Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Whoever you are, where ever you are, I wish you a very happy, and healthy, Christmas!

Source.




Monday, 22 December 2014

Back-Up.

"So, I also need to make you aware of something...I have type one diabetes. I wear an insulin pump, which is a small device that constantly gives me insulin..."

I said to my boss, rather awkwardly, yet carefully gauging his reaction.

Work Christmas party.
"Give it a couple of weeks, and I'll sit down with you and others I'm working with to go over all things diabetes that you'll need to know. Chances are you'll never need it, but there have been times in the past where I've needed help. I'd rather you know and never need the info I give as opposed to not telling you anything and then one day I do need help."

It wasn't until I went to the office Christmas party that I remembered that those conversations hadn't happened. 

So last week, I sat down with a group of colleagues I've got to know over the last few months and I went full diabetes disclosure on them. 

I showed them my insulin pump. I showed them how to check my blood sugar levels, and I told them what was "normal" medically-speaking, and then what I was comfortable with (because my personal targets are different). We spoke about highs and lows and how I treat both. 

"I know this is a lot of information to take in, and I don't want this to feel like a burden [diabetes insecurities coming in to play here]. The chance of you ever needing to react is slim, but it makes me feel safe knowing that I've had this conversation with you." I rambled on. 

I kind of felt like a child: despite being 22 years old, there I was standing in front of a group of colleagues, asking them to learn a little bit about my medical condition. Because diabetes is one of those things that's fine...until it's not.

That's what I hate about diabetes: it's never solely mine. I'm the one that wears the pump, pricks my finger to check my blood sugar level, I feel the effects of a high, the effects of a low. But if my blood sugar gets so low I can't treat it myself or so high my body just shuts down...it's not only having an effect on me, but on those around me too. That part really, really sucks. Yet it makes me feel safer when there are others in the know. It's a lose-lose situation.

Disclosure is a personal thing, and there's no right or wrong way to go about it. I just know that I feel safer, and happier, knowing that those I come into contact with on a regular basis are aware of the insulin pump on my person. Despite my best efforts, there are a lot of aspects of this condition that I can't control. But I can control who I disclose to, making them aware of what could happen, protecting myself at the same time too.  

Saturday, 20 December 2014

So Over It!

That's what I am. Over it.

It's a feeling that's come over me in waves over the last couple of months. Initially, I didn't think it was burnout. I thought it was just stuff. But the stuff is still there, and emotionally I'm not feeling any better. But at the same time, I'm just over it. 

Checking my blood sugar? Over it.
Image credit: Dallas Clayton (who totally gets it!)

Counting carbs? Over it. 

Changing cannulas? Over it. 

Crap cannulas? Over it.

Sore infusion sites? Over it.

My hba1c? Over it. 

Hospital appointments? Over it. 

Chomping down glucose tablets in the middle of the night? Over it. 

Rage bolusing the hell out of a high? Over it. 

Venting to my best friend to tell her just how over it I am? Over it.

Harbouring a pancreas that doesn't do its' job? Over it.

It's Christmas, and I hate that this feeling has stuck around for as long as it has. So now I'm acknowledging it, hoping that talking (writing) about it helps begin the process that is clearing those pesky mental cobwebs from my brain. 

Lucky for me, as of Tuesday I'm on Christmas leave for a couple of weeks. I'm going to enjoy myself, but I'm also going to start honing in on different parts of my diabetes management in the hopes that I can start seeing the bigger picture clearly again. 

Because right now, all I see are a ton of little things that I'm just over. But I know I can change that.  I've done it before, so I'll do it again.

(In other news, on a day I wasn't feeling so over it, I wrote a blog post for JDRF about diabetes and the office party. Click here to have a read!)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Blogging Break.

A bit of a disjointed post today, with ramblings separated by pictures.

1. After my last blog post, I took a break from blogging/the diabetes online community in general. I seriously underestimated just how many people read this blog. The support I received came in many shapes and sizes, from comments and emails to retweets. I was blown away, and a little (very) overwhelmed by it. It was the sheer number of them all combined that led me to take a break - it made me seriously think about what I write here and what pictures I use. However, after numerous discussions with various people, the point still stands that blogging is my diabetes therapy, and I think being part of this community helps me more than it hinders me. I am incredibly grateful for the kind words I received. I don't think I said it at the time, so I'm saying it now: THANK YOU! Since writing that post, I re-did my food diary and sent it off. My appointment with my DSN is later this month, so watch this space.   

