Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Diabetes Hurts...

...literally.

So if we're not stabbing ourselves with needles and lancets every day, then the D is finding other ways to add insult to injury.

This is my thumb stuck in my sharps bin.  I was trying to push my needle into it when it decided to eat my fingertip.  Can't even tell you how much this actually hurt!  Sorry about the bad image, but it's quite hard to take a decent photograph with one hand when you're in pain.

Will take better care next time I think.  Hope you're all well! x

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Happy 15th Birthday, Diabetes!

There it is - Date of diagnosis: 13th November 1996.  Happy Birthday 'D'!

Wow, 15 years old.  You're looking good for your age, Diabetes.  I only have a vague recollection of your birth, but since then I think we have created enough memories to last a life time.

We've spent some interesting time together over the years, you and I.  From hospital admissions, to lows on the tops of cliffs with no hypo treatment, to DKA, to emergency prescriptions.  It's safe to say that, with you around Diabetes, there's never a dull moment.

I won't be cracking out the champagne, blowing up any balloons or lighting any candles on a birthday cake, but I celebrate this day nevertheless.  15 years on from diagnosis and we're living pretty harmoniously.  You're part of me and you're here for the long-haul.  Here's to the next however many years...x

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dealing with Diabetes.

This is my first post in a while - DOC, I have missed you!  I'd like to thank everyone who has been checking my blog 'just in case'.  I'm back and I'm back for good.


I'm not going to lie, recently has been one of the strangest, most surreal and probably most difficult times of my life.  Along with the stresses and strains of leaving home and becoming independent, the unexpected passing of a loved one has impacted my ability to cope with my diabetes to a shocking degree.


Even as someone who is usually very dedicated to and knows all too well the importance of trying to keep on top of my diabetes care, once I had begun to neglect it, it wasn't long until things had spiraled completely out of control.


Currently, my life seems to consist of bouncing around between horrifically high and worryingly low blood sugar levels.  It gets to a point where you dread testing because you know the number on the screen is going to make you feel physically sick to read.  So, one day you don't test because you're wallowing and then before you know it you're stuck in a vicious circle.


Diabetes is unforgiving and impatient.  It doesn't stop, even when you want to.  It doesn't care how sad you are, or how much you've got on your mind.  If anything, it tries its very hardest to make things more difficult.  If I want to run away, I can guarantee that the D is coming with me.  There's no shaking that devil off my back.


Sometimes you need a wake-up call, a bombshell to hit before you realise that ignoring the D isn't going to help you at all.  Mine came in the form of this:



An off-the-scale high reading?!  Confirmation that I need to get back on top of looking after myself.  No matter how bad things are, allowing my diabetes to go by the wayside is not the solution and never will be.


So here I am, taking each day as it comes, battling with the bad times, dealing with diabetes.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday

My new room and home at University...









At my bedside.
My testing monitor and injections are in the black wrap.  GlucoTabs for in-the-night lows.  Monitoring diary to keep track.  Diet Coke because I love it!

 My mini-fridge in my room to keep my insulin supplies and Glucagen kit...

:)

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Success!

I think I've probably felt every emotion there is to feel this week.  It's quite fair to say that it has been one heck of a roller coaster ride.  However, all of the nerves, all of the worries, all of the sleepless nights spent tossing and turning in bed and all of the preparation finally paid off.

On Thursday, I went to 6th Form with knots in my stomach to collect my A Level exam results.  I got an 'A' in Philosophy and Ethics, a 'B' in English Language and a 'B' in Psychology.  I exceeded the grades required for my firm University choice.


It was one of the best days of my life and a reminder that diabetes doesn't have to compromise you.  You can still achieve everything you want to.  I am going to university and, one day, I will be a Speech Therapist!  Success!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Being Blunt And To The Point.

How often do you change your needles or lancets?

'Nowhere near enough' is the answer from many diabetics, including me.  At least, that was until I was shown this image.


I am now changing my needles after every use.  Can't say that I like the look of the hooks on those beasts!

Monday, 8 August 2011

A Loving Incentive.

Warning:  This post might be a bit 'soppy'. 
Sorry guys!

This won't be a long post.  Mainly, it is just a reminder of how our loved ones want us to be safe and well.

My boyfriend, Adam, has always been extremely supportive in all aspects of my life.  Most importantly, in many ways, he has helped me to think positively about my diabetes.  He takes an interest in it - he's read about it, listens to me go on and on about it, does my bg tests and injections if need be and has been to pretty much all of my doctors appointments with me since we got together nearly 3 years ago.  He's brilliant.

If I wasn't already aware of how much he cared for my well-being, I was reminded when I spotted this:




I've always been terrible at filling in my monitoring diaries, so this is a really great incentive, as well as being a sweet gesture.  Thank you, Adam.  I love you.

And it's working...

 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

There are worse things than Diabetes.

There's no denying it, diabetes is a horrible disease.  It is unpredictable and unexpected.  It attacks your body and affects your life and the lives of your loved ones more than anyone would ever have imagined.  At its worse, diabetes is a murderer.

