Friday, 31 May 2013

With vs. In Spite Of.

I think I'm pretty considerate when it comes to other people and my diabetes. I have a couple of friends who have needle phobias, so when I'm with them, I'll take myself to another room in their house, and when out, I'll turn in such a manner that they don't have to see the needle or the injection. In general, when out in public, I'll pick a seat round the table where I can discretly do my injection anyway so other people aren't "exposed" to it. I'll answer questions if people have them, explain what the numbers mean etc etc. I won't snap when someone makes a comment about how I must have been fat as a child to have diabetes now, or that it's my parents fault for feeding me too much sugar, but politely point out that both statements are incorrect. 

Diabetes is the one aspect of my being that I'm the most insecure about. It's the one thing about me that I cannot change. If you're not happy with your figure, you can take steps to change that. If you have an annoying habit, you can try to break it. But with type one diabetes, as much as we would like to, we can't just wave a magic wand and fix our beta cells. 

I've been very lucky since diagnosis. My family adjusted easily, friends from sixth form took it in their stride, my housemates at uni were, and still are, incredibly supportive, and there are a group of friends on my course that, again, didn't think anything of it. They asked questions, learned as much or as little they wanted. They've never made me feel bad when I need to vent, some of them have seen me in horrible low blood sugar states, and then the complete opposite end of the spectrum in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Some haven't seen very much at all. It's luck of the draw. They've "accepted" (for lack of a better word) me with my diabetes, not in spite of it, and for me, there is a very big difference between being accepted with diabetes and being accepted in spite of it.

Last night, for the first time since diagnosis, a friend made me feel like he "accepted" me in spite of my diabetes. I don't know if he meant for it to come out like that or what, but either way it got to me, probably far more than what it should have. But diabetes being the thing I'm most insecure about, it did. He didn't like the fact that a friend I met on year abroad was asking me questions about it and I was openly answering them. He said it made him "uncomfortable" and it "really affects him". He doesn't have a problem with me, but he does with my diabetes. So we stopped our conversation and started talking about something else. 

But my head was still at "you're okay with me but not my diabetes"...we kind of come as a pair these days; you don't ever get Ant without Dec, and as of March 2010 you don't get Vicki without diabetes. A door's just been opened now, and I can't close it. It's been playing on my mind all day. And I wish I didn't let it get to me like this! But it has. Hearing someone say that hurt more than I thought it would. I think that's what's playing on my mind more than anything: there's still that fear of letting people in on that side of my life and then not being "accepted" because of it. 

I've been told that fear will lessen with time. I guess I just want to know when.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Guilt And Accountability.

Yesterday evening, my blood sugars were all over the place. I went from a 19.1mmol/l to a 3.7mmol/l in the space of about two and a half hours. That's not a lot of fun, let me tell you! When I got that 19.1mmol/l reading, I went back over everything I had for lunch that day: blood glucose before lunch, carb intake, insulin dose, what I did after lunch. I must have done something wrong to warrant that high blood sugar. But I couldn't find anything. I ate crackers, yoghurt and an apple, something I can bolus for in my sleep. So where did that 19.1 come from?

I corrected this 19.1 with my dinner, which consisted of omelette and salad - after seeing that 19.1, carbs were out of the question! Now, I must have massively miscalculated the correction to drop to 3.7 that quickly! And it was a horrible hypo at that. I mean, no hypos are fun, but this was one of those ones that left me destroying the kitchen cupboards, shaky, crying, the works!

There's a lot of guilt that comes with diabetes. When that high or low number flashes on my glucose meter, on top of correcting the high or low, I'm thinking "What did I eat to get that number?" "Did I bolus correctly?" "Have I done anything this afternoon that I didn't plan for (e.g. go for a walk/do nothing at all)?" "What did I do wrong?"

But this shouldn't be the case. Because, sometimes, you can do everything right and still get thrown a curveball. I've checked back over my sugar readings to see what might have caused the 19.1 and I'm coming up with nothing. That 3.7, however, that was me over-correcting. Yet for both, I feel a level of guilt. I guess the only good thing about that feeling is that it also makes me feel accountable, and, for me, feeling accountable is what pushes me on; if I can see where I've done something wrong, I take steps to not make that mistake again. 

