Diabetes & Crossing Borders

Posted on February 20, 2012


The good news is that we now have passed the border of 21 countries and never have had any problems related to the fact that we are carrying insulin, syringes and infusion-sets for my insulin pump (plus back-up pens). Before leaving, my doctor wrote a brief confirmation of my diabetes and physical need for insulin, but so far it has never been necessary to refer to this medical explanation during the border-crossings. Also, at least for pump-users, it is easy enough to pull up your shirt and show the officials the infusion-set and the pump. Even when passing airport security, this usually makes security personnel understand while they in general often are far more rigorous in their search than when crossing borders by road. 

Customs officer revising the car

Customs officer revising the car

Now, there is one issue which has surprised us. Arriving Brazil after 7 months on the road, I realized that I was running out of insulin for my pump. This was an anticipated situation which now had to be solved. Initially, I thought I easily enough could have this shipped by courier from Spain. To my surprise, however, this was very complicated since international courier-services or postal services do not allow shipment of medicine by private individuals and neither do they offer any special service for instance regarding max/min temperature exposure during shipment nor for rapid customs-clearance.

In need of my insulin and getting slightly frustrated, my mind started playing with the though of “smuggling” my insulin bottles by sending them encapsulated in a book, but I soon came to my senses. Instead I went to the pharmacy around the corner where we are staying in Porto Allegre (Brazil), ordered 6 bottles of Humalog (Lilly) and paid US$ 250,- when receiving them over the counter.

While one can easily enough imagine the desperation and suffering of a diabetic not being able to obtain or afford insulin, I am now all ready for the Asian-leg of our tour.

Hasta la vista, in Singapore.


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