Monday, 30 June 2014

Dreaming Of Lows.

Hypos come in all shapes and sizes. There are those that I don't feel, and I lose faith in my instincts; those that trigger than internal voice in my head; those that I anticipate, but don't quite catch in time; and, sometimes, they leave me gasping for breath.

Images from Google, merged by me.

But never have I dreamt that I was low, and then woken up low. Very weird!

Happy Monday!       

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Reading List.

I know posts this month have been few and far between, but I have been keeping up with other blogs/articles/videos/conferences/other stuff that catches my eye, despite the tumbleweed here! Browse at your leisure.

Image taken from Google Images.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Oh, How Times Have Changed.

Today, I'd like to share with you an infographic, brought to my attention by BioSupply UK, which looks at how the way in which we diagnose diabetes has changed. It makes me feel "lucky" to be diagnosed now, and not at a time when things as routine as blood tests weren't even available! I'm incredibly grateful for the access to medication and health care I currently have.

I've done everything I can think with the image to make it as big as possible, but I've not once pretended to be good at formatting/html related things! (It's something I'm working on.) There is, however, a link to a clear, easy-to-read version underneath the image! 

Happy Wednesday! 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Fixers: Diabulimia Support.

Today's post is a brief one, but I'm so excited to be sharing this here.

Alice and Lucy (Image taken from Fixers)
Friends of mine, Lucy, and Alice, have been working on a project with Fixers to get better support for people with Diabulimia. 

Taken directly from the website, "Fixers are young people using their past to fix the future. They are motivated by personal experience to make positive change for themselves and those around them. Real people, real stories, real change."

"To date, more than 12,700 Fixers from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have started - and are continuing - over 1,480 unique projects and over 535 Fixers projects have been showcased ITV and UTV regional news programmes across the country, providing more than 35 hours of peak-time exposure to their projects."

With Fixers, the pair have created a booklet for health care professionals to raise awareness of Diabulimia and tell their personal stories. 

To read more, and see the booklet they have produced, click here. Their project will also be receiving some air-time, date and time to follow as I can't remember!

I'm so super-duper proud! 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Introducing Diabetes.

Tuesday night's Our Diabetes chat was hosted by Kate and was all about how we introduce our diabetes to others. As I was taking part from the Our Diabetes Twitter account, I wasn't able to truly participate, so instead I'm answering the questions in good, ol' blog format.

1. Do you struggle to tell people about your diabetes? E.G. friends, work, potential partners, and if so, why?

In short, yes. I want to be seen as "Vicki" not "Vicki-The-Person-With-Diabetes", but with the blood sugar tests, wearing an insulin pump, and before that, injecting insulin, it's a lot to ask people to see past. On the whole, I've been incredibly lucky with my friends since diagnosis, but I still fear it's too much to take in/handle. 

2. Have you ever withheld the fact you have diabetes? Were there any consequences of doing this?

Again...yes. It was shortly after I was diagnosed. All my friends at school knew, my family, my teachers...all talk was about my retired pancreas. I had this other group of friends, outside of school, who I didn't see as frequently, that had no idea I'd been ill, bar two of them who were (are) family friends. When we all met up, they asked if I wanted my diabetes made known, and I said no. I wanted to be "Vicki" and I didn't want talk to be about diabetes. They respected that decision, and I had such a great time. 

The biggest consequence of doing that, however, was then disclosing further down the line. Well...more disclosing how long I'd had diabetes for...that didn't go down so well. But I explained the reasoning, and, although effed off I didn't tell them from the start, they could also see my side. They're a very understanding bunch!

3. Have you experienced any bad reactions from telling someone or a company, e.g. a gym, that you have diabetes?

I once had someone tell me that they liked me as a person, but didn't like my diabetes. I was really upset by that. Really upset. Diabetes is my biggest insecurity because it's the one part about me that I cannot change, so that comment really got under my skin, and I started questioning how "okay" people were with me doing finger-prick tests and, at the time, injecting insulin. It wasn't a good mindset to be in.

4. Have you ever run BGs higher than normal to avoid a hypo situation?

Yes, I have, primarily when I'm working with children or looking after my godson. I don't like running my blood sugar higher than normal, but the thought of having a low blood sugar when I'm responsible for others...not okay with that!

5. Do you have any tips on how best to tell people?

In spite of my own fears when it comes to telling people about my diabetes, I truly do believe that honesty is the best policy, if for nothing but my own safety. I'd say keep explanations simple, but if asked questions, answer them honestly.

The Our Diabetes Tweet Chats take place every Tuesday at 8pm on Twitter using the hashtag #ourd. Click here to check out the Our Diabetes website for more information.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Pumping Insulin: The First Week.

