Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 and all that jazz

So, I had good intentions and started a diabetes blog, and then things kind of got busy...

Pulled my socks up at work after extended probation period, difficult with yo yo blood sugars, but it had been a trying 6 months.
Found a house to buy, put in an offer, got it accepted! 

Left work after mutually deciding I needed to put my health first. Difficult, but I was exhausted, yo-yoing about like the outline of the Himalayas!
Turned 31 (little bit depressing!)
Moved into first home!!!

Unpacked multiple boxes. Built flat pack furniture. Hypo whilst painting and wallpapering a lot! Hypo whilst gardening and lawn mowing too. Moving house causes hypos everywhere! Tricky when you've got stairs to contend with in the middle of the night when you've lived in flats for years! I've got lucosade, bg kit by my bed now.

I started running - I can't remember why, but it occupied some time and seemed like a good idea.
I'd never run anywhere before except for buses and trains. But I quite liked it! 

Raised £405 for @diabetesuk by running a mile around Regents Park - I ran it slowly and may have walked a bit in the middle - but I did it! And @jmrobilliard did it too :)
Still off work - getting a bit bored, but enjoying talking to lovely people on the #gbdoc You've been brilliantly supportive, helpful, friendly and fun. I don't think I could have managed this year without you. I've learned so much both about diabetes, and attitudes towards it which really picked me up.

I got my insulin pump - I was hugely excited and nervous, but reading 'Think Like A Pancreas by Gary Schneider was enormously helpful (would have helped with MDI too, but hadn't heard of it then).
I was prepped and ready, understood all the theory and had done all my food diary etc. spent a couple of hours at the Diabetes Centre with my DSN - she's amazing! Got on with it... Steep learning curve, but my DSN called, texted to check I was doing ok for the first couple of weeks. All went smoothly.

Newly attached to my pump, off we went to stay with my grandma in Staffordshire, and visit Alton Towers with @oceantragic and @type1dadderekck with their t1daughters Amy and Chloe, and other friends and family. Amy had just got her Animas pump, and Chloe was awaiting her date to get her pump soon. It was great to meet some other T1s - I've had diabetes since I was 6, so can share stories with Amy and Chloe, but also with their parents from my now adult perspective. 

But mostly it was awesomely good fun apart from James falling over and the Smiler roller coaster getting stuck with everyone on!

I met some more stars of the #gbdoc @understudypanc and @t1hba1c down in Somerset, great to put faces to names, have a laugh, share some stories and most importantly eat some cake (thanks Annie!).

I also got a new job - my insulin pump was making a world of difference and I totally felt so much more balanced than I had in years. It was defiantly no breeze, it's hard work and I put a lot of effort into it, but it paid off, and so I dipped my toe back into the world of graphic design project management - this time on a freelance capacity.

Boom - turns out that with decent blood glucose levels and a bit of confidence, I'm actually quite good at my job! Something that I'd only seen glimmers of over the last few years. Great to be back. Friends and family had similar positive feedback on the changes they could see in me. Thank you insulin pump and the care of my consultant and DSN! HbA1c down to 6.6! #winning

It was a bit warm was it it? Busy busy at work, and enjoying my new garden!

Survived a crazy conference in Paris which I was working on - maxed out my Basel rate to 175% (bit affected by stress!) and had bg rates of about 8-9mmol for the 22 hours I was awake that day. Spent about 36 hours in Paris (4 of which I was asleep) all with the hotel conference venue except for the taxi ride from the station, I didn't see anything!

Went to a fab wedding as well - tricky trying to cram all your pump spare kit, glucose supplies, bg kit into a clutch bag! Also difficult fitting your pump somewhere it doesn't look massively lumpy when you've got a nice dress on. #diabetesproblems

Raised a bit more cash for Diabetes UK collecting outside Tesco!

Decided it was time for a holiday - off to beautiful but chilly Edinburgh! Had a massive panic with pump as my cannulas kept falling out! I'd been using the plastic cannulas for my Medtronic paradigm Veo, but kept having multiple delivery failures throughout October and November. I love how diabetes chooses to kick you in the bum just when you fancy doing something lovely. Grr...