I know that perfect doesn't exist when it comes to diabetes. Well, I don't think it does, anyway (although, when I have one of those rare days where I'm between 5 and 6mmol/l all day, I do like to think my pancreas has had a jump-start!) But, as much as I hate that feeling of guilt, it does bring that sense of accountability, and that helps me to stay motivated. Accountability is an empowering thing for me.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Year Abroad: Debrief Part 1 - Toulouse, France.

TA and I in Toulouse.
Today, I finished my exams here in Alcalá, meaning I'm officially done with university until this coming September (yay!) so I figured it was time for me to start what I am coining my year abroad debrief. I've decided to do this is three parts - Toulouse, Alcalá and then finish with my post-year abroad appointment I have in July, where I'll compare what the numbers and 'a1c's say.

I only started writing when I got to Alcalá, but there's a whole other four months or so of living abroad that is just unaccounted for on the blog, which is now going to come to light, albeit briefly. Surviving year abroad is my biggest diabetes accomplishment to date: after two years of being surrounded by constant support, I left England in September 2012 to move to France and study at the Université de Toulouse II (Le Mirail) and it was the most amazing experience!  I was lucky enough to be studying in France with a good friend of mine (whom I'm gonna call TA, picture above); it was like having a security blanket, someone there to go through the experience with. And it's safe to say we had an absolute ball. We made friends, travelled, got drunk, ate so much food, went to uni...most of the was awesome. 

Sergant Garcia Concert.
On arriving in France, I was greeted with constant hypos as I tried to adjust to la vie francaise but eventually I got there and my sugar levels started levelling out without too much hassel. The first time diabetes was "brought to light" was on our first Erasmus night out (picture on the left), and the other girl we were with was English and was very cool about it (I always seem to fear the worst when the time comes for me to bring up my diabetes!)  

The next people we met were a group of Greeks! Now, three of these girls weaved their way in my life just like K did, and I miss them so much. I'm so grateful I met these girls. They taught me some Greek (which I still remember), threw us a Greek night (which consisted of the most amazing food I've ever eaten, Greek alcohol, Greek dancing which I failed at - the whole thing was just awesome!) and Denise and I used to have frequent movie nights as we lived on the same floor in our crappy student accommodation! Their reaction to my diabetes never fails to make me laugh. I remember being at a bar in town and checking my blood sugar, and then explaining to Denise that I had diabetes. She gave me what I can only assume was a sympathy hug. TA and I did find it rather amusing!

Christmas in Clermont.
I did a fair amount of travelling whilst I was in Toulouse. I went to Bordeaux, which was an experience. I met my best friend, Nem there, and then we met up with the Greek girls. They then left, and TA showed up with another friend from Toulouse, so we were all there at some point or other over the weekend. Of course, being in Bordeaux, we went wine tasting. I swear, nothing has compared to Bordeaux wines! They were amazing! I also went to Clermont Ferrand, the place where Nem was studying. I showed up unannounced, which took a lot of planning and liaising with her friends there, but I pulled it off and the look on her face was so worth it. Clermont was beautiful, but bloody cold - I had prepared for the Toulouse winter, not the Clermont winter! But I had a lovely time, nonetheless, and discovered the best thing ever: lemon-meringue cheese cake. 100% worth the massive bolus I needed to cover it.

It was after Christmas that things started to go downhill: the lack of routine caused my diabetes management to really slip and before I knew it, management was just non-existent. But things really got out of hand when I was in Alcalá (which is why I started writing again).

Lemon-meringue cheesecake.
Basically, my time in France was incredible. The uni sucked (as you've probably guessed with my lack of writing about it), and I had issues when it came to injecting in public because of the looks I got, but I have no complaints when it comes to the rest of my experience there! I made friends that I plan on keeping for the foreseeable future, and if I could go back and do it all again, I would. The one stupid diabetes-related thing I did was lose my balance whilst hypo, and I called my old housemate, Fernandez for help before realising I was in another country and she couldn't actually do anything. Force of habit - for the two years prior to year abroad, she occupied the room below mine!

So hopefully that gives you a bit of an insight into what I got up to during that first semester and how diabetes fit in with all of that. To be honest, it was pretty smooth-sailing right up until Christmas - it was after that things began to slip. But more on that in part two!   

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Hypo...With A View...

