Saturday, 14 November 2015

Heavy Heart (World Diabetes Day 2015).

Today, November 14th, marks Frederick Banting's birthday, which in turn marks World Diabetes Day.

Usually, for me, November 14th marks a day of celebration and thankfulness that Banting, along with Charles Best, discovered insulin, the very thing I need to live.

This year, however, World Diabetes Day feels very different, following what happened in Paris yesterday evening. This year, my heart is heavy, mourning a city, a country, that was my home, albeit for a short period of time.

Then I saw the below posted on Twitter, reminding me that's okay to acknowledge the two side by side. Hence me writing at 11pm.

On social media outlets last night, I saw how the world came together: #prayforfrance #porteouverte and the lighting up monuments in the colours of the French flag.

I see how the diabetes community comes together regularly.

It supports, it advises (non-medically speaking), it listens. 

It campaigns, it encourages, it cares.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, the DOC is there.

People, on the whole, are good. And people, on the whole, care. I see that on a daily basis, with my family, friends, colleagues, and those I interact with online.

And I've seen it over the last 24 hours following the attacks in Paris last night.

Let's keep on coming together for good.

Monday, 2 November 2015


Here we go again, November. 

Diabetes Awareness Month. 

A whirlwind of campaigns and blogs all aiming to raise awareness of diabetes, whatever the type, with World Diabetes Day falling in the middle of it all (November 14th). 

This year, it seems to be kicking off with the JDRF campaign T1D Looks Like Me

Whilst my aim this November is to shine a bit of a spotlight on diabetes and raise awareness, I'm also hoping to pay some attention to some other advocacy efforts that are taking place. 

November doesn't just mark Diabetes Awareness Month. It is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, Mouth Cancer Awareness Month, Movember...I could go on!

By writing blogs and campaigning like we do through November, we hope to reach a community wider than our own DOC bubble. I'm sure those adovcating for other health conditions throughout November hope to do the same.

So whilst advocating for myself, I'm also going to listen to others outside of my bubble.

November, let's go!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Insulin For All.

Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day are fast approaching, and I'd like to make you aware of a returning campaign in the run up to November 14th.

Last year, Liz from T1 International and Lucy from The Pendsey Trust got together and created a campaign with the resounding message being "Put the world back into World Diabetes Day" and it was a huge success.

This year, the message is going to be slightly different - "We are the world in World Diabetes Day" - but the aim is the same - insulin for all.

I've written a lot about this (see here and here) and, out of fear of repeating myself, I'm not going to go on in this post. But I will say this (and repeat myself anyway): insulin is not a luxury, it is necessary to live. Every single person in this world diagnosed with diabetes deserves a chance at living with it, no matter their age, background, country. The fact that type one diabetes is still a death sentence in some countries is shocking, especially in the year 2015.

So, how can you get involved?

It's pretty simple. Like last year, the main premise is to take a picture of yourself holding a sign that says "We are the world in World Diabetes Day" and share on social media with the hashtag #insulinforall

And if posting a selfie isn't enough for you, feel free to check this list out. 

I have no doubt there'll be more to come in the lead up to WDD :)

Saturday, 10 October 2015


This is nice: it's a Saturday afternoon, and I'm doing absolutely nothing. I went for a run this morning, which was my first run in a while, and it felt good. I had a quick coffee with E.Hales before getting my flu jab, and now I have no plans.

My life seems to have two paces at the moment: a whirlwind of everything happening all at once and nothing. Today, everything has stopped, and I'm very grateful for that. I've needed things to slow down for a while, but my trip to California and then various work commitments upon my return has meant that that hasn't happened until now. Hence the lack of blog action here.

So, why has life had me so busy? Well, like I said, I went to California for a week to see my old housemate, Lopez. All of my diabetes-related appointments happened the week after I got back, and the end of summer leave at work has meant that it was a case of hit-the-ground-running as soon as I returned. I'm also still trying to figure out what comes next, career-wise, which is draining in itself, but I think I may actually be getting somewhere with those decisions. Health-wise, I'm slowly beginning to use more test strips during the course of my day, and, as a result, my numbers are slowly coming in at levels I want them to. I know it's a simple concept: check blood sugar, use that data to make diabetes-decisions. But living at 100mph has meant that something has had to give, and unfortunately it was diabetes that took the hit. Another reason for the lack of posts here - how can I sit here and write when I'm not walking my talk?! 

Acknowledging this made me re-focus my efforts and my priorities. My job is important to me, as is finding the time for my family and friends and godson. But by juggling this, I let my own wellbeing slip. I stopped going to the gym, because I was just too tired to go. My weekends were so packed with coffee dates and dinners and playing with my littlest friend that I ended up going back to work on the Monday as tired as I was when I left Friday evenings.

Re-focussing has left me feeling ultimately happier, with more energy, and just generally feeling good about myself and where my life is currently at.

Acknowledging when things aren't quite right is a good thing, because you can make changes. But it's also important to acknowledge when your efforts have paid off, as an act of kindness to yourself, which is what I'm doing now. And I'm not ashamed to say it.

Point Magu - California.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Better Than Yesterday.

It was about three months ago when I got a call from my DSN asking me what thyroid tablets I'm on.

"I'm not on any thyroid tablets," I replied.

"Really? Well your thyroid function test has come back abnormal. It's nothing to panic about, but because we don't have a baseline for you, I'd like you to get another blood test in six weeks."

