Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pump Assessment Clinic.

Way back when, I received a letter "inviting" me to attend a "pump assessment clinic" where I would be able to put forward my case for an insulin pump. 

That appointment was on Tuesday, and I'm happy to report it was a very positive clinic. 

Image taken from Google Images.
I was so nervous. I mean, I'm always nervous before my appointments at the diabetes clinic, but where I didn't know what to expect from this one, I was even more nervous. Now, I understand that "pump assessment clinic" is carried out in various different ways depending on your hospital, but I'm going to document here what mine was like, in the hope that it provides some insight into what to expect, as I had no idea.

First things first, I had my weight and blood pressure checked, as well as having some blood taken for my hba1c. Routine diabetes clinic checks, yes?!

The actual appointment, however, was very different to what I'm used to.

For a start, there were three health care professionals in the room with me: the head of pump clinic (who happens to be my consultant too), a DSN and a dietitian. I felt a little intimidated walking in, but they were quick to put me at ease, and we got started. The appointment seemed to be split into two main "subjects": my current diabetes management and then insulin pumps themselves.

My current diabetes management: blood sugars - where do I have problems? Is there a reason for those problems (exercise, time-of-the-month, stress, etc)? This then led into talk about insulin injections, insulin to carbohydrate ratios, correction factors, carbohydrate counting. It felt like they were testing me. In fact, I'm pretty certain they were. I think they needed to see that I knew what I was talking about. And in spite of having a meter that does everything for me (the Accu-Chek Aviva Expert), I could answer all their questions.

Insulin pumps: what do I know about insulin pumps and why do I want one? Now, this isn't something I've entered into lightly. An insulin pump is a big deal. It's going to be like going back to day one of diabetes. It's a completely new way of managing it, and I'm well aware of the fact that it's going to be a learning curve. As a result of this, I'd done my research: what pumps are available, how they work, the pros and cons of using them. I told them what I wanted from the pump and I was also very honest about my concerns.

The appointment was an hour, and I was very happy with how it went. Got a few more hoops to jump through, but hopefully it'll all be worth it. 

Watch this space!  

Monday, 27 January 2014

Cook & Count Carbs App.

Disclosure first: I was asked to give this app a try by it's creator, Deborah Wilder, and provide feedback. In doing so, I was not charged for downloading the app. I was not asked to write a review here, but I am because I love it! As always, all thoughts are my own.

I was really excited when I was asked if I wanted to provide some feedback about this app. I love cooking, but I tend to always play things safe, stick with things I know how to bolus for, and use pre-made sauces and such so I can just read the carbohydrate values of the nutritional labels. However, with this app, I was granted to much more freedom when it came to food choices and cooking. 

So, with various friends acting as my test subjects for a new 
dishes, I got going.

The app is incredibly easy to use. You can build a recipe, view the recipes already on the app or go to the information screen. To start building a recipe, you tap "add". The list of ingredients installed on the app is vast, but there is the option to add a custom ingredient if what you're searching for isn't there. 

You need to weigh how much of the ingredient you are using in the recipe, and have the option to choose between grams and ounces as your unit of measurement. Continue doing this until all your ingredients have been saved to the recipe. The app then calculates the total carbohydrate value for the meal, and you input how many servings the recipe is for. Then, as well as the total value, you also get the carbohydrate value per portion. Simple.


As aforementioned, the app also comes with a few recipes already, which I haven't tried yet, but I'm sure I will in the future. There's also an information tab where you can find loads of useful things, from information about carbohydrate counting and why it's important to measurement conversions.  Also under this tab, you can change whether you want your measurements in grams or ounces. 


So, app pros: First, I've been a lot more open to trying new recipes as I now have a way to properly carb count the meals. The interface is great, and it really is easy to use (honest, it is - I'm awful when it comes to technology/apps, but this is so simple). Not that I've needed to use it yet, but I'm very grateful for the option to add a custom ingredient. You never know, maybe one of thee days I'll whip up something so obscure that I'll need to use this function.  [Edit 30/01/14: I found a need for the custom ingredient function: Quorn mince!]