Hypos are never any fun. Despite that somewhat, cool, calm, collected exterior I somehow manage to maintain, on the inside, I'm panicking: worrying about getting my blood sugar back up, thinking what if it doesn't come back up? I feel a bit unsteady on my feet, dizziness tends to ensue, and all in all it's just not a fun experience, which sometimes ends in tears. 

Yesterday, whilst in Madrid meeting up with friends from my university back home, this happened. And it was a stubborn one that took an apple juice carton, a cereal bar and then another juice carton (which literally tasted like sugar dissolved in water) to bring my levels back up...and even then they were only up to a 5.6mmol/l. And did I mention that I was in a cable car whilst this was happening?! 

I was angry and frustrated and close to those tears I mentioned above (well-hidden by my sunglasses) and then I saw Madrid. And it was awesome. The river, the palace, the skyscrapers. It was incredible! And the anger I felt towards my diabetes disappeared, as I was reminded that, although it's not something I can ignore, it doesn't dominate everything; suddenly, the cable car ride wasn't about the fact that I was hypo and struggling to get my levels back up, but instead the breathtaking view of the city where I've spent the last four and a half months.

Diabetes, you've had your moments since you entered my life, but year abroad's all mine!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

T Minus Two Weeks!

My leaving gift from K.
That's right! Two weeks today and it will be time for me to head back to the UK having finished my year abroad as an Erasmus student. The goodbyes have already started and I've realised that, as excited as I am to be returning to the UK (and I'm sure my blood-sugars are pretty excited about getting some stability in the very near future, but this is not the post for that), I'm not ready for this experience to be over yet. 

Yesterday evening, I joined my friend, K, for one last dinner and drink at our favourite restaurant, El Burrito, (our entire friendship is built upon our love for mexican food, margaritas and the fact we both speak English!) before she set off on her European travels and then back to the good ol' U-S-of-A. 

This is the worst part of year abroad. I did the whole goodbye thing when I left Toulouse for Alcalá de Henares. Leaving Toulouse was hard, but I knew it was more of a "see you later" as opposed to a "goodbye" - my closest friends in Toulouse were from England and Greece, so chances of us meeting up in the future is very high. 

Here in Alcalá, again, most of my friends are English and Spanish, apart from K, who's American. And when I said goodbye to her, I said goodbye not knowing when I would next see her. I don't doubt we'll keep in touch, but it's not the same. Flights within Europe are cheap. Flights to the USA, however...whole other story! The last time I bid farewell to an American, I was an absolute wreck. My housemate from first year, Lopez, weaved her way into my life like she knew she belonged there. K's gone and done the same. And I love her and hate her for it. Before we said our goodbyes, she told me she had a gift for me: a Mississippi State Bulldogs t-shirt. It's absolutely huge, but I love it (sorry, Lopez, I'm a Mississippi girl now ;) ) and I'm currently wearing it as I write this. 

I'm really gonna miss her: from mexican food to way too many margaritas that one night (that second pitcher seemed like such a good idea at the time), from the Madrid 10km run (which I happily watched from the sidelines whilst K actually ran it) to moaning about life/exams/culture differences.

Until next time, Miss K. Thanks for everything this semester. I've had a blast! Hopefully see you in DC in the not too-distant future! In the meantime, thank god for the internet and social networking!   

Monday, 20 May 2013

Diabetes: "A Selective Disease".

Mmm...chocolate cake!
A very good friend of mine always jokes around and says that my diabetes is "a rather selective disease", and you know what?! I can see where she's coming from. I will turn down her regular cola/lemonade/fizzy orange, but I'll happily accept the biscuits she offers me to go with my cup of tea! See?! Selective!

The thing with diabetes is that there is no universal list of what you can and can't eat (despite what some people may think and try to tell you - we call those people the Diabetes Police). It's about what you can and can't get away with. There is no right and wrong. For me, full sugar fizzy drinks are an absolute no-go, unless, of course, I'm hypo, in which case bring 'em on! Biscuits, however, I know I can cover with my insulin.

Most people I know with diabetes have a "food nemesis": something that, no matter how hard they try, they can't bolus for. Mine is bread. It doesn't matter how hard I try, I can never, ever, bolus correctly for it! So, I just don't eat it (although I do love the occassional burger or pizza, further proving my friend's point about the whole "selective disease" thing) and I just find alternatives: crackers, salads, etc. It's what works for me.

