I told you I was running out of things to say…

After a long break, I finally feel as if I can carry on doing this blog, and actually have something worthwhile to say. Well, kinda.

The thing is,  diabetes literally comes in to every part of my life. So why is it so hard to think of things to write? I think my anxiety comes in to it quite a bit. A couple of negative comments, and I just go into myself. I can handle constructive criticism, I welcome it in fact. But the odd email telling me “You deserve to be diabetic” or that “your writing is rubbish”, it’s enough to make me want to just shut it all out for a while.

However, I’m feeling quite productive today, so I’m seizing the opportunity and I’m throwing myself right back in there.

Something I’ve been considering for a while is setting up a Twitter page, kind of like a support page for diabetics, friends and family of diabetics, and anyone who is just curious to learn a bit more. I’ve finally convinced myself to do it, and whilst I’m not sure if it will take off, I thought it was worth giving things a go. On Facebook, there are so many support pages which I’m really lucky to be a part of, but it seems as though there is a bit of a gap in the market on Twitter. I’m looking at posting facts, memes, any submissions from followers etc. I’ve even been looking into selling some bits through it, t shirts, mugs etc. It might flop, but it might help someone, and in that case, it will be worth it.

If you’re interested, the @ is @t1lazypancreas

It’s very new, I’m yet to do much on there, but in the coming days, I’m hoping to revamp my blog and get the Twitter page going. I might even do an Instagram, but let’s face it, I’m getting ahead of myself now.

Thank you everyone who is kind enough to read and support this blog, it might not seem like much, but it can be very daunting to just put your life out there on the internet for judgement, and I’m so grateful that the majority of the comments are also positive.

Much love, H x

The rambles of someone running out of things to say…

Diabetes literally plays a part in every aspect of my life, so why is it that the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone to write a blog and came up totally blank for things to say? It’s ridiculous, and whilst I’m probably just overthinking it, it’s frustrating me greatly. I’m quite keen for suggestions on things to write about, so if anyone has any diabetes related queries or questions they would like answered, please get in touch. Non Diabetic suggestions are also welcomed, but I’m not as well qualified to give advice on most other things…

Hopefully in the near future (if things all go to plan) I’ll have a couple of new experiences and aspects of life to write about, but for now, I’m keeping quiet.

Bit of a pointless post really, but wanted to keep the blog active and up to date, mostly to show that I hadn’t disappeared again! I’ll be racking my brains for something new to talk about, I may even branch in to writing blogs in general, rather than diabetes specific. It’ll still play a huge part of course, that much is unavoidable.

In the meantime, as I said, any suggestions or ideas, let me know.

Thanks!

Highs and Lows

It was brought to my attention recently that in all my diabetic ramblings, I’ve never gone into the effects or symptoms of high and low blood sugar in much detail. Quite an important part of understanding diabetes really, isn’t it?

For all you lucky non diabetics out there, your blood sugar would usually sit between        4.0 mmol – 7.0 mmol. I’m aware that those figures have recently been reviewed and they now say that the highest ideal figure is 5.9 mmol, but I’m not sure why as I know a lot of healthy non diabetics who often have their sugar levels in the 6s. Lets be honest, the way the media and so called experts chop and change with advice on most things these days, I’m inclined to think as long as you’re healthy and your doctor isn’t concerned then you’ll be fine.

Low blood sugar occurs when there is too much insulin in your system. It can also be brought on by not eating, in diabetics and non diabetics alike. Also, sometimes, just diabetes. It’s a volatile, awkward, stubborn and often inconvenient disease that cares not for any plans you may have. Take me this morning for example. I was up until about 5am, because lately I’ve apparently became nocturnal. “Doesn’t matter” I thought,” I’ll sleep in tomorrow and go about my day.” Ha. It’s like I haven’t had this thing for the past 14 years.

Bang on 8am this morning, I awoke with the familiar pulsing vision, with black splodges seriously impairing my sight. I was clammy, my head was spinning, I could feel myself shaking all over. I groaned, rolled over, scanned my sensor which told me my glucose level was 2.2 mmol (the lowest reading possible on my sensor before it just reads LO) and grabbed my Lucozade off my bedside table. I keep one there at all times, it makes life so much easier than me trying  to stumble anywhere when I’m about as steady on my feet as Bambi on ice. I also start to slur quite heavily, talking in very stilted sentences, because I’m having to literally plan out what it is I want to say in advance. It’s like every single little function that you usually do without a second thought, becomes this new alien concept that you have to really think about, and force yourself to do. Symptoms vary dependant on the severity of the hypo, and as ridiculous as it sounds, on the time of day. A hypo during the day often barely slows me down. However, mornings like today when I wake up already low, I’m pretty much written off for the day. “Hypo hangover” I like to call it. I also become incredibly snappy and grouchy with low blood sugar. (More than usual).

