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We may be walking with a friend who is an insulin depentent diabetic. Are there facilities in the refuges to freeze an ice brick every night to keep the insulin cool for the trek a month out of Santiago?



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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2006)
Now that the topic is brought up, it is strange that I don't recall a lot of refrigerators in the refuges that have kitchens. The CSJ house in Rabanal has one, because I remember having kept hotdogs in it for breakfast.

And iced drinks in the bars? Very rare.



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Refrigerators are somewhat of a luxury in most refuges I have been into. Some definetely have one but not all. If you use hostals or private refuges (the type where the owner lives in) you will surely have that facility.

An alternative may be to bring prescriptions and renew every week if that is possible. Not sure.


Ditto re: ice, seems to be rationed. I can't remember an albergue without a fridge... Best, xm


Hello Ann, hope this information is not too late for you . I am an insulin dependant diabetic and plan to do my Camino in May/June 2008. I am new to this forum and just found your post when I was looking for info for diabetics. There is a product called "Insulin Travel Wallet" made by a company in the UK called Frio, I live in Canada and there are readily available here. They keep insulin at recommended temperatures without refrigeration. You simply inmerse the gel pak sleve in water to activate the gel in them. They can be reused many times. I have traveled with one or two on extended trips to Italy and China. They are the best thing for insulin when you are travelling on holidays or backpacking as all you need is water to make them work. Your local diabetic association should stock them or try drug stores. The cost varies by size ..but are around $24 - $35 cdn.
I am an insulin dependant diabetic and will start in Roncesvalles on April 28th for Santiago. Currently I take four insulin injections a day plus oral medications for my diabetes.

In addition to the regular stuff on most pilgrim's packing lists, my list includes sufficient insulin, needles, a glucose meter and lots of strips to test my sugar levels as well as my other Rx medications. I will take sufficient quatities of all to last me from April 26th, when I leave home until June 17th when I will return home. Yes, that will add more weight to my pack...wonder what essentials I will have to leave behind to make room!

It will also be very important to test my sugar levels several times during the day and make adjustments to the units of insulin that I take...as I am sure my exercise level will be higher than it is at home!

As I mentioned in my earlier post (under rushtoma ) I will take three of the "Insulin Travel Wallets" made by a company in the UK called Frio. They have made travelling with insulin so much easier as they will keep insulin at recommended temperatures without refrigeration.

Others may purchase insulin and supplies as they go...but I was uncertain how easy this would be....and I have found in my previous travels that it is just as easy to take all your medications with you from home. However if something were to happen to my supplies..I will find out how easy it is to replace them!

I would be interested in hearing from other insulin dependent diabetics or from who those who walked with diabetics and hear how they adapted to life on the Camino..



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Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Marilyn Canada said:
I would be interested in hearing from other insulin dependent diabetics or from who those who walked with diabetics and hear how they adapted to life on the Camino.. Marilyn
Thank you Marilyn (and Sil!) for your information and tips! I've wondered for a long time what effect loosing (a lot) of weight on the road has to the dayly amount of insuline and pills you have to take? Can you make the proper adjustments yourself or do you need a doctor? Thanks! Geert
Geert asked
Can you make the proper adjustments yourself or do you need a doctor?
In preparation for the Camino I have taken some diabetic educational sessions to learn how to adjust insulin units to match my intake of carbohydrates and exertion levels. With this knowledge, I will be able to make the necessary adjustments, using the blood sugar testing results from my glucose meter. One of the hard things will be to estimate the carb content of the Spanish food...does anyone know the word for carbohydrate in Spanish...or for sugar?

For a diabetic the worst fear is hypoglycemia...or low blood sugar....which can occur from too much insulin, too much exertion, not enough carbs..or a combination of these...in this state I would be weak, unable to put one foot in front of the other, likely would be staggering...others might think I was drunk!

To help prevent this I will always carry high carb food supplies and glucose tablets with me...I know from playing golf that it is much wiser to prevent low blood sugars with an intake of some carbs every hour... than it is to go low sugar levels and then try to get the sugar levels back up...which is hard on the body....and afterward it usually feels like you went ten rounds with the heavyweight champ.

Another issue for diabetics is the length of time it will take for blisters or other sore spots on the feet to heal...and to ensure they do not become infected....we heal very slowly...and also have less feeling in our feet, therefore we must check them often ...even a small blister will set us back more than non-diabetics.

Sillydoll...thank you for the links to the inspirations....you are amazing with your ability to come up with helpful links....how do you do it?

I'm impressed! Did you consider a different season and have you published about your earlier trips?

