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. 


Monday, 13 July 2015

The One Where I Ran 10km.

On Sunday, 12th July 2015, E.Hales and I woke up, donned our pinkest clothes (read: I stole one of her very many pink tops - I'm not a pink person) and made our way to our local Race for Life. If you don't know, Race for Life is a run in aid of Cancer Research UK. You can run, jog or walk 10km, 5km, or take part in the Pretty Muddy 5km assault course (which we're looking to do next year). It's a very pink day and it's awesome!




This was my first 10km run. I hadn't done as much training as I wanted to - a combination of work, other commitments and a bit of exercise burnout left me feeling a little unprepared, but that feeling didn't last too long. When you take part in a Race for Life event, everyone has a sign on their back that says why they're taking part.

The. Biggest. Motivator. Ever.

We heard some people share their experiences. We had a minutes silence to think of all those that are battling cancer, have lost their lives to cancer and have kicked cancer's butt. We warmed up. We ran. (Most of it, anyway. A blood sugar of 18.8mmol after 5km left me confused and not all there, taking a correction bolus and chugging a bottle of water.) We crossed the finish line. We hugged. We cried. We gratefully accepted the brioche that was being offered to us at the end (blood sugar clocked in at 12mmol by the end of the race). We happily accepted our medals. We clapped and cheered others as they ran/jogged/walked. We were united, with one aim: cure all cancers.

So I (mostly) ran. For those battling cancer. For those that have lost their lives to cancer. For those that have survived cancer. For my future. For my family's future. For the next generation's future.




Here's to kicking cancer's butt.










Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Living.

"Let me drive you home, please?"

"I'm fine," I replied, "not low anymore. Not shaky, not dizzy, not feeling weird, and my blood sugar is 7.2mmol. And I've eaten a granola bar. I'm fine."

"Yeah, but..."

"Yeah but what?!" I interrupted. "This is my normal. Lows are something I'm used to, highs are something I'm used to. If I stopped every time...sought help every time...I'd never do anything alone. You've said I need to trust you, you need to trust me too. I live with diabetes every single day, and have done for the last five and a bit years. I know what I'm doing."

"Fine. Text me when you get home, just so I know you haven't flaked on the train and ended up and the end of the train line!"

"I'm not gonna flake out. And if I do, that's what my medic alert's for - hedge my bets!" I was hoping to lighten the mood, but instead my manager just glared at me. "Okay, seriously, I've done some stupid shit, like frozen my insulin, but I'm not stupid enough to try to make it home if my blood sugar's crummy."

"You've frozen your insulin?!"

"Story for another time, boss. See you tomorrow. I'll text you when I'm home."

I know there are times when I'm fiercely independent and far too stubborn, but this was one I wasn't going to back down on.

For the record, I made it home. Which you've probably gathered seeing as I'm blogging about it.

Monday, 15 June 2015

What I Learnt By Taking A Pump Break.

In bullet point fashion, of course:

  • Injections are hard work! Can't just press some buttons on my meter and away I go. No, I actually have to stop and take the time out to make sure I get insulin into my system.
  • I'm much more mindful of what I eat when injecting - is that snack really worth the extra shot I'm going to have to take to cover it?
  • That being said, on Friday I had pizza for dinner. Pizza on my pump? No problem! Multiwave bolus, and I manage to dodge the inevitable peak. Or at least stop it from peaking to high. Pizza on injections? Hello blood sugar of 15.4mmol when I woke up Saturday morning. (And I did two shots trying to stop the peak that way.)
  • My cannula is a source of comfort. Over the last few days, I've found myself reaching for cannula sites, to find there is no cannula. And I've panicked, and then remembered that I've decided to be device-free. Feeling my cannula in place seems to provide a sense of comfort for me. Weird, I know, but we all have strange tendencies, right?!
  • The dawn phenomenon struggle was real and frustrating. 
  • I forgot how much I enjoyed using the phrase "shoot up". You just don't say it when using a pump.
  • Although I was itching to get my pump back on, I was not looking forward to sharing my bed with it. That was the one thing I loved about my pump break - not rolling over and having my pump dig in or having to fish it out of the duvet cover in the mornings. 
  • I'm a micro-corrector. A micro-doser too, for that matter. On my pump, I could, and would, micro-correct a blood sugar of 10. And I could micro-dose insulin to cover my morning coffee. But to do that on injections is near enough impossible. I can dose and correct in increments of 0.5. That, and is 10 a high enough blood sugar level to want to correct it with another injection?!
  • Temp basal is one of the best things ever. I can't remember the last time I actually used a temp basal, but suddenly, when I don't have the option to use it, all I want to do is use it. 
  • In short, I have a new-found appreciation for my pump, and welcomed its' attachment back on my body with open arms this morning! I've also proved to myself that I can revert back to injections with no real difficulties. My pump isn't permanent, and now I have the confidence to go back to injections, on a whim. Constantly wearing a medical device had taken its' toll on my mind, and taking a break from it has given me the time to get myself in the right place to start wearing it again. This morning, I felt ready to suit up once more. So I did.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A Break Up, Of Sorts.

Friday, June 5th, marked one year with my insulin pump. (Where has that year gone?! Seriously?!) Now, I love my insulin pump: it's smart enough that it almost mimics what my pancreas should do, it offers me more flexibility; there are a lot of pros to wearing it and using it to manage my diabetes. There's no way, at this point, that I'd ever give it back. 