I think that, for most people, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is soul-destroying.  D-Parents worry intensely and the person with it cannot envision how they will ever be able to live a 'normal' life again.  However the truth of the matter is that if we look after our diabetes properly, we can do anything we put our minds to!  Although it is frustrating and potentially dangerous, there are much worse diseases to have than diabetes.

This realisation struck me one day when I was watching a TV programme called Born to be Different.  It was a documentary about 6, ten year old children, each born with different disabilities.  All of the children were inspiring, but it was a girl named Shelbie who caught my attention.

Shelbie has a rare chromosome disorder called Partial Trisomy 9P.  This can cause heart defects, physical abnormalities and severe learning difficulties.  She requires several different drugs a day and has a limited life-span.  Not only that, but at the age of 10 Shelbie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

When interviewed, Shelbie's mum said that she was worried by the fact that "when their blood sugar levels are low, people with diabetes can say they feel funny.  Shelbie can't do that."  What surprised me most of all was that, 3 weeks later, Shelbie's mum went on to say that "diabetes has actually been the easiest part of her care."

It was this that made me realise that there are far worse things to have than diabetes.  For Shelbie's mum, diabetes was just yet another problem to add to the long list of her daughter's disorders.  Of course diabetes, like any other disease, is evil.  We all wish that we or our loved ones didn't have it.  But, with access to the right care and effort, diabetes doesn't have to stop anyone from living a fully functioning life.  It's such a shame that I couldn't say the same about disorders such as Partial Trisomy 9P.

Sending Shelbie and her family hope of better health and happiness in the future. x

Friday, 29 July 2011

Every Diabetic Wants DAFNE!


In Tuesday's post I wrote a little bit about the DAFNE course.  Now that the week-long course is over, I thought I'd give some more info. on the ins and outs of the programme.  I won't lie, I'm also here to sing its praises because it is fantastic.

The set up of a typical DAFNE course day consists of a group of type 1 diabetics (8 maximum, although there were 6 of us), a diabetes nurse, a dietitian and often either one or two observers.  We spent the first day introducing ourselves and getting to know more about each others' lives with diabetes.  It was fascinating to hear about everyone's experiences and to discover how many similarities and differences we have.

Throughout the rest of the week we covered:
  • carbohydrate counting
  • what diabetes is
  • how diabetes may be caused
  • the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • what causes and how to treat hypoglycemia effectively without over treating
  • what causes and how to treat hyperglycemia
  • insulin:carb ratios
  • general healthy eating
  • practicals (e.g. weighing food)
  • checking for ketones
  • different insulin types and how they work in the body
  • different blood testing monitors
  • different insulin injection pens
  • the pump
  • how to manage our blood sugar levels in certain situations (e.g. sickness, exercise, drinking alcohol, eating out, pregnancy, travelling etc.)

Before turning up to the hospital on Monday morning, I must admit that I was feeling a little sceptical.  I've lived with diabetes for 14 years - what on earth could anyone possibly tell me about it that I don't already know?  Looking at that list of topics, you may be thinking exactly the same thing.  Well, you'd be surprised (as I was) about how many things you don't know because you were never told or because they're new ideas, or how many things you've forgotten over the years.

Overall, I found DAFNE to be an unbelievably positive and enjoyable experience.  Not only was it an opportunity to gain more knowledge about how to treat my diabetes, but it was also one to meet some truly lovely people with the same pain-in-the-backside 'disease' (although I hate to call it that) as I have.  Although it may sound odd, I can't even begin to explain how nice it was to be pricking my fingertips and injecting my insulin with others who are doing exactly the same thing!

I feel that DAFNE has provided me with the skills and knowledge to gain control of my blood glucose levels with confidence.  My diabetes nurse told me that it is an internationally-run course, so wherever you are on earth, ask about DAFNE!  I thoroughly recommend it :)




Oh yeah, and look what I got!  An ACCU-CHEK Aviva Nano!  It made my day when I was given this little beauty - haha :)


Hope you are all well and that the summer sun (currently non-existant in England) isn't affecting your bg levels too much!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Setting the ball rolling.

This week I have started the DAFNE course.  'DAFNE' stands for 'Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating' and the course itself aims to educate type 1 diabetics on how to calculate the right amount of insulin to give, depending on certain variables (e.g. blood sugar level at the time, amount of carbohydrate being eaten, excercise, sickness etc.)

I have contemplated doing DAFNE for several years, but had always made various excuses as to why I couldn't make it.  I realise now that, at the time, a lack of detailed knowledge about my diabetes made me all too comfortable.  Ignorance is bliss and everything.

Sometimes diabetes feels like such an effort.  Blood tests, injections, changing needles and insulin cartridges, requesting prescriptions, collecting prescriptions, eating, carb counting, making sure I've got my insulin, blood testing monitor, glucose tabs etc. and all the other thought processes and actions that diabetes consumes.  For a long time, I just don't think I had the faintest clue about where to start.

DAFNE seems to be helping with that already.  It takes everything back to basics and gives you a clear point from which to spot patterns, recognise errors, correct them and start to gain control over your diabetes again.

Diabetes will always require my time and attention, but I know that it is well worth the effort.  I suppose the fact that I finally got my act together and said 'yes!' to DAFNE shows that I am willing to concentrate on my diabetes.  One step at a time, I will gain stable control.

