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Monday, 21 July 2014

Show Me Your Pump!

It's been all over the diabetes online community, and other media outlets for the last few days. #ShowMeYourPump is the initiative of Sierra Sandison, the very recently crowned Miss Idaho, who realised her goal with an insulin pump clipped to her hip

Since then, she's encouraged people with diabetes to wear their devices (if they use them) proudly, and to post photos on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram with the hashtag #ShowMeYourPump. The hashtag has not only gone (still going) viral, but it's also putting type one diabetes in the spotlight, raising awareness and inspiring others.

I'm not going to lie...since getting my insulin pump, I've always hidden it somewhere on my person, whether it be in a pocket, in my bra or clipped around my leg with the help of an insulin pump garter.

Diabetes is a huge insecurity of mine - it's the one thing about me that I can't change, no matter how hard I try. So the thought of wearing my insulin pump for the world to see...it's daunting for me, and I'm sure there are others that feel the same.

That's why the #ShowMeYourPump hashtag is so awesome: it shows people from all over the world wearing their pumps with pride. It's been a better pick-me-up than my coffee this Monday morning!

So, adding to the Monday-morning-happy, my contribution to the #ShowMeYourPump feed. 

And a huge well done to Sierra for having the courage to strut her stuff with her insulin pump on show, and for winning Miss Idaho. I wish you all the luck in the world in the Miss America pageant. 



   

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Things We Fear.

Fears are funny things. I have a lot of them. I'm scared of spiders, clowns, roller coasters and flying. I'm the worst person to watch a horror movie with - I will almost definitely scream, and I will have nightmares. I'm scared of the fact I have no life plan at present and, not that I'll openly admit it all that often, I'm scared that I won't get my (happily-)ever-after. And not in a I-need-to-settle-down-right-now way, but more a will-I-even-let-myself-settle-down-with-someone. 

But fears often change. Not all of them, but as we grow up and change as a person, our fears change too. When I was a kid, I was terrified of dogs. Looking back, I'm not sure why, but now I'm such a dog person! Sleeping in the dark used to scare me too. Heights were a no-no. And, somewhat ironically, I used to also be terrified of needles. 

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was sent to A&E and on arrival I was given a bed and told that a nurse would be round to insert a cannula into my arm. And I was terrified. My Mum did her best to distract me, but I could not focus my mind on anything other than the horrible nurse putting a cannula in my arm. (I should say, he wasn't actually horrible at all -- he was just the one inserting the cannula, so by default I didn't like him). Throughout my hospital stay, I had many blood tests done, my fingers were pricked every two hours, and I had to have another cannula inserted too.

After three days of being on a sliding scale of insulin, a DSN came to see me and told me that I couldn't be discharged from the hospital until I could administer my own insulin injections. If there was ever going to be something that made me get over my fear of needles, that was it. I took the insulin pen from her, I screwed the needle onto it, I pinched the skin of my right thigh, and I did my first injection. I was desperate to go home. 

After that, I can honestly say I haven't flinched at needles. The needles my insulin pen took got progressively smaller (8mm, 6mm, 5mm, 4mm), I went for my flu jab every year, I had my BCG jab earlier this year, and I moved onto an insulin pump where the cannulas I started out with were 6mm steel ones. No problem. 

So, yesterday morning, why did I completely freeze up when I had to use this?


My brain would not let me press that little button on the side to insert this cannula, a FlexLink, one where the needle comes out after. It took me about half an hour to work up the courage to do it (as well as a text to Lizzie and Shep, and some encouragement from some wonderful people on Twitter).

It's funny how our fears manifest themselves. I'd seen other people use the LinkAssist. I knew how to use it. I'd even used it on one of the soft-toy-pumps at clinic (yes, my diabetes clinic has soft-toy-pumps...very weird at first, but now I kind of like it). But holding it against my hip to "fire" into my skin...fear took over. Very weird. 

On a lighter, and much funnier, note, the tubing that came with the cannula above is 80cm long. And I am a very short, clocking in a height of 5ft1" (and a half...the half is very important!)


It's safe to say I'm very much looking forward to my delivery of 30cm tubing!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Great Outdoors.

At the start of my final year at uni, I made the decision to start exercising. And by exercising, I mean, real exercising, not "well, I've spent all day walking around [insert shopping centre here]!" 

Back in October, I went to my first exercise class, and throughout that first semester, I worked out twice a week.

In January, I joined a new gym, and went four times a week.


During exam season, I went to the gym everyday, Monday to Friday. 

I've watched the distance I can run climb, albeit slowly. I have more energy, my blood sugars are, on the whole, more stable, and I actually look forward to exercising. 

I'm currently back at my Mum and Dad's, and gym membership here is SO unaffordable compared to Norwich, so I've taken to running outside.

I LOVE IT!

Running outside always filled me with dread. Unless it was Park Run, I'd stick to running at the gym.

However, having spent months and months watching my level of fitness increase, I'm not prepared to spend my time here not doing anything exercise-wise.

So running outside it was, and it's made such a nice change to my exercise regime.

Over the last couple of months, I'd found that I'd got bored of going to the gym. I tried changing the music I listened to, I downloaded a few episodes of NCIS to watch, I went with friends, yet I was still bored of the same routine.