22-2-8 Forgive for zooming in on "I will be able to make the necessary adjustments, using the blood sugar testing results from my glucose meter." Do you expect small or large adjustments? I'd like to know because in my case I trust to loose rather quickly many of my present 100 k's indicating a major drop in daily intake of insuline and tablets. Would you do that yourself without consulting a specialist?
In deciding when it was my time for the camino....my diabetes was not a factor in selecting which season to go ...like fellow pilgrims I considered the weather, the crowds and what would fit with our schedule at home....

Geert in answer to your question, I expect to make adjustments to my insulin intake each day over the 40+ days of my camino. If you are insulin dependent, you likely know that the rule is not to adjust your total daily units of insulin by more than 20% from the previous day. As I take both a long acting and a fast acting insulin....changes can be made to each to help me keep my sugars at acceptable levels.

As in my earlier post...I fear low blood sugar levels over high levels...therefore I expect my fast acting insulin to require the most adjustments...depending on how much food I have had for breakfast, lunch and dinner or if I'm sick with a stomach bug!

At home I am really lucky to have a great diabetic support team....in addition to my regular family doctor....I have a diabetic specialist team - a doctor, specialist nurse and a nutritionist. They, like me, believe in educating their patients...I meet with them every 4 months and in-between appointments I can e-mail any questions I may have and they always have good answers for me. From them I have learned a great deal about management of my diabetes - the interactions and balancing of insulin, oral medications, diet and exercise or illness.

They know that I'm "doing the camino" and have been very supportive, we have a good plan in place to manage my diabetes when I'm in Spain.

I am quite confident that I will be able to manage my diabetes on the camino...I expect to have a few unpleasant lows....but hey...I have them sometimes when I am at home! The key will be for me will be to listen to my body and test my blood sugars often during the day. By listening closely to what your body is telling you, being prepared with supplies and being able to react quickly should make your camino more pleasant.

For a diabetic on the camino...planning your food supply.. always having some fast acting carbs and protein with you ...and knowing where and when your options for taking your meals each day is important....starting the day without breakfast and not having acquired your snacks for the day is not an option....well, let's say it is not a good option!

Marilyn Canada said:
I am quite confident that I will be able to manage my diabetes on the camino.
Thank you, Marilyn! Your inside information is most valuable for me (and many more diabetic pilgrims I'm sure) although your position is quite different. I see my doctor only a few times per year because I'm rather stable as long as I manage not to gain or better loose weight which is going rather well at the moment. Still I had a hypo on my daily walk to the shore once and that frightened the hell out of me! A few meters from my front door I had to sit down and ask a neighbour for a cooky. So I think I have to make more progress in daily walking before even considering the camino. And even then I suppose I need a network like yours to build up confidence. Thank you again so much! Geert
Ps: I tried to add a Google Earth picture but it was refused (too many pixels?).
Hi, I'm also a type 1. I'm planning to walk this year.I'm lucky in that I'm able to start from my front door, joining a variation the Le Puy route just a 25km from home.
last year I walked part of the route from Le Puy. I used a small insulated pouch ( free from the pharmacie as they give them to take insulin home in hot weather). In the pouch were my insulin pens and a plastic bag which I filled with icecubes, topping up at cafes along the way. This worked well but in France one is never far from a bar :) The only problem was that it leaked and wet other things in the same pocket of my rucksack. I think a friopack may be preferable and have since found that they are obtainable in France.
I found it very difficult to keep my BS up during the day, on one occasion sitting down in a ditch and neither wanting to go on or to take dextrose tablets. I was lucky to be walking with my husband who knows my hypo symptoms very well. This was in spite of testing frequently and eating small quantities of carbs if on the low side.
I normally reckon on 1u insulin to 10 of carbs I reduced this to 1/15 for breakfast and lunch and I also ate far more carbs than usual. It was strange to be able to eat croissant and muesli and fruit for breakfast with impunity. After the first few days I also reduced my basal insulin. After the walk I discussed my hypo problems with my doctor and she suggested that I may have to gradually cut my basal, possibly by as much as by 50% next time.

I already had some experience of managing my BS with exercise since I completed a marathon the year before.When you train for a marathon it certainly effects insulin sensitivity but you don't normally run everyday. The cumulative effect of walking long(ish) distances/hours everyday seemed to effect me far more.

If you do use dextrose tablets do make sure you have enough with you. I can only get them at a huge sports shop here,the pharmacies don't stock them and it is quite possibly the same in Spain.
About language a quick google search found this site (hopefully most of the words won't be needed!)
"I was lucky to be walking with my husband who knows my hypo symptoms very well." That's what held me back till now. Having only my paper Georgiana as companion I could be alone and in dire straits. My co-King-author Marcel sent an article in a popular general magazine on new 'promising' medicine: Januvia (sitagliptine), Galvus (vildagliptine) and already admitted in several countries Byetta (exenatide) based on poison from the gilamonster in Arizona. Have you heard of it?
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sillydoll Medical issues on the pilgrimage 11

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