2. A couple of weekends ago I spent the day in London hanging out with the fabulous people pictured above and below this point. The DOC is great, but spending time with these people in real life is good for my soul, whether we've been friends for a few years or only met that day.  

3. I have a new job! Well, I still work at the same place I did before, but in a different office, with different people, where I have my own desk, more responsibility and slightly better working hours (8am-4pm instead of 7am-3pm - that extra hour in the mornings is making a huge difference to my day!) So, I'm back to reworking the routine to get my basal rates right.

4. Time seems to be moving so fast at the moment. You'll notice that since I graduated from uni and started a job, the frequency of blog posts is decreasing. Blogging is my diabetes therapy and something I enjoy. Writing is slowly beginning to form a part of my job role, and not something I want to give up. Once things have settled down at work, I'm hoping I'll have more time to write. Because this blogging bubble of mine is something I'm proud of, and I'm not ready to walk away from it yet (also, see point [1]).


5. This is my first December blog post, and I've not said the obvious yet: MERRY CHRISTMAS!!



Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Revisiting Food, Guilt And Diabetes.

For me, there is so much head-spinninng-ness that accompanies the three things in the title of this post (indicated by the length of this ramble!)

At my last appointment with my DSN, I was asked to (once again) keep a food diary for a week, and mail it back to her when I had. I don't often write about food and the like on this blog, but the couple of times I have, the main theme has been fairly consistent: I don't like keeping a log of the food I eat. At all.

For me, the emotional side of diabetes is a bigger problem that the actual "acts of diabetes". (And by "acts of diabetes", I mean the blood sugar testing, carb counting, bolusing insulin etc). I can test my blood sugar, but whether or not I act on the numbers my meter shows me very much depends on where my head's at. Likewise, how precise my carb counting is also depends on head-space, meaning that my insulin doses vary in precision too. 

My biggest battle is often with diabetes-related guilt, normally linked to food. (There's other guilt too, but food is the big one). So it's safe to say that keeping a food log, yet again, didn't put a smile on my face. 

My food diary arrived in the mail. I wrote the dates at the top of each page, ready to begin logging food and blood sugars and insulin doses. Day one came and went, as did day two.

Then there was day three. Oh, day three! Day three was a bad day. Work was busy and stressful, I worked through my lunch break, I drank a lot of coffee, and I grazed throughout the day, not really keeping track of the food (carb-full food too) I was eating. The same thing happened on day four.

Not that I wrote that in the food diary.

Instead, I wrote that I had a salad and a yoghurt, which is what I had taken in to work for lunch on those days. I may have even tweaked my blood sugars a teeny bit to make them look better.

At the end of the week, I skimmed through the log, put in an envelope and went to mail it back to my DSN, knowing that I'd changed quite a significant amount of information.

It was whilst at work that my colleague was telling me about her husband, who happens to have type 2 diabetes. Together, the pair of them had been attending the X-PERT course, and she was talking to me about what they'd learnt at the latest session.

Hanging out with DWED volunteer, and friend, Lucy.
"The GP that diagnosed my husband made out that he wouldn't be able to eat anything...don't eat this, it will cause your blood sugar to rise...but you can eat this as it has a minimal effect...turns out that's not the case at all...the nurse that runs the X-PERT course...she's a specialist...a DNS...no...a DSN, and she says that, yes, we do need to keep an eye on what we eat there's nothing stopping us [her use of 'we' and 'us' here made me smile] from having a treat like a cake or a chocolate bar or whatever...there we were thinking there would be all these restrictions..."

It was at some point during this conversation that I really thought about what I'd done. I don't know if it was something specific that was said, or just the subject of diabetes and food, but it kick-started something! I didn't post the fake-food diary I'd kept.

Now, I have the task of phoning my DSN and explaining to her that I can't send her the food diary I kept because I wasn't completely truthful about the food I was eating. It's so easy to type out and "confess to" here, but I know when I call her, it's not going to be as easy (think fast talking, not taking a breath "I-need-a-new-food-diary-because-that-first-one-you-sent-me-well-I-lied-when-filling-it-out" and then holding my breath waiting for her response!)