"You don't have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.  Babies don't walk the first time they try, but eventually they get it right." Jack Canfield


My dad's fiancé made this cup-cake for me last week.  It only stayed on my plate long enough for me to take this photo as a reminder of how lovely it looked.  Then, it was in my tummy!  It was delicious and a real treat (upped my insulin dose for sure). 
Thank you Jane! ♥

Monday, 18 July 2011

Eye'm Scared.

Today I went for my annual sight check up.  I always get ridiculously apprehensive before seeing the optician, purely because I'm petrified that they'll tell me that all the blood vessels in my retinas have burst and I'm on the path towards blindness.  I blame diabetes for this fear of mine.

Badly controlled blood sugar levels can result in complications such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma which all have the potential to lead to permanent blindness.  Other, non-sight related 'issues' that a diabetic may encounter include heart disease, kidney failure, gum disease, skin problems and limb amputations.  Not a happy thought, I know.

Although I wouldn't class my blood sugar levels as being 'badly controlled', I recognise that there have been times in the last 14 and a half years when they haven't been brilliant.  Recently I've been trying harder than ever before to ensure that I range between 4.5 and 9.0 mmol/l, but I realise I've still got a long way to go.

I was walking in town with my friend Hannah when a pigeon flew close to us.  Hannah screamed and said that there was nothing that she was more frightened of than pigeons.  She then asked me if there was anything that I was really scared of.

It wasn't until later that day, after thinking of things that people are usually scared of, that I realised that the things I fear most in the entire world are the possible complications of my type 1 diabetes.  In the past, I have even had nightmares of looking in the mirror to see that the white of one of my eyes has become red.

I'm 18 and for as long as I remember I have been afraid of going blind or losing my limbs.  Whilst others my age may dread seeing a spider or being at a great height, I have cried over possibilities that many will not be concerned about until they are elderly and that most will never even contemplate.  Although I don't hate my diabetes because it makes me who I am, I find it thoughtless and reckless for this reason.

I know it's stupid to worry about these things because they are preventable.  By continuing to look after my diabetes properly, I don't ever have to have my leg amputated or have laser treatment or be on dialysis.  I can be complication-free.  Like they say, most things that you worry about are things that will never happen.

Anyway, on a positive note, my optician said that my eyes were very healthy.  He said that my retinas were looking very good (what a compliment, huh!?) and although my prescription has changed slightly since last year, it's not drastic and there's nothing to worry about.

So it seems as though I'm doing just fine.  For now, I will just carry on as I am doing; looking after myself as well as I can do and being grateful for the fact that, right at this moment, I can see, I can walk and I can live, even with the bipolar monster of mine that is type 1 diabetes.


I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'L'...
LIFE.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Sun, Sea, Ice-Cream and Diabetes.

So, I'm back from Spain and quite honestly had THE TIME OF MY LIFE!  We stayed in Salou which is in Costa Dorada and it was beautiful.  We spent most days at the beach, lounging around the pool at our hotel or exploring.  A day at the waterpark and an incredible afternoon and evening in Barcelona absolutely made the holiday for me.





To top it all off, Diabetes was on its best behaviour!  As it turned out, organisation seemed to deter the D from throwing tantrums.  My low carb, low GI eating went out of the window pretty much as soon as I got there but it seemed to make little difference to my blood sugar levels. 

So, I'd like to thank the D for making my first holiday abroad without my parents completely and utterly manageable on the diabetes front.  I'd also like to give it a biiig kiss for allowing me to eat a delicious chocolate ice cream in Barcelona, inject my insulin and achieve a wonderful 6.1 afterwards.  I praise the D.


Anyway, here are a couple of snaps of our time away :)






 


 

Now I'm going to catch up on reading some of the posts I've missed whilst I've been away!
Speak soon ladies and gents x

Monday, 27 June 2011

España - Here comes the Diabetic!

Well, my friends, tomorrow morning at 7.55am I will be flying to Spain with my boyfriend Adam and our friends Paige and Ryan!  I AM SO EXCITED! :) 

This is going to be my first holiday away without my parents or other family members, so I've been extra careful to make sure that I have packed everything I could possibly need to make sure that my diabetes is kept under control for my week abroad.  I have packed:
  • 5 packs of glucose tabs
  • My NovoPen that I use to administer NovoRapid
  • A spare NovoPen
  • 4 NovoRapid cartridges
  • 3 Solostar Lantus disposable pens
  • Blood testing monitor
  • Finger pricker
  • 2 packs of testing strips
  • LOADS of 8mm needles and lancets
  • Medical travel insurance
  • A letter from my GP

So, I think it's safe to say that I am well organised!  Now I know I just need to keep an eye on my carb counting, but most of all I want to enjoy myself and have the time of my life whilst knowing I am safe!  I will be sure to tell you all of my D-Adventures when I get back.  Adiós señoras y señores! :)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

D-Doc Syndrome and a whole packet of GlucoTabs.

Today I had went to the hospital for my routine, diabetes check up.  It was my first appointment since leaving Paediatrics so I guess I was a little apprehensive about how different things would now be but, as it turned out, there was nothing to feel worried about!  Still, that didn't stop my blood sugar levels from throwing a bit of a tantrum at the prospect of a hospital appointment.


