Controversy: Complica(ting/tion) Thoughts 

This is a controversial blog post. I know people may disagree with me on this topic or even change their thoughts about me, but that’s okay. I’ve always blogged my own honest thoughts so that is what this post is. 

Neuropathy. 

Retinopathy. 

Kidney failure. (Nephropathy?)

All these long, complicated words are thrown around a lot in the world of T1. Some people don’t even know what those words mean (they’re basically a foreign language (I want to say Latin….?) so I don’t blame them!) but others are experts on them and the issues associated with them. Some people may have a diagnosis of one or maybe they’ve been warned their A1c is risky so these long and complex words could become reality sooner than they realise. 

Me? My knowledge of them is basic. I know what the words mean and the body part the issue occurs in – that’s about it. I don’t know how you live with the conditions or the symptoms. I also don’t know all the in depth information or science behind them. Complications are a very real problem for lots of diabetics, but until they’re right on my doorstep they don’t seem to be a concern to me.  Is that wrong? I don’t know. 

Yes, these conditions may be hanging over all of our heads as a little threat of what could be to come if we’re not up to scratch with our T1 management but that doesn’t mean I want to read up on all the horror stories you hear (let’s be honest, who’s ever been told a story with a happy ending which involves the complications of diabetes!) Yes, that may seem ignorant. Yes, you might think I’m crazy for not wanting to be prepared or prevent them even more effectively by knowing what they are and what their early warning signs are, but the honest truth is this: I have no interest in knowing about potential complications. I don’t think I’ll get complications. Why would it be me? So who would want to live life with something like retinopathy on your mind because you may or may not get it in the future? I know I don’t want to.  I am not worried about developing ezcema (big in my family) or asthma (also a favourite in my family) or insert any medical condition there, on the off chance I may or may not get it either. 

I don’t see older diabetics (or younger!) with complications and think “That could be me, I’d better avoid that!”. In fact it doesn’t even enter my head. I don’t see complications as warning signs because treatment and equipment available when many of those with complications were diagnosed was likely very different. Plus, those with more recently accumulated complications can be due to a dozen reasons and not necessarily diabetes and I don’t live a replication of their life so in theory I won’t be like them. Right now I’m quite fit and healthy so what are the odds of me having complications compared to thousands of others with diabetes, especially as my control is ok for now.  

You may read all this and think me an idiot with my head firmly in the sand. You may also read this and want to educate me on neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy but I’m telling you the honest truth. I don’t know much about these conditions because I’m not expecting to be diagnosed, ever. I know there’s a chance, but I don’t live thinking about that chance 24/7 and I’m happy with that. I don’t need to know the ins and outs of things I don’t plan on needing to know. 

Please feel free to question me on this, I know it’s controversial and you may have completely different opinions to me but this is just an honest account from a 17 year old. Like, comment and share to get in touch with me or discuss it with others!

Also a disclaimer – I know there are other complications possible but I chose to name the three most talked about (that I hear most often).  


Another disclaimer (because I can) : pregnancy is a whole other issue in terms of complications etc and I do think about this but that topic is a whole different blog post. Nothing I’ve written here applies to may feelings on pregnancy!

Final disclaimer: This is in no way meant to offend anyone with complications, if I have I sincerely apologise. That is not my intention, these are merely my thoughts on how I deal with diabetes and who knows what will happen in the future. 

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Surviving Secondary: My 7 Tips to Help You Help Your Teen 

As a kid, summer is honestly one of the best things ever invented! No school, no homework, no uniform and tons of fun. Instead you get to enjoy days out all over the place, sleepovers with your besties and experience what feels like absolute freedom in comparison to the long and arduous days you’re used to with school. It’s so long too, at 11 years old it feel like it goes on forever. 

But sadly it doesn’t. September is right around the corner. School again. For almost every 11 year old September means secondary school. It’s genuinely one of the scariest experiences in your child’s life, because it’s the first big change (that they’ll remember)! So diabetes just makes it that little bit harder, let’s be honest here though – when does diabetes make anything easier?!

So here are my 7 tips and tricks to help your 11 year old survive their first few months at secondary and how to help you keep your sanity intact in the meantime……

Tip #1: Remember socialising is higher in priorities than blood sugars. 