I also tend to go wholegrain, where possible. Wholegrain foods have a lower G.I (Glycaemic Index), I find it easier to bolus for them, and I like it. A win all round, for me. There are no "right" or "wrong" foods, but instead your own personal list of "safe", "on occassion" and "avoid at all costs".

So, if I'm ever round your house for a catch up or a birthday or whatever, now you know: I will politely turn down your full sugar fizzy drinks and maybe your cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, but that chocolate cake you've got sitting on the side?! I'll have a slice of that!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 7 - Spread The Love.

As another Diabetes Blog Week draws to a close, let's reflect on some of the great bloggers we've found this week. Give some love to three blog posts you've read and loved during Diabetes Blog Week, and tell us why they're worth reading. Or share three blogs you've found this week that are new to you.

I think it’s safe to say that Diabetes Blog Week 2013 has been a success. My exam revision was 100% ignored in favour of reading D-Blog Week posts! Now, I know this prompt says to share three blogs that are new to me, but I have four, and they’re not all going to be new, (I'm breaking all the rules for this post!) but ones that I think are definitely worth a read!

Kim's blog is one of my D-Blog Week finds! One minute I'm close to tears, next I have the biggest grin on my face! I just hope I can stay as positive as she is once I hit 20+ years living with type one diabetes!

I've been reading Daisy's blog for a while now, and I never, ever, get bored of her writing. Every post is a pleasure to read; she writes in such a truthful manner that I can go from smiling to crying in a matter of seconds! 

Dave's blog is another D-Blog Week find and I'm so glad I stumbled across his writing. I love his ability to make diabetes funny, something I feel is necessary. His posts throughout D-Blog Week have always brought a smile to my face. 

Although not technically a D-Blog Week find, I'm still new to Scott's blog. I love his writing style and how positive his outlook is when it comes to living with diabetes. Again, I just hope that I have that same outlook further down the line.

So they're my four! Go check them out. There are so many more I could list here, but instead I'm just going to update the links page on this blog. Huge, huge thank you to Karen at Bitter-Sweet Diabetes for, once again, organising Diabetes Blog Week. I've loved it! See you again next year?!?!


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 6 - Diabetes Art.

This year Diabetes Art moves up from the Wildcard choices as we all channel our creativity with art in the broadest sense. Do some "traditional" art like drawing, painting, collage or any other craft you enjoy. Or look to the literary arts and perhaps write a d-poem or share and discuss a favourite quote. Groove to some muscial arts by sharing a song which inspires you diabetes-wise, reworking some song lyrics with a d-twist, or even writing your own song. Don't forget dramatic arts too, perhaps you can create a diabetes reality show or play. These are just a starting point today - there are no right or wrong ways to get creative.

Anyone that knows me will be able to vouch for the fact that I am not creative in any sense of the word: I can't draw, I can't paint, apparently even the way I colour is wrong (my colouring skills are often criticised by my person). Poetry's not really my thing, so that also rules out song writing (wow, a year out from working with kids because of year abroad and my creativity levels are awful!) So that leaves discussing a quote. I have one of those.

"Kids, I've been telling you the story of how I met your mother, and while there's many things to learn from this story, this may be the biggest. The great moments of your life won't necessarily be the things you do. They'll be the things that happen to you. Now, I'm not saying you can't take action to affect the outcome of your life. You have to take action. And you will! But never forget that any day, you could step out the front door, and your whole life could change forever. You see, the universe has a plan kids, and that plan is always in motion. A butterfly flaps its wings and it starts to rain. It's a scary thought, but it's also kind of wonderful. All these little parts of the machine constantly working, making sure you end up exactly where you're supposed to be, exactly when you're supposed to be there. The right place at the right time." -- Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother, "Right Place, Right Time" (S4, Ep 2).

Long quote, I know, but I love the whole thing. This is from an episode of How I Met Your Mother that I was watching the other day, and knowing what the prompts were for D-Blog Week, I thought it was one I could use today. 

I didn't do anything to cause my diabetes; it's something that happened to me, and although it's not what I would describe as "one of the great moments of my life", what has come of it is pretty great. To quote what Lizzie said to me the other week "I don't want it [diabetes] but I want what comes with it" - what comes with it being the friendships.