"Okay," I responded, not really sure what to say. I hung up the phone, closed my office door and had a little cry. At 22 years old, another health condition wasn't what I was looking for. My manager walked in during my pity party. I have no doubt he regrets that - once I've cried on someone once, I have no fear about crying on them again. Not that I knew it then, but it would happen a lot more over the coming weeks.

*      *      *      *      *

The office door ended up closed a lot more. I always used to be an open-door-kind-of-girl, but for some reason I just didn't want to deal with people. Closing the door stopped the traffic of people I often encountered (and used to love), and I could focus on other jobs.

*      *      *      *      *

Loss of interest came next. I lost my patience with people quickly, continued to hide away, if not in my office, in my manager's office or at the cafe on camp. Comfort eating became a regular thing. 

*      *      *      *      *

Then came the official diagnosis. Underactive thyroid and to start on Thyroxine.

"Have you had any symptoms at all?" my DSN asked. "Tiredness, lethargic?"

"Not that I've noticed."

"Maybe we've caught it before it becomes symptomatic then. So get started on those meds asap!"

*      *      *      *      *

It was the week between diagnosis and starting medication that I crumbled. I felt broken, disconnected, disengaged and a whole load of other things. I phoned my DSN and asked if an underactive thyroid can mess with your head. Because although I had no physical symptoms, my head was all over the place, and as far as I was concerned it had come out of no where. I completely broke down.

"I know we spoke about the physical symptoms, but can a thyroid problem mess with your headspace? Because I don't feel like me. I feel broken. And I don't know what to do...You know what, I'd actually take my diabetes diagnosis all over again over this. At least then I still felt like me. Symptoms were physical and I could explain them. But this I can't. And it's shit."

*      *      *      *      *

My best friend is a smart one. She can read me through a text message. Sometimes, it's annoying, other times I'm thankful for it. This time, I was incredibly thankful for it. We went out shopping, had some dinner, I voiced what I could explain. She didn't pry further, just let me disclose what I wanted.

*      *      *      *      *

I started taking thyroxine tablets. One 100mcg tablet a day, at 8.30am, half an hour before breakfast. It sounds really stupid, but taking them gave me hope. Hope that this was the beginning of me being me again. I knew it wouldn't be immediate, but it was a starting point. Because feeling the way I did sucked big time.

"By my birthday,"

"What?" my manager asked.

"By my birthday is when I want to start feeling like me again. My DSN said the tablets will take a couple of weeks to kick in, my birthday is in three and a half. So that's what I'm shooting for."

He smiled and left the office.

*      *      *      *      *

"How are you doing today?"

"Better than yesterday. And that's all I can ask for," I said with a genuine smile.

"I knew you'd make it. Happy birthday, my dear."

*      *      *      *      *

Not feeling like myself meant I didn't want to write here. I took the break from this blog (and social media in general) so that I could figure things out. I wasn't ready to share, and I wasn't going to bullcrap on this blog and pretend that everything was a-okay.

Today, however, I feel better than yesterday, and better than the day before that. And that really is all I can ask for. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Hello, Blog!

"That there is your insulin pump, and that there is a monster taking it. But you get it back."
I write here, honest! I needed to take some time out (as you may have noticed from the digital tumbleweed here). But I feel ready to start sharing again. So, hello again, blog! 

Friday, 24 July 2015

365 Days After Graduation.

"It's funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different" C.S.Lewis.

I graduated July 24th 2014. One whole year ago! Seriously, where is the time going?! A lot has changed over the last 365 days, and I've learnt a lot. So here it goes:
  1. It's okay to not have an effing clue what you're meant to do after graduation. I've been a graduate for a whole year now, and I still have no idea. But I'm happy with where I'm currently at.
  2. As exciting as life after graduation can be, sometimes I find the real world really sucks. People aren't always kind, workplace politics can be a bit of a bitch, and some days it's just a real effing struggle. 
  3. Getting up early doesn't get any easier, no matter how many times you snooze your alarm. And sleeping through your alarm and going to work with wet hair is not as acceptable as it was at uni.
  4. Holidays are few and far between. Choose holiday days carefully. And savour every minute of them!
  5. Same goes for weekends. Life after uni generally means working full days, not one lecture at 10am then done for the day. Use the time to catch up with family and friends and just switch off. 
  6. Don't give your personal mobile number out to people at work unless you 100% trust them not to give it out to anyone else. I don't think this should have even made the list, because...general etiquette...but thanks to someone giving out my number, I get work calls on my personal phone. Not okay with that. 
  7. Remember reading for fun?! That's an actual thing. I forgot after four years of uni when all I did was read for assignments and classes, not because I wanted to. I love that I love reading again.
  8. My health is more important to me now than it was whilst I was at uni. I'm not too sure why, it just is. I put effort into managing my diabetes, make sure I attend my appointments, get blood work done in advance, eat well and exercise regularly. I've started to take the time out to experiment with food, make meals I wouldn't usually make, and just generally take care of myself. 
  9. Sleep is the thing. Going to bed early so you're bright eyed for work is okay. And passing up an invite to go out drinking is okay. It's also totally fine to accept such an invitation, but saying no is a-okay too. 
  10. Maintaining relationships is hard. People become busy after graduation, travelling, working, chasing careers, just generally doing their thing and being awesome. Even if it's only every couple of months, make the effort to make that phone call, send that text or email, arrange that skype date or FaceTime, go for coffee one weekend. 
  11. Putting money into my savings account every month is maybe one of my best habits as an almost grown-up.
  12. Take the time to find balance. Your balance. And work at maintaining it. Everything's so much easier with a little balance.