Weigh in time. The pharmacy on the corner from the apartment seemed the best place to find a scale. Google translate helping the young assistant to understand what I was asking. ‘Kg!’ Slight decrease in weight, which was expected. Still within the range prescribed by the nutritionalist.
Too early for the market to be functioning, which was my planned breakfast stop as Terry was heading out for her Street Food tour, while I messed about with paint. That my stomach has decided at this point to rebel, a coincidence.
Frustration of not being able to fall-back to a bougette or easy sandwich meal and having to pass over 90% of any menu. Thank goodness wine here is astronomically expensive so that’s not an option!
High 6.7 mmol/L
Low 4.7 mmol/L
Maison de tet our morning stop after walk out along West Lake. A brunch of eggs Benedict with salmon and avo, served on potato cakes, which I mostly ignored. The coffee, outstanding.
Shrimp chips (Bánh Phồng Tôm) a new evil, apparently without carbs or sugar.
However, the cumulative effect of the day on my sugar levels a tad concerning.
High 10.3 mmol/L
Low 4.6 mmol/L
Feeling a tad jumpy and out-of-sorts. Sugars, normal. Jet-lag and the morning rocket-fuel coffee?
Totally intimidated by the guys sitting at the next table with their gazillion dishes of different stuff, and bowls of assorted sauces. Was feeling chuffed at my stir fry cabbage, spring onions and tomatoes, with pork strips! Even if I added noodles or rice, I wouldn’t get near to their spread.
A lunch of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Chef Y, of the Hanoi Cooking Centre, had an excellent approach to preparing a diabetic meal. Making the food diabetic ‘sensitive’. Without added sugar, no dressings and soya as a dipping sauce.
Banana flower salad, with pork, prawn, garlic and ginger. The soya (rather than sweet chilly) sauce a tad strong for delicate rice paper spring rolls, which had prawns and a touch of pineapple. Ginger chicken, served with rice. The sauce unbelievable. Coconut cream, with sweet corn and sticky rice desert didn’t work without the sugar that is usually included. Glass of Italian wine an excellent foil for the subtle food flavours.
High 6.9 mmol/L
Low 4.7 mmol/L
Care needed at the ‘Coffee Culture’ shops, where even the black coffee with ice has some sort of sweetener (sugar or syrup) added.
That cold sweat from stomach cramps. Glucophage or as a result of the water in Ho Chi Minh?
Not being sure of what would be available on the train to Hanoi (1700km and 36 hours), we stopped at Annam Gourmet Market for a picnic French-style meals of cheese, pate and nuts.
Trolleys of fast food and drink were constantly moving through the train. The coffee, shaved ice with some sort of coffee syrup, which we skipped. Settling for the occasional beer we could get at the main stops and plenty of water. Food was available a couple of times a day. Plastic trays with rice served with some sort of meat looking thing, a bit of green veg, sauce and Pho. One of the meals also had tofu, and pickled egg. Completely manageable if one avoids the obvious rice and noodles. Eat around them. The hidden sugars (from sauces etc) seem to be nominal and diluted.
High 6.6 mmol/L
Low 5.3 mmol/L
Beer. The double whammy of carbs and alcohol. Nectar after five hours of pavement pounding in the heat and humidity. Nothing that could compare to the iced coffee at The Coffee Factory, with its ice foam, which in reality was ice-cream, that slowly filtered its way into the black coffee, at which point I stopped drinking. The iced Jasmine tea, refreshing and delicious.
Scrambled eggs and bacon to start the day with a typical Vietnamese dinner at Mon Hue. Pho, with beef bits. Infused with lime, ginger, and chili flavours. Served with a plate of fresh green bits, which I ate separately and did not add to the Pho. I left the noodles and skirted the meat bits. Far too frightening to negotiate.
Water melon (less than 60grams) my new favourite.
36 hour train journey North next.
High 7.8 mmol/L
Low 4.4 mmol/L
Heading to Vietnam for the next six weeks.
First airport security check in George not at all concerned at my bag of needles, insulin and other bits.
I did expect that there would be some level of scrutiny at OR Tambo, and more so in Dubai, for the International flights. However, there were no alarms or questions.
The timing of my insulin jab needing a bit more thought with time zone changes and flight schedules.
The inflight ‘diabetic’ meals offered boiled fish, a tad bland. Broccoli and carrot colour spots. The bread and muffins seemed odd, however easily avoided.
Sugar levels a tad low. Nuts and low carb bars in the travel bag not quite making up for the missed meals during the journey.
Vietnamese food the next step.
Security training for working in conflict countries, a ‘Grab Bag’ is a mandatory item. This is your emergency survival bag that accompanies you everywhere.
Having been caught on a few occasions without my meds at the times I should have taken them, and not being able to determine my blood sugar as I didn’t have my meter with me, I decided that I needed to have a ‘Grab Bag’.
Carrying my camera, to capture ideas and inspiration for my paintings, meant that I already had a functional light weight bag (montbell) that was water resistant and comfortable enough to tote around with me. All it needed was adaptation to the life of a diabetic.
It’s soft and small enough to fit into my daypack, or into the tote bag for shopping so that I’m still only carrying one bag that leaves my hands free.
Blood-sugar meter, lancets and test strips
Glucose tablets and carb free snack bars
Spare needles for insulin pen
Diabetic emergency information card (doctors contacts, blood group, type of diabetes, medication, medical-aid details, emergency contact)