My one "issue" with the app is the fact that everything has to be weighed. Don't get me wrong, I understand that weight of food items is essential for carbohydrate counting, but for some things, especially vegetables, I'd much prefer it to just input "1 carrot" as opposed to actually having to weigh out the portion. But that's just me wanting to cut corners where possible, and vegetables are generally very low carb. 

But all in all, a great app, one that has got me back into cooking and trying new recipes, something I haven't done for a long time now, choosing to opt for foods I "know". Well worth the purchase, in my opinion. 

At present, the app is currently available from the App Store at £3.99, but will be available for Android early this year, according to the website. To find out more, please visit  

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


You know you're in for an interesting night's sleep when you start with...

Positive ketones and a blood sugar of 18.6 and then at 3am you end up with...

An empty tube of glucose tabs having consumed the five remaining after a blood sugar of 2.6! 

Tired for my 9am seminar would be an understatement!

Yay for coffee! 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Pity Party.

This past weekend has been a "pity party" weekend - not quite at the "diabetes burnout" stage, but getting near to it.

I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out why, and came up empty, until yesterday evening, when I had a theory.

What an actual party looks like - not a pity party!
This time last year was when everything went downhill. I was still living in Toulouse. Although, I use the term "living" loosely, as I was actually homeless at this point. I was staying at a hotel, ready to fly out to Madrid the next day (January 21st, 2013). I'd lost my routine, I wasn't eating regularly, I'd started skipping injections, and I was in another country, with my closest friends being in the UK, USA and Hong Kong. Not a great situation to find yourself in.

Everything kind of spiralled, and before I knew it I'd lost control. 

February, 11th, 2013, I started this blog. Since that date, I can say, hand on heart, I haven't omitted insulin, and I'm incredibly proud of that. I also haven't had a "pity party" or really gone through "diabetes burnout", so I think this has been a long time coming. 

I threw myself into blogging, and I'm so glad I did. This really has become my therapy. I also took the plunge into the Twitter-based diabetes online community, where I was welcomed with open arms, and have got to "know" so many great people! I kept myself as involved as possible, to keep my motivational levels high. And it worked, it did. This community is great for that, I promise. I just thought it was time for a "pity party". I think they're healthy, and in the past, for me, they've helped fight off full-on "diabetes burnout" which I personally find a lot harder to come back from.

So this past weekend, I ate crap (but still bolused for it) and had a duvet day and felt sorry for myself.

Today, I'm going to get my arse in gear, remember that this feeling will pass, and remind myself that the reason I check my blood sugar, take my insulin, count my carbs and everything else is so I remain healthy to enjoy moments such as this. And this. And this

Friday, 17 January 2014

Five For Friday: Eye, Eye.

My Twitter feed is currently filled with people sharing information about the Google Smart Contact Lens (link below), so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon and share it too, along with a few other links! 

1. "Google unveils smart contact lenses that lets diabetics measure their glucose levels" - it's pretty awesome how it would work! Technology's amazing!

2. Last weekend, there were a lot of tweets in my feed with the hashtag "#MedtronicDAF". I read around and found out it was a Diabetes Advocacy Forum put on by Medtronic and Bayer. It sounded like a brilliant weekend, and there are various write-ups written by Kerri, Kim, Karen, Kelly (all the Ks!), Christel and George to list but a few!

3. As I started typing this post, David wrote a blog post about his diabetes diagnosis and the positive impact the nurses had. A very good read.

4. The first Monday of February is Diabetes Art Day. It is "a web-based initiative for the Diabetes Online Community to "tell a story" about life with diabetes through creative visual're encouraged to break out of your linguistic comfort zone, bust out some art materials, and make a piece of artwork."

5. My Diabetes Secret has been going for a while now, and I can't stop checking it out. So many resonate for me, some 100% break my heart, but I'm so glad that there is this "safe place" for people.        

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Diabetes OCD.