Got metal cannulas instead after discussing with my DSN. They're much better, but they don't stick in to my tummy very well, so I've taken to sporting them either on my lower back, or on my leg :)

The inevitable season of yummy food full of hiding bundles of glucose - yes I'm looking at you mince pies! And ever more delicious and bg bungling cocktails, mulled wine and hot spiced cider. And pasta...

Yes I had a weirdly last minute trip to Venice - it's beautiful!

And who doesn't fancy a last minute Diabetes clinic to finish off the year? 6 months on from pump attachment my HbA1c is 6.8%, slightly high on the fructoseamine but my bg levels are ok. 

Consultant happy. DSN happy. Me, very happy. 

Happy 2014 folks!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

making Diabetes work

This is a tricky blog to start.

I try to be very positive about living with Type 1 Diabetes, but sometimes it's a real struggle, because it can be difficult. Sometimes whatever you do, doesn't work.

Work. This is what I have been struggling with most over the last few years. The working 9-5 that good ol' Dolly likes to sing about. It has seriously taken it's toll on my Diabetes. 

My T1 doesn't like stress. It reacts badly. My liver pumps of glucose like i'm drowning in the Atlantic struggling to stay afloat. And to be honest, that's what work has felt like at times.

I have been working as a Project Manager looking after graphics, and packaging for retailers. It's highly stressful, deadline driven, seat of your pants kind of work; Staying late to hit deadlines, commuting long hours, eating lunch at your desk, not testing blood sugars because you're in big corporate client meetings, hypo's on the tube, the bus, the walk home, trying to smile and be nice to people when you blood sugars are over 15mmol, filling in spreadsheets and forgetting the last half hour because you're hyper, feeling tired all the time!

So I should quit my job and find a new one, right? Ok, so I did that... twice. Same thing happened. Trying to manage this on Multiple Daily Injections of Humalog and Lantus insulin, was impossible for me. I tried, my Diabetes Specialist Nurse and I battled for 3 years tweaking ratios, changing Lantus basel rates. Things often improved for a week or two, and then would return to chaotic numbers:

Here's my chart from after Christmas - shockingly, this was an improvement (personally, I like how a Hypo sneaked in there amongst all the Hypers!). Surprising to know that I managed to achieve an Hba1c of 7.2% in February with numbers like this. It just goes to show how misleading Hba1c numbers really can be!

the working dead
At work in February, myself and my employers came to a mutual agreement that my health came first. I was moving house (also stressful), my commute was increasing, and this was just not manageable. I was so so tired, and so upset every day. I felt like the working dead, but with too many crazy emotions running wild, and a confidence level somewhere 20,000 leagues under the sea.

I was able to keep it fairly under control during work hours, but was falling to pieces outside of work. This was taking it's toll on my family and friends, my social life and ultimately my future. Having my eyesight, feelings in my fingers and toes, and avoiding heart disease, kidney failure and other long term diabetes complications seemed like a good idea to me! So I gave work the elbow!!! 

I was lucky enough to be in a position where I could afford to take same time off work, try to get things under better control with the support of my friends, my family, my Consultant and Diabetes Specialist Nurse. I was already on the list for trialling an insulin pump. I hoped that being able to control the Basel rates throughout the day would get my blood sugars in line. Using an insulin pump means that you can fine tune the basel rate, rather than having one flat does of Lantus to last 24hrs. My body (and my Diabetes) wanted more Basel insulin in the morning, during working hours, but then a lot less in the late afternoon and evening, which Lantus could not achieve. Here's my chart average for May - a bit good, a bit bad, but an improvement on before:

I trialled my Medtronic Paradigm Veo in June after being at home 'not currently working' for 3 months. It was great. Right for the get go. I love the flexibility of the basel rate, the temporary basel rates I can quickly and easily adjust if I suddenly find myself in an unusually stressful environment are just fantastic.