Blood sugars may well be on your mind 24/7 when they start secondary. You’ll probably fret about whether they tested before their meal, whether they’re giving insulin every hour (or at least testing that frequently and giving insulin when appropriate to) with every high blood sugar and you’ll definitely wonder if they’ve had hypos posing a problem to them. 

But I can guarantee that is not what was going through my mind in my first week. Or most weeks actually. I just wanted to make sure I was making friends, trying to be likeable and funny and mix with newfound peers. I was more concerned about finishing my food quick enough to keep up with my friends when they left the table to go and wander round, not whether I’d tested and given insulin. 

Diabetes simply won’t be at the front of your 11 year olds mind. Yeah they may be a bit worried about finding their feet with the independence of managing T1 themselves to begin with, but they’ll be way more concerned about their social lives for the majority of the time so don’t forget that!

Tip #2: Introducing it to friends is hard. 

Telling other people that you have a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week chronic medical condition that you have to manage yourself and that it has a name with connotations of obesity, sweets and self infliction is honestly one of the hardest things. Actually saying it is the easy part, the hard part is not knowing what their reaction will be and not knowing whether they’ll just completely write you off as a friend because you’re ‘defective’. But one way or another people will find out or at least notice something is up, so I personally think it is better to tell people. It’s how you go about doing that though. 

I ask one thing of you as a parent –  don’t demand or press that they do it a certain way! Some people like to do classroom talks or assemblies to tell everyone for safety reasons, some people like to just tell peers randomly. Others prefer to wait until it comes up in conversation or hide it completely. However you like to do it, remember that actually when it comes to secondary school it’s not your choice – it’s your child’s. You can have meetings with their teachers so that staff are aware and give them ideas on how to approach the subject but when it comes to social circles it’s their choice. The best thing you can do is support them through it and ask them how it went. 

Try not to worry about this because when they find the people they want to tell and feel ready, they’ll do it. Trust your child, they know how they feel about it. 

Tip #3: Make it a part of who they are.

In some respects with this, secondary school is much easier than primary. Generally schools will let you buy your own bag, carry your own books, wear a watch or even a bracelet etc. So incorporating your medical kit into your uniform becomes much easier, because you have your belongings on you anyway!

But I think the important thing is to make it not stand out, because it’s easier to go and show someone your medical bracket or reveal that in your makeup bag is a test kit and not mascara rather than try and hide a clinical looking kit bag with needles or wear a medical band that actually isn’t your style of jewellery normally. 

So make it all not stand-outish to begin with. Many don’t like diabetes being a part of who they are but at least give them options. They’ll find out how they like to keep their kit and show others their diabetes themselves, whether that’s subtly or just being open with their kit. 

Tip #4: Ask your child how their day went before their bloods. 

I have written about this before….. As I said earlier in this post diabetes may be at the forefront of your mind but it won’t be at the forefront of your kid’s. And if it is at the forefront of their mind they really don’t want it there. 

So when they get in the car after a long day at school (throughout secondary – doesn’t matter what year group they are this will always apply!) ask them how their day went. How did they do on their test last week? Did they have fun in P.E? Have they made any arrangements to see friends soon or would they like to? Did mrs so and so have her baby yet? What’s the latest gossip, who’s dating who now?

You know what’s not in that list? Diabetes. And it never should be. Unless you think they’ve gotten in the car with majorly low blood sugars or you’re literally about to go and do something like hardcore sports – diabetes can wait! If they want to tell you how their blood sugars were today, they’ll tell you. It can wait until you’re home until you ask how their bloods were during the day or whether they think that trial you did with breakfast paid off at break time etc. 

I realise some may be concerned about blood sugars that spiked from missed boluses or completely missed blood sugar checks but interrogating them as soon as they get in the car simply won’t help. 

Diabetes may be a piece of the puzzle but it is not the whole picture. 

Tip #5: Support don’t berate.  