High blood sugars, whilst not as debilitating as low blood sugar for me personally, usually cause me the most physical discomfort. I become lethargic, groggy, and my muscles begin to tighten up and ache. My head pounds, mouth dries out and I struggle to keep focus on anything. There are few joys in life like a pint of water when your bloods go high. Imagine the morning after a night of heavy drinking, when you wake up and your mouth is so dry that your tongue is practically stuck to the roof of your mouth and you can’t even swallow. Yeah, times that by 100. It’s horrendous. I once managed 4 pints of water, 1 after the other, in about 2 minutes. And then spent the next hour freaking out about that condition where you can basically drown yourself internally from drinking too much. Yeah, told you I think too much. My sensor stops reading at about 28 mmol before just reading “HI”. It’s not very useful and the amount of times I’ve had to guestimate whereabouts I think my bloods might be sitting before administering the injection that can quite easily kill me if I get wrong is more than I care to admit. No pressure, right?

Complications from high blood sugar are the ones you read in the media scaremongering all the time. Amputation, blindness, kidney failure etc. All very real and possible options if you don’t take this disease seriously, and something I wish I had paid more thought to when I was younger. Unfortunately, I was suffering from teenage invincibility syndrome that I’m sure many people will relate to, whether through themselves or through any teenagers they may know. I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m just putting across the potential very real situation. DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) is one that you don’t hear about often, but incredibly deadly. I wrote about this briefly in my first ever blog. It occurs when your blood sugar level is so high, your body begins burning muscle instead of fat and your blood basically starts becoming acidic. I was 16 when I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, with my kidneys shutting down and my body going into shock. A few days in a high dependency unit hooked up to all kinds of IV’s sorted me out soon enough, but it was one hell of a wake up call.

Now, I’ve said before, Diabetes changes from person to person. There could be a 22 year old girl sat reading this right now, diagnosed for the same length of time, thinking that her symptoms aren’t anything like what I’m describing. That is totally normal.

One of the joys of this condition (not) is the invisibility of it all. People are sceptical about things that they can’t physically see. If I was throwing up, or covered in a rash etc, people wouldn’t question a thing. Instead, I have to try my best to explain that I’m exhausted from the war that my own body is waging on itself from the inside. There are days when I’m so drained, it takes all my effort just to move off the couch. There are days when my muscles ache so badly, I walk like an OAP with arthritis. There are days when my skin hurts all over from jabs and needles and the bruises that often cover my stomach or thighs. It’s not just a physical exhaustion. It’s mentally and emotionally crippling at times too.

But you keep on. You have to, because the minute you let this disease win, it’s a long road back. It takes incredible strength and determination, more than people will ever realise,  all I can do is document my experiences and hope people take it all on board.

 

 

Brutal Honesty

So, as per usual, I did a couple of blog posts, spouted my usual “I’m gonna do this, I’m going to keep writing regularly” blah blah blah. Then I disappeared.

I’m not going to come up with some generic excuse, I’m not even going to try and come up with an exciting one. I’m just going to be honest. A few months ago, I began to suffer with my anxiety and depression again. Badly.I was miserable, not leaving my bed, sleeping all day, up all night. I just felt bleak, lifeless, like I was staring into this black-hole that was becoming my life. Anxiety wise, I was having between 3-6 panic attacks a day, and I mean full blown, crying, couldn’t catch my breath, ohmyhgodimgoingtopassout. I didn’t want to leave the house, I was scared of everything, I didn’t want to be left on my own, I didn’t want Keith to leave the house. I was envisaging the absolute worst all the time. It was like a Final Destination film in my head. Constantly.When it’s 6am and for the 5th night that week, you’re yet to sleep cause you’re thinking “What if so and so gets sick? What if they die?” Something has got to give.

It was exhausting and I really wasn’t coping. I was signed off work, medicated, referred for counselling etc etc. Unfortunately, one of my managers wasn’t supportive in the slightest and seemed  mostly concerned I was just taking a holiday. I wish. Long story short, I no longer work there. It was made very clear that I wasn’t particularly welcome back, and who would want to go back to that?

And here’s the thing. Within 2 days, I began to feel better. I should have felt worse, I was unemployed, with no job lined up, but I felt better. It began to dawn on me that maybe I wasn’t as happy in my job as I thought. When you’re working in a medical environment, you tend to see the worst of things. People sick, going through hell, people dying. You’re up close and personal to it all, and if I’m being honest (as the title suggests), I think I’m too soft for it all. I care, I get attached and I worry. It was no good for me.

So here I am, 22, (23 in a matter of weeks, and I still have no idea how that has crept up on me so quickly) unemployed, and I spend most of my day sat on my couch, making my cat chase a laser pen and binge watching Boxsets.

