Friday, 30 May 2014

100 Happy Days: Challenge Completed!

Image taken from Google Images.
So, about fifty days ago, I wrote about the 100 Happy Days Challenge I was taking part it. Yesterday marked the 100th day for me, and looking back over all the photos has taught me a lot.

First, I drink too much coffee. And tea. Like, way too much!

I need more friends. Because browsing through my photos, it definitely looks like I only hangout with about four people and their faces just keep on reappearing. I'm kidding - they're the best, and they're in my "happy-days" for a reason.

My littlest friend makes a number of appearances (he is very cute, and melts my heart when he calls me "Auntie Vicki").

My siblings also appear a few times. Not that I'd ever openly admit it to them, I do actually quite like seeing them. 

I seem to have a love  of (obsession with?) the sun/sunny days/summer. 

And a lot of food appears amongst the photos. A lot. 

And finally there's the diabetes-related stuff. Which actually features more than I thought it would, and I'm okay with that. From ace-ing my blood sugars after a session at the gym, receiving my copy of Kerri Sparling's Balancing Diabetes (great read, by the way - I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on here yet?!) and having a blog post published on the JDRF website to receiving a letter telling me my pump had been ordered to it actually arriving at my house (I was like a kid at Christmas!). 

Diabetes can suck sometimes. Really suck. So I'm somewhat grateful that it actually featured in my "happy-days" - I'd rather it make me happy some of the time than make me miserable all the time. 

Wouldn't you?

Saturday, 24 May 2014

DUK: Thank You!

In case you missed it, Tuesday's Our Diabetes chat was hosted by Diabetes UK and they were looking for Feedback on a campaign they called "Choccy Barred". The concept was that people gave up chocolate to fundraise for DUK. 

Image taken from Google Images.
The community's views were strong, and I can understand why. I actually had a blog post written myself about it and went to publish when I saw the Diabetes UK had withdrawn the idea (under picture, part "from Diabetes UK")

I was against it. I'm all for fundraising, and I understood the concept of the "Choccy Barred" campaign - it was the name that grated on me. Given that people with diabetes are often faced with comments regarding their diabetes and diet, a campaign name such as that wasn't exactly going to help!

However, like I've said, the idea has been withdrawn. So instead, I'd like to say this:

People at Diabetes UK, thank you! Not only did you take to the community to ask for our thoughts via a tweetchat, but you also listened to what "we" had to say, and, I can't speak for the community as a whole, but that means a lot to me.

So, again, thank you!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Health Heroes.

When I was asked if I wanted to nominate someone for the Boots UK Health Hero Awards (information at the end of this post, and disclosure information here), I really didn't have to think for long about who I would put forward. In fact, it was one of the easiest decisions I've made (and I'm an indecisive person!) and I hope you'll see why by the end of this post.

I met her when I moved into student accommodation in my first year of university (September 2010). Turns out we were to be flatmates. She introduced herself using her first name. I don't think I've called her by said first name since September 2010! I opted for the name "Shep" very early on, and that's the only name I use for her on this blog. 

I was diagnosed with type one diabetes six months prior to starting uni, and as you can probably imagine, my Mum was terrified of leaving me there. She made sure that those I would be living with were made aware of my condition. I was kind of hoping I'd have the chance to tell them my name before I mentioned the fact that I was harbouring a non-functioning pancreas, but Mum's stern utterance of "TELL THEM!" whilst we were all sat at the kitchen table meant that some of them knew of my diabetes before they knew my name was 'Vicki'. 

Over the course of the first couple of weeks, many a question was asked about my diabetes: "Does it hurt when you do that?" "So does that mean you can't eat...?" "Hey, can I check my blood sugar?!" But the questions Shep asked were different. It was more "What does that number mean?" "Why do you weigh your food before you cook it?" "What's the difference between this orange pen [my NovoRapid at the time] and the green on [my Levemir at the time]?" When this was happening, what she was doing didn't click. But when I look back, I realise that she was learning all that she could...and when we were both on a par when it came to diabetes-knowledge, she learnt with me.

