Monday, 30 September 2013

New Kid On The DOC.

If you're on Twitter, towards the end of last week you may have noticed the addition of the "#OurD" hashtag on numerous tweets from members of the DOC. Well, on Friday, all was explained to us. There's a new kid on the DOC: Our Diabetes.

Taken directly from their website:

"Our Diabetes is a community led, community focused platform that enables people with diabetes to be empowered, educated and supported in their condition.

Our aims are to give people within the diabetes online community (#doc) a voice by hosting their own 'tweet' chats on a diabetes topic of their choice. As the diabetes community continues to grow and develop we recognise the need to bring people together to share resources, ideas, experiences and opinions.

Our Diabetes also strives to provide trusted health care information that will help you to understand more about your diabetes as well as highlight events, campaigns, current and future research and technologies.
We see success in connecting and communicating. We believe that connecting like minded people will allow them to reach resources and other platforms that can benefit them and their diabetes. By communicating we can share knowledge in a welcoming, safe and transparent environment."

So, every Tuesday, starting from October 15th 2013, between 8pm and 9pm (write date and time in your diary) there will be a new tweet-chat taking place using the hashtag "#OurD". Being a community-led organisation, if you will, if there's a topic you would like to discuss during this hour you can contact the lovely team behind this idea and give them your suggestions. You can even host if you want to! Just use the "Contact Us" link on their page and let them know when you would like to host.

Image taken from Our Diabetes.
To find out more about Our Diabetes:

Follow @OurDiabetes on Twitter
Like Our Diabetes on Facebook

Friday, 27 September 2013

Five For Friday: The Freshers Edition.

I still don't know if it's "Friday Five" or "Five For Friday", but I'm sticking with the latter! This week is all about Freshers Week. 

1.   It's when everyone's back at uni! You get to catch up with your housemates, people on your course, everyone! It's basically a massive reunion.

2.   However, said massive reunion usually involves alcohol, and not technically being freshers anymore, we still have to go to class the next day. Not fun! 

3.   Speaking of not fun, Freshers Flu. It's a real thing. You can't avoid it. It plays havoc with my blood sugar levels. It's just sucky all round. 

4.   There are loads of events on at the uni...except tickets go on sale earlier to freshers, so it's slim pickings for the rest of us. And again, there's the issue of actually having classes.

5.   Freshers Fair. This is amazing and I had to miss it because of a meeting! You basically walk round and get tons of free stuff. Vouchers for takeaway restaurants, pens, pencils, notebooks. I'm sure one year they were handing out free pizza too! Excellent!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

"How Social Media Helps Us With Type 1 Diabetes."

I seem to have written a lot over the last few weeks about social media and the diabetes online community (DOC), how it helps me and why I use it. In keeping with this, I'm going to point you in the direction of another blog written by Kev, parent of a child with diabetes, called Circles of Blue. In particular, I'd like to send you to the post "How social media helps us with type 1 diabetes" where you will find a leaflet made by Kev himself showing how it has helped him and Amy and how to get involved yourself. 

So if you're an avid reader of blogs but never really comment, a lurker on forums but not too sure what to say or unsure how to use Twitter or Facebook, take a look at Kev's leaflet. Everything you need to know is written there. 

Then, if and when you're ready, get involved!

That sense of community within the DOC really is something.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Settling Back In.

I'm now officially a final year student! Three days in and I'm already shattered, have so much work to do and having doubts about how I'm gonna get through this semester. 
Definitely a final year student. 
And we've not even started the dissertation yet. That's something I've got to look forward to next semester. 
However, in spite of the work load and tiredness, I'm so grateful for the routine I now have. I get up in the mornings and have a decent breakfast before leaving for campus. I walk to campus, I go to class, I have a break for lunch. I work on campus until 4 or 5 in the afternoon and then walk home. I spend time with my housemates, have dinner and am more than ready to enter the land of nod around 11pm. So my sleeping pattern is much better too.
Routine is good for me with regard to my diabetes management. I learnt that on my year abroad when everything started to slip. Trying to juggle diabetes management on top of everything else isn't exactly smooth-sailing at the moment, but the routine is helping me to spot patterns and work out what needs adjusting. I also have an appointment with my DSN in a couple of weeks, so I'll be able to sit down with her and figure things out. I'm by no means expecting perfection (because "perfect" and "diabetes" never go together) but I can't let my management slip this year as this last year of uni is so important. 
I want to graduate with a good degree classification, and I want to get on to the PGCE course at my current uni. 
That's the end goal here.
And I will do everything I can to make it happen. 
Final year: let's do this.     