This tip isn’t specific to school – it’s throughout school and life. I know the first thing you want to do when your kid tells you they hit 21 at 10am from not bolusing for their cornflakes is to immediately ask “Why didn’t you bolus?”. You probably also want to say “Don’t you know what happens when you get ketones or raise your A1c too much?” or “This can’t happen again.”. Whatever you want to say and however concerned you are by this – don’t say it!
I know I’m asking quite a big thing here. But by questioning why something happened immediately, telling them off a little, when you look so disappointed in them or start to list every outcome and effect you’re really not going to get anywhere. Not with a teenager. Don’t you think they’ve been through all that in their own heads already? They’re kicking themselves so much that you being frustrated too, or showing them you are, doesn’t help. 

Support them. Help them rectify the problem to begin with. Then address perhaps why that could have happened, think of methods to reduce the problem in the first place. But one of the most important tings to do? Remember that if they’ve had a bad diabetes day – they’ve probably had a bad day with something else too. That needs just as much support as the medical problems that day. 

I know all you want to do is ask them why they did that thing to cause that blood sugar, but they’re already annoyed at themselves so support them. They don’t need added negativity.

Tip #6: Don’t expect perfection.

I know I’m attempting to make your integration to secondary school easier with tips and tricks, you’ve probably had lots of chats with the school and your 11 year old already in preparation and you’ll have put tons of mechanisms and alarms or schedules in place to prevent to many mistakes. 

But it will not go to plan. By any means. Mistakes will happen, insulin will be forgotten, somedays you’ll both want to scream, shout and cry. 

That’s okay. 

Go with it. 

Don’t expect perfection, because it isn’t acheivable. Life gets in the way – both of your lives. But that’s okay. 

Tip #7: It gets better.

This is more of reassurance than a tip. Moving up to secondary school is terrifying for you and your 11 year old (although in completely different ways). It will be rocky and it will take a lot of negotiating and navigating to stay upright. 

It won’t be easy. But you’ll get there. Take each day as it comes. When it does goes wrong, tomorrow is a new day and you start over. 

Finally, it does honestly get better. I’m at a point with my mum where I can just walk in the room and tell her I’m 23 and haven’t been going down yet and ask how much should I give in an injection without worrying whether she’ll get angry. 

Yes, sometimes she’ll get annoyed and yes sometimes we disagree over things I have and haven’t done medically. But I’m not worried she’ll have a go at me because I know I’ll get help first and foremost. 

So it gets better. 

There’s a dozen more things I could tell you, but I don’t have room for anymore. The most important thing I can tell you now is this:

– Trust your child.

– Support them through the good and the bad. 

– Mistakes will happen but that’s okay. 

– Everyone is different. These tips are from my own personal experience and your experience may well be different, so the best way for you to find out how your 11 year old likes things to be done is by just asking them. I promise we don’t bite!

I hope I’ve given you some helpful ideas on how to start navigating secondary school! If I have please feel free to like and share my post and if I haven’t go ahead and ask me a question in the comments! I’m sorry I didn’t post for a while – I had a lot on my plate with exams but now I’ll be back a bit more frequently:) 

Weight Management with T1 Diabetes

It’s that time of year again. You guessed it. Everyone is after that elusive “summer body”, talking about eating leaves and fantasising over abnormal coloured drinks. Oh and don’t forget repeating that they should take up another sport. Yeah, I am guilty of having all of these ideas too. However, I only just finished my Easter eggs thank you very much!

In all seriousness, trying to manage weight is very difficult. I don’t think anyone can dispute that. But try throwing in some insulin here and there, hypo treatments all over the place and difficulty exercising because you almost have to consume the amount of calories you’re trying to burn in hypo-preventing snacks throughout the day. It’s certainly a challenge. 

The thing is, the majority of diabetics spend a lot of time telling and educating others on how T1 is nothing to do with diet, weight or eating too much sugar which is absolutely true. However, it has a huge element of it that is about food and exercise. I know some will disagree with me because diabetes is NOT caused by lifestyle, but you have to admit a large portion of T1 is about food. 

We spend our lives counting carbohydrates, adjusting insulin with exercise, avoiding extremely high sugar food when you have high blood sugars (well, sometimes……), treating hypos with lucozade and of course still having to see all the media attention that lifestyle causing diabetes still sadly gets, despite it being a misconception. 

