Wednesday, 30 August 2017

"I assumed it would get better"

I'll be very honest with you, I'm just feeling very 2/10, when usually I'm a solid 8/10.

This blog post is not a super positive one but is an honest one and I really want to document my life with type one diabetes in every which way and for the most part that's incredibly upbeat and fun but today I need an honest chat. I want to look back on this blog and see my progress.

Something I've always prided myself on, been an advocate for and heavily supported both online and offline is the importance of resilience and that actually it's okay not to be okay. Something that has surprised me about starting insulin pump therapy is that those personality traits feel like they have plummeted and at the beginning, I brushed it off and thought 'it's not a big deal' it's just because this is new to me and it's all a bit strange. I assumed it would get better, you know, just teething problems, if you will, but it's not getting better really, in fact it's quite the opposite.

I don't want to just waffle on for 20 minutes although there's a good chance that'll happen but I want to write about how I'm feeling and what I'm doing to try and pull myself out of that because I don't think what I'm feeling is unique, I know there are lots of people that feel this way, but I want to come back to this and see how things have changed. Burnout is not a feeling I am unfamiliar with, but yet every time I feel this way it rears it's ugly head so differently, which makes it hard to identify.

To say I've stopped looking after myself would be wrong and simply untrue, but I guess I've just become disengaged with my diabetes. It's not that I don't care, of course I do, I just haven't given it 100%. I'll lay it out for you, my blood sugars are awful, let's take today for example, BGs ranged from 2.3 - 23.8mmol, with food unaccounted for and a cannula that's been in for to long. That's been my 'normal' for the last few months really and it's finally begun to grind on me.
I feel so sick, all the time.
I tell myself 'it's because you've had a busy day' but people live lives much busier, much more stressful than mine and can keep diabetes at the forefront of their mind. I need to stop with the excuses. As the episodes of extreme high BGs has become more frequent I find my mind drifting to all the possible complications I could have one day, and that terrifies me. You always think 'that doesn't happen to people like me' but actually who am I to say it won't? I've got no idea.

All of these things when I write them down sound so superficial and if someone said them to me I'd say these are just skin-deep things, easy to fix, you've got through it before, but all of a sudden I've noticed how unwell I have been feeling, which is not like me. I've been feeling worse and more and more down about it and last week I just thought 'this has got to stop' because these are no longer teething problems, we are talking 7 months down the line here and I coped better on injections. Although it's not much of a progress marker, my HBA1C has increased since starting on my insulin pump, and that's not what I wanted. So I know I've got to do something about this, it's not just going to magically disappear. Some little things I've been doing is celebrating when my blood sugars are in range, and really taking a moment out of my day to recognise how good I feel.

I realised there was a problem when the crappiness began to permeate into other areas of my life, I've gradually stopped engaging online, became slow with replies to messages and emails, let my blog sit without regular posts. Don't get me wrong, life has become incredibly busy this year and it won't slow down now for a long time but I could have made more time for engaging with the peer support available. I stopped engaging because I feel like I don't have anything to say and I'm never that person.

I didn't want this post to sound like a massive moan because that's not what I want this space to be, but I've got to be honest with you, I am feeling pretty crap at the moment, I don't feel good in myself and I think that is starting to creep into other areas of my life. I'm trying to be quite proactive about this and put myself back on the right path.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

6 Months On Insulin Pump Therapy

I've been using an insulin pump, Accu Chek Spirit Combo, for six months (doesn't time fly) and although I still face my wobbles, it has become part of my life so naturally.

One of my biggest concerns before starting insulin pump therapy was being connected to a device 24/7, 365 days of the year. Which is quite ironic really as I've never felt as free as I have over these last 6 months.

Pancreas in a box

I wake in the morning and stretch as I begin to prepare myself for the day ahead. I run my hand over my stomach and feel my cannula, still very much intact, I follow the tubing down with my hand, blissfully unaware until I am met by my insulin pump no more than a meter away from me, laying freely in the bed. This little device is effectively my 'pancreas in a box' that keeps me alive, I do all the hard work but I guess it's a little like a life support machine. Without it, I wouldn't be here.