Monday, 23 September 2013

Support For The Support Team.

It's no secret that there's a whole host of support available to people with diabetes. Forums, blogs, support groups, Facebook groups, the #doc hashtag on Twitter. But what about for those that support the people with diabetes? Well, turns out there's some support for them too!

At the DUK Big Event, during the "Emotional Issues: Coping with type one diabetes" talk, the concept of "support for the support team" came up, and in response to this a couple of Facebook groups were mentioned.

First, there's Diabetes Family, a group set up for the "5ps" of diabetes: people with diabetes, parents, partners, pals (siblings, friends, housemates etc) and professionals. Brilliant idea! I'm very aware of the fact that I have a huge amount of support, but it's so nice to know that for my family and friends, particularly my housemates, that there's also support for them, if they want it.

Image taken from Google Images.
The second is Life With A Diabetic, more aimed at partners/those people that are living with someone with diabetes. Again, genius idea! It's not a group I'm a part of as the person with diabetes, but I think it's so great that it's there. I also quite like that it's only aimed at the "significant others" that don't have diabetes; in the same way that I sometimes feel the need to go and vent somewhere that's "private", I'm sure they feel the same. It's a good idea to group together, don't get me wrong, but we also need our own little place in the DOC bubble to let rip.

So it's there, support for the support team, and I'm so glad it is! They "cheer" us on, keep us motivated, deal with the hypos and the hypers. It must be just as draining for them as it is for us. It's only right they have their own source of support too! 

Both of the Facebook groups mentioned in this post are "closed groups". Search for them on Facebook and send a request to join the group. Then, once the request has been accepted, you will be able to see all content within the group. Please adhere to any rules in place within the group(s) and chat away :-)   

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Ready...Set...Go: #DUKBigEvent.

Oh, Diabetes UK, you know how to put on a great event!

The Saturday just gone (September 14th), I went to The Big Event hosted by, in case you haven't figured it out already, Diabetes UK (DUK). This post is long overdue, but here it is. I still don't think this will do the event justice, but I'm hoping it explains why I thought the day was full of awesome!

I went to the event with Lizzie and Louise; Lizzie, I knew beforehand, Louise, I didn't, but thanks to this amazing thing known as social media, I knew her in the online sense of the word. We registered, received our name badges and bag of goodies, and made our way into the main hall bit. Tea in hand, we made a quick plan of what talks we wanted to go to and headed to the first session, "What diabetes care to expect: Type 1."

This first session looked at the 15 Healthcare Essentials that DUK have said all people with diabetes should receive. Something that came up a lot during this session was the concept of "tailored healthcare plans" and the fact that "targets should be individual to each person" - yes, there are guidelines in place, particularly with the hba1c blood test, but it's important for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to remember that it's difficult for some patients to reach those targets: you are not your number. By adjusting them to match the individual, they're almost eliminating that sense of failure that they feel due to not meeting that magic 'a1c of 7% (53mmol/l). 

Photo courtesy of Louise.
The second session we chose to go to was "Insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM): basics." Obviously, pumps and CGM were covered, but they also spoke about the "Artificial Pancreas" and where that's going, which was pretty cool. I'm not all that great at science and the jargon that comes with it, so I'm not going to try to explain what it is on here for fear that I'll get it wrong, but if you click here and here you'll hopefully find better explanations than what I can provide!