So who can blame me that I think about weight a lot when I’m having to think about food so much? Problem is, it is RIDICULOUSLY hard to manage weight gain and loss with T1. Its just part of it. It doesn’t not make life easy. It’s so hard knowing that every time I’m sat there with a biscuit in my hand that my friend who also has a biscuit will find it much easier to burn those extra calories. I know that since about the age of 10 my weight has been climbing (naturally not excessively) but it’s not gone down. The number on the scales doesn’t seem to budge, up or down! It’s very odd. I only put two and two together when I started eating a shed of salad and cut down on sweet things about a year ago when no matter how hard I tried my weight remained constant, even when I binge ate for a few days getting frustrated it hadn’t moved. I don’t know how many people find this but it’s getting increasingly frustrating. I’m damn sure it’s to do with being on insulin (currently a lot of it too). 

On top of this, when I do try and burn off the snacks that keep me going during a long revision stint, sometimes I have to consume more calories after exercising than I burnt  during, trying to combat hypos! Burn 500 for instance, then consume 600 in lucozade half an hour later! 

So T1 and weight management are not friends. Not in my life. And it can be so hard, because my life is about numbers with blood sugars, carbohydrates and insulin doses that I don’t want to be counting calories or minutes exercise too! But you can’t do the easy gradual weight loss stuff with slight diet changes, because it simply doesn’t happen.

There’s perservereing and beating your challenges with everything with diabetes, but this is one that I can’t figure out right now. And I don’t have the time in my life to dedicate lots of thought and effort into it either. But there we go. You can’t win everything. 

If you have experienced similar issues or feelings please feel free to like, comment or share!

Friendship with T1D

I feel so lost. 

Diabetes and I have a funny relationship at the moment, because I have completely lost contact with the diabetes world it seems. 

Many people live their lives with T1 just as part of their life – testing, giving insulin and going to appointments. But that’s perfect for them, they don’t feel the need to socialise in the diabetes world and that’s fine by them. But for me, I’ve grown up going to events, going out for dinners and just generally being involved. However, with GCSEs then a levels amongst other extracurricular things I’ve been picking up, plus life happening of course, I have no time in my life to do any of this anymore! It’s funny how you take things for granted until they’ve gone, right?

I always knew knowing other diabetics was important to me, but I had no idea it was this important. Simple conversations about a painful set change, how each of your bloods had been recently and laughing over the mishaps are so much more than just conversations. And don’t forget about the heart to hearts over the more serious side of diabetes, although few and far between they also have their place in conversations between those with T1D. What others don’t hear is the unspoken understanding and feelings that are shared by diabetics. It simply isn’t the same telling a non-diabetic, no matter how much they know, because it is just different being the one with diabetes. 

Those without diabetes don’t quite know the frame of mind you have to be in to do a set change or what it feels like to have a painful one set you back. They may have had a set change done or know how it feels to put one in someone, but they don’t know what it feels like to do it every 3 days to themselves. Equally, a fellow diabetic knows the frustrations and emotions you go through with diabetes on a daily basis, no non diabetics I know understand that. They may have a child, sibling or friend with it but those are different feelings to that of a diabetic. 

I’m not disputing that it may be as hard to be the non diabetic in the family or how hard it is to know how to help your diabetic friend – it’s just different. And after a while it simply isn’t the same talking to so many non diabetics when you need to hear maybe even the same words but from a diabetics mouth. 

“I know” means two completely different things from a diabetic and a non diabetic to me. 

I really, really miss those connections I used to make with people and the ease with which you can be diabetic (yes that sounds weird, but I personally find it more comfortable to be diabetic around other diabetics!). Don’t get me wrong, with certain groups it is okay  and natural to be diabetic like my family and closest friends, but it just isn’t the same as with other T1s.

