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 fiancĂ© 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'...

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