Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Things I Like.

In an attempt to regroup, a list of the diabetes things I like. Because as crappy as this thing is, it's not all rain clouds and lightening bolts:
  • I like the friendships that have formed as a result of my diabetes! 
  • I like running my pump reservoirs down to zero units. Because the insulin in it is liquid gold. 
  • I like it even more when I hit zero on a cartridge change day.
  • I like the sound of my pump delivering my bolus insulin - it's one of comfort.
  • I like when my meter reads 5.5mmol. 
  • I like when my pump supplies delivery arrives and I can organise my cupboard
  • I like emptying the pencil case I keep my day-to-day diabetes supplies in of all the used test strips. The more there are, the happier I am - it makes me feel like I've been really tuned in.
  • I like the smell and taste of the blueberry glucotabs.
  • I like having a better understanding of my body.
  • I like that I pay more attention to my health in general.
  • I like that my family and friends took the time to learn about diabetes as I learnt too.
  • I like that my littlest friend asks where my pump site is before we start playing.
  • I like blogging.
  • I like the Diabetes Online Community, and am so proud of the things accomplished within the community, such as Spare a Rose.
  • And I like (love, actually) when I'm busy with life and other things, and diabetes is no longer on my radar. And then when I do remember, I am so very grateful that diabetes is just a small part of a much bigger whole

Monday, 16 March 2015

Ball: Dropped.

mySugr has been my chosen form of blood sugar logging for a long time now. Yet it was only the other day that I text Lizzie (excitedly) about the fact that you could also access your blood sugar logs through the mySugr website, where much more detailed reports can be found compared to the app.

I then properly looked at my report.

The ball has most definitely been dropped. Or, to quote a friend, "a momentary shift in priorities". Why? I'm not too sure. I don't really know why I didn't pick up on things sooner. Maybe I just didn't want to. There's a guilt that comes with blood sugar readings, a reflex reaction for me, and maybe I just desensitised myself from what they were showing me. Because there is no doubt that they were telling me I'd dropped the ball. Take a look (and for context, my target on the app is set at between 4mmol and 10mmol):

There's more above the green (and off the scale) that I personally like.

For me, the hardest thing when it comes to times like this (because it has happened before, and it will happen again) is pin-pointing where things aren't working.

I've recently started taking The Pill, which is more than likely having an effect on my blood sugars. My before bed readings have been significantly out of range recently.

My waking blood sugar has been higher than I'm used to too, and I'm feeling crummy for it. This could also be because of The Pill, I'm not too sure.

My weight could also be an issue. I know I've gained a little. I'm not worried about it, but I know that I'm very insulin sensitive: a little weight gain, I see my insulin requirements increase and vice-versa. Factor  in that I have  a desk job, and until the last couple of weeks hadn't really exercised, it isn't much of  a surprise.

The pre-bolus is no more in my diabetes management. This, for me, is a pretty big thing.

I've joined the gym. It's helping, not only with reigning in my blood sugar management, but also with dusting away those mental cobwebs that seem to have made a reappearance of late. I've been spending a lot of time second-guessing my decision to move back to where I currently live. I miss my old town, and I was kinda hoping (maybe naively) that I would have had a sign by now telling me I'd made the right call. I'm still waiting. And I don't doubt that this frame of mind isn't helping either. I've also missed gym-ing it for me, not just the above reasons.

One thing that is for certain is that I need to make some changes, otherwise, before I know it, these tendencies I have picked up will become habit, and that will make things a hundred times harder to snap out of.

"Do you regret finding more detailed sugar logs online now?" a friend asked me over coffee at the weekend.

"No," I answered slowly, "because if I hadn't have picked up on all this now, when would I? At my clinic appointment? When I start to feel too crap to function well? Downloading data helps me see the big picture. And at the moment, I don't like what I see."

"Time for changes?"

I nodded. "Time for changes."

Time for changes.


Friday, 13 March 2015

PWD Conference 2015.

This past weekend, I had the honour of attending the PWD Conference 2015, organised by the GBDOC and Team Blood Glucose. It's the first of it's kind in that it was organised by patients, for patients. There was no agenda. There were no companies present. Just us: the people living with diabetes, both type one and type two, and those caring for those living with diabetes.

