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  1. Default diabetes and roadtrip in the southwest

    Hi everyone,

    I hope this is the right place to ask about this.
    My boyfriend and i are planning our first roadtrip to the southwest this summer. We've been doing some reading and have a preliminary plan for 13 days between Los Angeles - San Francisco - Yosemite - Death Valley - Las Vegas - Grand Canyon - Bryce Canyon.

    the thing i'm a bit worried about is i'm a diabetic and need to keep my insulin cool (0C - 10C). to be clear: i have type 1 diabetes and i'm perfectly healthy otherwise and in good shape; the only thing worrying me is keeping the insulin cool in the high summer temperatures.
    On previous vacations we have always rented an apartment for some time or stayed at a hotel where it was easy to keep the insulin in the refrigerator. I do have some type of ice packs that you put in the freezer and then they can be used to keep insulin cold for several hours to one day. It works well, but I have never used them in such high temperatures.
    Do some of you have experience with this or just some suggestions on how to handle this?

    I think on arrival we can maybe buy a cooler that we can plug in to the cigarette lighter of the car. We could use that while we’re driving but I suppose I couldn’t leave the insulin in the car while we are visiting something cause it would heat up pretty quickly.

    Thanks for any advice,
    elkie
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-22-2009 at 08:00 AM. Reason: Linked to Trip Planning Thread

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default 2 options

    I think the best option would simply to get a small cooler and make sure that you are keeping it full of ice. That would be probably be the easiest way to make sure that you can keep it at a proper temperature at all times, even when you are out of the car for a few hours at a time.

    A plug in cooler might also work, I'm just not 100% confident that it would stay cold enough and you'd also have worry about draining the battery if you kept it running while you were out of the car.

    Otherwise, I'd recommend talking to your pharmacist and see if they have any other recommendations.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Plug-In Refrigerator Experience

    A few years ago, before a major cross-country RoadTrip, I bought a small refrigerator which could be plugged into either a 12 volt DC socket or a 120 volt AC outlet. At first I was quite happy with it. The novelty of being able to carry a small amount of food and beverages with me without stopping to replenish ice or drain the meltwater felt good, and the unit could easily be moved between the car and motel room each evening. However, as the days wore on, it quickly lost its appeal. Even at best, when running on 120 volt AC, it struggled to maintain a temperature much below 40F, and when unplugged quickly warmed up. Lest you think that it was just a cheap model, you should know that my wife did considerable research on various refrigerators of this type and got me one of the best available. The problem, I think, is basic to the design. If you get just a cooler that you put ice in, then temperature regulation depends on the thermal mass (the ice) and the insulation. In a refrigerator temperature regulation depends on electrical power providing constant cooling. In your case, I think that I would be unwilling to leave my insulin in such an unpowered unit for even an hour and trust that it would be kept at the necessary temperature. The beauty of an ice chest is that as long as there is any ice still left in a mostly water bath, that water will still be at 32F (0C). You can quickly tell by just looking if that is the case, and ice is available at nearly every convenience store or truck stop on the highway. Even if all the ice has melted, the water alone provides a great deal of thermal inertia and will remain cold for some period of time. And all of the above is in spite of the fact that the refrigerators will be considerably more costly that an ice chest.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    9,271

    Default

    Just thinking aloud here........

    I have used the "blue ice" packets before, and they actually work pretty well. For convenience, I'd look at a very small cooler - maybe one of the 6 pack can sized ones. Supplementing that with real ice is a possibility because as it melts off, the water will still be just above freezing. However, if you had to buy a whole bag of ice, storage would become an issue, maybe you could sweet talk places on the road for a couple cupfuls from the soda dispensers as necessary? Is your prescription with a national pharmacy chain so you could get small amounts of fresh insulin on your way across?

  5. Default thanks for your ideas!

    From your posts i see the plug-in cooler might not be up to the job.
    A cooler filled with ice might be a possible alternative. I have to say i didn't think of this, we don't really use ice in coolers over here (we're coming over from Belgium), we mainly use ice packs in a cooler but then again it is rare for temperatures ever to get above 90F here.
    The thing with insulin though, it cannot freeze either cause that makes it worthless too. So i'll maybe have to try it beforehand to see if the temperature in the cooler doesn't go below freezing point.

    Is your prescription with a national pharmacy chain so you could get small amounts of fresh insulin on your way across?
    I was definitely planning on getting a prescription (from my doctor) so in case of an emergency i could get new insulin. Now, over here, with that prescription, i can go to any pharmacy. Is that not the way it works in the states? Can i only get medication if i'm a member or something with a specific pharmacy?

    thanks for the advice!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    No, you can get a prescription filled at any pharmacy, but being "registered" with one of the national chains can make it easier and more convenient to "order" what you need and have it waiting. I do not know what the procedure would be for someone to get a "foreign" prescription filled. Some prescriptions require the pharmacist to actually speak with your doctor for confirmation. I don't know where insulin would fall in here. You might want to speak with both your doctor and your usual pharmacist about this, perhaps they can give you a better insight. I do know that they are quite picky here in the US about hypodermic needles and their proper disposal.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by elkie View Post
    The thing with insulin though, it cannot freeze either cause that makes it worthless too.
    The only concern I might have is if the insulin was in direct contact with the ice. The air temperature won't get below freezing, so as long as you have something to separate it, you should be ok.

    Another idea would be to just put it in a plastic bag and then in a ice water bath, then it would always stay just above the freezing point.

    Again, I'd recommend talking to your pharmacist, because I'd bet he'd have some other ideas or know of other people who have been in similar situations and how they dealt with things.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default In a baggie in a towel

    Robert Schaller, a former moderator of this forum, has had to carry insulin on all of his road trips for several years -- I regret I didn't pay enough attention to the exact way he did it, but I recall that his insulin was in a sealed plastic bag wrapped in a towel and placed in the snacks and food ice chest he carried.

    Mark

  9. Default

    Thanks again for the advice! I will definitely speak to my doctor about the prescription!

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