Sunday, 20 May 2012

D-Blog Week: A Magical Farewell

One of the posts I enjoyed writing the most for last year's D-Blog Week was a story called 'Weeping Daisy and The D-Thanks Fairy'.  The point I was trying to make in the story was that although diabetes can be royal pain in the backside sometimes, I can still be thankful for a lot of things because of it...D-Blog Week being one of them!

I've got a busy few days ahead reading through everyone's posts, but I'm looking forward to it :)  I am thankful to diabetes for uniting me with many wonderful people.  No - being diabetic isn't fun and we all wish there was a cure, but in the words of Pamela Curtis, THE DOC MAKE THIS LOOK AWESOME!

Here is my drawing of the D-Thanks Fairy, sprinkling her magic insulin droplets on D-Blog Week 2012  :)

D-Blog Week: The Diabetic Look

One month after diagnosis.  Not looking too well.

Almost 16 years post diagnosis.  Do I look diabetic?

14 years post diagnosis.  What about now? (and yes, I can eat ice cream)

 And now?

Saturday, 19 May 2012

D-Blog Week: Diabetes Q&A


I don't blame people for asking me seemingly silly questions about diabetes.  They're usually just a product of misunderstanding, although I've recently started to hold the media accountable for many people's confusion about what it really is.  In their ignorance, a distinction between the different types of diabetes is rarely made and so people are often left to make broad generalisations.  Seeing as the news and other forms of media seem to be incapable of fulfilling their purpose (truthfully informing), many diabetics are left to take the situation into their own hands.

In this post I aim to set the record straight about diabetes by answering questions I've been regularly asked about diabetes.

Q:  Have you got the good type or the bad type?
A:  As far as I'm concerned, a 'good type' of diabetes doesn't exist.  Types 1 and 2 are chronic illnesses.  Both are life-changing and require constant care.  If by what you mean 'the good type' is 'is it curable?', I have the bad type because mine isn't.  If what you mean by 'the bad type' is 'did your lifestyle cause your diabetes?' (also a serious generalisation by the way!) I have the good type because I didn't do it to myself.  Both types of diabetes are diseases.  Is a disease ever a good thing?  No.

Q:  You're never allowed to eat sweets, are you?
A:  I'm not allergic to sugar, I'm diabetic.  I can eat sweets or a cake or chocolate if I want to, I just have to inject insulin to cover it!  No, I shouldn't consume the entire contents of the confectionery aisle at the supermarket all in one sitting, but neither should a non-diabetic.  Everything's alright in moderation.

Q:  How are you a diabetic when you're not fat?
A:  Sometimes type 2 diabetes can develop because of an unhealthy lifestyle and sometimes obesity, but not always.  Not only that, but I'm a type 1 anyway!  Type 1 diabetes is not caused by the lifestyle a person lived prior to diagnosis.
[A similar assumption people make is that type 1 diabetes is caused by eating too many sweets when a person is younger.  Myth buster says: FALSE!]

Q:  Type 1 diabetes is the one you're born with, isn't it?
A:  Annoyingly, the cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet certain.  There are a few schools of thought surrounding what causes diabetes (genetic?  triggered by something environmental?)  but no one is yet 100% sure of what forces our pancreas to take a permanent vacation.  I was diagnosed at 3, my uncle at 14 and my second cousin at 26 years old.  As you can see, we're not born with it.

Q:  Your diabetes will make you blind, won't it?
A:  If I don't take care of it and have awful management, yes.  There's a very strong risk of complications if you refuse to control your blood sugars to the best of your ability (or if your HbA1c is above 7%)  However because I try my hardest most of the time to prioritise my health, hopefully I won't get any diabetes related complications and hopefully I won't go blind!

Sorry for how blunt this post is, but I don't usually write really informative posts and I thought there were a few things people should know.  So next time you see a diabetic injecting their insulin and then eating a muffin, please don't assume it's going to kill them.  They're not doing anything wrong :)

D-Blog Week: The Amazing D-Straw


I know I rant about this quite a lot, there's nothing more annoying for me than being served a full sugar soda in a restaurant when I've obviously ordered diet.  In my opinion, not only is it bad service but it's also dangerous because I'm a diabetic!  Of course I understand that we're all human and people make mistakes, but it's happened to me so many times.

Because this post is about designing my dream diabetes device, I have designed The Amazing D-Straw!  Basically when you put it in your soda, if it is diet it will turn to blue.  If it's not it will turn to red and then you can demand a refund or a swap!  Just be polite when you ask for a swap, the last thing you want is a fed-up barman spitting in your soda to teach you a lesson.  Ewww.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

D-Blog Week: My Currant Dilemma

Diabetes Blog Week

I thought I'd combine the prompt for today with getting a bit creative and using a wild card.  I've always loved drawing.  When I was younger I'd sit for hours and hours, doodling and bugging my parents with the dreaded 'what should I draaaaaw?!' question.  I took art A Level but didn't enjoy it as much as I'd have liked to because I felt that the rigid guidelines, as to what we could and couldn't produce, stifled creativity.  That's probably why now, 2 years later, I've reverted back to my childhood artistic style of cartoons.  Regression and plenty of block Crayola Crayon colour - a combination probably worthy of therapy.  I enjoy it nevertheless!