When I compare now-me to the me of three years ago, now-me is in a much better place food-wise. But, quite clearly, there are still things that need to be addressed. Like why I felt the need to lie in my food diary. I knew it wouldn't have achieved anything. The whole point of doing it was to see what doses I used on my pump for different foods (extended, multiwave and standard). It wasn't even to specifically look at the food I was eating, yet I still felt the need to make my food choices "look better". 

Food, guilt and diabetes: a mind-field of emotions that, recently, have been bubbling closer to the surface. But after reading some blogs, and talking with a couple of friends, I've realised that it's time for me to do something about this. I'm not a big fan of being told what to do, and I think that if I were forced to talk about this sooner, it would have been a disaster. Now, however, I feel ready to talk about this. Both with my DSN and here on this blog, and I want to change this perception I seem to have surrounding food, guilt and diabetes.

In short, (she says after a stupid-long ramble) I don't want to fear food diaries anymore! That may be the stupidest (and worst) conclusion to a blog post ever, but it's as simple as that. My relationship with food changed when I was diagnosed with type one at 17. I omitted my insulin when I was 19/20 years old, and I turned to DWED for support. I'm now 22, and although insulin omission isn't something I'm struggling with right now, going back down that road is something I fear. So, as trivial and "not-a-big-deal" as this may seem, I'm doing something about it. Because I don't want this to be the cause of more issues in the future. I want to be chasing a career, hanging out with family and friends, generally living my life. Stressing over food, food diaries and the diabetes/food-related guilt isn't something I want on the agenda. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

THIS!

As a huge comic-book movie fan (Batman, Spiderman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Captain America...honestly couldn't choose a favourite), this, in my eyes, is EFFING AWESOME!

Source.
"Iron Man is one busy superhero. After teaming last month with pint-sized heroes Blue Ear and Sapheara to educate about hearing loss and cochlear implants, the armoured Avenger is now turning his attention to childhood diabetes." (Source)
SO COOL! CAPS AND EVERYTHING!  

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Stuff.

November 14th marked World Diabetes Day. Last year, Diabetes Awareness Month was something I was all over. I took part in the Postcard Exchange, I blogged, I took part in the Big Blue Test with the help of the mySugr app. I made the decision to get involved, and I enjoyed it. 

This year, however, I've felt blue (unintentional pun, but one I am keeping there).

Diabetes hasn't been smooth-sailing recently. I've had highs I can't explain. I've made adjustments, and been rewarded with lows. Cannulas have been coming loose before their three days is up. I've caught my pump tubing and ripped out the site, more times than I'd like to count. These things happen, yes, but just recently it seems constant. 

As a result, there's been digital tumbleweed here. I've not been as happy in my personal life (direct correlation between my blood sugars/diabetes management in general and my mood). Finding the motivation to self-care has been hard to come by. And no motivation to self-care makes my life very messy, very quickly.

It's not burnout. At least, it doesn't feel like burnout. And it's not a pity party. It's just stuff. Diabetes stuff that, for the last week and a bit, I've wished I could erase from my life. 

But no can do.

So I'm writing, hoping that by talking out my frustrations here, my head will feel clearer, and I can start finding that get-up-and-go to take better care of myself.

Tomorrow's a new day. And Monday is a new week. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Wicked-Smart Insulin.

I've lived with type one diabetes for the last four, almost five, years now, and in that short space of time, I have witnessed a number of developments in the way in which diabetes can be managed. The use of CGMs, insulin pumps, the new Flash Glucose Monitoring system from Abbott...the list is constantly growing. The latest buzz is all about smart insulin, which is what I'm talking about over on the JDRF blog site today.
"Over these last five years, I’ve seen many new options to manage my condition – from multiple daily injections to insulin pump therapy and from simple blood glucose meters to smart meters. These transitions and developments have physically made my life with type 1 diabetes easier. An insulin pump has allowed me to make more precise changes in my insulin doses, and the introduction of a smart meter before I went on my year abroad has made calculating these so much easier (because the meter does most of the work for me!) 
But diabetes is still the first thing I think about when I wake up – and the last thing I think about before I go to bed. I am seeing the benefits of starting on an insulin pump in terms of day-to-day blood sugars, my HbA1c, and how I feel. Using it is easy. But owning it and integrating it into my everyday life was, and sometimes still is, difficult."

To read more, please head over to the JDRF Blog Site. Have a good weekend! 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

#WalkWithD And Donate.

Source.
It's beautifully simple: Between November 1st and November 30th, LifeScan (part of Johnson & Johnson) will donate 100 blood glucose monitoring testing strips to the International Diabetes Federation's Life for a Child for every posting connected to the social media campaign #WalkWithD. (Source).