Session three took place after lunch, and it was "Research and type one diabetes" which began with a brief history of diabetes-related research, kicking off with the discovery of insulin back in 1922 (thank you Banting and Best!) right up to present day where we have the "Artificial Pancreas" being trialled, as well as stem cell therapy and immuotherapies. Again, not being science-minded, I don't trust myself to relay information correctly, but if you click here you will be taken to the DUK website page where you can find information about all the current research projects going on and how to get involved in trials should you wish to.

The day ended with the session "Emotional issues: coping with type one diabetes." This was my favourite session, as I personally feel that this is overlooked by a lot of HCPs. People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and it's important that we're aware of our triggers - we need to try to "recognise [stress] signals and know we need to take better care of ourselves." For me though, the key message from this talk was:

As the day drew to a close, a group of us made our way to a restaurant near the venue and sat down for an early dinner together and it was like we'd known each other for years. We spoke diabetes. We spoke about our lives in general. We laughed at the fact that Max had walked away with four new blood testing kits. Four. "They were handing them out for free!"
What struck me the most, however?! How sad I was to leave. Diabetes isn't exactly new to me anymore, but I am new to the whole actually having a support network in the form of other people with diabetes. But I wish I'd got more involved from the start, both online and off. I hate diabetes. I love the community. Community is good for my emotional health; it makes dealing with diabetes that little bit easier. In the words of Lizzie, "It's sad something like this [beta cells gone bad] brought us together, but I love it."

So thanks for having me, DUK. It was awesome, and I look forward to more events like it!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Five For Friday.

Or is it called "The Friday Five"?! Genuinely don't know! Moving on: five things I've got to look forward to over the next week, in the order of which they will occur:

1.   Brownies! I'm a Girlguiding volunteer, and after a year out because of my year abroad, I finally get to go back permanently, starting tonight. I've got the uniform out and my "Little Owl" name badge ready.

2.   Diabetes UK's Big Event takes place tomorrow, and I can't wait: a) I get to see Lizzie. b) I get to meet a few other members of the DOC that I've got to know over the last few months. c) Who doesn't love a good diabetes-educational-conference-type day?! Just me...okay...

3.   Seeing a friend to celebrate her new job, and gloat a little about how I was right and that something better would come her way. I know that sounds horrible, but it's not often I'm right with her!

4.   Seeing Jones and E.Hales and hanging with my Godson before uni takes over my life. We'll drink tea, eat food, play with the kid's toys and probably have an afternoon nap around the same time he does. Sounds like a good day, no?!

5.   Seeing my best friend, Nem, and her family to celebrate Liz-Loz (one of her younger sisters) finishing her 11+ exams. This means an afternoon and evening of being called "Auntie Micky" and giving her my undivided attention, but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Diabetes Therapy.

I started blogging back in February. At that point, the list of blogs I read must have only been about eight or nine long, if that. Last night, I was updating the links page on this site and I realised just how many I now follow.

That list is longgg!

But I love it, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

That list is a constantly growing reminder that I am not alone in this. And as much as it sucks that all those people have to live with diabetes too, at the same time it brings me great comfort to know that we're in this together. Even if "together" is virtually, thanks to the DOC. I read posts and think "Yes, this is exactly it. Diabetes in real-life. I've been there. I've wondered that." It's not that my family and friends don't get it, it's that they can only understand to a certain point.

Since I started writing about my life with diabetes, and avidly reading about other people's live with diabetes, I've noticed that I feel happier. Yeah, I still have my bad days, but there's something about being able to come here, write what's going on, vent, celebrate, cry behind my laptop screen and then get on with my day, knowing that there are people that "get it". Writing is good for me. It shifts a weight from my heart that I didn't even realise was there.

This really is my diabetes therapy. 


Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Image taken from Google Images.
Yesterday, I had my first appointment with my new GP in my uni town. I decided to transfer from where I previously was just to have one closer to where I'm currently living. She did the standard health checks - weight, height, blood pressure, BMI etc and then we sat down and got to business. We had the diabetes talk. 

"I can see your on Novorapid and Levemir (she'd clearly read my notes before I went in - gold star) can you tell me roughly how many units?"