If I wasn't diagnosed with diabetes, I wouldn't have a lot of the friends I have today. And I have those friends because I took action: I went in search of other people with diabetes that I could talk to, as I didn't know anyone personally. Now I do, and not only do I know people on a personal level, but I'm also a part of this amazing online community. Who knows where I'd be if I hadn't have sought out others! I don't really want to think about it, as my current life would be lacking quite a few people who have become very good friends over the last few years. Scary thought, huh?!   

Friday, 17 May 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 5 - Freaky Friday.

Just like in the movie, today we're doing a swap. If you could switch chronic diseases, which one would you choose to deal with instead of diabetes? And while we're considering other chronic conditions, do you think your participation in the DOC has affected how you treat friends and aquaintances with other medical conditions?

It took me a while figure out what the point of the first part of today's prompt is. If I could switch chronic diseases, which one would I choose? I have to be honest and say I did have to do a Google search to find a list of other chronic illnesses.

Addison's Disease, Celiac Disease, Coronary Heart Disease, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoarthritis, Parkinson's Disease to name but a few.

I mean, it's not like I want Diabetes, but I don't want any of the above either!

And that's when I realised what the point is. Well, what I think the point is, anyway. Perspective

So, no, I wouldn't switch chronic diseases. I know diabetes; I know how to live with it, and I know how to try and control it. I've learnt what causes the highs and the lows. I know what foods are on my no-go list and which foods are on my safe list. Don't get we wrong, living with diabetes isn't fact there are times when it really sucks...but it could be worse.

As for the second part of today's prompt: do I think my participation in the DOC has affected how I treat friends and aquaintances with other medical conditions? I don't think it's changed the way I treat people, but instead added a level of understanding. Before diabetes, I sympathised with others, but I never really "got it". Now, I empathise with others; I know what it's like to live with a chronic disease.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 4 - Accomplishments Big And Small.

We don't always realise it, but each one of us has come a long way since diabetes first came into our life. It doesn't matter if it's been 5 weeks, 5 years or 50 years, you've done something outstanding diabetes-wise. So today let's share the greatest accomplishment you've made in terms of dealing with your (or your loved one's) diabetes. No accomplishment is too big or too small - think about self-acceptance, something you've mastered (pump/exercise/diet/etc), making a tough care decision (finding a new endo or support group/choosing to use or not use a technology/etc).

My biggest accomplishment since diagnosis has definitely been what I'm doing now: my year abroad. Back in September, I said "au revoir" to my diabetes clinic for 4 months and embarked upon the start of my year abroad adventure. Armed with a carry-on case filled to the brim with all things diabetes, and my life packed into one suitcase to be checked in, I left the UK and moved to Toulouse, France for the my first semester and studied at the university there. After going through a phase of insulin omission, it's safe to say I was nervous about how things would go once I was abroad, but I was determined to get through first semester without relapsing, and that's exactly what I did! And I met some amazing people along the way. 

In December, I bid my DSN "salut" and had my hba1c done, as well as being armed with more information about changes I may have to make and even more supplies to take away with me again. This time round, I said "adios" to the clinic for six months, ready to head to Alcalá, Spain, for the second semester of my year abroad, once again armed with all things diabetes, my case and some extra bits and bobs I received for Christmas. This is where the problems started: going from France to England to Spain really meant I had no routine for about two months, and things really got out of hand. It was like I'd completely forgotten what to do when it came to my diabetes. I was so lost. Not only was I lost, but I was lost, living in Spain, away from my friends, away from my family, away from my healthcare team. But thanks to this wonderful thing we call the internet, I got it back. I emailed my DSN, I emailed/skyped my friends, I got reconnected with the diabetes online community. And I got through it. 

And here I am, three months later, back on injections, eating properly, blogging about my life with diabetes, living the Spanish life (sadly, for only three more weeks, and then I return to the UK).

This year (well, September 2012 to June 2013) is my greatest achievement. Diabetes had it's moment, but I got through it, with help from various places around the globe. And that is something I am proud of.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 3 - Memories.

Today we are going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this or your loved one's diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day you would like to share.

My first diabetes anniversary (March 29th 2011) was the best! It was a big milestone for me, having worked through diagnosis, got my hba1c down, accepted the situation, to an extent. But what made it memorable for me was the fact that my housemates, whom I'd only known since September 2010, knew how big a deal it was, and therefore made a big deal out of it. There was dinner and cake and we went out (we're students -- any excuse for a night out!)  

