Monday, 18 May 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 5 - Foods On...Monday?!


(Ok...so I fell a bit behind when it came to Diabetes Blog Week. But I'm determined to finish, so today I give you day 5...a few days late!)


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Taking a cue from Adam Brown's recent post, write a post documenting what you eat in a day. Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever. Make it an ideal day or come-as-you-are day - no judgements either way.

I was a little bit unsure about this post. I've written before about the mind-fuck that I experience when it comes to food, guilt and diabetes. I also said that I wanted to stop fearing food diaries. Okay, this isn't a food diary per se, but it's all about sharing those food-related choices. So I'm doing it. 

Breakfast consisted of these little beauties: egg frittatas, recipe courtesy of Jen. Blood sugar friendly egg bites with tomatoes and spinach in them. I mix up the veggies I put in them, but tomato and spinach is my favourite. Kale is pretty good too, actually. Three of these will do me until lunch time. 

Lunch consisted of a cheese and pickle sandwich, made with Warburton's Sandwich Thins (because bread is my food nemesis) and a cereal bar. And a coffee. Always coffee (with sugar-free caramel syrup).

And for dinner, I had a chicken kiev with sweet potato fries and salad. Sweet potato is one of my favourite things to cook with. Mash it, roast it, fry it, bake it, love it! And I had mango for pudding (because I'm absolutely obsessed with the stuff at the moment!)

To read more posts for day 5 of Diabetes Blog Week, click here.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 4 - Changes.


Today, let's talk about changes in one of two ways. Either tell us what you'd most like to see change about diabetes, in any way. This can be management tools, devices, medications, people's perceptions, your own feelings - anything at all you feel could use changing. OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes. Were they expected or did they surprise you?

The biggest thing I want to see changed? 

Access. 

Access to insulin.

Access to glucose meters.

Access to test strips.

Access to education to learn how to live a life with diabetes.

I've written about it before. Many times. And I've spoken with those working on changing this. Insulin isn't a luxury, it's necessary to live.  

To read more posts for day four of Diabetes Blog Week, click here.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 3 - Clean It Out.


Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let's clear stuff out. What's in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out? This can be an actual physical belonging, or something you're mentally or emotionally hanging on to. Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?

Guilt. That's what I want, need, and am trying, to get rid of. Diabetes-related guilt.

It comes in many forms. A high blood sugar when I thought I'd carb-counted my meal precisely. A low blood sugar when I'm looking after my godson. Feeling down when I have a lot of good in my life, yet I can't can't snap out of that funk. Or after comments other people are making regarding my health/food/diabetes-related choices.

One of the things you're taught in school is kindness. Be kind to others, treat them how we wish to be treated ourselves.

And that's true, don't get me wrong.

But what about being kind to ourselves? Going easy on ourselves, and remembering that we're only human and there's only so much we can do?

I try my best to keep my blood sugar levels in line, and my head in a good place to make that happen. Sometimes, the two aren't in sync, and when they aren't, that's when I feel the most guilty: I'm lucky enough to have access to test strips and insulin, I wear an insulin pump, I don't have to pay for my health care. I have no reason to feel the way I sometimes do, I just do. And because I feel that those feelings are unjustified, I don't spend time addressing the situation. Instead, I tell myself to get on with it.

I don't ease up on myself mentally. I don't give myself the time to work through where I'm at emotionally. I don't vocalise where my head's at, worried that comments from others will make me feel even more guilty.

Since my appointment last week, I've really tried to ease up on myself emotionally, take things one day at a time and not expect everything to fall back into place overnight. It's so much easier said than done, and still early days, but I feel so much better for it.

I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. And I don't have it all figured out. But I'm here, pursuing a career post-graduation, travelling, hanging out with family and friends, rambling away on this blog, excited about what comes next. All, apparently, a whole lot more fun when you're not giving yourself a hard time. 
Source
To read more posts for day three of Diabetes Blog Week, click here.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 2 - Keep It To Yourself.


Many of us share lots of aspects of our lives online for the world to see. What are some aspects of diabetes you choose to keep private from the internet? Or from your family and friends? Why is it important to keep it to yourself? (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone. There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects. Simply let us know what kinds of stories we'll never hear from you.)

I share a lot on this blog. And there are things I'd wish I'd done differently when I started this blog. I basically wasn't expecting to still be writing this blog today, so didn't really think twice about what went on here in the early days. There's not a lot I can do about that now, though. We all know how the Internet works: once something's out there, it's very hard to take it back. What I can do, however, is make sure that I'm comfortable with what I'm disclosing on here. 

Like most other diabetes bloggers, I want this blog to be seen as a reliable account of living life with type one diabetes. Therefore, I need to share, and I need to share honestly.

So I do: stories of low and high blood sugars, going to university, moving abroad, moving home and finding a job, exercising, hanging out with friends. Sometimes I even share stories I don't remember.

What I don't share are the names of my friends and family. Because although their stories are closely linked with mine, they are their stories to share. I've chosen to share aspects of my diabetes life online, but they haven't chosen to put their lives on the Internet. And any pictures I use are always used with their permission. Particularly when it comes to my littlest friend

I've stopped sharing my blood results. There's a lot of context that goes alongside an hba1c result. What's not a great result for one person might be a really improved result for someone else. The context matters, and, although I knew this, when I first started blogging it wasn't really something I really thought about. Now, however, I have, and I'm choosing to keep those results private. 

I don't share all the crappy times as I'm going through them. I often write them out on this blog, to help organise my thoughts, but I never actually press publish. If I do, it will be when I'm in a better place mentally, and it will be to reflect on, not focus on. The difference is subtle, but I think it's there. 

