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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Oh, Hi There Glowing Screen!

So life's kind of got in the way this past week. An update, in bullet point fashion:
 
Source.
  • I registered with a new GP. I was told that during the "registration appointment" I would be able to discuss the things I wanted to discuss. Well, I couldn't. The appointment was with a nurse. She had to refer me to a DSN to discuss diabetes and another nurse to discuss the pill. Brilliant. Two extra appointments. I did get the flu jab though. So that's one less thing I need to do. 
  • I'M EMPLOYED!! Last Friday, I was offered a job and I accepted. I started on Monday, and have just finished my first week there. So far, so good.
  • Our Diabetes celebrated a year of tweet chats and support this week. A huge well done to founders David Cragg and Laura Cleverly! It's something I'm honoured to be a part of.
  • I was reminded of how much ketones suck. Not that I really needed reminding. Sitting at my desk with ketones, but a blood sugar of 5.1mmol, left me baffled. Until I remembered starvation ketones. Note to self: eat breakfast, no matter how early I have to start work.
  • I attended the JDRF Discovery Evening in London, which was such a great night. I met those behind T1 International, caught up with Gavin Griffiths, aka Diathlete (who has just finished his American tour) and got to give the very lovely Jen Grieves the hug I've been wanting to give her since she wrote That Post. (Capital 'T', capital 'P'). I also had the chance to put a few faces to twitter-handles, which was awesome. A huge thank you to all those at JDRF for organising the night!
  • Thursday saw the Quality in Care Award Ceremony for Diabetes, with Roddy Riddle winning the People's Choice Award. A full list of results can be found here.
  • Diabetes Awareness Month is fast approaching (how are we more than halfway through October?!) Already, advocacy campaigns are popping up on social media, such as the Smash Diabetes initiative from Glu and JDRF UK's Type Onesie is also making a comeback. I'm looking forward to hearing more as November gets closer.
 
Happy Saturday!  

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Changing Teams.

Being diagnosed at 17, moving away six months later, doing a year abroad and then going back to uni for one more year means I've switched up my GP and health care team more times than I like. I've had three GPs since diagnosis, two consultants and spoken to a number of diabetes specialist nurses. 

Source.
Since graduating from university, I've moved back to my hometown, meaning, once again, I'm going through the process of changing health care teams. Difference is, this time I'm a hell of a lot more apprehensive about the whole thing. 

For the last four years (because they were extremely accommodating when it came to my year abroad), I've had access to a brilliant health care team at the diabetes clinic of the hospital in my uni town. I've always been able to see the same consultant, whom I have a lot of respect for, I've been able to phone, email and drop in to see a DSN, request appointments with a dietitian when appropriate and, not that it's a service I've used, I also could have had access to a diabetes psychologist. Having seen the same consultant over these past few years, I feel extremely comfortable walking into her office, safe from any judgement over my numbers. There have been times when I've walked in, head held high because I know I've had a really good few months, and there have been times when I've broken down as soon as her door is closed as I'd found myself in a place I didn't know how to get out of.

So, yeah, changing health care teams is making me feel rather uneasy at present, purely and simply because I'm so worried I'm not going to have the same relationship with my consultant as I've had. 

That, and there's my pump funding that needs to be taken into account, as, to be quite honest, I have no idea what happens there (if anyone can shed any light on this matter, that would be awesome!) 

Some say I'm just being silly, but I don't think it's unjustified for me to want to know I'm going to get the same level of care as I have been receiving. This is my health at the end of the day, and I think it's important to build trust between the patient and HCP, in whatever capacity. I like that I've felt safe in my consultant's office, and that's something I want to have with my next consultant, DSN and GP. 

This is an anxious and uncomfortable time in terms of my diabetes health care. Here's hoping it doesn't last long.   

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

What I'm Watching.

A couple of things have caught my eye recently.

First - it's not "All About That Bass", but All About That Cure.
 
Second, this brilliant speech (finally found the video to insert here!) that Kim (Texting My Pancreas) gave at the Medicine X Conference last month. All I can say is WOW! 



Happy watching!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Resonates.

I read a lot of diabetes blogs. I don't often comment, unless I feel I have something to say, but I read. I usually find myself nodding along thinking "Yeah! Me too! I get it!". Other times, I'm learning of new advocacy efforts, or reading a commentary on an article/research piece/other subject. And sometimes, just sometimes, I'm hit with a post that goes that little bit further. It resonates. It sticks with me for days. It becomes bookmarked in my browser so that I can go back to it. I want to comment, but I can't string a sentence together. Well, one that makes any sense, anyway! Because, more often than not, those posts - those ones that resonate - I'm reading them and thinking this is (or was) me.

When such blog posts come along, I sit in front of my computer screen, brain working fast to put words together to leave a comment, fingers itching to tap letters on the keyboard. But nothing happens. My brain doesn't formulate any words and my fingers don't eagerly tap away. I just sit there, often wishing I could jump through my laptop screen to give the writer a big hug. Because when words fail me, that's what I do.

Image credit to Dallas Clayton.
It saddens me when I read these types of post, knowing that there are others who are (were) struggling in the same way I am (or was), but at the same time, as a reader, it also brings great comfort and reassurance that I'm not alone. It's the reason I am SO grateful for each and every person who has made the decision to write about their diabetes-life online, no matter the perspective (type one, type two, type 1.5 or parent) or how difficult the subject.

Finally, to the writer of the blog post that's stuck with me recently (resulting in this pretty pointless blog post): a BIG HUG and a whole load of thanks for sharing.

 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

TALKing Hypos.

