A View of the World Through the Thoughts and Lens of Scott Kasper

Posts tagged “food labels

Confused? I am!

אם אתה עוקב אחרי הבלוג הזה מן ההתחלה, אתה יודע, כי עד כה לא הזכרתי באמת הרבה על נסיעה עם שלושה ילדים, שניים מהם לוקים בסוכרת מסוג 1. היום חשבתי כתובת אתגר, בין הבעיות הגדולות ביותר היא שאני לא יכול לקרוא את תוויות המזון

Confused? Unless you speak Hebrew, I’ll bet you perplexed by the paragraph above!! Here’s my confession…I’m Jewish, I spent years in Hebrew school, I had my Bar Mitzvah in September 1981, I belong to a conservative synagogue, I am in Israel…..and I do not speak Hebrew!

Okay, not the biggest deal in the world. Perhaps for most that would be true. However, let me now translate for you (with the help of translate.google.com) what I wrote at the beginning and perhaps you will understand my dilemma.

Translation: If you have been following this blog from the beginning, you know that so far I have not really mentioned much about traveling with three kids, two of whom have type 1 diabetes. Today I thought I would address that challenge, and among the biggest problems is that I cannot read the food labels!

When we prepare to travel, packing the suitcases full of clothes is the easy part. Either Rachel or I (okay, 99% of the time it’s Rachel) print out a list of clothes for each of the kids, they retrieve the items and deliver them to our bedroom….it’s like a scavenger hunt. That part is easy! The challenging part is packing the suite case full of medical supplies, gathering the doctors notes, copying prescriptions, copying insulin pump failure protocols and instructions, obtaining an extra insulin pump for travel just in case, figuring out how we will travel almost 24 hours with supplies that require refrigeration, etc, etc, etc.

While we are getting much better at this (there was a time that we traveled quite a distance toward Vermont when we realized that we forgot to bring the insulin, and had to turn around), it remains a challenge and tremendous source of stress none-the-less.

All that said, we get it done and get out the door….no problem. That is until we reach our destination and realize that the day to day, or even hour to hour health of two of our kids depends on our ability to read food labels, which are in Hebrew. Even Rachel, who does understand a moderate amount of Hebrew, had trouble initially.

To be honest, this should not be the biggest deal in the world. But over the past six years we have become very comfortable with the foods we know and the labels that come along with them. We are very accustomed to measuring portions and figuring out the serving sizes. Here in Israel, that all seems to have gone out the window and we guess! We guess because many of the labels are different, we can’t seem to consistently figure out serving sizes to which the labels apply, we cannot always decipher ingredients, and when I am not with Rachel I’m lost. Part of the problem is that there are different “fonts” if you will that change the appearance of the Hebrew letters drastically. When we were in Italy, at least I could recognize word roots (thanks to several years of Latin in high school), and all the letters were recognizable. That’s just a bit different here.

Partly as a result of that, and partly because stuff just gets screwed up when we travel, blood sugars have been running consistently between 200 and 400 in both boys….mostly Matt. Even with temporary basal rates set, we battle high blood sugars all day. Matt and Jake have been doing remarkable well. I am sure they feel like crap after a long day in the hot sun and with blood sugar levels that would make most of us feel like garbage. They are real troopers!

I bring all this up not as a complaint, but more as a travel tip for anyone traveling abroad. In our busy daily lives we failed to plan for one of the important thing that has become so routine for us at home. To us, counting carbs has become part of our autonomic nervous system…..like breathing and blinking….it just happens and we don’t really have to think about it. In this case, we (or perhaps mostly I) should have thought about….should have known it would be a challenge, and should have prepared.

So what happens next? We will make our adjustments, we will be pushy in the grocery store and force people to answer our questions when they are just trying to buy their milk, we will get better at guessing and we will find the brands and foods that work for us the best. Over time everything will get much better, we will maintain a positive attitude and will have fun in spite of the challenges.

Beyond that, and most importantly, we will  adapt and overcome.  We will turn our challenges into experiences that make our family stronger. Rachel and I will learn lessons from our brave little boys, and will be proud of the fact that in the world related to their health, they are not so little…they are indeed mature beyond their years and have just as much to offer in our solutions as Rachel and I do (though I will admit that this is something that, especially in the heat of the moment, I tend to forget). We learned a long time ago to expect the unexpected and to adapt and overcome….that’s just how we roll!

Tomorrow we’re taking the 5 hour drive to Eilat, Israel’s southern most city….an ocean resort on the Red Sea. Not sure how the internet connection will be there, so if you don’t hear from me for a few days don’t worry….I’ll get you caught up when we get back to Yavne’el.