Anyway...diabetes.  I recently began to notice that my blood sugar levels were peaking ridiculously high post breakfast.  I've known for a reasonable amount of time now that sultanas, raisins, currants and most dried fruits are notorious for raising bg's because they're high in GI (glycemic index).  Still, what do I choose to eat in the morning?  Muesli.  Not only that, but I make no attempt to pick the currants out or limit how many fall into my bowl.  Instead I usually welcome them in because they're the bits that don't taste like cardboard.

Yum, yum, yum.  I finish my muesli and give my insulin.  As little as half an hour later I want to curl up into a ball and cry because my blood sugar levels are almost in the 20's and I feel dreadful.

There are a few things I know that I need to improve in terms of my diabetes management; trying to get good, controlled blood sugars means plenty of tweaking and adjusting.  Still, I suppose one of the main things I'd like to focus more on is eating a lower GI diet than I currently (currantly, haha) do.  I know what I need to do, I know the GI of most foods, I have the books and resources to do it, I just need to do it!

Here's my drawing.  Basically I like melon, but it's high in GI.  I like cheese and it's not!  I like beer, but it's high in GI.  I like wine and it's not!  What I'm trying to remind myself is that although there are foods I might miss if I'm on a low GI diet, there are always plenty of alternatives that I like equally as much and that won't cause as much harm to my diabetes. 

Tomorrow I'll change my breakfast, or have cardboard.

D-Blog Week: Taking The Weight Off My Shoulders


I used to put myself down quite a lot when it came to talking about my diabetes care.  Come to think of it, sometimes I still do.  When I went to check-ups I'd rarely have a positive thing to say about how I'd been coping and, before receiving the results, I'd always predict my HbA1c as being a good 2% higher than it actually was.  My doctor and diabetes nurse were constantly telling me that, although there was a little room for improvement, I really wasn't doing as badly as I thought I was.

However in the last year or so, and especially since completing the DAFNE course, I've realised that I do a pretty good job at looking after my diabetes.  My control isn't perfect and some days I'd love nothing more than to throw my insulin pens and glucometer into the bin or out of the window or into the ocean, but I manage to refrain.

The thing I'm the most proud of, with regards to my diabetes management, is my carbohydrate counting.  I used to put a massive, 9834592745925483 foot barrier up against it, thinking that it was the most impractical task ever and making out that I was hard done by because I'd been asked to do it.  In actual fact, like most things I make a big deal out of, it's pretty easy.

Nowadays the thought of eating a meal, without at least having an idea of how many grams of carbohydrates are in it, bothers me far more than getting my kitchen scales out or flicking through my Carbs&Cals book.  Guessing how much insulin to give for my Sunday Roast or bowl of pasta or Chinese takeaway only leaves me either dying of thirst because I haven't injected enough, or scoffing a much unwanted second meal a couple of hours later because I've overdosed!

All in all, I'm happy to have finally befriended my kitchen scales.  They take the weight of worry off my shoulders! ;)

Monday, 14 May 2012

D-Blog Week: READ ME

Last year I participated in my first Diabetes Blog Week.  I'd only created Diabetic Dais a week or so beforehand and, at the time, I was pretty nervous about taking part.  As it turned out I loved everything about it!  I enjoyed writing my posts, being able to be as creative as I liked and finding my own writing style.  Still, the thing that made last years D-Blog Week so special for me was being able to connect with other diabetics by reading their fantastic blogs.

I was so pleased when I read the prompt for today's post and saw that we were to share some of our favourite D-Blogs.  Although I love putting time and effort into my own blog, for me, the thing that helps me the most with managing my own diabetes is being a part of such a supportive and diverse online community.

Olly Double writes for Diabetes UK's blog site and is a father of two teenage type 1 (there's some alliteration for you!) diabetic sons.  I love his writing style.  He never fails to find the right balance between the seriousness of diabetes and having fun.  If you can read one of his posts without laughing, or at least smiling, I'd be surprised!

I came across Pamela Curtis' blog during last month's #HAWMC.  No, she doesn't write about diabetes, but her consistently optimistic approach to her rare chronic illness is incredible and inspirational to say the least.  Reading 'Make This Look Awesome' really makes me want to take a leaf out of her book (or take a post out of her blog?!) in my way of looking at diabetes. Super star!

Vicki Gibbs is a friend of mine; a friend who I was introduced to via the Diabetic Online Community.  I always thoroughly enjoy reading her 'notebook' and I love her no-fuss, honest approach to taking care of diabetes.  Along with being one of the founders of Student Diabetics UK, she puts a lot of time into educating people about diabetes and is so passionate about doing so.  Vicki is such a great girl and her blog is equally as wonderful as she is.