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Monday, 19 January 2015

Comfort.

"...and my blood sugars have been all over the place..."

I have no idea what led to that being said, but my ears pricked up, listening out for more info, as my brain weighed up the pros and cons of "revealing" that I too am diabetic.

I decided to remain silent. I'm never certain of the right call to make in those situations. Some people really appreciate the "me too" sentiment, others not so much.

The next day, the same thing happened again, but this time I was with a friend who's had the full disclosure talk.

"...he's really worried, because he knows I'm not right...It's just hard going...I really hate this sometimes...and I shouldn't let diabetes get to me..."

"Talk to her," Iddy Biddy Budgen said, looking over at me, "She gets it!"

"Are you diabetic too?"

"Yep," I replied, "type one, with my replacement pancreas clipped to my bra...I use an insulin pump," I explained.

"They've spoken to me about a pump...I'm not too sure though. Do you like yours?"

"I love mine, but it wasn't without its' difficulties in the beginning. And it's not for everyone. For me, it fits in so much better with my life right now."

"Can I ask you how it works?"

"Of course! The cannula's in my leg at the moment. You can kind of see the outline through my trousers, but I'll show you what it looks like properly next week [site rotation said it would be in my right hip my Monday - it is!] And the pump is here," and I unclip it from my bra to show her.

"And you trust that to give you your insulin?"

"Yes. Now I do anyway. Took a while to get used to in the beginning. But the pump's super-smart, and it will alarm to tell me if there's a problem. And, touch wood, I've not had any yet. Apart from a low battery alarm. And a low cartridge. But that's it!"

"Impressive! I have to get back to work, but I want to talk to you some more if you don't mind? And I think my other half will want to chat too. Would that be okay?"

"Anytime. You know where the office is. And you have my extension number. And here's my mobile number," and I scribbled it down on a post-it note, "if you need anything, you now know every way of getting in touch!"

"Thank you, I will! It's nice knowing you get it, even though it sucks you have it. That made no sense!"

"Actually it did. I know what you're saying."

I hate knowing that there's someone else going through it, that you reading this may be going through it, and as sorry as I am for that, maybe selfishly, it's also comforting to know you're going through the same shit as me. Here's hoping that sentiment doesn't make me a bad person. 




Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Easy.

Late last week, I went with my Dad to drop my sister back off at uni. We were talking about peer support, after my Mum was invited to an event for people living with her condition, polymyositis.

"It sounds really stupid," I began, "but the best thing I've ever done is get on a train to London and meet this girl called Lizzie. The rest, as they say, is history! You and Mum don't often see my bad diabetes days because I have this network of people I can turn too. Some I only know by name, others have become good friends, close friends, that I can't imagine not knowing. I think Mum could use that. The worst that happens is she goes and hates it. That's okay [no force-feeding of community is one of my rules]. On the other hand, it might be just what she, and you, need."

"I think you're right," my Dad said (he's a man of very few words), "so that's your secret to making diabetes look easy, huh? Friends with diabetes?"


"Yep! So simple, so effective! Because this disease is not easy, not in the slightest. And I would take a cure in a heartbeat. But, for me, community helps. Friends help. They've influenced who I am today and my attitude towards diabetes."

"If someone had asked me when you were diagnosed if you'd have coped, I honestly would have said no."

"I would have said no too," I laughed. "But it's not all my doing. I've had a lot of help and support from family and friends [and from the DOC as a whole] along the way."

And I will forever be grateful for that. 



Monday, 5 January 2015

Balance.

Balance is what I'm looking for this year. I was looking for it last year too, but the balance I'm pursuing now is a little different. I'm no longer a uni student, for one. So what was a reasonably balanced life is no longer, and I'm on a mission to get that back.

Towards the end of last year, all I did (all I felt like I did) was work. Wake up, go to work, come home, have dinner, go to bed, repeat. At the weekends, I felt like I was playing catch up with emails and stuff and before I knew it, it would be Monday again. That cycle is something I'm looking to stop. Because as happy as I was, as I am, with my job, I wasn't happy with the lifestyle I started leading. I didn't exercise (although part of my journey to and from work is a 20 minute walk), I could hardly keep up with friends and family, I was neglecting my personal email and other online accounts...my work-personal life balance was significantly more work-focussed than I liked.

I'm still not entirely certain what "balanced" will look like for me, but for now I'm trying to live by the following:
Source.
  1. Take care of myself - my health and well being are important for me to get to where I want to be. No neglecting of me, by me. So I will exercise, I will check my blood sugar, I will eat well (and indulge on occasion) and I will blog (because emotional health is just as important as physical health).
  2. Be present - so when I'm with my family and friends, actually be with them. No checking my phone/social media etc.
  3. Say 'yes' and 'no', but to the right things - I'm the kind of person that says 'yes' or 'no' to the wrong things (like agreeing to do overtime at work when I already have plans or turning down a night with my best friend because I'm just not feeling it, often because I've done extra hours at work). This needs to change. I enjoy my job, and I don't mind staying late when it suits, but I shouldn't be bailing on plans to do so. My job is just one part of my life.
It's a starting point, and a do-able one. And do-able is important. Because otherwise I end up quitting before I've even given myself a chance to start. What's the point in that?  

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Friendly Stranger.

As cliché as it is, I've kick started 2015 with my first run in about two and a half months. It wasn't a good run, and I wasn't expecting it to be, but it was a starting point. I was also reminded of how much I now enjoy it - I want running to become part of my regular routine again.

I was running up one of the country lanes nearby when I passed another person, who was starting their year with a run too.

"Morning," we said to each other as we continued running our routes. 

Around my 4km mark, we passed again. Except this time I was walking, glucose meter in hand, and he was jogging.

"Hi again...oh, are you okay?" He asked me,

"Fine thanks," I replied, appreciating the concern, and thinking that that was the end of the interaction.

"Sorry, my son's diabetic too. I had to ask if you were okay. So it was your test strips that were rattling when you ran past earlier?"

I laughed. "Yep, and glucose tabs in the other pocket. You can hear me coming a mile off!"

"Better safe than sorry though. Happy New Year to you!"

"Happy New Year to you too. All the best to you and your family!"

And off we ran (again, in separate directions).  

I don't like this disease. But moments like that make me smile, and feel incredibly grateful of those that speak up about their diabetes to complete strangers. Whether it be writing a blog for others to read, talking with others online, or stopping to say "hi" to someone when they stop to check their blood sugar, I'm thankful for the comfort (and advocacy) you provide

Happy New Year! 

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.