I woke up this morning at a 8.1 mmol - beautiful!  I ate my bowl of porridge (oatmeal) and gave myself 3.5 units of NovoRapid as normal.  Usually this would result in nice, balanced bg levels for the rest of the morning...but not today.


The journey to the hospital had been relatively stress-free - a little trouble parking but nothing horrendous and I had given myself plenty of time so I wasn't stressing or getting myself in a tizzy.  I found my way to the new clinic without getting lost (yessss!) and was sat in the waiting room promptly for my appointment at 11am.


Whilst waiting, I realised that my vision was slightly blurred.  At first, I completely disregarded the idea that I could have been low - I hardly ever go hypo in the morning and I didn't go to bed until late last night, so I thought that must have been why.  Nevertheless, I decided to test my blood sugar levels.  Luckily, I went with my better judgement...


2.2!?  I hadn't been that low in such a long time.  As fast as you could say 'diabetes', I'd dived inside my bag, opened a new packet of glucose tabs and started shovelling them into my mouth - not a pretty site, I suspect.  Usually 3 glucose tabs are enough to bring me up from a hypo, but 4 later and I was still shaking like Outkast's Polaroid picture.


I had my HbA1C taken, was weighed, measured and spoke to the dietician and was beginning to feel better.  All of this took 1 hour and 20 minutes.  When I went back into the waiting room before seeing the doctor, I tested again.  This time...3.7! Still hypo!  I couldn't believe it. I ate the rest of the packet of glucose tabs.  I have never eaten a whole packet in one day in the 14 years that I've had diabetes!


Have you ever heard of 'White Coat Syndrome?'  Basically, according to good old Wiki, it's:
"A phenomenon in which patients exhibit elevated blood pressure in a clinical setting but not in other settings. It is believed that this is due to the anxiety some people experience during a clinic visit." 

Well, I've diagnosed myself with something similar.  I call it 'Diabetes Doctor Syndrome' or 'D-Doc Syndrome' for short.  I believe that this is when a diabetic's blood sugar levels will either drop or rise into a hypo or hyperglycaemic attack, caused by anxiety they experience when attending a diabetes check-up with their diabetes doctor.  Of course, I've got no scientific proof of this, but I reckon it might have some truth value!  I always go low for no apparent reason before an appointment, but that might just be me.

Anyway, everything went well on the whole.  The doctors didn't seem to have any concerns and I was praised by the dietician for my perseverance with accurate carb counting - it's very much been a 'work in progress', but I'm getting there!  I also got 2 new NovoPens, which were   definitely needed as I reckon I've probably been using my old one for the last ten years or so.

Move aside old, tacky NovoPen with flaking paintwork and no lid.


 Behold...my new NovoPen!  Silver, slightly more classy, a nice case for it to go in and what's this?  A lid!?  Oh my word!  How beautiful.  Haha :)

Most importantly, my blood sugar levels managed to stabilise after a while and by the time I got home (2 and a bit hours after the horrific 2.2) I was 7.6...phew! And about time too! :D

(By the way, I apologise that I haven't yet been able to write a post about 'Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution' as I said I would.  As I'm currently taking my final A Level exams, the only books I've had my head stuck in over the past few weeks have been my revision guides!  However, my last exams are next week so I will finally be able to start reading it, so keep checking!  Wishing you health and happiness wherever you are)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Examination Consideration

I'm currently taking my A Level exams at 6th Form.  These are my final exams before I head off to University and I need to get certain grades in all 3 of my subjects in order to ensure that I get a place on my course (Speech and Language Therapy).  So, as you can imagine, I'm already experiencing a certain level of stress and that's before I've even begun to think about the ways in which my diabetes may possibly affect the exam process.

In most situations, it's fine.  I make sure my bg levels are well controlled the day before the exam, I wake up in the morning, test levels, inject insulin, have a sensible breakfast, test levels again, go to 6th Form, test levels again, do the exam.  However, today's exam (Philosophy and Ethics) was made up of two papers to be completed back-to-back over a time period of FOUR HOURS including the extra time I'm awarded for my diabetes.

Four hours?  I knew that would be too long to go without at least testing my blood sugar levels.  The D was already playing up - this morning I'd woken up at 3.2, not a good start.  The last thing I needed was for my levels to be bouncing about whilst I was trying to 'critically assess the claim that people should not be held responsible for their actions'.

Thankfully, the examiners were lovely and extremely considerate.  They made sure that I could test my blood sugar levels whenever I needed to and were very understanding about me stopping for a couple of minutes mid-way through writing to scoff a couple of glucose tabs.  They can be very strict about the use of any electronic appliances during the examination process, and although of course they would have to let me use my testing monitor, I appreciate that they could have decided to have made things awkward if they had wanted to.  I was more than pleased that they didn't ask any questions - they just let me get on with it!

Hooray for the examiners!  Now, please give me a good grade ;)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Panic for the Pancreas.

I know, Diabetes can be a scary thing for everyone - the person who has it and those involved in their life.  However one thing that really gets on my nerves is how as soon as someone knows that you're a diabetic, EVERYTHING IS BLOWN WAY OUT OF PROPORTION!