After Christmas break of our first year, we started cooking dinners together. She knew that I weighed out my portion sizes when I was cooking for myself, so she did this when she was cooking for me too, and she'd tell me what she'd done, for me to then carb count. A month down the line into this new routine, and I came home late from uni one day to a bowl of dinner in the fridge with a post-it note on it. She's not only weighed out the food, but she'd worked out the carbs. I'm almost certain I cried a little bit. It was a small gesture, but one that meant a great deal. Since then, we've always joked that the way to my heart is through my pancreas. 

My first diabetes anniversary was courtesy of her and another flatmate, Lopez. We had dinner. We dressed nicely. And we went out. It's one of my most memorable nights at uni.

After my first year of uni, I went through a huge bout of diabetes burnout. I stopped taking my insulin injections, and was just in a really bad place. Shep was one of the first people I told. I was expecting her to shout. Maybe hit me. Tell me I was an idiot. She did do all those things. But she hugged me tight first. Then let rip. It was what I needed. 

December 2011 (so in our second year of uni), I had my first experience of DKA. I don't remember much of the night, but I do know that Shep was a real-life superhero that night. For the first couple of nights after, I slept in her room. That experience shook me to the core.

We both did a year abroad for our third year at university. Halfway through the year, I was omitting my insulin again. She was the first person I told. I started this blog around the same time. Again, she was the first person I told. Even though she was in Alabama and I was in Spain, she supported me as best she could. 

We moved back in together for our final year, along with a few other friends. She still carb counts my meals when she cooks, or will leave the packets/wrappers at my place at the table for me to read the labels. She's handled many a low blood sugar, and panicked with me when my blood sugar's high and refusing to budge (after the aforementioned DKA experience, we both panic!) She'll join me in my pity parties, and is the first to offer words of encouragement when I've just had enough with this disease. And she didn't get mad when I went running up to her room, banged on the door (and subsequently woke her up) because my letter had arrived telling me my insulin pump was due to be delivered!

She's not just one of my best friends, she's extended family to me. And I kid you not when I say that 90% of this Buzzfeed list applies to us.

This is why I'm nominating her.

Who would you nominate and why?

*      *      *      *      *      *

Boots UK, in partnership with the Daily Mail and This Morning, has launched the 2014 Health Hero Awards. The Awards celebrate heroes of healthcare - the thousands of people who make a difference to our lives every day. You can nominate anyone you want, from a best friend who has supported you through a tough period of ill-health or your family doctor. Each of the five finalists will receive an all-expenses paid VIP trip to London, staying at a top hotel, with tickets to the Health Hero Awards Gala Dinner. The Health Hero that's made the biggest difference to someone's life will be announced at the celebrity gala dinner and they'll receive a well-deserved family holiday up to the value of £5,000. To nominate your health hero, you need to visit or pick up a leaflet from a Boots UK store. Nominations close Tuesday, May 20th, 2014. 

And, Shep, if by some miracle you actually go ahead and win this, can I please remind you that you have said before that you consider me family, and I therefore would like to be included in the family holiday prize. Please and thank you ;-)      

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 7 - My Favourite Things.

As we wrap up another Diabetes Blog Week, let's share a few of our favourite things from the week. This can be anything from a #DBlogWeek post you loved, a fantastic new-to-you blog you found, a picture someone included in a post that spoke to you, or a comment left on your blog that made you smile. Anything you liked is worth sharing!

Keeping up with all the blogs during DBlogWeek is a mammoth of a task, one that I haven't managed to achieve (whoever has managed to do so deserves a medal!) Nonetheless, a lovely list of DOC delights for you, that I have managed to read over the course of the week:

To read more blog posts for day six of diabetes blog week, you can find a link list here. 

Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to Karen for, once again, organising diabetes blog week (it's in it's fifth year, guys! That's awesome!) It's been a pleasure taking part!  