Another group I find I relate to is others with medical conditions. I have more than just diabetes so I fit completely into that world too! It is a similar knowing connection and aconversation about each others experiences (differences and similarities) really goes a long way. It’s lovely knowing you share thoughts and feelings about medical things you’ve each gone through but that isn’t enough for me. Friends I have with other medical problems such as those with CHI but different treatments or even others who aren’t anything to do with diabetes or CHI, they help me in their own way that diabetics can’t. But I also need the support and knowing of diabetics that know exactly what your day to day life struggles and triumphs are really like on a first hand basis. Honestly, I need both. Because I fit into the diabetes world and the CHI world but I also fit into the world of just other medical problems, so I need people to chat with from both! I never realised this until recently, when I lost a great deal of the opportunities to find these people who are clearly so essential to me. 

I don’t know how many diabetics find they feel like this, or if they do how they are different to me. But, I do know this:

Don’t take your friends for granted. Both unrelated to diabetes or completely involved as a diabetic themselves. Some of the people you meet through having diabetes and other things are more important to your well being and happiness than you might ever realise. Love them, appreciate them and let them know. 

Independence with Type One Diabetes 

This isn’t an educational post – I haven’t written about how to gain independence, these are simply my experiences and feelings about it all. 

Independence. It’s an interesting concept when it comes to T1. It’s an interesting concept without T1 too but I’m not experienced in that area so I’ll stick to what I know!
What is independence? When should you/will you get independence? Do you want independence? Is independence safe? How do you get independence? 

Life is supposed to be pretty straight forward. All these questions are supposed pretty easy. “When you’re ready you’ll know” or something similar is the typical answer to most of those questions. You hit teenager and start to meet up with friends on your own, have your own house keys, make your own way to school, start using public transport alone etc. Eventually you’ll move out and go to uni or something of the sort. Simple, right? Try throwing T1 in the mix and it gets a tad more complex. 
Google defines ‘Independence’ as:

The fact or state of being independent. 

Personally, I don’t think that one is very helpful at explaining what it means…. so I searched again. Dictionary.com shed a little more light on the matter. 

‘Independence’ is, according to Dictionary.com:

1. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker.

2. not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free

3. not influenced by the thought or action of others

So these subdefinitions all head along the same lines – it’s freedom from others essentially. But how does all this relate to T1 or differ from the norms?

Well, I’ve had problems with independence since I was about 13. Simply because that’s when I started wanting it. At that stage a large portion of my friends were walking to school together, with their own house keys and own agendas (that seemed) completely different to their parents’. I loved the idea of that! We were choosing our GCSE options at school during this time so if I was being asked to make these huge decisions about my future, surely I could just walk down the road unsupervised? Right?

All things like walking to various places by myself posed the same problem (and still does). Hypos. Walking just crashes me, I can be perfectly fine wandering down the street and decide to pause and test and I’ll be 2.1. It’s not every time, but it’s enough to be a concern. So how could I possibly walk home with people who weren’t equipped to deal with lows like that, who didn’t know to make the decision to stop and sit when I would want to blindly carry on? (Yes, I’m one of those people that would carry on as to not be a bother to others. It’s stupid but true…) I just wouldn’t be safe. (Plus I’m a complete ditz and was rubbish at keeping in contact with my mum so she was never sure where I was or how I was doing). So I got very jealous of my friends and their independence. There were countless other examples that I just used to get frustrated by, as I know I have friends who reached certain stages of independence years before me. 

Issues with my independence, or my perceived lack of independence, have evolved with my lifestyle. Now it’s all about alcohol, travelling by myself and university arrangements amongst other things. Probably the biggest annoyance is getting around by public transport. Although I’m very grateful my mum plays taxi most of the time, I badly wanted to be able to walk up to the station, get the train there and go and socialise. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve had the opportunities to do that so this is no longer an issue for me thankfully. 

However, I’m constantly striving for more independence and to not need help. But it’s so difficult when in the back of your mind you know if you have a hypo, a severe one, there will be a problem. It’s not just the severity of hypos with the dangers and consequences of them, but it’s also the symptoms of lows affecting judgment, coordination, the ability to think and know what you’re doing. At that point you’ll definitely need help. The thing is, when you’re trying desperately to gain independence and yet it feels like so much is stopping you, it feels extremely limiting. Those are the times that I really feel like T1 does affect my life and my capabilities. 