For instance, I can't even count with all my fingers and all my toes the amount of times when I've uttered the sentence "I'm hungry" and all of a sudden it's as though people go into emergency mode and it's all: "ARE YOU LOW!?  OH GOSH, WE NEED TO GET YOU SOMETHING TO EAT!  I KNEW YOU SHOULD HAVE HAD THAT EXTRA SLICE OF TOAST AT BREAKFAST!  CHECK YOUR BLOOD SUGARS QUICKLY!  OH NO, OH NO, OH NO!"...   

NO!  I'M JUST HUNGRY!  YOU KNOW, HUNGRY?  THAT SENSATION YOU FEEL IN YOUR STOMACH WHEN IT'S BEEN A FEW HOURS SINCE YOU LAST ATE AND YOUR METABOLISM HAS KICKED IN?  WHEN YOUR GUT BEGINS TO MAKE A RUMBLING SOUND?  THE EXACT SAME HUNGRY AS YOU FEEL UNDER SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES?

The same thing happens when I say I've got a headache ("ARE YOU HIGH!?  YOU GET HEADACHES WHEN YOU'RE HIGH DON'T YOU!?  ARE YOU THIRSTY TOO!?  MAYBE YOU NEED A COUPLE OF UNITS OF INSULIN!")  People say things like that as though it couldn't just be that I'm a bit dehydrated and that's the reason why I've got a headache and I'm a tad thirsty.

Sometimes it really bugs me.  I understand that people are only looking out for me, but it's as if they go into a complete state of urgency.  Okay, yes, I do become ravenous when I'm low and I do get headaches when I'm high, but I'm pretty darn good at spotting my symptoms of unruly blood sugars and there are often other tell-tale signs than just hunger or just a headache.  It's like people define you by your diabetes, as though they're saying:

"YOU'RE A DIABETIC so you can't just be hungry - you MUST be low"
or
"YOU HAVE DIABETES so your headache IS caused by high blood sugar levels"   

Yeah, I do have diabetes...but I am still a human being!  My body isn't simply made up of loads and loads of 'Diabetes orientated' hormones, sensory and motor neurones etc. as well as one, magnificent 'Diabetes Spinal Cord'.  The only thing that's different in my body is that my pancreas decided that it wants a permanent hibernation period, whereas the pancreas of a non-diabetic is far less lazy.  THAT.IS.ALL.

So, in future, I wish people would save the panic - some grub or some paracetamol and a glass of water would be much more appreciated :)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Woo hoo!

Finally, after 2 and a half weeks of waiting and constant checking of my Amazon account, my 2nd hand copy of 'Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution' has arrived!  It cost me £4.37 in hard back, which I thought to be an absolute bargain!  In fact, I actually also love the fact that it's 2nd hand.  Books always seem to have a bit more character when the pages are a little off-white in colour and the cover looks as though it's seen better days.  I always interpret these as signs that it was a good book.

I've heard great things about 'Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution' - I have been told that it has changed the lives of diabetics for the better.  I'm hoping that it has the same effect on me.  I thought that, from now on and until I finish the book, I will write one post each week (along with any other blogging I might do) about something I've learned from reading it and the changes I start to spot in my diabetes management from putting the Dr.'s advice into practice.  If you haven't already read it then perhaps you could discover some interesting things too, or if you have you can recap and let me know about what 'Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution' did for you!

Anyway, that's all for now folks.  I'm off to be a book-worm :) 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A friend with 'D' is a friend indeed.

Todd Newton is a friend of mine who I appreciate greatly.  We met when I started high school in September 2004, where he had been attending for 2 years already, at the nurse's office.  Todd has type one diabetes.

I thought I'd take the opportunity to take the back-seat and dedicate today's post to Todd.  I wanted to allow him to tell his 'Diabetic Story' and convey his own feelings about diabetes.  Our journeys along Diabetic Road have been very different from one another and so, for a bit of controversy, here is Todd's D-Story...


I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on 3rd February 1993, at the age of 2.  I know that my mum found it difficult to deal with, as she had already brought up my sister who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes for ten years.  Although I realise how hard it must have been and it wasn't easy, I also admire my mum and sister for the help they have provided with my diabetes.

As a child, I suppose diabetes was easy to accept.  I knew that I was able to have a biscuit at 10am and 2pm, which encouraged me to learn how to tell the time!  Going without sweets and chocolate wasn't all that difficult either, as I knew I wasn't allowed them and had never really had them anyway.

However, struggles really began when I started secondary school.  Having extra time for exams because of my diabetes seemed like a good thing, but it made you stand out in an environment where I wanted to fit in as a teenage boy.  Also, with high school came parties and drinking.  Again, the pressure to fit in with my peer group often left little room for 'proper' care of my diabetes.

I have some amazing friends who try their best to understand my diabetes, but I find it hard to trust them with it fully.  I have advised them that, in an emergency, they should call for an ambulance as quickly as possible, but I also realise that when my blood sugars are low I seem drunk.  This can cause a lot of confusion and makes my lows harder for others to identify, especially on nights out.

At the age of 16, a dangerous combination of hatred of my diabetes and other factors in my personal life became too much for me to handle.  I took an overdose of insulin, with the intention of committing suicide.  I was in a coma for 10 hours.  Thankfully, I didn't die that day and I have sworn never again to do anything like that.  I guess I got to a point where I forgot the important things in life.