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 6 - Saturday Snapshots.

Back for another year, let's show everyone what living with diabetes looks like! With a nod to the Diabetes 365 Project, let's grab our cameras again and share some more d-related pictures. Post as many or as few as you'd like. Feel free to blog your thoughts on or explanations of your pictures, or leave out the written words and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Life with type one diabetes, for the most part, looks a lot like this:

There's also a lot of this:

 (*Although not because I was told to eat my pasta!)

But I still went ahead and saw a bit more of the world:

(Clockwise from top left: Toulouse, Madrid, New York, Florida).
 And even though living with this is often sucky and leaves me feeling like I'm looking at the world like this:


Happy Saturday, wherever you are!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 5 - Diabetes Life Hacks.

Share the (non-medical) tips and tricks that help you in the day-to-day management of diabetes. Tell us everything from clothing modifications, serving size/carb counting tricks to the tried and true Dexcom-in-a-glass trick or the "secret" to turning Medtronic Pump's backlight when not on the home-screen (scroll to the bottom of this post). Please remember to give non-medical advice only!

After an evening of travelling from my uni home to my Mum and Dad's, I can finally get up today's Blog Week post (albeit a bit late!)

Diabetes life hacks.

I can't say I have all that many, if I'm honest. Although, having spent the most part of my journey this evening reading posts for this prompt, I think it's safe to say that there are a lot of hacks I will be trying when I start on my insulin pump. 

At present though, this is what I can offer you:

  • Alarms: I'm reliant on them. I have an alarm that goes of at 9.30pm every night, which is when I take my Levemir injection and I've also activated the reminder alarms on my meter - if my blood sugar clocks in at above 14mmol, my meter will alarm an hour later to remind me to re-test. Likewise, with low blood sugars, my meter will alarm after 15 minutes to get me to re-check my blood sugar and make sure I'm back within range.
  • Carbs & Cals: I have both the Carbs & Cals book and app on my phone, and I wouldn't be without either. It's great to be able to refer to, especially when eating out, and weighing out exact portions just isn't possible.
  • Glucotabs in the plastic tubes: Yes, they're pricier, but knowing that my diabetes paraphernalia goes from my handbag to my uni bag to my gym bag to whatever-other-bag-I-wish-to-use, I want to know that my glucose tablets aren't going to disintegrate. So, I fork out the extra money for the ones in a plastic tube. 
  • Easy-to-grab diabetes supplies: From September 2012 through to August 2013, I travelled a lot - I was on my year abroad and I also ventured Stateside for a two week holiday with my family. Airport queues are often long, and no one wants to be that person that's holding everyone else up. Travelling with diabetes means that I may well be that person that holds up everyone else (my carry on does always contain needles, after all) so to make airport security as quick and easy as possible, I keep all diabetes supplies in one clear bag that I can then show security. No rummaging in my bag for each individual item.

To read more posts for day five of diabetes blog week, you can find a link list here  

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 4 - Mantras And More.

Yesterday we opened up about how diabetes can bring us down. Today, let's share what gets us through a hard day. Or, more specifically, a hard diabetes day. Is there something positive you tell yourself? Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through? Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost? Maybe we've done that and we can help others do it too?

Something I constantly remind myself is the following:

I try my best.

I check my blood sugar. I count every carb. I make allowances for exercise and illness. I rotate my injection sites. I go to my appointments. I do everything I can to be as healthy as can be. 

Some days, I get it right. 

Other days, I've screwed up before I've even had breakfast. 

The point is, I try. I try damn hard to manage my diabetes. 

And when I have those days that have worn me into the ground I remember this:

"Tomorrow will be a new day; the sun will rise and what seemed to have defeated you the day before becomes something you've conquered and survived."

These are the words of one of my friends, and they've stuck with me ever since she uttered them to me. In fact, I carry them in my purse so her words are with me at all times. They help me day in, day out. Here's hoping they help you too!

To read more posts for day four of diabetes blog week, you can find a link list here.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 3 - What Brings Me Down.