Running outside seems to be the change I needed. It's new, it's different and it's somewhat out of my comfort zone.

I think it's the change I definitely needed to get excited about exercise once more!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Pumping Insulin: The First Month.

I've now been using my insulin pump for a month. Although there have been some difficult moments, I really do mean it when I say I wouldn't hand it back for anything! 

Testing, testing.

The focus during this first month has been on basal testing and making sure my insulin to carbohydrate ratios are correct. I really hate basal testing, but I fasted during all the relevant time periods (well, I had carb-free (fun-free?!) foods) to make sure my basal insulin was correct, made changes with my DSN, which I'm now beginning to understand (yay!), and I'm pretty certain I now have my insulin to carb ratios sorted as well! It's been intense, but I'm now hoping that, with those foundations in place, I can start fitting the pump around my life, and not my life around the pump!

Wearing an insulin pump.

I do a lot of volunteer work with kids. And I have a three-year-old, Spiderman-obsessed Godson. And I swear I have the longest tubing ever at 50cm (which is effing long when you also factor in that I'm 5ft1"). So I quickly learnt "tricks" when it came to wearing, and hiding, the pump, thanks to the DOC (doctor may have told me how to use the pump, but the DOC have been integral in showing me how to wear, and "own", it.)

I've cut holes in pretty much all of my trouser pockets that I can feed the tubing through. I can no longer put change in my pockets, but it sure makes life easier when it comes to keeping excess tubing tucked away! I was also given a bra-clip-type-thing, which is useful. As well, I bought an insulin pump garter (not being asked to advertise, but I like the product, so I've included the link to the site I bought it from). It's not something I use often, but has come in useful on the rare occasion I wear a skirt or dress and want the pump concealed

Getting the bloomin' cannulas to stick!

Surgical (micro-porous) tape is my best friend right now! Without it, I would probably be changing cannulas every day! Am currently awaiting the arrival on the Accu-Chek Link Assist to try the Flex-Link Cannulas. I've been told the stick much better than the steel cannulas I'm currently using. I guess I'll find out soon enough!

Cartridge changes.

I'm getting better. And quicker. And I don't have to declare war on quite so many air bubbles. Progress! 

Reading.

Allison Nimlos (blogs at The Blood Sugar Whisperer) kindly recommended a couple of books to me now that I'm using an insulin pump. One of them was Think Like A Pancreas by Gary Schiener, which I actually downloaded when I was on my year abroad, and the other was Pumping Insulin by John Walsh. I'm currently looking back over Think Like A Pancreas as I definitely remember skipping the pump-related sections, as they weren't applicable at the time, and I'm definitely going to look into reading Pumping Insulin.

Think that just about sums everything up!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, 7 July 2014

2:1.

Two numbers.

2:1.

A second-class honours, upper division.

That's what I'll be graduating with July 24th.

So happy!

Image taken from Google Images.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Air Time.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Lucy and Alice's Fixers project, and how it was due some air time. The broadcast was actually yesterday, on ITV Anglia, but I can now share the clip here! 


Oh yeah, and I'm in it...albeit briefly, and a little uncomfortably! It was way outside of my comfort zone, but I believe in the project wholeheartedly, and, as I said in my first post about on this, I'm so incredibly proud of those behind it! 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Make The Grade.

"Make The Grade" is a Diabetes UK (DUK) campaign that tackles the problems children with diabetes face in schools. Taken from the DUK Make The Grade page, "sadly, too many children with Type 1 diabetes aren't getting the proper care they need - meaning both their health and education are suffering." This shouldn't be the case, and thankfully there has been a change in the law, and "from now on schools are legally required to look after children with medical conditions, including Type 1 diabetes."


I was really made aware of the campaign when Andy, Dad to L, a 10 year old child with diabetes, shared it on Twitter, rather proud of his son's contribution to it (and rightly so!) Since then, I've dipped in and out of the conversations around this subject, but, out of personal interest, remained up-to-date with it. 

Yesterday evening, there was a "Make The Grade" event in London (I know very little of the event, other than what was tweeted, so apologies for my vagueness here!).

This was the first tweet I saw:

Image from @DiabetesUK
And I just exploded with pride!

You see, what I didn't realise, until I read Kev's blog post yesterday, was that L was excluded from a residential trip because of his diabetes, which I think is horrific. What's more, he's not the only child with diabetes to be facing problems like this

So seeing the tweet above, and the ones that followed it that said "I don't let my diabetes stop me from doing the same things my friends do and I enjoy going on adventures" and "My school is great [L ended up moving schools]. They make me feel safe and happy", made my heart hurt and burst with pride at the same time, if that's even possible?!

Being diagnosed at 17 means that diabetes hasn't touched my childhood. It barely even touched my teenage years. It has, and will only, touch my adult life, and, rightly or wrongly, I'm grateful for that. So when I read about the incredible things that children with diabetes are doing, like L talking about type 1 diabetes at school and Amy, Kev's daughter, talking at the National Paediatric Diabetes Team Meeting, I'm inspired, and they make me feel proud to be a part of the diabetes community, online and offline.

They're real-life superheroes, as far as I'm concerned. But without the masks, as they don't need them. They have capes though. Who wouldn't want a cape?!

To find out more about the "Make The Grade" campaign, please click here, where you will also find further web links!