I don't doubt that what I share and don't share will change as my life changes. For now, what I choose disclose is what I'm most comfortable with as a twenty-something still trying to figure out what comes next. 

To read more post for day two of Diabetes Blog Week, click here.


Monday, 11 May 2015

Diabetes Blog Week: Day 1 - I Can.


In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of "I Can..." that participants found wonderfully empowering. So let's kick things off this year looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren't sure you could? Or what have you done that you've been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?

I truly believe that the things we experience and the people we meet help shape and influence what we do in the future and who we become. Kind of like those Orange mobile adverts that graced our televisions a few years back.

I was 17 years old when I was diagnosed with diabetes, and since then I have moved away from home. I went to uni, made some life-long friends, lived with some of them whilst there, went on a year abroad and graduated

I've since moved back to my hometown. I've landed a job I enjoy. 

I've had the opportunity to connect with, and meet, so many lovely people within the DOC. 

I started this blog and found a love of writing (even if it is still a little clumsy and all over the place). 

Whether it's because of diabetes or in spite of diabetes, I don't know, but the people I've met and the things that I've done have taught me that I can live the life I want to live with diabetes.

Can't ask for more than that!

To read more blog posts for day one of Diabetes Blog Week, you can find link list here

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Self-Care.

Self-care: the act of looking after yourself in a healthy way.

The NHS definition makes it sound so easy!

It's not, and I'm done with the self-care stuff. But I know that diabetes without self-care becomes a shit-show very quickly, which I'm currently experiencing. Yet I'm really struggling to find the motivation at the moment to do anything more than test my blood sugar and guesstimate at my insulin doses. 

Have you ever wished there was an "off switch" and you could just magic diabetes away for a little bit? That's how I currently feel. I want out for a little bit, maybe bribe my pancreas to do its' thing for a week to ten days so I don't have to think about carbs and blood sugars and where to stash my insulin pump.

I had my first appointment at the hospital I've transferred my care to the other week. I was referred to the wrong clinic. Not the best of starts. I received a letter in the post with a new appointment. September. I wasn't happy with that. So I phoned them up and requested an appointment with a DSN. 

That appointment was yesterday. 

And it helped. 

She downloaded my meter and pump data and I cringed, despite having checked the reports function on my meter the night before, so I had some idea of what to expect.

"I'm high like 75% of the time," I said as my meter was downloading, "It's not a pretty picture, it's not where I want to be, but I just don't know what to do."

"It's okay," she replied, "we'll look at the data, we'll work together to make the changes. We'll get you back to where you want to be."

"But, really, it's not good. I just want you to know that. Here it from me and not my meter data."

She laughed. "Stop worrying. We'll sort it. And then it'll go to shit again and we'll sort it again." She stopped and scrolled through all the various reports that could be accessed. I wished there weren't so many. "Okay...well you're all over the place, but you knew that. And you know that nothing's going to change unless you're prepared to put a bit of work in. I'll be here in the background, you can come back in in a few weeks and we can number crunch again and see where you're at, call me, email me, whatever. But nothing's going to get better unless you put the work in. Basal testing, insulin to carb ratio testing, carb counting properly, you know the drill."


I sat there nodding, tears threatening to spill, and I let them. (If this DSN is going to know every little bit about my diabetes health physically, she can know where I'm at emotionally as well. Because it's not just the physical stuff.) I let everything out: how demotivated I've been feeling, how I know I need to do something but I don't know what, how I'm getting used to running at the numbers I'm seeing on my meter.

I calmed myself down, we came up with a plan, and we wrapped up the appointment. 

"Quickly, before you go; as this is your first actual appointment with us, I just need to ask you a couple of things. Insulin to carb ratios? Basal rates? Do you smoke? Do you drink? Do you exercise?"

And I reeled off answers to all her questions.

"Last one, how often do you have hypos?"

We both laughed.

"I've just told you I'm high like 75% of the time...hypos aren't the issue right now!"

"Okay, I'll ask you that one again at your next appointment. I want you back in in four weeks. Will your work let you do that? I think we need to review and just catch up, make sure we're getting things back on track."

I nodded. I apologised for crying, thanked her for her help/support/advice and made an appointment for four weeks time. 

Time to get back on this whole self-care thing. For real this time





Monday, 27 April 2015

Fears.

It was just as I was leaving work that I decided to check my blood sugar. Multi-tasking, as I do, I put a test strip in my meter, locked my desk drawer, pricked my finger and put blood on the test strip, put my coat on, picked up my bag, then "beep, beep". 

The double beep. The one that means my blood sugar is either high or low. I look at my meter and my heart rate sped up.

23.7mmol/l.

High. Very high. But I didn't feel like my blood sugar should be that high. 

I checked again, washing my hands first and using a different finger. 

23.4mmol/l. 

Definitely high.

I sat back down in my chair, remembering the last time I hit that kind of number. (Well, I remember what I've been told about the last time I hit that kind of number). And, for the first time in a while, my mind opened that box that I keep tightly locked and fear took over. 

Diabetes is a scary disease. Not all the time, but there are moments when I am reminded just how quickly things can go from "fine" to not. I try not dwell on it too much, as I think if I did that fear would consume me and dictate my every move in this thing we call life. And, in my opinion, that's no way to live. So that "fear of diabetes" box is kept firmly locked...until moments like today happen. Then I struggle to trust my instincts and it takes me a while to close that box again.

That's where I'm at this evening.