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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.  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Stuff.

There's been a digital silence here recently. I'm working through some stuff, so blogging just hasn't happened. I'm still here, just lurking in the background for a while. In the meantime, some other stuff for you to explore:

Monday, 8 September 2014

Is It Tuesday, Yet?

Today, I had one of those mornings. You know, one of those ones where I have all of these plans and none of them actually happen.

I planned on going for a run. 

I set my alarm for 7am to set a temporary basal rate on my pump, with the intention of going out for my run around 9am. 

So far, so good.

Another of my alarms went off at 8am. I pre-bolused for breakfast, and had every intention of getting up.
Image taken from Google Images.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

I rolled back over and fell asleep. 

Never, ever good!

A blood sugar of 2.9mmol stirred me from my sleep at 9.30am. Shaky and sweaty (and cursing myself), I made my way downstairs to the fridge and grabbed the cranberry juice, counting the sips, and I sunk to the floor, waiting for my blood sugar to come back up. 

It's one of those occasions where I like to call for a do-over. Except I can't, so instead I'm eagerly awaiting Tuesday so I can try again. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Summer Of 100 Bikes.

Yesterday, I was sent a video link from The Pendsey Trust, and it made my day. Today, I'm hoping it makes yours.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pumping Insulin: Thoughts At Three Months.

On Tuesday, I had my first pump clinic appointment since starting back in June. I was going to blog about it, but as I started pumping, I realised I had very little to say. It was a fairly standard appointment, my consultant and DSN are happy with how things are going, and I'm more than happy with where I'm currently at with regard to my diabetes. 

One question I was asked at my appointment, however, was has the transition from MDI (multiple daily injections) to pump been what I expected?

I wasn't really sure how to answer. I feel it's too soon for me to answer that question. I'm still making adjustments to make pump therapy work for me, and "experimenting" with different types of bolus and temporary basal rates (TBR). 

However, there are things I'd wish I'd known, which weren't mentioned before the switch:

Where I stashed my pump for Graduation.
I wish I had known that people would just assume that, because I have the pump, I'm practically cured. So many times, I've heard something along the lines of "so...that's it. You wear that, and it does everything for you..." Not the case. I still have to check my blood sugar and count carbs. I just don't have to do the injection anymore - the pump delivers the insulin instead. 

It takes time to adjust. Don't get me wrong, I was prepared to hate the pump initially, and I did. I missed the comfort of injections, as I knew what I was doing there. But I thought I'd feel a lot more comfortable with it at this point than what I do. However, as I said at the start of this post, I'm still making adjustments and "experimenting" to make insulin pump therapy effective for me.

Not necessarily for everyone, but for me, there's a lot of stuff that comes with pumping insulin that's not prescribed. Cannulas don't always stick, and I hate waste, so I make sure I always have surgical tape in my handbag/diabetes supply shelf. That, and I also find I have marks from where cannulas used to be, so use BioOil (although have been told tea-tree oil is better?) to help them heal quicker...to just insert a new cannula there. And then, of course, there are the glucose tablets (or other hypo-treatment of choice).   

It's okay to hate it. Now, I am incredibly grateful for my insulin pump, especially knowing how difficult it can be to get approval and funding for them on the NHS, and I am seeing the benefits of it. It's the fact that I need it in the first place that I hate. During my appointment, my consultant asked me if I'd hand the pump back, and I answered very quickly with a definite "NO!" and then I hesitated. "You wouldn't give it back, but you don't want to have to use it either." It wasn't a question that she asked me, it was a statement. A fact. I nodded, not really sure what I was meant to say. "That's okay...feeling like that is 'allowed'. Of course you don't want this. But it's working for you, you're seeing the benefits of it with regard to your health, well being and lifestyle." It's a constant, visible reminder of the fact that my body doesn't produce insulin, but one that, at present, appears to be suiting me better than MDI did. It's something I love and hate, often at the same time.

And, finally, on a lighter note, no one ever mentioned how awkward going to the toilet would be with the pump! Don't drop it/let it fall out of my pocket. Lower jeans/skirt/shorts/pyjama bottoms without pulling at the tubing or just getting tangled up in it in general. I feel it's something they should teach you the moment you're "hooked up", as my first toilet escapade was hilarious! (Housemate: "What took you so long? Actually, no, don't answer that!" Me: "I don't know how to pee with a pump!") Now, my pump tends to hang out in my bra instead of below the waistband, so I avoid getting tangled in tubing and tugging at the cannula site!