I told you. Beautifully simple. 

If you don't know, Life for a Child works to help children with diabetes in developing countries. The programme aims to provide:
  • Sufficient insulin and syringes.
  • Blood glucose monitoring equipment.
  • Appropriate clinical care.
  • HbA1c testing.
  • Diabetes education.
  • Technical support for health care professionals.
I'm lucky enough to have access to all of the above, and I know that my health care professionals have access to technical support too. But there are still far too many people in this world that don't have access to insulin, let alone blood glucose monitoring equipment and clinical care.
So this November, hashtag away! #WalkWithD. And help those that aren't lucky enough to have the access we do to the tools that help us manage our diabetes.    

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Putting The "World" Back into "World Diabetes Day".

This year, for World Diabetes Day, T1 International and The Pendsey Trust have joined together to form The Access Alliance and have create a new initiative: #InsulinForAll

Taken directly from the website

"Many people living with Type 1 diabetes struggle to survive because they cannot afford their insulin or keep it cool, for example. Others do not have access to blood glucose test strips or other essential diabetes management tools.

Although World Diabetes Day began in 1991 in order to 'draw attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world' we feel the spirit of the day has been somewhat lost. We believe World Diabetes Day should be used to raise awareness of the most pressing diabetes issues. We want to inspire action within the diabetes and global community to find sustainable solutions to these life and death issues for people living with diabetes worldwide."

This is my advocacy itch. My mobile is a luxury. As is the laptop I'm using to write this post. And my iPod. And my insulin pump. But the insulin that I put into my pump, that's not something I consider to be a luxury. It's something that I consider necessary. Not wanting to sound too dramatic, but put quite simply: without insulin, I die. And no one should die from a lack of insulin.


So, to kick off Diabetes Awareness Month (a few days late, I know!) I'm joining the campaign

Because insulin isn't a luxury, it's necessary to live. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

You ARE An Advocate.

On Tuesday, I ran the Our Diabetes Twitter account. With Diabetes Awareness Month just around the corner, I decided to talk about advocacy. The very last question I asked was the following:

Do you consider yourself to be an advocate?

A number of the responses to this question can be summed up with one word: No.

Don't get me wrong, there were some people that responded saying yes, but I didn't feel like "yes" was the majority.

But here's why it should have been. (In my opinion, at least!)

It doesn't matter how big or small your act of advocacy is, what ever effort you make means that, in my eyes, you are an advocate.

If you write a blog, you are an advocate.

If you take part in discussions online, such as the Our Diabetes chat or the GBDOC chats, you are an advocate.

If you talk to your local MPs, or write to them, about diabetes-related issues, you are an advocate.

If you give talks at conferences, you are an advocate.

If you give talks in your local community, you are an advocate.

Hell, if you just give a talk diabetes with the person that sits at the desk opposite you at work, or someone who asks what you're doing when you check your blood sugar, you are an advocate.

If you tweet about your diabetes, or write a Facebook status, or post a picture on Instagram of something diabetes-related, you are an advocate.

If you correct a comment, or speak up about a stigma, you are an advocate.

I used to think that to be considered an advocate, you should do something HUGE (all caps), but I no longer believe that to be the case. It doesn't matter how small or insignificant you feel your act is, it matters. It all matters. You are an advocate. And for that, I thank you.  

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Reworking The Routine.

I love that I now have a job. But trying to establish any sense of routine is hard going at the moment. 

For me, routine is the best thing for my diabetes management. Whilst at uni, I used to get up, go to the gym, go to class/work on assignments, go home. It was great. When I wasn't working, I made sure that I woke up at a similar time every day, and I'd go for a run most mornings.

Now that I work, things are trickier. I start work at 7am. So I wake up at 5.30am to leave at 6am-ish to get the train. The walk to the station somewhat wakes me up, as does the coffee in my thermos. I eat a piece of fruit on the train, as I'm not usually that hungry, but I want to keep starvation ketones at bay after they reared their ugly heads on my second day. I go on lunch around midday, and finish at 3pm. By the time I get home, I am shattered. I haven't been working out, but I want to be. I just don't feel like I have the energy. I now drink far too much caffeine to get through the day. I don't feel like I have the time to do anything online (checking emails is a rarity at the moment, much like blogging and spending some time on Facebook and Twitter). I even struggle to just keep in touch with friends in the same town as me. 