My advice to others with diabetes is never to let it stop you from doing things you want to do.  Look after it: eat the right things and take your insulin, but don't let it hold you back.  That is something I regret and something I try not to allow nowadays.



13th November 2012: My wonderful friend Todd Newton, who wrote this post and was so delighted to do so, is no longer with us. He will be missed by everyone who knew him and I am sending my thoughts to his family at this time. Click here to read my post to commemorate his life. RIP Todd 

Monday, 23 May 2011

Riding The D-Coaster.

Blood sugar levels over the past few days have been, being entirely honest, HORRIFIC!  I've been up and down, up and down, up and down more times than you've had hot dinners (slight exaggeration perhaps, but it's still been pretty darn bad!)

The most unbelievably annoying thing about the whole situation is that there really doesn't seem to be any reason to explain why my levels won't just balance themselves out!  It's at times like these that I imagine my blood sugar levels to be like a young, rebellious child; throwing tantrums and refusing to sit still for more than a minute or two.

However, all of these unpredictable highs and lows have really brought something to my attention...THE COLOUR OF MY BLOOD!  I know, sounds ridiculous right?  I can hear you all now:  'Daisy, did you not realise before this week that your blood was red, dear?  Oh you poor thing!'  But no, that was not what I was referring to, clever cloggs!  Instead, what I have really taken notice of over the past few days is the shade of red that my blood is depending on whether my levels are hi or low.

Although this is something that has been brought to my attention before, I did think it would make a good blog post.  I was wondering if anyone else had discovered this also with their own blood?  Even more interesting would be if anyone could actually give me a scientific reason as to why this happens?!  Really, I'm intrigued to know! 
 
This was my blood when I was hi (16.2 - oh my worddddd!)  I wanted to get a photo of my blood when low, but I'm afraid that I was far too busy scrambling around for glucose tabs and other sugary substances to shove into my mouth at quite a pace to concern myself with the whereabouts of my camera.  Perhaps another time.

Still...I think that blood looks bright red, don't you?  When I'm low it's a deep, dark red.  I really hope my eyes haven't been playing tricks on me, or even worse that I've just become completely delusional.  Please, ease my mind!

I hope you are well and that the D-Coaster is at a stand-still for you this week. x 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

How to avoid embarassment

Even though I've had diabetes for the majority of my lifetime, it has only been in the last 2 years that I have begun to feel comfortable with talking to others about my diabetes and probably only in the last few months that I have really started to accept it as part of me.  Before I would allow myself to go hi and allow all of those nasty little ketones to cause destruction in my body JUST so that I wouldn't have to eat differently or admit that I am diabetic in front of others.

I am now very different.  This change came about 2 years ago, at the age of 16, when I started my first and on-going relationship with my boyfriend, Adam.  We'd been together for a few weeks, and I had only mentioned in brief that I was a diabetic, when I began to feel very low whilst hanging out at his place.  At this time I was not at all the prepared or responsible diabetic that I should have been and so didn't have any glucose tabs with me.

I remember sitting there, trying to pluck up the courage to tell him how I was feeling and what I needed, allowing myself to go lower and lower until I got that horrid, uncontrollable shaking in my hands (I don't know if anyone else gets this when they go low, but it's usually one of the first signs that my body gives me!) My thoughts went back and forth: Will he still like me if I tell him? Will it freak him out? until I realised that I needed to stop being so silly...this was a life/death situation!!

So this is how it went: 

Me:  Erm...Adam...Don't panic or anything, because it's okay, but my diabetes is making me feel quite low, which means I need some sugar quite quickly.  Have you got any sugary drinks?

Adam:  Sure!

...As you can see, not a problem.  At all.

So, here are a few of my tips for avoiding the ULTIMATE embarrassment of going into a diabetic-induced coma, or just becoming really ill in front of people to avoid maybe a minute of blushing:
  •  On a first date, or when you start becoming friends with someone, tell them you're diabetic!  Let them know what it means and just don't make a big deal about it.  Stay cool and calm.  I can assure you that they won't think any less of you because you're diabetic - if they like you then they will respect you and take you as you are, diabetes or no diabetes!  If, in the unexpected and unlikely situation that they do make a fuss of things and judge you unfairly, it's probably a pretty good indicator that they're not the kind of person that is worth bothering with in the first place!
  • Always have a back-up plan!  Wherever you go, make sure that you have everything you need in case of an emergency.  This includes: blood testing monitor and finger pricker, glucose tabs and injection pen.  I have had to learn from experience that these little gems are vital to avoiding embarrassment (see my Diabetes Bloopers post).  If you don't have them, when the D starts to throw temper tantrums in its unpredictable state, you are going to have to go through the whole ordeal of explaining the ins and outs of your diabetic situation to a stranger.  Being prepared is always a good thing. 
My bag, on a recent night out clubbing.  Okay, so it's a bit of a tight squeeze, but hey ho!
  
