Traveling with Diabetes

Dobie Maxwell

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June 2011 which came from a doctor in an emergency room; long before that, I was diagnosed with having “ants in my pants” which came from my third grade teacher Mrs. Muckerheide who never seemed to understand why I needed to keep moving. As it turns out, the official diagnosis was “wanderlust”. 

For some mysterious reason that I still haven’t figured out, I have always felt an inner need to see new places, meet new people, and try new things. I have been a traveler my entire life; luckily for me, I was able to find a career where travel was a major part of the job description. I am a professional comedian who has been crisscrossing North America since 1985, all while learning my craft and doing everything I wanted to do from my third grade vision. Life on the road is HARD WORK, and about as hard a life as one could expect.

Traveling with diabetes pumps up the degree of difficulty at least tenfold or more. First off, it adds extra stress to an already hectic experience of navigating a new place every week; sometimes, it’s everyday which makes life on the road a grind instead of a job. Having a GPS has made things a little bit easier, but not by much. The average non-entertainer assumes there is a “circuit”, and we have a set route that is laid out in logical order. Now THAT’S funny!

Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth, and it makes diabetes management take a backseat to more basic tasks like getting to the town, the hotel (or wherever we happen to be staying), and then the performance venue afterwards. I can’t count the amount of times that I have had to drive 8, 10 or 12 hours in a single day or more to get to the next destination. That leaves little room for diet planning, much less exercise. The heaviest thing I usually lift in the car is a fast food bag with a large beverage; when I’m at work, it’s usually just a microphone. As you may have noticed, this is not exactly a high cardio lifestyle to say the least!

Whatever “normal” life consists of, life on the road is the polar opposite. As I get older, I realize that I have not taken the best care of my body, so I’m making a conscious effort to turn that around much sooner than later. I have refocused my attention on daily exercise, and have been consulting with a number of experienced professionals as to creating long term improvements in diet. Diabetes management is taking the lead in my life’s priorities; because of this, I now feel a noticeable improvement in the other areas of my life as well. I should have done this years ago, but we all have our own “woulda, coulda, shoulda” list that seems to get bigger and more frustrating as the years pass. 

Life on the road can be an adventure for a young person, and I have had a terrific run for more than three decades: I swam in both oceans, managed to visit 49 states in America, and visited most of the provinces in Canada! The memories I have both on stage and off are vivid and many, but now I choose to make a healthy future my main order of business so that I can hopefully have another few chapters of life to enjoy. Keeping my diabetes in check is a daily challenge, but I do think my wanderlust is in my rear view mirror (And my pants are ants free too).

Life on the road has lost its allure, and that’s totally OK (been there, done that, got lots of t-shirts). It’s now time for me to enjoy some home cooking – and healthy cooking at that!

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