I've officially been using my insulin pump, with actual insulin, and not saline, for a week now.

To be honest, it was all going well until the weekend! The weekend is, of course, when no DSNs are in clinic to pick up my calls! Typical! But let's start at the beginning of the week.

Monday, I started on insulin. Sunday night, I had to take half my usual dose of levemir, have breakfast as normal and inject. So far, so good. I arrived at the hospital, and saw a DSN. She asked how I'd got on with wearing the pump over the weekend, and I explained to her how I'd had an issue with getting the cannulas to stick (still do!) but other than that, everything had gone well. Of course, the pump was only giving me saline, so I wasn't expecting things to go wrong. 

I learnt how to fill a cartridge, which is SO much harder than it looks, how to get rid of air bubbles, priming the cannula and tubing, and felt very thankful for having a DSN there to fall back on! The thought of having to change my own cartridge at the weekend filled me with dread (which I have now was interesting...but we'll get to that!) I had to do my first bolus at the hospital, so I went to the nearest café and bought a tea and cereal bar. I checked my blood sugar, input the carbs, pressed the right buttons, and the pump delivered my insulin for me. Very weird not having to do an injection! After I'd eaten, I went back the DSN's office, and she went over what I needed to do when it came to going to the gym, and double-checked that my meter was programmed correctly with my new insulin to carb ratios, and I was good to go.

"Please, please call tomorrow so I know you got on okay! Please!" The DSN said to me as I left. 

"I will!" I promised, sounding a hell of a lot more confident than I felt about this first night!

Things were surprisingly okay. When I had my evening meal, I didn't believe my meter when it told me I only needed 4 [point] something units for my pasta! It just didn't seem like anywhere near enough, but I went and did what it told me to anyway. (I used to be on a 1u:7g, but on the pump, I'm on 1u:15g. HUGE difference!)

Sleeping with the pump (I don't know how to word that so it doesn't sound weird) wasn't an issue, as I'd already done that over the weekend. (Definitely sounds weird - I'm sorry!)

I also did my first basal test, at the request of my DSN. Due to some low blood sugars at night, I checked my evening basal rates first, the results of which I will report back to her via phone call later today.

It's been this past weekend where that "yay-I-love-having-a-pump" feeling somewhat disappeared. 

Saturday, no cannula would stick. I ended up replacing the cannula three times in the end! Three times! Not fun. 

Sunday, I had to change the insulin cartridge. SO STRESSFUL! There was myself, my housemate, Shep, and another friend, sat round the kitchen table with the training handbook, an insulin vial, one of them cartridge things you put into the pump when it's filled (technical definition right there!) and new tubing. Between the three of us, we managed it, but, holy eff, did we get frustrated with air bubbles and trying to decide how many units to tell the pump were in the new cartridge!

However, between this insulin-refill-stress, I completely forgot to start a temporary basal rate (TBR) before going to the gym. My blood sugar was high on arrival at the gym anyway. Had dropped a bit by the time I'd finished at the gym, but then I had lunch and my blood sugar shot up again. I corrected, but felt sluggish all day. Things were a lot better by the evening though, and my blood sugar was a lot more stable. So, maybe something to do with the cartridge change?! I'm not sure, but it's something I will bring up with my DSN when I talk to her later today. 

Closing thoughts? I knew this first week was going to be up and down, and it has been. More up than down, admittedly, but there have been struggles. Mainly this past weekend. But it's still very early days, and I need to give myself time to learn how the pump works and how to use it to it's fullest capacity, so that it makes my life with diabetes that little bit easier. And that's not going to happen over night. So, with patience and perseverance, into week two we go!    

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Diabetes Week 2014: #ICan.