  •  Never be afraid to question.  Let's face it, some people are down-right ignorant.  I can't even count on my fingers and toes the amount of times that I have had to take back drinks to the counter at McDonald's, or ask waiters at restaurants if they definitely gave me the Diet Coke that I asked for rather than the most-definitely normal Coca-Cola that I can identify quite easily (there is a distinctive difference in taste, regardless of what anyone tries to tell me!)  Over the years, I've come to realise that the only way to avoid this mix-up of understanding is to mention as you order.  Now, when I order a drink I always say "Can you make sure that definitely is diet please, just because I'm diabetic?"  Trust me, the moment you utter the word 'diabetic' is the moment they will make sure that your drink is sugar free.  No one wants to be sued do they?  
  •   Do it if you need to!  I admit it, if I can get away with not doing my blood test in front of people, or not revealing my injection pen to the world then I will.  If there's a toilet about then that's where I'll toddle off to, rather than exposing the fact that I'M A DIABETIC to the entire shopping mall, or class of fellow students.  However, there are times when it's urgent!  Once, I was at a bus stop waiting for my bus into town when I began to feel so hi that I felt physically sick.  Yes, there were other people sat at the bus stop also, but that didn't stop me from whipping my injection pen out of my bag and giving myself a few units in my stomach (as discretely as possible, of course!)  Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and it's not worth putting off testing your blood glucose levels, or not giving yourself your insulin just because you're in front of others.

 Of course I know that diabetes can seem embarrassing sometimes, but acknowledging it and occasionally allowing yourself to experience a blush or two could prevent one massiveeee 'OMG - CRINGE!' moment.

Peace and love, guys'n'gals x 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

'Weeping Daisy and the D-Thanks Fairy'

There have been many times in the last 14 years that I have wondered what my life would have been like had I not been diagnosed with diabetes.  Sometimes this thought can be pretty depressing, as I sit fantasising about no needles, not having to eat if I don't feel like it, not having to do mathematical equations each time I consume a sandwich etc.

However, I enjoyed the positive tone of yesterday's post so much that I thought I'd focus my D-Story on why I should accept and perhaps even appreciate my diabetes.  Yes, that's right!  You read me correctly.  I said: 'appreciate my diabetes'.  Shock horror!

Anyway, it's a bit of fun, but enjoy nevertheless!



Weeping Daisy and the D-Thanks Fairy ©


 Once upon a time, in a land much like yours, lived a girl named Daisy.  Daisy loved her life!  She had a supportive family, a wonderful boyfriend, fantastic friends and good grades.  If you were ever to see Daisy in the street, she would usually have a big grin spread across her face!

However, there was one thing that sometimes stopped Daisy from smiling.  She thought it was a curse.  A demon dwelling inside of her.  A monster, hiding under the blanket of her skin.  Doctors called it...diabetes.

Most of the time Daisy would try her hardest to not let the monster affect her.  She would test her blood sugar levels, do her insulin injections and eat the right foods to ensure that D-Monster would not raise his ugly head.  Still, no matter how hard Daisy tried, D-Monster was powerful and controlling and would always find ways to throw her off-balance.  When this happened, Daisy would cry and cry.  She so desperately wished that someone could make the monster disappear.

Then, one day, something very magical happened...

Daisy had been having a bad day.  She was sick and D-Monster was enjoying himself very much indeed.  Whilst Daisy's immune-system was on shut-down, D-Monster could play all-sorts of evil, nasty games inside her body.  Daisy checked her blood sugar levels.

"17.3!" Daisy cried "It's not fair!  I try and try, but D-Monster just will not leave me be!"

She began to weep and, as she did, a lonely tear fell onto her testing strip.

"Oh, how I wish I had never had diabetes!" Daisy wailed.

Suddenly there was a beam of blinding light and glitter-dust rose up out of Daisy's testing monitor.  Out of nowhere appeared a fairy!  The fairy was tiny and was wearing a beautiful dress made out of gold test-strips, and a tiara made from diamond-encrusted glucose tabs.

"Hello, Daisy!" said the fairy "I am the D-Thanks Fairy!"

Daisy was so overwhelmed with shock and surprise that she could barely even speak!

"W-w-what? I don't understand! Where did you come from?"

"I came from your blood testing monitor, silly!  I heard you say 'I wish I had never had diabetes!'  Is this true?"

"Yes it is!" Proclaimed Daisy.  "Diabetes is horrible and I'd have been much better off without it!"

"Well Daisy, don't be so sure!" Said D-Thanks Fairy.  "I am here to show you what you would have been like, had you never been diagnosed with diabetes.  If you still want to be without your diabetes once I have shown you, I promise that I will cure you."

Excitement rushed through Daisy's body.  'She will cure me of D-Monster?'  Daisy thought 'I can't believe my luck!'

All of a sudden, almost as sudden as D-Thanks Fairy had appeared, Daisy saw visions flash before her eyes.

She saw a girl, with blond hair and green eyes.  She watched the girl through many days of her life, through pre-school, primary school, secondary school and on towards her adult life.  The girl seemed careless, irresponsible and immature, even post-adolescence.  She witnessed the girl eating endless amounts of sugary foods, drinking too much alcohol and making herself ill.  It became very clear to Daisy that the girl was not taking care of herself.  It shocked her immensely to see how a person may neglect themselves like that.

