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October 15, 2001

Traveling

Question from Madera, California, USA:

My son may be spending a year in Iceland as a foreign exchange student. Any recommendations for his diabetes care?

Answer:

Your son’s diabetes team may be able to give you names of pediatric diabetologists/endocrinologists there. However, I do not have a listing of a peds-endos in Iceland in my references.

He should travel with a letter (given recent security issues) from his doctor allowing him to travel with his diabetes supplies. He should travel with a new Glucagon Emergency Kit and perhaps at least a couple of months of supplies to allow him to get settled in with his new “family” so that they can begin to make arrangements. Indeed, they should be contacted to let them know that your son does have diabetes, and perhaps they can find a medical resource for you. There may be helpful persons at the nearest university medical center. (Will they be near the capitol in Reykjav�k? There is a medical school there.)

I presume the weather can be cold there (but I really don’t know) so having a meter that functions well in cold may be very appropriate (The One Touch� Ultra has the lowest-listed temperature range.) I’d also have him travel with a spare meter. If he wears an insulin pump, contact your pump representative for the name of need a contact person in Iceland or at least a way to trouble shoot by phone or fax, or e-mail.

While I do not know this specifically either, I imagine that many folks will speak English, but it may be a good idea to get some medical phrases in Icelandic regarding “diabetes”, insulin, etc. Also, in most of Europe, they measure glucose different units, such that glucose is measured in mmol/L rather than mg/dl as we do in the US. It will be very important to not get confused about this: a glucose value of 110 mg/dL is the same as 6.1 mmol/L so you can see how important it will be to not get your units/values mixed up!! Some meters will give you the values in mmol/L if you program them to.

Your son’s diabetes team can also give you some more specific advice as to how to adjust to the time change, based on his insulin regimen. Good luck! He should have a great time!

DS

[Editor’s comment: Along with the above advice, I’d like to suggest an addition: a letter from your son’s physician, on the office’s letterhead, explaining his situation, including medications, brand of meter, and what-not. I have written many such letters for patients going through Customs, and might imagine it might help in his circumstance. See Your Traveling Medical Record, at the Diabetes Monitor, for some additional thoughts.

WWQ]