My insulin sensitivity has come right down, I can now roughly feel my blood glucose rising above 10mmol. I've been able to cope much better with the recent heatwave interfering with how quickly my body absorbs insulin. It's just great.

Then I had a call, someone found my CV online, and asked if I'd be interested in freelancing as a Project Manager? After some discussion with my family, I said yes. I felt more confident in myself, more balanced on the diabetes front, more in control and ready for something new.

BG Chart or tube map?
Last week I started freelancing at a lovely firm in the City. So far I am really enjoying it. I'm feeling confident and getting great feedback on the work I am doing. My blood sugars have been a little wobbly due to the recent heatwave (god it's hot on the Tube!), but they seem to be getting there, and I'm really pleased.

I'll let you know how I get on with them :) My Hba1c is due in mid September - keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

My Diabetes Family History, and other stories

My headlines this week:

1. I've had a pump for almost a month
2. I went to visit my Grandma
3. I met some other Type 1's at Alton Towers

1. I've had a pump for almost a month

Hello there, so I've had a pump for almost a month. It's great, I love it. Easier than injections that's for sure. Last week my own machine arrived, so I set it up all by myself by copying all the info over from the one we set up at the hospital. All works fine so far! 

Got a lovely new BG meter the Bayer Contour Link which 'Talks' to my Medtronic Paradigm Veo pump - so cool. My friend asked if it's like I'm Iron Man, and I suppose I kind of am!

2. I went to visit my Grandma

Last week, I went to visit my Grandma in Derbyshire. She lives about 6 miles away from Alton Towers (but more on that later...). She was showing me some photos of her recent trip to visit family in Germany, where she is originally from. I asked her about our family history of Type 1 Diabetes.

As far as I know, we currently have four people with Type 1 Diabetes within our family, however, three of these are in the German part of our family, and I am the only one here in the UK. I've made a family tree so you can see where we all fit in. I've marked the people with Type 1 in bold, with little blue circles after their name:

My mum's cousin Gerthienrich was the first person in our family diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This was in Germany before the Second World War, when he was 2 years old. My Grandma told me about how it was really difficult to get insulin for him during the war, and you'd never know if it would be the same kind of insulin that you had before. These days if we want to know our blood glucose level, we prick our fingers and a machine tells us within 5 seconds, but back then, she said they had to collect urine over 24 hrs and then boil it up to test the glucose level. All Gertheinrich's food was carefully measured and controlled, and my Grandma said he used to get very upset when he was hungry, but had already finished his food and wasn't allowed any morel.

It makes me very glad that I was diagnosed in more recent times. Gertheinrich's younger half brother Christian also has Type 1 Diabetes. The only son of my great Aunt not to have Type 1 is Ludwig; he has six children, one of whom was diagnosed with Type 1 a few years ago, in his early twenties.

I'm the only one on the British side of the family with Type 1. I guess we shall have to wait for the next generation of our family to see if there will be any more. My Grandma said that her grandfather (my great great grandfather) died suddenly, just before my great grandfather was born. We suspect he may have had Type 1 Diabetes as well, but back then it was not diagnosed or possibly even recognised. There was no medication for it either, as insulin had not yet been discovered.

3. I met some other Type 1's at Alton Towers

The reason I'd gone to stay with my Grandma was that she lives really close to Alton Towers, and James and I were off to meet up with fellow Twitterati  (Kev) and  (Derek) and their families. It's not often I get to spend much time with fellow T1's, so I jumped at the chance to go to Alton Towers and meet Amy and Chloe.

Amy had just got her pump and was getting used to it like me. She has a great Spi Belt to keep it in, which is funky pink camo colours! Chloe is waiting for her pump which will be in the next few months hopefully. It was great to stop and check blood sugar levels in synchronisation, and estimate carbs collectively :) After a misjudged estimation of how many carbs there are in doughnuts, Amy and I then had synchronised hypos! But were soon back up and running again ready for the next ride!
Kev had discovered that if you have a medical condition such as Type 1 Diabetes, you can go to Guest Services at Alton Towers with a letter form your hospital, and be given a red wristband and a ride pass which means you can jump all the queues for the rides! Finally, a plus side to having Diabetes!!! 