May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and/or your loved one, and how do you cope?

Sometimes, I feel like I lead a bit of a double life.

Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I don't know how else to describe it. Let me explain:

To some, I'm Vicki, a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a friend, a language student, a Brownie leader and, yes, a type one diabetic. 

To others, I'm Vicki, a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a friend, a language student, a Brownie leader and, yes, a type one diabetic, who also happens to write a blog and do other diabetes-related stuff online, and sometimes offline

My blog is my therapy, my little bubble in which I can talk diabetes, from the triumphs to the meltdowns to advocating for myself and others. 

It's also my little secret. 

A few of my closest friends know this exists. My sister recently found out (although I don't actually know if she reads this - hey if you are!). But the rest of my family don't know. 

When I first started this blog, I had no idea it would turn into what it has. So I didn't think to mention it when I started. Now, however, it's grown more than I ever imagined, and it's getting harder and harder to keep a secret. I recently had a blog post published on the JDRF website, which I was so proud of, but I also panicked, as it was linked on Facebook with my name, and the people on my Facebook could see it. I know one of my uncles saw it, as he "liked" the link. Whether or not it gets mentioned the next time I see him, I don't know. Guess I'll have to wait and see.

It's not that I don't want my family, or other friends of mine, to know about it. I'm incredibly proud to be a part of this community. I guess I just worry about how they will react to it, especially as this is something I've kept under wraps for over a year now. It just seems the longer it goes on, the harder it is to "out myself" as a diabetes blogger.

As for how I cope with it, well, the support I get from my friends that know about this blog is incredible, and the DOC never fails to blow me away with the amount of advice and support it offers! Thank you just doesn't seem like enough.  

Of all the things I could have written about, this is what I choose. Not exactly where I thought this post would go, but there you go! Don't get me wrong, diabetes brings me down in lots of other ways too - I'd be lying if I said I hadn't had the occasional pity party or had days of endless frustration. But right now, it's this "double life" that is getting me down. 

Maybe in the not too distant future I'll find it in me to tell my family and other friends.

Probably blog about it too ;-)

To read more blog posts for day three of diabetes blog week, you can find a link list here.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 2 - Diabetes Dream Device Wildcard.

Today's topic is actually meant to be "diabetes poetry" - not really my thing. So instead, I'm opting for a wildcard topic: Diabetes Dream Device. 

This continues to be one of the most popular DBlogWeek topics, so let's have another crack at it! Tell us what your fantasy diabetes device would be? Think of your dream blood glucose checker, delivery system for insulin or other meds, magic carb counter or anything else you can think of. The sky is the limit - what would you love to see?

There are countless meters for people with diabetes, all of which have different unique selling points, but, for me, there isn't one that has all the functions I'd like it to have. So, here's my dream device, a glucose meter that......

Looks like a One Touch:
When I was diagnosed, I was given a One Touch Ultra Easy, and I loved it. It looked more like an mp3 player than it did a meter, and I think because of that, very little attention was drawn to it. Then, a couple of years later, I was given a Verio IQ, and this one looked somewhat like an iPod. Again, discrete, very little attention was drawn to it. And it had a light at the test strip port which was great when it came to testing my blood sugar at night. Would definitely like to see a light on a meter! 

Has the bolusing skills of an Accu-Chek:
I currently use the Expert meter by Accu-Chek, and the main reason I haven't switched back to a One Touch is because of the bolus wizard. The meter is programmed with my insulin to carb ratios, my correction factor and certain "health events" (for example, -20% when I exercise or +10% for illness). I check my blood sugar before a meal or snack, input the number of carbs, add a health event if applicable, and press bolus. The meter estimates how much insulin I need, and factors in a correction dose if need be. Awesome!

Hooks up with my laptop like a Bayer:
I personally haven't really used a Bayer meter (was given a Contour USB to try, but went back to my One Touch after a few weeks), but the one thing I loved about it was that I could just plug it into a USB port on my laptop and download the data, quickly and simply. No need for cables or anything else. 