This is not going to be my life.

Self employment. The Dream. Sorting my own hours, working to suit me. Lets give it a go. But ideally, I want to be writing. I love this, I love sitting down and just pouring my heart out. I love blog posts like this, where I haven’t even had to think it through, I picked up my laptop and 30 minutes later, posted this, because it just comes to me.

So if you’re reading this, and you have any idea / contacts / tips that may be able to help me, please, please, send them my way. I would be insanely grateful.

*Inserts usual generic, I’m going to update the site more regularly from now on*

Thanks for reading x

Continuous Glucose Monitoring *CGM*

So I’ve mentioned in post pasts something called a CGM, which, as the title suggests, is a Continuous Glucose Monitor. Whilst I’ve never been too keen on the idea of an Insulin pump, a CGM has also been something I would have loved in my life, but they weren’t widely available on the NHS and weren’t available to buy privately. Until recently.

Freestyle are a company that provide diabetic equipment, including regular finger prick glucose kits, and now the Freestyle Libre. The idea behind it is pretty simple. You insert the sensor just under the skin, kinda like a regular injection, except when you take away the pod, the sensor stays under the skin. It’s recommended that you insert it at the top of your arm, slightly round the back of it. (I’ve taken step by step pics that I’m going to attempt to upload shortly, fingers crossed)

Now, I know it sounds pretty painful and to be honest, the first couple of times I tried it, I made Keith do it for me cause I was too scared to, but I was really pleasantly surprised at how little you feel, there’s a slight ache in your arm for the first hour or two, but you even get use to that eventually. I can do it myself now with no bother, although it can be useful having a second pair of eyes just to make sure you’ve got it all lined up right.

Once the sensor is in, you turn your monitor on, and literally scan over the top of the sensor, and it will ask if you want to start a new sensor, to which you click “Ok” or “Yes” (I can’t remember now I’m sat here typing, admittedly I should have took pictures of that too). It is an hour until the sensor is ready to use, and even then, it is suggested that it’s a full 24 hours before the readings become more accurate as the sensor settles in. Now it’s also stressed that if you think you are having an episode of high / low blood sugar, then you should still do a finger prick check, as the sensor can run up to 15 minutes behind, and I’ve found this to be an issue with a couple of bigger hypo’s I’ve had.

What I love so much about the sensor, apart from the obvious lack of finger pricking, is the sensor can give you an indication of which way your blood sugar is heading. There’s a straight arrow for bloods holding steady, an arrow at a slight incline to show it’s heading slightly higher, or an arrow pointing straight up to indicate a rapidly rising blood sugar. The arrows also point at a slight decline or straight down to demonstrate dropping blood sugar. It’s a really nifty little tool, and my life is so much easier with it. Another plus, is that as all you have to do is scan the sensor, others are able to do it for me easily. For example, a little while ago I was really unwell and struggling to stay awake. Keith, bless him, couldn’t settle for worrying, and ended up staying up most of the night, scanning me at regular intervals and watching over me so I could sleep. I felt so guilty when I woke up and realised what he had done for me, but I also felt relieved that I’d been able to get a full nights sleep without having to set alarms to get up and test my bloods.

There is also a 24 hour graph that shows how your bloods have been continuously, rather than just getting a brief snapshot when you scan. You can set a target range and this shows on your graph, so you can see how much of the time you’re in a good range. On top of this, there is a page that shows what percent of the time you are above / below your target. It is a huge encouragement, being able to see it all in front of you so clearly.

One pretty big downside, and to be honest, one of the only ones I can think of, is the cost. I was lucky enough to have had the starter pack bought for me as a present, but each sensor is about £60 and lasts 2 weeks, so I’m currently spending out £120 a month on sensors, but honestly, it’s worth it. I’m more on top of my bloods, it’s giving Keith some peace of mind that he can check on me without waking me and my  fingers aren’t rock hard and bruised.

As I said, I’m going to try upload some step by step pictures, but I’ve never done that on here before so let’s see how it goes, ha. I’ve been asked to write a post about high and low blood sugars in more detail, so I’ll be working on that over the next few days and will hopefully be back on soon with more insights into the life of a pin cushion!

Thanks for reading, as always x

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This is what you get in a sensor pack. The sensor, the inserter, and some alcohol swabs to clean your arm before injecting.

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You click the blue plastic into the grey, and once it clicks, the sensor is ready to be inserted

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The sensor all up close and personal. It looks all sharp and ominous, but it’s just a fibre, that is actually very flexible and not at all sore.

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Once it’s all ready and you’ve wiped down your arm, line the sensor up and push down firmly. (Please excuse my nails, I’m not usually this much of a ming and this stupid website won’t let me crop out my shame)

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Sensor all in place and ready to use!