It's time to re-balance things, instead of continuing to float on through, as it's not doing me any favours. So, in list form (a favourite of mine if you haven't noticed), I give you my game-plan:
  1. Go to bed earlier! To be quite honest, it's no wonder I feel so tired when I'm getting up at 5.30am yet still going to bed around 11.30pm!
  2. Cut back on the caffeine! Ideally, I'd like to go back to decaf. I've done it before, so I can do it again. 
  3. Turn email alerts off on my phone. As soon as this blog post is published, I'm going to do this one. Not exactly health-related, I know, but one that will help me stay on top of emails at least! By actually having to log on to my computer to access emails, I will read and respond straight away, and delete whatever crap that comes through as well. I look forward to having an organised inbox!
  4. Basal test on a work day. I find my blood sugar in the 4s around 9am, so I set a temp basal that then alarms when it's finished, usually when I'm talking to someone important! I think it's time to look at setting up a new basal profile, so I can switch for weekdays and weekends.
  5. Once all of the above are done (i.e once I don't feel like a zombie, have a better idea of what my blood sugars are doing whilst I'm at work, and not as heavily powered by caffeine as I am) look at bringing back the workouts. Not necessarily daily like before, but at least twice a week initially, and increase accordingly. 
As always, keeping myself accountable by writing my plan here. Also means I can look back and think something along the lines of "What a load of crap! I've got this!" Kind of like I do with a lot of my blog posts!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Oh, Hi There Glowing Screen!

So life's kind of got in the way this past week. An update, in bullet point fashion:
 
Source.
  • I registered with a new GP. I was told that during the "registration appointment" I would be able to discuss the things I wanted to discuss. Well, I couldn't. The appointment was with a nurse. She had to refer me to a DSN to discuss diabetes and another nurse to discuss the pill. Brilliant. Two extra appointments. I did get the flu jab though. So that's one less thing I need to do. 
  • I'M EMPLOYED!! Last Friday, I was offered a job and I accepted. I started on Monday, and have just finished my first week there. So far, so good.
  • Our Diabetes celebrated a year of tweet chats and support this week. A huge well done to founders David Cragg and Laura Cleverly! It's something I'm honoured to be a part of.
  • I was reminded of how much ketones suck. Not that I really needed reminding. Sitting at my desk with ketones, but a blood sugar of 5.1mmol, left me baffled. Until I remembered starvation ketones. Note to self: eat breakfast, no matter how early I have to start work.
  • I attended the JDRF Discovery Evening in London, which was such a great night. I met those behind T1 International, caught up with Gavin Griffiths, aka Diathlete (who has just finished his American tour) and got to give the very lovely Jen Grieves the hug I've been wanting to give her since she wrote That Post. (Capital 'T', capital 'P'). I also had the chance to put a few faces to twitter-handles, which was awesome. A huge thank you to all those at JDRF for organising the night!
  • Thursday saw the Quality in Care Award Ceremony for Diabetes, with Roddy Riddle winning the People's Choice Award. A full list of results can be found here.
  • Diabetes Awareness Month is fast approaching (how are we more than halfway through October?!) Already, advocacy campaigns are popping up on social media, such as the Smash Diabetes initiative from Glu and JDRF UK's Type Onesie is also making a comeback. I'm looking forward to hearing more as November gets closer.
 
Happy Saturday!  

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Changing Teams.

Being diagnosed at 17, moving away six months later, doing a year abroad and then going back to uni for one more year means I've switched up my GP and health care team more times than I like. I've had three GPs since diagnosis, two consultants and spoken to a number of diabetes specialist nurses. 

Source.
Since graduating from university, I've moved back to my hometown, meaning, once again, I'm going through the process of changing health care teams. Difference is, this time I'm a hell of a lot more apprehensive about the whole thing. 

For the last four years (because they were extremely accommodating when it came to my year abroad), I've had access to a brilliant health care team at the diabetes clinic of the hospital in my uni town. I've always been able to see the same consultant, whom I have a lot of respect for, I've been able to phone, email and drop in to see a DSN, request appointments with a dietitian when appropriate and, not that it's a service I've used, I also could have had access to a diabetes psychologist. Having seen the same consultant over these past few years, I feel extremely comfortable walking into her office, safe from any judgement over my numbers. There have been times when I've walked in, head held high because I know I've had a really good few months, and there have been times when I've broken down as soon as her door is closed as I'd found myself in a place I didn't know how to get out of.