Multi-tasks like a FreeStyle-r:
The Abbott FreeStyle Optium and their recently released Optium Neo not only perform blood glucose checks, but also have the ability to check for ketones. Not that I need to do this often, but to have my glucose meter double up as a ketone meter would be a huge pro!

And is also:
Accurate! Accuracy is so important in blood glucose meters. And, not that I've started on a pump yet, but I am soon, and I'd love for this dream meter to be able to link with the pump, so I can bolus remotely, no matter which company makes it! 

Asking for too much? Maybe. However, this is a dream device.

But all these features are available on individual meters, so I don't think it's unjustified for me, a PWD, to want my meter to integrate all of the above.

What would your dream diabetes device be?

As I mentioned at the beginning, today I've opted for a wildcard topic, a list of links for which can be found here. To read blogs that centre around today's actual blog week topic, click here    

Monday, 12 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 1 - Change The World.

Let's kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up. Are you passionate about 504 plans and school safety? Do diabetes misconceptions irk you? Do you fight for CGM coverage for Medicare patients, SDP funding or test strip accuracy? Do you work hard at creating diabetes connections and bringing support? Whether or not you "formally" advocate for any cause, share the issues that are important to you.

Photo credit: The 100 Campaign.
Insulin access for all - that's my itch.

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

Back in February, a charity called The Pendsey Trust caught my eye, and Lucy, the charity's founder, agreed to an interview. Listening to Lucy's documentary The Doctor Who Dreamed, and hearing more about the charity was a real eye-opener for me.

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

Yet, in many countries around the world, insulin isn't readily available, and I can't comprehend that. So I'm now quick to support other charities/campaigns that are working towards the same goal: The 100 Campaign, Spare a Rose (in aid of Life for a Child), T1 International, to name but a few.

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

I know it's Diabetes Blog Week, which means reading diabetes blogs kind of takes over (been there, trust me!), but, whilst it's day one and you're not trying to catch up on a week's worth of blogs, please take a look at the work the organisations above do. Their work is incredibly important!

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

To read more blog posts for day one of diabetes blog week, you can find a link list here. 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

It's Official...

...insulin pump's a-coming! Start date: June 5th!

Monday, 5 May 2014


Yesterday was a bad day - my blood sugar kept on bottoming-out and I felt like I was constantly eating to keep my blood sugar up. I reduced my bolus insulin, I took less basal at 9.30pm (when I take my levemir), yet I still wasn't getting much above 5mmol.

I floated my way through the day, making small talk here and there with my housemates, trying to concentrate on my revision and job hunting, but very much failing. Instead, I admitted defeat, had dinner with some friends who were in town for the weekend, and, as lovely as it was, was glad when bed time rolled round and I could (hopefully) get some sleep and try again the following day.

It's the following day. 

And things are much smoother-sailing today. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

My Left Arm.

The subject of this blog post is probably one of the weirdest to date. Nonetheless, I'm going with it.

Image taken from Google Images.
Back in February, I had to have my BCG vaccination. This meant that I wasn't able to do any injections in my left arm for three months, which, for me, sucked. I like to use my arms as sites for my insulin injections, and being right-handed, my left arm was the one that got jabbed more often. That, and it was just useful to have extra sites to rotate around.

Not being able to do injections in my left arm meant I got lots of practise in injecting with my left hand in my right arm. I'm now a pro at that (as long as it's 8 units or less). But it was still annoying not having use of that injection site, especially when trying to work diabetes into fancy dinners like the LCS dinner I went to a few weeks back.

However, today marks the end of my "no-injections-in-left-arm" period. This morning, I woke up, checked my blood sugar, and injected my insulin into my left arm. My right arm is now being given a well-deserved break from injections for a while, and in a couple of weeks I'll have all injection sites back in rotation (which also means more Bio-oil to help get rid of any marks left from injections).

The saying "it's the little things in life" really rings true with this one!