the cost of medical care whilst abroad. Really that cost is only a concern if you visit America, everywhere else in the world is sensible and values human life more than the almighty dollar. The cost of the doctors visit, tests and medicine for the week came to 10,000 Baht or £200, hopefully I can claim on my insurance.

Diabetes Treatment

When I wake up, half an hour before I have breakfast I need to take a 2Mg Amaryl tablet, then after breakfast and after dinner I have to take a JanuMet tablet. In the evenings before bed, at 11pm, I then have to inject myself with 20ml of long lasting insulin from a Lantus pen.

Regular Diabetes Blood Sugar Testing

The doctor said that I should test my blood sugar 4 times a day so I bought an Accu-Chek Performa for 3000 Baht (£60). There were cheaper options but the pharmacist said the test strips would be easier to come by for this model. None of the pharmacies on the Tiger Muay Thai road sold them though. Test strips come in packets of 25 and cost 500 Baht (£10) each. Testing myself 4 times a day means 5 packets will last me about a month.. £50 a month!

Regular testing is showing that my blood glucose levels are definitely dropping but even with the medication I’m still nowhere near normal.

More Diabetes Tests

On Friday I have another appointment in the morning where I will undergo more tests under fasted conditions. It is too early to tell if I am type 1 or type 2 diabetic, apparently that involves stabalising me then stopping the insulin and seeing how I react!

I’ve posted a thread on Reddit’s r/AskDocs asking a few questions about my rest results and current symptoms so will hopefully get some more information in English.

Being A Digital Nomad With Diabetes

Before this episode, I had a plan. I was going to travel through Europe, attend private military training in Poland, climb to Everest basecamp then return to Thailand to get a blue belt in BJJ at Top Team Phuket.

All that is out of the window now.

I still don’t know what’s actually wrong with me. If it’s just diabetes then I will need to make sure any medication I need is available to me, where ever I go. If there’s something up with my kidneys I might have to go through the expense of MRI scans and whatever else to determine the issue.

All I know is I really don’t want to return to the UK for another 12 months and will do everything I can to prevent that.

Other Digital Nomads With Diabetes

If anyone knows of other travellers or nomads with diabetes I’d appreciate a heads up as it would be great to network with them and see how they are dealing with this issue.

  • Joe

    Sorry to hear this Rus. At least you’ve got a bit of a diagnosis now though.

    Are you still training? Hope business is going well at least.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    • rus

      Thanks dude, I’m back training now as of last week, I’ve dropped the muay thai and now im alternating bjj and weight lifting. The bjj is too intense for me to do daily, those guys are serious 😀