Within a moment of the last image disappearing from Daisy's view, she was back with D-Thanks Fairy.  Daisy began to weep for the second time, out of horror and disgust at what she had seen.

"It was horrible!" shrieked Daisy "Who was that girl?"

"Why, it was you Daisy" said D-Thanks Fairy, calmly.

"No it wasn't!  She was reckless and destructive, even towards her own body!  I could never be like that!"

"You're right.  You could never be like that now."

Daisy looked puzzled and confused.

"Daisy" D-Thanks Fairy whispered "you are the way you are because of diabetes.  You are responsible because you have had to have been.  You are mature because you had to grow up quicker to take care of your own blood tests and injections.  You are careful because you know of the high risk of complications if you are not."

Daisy felt her heart begin to lighten, as if D-Thanks Fairy had lifted the weight of the world from it.  From listening to the fairy's words, she began to feel an emotion that she had never felt before.  She felt thankful for her diabetes.  Thankful that she was the person she was and not the girl that D-Thanks Fairy had shown to her.

"Thank you!" roared Daisy "Thank you for making me thankful!"

D-Thanks Fairy smiled a knowing smile and disappeared back into Daisy's blood-testing monitor, leaving sprinkles of glitter behind her.

Daisy sat down, trying to take in what had just happened, reflecting on the magic that D-Thanks Fairy had brought to her.  She looked down at her blood testing monitor and there it was.  On the screen was a message that read:

'Your diabetes is part of you.  You are not it.  Love, DTF  x'

As she read this, Daisy wept one final time.  This time, Daisy's tear was one of relief, thanks and above all, acceptance.

...and they all lived happily ever after. The end :)
© 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Bye, Bye D-Blog Week 2011.

Here is the final post of D-Blog Week 2011, and first of all I'd like to say how much I have loved taking part.  Of course, I have got Karen to thank for putting the time and effort into setting it all up :)  You have provided me with much-needed opportunities to be creative, vent my frustrations towards my diabetes, have a positive outlook on my health and also unite and identify with people living with diabetes as I do.  THANK YOU!

So, what have I learned from D-Blog week?  The answer to this question is loads, although here I will state a few of the major things that have stood out to me.

1.  Many will laugh at this, but as I am relatively new to blogging, when I have been reading through posts over the past month or so I have always wondered 'what does 'DOC' stand for?'  I have thought 'Diabetic...Outpatient...Clinic?!', but no.  However, this week I learned that it means 'Diabetic Online Community'.  In my opinion, this has a far better ring to it and is far more contextually logical than my first assumption!  The Diabetic Online Community - oh how I love you.

2.  I have learned, on a more serious note, that regardless of our differences (whether we administer our insulin through the pump or injection pens, whether we have diabetes ourselves or if a loved one is diabetic, whether we are type 1 or 2) we all can all stand together on the basis of one, fundamental fact.  We are all affected by diabetes.

3.  Something I have learned from D-Blog week that I really wasn't expecting to is how accepting and supportive non-diabetics can be.  Over this last week, as well as those of you who are part of the DOC who have been wonderfully supportive, I have received many messages and comments from people who don't have diabetes and don't know much about it either.  Thank you for your kind words and overall recognition :)

4.  Finally, D-Blog week has taught me of how truly wonderful some human beings are.  From reading the posts of other bloggers from the DOC, especially on Friday (The most awesome thing you've done DESPITE diabetes), I have realised that we are a mixture between soldiers and magicians (Soldicians).  We are capable of anything we put our minds to, regardless of this 'disease' that we have, and we will battle diabetes when it tries to throw us off track.

Goodbye D-Blog Week 2011!  It's been fun!
x

Saturday, 14 May 2011

My Diabetic Life in Images

What a nice change!  Although I have loved writing about all sorts of diabetes-related things this D-Blog week, I think it's nice to use some imagery too so I'm particularly pleased by the choice of today's post :)  It was meant to be 'Saturday Snapshots', but I have also drawn a couple of pictures to stimulate my own creativity.  I'm all worded-out, here it is my diabetic life in images...


My drawing of my mum, me and my dad on the day I was diagnosed.
Dr. Johnson was my first diabetic doctor and he used to squeeze my fingers so hard to get the blood out of them that I would nearly cry.

Me on my fourth birthday, about a month after I was diagnosed as being Type 1 Diabetic


How it felt when I was diagnosed.  The Diabetes Police.

My Uncle David and I around the time I was diagnosed.
My Uncle David is also a Type 1 Diabetic.

A family holiday in Ireland.  This photo is of my mum (the lady with the camera), my cousin Chloe (the girl in the red shorts) and my Uncle Mark.
My Uncle Mark is also a Type 1 Diabetic.
I am at the corner of the photograph, stabilising my blood sugar levels with some carby crisps.


This is only part of my diabetic trail.  An old needle, needle wrapper and old insulin cartridge.
These were in the drinks holder of my boyfriend's car.  I am ashamed!

I always feel that when I say 'I'm diabetic', they assume that I'm either obese or old.
No, I'm Type 1 and even Type 2's aren't always overweight or OAP'S.

This is me now, aged 18, at my friend's house, testing my blood sugar levels at 2 am.

I am a type 1 diabetic :)