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!


  1. Good luck with the new pump and new work schedule. Work was one of the biggest reasons I went on a pump. I was traveling internationally and having crazy bgs (scary bgs in foreign countries is terrifying). Being on a pump made changing time zones so much easier! Good luck!

    1. Thank you for sharing - it's a topic I feel can be overlooked sometimes, so I'm glad others can identify and hopefully benefit. I know scary bg is so frightening when not on home soil with family around - glad a pump is helping :)

  2. I'm glad everything seems to be working out for you! I've been there - where work was overwhelming and stressful - and it just made me a miserable person to be around outside of the office. Though I knew I had to make a change, I couldn't afford to (or wasn't willing to) take time off altogether, I saw the person I was becoming and I didn't like it.

    I'll bet the pump and the new freelancing gig work well together. For days when you're stuck in a chair for hours on end, crank up a temporary basal slightly. For more active days, crank it down.

    Go for walks in the city, too. When I worked in New York, I would sometimes go for long walks during my lunch break (so long that I'd then have to take the subway back to the office!). It's good for the body and also for the spirit...

    I'm actually starting a new job on Monday, so I'll probably be taking some of my own advice. Maybe we can compare notes.

    1. Good luck on Monday Scott! I'll try and squeeze in some walking between deadlines :) it's a great tip. I try and walk to the station in the evening rather than take the tube, but it's a bit weather dependant!