Queue times with red rider wristband, on a warm sunny Saturday in June:
Oblivion: 5 minutes
Nemesis: 5 minutes
Air: 10 minutes
Thirteen: 5 minutes
You get the idea - they mark your card usually with 30 mins or an hour until you can go on the next big ride in the park, but you need that time to get your stomach back in place! You have to sit in the designated 'red rider' seats usually at the back of the ride with your 'carer' - this is so in case of an emergency, they can find you first and get you off the ride, like if it gets stuck... which the new 13 loop roller coaster 'The Smiler' did... which Chloe on board... and then for Amy... who'd removed her pump.

If you have an insulin pump, you need to remove it before going on any big fancy roller-coasters, because of the magnets used to keep the carts on the tracker, and the inevitable G force of being thrown in a million directions really fast. Most of the rides have luggage drop of points just before you get on, so it's not much of a problem to be disconnected for a couple of minutes whilst you're riding the roller-coaster. Unless it stops with you on like 'The Smiler'. (\/ this isn't them by the way!)

It had a few problems earlier in the day, but with a normal queue length of about 3 hours, we all used out red wristbands to go to the front of the queue. They only let one red rider per go on the ride, so I went first and we were all fine (apart from feeling a bit dazed and confused afterwards from the 13 loops!). I collected my bag, and reattached my pump, but then as we waited to see the next ride go, it stopped. Chloe was on board, but her Dad Derek was with us. A little frightening, but Chloe is on MDI so would be fine for a while. The it started again, phew!

Kev and Amy and their family were on the next ride after Chloe. Amy had disconnected her pump to go on the ride, and then their carriage stopped just as it was about to climb up a big slope. It was on an angle, and must have felt awful being trapped on there. Luckily after a few minutes, the ride started again and everyone got off safe and sound, although with a few tears and a bit of a scare. Thankfully, if things had been worse, the red wristbands and designated seating on the rides would have had us prioritised.

If you'd like to know more about Kev and Amy take a look at their blog Circles of Blue
And you can read about Derek and Chloeon their blog here: Living with a Type 1 Daughter

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Pip Pop starts a blog about living with Type 1 Diabetes, and other funthings ;)


So it's the middle of Diabetes Week 2013 and I've been inspired so much by my friends in the Online Diabetes Community ( the #DOC) and their amazing diabetes blogs, that I thought I'd join the party and write one myself.


I guess I should start at the beginning? I have had Type 1 Diabetes for 25 years. I celebrated this year for the first time. I bought myself a new Diabetes ID bracelet with a heart charm with my details on and the medic snake icon on the other side. I don't think we had those in 1988.

In fact, I don't really remember much about 1988. I was diagnosed a few weeks before I turned 6, on my Dad's birthday. I asked him recently what he remembers about it, and he said it was the most depressing and upsetting day of his life. I don't think we had any birthday cake that day that's for sure! I wasn't taken into hospital, didn't stay over night or anything like that. Our GP had sent us directly to the paediatrician's clinic in the next town. I don't really remember it. I know we got sent home after they gave me some injections at the hospital, and my parents were told to practise on an orange before giving me insulin injections for the rest of my life.

I'm still here, so obviously they worked out how to do it one way or another!

Diabetes and I have had our ups and down over the years - there was a lot of red/yellow/green food checking in the early years, daring my brother to see how fast he could run upstairs and get my needles before Neighbours began on telly, not being allowed sweets or chocolate (apart from a giant banana split one holiday in France?!), learning to inject myself, ignoring the need to do any blood tests for a considerably long time (yes, it was about 15 years!), hypos during exams, and dissertations, the rule I had about making sure I ate before bed and after drinking at University, living abroad for a year, moving to London and finally getting myself back on the ladder with the amazing help and friendly advice of my Diabetes Specialist Nurse, without whom, I think I'd be in a dangerous crumble somewhere.

I've just got an insulin pump on loan, and am waiting for a date to get my own machine. But I can bore you all with that another time.