Low Day (Literally)

So it’s currently half 12 at night and I’m wide awake in bed, despite having to be up at 6am for work. 

Why? Because, and not for the first time in my life, I’m genuinely scared to go to sleep tonight. All day I’ve suffered low blood sugar after low blood sugar, despite over treating, dropping my insulin and basically refusing to do anything other than bare minimum. On more than one occasion today my blood sugar was too low for my monitor to read, which means it was below 2.2mmol (When I should be sitting at about 5).

To make matters worse, I had an assessment in work today for a potential new role, and I was low throughout the whole thing, so God only knows how much I’ve screwed it up. I’m trying to be optimistic, but on days like today, it’s really hard. (I’ve already considered any nerves / stresses about the assessment playing a part, but it doesn’t seem likely to me). 

As per usual with this delightful disease, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason for it. I’ve done all that I possibly can, I’ve tried to factor in any possible reason this could be happening and I’m coming up blank. To make things worse, my hypo awareness has gone out the window. I’m not realising I’m low, it’s only that I’m being so tight on my bloods that I’m catching them all. No shaking, no blurry vision, no slurring, nothing. Those symptoms are all I’ve got to rely on to wake me up if I go low in the night. Without those, I could sleep through and slip into a coma, or worse, not wake up at all. It may sound like I’m being a drama queen, and trust me, I really can be, but this is a very real and possible situation for me tonight. 

Of course I know I’ll probably be fine. I’ll wake up in the morning to do it all again and just chalk today off as a bad day. But it’s hard, and it’s draining and it can really wear you down. 

I apologise for the moany post, but it’s just my way of trying to put across the realities of this disease, I started this blog first and foremost to raise awareness and sometimes it’s hard to put a positive spin on a rough day. 

Type One Diabetes From The Sidelines

Today’s post is written by my better half, to give an idea on life as the partner of a Type One. Having been good friends for a couple of years, we decided to give it a go together in February after a change in circumstances for us both, and neither of us have looked back since. 

I’ve spent nearly my entire life completely ignorant of Diabetes. My mother suffered from Type 2, but I never really made the effort to find out more. I was one of those that diabetics hate. I associate it with poor diets, obesity or plain old hereditary bad luck. And then I met her.


When we first started becoming friendly, she mentioned being a diabetic. I’ll be honest, I never really thought too deeply about it. At that time, I had no idea how close we would become and just how much I would learn. As time went on, we grew closer. I started to learn from her tone when something had happened and how it had affected her. I decided to read up and I was startled to discover just how serious it could be. 


We’ve been together six months now. In that time I’ve learnt so much. I know the difference between high and low blood sugar. I can spot the signs of a hypo sometimes even before she can. Mood
changes, especially suddenly becoming almost aggressive with no warning. I’ve not done anything wrong (that I know of!), and it’s totally out of her hands. She might go cool and clammy yet break out in a sweat. Slurring words or struggling to put sentences together. Struggling with balance or complaining of headaches that have come on quickly. These aren’t a definitive list by any means, but they could all be pointers to an oncoming hypo. I know the basics of treatment and try to assist in any small way I can. I still don’t know nearly enough.


There are so many things you can’t, and won’t ever see as an outsider. The mental scars borne out by an invisible illness that can confuse, frustrate and torment even the most experienced diabetic. The times when all logic says their blood sugar should be stable but they just can’t get up above hypo level. This can be the hardest time as the partner of a diabetic. You want to do whatever you can to help them but they can’t even tell you where to begin because they don’t know themselves. The anguish is writ large on their face and all you want to do is make it better for them, to take away the pain for even just a day to give them a break. Knowing you can’t even do that, it hurts.



You might be like me, a partner/spouse. You might be a parent, you might even be the son or daughter of a T1D. You’ll know the immense feelings of pride at how they cope day after day with injections, finger pricks, carb calculations, stress management, exercise regimes, dietary planning, logistics involved in just leaving the house. You might look at it like I do and think “I couldn’t do that.” So what can we do from the outside looking in? I’ve found just being there, doing the small things helps massively. What seems insignificant to you, getting a bottle of Lucozade to treat a hypo, holding a hand while during the fifth insulin injection of the day, just being there and listening to them as they cry and get out all frustrations, these things mean the absolute world to them because it reminds them that they aren’t alone. 

Every day that goes by, I learn something new. The more I learn, the more I want to help. The more I want to help, the more I learn. It’s a positive cycle. I’ll never have to fight the battles that she does every day. But by understanding more of what she goes through, it puts me in a better position to help. While I wish for her sake I hadn’t had to learn anything, I’m so glad I have because it’s helped me get to know the strongest person I’ve ever met.