So, Friday evening saw me running out of work, rushing home, getting changed, grabbing my things and leaving again to make the train to Nottingham, where the conference was held. I met Lizzie en-route, and after just under two hours on a very packed train, we'd made it. (A word of advice - never catch the first super-off-peak train out of St Pancras to Notts if you want a seat; it is highly unlikely you will get one!)

I don't think anyone was really sure what to expect when it came to the day. Like I've mentioned, there was no agenda. What this basically meant was we picked what conversations we wanted to be having. Topics ranged from diet and food to managing blood glucose when exercising, diabetes in adolescents and mental health issues. The sessions were ran by us, and the conversations kept on going. It was diverse, and if you didn't want to go to any, you could stay in the main room and catch up with friends, old and new.

A-conferencing and checking out DexDrip.

When I go to events such as these I'm looking to connect with my peers, and that's exactly what I did. I hung out with old friends, connected with new ones, and hugged those that I talk with online through the DOC on a regular basis. We laughed, we learnt, we listened, we loved. We also ate cake. There was a lot of cake. Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy the more structured conferences, but it's also nice to go to these things and chill. It's nice to not be running from one presentation to another, and it was empowering to know that we, the people living with diabetes, were shaping the conversations being had.

The GBDOC and Team Blood Glucose should be SO proud of what they achieved last weekend, and I would like to thank those that organised it for having me. It was a privilege to be a part of, and I hope that there are more events like it in the future. 

(On a side note, after the conference, a small group of us ended up at Wollaton Park, the home of Wayne Manor from the Batman movies. Given my love for superhero-type movies, I thought this was wicked awesome, and it nearly (nearly) topped attending the conference itself. (I really love superhero movies!) See pictures below). 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Not Prepared.

Usually, I am so on the ball when it comes to making sure I'm prepared for whatever diabetes-related situation may arise. Spare battery, check. Ketone meter (which also doubles as my back up glucose meter), check. Back up insulin, check. Needles, in case I have to manually inject, check. Glucose tabs, check. Spare cannula, check.

More often than not, I'm pretty on it! I'd much rather carry everything on me, knowing that if my best friend calls and wants to go for an impromptu dinner, I can. Or go to the pub after work with my colleagues. Being prepared means I can be spontaneous when it comes to those decisions.

Last Friday, however, I was only partly-prepared!

I noticed that my insulin cartridge was running low. Not a problem. I grabbed the vial of insulin from my bedside table before I left for work and put it in my bag. I knew I had enough insulin left in the pump to last until lunch. Lunch came round, I checked my blood sugar, and saw I had 3 units left, so I bolused that to cover some of my lunch (I do my very best not to waste insulin - it's precious stuff!). I took my insulin vial from my bag, and then looked into my diabetes bag for my spare insulin cartridge.

Except I didn't have a spare insulin cartridge. And I'd just bolused the last 3 units I had in my pump, something I wouldn't have done if I had checked for the pump cartridge first. Because that 3 units could have been my basal insulin until I got home, and just done an injection to cover lunch.

But, feeling like a bad-ass and using up the last of the insulin in my pump, I didn't check, and this afternoon saw me doing a few injections, something I hadn't done since I started on my insulin pump back in June of last year.

Going back to injections, albeit for only a few hours, felt strange. It's weird how something that was my normal for four years suddenly feels alien to me. It's also made me very aware of the fact that I'm not actually confident anymore when it comes to injections. I wasn't entirely certain how to calculate my basal rates for the time I was disconnected from my pump, and I also didn't know if my insulin to carb ratios would be affected, as the way the insulin is absorbed is different. 

Perhaps I'll go on a pump break in the near future. For me, it's important to feel confident with your method of insulin therapy. And when using an insulin pump, like I currently am, it's important for me to feel comfortable with both my pump and injections, in case my pump ever breaks. 

A lot of this disease is out of my control. But knowing, understanding and feeling confident with my insulin therapy is. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Invisible.

I'd felt a bit funny during my last hour of work, but a blood sugar check told me I was at 5.2mmol/l. I still felt odd before I left so I checked again, and clocked in at 4.9. I went to the shop to grab a snack and then made my way home as normal.

It was when I got to the train station and I was fumbing around with my ticket that I realised something still wasn't right. I managed to get onto the platform, and I whipped out my meter yet again.

2.9mmol/l.

"Fuck," I thought.

One look at this number, and every hypo symptom hit me with full force: I was shaky, sweaty, my heartbeat was racing, my lips were tingling, and rummaging for food suddenly seemed difficult.