That being said...I do want to temporarily break up. Only for a few days, a week at most. Because as much as I love using my pump to manage my diabetes, wearing it, owning it, feeling comfortable with it, using it to it's fullest potential, is something I'm just not doing so well with at the moment. 

I'm sick of sharing my bed with it, for one. I roll over and lay on it, it gets caught in the duvet cover and sometimes goes sky diving off my bed, tugging at where-ever my cannula is that morning. 

And trying to figure out how to work it in with an outfit is beginning to annoy me. 

And I'm not making use of the different types of bolus I can use. 

I think I'm just done with being constantly connected to it. 

So, a temporary break up it is. As of yesterday morning, I welcomed back my trusty Novopen, and took a shot of Levemir to be my background insulin for the day, and packed some syringes to draw insulin up from my Novorapid vial. It did feel strange not having my insulin pump attached, but for the first time since I got it, I felt free. No device attached. I also felt like everyone would notice (a silly thought, given I hide my insulin pump!)


I felt like I'd got lazy with my insulin pump, a little too complacent. I was hoping that coming off it would remind me (again) just how smart my insulin pump is, and how much flexibility it offers me.

In the ever so eloquent words of Dave, "giving myself a kick up the arse".

And I'm happy to say it's working. 


Monday, 1 June 2015

"Conceal, Don't Feel, Don't Let Them Know."

Maybe it's just me, but I feel the need to hide my bad diabetes days from those around me. Maybe it's pride? Not wanting to admit weakness? Not wanting to be seen as weak? Or just different from those around me? All of the aforementioned? More than likely.

Here on this blog, I will write about my bad days. And my good days, for that matter. I feel comfortable doing that here. You're more than likely reading this because you "get" diabetes. Whether you live with it, you're the carer for someone who lives with it, or someone you love has it, you have a level of understanding. 

Those I work with know I have type one diabetes. They know I wear an insulin pump. And they know where to find my medical notes and emergency contact details (a document I drew up myself, and keep in a sealed envelope in my desk drawer). They know about low blood sugars and high blood sugars. 

For the last few months, as you may have gathered from previous blog posts, "high" would be a very good description of where my blood sugar's been at. For me, highs aren't as noticeable as lows. It was easy to plod along and pretend I had my shit together. Telling my manager that I needed to go back to see my consultant four weeks after my last appointment was hard ("You're really good at pretending you've got your shit together!" he said. "Thank you," I replied with smile. "Wasn't meant to be a compliment." Of course, I knew that). I felt like I was admitting defeat, that I couldn't deal with my diabetes on my own. And I know that if it were someone else in my situation, I would tell them to stop being stupid, it's not weakness, etc, etc. But walking my talk has never been something I'm good at. 

Over the past three weeks, I've put a lot of effort into basal testing, checking my insulin to carb ratios, correction factors, the lot. My blood sugars are starting to come down, which has been an interesting adjustment - running high for as long as I have done means I feel hypo at 6mmol. This has also meant that when I have actually been hypo, I've been hit with every hypo symptom: shaking, sweating, no coordination, lack of speech, double vision (manager with two heads, anyone?!) and, my least favourite of all, crying. 

(Painted you a lovely picture there, haven't I?!)

It's these "low moments" when I do everything in my power to hide what's going on.

Source.

Get through the meeting, then treat the hypo. 

Finish responding to my emails, then treat the hypo.

Finish my conversation, then treat the hypo.

Finish [enter other random tasks here], then treat the hypo.

It was after a conference call that my manager (getting ever so more observant) approached me.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes," I nodded, not trusting myself to string a full sentence together.

"Do you want to try that again?"

"I'm fine," I replied, proud of my two word sentence and use of a contraction in my hypo state.

"You ought to trademark that response. It's you're go-to," and he handed me a bottle of lucozade.

With shakey hands, I picked the bottle up. The lid had already been unscrewed, and I counted six gulps and waited for my blood sugar to come back up, my manager now sat the opposite side of my desk. 

As my blood sugar came up and my mind began focussing on other things, and not my low, I looked at my manager. 

"Thank you," I whispered.

"You need to start trusting us, Vicki. We're not going to look at you any differently if you need to leave to sort your diabetes. I'm not going to sit here are pretend I know what you go through on a day-to-day basis, because I don't. What I do know, however, is that you're not putting yourself first some of the time. Start doing that, okay? And know my door's always open if you need or want to talk. Is your blood sugar back up now?"

"I think so. I'll just check. You no longer have two heads, so progress!"

"You're forming full sentences too. Progress again."

I laughed. "I'm sorry. Put me first. Got it."

As much as I enjoy my job (most of the time, anyway), and want to prove myself and further my career, not putting my health first isn't going to help me achieve anything. No negelecting of me, by me. It's one of many balancing acts I'm working on.  

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Dealing With Diabetes (Written By PWDs).

A little while back, I received an email from a guy named Joe. He works for a company called Voucher Codes Pro, and was writing an article about dealing with diabetes to be published on their site. I was asked to contribute something, which I did (disclosures and all that). And I'm sharing it here with you because I think it's a great piece that Joe has put together.
"I'm Joe, I'm 26, and a type 1 diabetic, and part of the content team here at Voucher Codes Pro. Not the smoothest opening line to your possible future wife, is it? I was diagnosed at the ripe old age of 18 when I was about to venture into the world of booze, university and relationships. Thanks to a pancreas that was more interested in taking a permanent holiday than producing the insulin my body so badly needed, I knew I had a battle on my hands."
To read the rest of his article, please click here.

And, thank you, Joe, for asking me to contribute!