Generally speaking, I've always been an organised person, in all aspects of my life: my school (now uni) work has always been dated and filed, all of my belongings have a "place" so I know exactly where it is, my DVDs are ordered alphabetically and I can't live without my diary (years of moaning about the school planners I used to receive and within a week of starting my first year at uni I went out and bought one!)  The other day, I organised the kitchen cupboards (well the two that Shep and I have), wait for it, for fun! (Hi, there Monica Gellar!)

Since my pancreas decided to enter into early retirement, more "quirks" have become apparent, such as:

Diabetes supplies, medicine box and my hair straighteners!
1. Diabetes supplies: everything is kept on the top shelf of my wardrobe, and organised by expiry date. The same goes for the insulin in the fridge. 

2. Sweetener: I tend to do a "sweetener steal" when I go to coffee shops, so if I'm ever at a friends house and I have a hot drink, I have sweetener in my bag. However, acquiring sweetener from different coffee shops means different brands. My sweetener sachets have to match. I can't have one Sweet and Low and one Splenda. No, no, no!

3. Always prepared: living in the moment?! Not my thing. Preparing for said moments and then having a blast? Yep, that's me! I like to know that I have enough insulin/quick-acting sugar/test strips/needles/batteries for my meter. It keeps me safe to then enjoy the aforementioned moments. 

I have no control over the fact my pancreas no longer produces insulin, but I can control these other aspects of my life. Although still a novice when it comes to exercise, I make a point of going to the gym because my attendance there is something I can control. Same goes for my attendance at uni, my finances, and several other aspects of my life.

I call it compensating for what I can't control. My family call it diabetes OCD. They're one and the same as far as I'm concerned!  

Monday, 13 January 2014

My Final Semester.

Oh. My. God. 

I can remember starting uni so vividly. Scared, nervous but incredibly excited all at the same time. I remember meeting my flat mates and my Mum freaking out about leaving me and my diabetes with these "strangers" a mere six months after diagnosis ("TELL THEM!" she told me!) Little did she know, these "strangers" would not only become some of my best friends, but also my family too. And know far more about diabetes than she does!

Now, here I am, on the first day of my last semester at uni. As an undergraduate, at least, anyway. I've spent this past weekend preparing - buying paper, pens, folders and other appropriate stationary items, doing dissertation reading, checking my timetable, catching up on uni-related emails (which get 100% ignored during the holidays) and catching up with my housemates after the Christmas break. Normal student things. 

After this semester, however, I need a plan. Like a grown-up plan. I'm talking job, finances, a grown-up place to live (because let's face it, student houses aren't where it's at). I've applied for a few grad schemes, but until I know whether or not I've been successful, I can't really make any solid plans, which terrifies me. I hate not knowing. But I'm also excited. I can finally find out the answer to one of the questions I've always asked myself:

What do real adults even do?!

According to a friend, the answer is as follows:

"As far as I can tell, they attempt to get jobs, become boring effs and never go out or do anything that might come close to making the most out of life. Cool kids get away, travel and live their lives."

I'm not certain which category I'm going to fall into yet, but I've promised myself I will make the most out of which ever situation I find myself in. 

At this stage, that's all I can do.

But, for now? Final semester: let's do this!  

Thursday, 9 January 2014


Image taken from Google Images.
I could hear my alarm going off somewhere in the distance, trying to pull me from my sleep. 

I shut the alarm off and rolled back over. 

Cue my second alarm (I know what I'm like when it comes to 3am blood sugar checks!)

I fumbled trying to switch it off, and closed my eyes once more. 

Now, I often require two alarms for those 3am wake-ups, but after the second I'm usually okay to quickly check my blood sugar, treat/correct/leave, and go back to bed.

I willed my eyes open and reached for my meter and test strips. That's when I realised that my hands were shaking and my pyjama top felt damp. 

I was low. Like, really low, given I'd ignored my two alarms. 

My meter confirmed this - 1.9mmol.

I reached for the carton of juice on the bedside table and quickly started drinking. 

As soon as that was finished, I reached for my glucose tablets and willed my mouth to chew down a couple of them. 

And then I waited. I grabbed my phone as a distraction - checked Facebook, emails, anything to keep my eyes open as I waited for my blood sugar to come back up.