I felt happy, like really happy, for the first time in a while. Not that I wasn't happy before, of course. But my housemates made me realise just how far I'd come in a year, and that was a really big thing for me: these people who I'd only known for a handful of months took it on themselves to learn about my diabetes as I learnt about it. They made it seem like the most normal thing in the world. They learnt how to check my blood sugar, they weighed out my food for me so I could then match my insulin to what I was eating, came with me to hospital appointments. They weaved diabetes into their lives almost as much as I was learning to weave it into mine. 

So, on March 29th 2011, when I got back from uni, I was greeted with dinner, cake and comments of "you made it through the first year!" Definitely my most memorable diabetes day. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 2 - We, The Undersigned.

Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so today let's pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to - a person, an organisation, even an object (animate or inanimate) - get creative!! What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change?

In light of the UK's first ever audit of insulin pump use, I would petition for better access to insulin pumps. According to the audit, only 7% of the 247, 500 people living with type one diabetes in the UK have an insulin pump. 

In my opinion, this figure needs to increase. I mean, the UK's going in the right direction, but slowly. Insulin pumps better mimic what the pancreas does, and the long-term benefits of the pump can reduce the risk of further diabetes-related complications

I understand that pumps are expensive, but it's our health at the end of the day, and you can't put a price on health and well-being. So, I think if patients with diabetes wish to discuss insulin pump therapy, they should be able to, without being shot down at the mere mention of it. We should be able to put forward our case, and if we meet the NICE Guidelines, we should be granted the funding for one.

Diabetes-related technology is changing rapidly, what with updated insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and here in the UK it can be a struggle to get our hands on the "basics" because we get told "no" if we utter the word "pump". 

Insulin pumps and being able to put your case forward: that's what I'd petition for.    

Monday, 13 May 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 1 - Share And Don't Share

Today marks the start of the 4th Annual Diabetes Blog Week. Visit Karen at Bittersweet if you want to know more! On to day 1...

Often our healthcare team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let's pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved ones daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don't see?

I wish they could see just how much effort I put into controlling my diabetes instead of just judging me on that one hba1c result that apparently tells them everything. It's so frustrating putting the work in and then not seeing that work reflected in the hba1c figure, but that always seems to be the number they care about. I am not my number

I also wish they'd remember that I'm a student! I understand that my diabetes care is important, but I'm also 20 years old, currently on my year abroad and will be beginning my final year this coming September. Just because I'm not always armed with sugar logs and insulin doses when I come to appointments, it doesn't mean I'm not making diabetes a priority, it's that I'm not making logging a priority. There's a difference.

As for the don't share...when I write about my bad days. I know they're part of living with diabetes. Diabetes burnout happens, and it's just a case of picking myself back up and getting back on track. But my last couple of burnouts have been baddd! It's a good thing they don't witness that side of it!

Thursday, 9 May 2013


Last night, at 9pm GMT (10pm in Spain) I took part in my first ever GB DOC "tweet chat". It was...interesting. Twitter is very new to me and it took me a while to get into the swing of things, but, all in all, I think I was successful. I hope I was successful, anyway, but, more to the point, I enjoyed it. 

First, what is this GB DOC I'm talking about?

GB DOC is a group that was set up by people with diabetes, for people with diabetes. It stems from the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA), which is run in the USA, whose tagline is "Simple questions, thought-provoking answers. Strengthening the diabetic community one Tweet at a time".  

Every Wednesday, at 9pm GMT, there is a moderated, online "tweet chat" and every week a different topic is discussed (last night's theme being diabetes and work/school/college etc). The chat starts with everyone introducing themselves: name, what type of diabetes you have and for how long etc etc, and then, over the course of the hour, the moderator (@theGBDOC) asks a series of questions regarding whatever the theme of the evening is. Like I've said, it took me a while to get into it, but all in all, I think I was successful, but, most importantly, I enjoyed it.

I already knew that the DOC was huge - online groups, forums, blogs - but it turns out I didn't know the half of it! Twitter is where it's at! The number of people there taking part in these chats and raising awareness is incredible. I'm looking forward to taking part again next week.  

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Lost Trust.

BS Level upon surfacing this morning.
After the stubborn hypo of Sunday night, I was rather nervous about going to sleep last night. No...I was very nervous, and didn't really sleep, just what you need when you've got a day full of classes and deadlines (today is going to be one of those days where I definitely turn to caffeine after a month of none!) I just didn't trust my body.