Even if it’s due to the safety issues of walking as a teenage girl or travelling in the evening, even if it is simply down to, for instance, there being a train strike so I can’t get from A to B by myself logistically it will feel like it’s my diabetes stopping me. It always boils back down to T1 even when it is only a tiny factor in a bigger problem or not involved at all. It is always in the background making me think twice about every plan I make or pushing obstacles in my way so it will always be the issue in my mind. It’s very frustrating. 

But, when I really sit and think about it I feel like independence isn’t complete self sufficiency. It’s not independence when you’re away from your parents or when you’ve been shopping with friends without any hypos during your travels. (Well, it is – but it’s not always only that). I think it is options. Independence to me isn’t deliberately choosing to be alone because that’s silly, it’s using the resources available to me to stay safe and having the option and the tools to be alone and have my own life separate from others but equally if someone is offering to be with you or help you, taking that opportunity. That’s still independence because you’ve chosen that of your own free will. Plus all the time I rant about wanting more independence or feeling limited, I do have independence. I am free to make choices about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. I’ve noticed that the ability to do that and wanting to do that will happen at different ages for different people, when they feel ready they pursue it more and gain those experiences that develop that independence, then they will find their independence. 

So, I think independence isn’t  necessarily actions, it’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that comes and goes with what is happening and how much help or support I need but it always is there and is always growing as I go forward in my life. I might be alone or I might need someone there for my safety or even just want the company and feeling of security. But either way who’s to say that I’m not being independent? I chose that path myself. 

I realise this was a waffley post, but it’s a bit of a waffley subject to me! So please feel free to ask me any questions. Please don’t forget to like, comment and share:):)
 

A Diary of a Day with T1D

What is it like in the head of a 16 year old with type 1 diabetes? For 1 day I thought I’d write a diary of what goes through my head and what I do on a day to day basis with a Medtronic 640G with enlite sensors. Quite honestly I’d completely run out of topics to write about, but I thought this could be a bit of fun! (I’ll include photos below so you can see some of the things I’m talking about.) This is actually a bit of a longer post than I expected but if I cut any out it wouldn’t be an accurate day in the life!

So my day started at 01:16. Am. Yep. On a Sunday morning with a deliberately and meticulously planned lie in – I’m awake at 1am! But that’s perfectly normal for a diabetic. My pump’s alarming: Suspend before low. Okay, so I could test. If I am low obviously I’d need to treat it. But I know my sensor has been pretty damn accurate all day so as it says 5.1 with only a gradual drop and I don’t feel low at all I’m going to leave my pump to it. 

06:50am – I wake to find my pump sirening in my ear, literally sat next to my head yelling at me “Sensor expired”. We figured out it would do this last night so I simply cancelled it and went back to sleep. 

09:30am, I wake up to find my mum grinning at me – “morning!” and testing my finger because as I didn’t have a working sensor we had no idea what my bloods were doing and I usually wake up in the 5s or 6s often with a patch of no insulin so I could have gone low. (Especially this morning considering I’d woken up at 4.1 yesterday). I was 4.9 and persuaded out of bed by the promise of eggs and bacon. 

10:00ish? I had taken all my tablets and done everything I needed to diabetes wise so I ate. As I’m scraping my plate I’m asked if I’ve given insulin….. so I say “dammit. No I haven’t, I find it so hard to remember to bolus when there’s no carbs in the plate!” We pause for a moment. “What about the baked beans?” Mum asks. Then I think back and remember the piece of toast on my plate too. Whoops. 

11:00am (I know, I know, don’t judge!) and I finally decide that a shower is a good idea. But, today I have to do a sensor and a set change so after putting the transmitter onto charge, I rip out the old sensor and notice the filament isn’t quite straight and there’s some blood round the plaster at the top. I’ve had some issues with sensor not finding blood sugars recently so the bent filament could be one of a few explanations that Medtronic warned us of. 

11:38am, I’m sat typing up all of the above and realise I’m not actually wearing my insulin pump yet from taking it off for the shower. Eek. Cue scrambling around under the wet towel to find the, thankfully waterproof, insulin pump. Plus I felt a bit shaky as soon as I got out the shower, so my first thought was hypo or possibly high but upon testing and being told I’m actually 6.6 I realised I’m probably just tired! 