So, yeah, changing health care teams is making me feel rather uneasy at present, purely and simply because I'm so worried I'm not going to have the same relationship with my consultant as I've had. 

That, and there's my pump funding that needs to be taken into account, as, to be quite honest, I have no idea what happens there (if anyone can shed any light on this matter, that would be awesome!) 

Some say I'm just being silly, but I don't think it's unjustified for me to want to know I'm going to get the same level of care as I have been receiving. This is my health at the end of the day, and I think it's important to build trust between the patient and HCP, in whatever capacity. I like that I've felt safe in my consultant's office, and that's something I want to have with my next consultant, DSN and GP. 

This is an anxious and uncomfortable time in terms of my diabetes health care. Here's hoping it doesn't last long.   

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

What I'm Watching.

A couple of things have caught my eye recently.

First - it's not "All About That Bass", but All About That Cure.
 
Second, this brilliant speech (finally found the video to insert here!) that Kim (Texting My Pancreas) gave at the Medicine X Conference last month. All I can say is WOW! 



Happy watching!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Resonates.

I read a lot of diabetes blogs. I don't often comment, unless I feel I have something to say, but I read. I usually find myself nodding along thinking "Yeah! Me too! I get it!". Other times, I'm learning of new advocacy efforts, or reading a commentary on an article/research piece/other subject. And sometimes, just sometimes, I'm hit with a post that goes that little bit further. It resonates. It sticks with me for days. It becomes bookmarked in my browser so that I can go back to it. I want to comment, but I can't string a sentence together. Well, one that makes any sense, anyway! Because, more often than not, those posts - those ones that resonate - I'm reading them and thinking this is (or was) me.

When such blog posts come along, I sit in front of my computer screen, brain working fast to put words together to leave a comment, fingers itching to tap letters on the keyboard. But nothing happens. My brain doesn't formulate any words and my fingers don't eagerly tap away. I just sit there, often wishing I could jump through my laptop screen to give the writer a big hug. Because when words fail me, that's what I do.

Image credit to Dallas Clayton.
It saddens me when I read these types of post, knowing that there are others who are (were) struggling in the same way I am (or was), but at the same time, as a reader, it also brings great comfort and reassurance that I'm not alone. It's the reason I am SO grateful for each and every person who has made the decision to write about their diabetes-life online, no matter the perspective (type one, type two, type 1.5 or parent) or how difficult the subject.

Finally, to the writer of the blog post that's stuck with me recently (resulting in this pretty pointless blog post): a BIG HUG and a whole load of thanks for sharing.

 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

TALKing Hypos.

This week (September 29th - October 5th) is Hypo Awareness Week. "The aim of Hypo Awareness Week is to raise awareness of hypoglycaemia in the inpatient setting to help hospital staff recognise and treat symptoms and refer patients to the appropriate care teams."
NovoNordisk: Official partner of Hypo Awareness Week 2014.
This year's theme is "TALK hypos" (Think, Ask, Learn and Keep track of [hypos]), encouraging people with diabetes to discuss hypos with their health care teams and vice versa.

My hypos come in various forms but, more often than not, I look like I've got it together, despite how debilitating a low blood sugar feels. There's a video by Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me, in which she video-blogs whilst low. 


"I look and I sort of sound like I've got my shit together, but I don't. I felt so shakey and, actually, after I turned off the camera, I was talking to myself this was stupid, why did you do that? And then I kind of sat on the floor at my house and waited ten minutes for my blood sugar to come up and it was really weird, because it felt so debilitating, but it didn't look really debilitating. It looked...I could have fooled somebody into thinking I was fine."
 
For me, this is why we need to talk hypos: just because we may look fine in that moment, it doesn't mean we are. That, and it's also important to acknowledge that hypo symptoms aren't universal (check out the question Diabetes UK tweeted this morning). So this week, I'll be joining in the discussion, both online and with my (new) GP.
 
For further information about Hypo Awareness Week, click here to be taken to the Diabetes UK website. Also, you can watch the latest videos by Type 1 Uncut, discussing hypos and hypo hangovers.
 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Healthy Diabetic.

I was at my local job centre today (yay for unemployment!) and I was going through the whole "About Me" process - qualifications, interests, skills, types of job I'm looking for - when we got to a section about health.