When I'm awake, I can catch my hypos more or less instantly, usually before they get below 3.5mmol/l. Yes, there have been times when my blood sugar (BS) level is significantly lower than this, but on the whole I can nip hypos in the bud before they get to the 2s. 

Last night, my BS levels were 10.1mmol/l before bed. After the night before, I did not correct this, prefering to sleep through the night and wake up on a 7/8mmol/l than risk over-correcting and having to deal with a hypo in the middle of the night. For me, a level of 10.1 is more than okay to go to sleep on. But could I?! Nope! I drifted in and out of sleep waking up every hour or so. I resisted testing every hour for two reasons: 1) my poor fingertips and 2) I knew I wasn't hypo: no shakiness, no sweating, nothing. Yet sleep just didn't happen. Finally, around 3am, I tested my blood sugar, really wanting to sleep through until my alarm went off at 9am. BS: 8.4mmol/l. I was okay. But I still drank half a carton of apple juice, just to make myself feel better!

And then sleep did happen. I woke up on a 5.5mmol/l (yay) but that was with the apple juice I drank, which makes me think maybe I would have had a hypo without it?! We'll never know now. There haven't been many times when I haven't trusted my body: when I was first released from hospital after diagnosis, I was a nervous-wreck, as I didn't feel like I knew how to handle everything. Then there was my first experience of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). That was terrifying, and resulted in me sleeping in my housemate's bed for three days!

I need to get it back! Got a busy few days ahead, and functioning on limited sleep isn't going to make them any easier! 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Hearing Voices.

Bedside snacks.
It's 3am. I'm still tossing and turning unable to sleep, and there's that little voice in my head telling me to check my blood sugar. Now, I knew I wasn't hypo: I wasn't shaking, I wasn't sweating. But that voice was still there telling me to check. When it comes to blood sugar levels over night, I am very paranoid. I like to go to bed between a 7 and 8mmol/l, knowing that, usually, on such levels I will wake on a 5 - 6mmol/l. So when I get this voice in my head telling me to check my sugars at night, I listen to it!

4.2mmol/l was the result. Cue carton of apple juice. I waited 15 minutes, tested again: 3.4mmol/l. Whattt?! Ok, cue some Skittles, and test again: 4.1mmol/l. Going in the right direction, but still not happy with this level. So I then have three chocolate digestive biscuits and wait up for half an hour before checking my blood once again. Finally, after an hour of stubborn sugar levels not wanting to budge from the 4s, I get a reading of 7.1mmol/l. As soon as I got that reading, I crashed out.

It's times like this that I am so grateful that I have good hypo awareness, particularly at night. I mean, I hate hypos no matter when they strike, but I'm especially paranoid about going hypo at night and just not waking up. Last night, my brain would not let me sleep for anything. I went to bed at around midnight, obviously checking my levels before sleeping, and they were at a lovely 7.5mmol/l, so I spent three hours trying to get to sleep before giving into the voice and checking my blood sugar levels again. Clearly, it's a good thing I did. Not gonna lie, that voice has come in handy on a number of occassions!  

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Diabetes Name Changes?!

Image taken from Google.
"Hi! I'm Vicki, I'm 20 years old and I have juvenile diabetes. Insulin dependant diabetes mellitus. Type 1 diabetes. Erm..."

I should explain...(and apologise now, as this post is a bit all over the place as I try to gather my thoughts).

Two mothers of children with type one diabetes have started a petition to revise the names of type 1 and 2 diabetes to reflect the nature of each disease. This was brought to my attention by a friend (non-diabetic), who, I think, was expecting me to have a clear-cut opinion on the subject. Honestly, given that it would affect me, I would have thought I'd have an opinion on the subject too. But, as it turns out, I don't. Over the last few days and I have done a lot of thinking on this, and have read up a lot on what other people within the DOC are thinking about this (full list at the end of this post).

I guess I'm just skeptical as to what this name change, should it be successful, would actually achieve: the number one aim of the petition is "to end the widespread misconceptions regarding Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes." As far as I'm concerned, it's us, the DOC that help to end these misconceptions, through blogging or giving talks within the local community, even just by educating our families and friends. My "person", Jones, is like the diabetes-whisperer at the restaurant she works at, because of what she's picked up from me! When a customer says "Oh, I can't have pudding, I'm diabetic" she's quick to respond with something along the lines of "well, if you don't want anything, that's fine, but a tip for the future: my friend's diabetic, and when we eat here she tends to have.........of course, it's just what works for her..." (even gets a disclaimer in there too!) 