35 minutes after my first alarm went off, I was at 4.5. Back to my slumber I returned.  

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Gym, Gym, Gym!

Image taken from Google Images.
Yesterday evening, I bit the bullet and went back to the gym for the first time in weeks.

It hurt!

I still hurt.

I've been assured that's the sign of a good workout.

Exercising in the evening is new. Last year, I always went in the morning and I learnt how my blood sugars reacted to that, and made changes where appropriate.

So, last night was trial and error.

Before dinner, I had a blood sugar of 5.2mmol and I took a "regular" dose of my meal time insulin, where as before I used to reduce it.

Instead, I reduced my Levemir from 12u to 11u. 

My blood sugar before bed was 8.1.

I set my alarm for 3am (oh, how I love that time of the morning!)


And my waking blood sugar? 3.4.

We'll try 10u of Levemir next time!

Happy Wednesday! 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New Year, New Layout.

As you can see, this blog has undergone a bit of a makeover. 

I wish I could say it was all my hard work. That I spent hours going over coding trying to make it look the way it does now.

But it wasn't and I didn't.

Huge thank you to Lizzie for this. 

I'll do my very best not to break anything!

I hope you all like the new layout!

Monday, 6 January 2014

That Friendly Waitress.

Last Friday, I went out to lunch with my sister, E.Hales and my housemate, Shep - it was our belated Christmas meal. It was really nice to spend time with the three of them together. My sister and I are a lot closer now compared to a few years back and E.Hales and Shep are two of my best friends, so it's really great for me that they both get on as well (E.Hales I know from school and I met Shep at uni).

We were chatting away, like we do when the waitress brought us our meals. Mine and my sister's came out first. I looked at my plate (grilled Mediterranean vegetable linguine if you were wondering), guessed at the carbs and took my insulin. During this process, the waitress had come back with the other two meals. 

"I'll let you do that first," she said, "My daughter gets annoyed when I 'crowd her space' when she does her injections."

"Thanks," I replied having done the injection.

"She's type one too. Ten years now. But she's struggling at the moment. Fed up with it. Just doesn't want to do it anymore. That's normal, right?"

She had 'concerned parent' written all over her face. 

"Yes," I responded quickly, wanting to put her mind at rest, "So normal! It's called 'burnout' and it sucks big time!"

And then I saw relief fill her face. What her daughter's going through isn't unheard of. 

"Thank you," she said, and she left us to our meals.

Image take from Google Images.
Later, she came to clear our plates from dessert. I'd had profiteroles. 

"Was everything okay for you ladies?"

"Lovely, thank you!"

"And did you take some extra insulin with yours?" she asked me.

"Crap, no! Thank you!" I replied as the others laughed.

"It's the Mum in me...I had to make sure."

It's safe to say she got a good tip from us.  

Friday, 3 January 2014

Five For Friday: I Will.

New Year's is traditionally a time for resolutions. Except, I've never been all that great when it comes to keeping resolutions. I always start off really well, but by the end of January, if not sooner, I've already broken them. Instead, this year I've decided to make an "I Will..." list. Here are five things off my somewhat lengthy list of things I will (hopefully) accomplish in 2014.

1. I will run a 10km - last year I started going to the gym. This year, I'm challenging myself to run a 10km for a diabetes charity.

2. I will graduate with a 2:1 - gonna up my game this coming semester to make sure I graduate with a 2:1 this July. 

3. I will read more books - I miss reading for fun! I need to set aside some time to read, even if it's just for 20 minutes before bed. My aim is 12 novels. One a month. Totally do-able! If you have any recommended reads, do let me know!

4. I will find balance - I'm not sure if balance can be found between uni studies, gym, family, friends, planning for life after graduation, volunteering, diabetes and a bunch of other stuff, but I'm determined to try!

5. I will work with my diabetes - I'm now approaching four years with diabetes, and I think it's about time I learnt to work with my diabetes instead of against it. For me, this means remembering that I am not my number (hba1c number and current blood glucose reading number), listening to my body and taking the right steps to manage my diabetes. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all the best for 2014!