One of the first things that they tell you when you are preparing to be a guest in another culture is that when your hosts ask you to do something, you do it no questions asked. It is often interpreted as rude and disrespectful to do otherwise.
On our last full day in Haiti, even though there was still work to be done (isnt there always!), our host said he wanted to take us to a local resort. Talk about contrasts!! We had travelled to a nation devastated by an earthquake, in which as many as one in ten people in the country lost their life, and we were being instructed to go relax on the beach. With very mixed feelings, we did as we were told.
Having grown up with the murky waters of the Pacific Ocean, I was quite impressed with the clearness of the water in Florida. I quickly found out that it was nothing compared to the beautiful water off the coast of Haiti. You could swim out so far you could no longer touch the bottom, and still you could see your feet. It was indescribably beautiful!
About a year ago now, I purchased the Aquapac
to hold my pump during days when I would be spending a lot of time in and out of the water. Thankful that I over packed my diabetes supplies for this trip, I was able to use the Aquapac and enjoy the day at the beach almost
just like everyone else (more on that later
It was so blazing hot that most of us jumped straight into the water. As odd as it felt to be there, it was nice to play around and laugh with each other. After a short while, a man came by in a rowboat and asked us if we wanted to go snorkeling. You barter for everything in Haiti, so for $5 per person we hopped onboard for an adventure.
The coral and sponges and urchins were beautiful. I wished I could have captured some of it on film to remember and be able to describe it better. The reefs were filled with purples, yellows, and oranges in animal and plant life.
Just as I was starting to get tired, I noticed that one of my teammates was struggling a little bit too. It turns out that she had cut her foot on the reef and it was bleeding pretty badly. I helped her get back to the boat and used the shirt I was wearing to tie around her foot. At that point, I wasnt sure but I felt like my blood sugar may have been dropping into dangerous territory.
The ride back felt so much longer than the ride out to the reef had been. It felt extra long for my teammate and I. For her, because her foot was stinging pretty badly and for me because I was feeling increasingly shaky. There was one man paddling a boat with at least 15 people on it. He was working against the current and his oars were two wooden poles with hand-carved paddles tied with leather straps to the end of the pole.
It is still odd to me that sometimes I can be really low (high 40s low 50s) and not feel anything different and other times I feel really low and test to find out that I am only in the 60s. When we finally got to shore, I quickly dug through my bag to find my glucose tablets. I popped 3 or 4 in my mouth and tried to chew them as quickly as possible. I felt bad for scaring the rest of my team, but it was one of the few times that I have felt really out of it and could not stop shaking. When I finally felt like my hands were steady enough to let me test, I was surprised to find that my blood sugar was only 54 mg/dL. I thought for sure it was lower (although with our current problems with meter accuracy, maybe it was) because I felt worse than I did when I had woken up at 4 am that morning with a 46 mg/dL!
*experience has taught me that the ‘feelings’ of a low can have more to do with the speed of the drop than the actual number, which was probably the case here
After sitting for a few minutes while they patched up my teammates injured foot, I felt good enough to climb the hill up to lunch. Everything tasted so good but you would be in for a big surprise if you ate the lettuce expecting coleslaw. It is actually a dish called pikliz
and it can be very spicy but good!!
We played in and by the pool for a little while after lunch. Some people had better luck staying out of the water than others.
Driving back to our site, we were reminded of the realities of life in Haiti.
I dont regret spending the day at the resort because I think our team needed the downtime to process everything we had seen and experienced, especially since we would be flying back to the States the next day.
I had used the last of my glucose tablets to treat the low I had before lunch. Thankfully, I only experienced in range numbers for the rest of the evening. 138 mg/dL at 4:34 pm, 127 mg/dL at 6:19 pm, and 133 mg/dL at 10:47 pm. I couldnt have asked for anything better if I actually thought I could control what those numbers were.
I was a little worried about an overnight low though, since I had been having at least one a night for the previous few nights. I asked one of the nurses if t
here were any glucose tablets in the clinic that I could have just in case. She looked around but since they were dealing mostly with high blood glucose values and not really any lows, she couldnt find any. Since she was from Canada, I got to practice my divide by 18 skills as I was telling her about some of my lows. 🙂
I ended up setting a temp basal for the night, and grabbing a few high carb snacks to have nearby just in case. I woke up just in time to see the sunrise the next morning at 146 mg/dL ready to start my last day in Haiti.