Tales of a travelling diabetic
The coolest place John De Luca injected a dose of insulin was on the edge of the Abu Simbel Temple overlooking Lake Nasser in southern Egypt.
“I just sat on a pile of sand on the bank of the lake, gave myself insulin, had breakfast, and then went to the temple,” he said.
That story – and much more – is contained in his book Needle Me: Stories From A Syringe-Giving Diabetic Traveler.
The book is available in e-book and paperback formats on Amazon and is about the ups and downs of his experience as a type 1 diabetic traveling the world.
One of the biggest challenges for De Luca, who needs six insulin injections a day, was having to carry needles everywhere.
“If you’re on the road 365 days in a row, that’s a lot of needles,” he said.
In many of the countries he visited, it was assumed that the presence of needles meant drug use and not life-saving medicine. For example, when De Luca went to Ghana in Africa, he feared that he would not be able to get through airport security with the syringes and had to find someone to help him smuggle.
“I think someone was bribed,” he said, “but I’ve never been able to verify that.”
The book covers roughly 20 years of travel between 1990 and 2016 and includes visits to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Ghana, Cambodia, Nepal, India and Taiwan, where De Luca lived for 10 years.
Although he has been traveling for much of his life, De Luca recently got the idea of writing down stories about his adventures when someone suggested the idea of writing about travel from a diabetic’s perspective.
This was a bit of a shift as he had only written academic papers before, but he started working with it.
The project ran into a major hurdle about two years ago when De Luca lost his digital copy of the book. However, after realizing that he still had access to a printed copy, he was able to return to the project and finish it this year during the pandemic.
However, COVID-19 was not De Luca’s first experience of a global health crisis after witnessing the SARS epidemics in Taiwan in the early 2000s.
He said the most important thing about traveling as a diabetic, especially if like him, is off the beaten path, is planning.
“It’s a constant thing in the back of your mind,” he said. “Where can I have dinner? Where can I get insulin? “
De Luca now heads IQ Bamboo Language Services on Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops, the office where he wrote the book.
At the moment he does not see any other such band in his future.
“If I were to write another book, I would have to travel more,” he said with a laugh.