Sleeping has not been a problem, there is something utterly therapeutic about letting the pump wander between the sheets, otherwise it'll sit comfortably in my waistband whilst I sleep happily without disturbance. It trickles small amounts of insulin down the tubing and into the cannula every hour of every day.. it'll beep randomly and I smile as it feels like a bittersweet reminder that everything is working as it should be.. well done pancreas in a box, as long as you keep doing your job I think we'll get on just fine.

I get out of bed and prepare my breakfast, I test my blood sugars on my pump handset, enter the amount of carbohydrates that I plan to eat and watch as my meter uses its bolus wizard to calculate the specific dose of insulin I need. Within no more than a minute my insulin is delivered, with no needles having entered my skin. I unknowingly smile to myself as I remember just how lucky I am to be in this position and wait for my bolus to kick in.

I get dressed in the morning and feel like a badass

After breakfast it's time to get dressed, staying mindful as to whether I'll have a pocket to keep my pump in, or if I'll need my multiway body band to fasten under my top. I pull up my jeans, remembering to be gentle with the tubing hanging from my stomach, and place any excess tube in my back pocket along with my insulin pump. I get dressed in the morning and feel like a badass, part robot, ready to take on the world. I walk down the street proud of my little box, which will stay in place all day as I can bolus from my handset.

In a day and age where everyone is glued to their mobile phones, it feels no different to use my pump handset to bolus for my lunch, in fact no one turns a blind eye, it's oddly satisfying. There's no panic to find the nearest toilet so I can inject, or having to worry about which site to use, or which is the most accessible. That's not to say that I ever felt different or self conscious when using injections, but my quality of life has greatly improved.

Being part robot is pretty cool too. What's not so great is when I rise in the middle of the night and forget to bring my pump with me, but with time I find my hand is always there to fumble around until it reaches those oh so familiar walls of my insulin pump, a safety net if you will.

Image result for change your perspective quote Out of the ordinary?

I re-read this post in fear it all sounded a bit... normal and in fact I am here to tell you that life is just the same with an insulin pump. My medically equipped body, which all felt a little unfamiliar at first, is quite ordinary and that feels so good to type, 6 months on.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Type One Diabetes

*As always, by reading any copyright content on this blog you are agreeing to the terms and conditions stated here. Do remember all content is based on my personal experience only and is not intended as medical advice.*

It never fails to baffle me just how little people know about Type One Diabetes, so I guessed a quick-one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about T1D, whether you're an employer, friend, family member, partner or just nosy, may be of some use to direct people.

So here it is, your quick guide if you know a person living with Diabetes and want to clue yourself up. Read below some short, simple statements in attempt to answer your questions and cover the basics.

What is Diabetes?

Insulin injection pens, needle and blood glucose meter

Type One Diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the pancreas stops producing a hormone called insulin. Insulin is used by the body to turn food into energy, which your body then uses as fuel so you can go about your normal day. Insulin keeps your blood glucose levels in range so you can function and perform everyday activities. 
People with type one diabetes need to manually input insulin into their body every day by using insulin injections or an insulin pump and have to monitor their blood glucose levels using a blood glucose meter. They have to take a dose of insulin every time they eat.
Insulin Pump

Type Two Diabetes, is substantially different, and develops when the body cannot produce enough insulin or for whatever reason, the insulin that is produced doesn't work properly. Type two diabetes can be treated with lifestyle changes, diet and medication. 
People living with T2D may be moved to insulin injections in some circumstances.

What does living with type one diabetes mean?

Each time a person with Diabetes eats they need to take a dose of insulin. This is calculated manually by a ratio agreed with their medical team. People with Diabetes can eat whatever they want, as long as they calculate the carbohydrate content in every meal, snack or sugary drink.

After a diagnosis of type one diabetes you need to ensure your blood glucose levels are at a safe level so you can go about your usual activities. As those with diabetes are replacing what is an automatic function from a healthy organ in a non-diabetics body, the room for error with insulin doses and meals is increased. This means we can have high blood sugar (HYPERGLYCEMIA), when there is too much glucose in our body, or low blood sugar (HYPOGLYCEMIA) , when there is not enough glucose in our body. Each are treated differently.

