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The Amazon Riverboat Cruise- A Type 1 Diabetic’s Perspective

Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
April 10, 2020
A week on the Amazon on a boat with no luxuries and a limited supply of equipment and food. This was not set to be the best environment for my diabetes ...
Type 1 diabetic on Amazon Riverboat
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Okay...so I have wrote this blog twice..because I realised when I first wrote it- I was caught up in the frustration and anger of not having any internet :P...

So, as I write this, it is currently 3.30pm, the sun is roasting hot and we are only two full days into this trip. I was pretty excited when we boarded, the thought of cruising down the Amazon in a hammock didn’t seem all that bad, cut off from the real world and internet for a few days, would definitely be a challenge for me, but one I was willing to try. It’s not that I am addicted to social media, or the internet etc, but to me it’s an escape.

hammocks on the Amazon riverboat from Belem to Manaus
‍The sleeping arrangements

When I don’t have it, I feel like I over think everything, I over think my diabetes, I over think its complications, I wonder will I be able to have children, I wonder will I be able to manage when I am older, I become resentful I have it, and I ask the question we always ask “why me?”. So basically, its two days in and the “over thinking” has began. That’s all I needed, two days without the internet, to drive myself crazy- I have even cried twice- which feels so weak of me, but I have never tested my mind like this before, and when you get wrapped up in it with no distractions, you begin to feel scared and alone and most of all vulnerable.

Anyway-being on this boat hasn’t just given me some mental challenges- but actual diabetic ones too.

1) How do you keep insulin cool for up to 7 days with no air con, and just Frio? 

Can I just say that this is a real test for Frio...and I am pleased to say, my insulin is still alive, but I do worry. I did ask before I bought the tickets for this boat if there is somewhere to store my insulin as it’s medically important etc..and I was assured yes there was. Turns out there is a freezer, which isn't great, so pretty much acts as a fridge, so from 5-7pm every day I put my stuff in the fridge then Frio for the rest of the day.

2) How to you manage your blood sugar in constant heat with no air conditioning?

Honestly, you chase a breeze, and you just limit your food-unfortunately the toilet situation on this boat is GRIM, so I haven’t been able to drink coffee- and eating the local food in a no no, so my bloods have been great, simply because I have been surviving on a couple of biscuits a day- would I recommended doing that? Of course not, but if you don’t mind using unsanitary conditions (and by unsanitary I mean I got a urine infection from using the toilet twice) then eat and drink all you please- if not, then get ready to ration.

3) Heat exhaustion and diabetes 

I have no idea if that’s a real thing...but I swear the heat makes you more exhausted...and the roller coaster of type 1 diabetes also does..so that is probably why I slept for 15 hours one day.

Amazon sunset
The sunsets were pretty spectacular

I think me and Bradley will have had different experiences of this boat journey.  Yes I enjoyed the hammock living (but wish I bought a cabin with air con and a private bathroom) for a while. I did see some interesting animals and the odd dolphin...but I didn’t get to experience the Amazon, and that’s what I want to do- so that requires actually taking an excursion into the Amazon when in Manaus. 

Would I ever do this trip again? HELL NO

I have met some wonderful people on this boat. And that is literally what saved me...We met two amazing Australians who saved us...sounds dramatic..but they actually fed us, and if they hadn’t of, we would have been extremely hungry. We played cards with them, shared stories & giggles, and even got drunk on one of the nights! (Bradley managed to get me Coke Zero after 5 days of not having any and I almost cried with happiness- made the vodka go down nicely). I’d say, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have anything good to say about the trip.

The Two Teners
Our Australian saviours -The Two Teners

This trip isn’t for the faint hearted...so go at your own risk. At least I can say I have done & survived it!

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