This week (September 29th - October 5th) is Hypo Awareness Week. "The aim of Hypo Awareness Week is to raise awareness of hypoglycaemia in the inpatient setting to help hospital staff recognise and treat symptoms and refer patients to the appropriate care teams."
NovoNordisk: Official partner of Hypo Awareness Week 2014.
This year's theme is "TALK hypos" (Think, Ask, Learn and Keep track of [hypos]), encouraging people with diabetes to discuss hypos with their health care teams and vice versa.

My hypos come in various forms but, more often than not, I look like I've got it together, despite how debilitating a low blood sugar feels. There's a video by Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me, in which she video-blogs whilst low. 


"I look and I sort of sound like I've got my shit together, but I don't. I felt so shakey and, actually, after I turned off the camera, I was talking to myself this was stupid, why did you do that? And then I kind of sat on the floor at my house and waited ten minutes for my blood sugar to come up and it was really weird, because it felt so debilitating, but it didn't look really debilitating. It looked...I could have fooled somebody into thinking I was fine."
 
For me, this is why we need to talk hypos: just because we may look fine in that moment, it doesn't mean we are. That, and it's also important to acknowledge that hypo symptoms aren't universal (check out the question Diabetes UK tweeted this morning). So this week, I'll be joining in the discussion, both online and with my (new) GP.
 
For further information about Hypo Awareness Week, click here to be taken to the Diabetes UK website. Also, you can watch the latest videos by Type 1 Uncut, discussing hypos and hypo hangovers.
 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Healthy Diabetic.

I was at my local job centre today (yay for unemployment!) and I was going through the whole "About Me" process - qualifications, interests, skills, types of job I'm looking for - when we got to a section about health.

"Are you healthy?" The adviser asked me.

"Yes," I replied.

"Chronic conditions...no..."

"Actually," I interrupted, "I have type one diabetes."

"Oh...I just assumed that because you said you were healthy..."

"Well, I am healthy. I just have diabetes too," I explained, and not very well I might add.

And the rest of the session continued.

But the whole way home, my mind was still at that question, and how something like that is meant to be answered.

Image taken from Google Images.
As far as I'm concerned, I am healthy. I eat well, I exercise, I live my life just like the next person does. Yet I have a pancreas that refuses to produce insulin, causing me to live with this "chronic condition", this "disease".

But "chronic condition" or "disease" aren't terms you often put next to "healthy".

Most days, diabetes is nothing but background noise in my life: the humming of my pump as it delivers my bolus insulin, the beeping of my meter when I switch it on and test my blood sugar. Other days, it's centre stage, with numbers screaming for attention.

That's the thing about diabetes: it's fine - I'm fine - until it's not. And that "not" can be scary at times. It's a weird kind-of dance between seeming and looking fine, but having to deal with something pretty effing serious all the effing time. 

Yet, in spite of that fact, I've never considered it to be something that makes me unhealthy. If anything, it's made me healthier. (Ironic, I know.) I'm a lot more aware of my body. I eat better than I did pre-diabetes, and I've come a long way in terms of exercise since I nervously went to my first exercise class last October.

Yes, my body is broken, in that it doesn't produce insulin, leaving me with this disease known as type one diabetes. But, dammit, I'm healthy, and I will continue to take steps to remain as healthy as I can be. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Rewards.

Yesterday afternoon, I took part in a Tweetchat hosted by PharmaPhorum about "real-world diabetes" (a transcript of the chat can be seen here). I didn't really get into all of the chat, as I ended up talking "rewards" with a few people.

I was asked how I rewarded myself with regard to my diabetes management.

It took me a long time to answer, because, the truth is, I don't reward myself. 

I go to clinic, and if I see a decrease in my hba1c, I consider that a reward. Or if they tell me I've lost weight. But I knew that wasn't what they were getting it. They were talking more day-to-day things.

It got me thinking.

Am I the only one who doesn't reward myself? Is this a 'thing'? 

I'm genuinely intrigued! Rewards have never been a thing in my diabetes management, but I'm always open to new ideas to keep me on my toes, from trying new apps to keep me logging blood sugar levels to mixing up my exercise routine (which has been non-existent recently, but I'm getting it back. Kinda.)

I've always been the kind of person that goes through periods of being really motivated, keeping logs of things, exercising frequently, counting every single carb to wanting very little to do with diabetes. The motivation wears off, the thought of keeping detailed logs fills me with dread and exercise is the last thing I want to do (despite knowing how essential it has become in my diabetes management) As for counting carbs...well...that's probably where I'm weakest in this whole thing they call "diabetes management", so you can imagine what it's like when I'm not motivated ("I'm gonna call this dinner 60g of carb, and correct later if need be...")

A friend of my brother's has type one (14 years old) and his Mum offered to give him a £1 for everyday he took the diabetes-reigns and checked his blood sugar, remembered to take his blood test kit and insulin out with him and acted on the numbers his meter gave him. Lo and behold, he did it. There was an incentive there.

But he's a kid. I'm an adult (apparently). But there's nothing saying that I, that we, can't reward ourselves for putting up with this extremely uninteresting and, at times, very time-consuming disease that is type one diabetes, whatever age we are, whatever our connection to diabetes is.

So, here's my plan for the next week, starting from today: I'm going to log my blood sugars and insulin doses, and actually count my carbs, using my Carbs and Cals app and Cook and Count Carbs app for home-cooked meals. I'm also going to go out for at least three runs this week. As I really need to snap out of this funk I'm in, and I know that exercise is The Thing (capital letters for importance) that is going to help clear out those mental cobwebs. 

If I succeed (I have to now...I've blogged about it...that holds me accountable) I will allow myself an H&M purchase (they have so much nice stuff in at the moment!) It's not much, but it's a start. Besides, if this works out and becomes a regular thing, it's gonna need to be small purchases! Or a once-a-month type thing!

And if you're reading this, I'm assuming you also have a connection to diabetes. Make sure you reward yourself too. You deserve it. Trust me, I know.