"Are you healthy?" The adviser asked me.

"Yes," I replied.

"Chronic conditions...no..."

"Actually," I interrupted, "I have type one diabetes."

"Oh...I just assumed that because you said you were healthy..."

"Well, I am healthy. I just have diabetes too," I explained, and not very well I might add.

And the rest of the session continued.

But the whole way home, my mind was still at that question, and how something like that is meant to be answered.

Image taken from Google Images.
As far as I'm concerned, I am healthy. I eat well, I exercise, I live my life just like the next person does. Yet I have a pancreas that refuses to produce insulin, causing me to live with this "chronic condition", this "disease".

But "chronic condition" or "disease" aren't terms you often put next to "healthy".

Most days, diabetes is nothing but background noise in my life: the humming of my pump as it delivers my bolus insulin, the beeping of my meter when I switch it on and test my blood sugar. Other days, it's centre stage, with numbers screaming for attention.

That's the thing about diabetes: it's fine - I'm fine - until it's not. And that "not" can be scary at times. It's a weird kind-of dance between seeming and looking fine, but having to deal with something pretty effing serious all the effing time. 

Yet, in spite of that fact, I've never considered it to be something that makes me unhealthy. If anything, it's made me healthier. (Ironic, I know.) I'm a lot more aware of my body. I eat better than I did pre-diabetes, and I've come a long way in terms of exercise since I nervously went to my first exercise class last October.

Yes, my body is broken, in that it doesn't produce insulin, leaving me with this disease known as type one diabetes. But, dammit, I'm healthy, and I will continue to take steps to remain as healthy as I can be. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Rewards.

Yesterday afternoon, I took part in a Tweetchat hosted by PharmaPhorum about "real-world diabetes" (a transcript of the chat can be seen here). I didn't really get into all of the chat, as I ended up talking "rewards" with a few people.

I was asked how I rewarded myself with regard to my diabetes management.

It took me a long time to answer, because, the truth is, I don't reward myself. 

I go to clinic, and if I see a decrease in my hba1c, I consider that a reward. Or if they tell me I've lost weight. But I knew that wasn't what they were getting it. They were talking more day-to-day things.

It got me thinking.

Am I the only one who doesn't reward myself? Is this a 'thing'? 

I'm genuinely intrigued! Rewards have never been a thing in my diabetes management, but I'm always open to new ideas to keep me on my toes, from trying new apps to keep me logging blood sugar levels to mixing up my exercise routine (which has been non-existent recently, but I'm getting it back. Kinda.)

I've always been the kind of person that goes through periods of being really motivated, keeping logs of things, exercising frequently, counting every single carb to wanting very little to do with diabetes. The motivation wears off, the thought of keeping detailed logs fills me with dread and exercise is the last thing I want to do (despite knowing how essential it has become in my diabetes management) As for counting carbs...well...that's probably where I'm weakest in this whole thing they call "diabetes management", so you can imagine what it's like when I'm not motivated ("I'm gonna call this dinner 60g of carb, and correct later if need be...")

A friend of my brother's has type one (14 years old) and his Mum offered to give him a £1 for everyday he took the diabetes-reigns and checked his blood sugar, remembered to take his blood test kit and insulin out with him and acted on the numbers his meter gave him. Lo and behold, he did it. There was an incentive there.

But he's a kid. I'm an adult (apparently). But there's nothing saying that I, that we, can't reward ourselves for putting up with this extremely uninteresting and, at times, very time-consuming disease that is type one diabetes, whatever age we are, whatever our connection to diabetes is.

So, here's my plan for the next week, starting from today: I'm going to log my blood sugars and insulin doses, and actually count my carbs, using my Carbs and Cals app and Cook and Count Carbs app for home-cooked meals. I'm also going to go out for at least three runs this week. As I really need to snap out of this funk I'm in, and I know that exercise is The Thing (capital letters for importance) that is going to help clear out those mental cobwebs. 

If I succeed (I have to now...I've blogged about it...that holds me accountable) I will allow myself an H&M purchase (they have so much nice stuff in at the moment!) It's not much, but it's a start. Besides, if this works out and becomes a regular thing, it's gonna need to be small purchases! Or a once-a-month type thing!

And if you're reading this, I'm assuming you also have a connection to diabetes. Make sure you reward yourself too. You deserve it. Trust me, I know.  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Stuff.