"How's your control?" 

"What was your last hba1c?"

"How often do you suffer with hypos? And hypers? Are you aware of low blood sugars?"

I happily sat there and answered all of her questions whilst she tapped away at her computer making notes. And then she said something that made me think:

"Sorry for all the questions! You must get sick of being asked them every time you see a doctor, especially as you've probably lived with diabetes for longer than I've been practising as a doctor!"

"I'm not so sure," I replied, "unless you've only been qualified less than four years, I think you'll win that one!"

"Seriously?!" my new doctor asked, as she looked back through my notes and found what she was looking for. "March 2010. You were diagnosed at 17?"

"Yep. Bummer, huh?!"

"Huge bummer! From what I can see though, you're doing good. I know this is only the first time we've met, but you're very grounded from what I can tell. And you don't look like you could lie well, so I'm pretty sure I'd be able to tell if something were wrong. But that means when you come back in for appointments, you book in with me. Okay?"

She hit the nail on the head in that first appointment. I liked that. It's so important to me to have a good relationship with my GP/endo/DSN. I have to work with them to stay healthy, and I have to be able to talk to them comfortably about any health-related issue. And New Doctor made a good impression. Here's hoping it continues.   

Friday, 6 September 2013


Image taken from Google Images.
Earlier today, a friend on Twitter asked the following question:

"Ok #doc #pwd: do you have more diabetic friends online or offline? Have you met any of your online friends?"

I think my views when it comes to the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) are pretty obvious: I love it. It's "open" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Where else do you get support like that?! 

At Friends for Life this year, there was a panel discussing "Social Media and the Monster Under the Bed: the Latest Thinking on Fearing vs. Embracing Social Media" which was streamed live so members of the DOC not at the conference could watch and take part. I watched this after the event, and it was the opening statistics that surprised me, but then didn't surprise me, at the same time. If that makes any sense?! "People with diabetes spend more than 20% of their time online and on social networks." That's a lot of time when you compare it to the "0.1% of their time which is actually spent with medical professionals." (Quotes taken from the video.)

So, for me, the DOC is important. I've noticed a huge difference in how I manage my diabetes since getting involved. Don't get me wrong, I'd never force someone to join in, but I would make them aware of the fact that it is there if they want it - no force-feeding of community!
The other thing I love about the DOC? How it's slowly moving offline as well. The summer before I went on my year abroad, Lizzie, initially an online friend, and I decided to meet offline. And it was awesome. And this is happening more and more, through conferences, like the Greater Minds Inspire event I went to back in July, and The Big Event, organised by Diabetes UK, taking place next weekend, which I can't wait for!
Okay, I am biased, but this community's pretty darn sweet (no pun intended...okay, maybe a little...) and whether it be online or offline, I'm excited to see what it does next.
Sidenote: Unicorn for the DOC?! Who knew?!     

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Stubborn Sugars.

I'm a little paranoid when it comes to my blood sugar reading before bed. I like to be on an 8 [point] something. Anything below that, and I do snack before bed. Like last night. 7.2mmol/l. So I had a glucose tablet to "top up", if you will, cleaned my teeth and then checked my blood again. 

I should really know by now to never clean my teeth until I'm certain my blood sugar is stable for sleep.


Two more glucose tablets. With the taste of mint toothpase. Not nice.


Now I'm effed off. I wanted to go to sleep.

But diabetes had other plans. 

I reached for my apple juice carton and drank half. And then I had to be patient and wait for my blood sugar to come back up. So I played that Minion Rush game on my phone - totally addicted - and waited for my blood sugar to come back up. 

Godson, Doodle, in his baby days.
Twenty minutes later, and my blood sugar was 8.5mmol/l. I went and cleaned my teeth again, and finally collapsed in bed around 1am, letting sleep take over. Kind of like this (---->), giving diabetes the finger too!