It was the kind of low where, if I were with family or friends, I would have told them, for my safety and comfort. The whole "I'm low, and although I probably won't pass out [passing out is a hypo symtom that I am lucky enough not to have experienced], I need you to know that I feel like I might" spiel. But I was travelling alone (on my very short commute home from work), panicking. It got to a point that I wondered why people weren't looking at me weirdly, because I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. But no one seemed to have even noticed.

Source.
That's when I caught site of my reflection.

I did not look the way I felt, and it reminded me just how invisible this disease is.

Sometimes, I like that. I like that diabetes is something I can disclose as and when I want to.

Other times, I wish it wasn't. Like when I'm on a train, feeling like I might pass out, and not looking like there's anything wrong with me. 

The hypo passed, as it always does. I calmed down, and got home safely, thinking a little too much about this whole diabetes thing.

This disease, on occassion, terrifies me. It's not something I often openly admit because I worry that if I think about it too much, the weight of diabetes will become too much. Instead, I keep those fears locked away in a little box in my head, and try not focus on them. Fear has never been a great motivator for me, and, also, doing so often leaves me in a frame of mind I don't like being in.

But what has stuck with me was how "normal" I looked. That's scared me. Because the way I felt was not conveyed by my physical appearance. There are measures I take to make me feel safer. For instance, I disclose my diabetes. And I have the ICE App on my iPhone, stating that I'm type one diabetic, but you wouldn't necessarily think to look at a person's phone. 

What one might look for is a medic alert bracelet. Of course I own one...and wear one...or perhaps I've been meaning to buy one for a number of months (read: years) now. 

(Feel free to tell me off, I most definitely deserve it!)

I have now, however, ordered one (see picture above), and it should arrive within the next few days. I don't know how I've managed to go so long without one, and I am so lucky that I haven't found myself in a situation that required me to have one, but enough is enough. I've finally had that wake up call that has made me buy one, and buy one now.

I hope I never need it, but being reminded of, and terrified by, how invisible diabetes really is, I'd much rather wear one than not.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Vicki's Notebook Turns Two! (Well, Yesterday!)

Two years ago yesterday, I was sat in my little flat in Alcalá as I tapped away at my laptop writing my first blog post. I pressed publish, and wrote another. And another. And another. This one marks post 288, not a number I was ever expecting to reach (like with most things, I was kind of expecting this to be a short-lived hobby - I'm glad it isn't!)

Pressing "publish" was one of the weirdest things - I'm well aware of the fact that once something is on the internet, it's very hard to delete it. I took a risk, and, so far, it has been more than worth it. I'll always say it - this blog is my diabetes therapy. And as a result of it, friendships have formed, opportunities have arisen, and it has helped me find my voice.

I don't know where this blog will go in the future - life seems to be getting in the way of posting, and I often worry about how read-worthy my posts are (I'm not analytical and I'm not scientific, and I wonder if people really want to hear about my life. That, and there are so many other blogs I can list that talk about this whole "life with diabetes" thing with way more grace, elegance and poise than myself!) What I do know, however, is that I love having (and am proud of) this little corner of the internet, because (despite the lacking grace/elegance/poise) I feel a hundred times better when I've put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) and organised my thoughts. And that's what matters the most - if there's just one person out there that this blog helps, then that's just a massive bonus!

So, Happy (belated) Birthday, blog! Here's to another year of posting!
Source.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Zero.

So, this happened:


"It's oddly satisfying when the insulin left in my pump is at zero on cartridge change day"

Insulin isn't something I take for granted. I'm so extremely lucky to have access to it. All I have to do is go to the doctor, put in a repeat prescription, allow 48 hours for the doctor to process it and get it to the pharmacy and then pick it up. Same routine for my test strips, lancets, needles for my insulin pens.

And I don't have to pay, thanks to my medical exemption card.


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

The Spare a Rose campaign is live once again. The concept is SO simple: one rose costs about $5 (so, what £3.50 roughly?!). Buy your loved one one less rose this Valentines' Day, and donate that money to Spare a Rose. That money provides one months' worth of insulin through the IDF's Life for a Child programme. One month of life. Your loved one still get flowers (or whatever else you choose to buy them - I feel I should make it clear that this concept isn't exclusive to those who buy flowers!) and at the same time you help a child.

So let's share the love this Valentines Day, and help spread the word.

Spare a rose, save a child.