There's been a digital silence here recently. I'm working through some stuff, so blogging just hasn't happened. I'm still here, just lurking in the background for a while. In the meantime, some other stuff for you to explore:

Monday, 8 September 2014

Is It Tuesday, Yet?

Today, I had one of those mornings. You know, one of those ones where I have all of these plans and none of them actually happen.

I planned on going for a run. 

I set my alarm for 7am to set a temporary basal rate on my pump, with the intention of going out for my run around 9am. 

So far, so good.

Another of my alarms went off at 8am. I pre-bolused for breakfast, and had every intention of getting up.
Image taken from Google Images.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

I rolled back over and fell asleep. 

Never, ever good!

A blood sugar of 2.9mmol stirred me from my sleep at 9.30am. Shaky and sweaty (and cursing myself), I made my way downstairs to the fridge and grabbed the cranberry juice, counting the sips, and I sunk to the floor, waiting for my blood sugar to come back up. 

It's one of those occasions where I like to call for a do-over. Except I can't, so instead I'm eagerly awaiting Tuesday so I can try again. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Summer Of 100 Bikes.

Yesterday, I was sent a video link from The Pendsey Trust, and it made my day. Today, I'm hoping it makes yours.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pumping Insulin: Thoughts At Three Months.

On Tuesday, I had my first pump clinic appointment since starting back in June. I was going to blog about it, but as I started pumping, I realised I had very little to say. It was a fairly standard appointment, my consultant and DSN are happy with how things are going, and I'm more than happy with where I'm currently at with regard to my diabetes. 

One question I was asked at my appointment, however, was has the transition from MDI (multiple daily injections) to pump been what I expected?

I wasn't really sure how to answer. I feel it's too soon for me to answer that question. I'm still making adjustments to make pump therapy work for me, and "experimenting" with different types of bolus and temporary basal rates (TBR). 

However, there are things I'd wish I'd known, which weren't mentioned before the switch:

Where I stashed my pump for Graduation.
I wish I had known that people would just assume that, because I have the pump, I'm practically cured. So many times, I've heard something along the lines of "so...that's it. You wear that, and it does everything for you..." Not the case. I still have to check my blood sugar and count carbs. I just don't have to do the injection anymore - the pump delivers the insulin instead. 

It takes time to adjust. Don't get me wrong, I was prepared to hate the pump initially, and I did. I missed the comfort of injections, as I knew what I was doing there. But I thought I'd feel a lot more comfortable with it at this point than what I do. However, as I said at the start of this post, I'm still making adjustments and "experimenting" to make insulin pump therapy effective for me.

Not necessarily for everyone, but for me, there's a lot of stuff that comes with pumping insulin that's not prescribed. Cannulas don't always stick, and I hate waste, so I make sure I always have surgical tape in my handbag/diabetes supply shelf. That, and I also find I have marks from where cannulas used to be, so use BioOil (although have been told tea-tree oil is better?) to help them heal quicker...to just insert a new cannula there. And then, of course, there are the glucose tablets (or other hypo-treatment of choice).   

It's okay to hate it. Now, I am incredibly grateful for my insulin pump, especially knowing how difficult it can be to get approval and funding for them on the NHS, and I am seeing the benefits of it. It's the fact that I need it in the first place that I hate. During my appointment, my consultant asked me if I'd hand the pump back, and I answered very quickly with a definite "NO!" and then I hesitated. "You wouldn't give it back, but you don't want to have to use it either." It wasn't a question that she asked me, it was a statement. A fact. I nodded, not really sure what I was meant to say. "That's okay...feeling like that is 'allowed'. Of course you don't want this. But it's working for you, you're seeing the benefits of it with regard to your health, well being and lifestyle." It's a constant, visible reminder of the fact that my body doesn't produce insulin, but one that, at present, appears to be suiting me better than MDI did. It's something I love and hate, often at the same time.

And, finally, on a lighter note, no one ever mentioned how awkward going to the toilet would be with the pump! Don't drop it/let it fall out of my pocket. Lower jeans/skirt/shorts/pyjama bottoms without pulling at the tubing or just getting tangled up in it in general. I feel it's something they should teach you the moment you're "hooked up", as my first toilet escapade was hilarious! (Housemate: "What took you so long? Actually, no, don't answer that!" Me: "I don't know how to pee with a pump!") Now, my pump tends to hang out in my bra instead of below the waistband, so I avoid getting tangled in tubing and tugging at the cannula site!