Tuesday, 3 September 2013


CarboMentor is a new app that has recently been released. The basic concept is that you prepare a meal, guess the carb content and then log the information into the app. After you've eaten, you do a post-meal blood glucose check, and then you can rate your guess on the app. This app allows you to build your own menu, so to speak, and learn from your carb-counting escapades. Yes, I did just say carb counting escapades. And, no, I'm not deleting it.
Step 2: photo of meal.

Let's look at this step-by-step.

Step 1: Prepare your breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack guesstimate the carbohydrate content.

Step 2: Take a photo of your completed meal and log how many carbs you think there are along with how much insulin you're taking.

Step 3: Enjoy what I'm sure is a rather excellently prepared meal!

Step 4: I tend to do my post-meal blood glucose checks two hours after eating, but this can be adapted to whatever time frame works. Check your blood glucose and see if your levels are within your acceptable post-meal range (this should be discussed with your healthcare team).

Step 5: Log this result within the app and rate your guess in terms of the carb content and how much you bolused and what your levels were.
Step 2: a selection of tags to add to meal.

Step 6: Use this information next time you prepare the meal - if you were on the high-side, increase the bolus. If you were on the low-side, decrease the bolus. And if you were pretty much perfect, then don't change anything.

Living the student life, I find the app great. I don't always have the time to properly prepare meals, weighing out everything to know exactly how many carbs are in my food. That's where this app comes in: it means that I can dose more precisely for things I eat on a regular basis, particularly when I grab a quick lunch on campus. 

The app allows you to save pictures of your food as well, meaning that you can also allow for different portion sizes, again great when sometimes I have time for half a sandwich, and other times, I can sit down for a proper meal.

Step 5: rating carb guess.
The app is available on the Apple App store, and you can download it yourself by clicking here.

Disclosure:- CarboMentor contacted me to ask for my thoughts regarding the app. I have not been paid to endorse their product: the above is my own personal opinion regarding the app. Full disclosure statement here.

Monday, 2 September 2013


Image taken from Google Images.
My low blood sugar symptoms are really crappy. I'm shakey, I sweat, I can't see straight, forming words becomes the most difficult thing in the world and sometimes I cry for no apparent reason.

I told you: crappy.

But, as much I hate the symptoms, I'd rather have them than be without them. These symptoms make me aware of the fact that I need to check my blood sugar, and it scares the hell out of me when I check my blood sugar and see a low reading without these symptoms. 

Like this morning. 3.5mmol/l and no symptoms. 

Not one.

I checked my blood again: 3.4mmol/l.

And then I'm going through my symptoms. And drinking a juice carton at the same time!

I looked at my hands to see if they're shaking - no.

I felt my forehead to check for sweat - no.

I could see perfectly fine.

I started ranting about how I had no symptoms - forming words: check!

And I wasn't crying.

I get so angry when this happens and I lose faith in my instincts

It sucks.   

Sunday, 1 September 2013


For the last year, I've dealt with my diabetes on my own. I've had to. I went on my year abroad. No healthcare team, no family, no housemates. No one. And I learnt how to handle diabetes on my own. Yeah, it was tough, and I turned to the online community for support, but I did it. It's my biggest achievement to date

But now I'm not on year abroad. I'm home. In my uni town, with the friends I lived with in my first and second years of uni. I don't need to handle diabetes on my own. I have their support. After a year of managing it on my own, so to speak, I need to remind myself that they know how I deal with this and what to do in different situations. 

Last night, we went to our local pub and diabetes was not playing ball! High blood sugars all night, and on my first night back, of all times. Thanks, diabetes! And my housemate was concerned. And I kept on shooting him down telling him I was fine. It's my trademark saying. If things are good, I'm fine. If things are bad, I'm fine. I'm always fine. But he knows that "fine" doesn't always mean "fine". Last night was one of those occasions. And I was effed off.

I was annoyed that diabetes wouldn't play ball.

I was annoyed that it wouldn't play ball on my first night back.

And I was annoyed that my housemate wouldn't let it drop. 

But I shouldn't have been annoyed. I should have been grateful that he did notice that something wasn't right. I shouldn't have shot him down.

I need to remember that I'm back in a place where I have support. Time to break those year abroad habits.