Symptoms of  high blood sugar include but are not limited to:

  • Extreme Thirst
  • Tiredness
  • Irritable

High blood sugars usually require what is called a 'correction insulin dose', this is usually a small amount of insulin to bring down your blood glucose level into a safe range. Drinking fluids may also be used to re-hydrate the body.

Symptoms of low blood sugar include but are not limited to:

  • Shaking
  • Slurred Speech
  • Confusion

Low blood sugars require fast acting glucose, like Lucozade, to stabilise the blood glucose level into a safe range. People experiencing a low blood sugar may need 15-20 minutes in a quiet room to treat their levels.

Will I ever need to ring 999?

There is two circumstances where you may need to ring the emergency services. 

1. If a low blood sugar becomes so low that the person with diabetes cannot give themselves fast acting glucose. If blood glucose levels drop too low the individual will have a hypoglycemic fit, because the brain is starved of glucose, and in turn cannot function properly. 
The general rule is if the person becomes unresponsive, call an ambulance.

2. If a high blood sugar goes too high, the glucose in the blood will turn acidic and may lead to a fatal condition called DIABETIC KETOACIDOSIS. If you are aware the person with Diabetes has a high blood sugar, and cannot keep food or liquids down, they need to go to hospital. 
Once admitted through A&E, they will be treated with IV insulin and fluids to re-hydrate the body.

Anything else?

Most importantly, having type one diabetes is not a label, and it does not stop you from doing anything.

Friday, 31 March 2017

If I Should Have A Daughter

Inspired by the wonderful Sarah Kays' 'If I Should Have A Daughter' ...

I often think about if my child were to be diagnosed with Diabetes, how I/they would cope, how it would feel and ultimately how I could help. Now I know the statistics are pretty slim, less than 5% chance  but it is something that occupies my mind regularly. Those of you who have their eyes open will know I am just 18, and do not have a child, but that does not stop me fantasizing about my future. I got thinking about all of her potential, and what she will be capable of and what I would want her to know. Her life will be valued and precious and exciting. So this is a letter, a metaphorical one perhaps, but I hope to silence my thoughts on the matter.

If I Should Have A Daughter

Darling girl,

Let me start by saying this, you are no less of a person because you have Diabetes. You are no less of a person, just like your Great Granddad was more than his injections, and like your Mother is more than her bruises. You are more than the blood and the lumps. You are more than your averages and the scores on a height and weight chart. You are more than the length of your hospital appointments and the attendance records at school. You are so much more, you are my Daughter and your parents love you very much.

For when you don't have the energy, for when your mentality cannot take anymore..look to your Mother. And when you feel okay about it all, I will teach you to stand on your own two feet, with my hands either side of you. My sweet girl, I will do my upright best to ensure you never feel alone, and that your dark days are always brightened by the sheer fact that if I can do it, you can too. I will hold your hand every step of the way, and dry our tears at every hurdle. I would never wish this condition on anyone, but I hope you can look at your Mother one day and think 'although this is crap, at least we are in it together'.

I promise to provide reassurance when it feels like you can't take anymore. I promise to supply limitless empathy and time when all you need to do is shout about how rubbish you feel. I promise to advocate on your behalf, darling, and to follow your lead in whatever you choose to do.
I promise to have your back, around every twist and turn, whatever the destination. I promise to be your number one fan, at the end of the day- good or bad, high or low, positive or negative.

I vow to never make you feel any different to any other child on that school playground, even if you like that you get to eat in class sometimes. I hope we can make Diabetes fun, and use sticker charts each time a needle scrapes your skin. I hope we can have Mummy-Daughter days where we don't flinch at the beep of a machine, or the tug of tubing or the numbers appearing on that all-to familiar screen. I will ensure you spend your days laughing, smiling and fighting for what you believe in. There is so much goodness in your heart and I don't want you to ever stop sharing that. I will fight for the best care available and encourage you to let your voice be heard. I will explore every avenue with you, every sentence that feels to painful to utter and each prick that feels like it could be the last.

I am not going anywhere sweetheart, not until I can feel your bones swelling with brightness, until I can see your eyes glistening with adventure and watch your mouth dance with anticipation. Your Mother raised a warrior with a heart of gold, a helping hand and a beautiful, beautiful urge to strive.

Don't ever stop trying, sugar-pot. Your love will take you far. I have no doubts about that.