Over the last three years, I've heard a lot of comments regarding my diabetes, from "but I thought only fat people got diabetes" to "did your parents feed you too much sugar for you to get diabetes?" Ok, before I was diagnosed, I'd like to think I wouldn't have come out with insensitive comments like those, but I was ignorant to it. I think the fact of the matter is, unless people have a direct interest in diabetes (so either they have it, or are close to someone with diabetes) they just don't care. I say that, because I was that person. I knew no one with diabetes, so knew nothing about it. 

In response to this name change malarkey, another petition has been circulating and caught my eye: to have empathy, no matter the type. Now this is something I can get on board with. I have an opinion regarding this petition: I'm all for it. I've said before, it doesn't matter what type of diabetes you have, the aim of the game is the same (how's that for rhyming): the need to control your blood sugar levels. Diabetes is diabetes, it doesn't matter whether you have type one, type two, MODY, LADA.

So, after a long, rambling post where I'm trying to gather my thoughts on the subject, I'm at exactly the same place I started: I still don't have a strong opinion on the matter. If the name of my disease changes, it changes. I'm sure it won't be the first name-change in my lifetime, and it won't change the fact that my pancreas still doesn't work. But if you feel strongly about it, sign the petition. I admire the two mothers for taking a stand for something they clearly feel strongly about. I just don't share the same passion for this matter that they do. But if you do, help make the change happen.

What I read:
The Name Game at The Butter Compartment.
Association at T Minus Two.
Why I'm Not Signing the Petition at Life After Dx -- Diabetes Uncensored.
Let's Come Out of the Diabetes Cave Together at The Diabetes Hands Foundation.
What's in a Name at Diabetogenic.
I Have a Disease - It's Called Diabetes at Ride to Remedy. 

The comments left at the end of the two petitions.  



Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Already?!

Decaf coffee at Amsterdam, Alcalá.
How is it May already?! This means that year abroad is fast coming to an end, and the closer to the end I get, the more mixed up my feelings about it ending become. Before I left for my final leg of year abroad, I wrote that I was glad it was only a year so that I could get my diabetes back on track. That was at the start of April, and I think I take it back. For the first time in...forever...I have logged a whole months worth of sugar levels, insulin doses and food in-take! The whole month! More to the point, my average blood glucose level for the month of April is 6.7mmol/l!!! I know this is only according to what I've logged, and not through a blood test, but nonetheless I am incredibly happy with this number!

Throughout April, I made some changes and I am going to continue them through May to see if I see similar results. Before I begin to outline what these changes were, please remember the following: your diabetes may vary, full disclaimer here! Capeesh?!


The biggest change I made was swapping my lunch and dinner round: I had my carbiest (is that a word?!) meal at lunch time and then went low-carb in the evenings, theory being I have the rest of the day to help work off the carbs eaten around midday.

As well, I forced myself to get up in the mornings, even on my days off, for the sole purpose of eating breakfast. Eating breakfast has meant I snack significantly less, and getting up in the mornings has led to more productive days, that's for sure. I never, ever thought I would be a morning person, but there you have it. Even when I don't set an alarm now, I seem to wake up automatically at around 9.30am! 

I also completely cut out the caffeine. Not even the occassional cup of regular coffee. I've slept better and no longer get a sugar-spike after my morning cuppa. 

Finally, I got stricter with my hypos: as a result of the impromptu heatwave that hit Alcalá/Madrid at the start of April, I was hypo-ing a lot, so along with reductions in both basal and bolus insulin (with a little help from my DSN back in the UK) I tried my very best to make sure I don't over-treat a hypo. For most of the time I stuck to what I've been taught as the 15/15 rule: 15g of fast acting carbohydrate (my current choice being fruit juice) and then waiting 15 minutes, checking again before re-treating the hypo. This has been both good and bad - it's been good, as I've noticed that my levels don't rebound where I've over-treated. However, hypos are no fun whatsoever, and I want out of them as quickly as possible, and I was very impatient when it came to waiting it out.

But all in all, April was a good month diabetes-wise. Here's hoping it continues into May!