In case you didn't know, this week is Diabetes Week 2014, and the theme this year is full of positivity and empowerment: I Can (#ICan on Twitter).
I'm going to be honest and say that, initially, I wasn't too sure about the theme, because I can do the same as what non-pancreatically challenged folk can do. There's just diabetes-related stuff going on in the background. For me, it's a small part of a bigger whole. But then I starting reading the #ICan tweets and my mind was changed completely! If you haven't already checked them out, please do so! They are so full of happy, varying from athletic achievements to supporting loved ones with diabetes, having a blood sugar within [your personal] target range to acknowledging the fact that you can correct a high blood sugar thanks to things like insulin pens and pumps. Yes, we're all living with diabetes, but the things we're all doing with spite of it...because of it...AMAZING!
I spend a lot of time worrying about my diabetes, and how it will come into play in my future. I know that the numbers my glucose meter throws at me are just that - numbers - but I still feel the stab of guilt when my blood sugar is high, wondering where I went wrong, or I immediately regret whatever it was I let myself indulge in earlier in the day. When my Hba1c comes back, again, I know it's just a number, one that tells me where I'm currently at so I can make changes to get to where I want to be, but I still get upset when it's gone up. I worry about how my health care appointments may be viewed by future employers now that I'm finished with university; meeting someone and having to explain diabetes, and, thinking even further ahead, what if I decide I want to do the whole kid thing? How will my diabetes impact that?
This is where the #ICan tweets come in, along with the DOC as a whole: proof that we can live normal lives with diabetes. We can work to bring our hba1c's down, fall in love, have careers, start families, climb mountains, run marathons, go out with our friends, support others living with diabetes. 
So, now it's my turn:
#ICan acknowledge that, in actual fact, I have no idea what I'm doing, but (fairly) good control and other dreams are what I am pursuing. And when diabetes makes me want to admit defeat, #ICan rely on you, the DOC, to help me back on my feet.  (Unintentional rhyming going on there!)
Because, as far as I'm concerned, you guys are awesome, my proof that a life lived well with diabetes is possible. So for that, I raise my glass to you, and say thanks. 

Happy Diabetes Week, everyone!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Pumping Saline.

Thursday of last week, I attended a pump training day and was set up with saline for the weekend to get used to wearing the device. 

I arrived at the community centre to discover that I was missing part of my delivery (good start!) - I'd received the pump, and the cannulas, tubing, cartridges, batteries etc that came with it, but I hadn't received the training box. I didn't even realise I was missing anything, but the rep from Accu-Chek who was also at the pump training day made a phone call, and it was arranged that what was missing would be delivered before 10am the next day (and they mean before 10am - I believe there was a delivery man knocking on my front door at 8.45am! How's that for service?!)

I learnt all about priming the insulin pump, how to bolus, how to find out what various error messages mean, how to draw up a cartridge (albeit of saline) and my meter was programmed with my basal rates and insulin to carb ratio (thanks to what looked like various calculations done by my DSN). 

After a long day, I left, pump in my pocket, rather relieved that it was only pumping saline, as I could hardly remember anything!

I woke up Friday morning to find that my cannula had come out during the night. Very relieved to only be on saline! So I got to do a couple of cannula changes over the weekend. 

Wearing the pump on my person has been...interesting. I was given a bra pouch, and clipping the pump to my bra strap has been a great place to wear it. I also spent Sunday night cutting little holes in the pockets of my jeans so that I could feed the tubing down the inside of my trousers. The tubing length I currently have is 50cm, and I am a short person (5ft1"!) so it's much easier for me to hide the excess down the inside of my trousers than it is to have it hanging out from underneath my top!

Another problem I've had is getting the cannulas to stick! As I've already said, one cannula had completely come off Thursday night/Friday morning, and the one I put in yesterday morning at clinic is already coming loose round the edges! Any advice on that front will be greatly appreciated!

Other than that, things were pretty smooth-sailing. I have a feeling things will be different now I'm on insulin though. 

But that will be a whole other blog post! 

Monday, 9 June 2014


Image taken from Google Images.
You'd think finishing my degree would leave me with more time to write! Clearly, not the case for me! Between celebrating with the girls on my course, starting on my insulin (saline) pump and everyone finishing (so more celebrating), I honestly haven't had the time to sit down and write what I want.

This week, however, things will change. Just, unfortunately not today! (Sorry!)

So, instead, a "ketchup" of what's been going on and what to expect over the next week or so:

I finished my degree!
Such a great feeling. I really hope I've done enough to graduate with my class. 

I started on my insulin pump.
On Thursday, I made my way to a community centre, pump in hand, ready to begin my "pump training". It was a long day, with lots of information thrown my way, so I'm relieved that for this first weekend the pump has only been giving me saline. Tomorrow morning, I have an appointment at my diabetes clinic and I will start on insulin. Expect a blog post this week covering both pump training and starting on insulin (which happened today!)

Friends that aren't on my course finally finished their degrees!
And we celebrated with a night out at a local cocktail bar, along with the girls on my course. It was a good night :-) 

It's Diabetes Week 2014!
Diabetes Week 2014 is upon us and the theme this year is "I Can". Again, expect a blog post later this week. In the meantime, you can check out JDRF's Blood Sugar Selfie, Type 1 Uncut on Youtube and the Diabetes UK website for more information. 

Monday, 2 June 2014


Today, I finished my degree and celebrated with the fabulous girls pictured above, who also finished today.

So happy!

Just wish I knew what the eff comes next!