Moving with Diabetes Part 1: Planning Ahead

Posted by alexis on Wed, 11/06/2013 - 20:04 in

Alexis-Pollak-1The last post I authored for Podder Talk was about an incredible three-month trip I took with my then fiancé (now newlywed husband) to Southeast Asia. After undertaking such a tremendous adventure, you’d think nothing could faze us upon our return to the U.S. Well, in an effort to make 2013 the busiest year of our lives, my husband and I also decided to move cities when we came back from Asia. In April, we returned from our six-country tour, loaded up our storage unit into a moving truck and drove nearly 200 miles north from San Diego to our new home city, Portland, Oregon.

Moving cities is generally challenging for all the obvious reasons:  you don’t know many people - or maybe anyone - in your new town. Business contacts, social circles and pals you counted on for certain activities just aren’t there anymore - and that’s intimidating. There’s also the administrative side of moving: updating all your bank information, forwarding your mail from your old address, and my personal favorite, applying for an Oregon driver’s license. Did you know it’s illegal to pass a person on horseback in your car without signaling? Um yea…neither did I.

This can be stressful enough for anyone, but moving when you have diabetes adds another layer of craziness to the whole thing.

How Traveling with Diabetes Prepared me for the Move

Fortunately for me, traveling through Asia with diabetes had boosted my overall diabetes confidence. If I can figure out how to keep insulin cold in the 100-degree heat of eastern Cambodia with no refrigeration and not speaking a lick of Khmer, then I can certainly navigate moving cities here in the good old U.S. of A, right? Well, yes and no.

Asia prepared me to expect the unexpected with diabetes and to stay ahead of the game. In preparation for our move, I had stockpiled insulin, needle caps and test strips. I’d left behind enough Omnipod insulin pump supplies to get me through a month before having to re-order. And I’d managed to order a new CGM and sensors while abroad thanks to an online ordering tool, so those were waiting a friend’s house when we returned.

But just like in Asia, the move to Portland with diabetes didn’t go smoothly the whole time. We didn’t know it, but Portland has an extremely competitive rental market right now. We had allowed for two weeks to find a new place to live, but soon realized this wasn’t going to be a quick search. My husband and I went to countless open houses and filled out rental applications until our hands hurt, but to no avail. It seemed like someone was always getting to a place faster than us. Fortunately, we were able to stay at my husband’s brother’s house while we continued to look for. But this temporary set-up proved to cause problems when placing orders for my new diabetes supplies.

Challenges Ordering New Diabetes Supplies

As my diabetes supplies began to dwindle, I was forced to call each product company for my test strips, Omnipod supplies and CGM sensors, and have a shipment sent to my brother-in-law’s house. It may not seem like a big deal, but the minutes on the phone added up for each company. Not only did I have make sure they knew the address was only temporary, but I had to explain that my billing address was still at a friend’s house back in San Diego where all my mail had been forwarded while we were abroad. Add that to the fact that I’m on COBRA insurance coverage and you can start to understand that none of these were quick phone calls.

Finally, after a month and one week on the hunt, we found the perfect rental home in a great neighborhood. And then I had to call every single company again for my next order and go through everything a second time. That was a marathon phone session, to say the least. And it had to be done before all the fun stuff, like furniture shopping, because it’s so essential to my health.

The actual move itself wasn’t the only thing that would bring frustration. I’ll detail more of our transition to our new city in Part 2 of Moving with Diabetes, where I’ll discuss things like getting back into an exercise routine and building a new diabetes network.