Now, still 11:40, the two of us are sat at the table trying to figure out how to test the transitter to see if it’s working. Well, mum is. I’m just sat here being close for pump signal purposes really. Usually I would put in my own sensors but we need to try different ways round to face the sensor so I’ll need help with that from an outside eye plus I have no idea if I’ll be able to pull the needle out from the new angle. 

But as mum is sat looking busy, I’ll start setting up my set change. I’ve had some incidents in the past few weeks where I’ve injected and taken the needle out or ripped an non-working set out and it’s bled – the set actually didn’t stop bleeding and I was covered in blood (no joke) but that’s a story for another time. So I’ve put a few cannulas in my stomach to try and reduce the blood-related incidents. However, when I’m putting a set in my stomach I have to been careful because I have lots of raw nerve endings around my scar still so occasionally I’ll get a near excruciating set change (whereas the others I barely feel) and I have to stand stock still and try to not even breath it is such a sharp pain. 

Today was one of those set changes. Ironic isn’t it considering it’s the day I’m writing about it all? Luckily it was no where near as bad as it is usually so I could sit down and move around almost immediately. Normally it wouldn’t hurt like that but sometimes I’m just unlucky. But that’s that done until Wednesday. 

Now for the sensor. (It’s now 12:00pm). It went as normal except the needle didn’t come out easily and then it bled…. after I’d stuck the overtape over it. So I couldn’t clean up the blood at all. I now have no idea if this sensor will work at all!! 

At 13:00pm I’m very aware that I don’t have the sensor to beep at me if I’m heading out of range so I might need to test soon. But I’m sat painting my nails and take it from someone who smudges their nails at every possible chance, testing with wet nails is not an easy feat. I definitely didn’t feel low, I did feel a bit high but as I found out earlier I’m quite tired. It’s so frustrating sometimes as tiredness is hard to distinguish from high symptoms! 

At 14:00pm we’d just sat down for lunch and I had that tell tale thirst that isn’t just your normal thirst, it’s the one where your mouth isn’t dissimilar to the Sahara Desert. I tested and I was 14.4. Okay, so maybe my bloods were climbing a bit earlier on. As we’re tucking into our food I realised I should probably give some insulin for the mound of fries in front of me, knowing I always underestimate how many carbohydrates are in fries I think initially 45 or 50cho, so up it to 60 to be safe. Aaaand back to the food. Until my pump beeps again (after it had been beeping for me to tell my new sensor my most recent blood sugar every 5 minutes before I tested and had to turn the sensor off as I was too high to calibrate the number) but this time my pump is saying “Insulin flow blocked”. Brilliant. Somewhere in the tubing or set there’s a blockage or kink or something. It was a new set too, so it could be a bad set. I’ve had quite a few of those recently. 

I uncliped my pump and then we had to take the reservoir of insulin out and rewind the part of the pump that pushes the insulin in before replacing the reservoir. (Mum did it because I was still eating.) But we were sat in a restaurant! It’s so embarrassing to sit there with it beeping, I’m going “Mum! Stop it!” Because you can hold it closer your lap and it will get quieter but mum just goes “What? I don’t mind.” But I do! I live with my pump on silent for a reason! Then we had to work out how much insulin had actually gone through…. this was quite amusing. 

Mum: “okay 2.6 units have gone through. It wants to give 11.5u.”

Me: *mentally subtracting 2.6 from 11.5*

Mum: “9.4u!”

Me:”What? It’s 8.9u.”

Mum:*complete look of surprise* “Really? Are you sure?” 

Me”…”

So we did give the right amount in the end thankfully. But it was a bit more of an eventful lunch than I was after really. 

As my mum and I were walking down the road we bumped into some of her friends, but ended up talking about medical things! It seems to be a common topic for me and my mum. Sometimes I can get into huge conversations about various medical things in my life,  and frequently do, but today it wasn’t that long – just explaining that I felt at home with the St.John’s Ambulance girls I spent yesterday with because I’m not out of place with all the medical based things that happen there anyway! I don’t mind talking about others medical things and medical events but if I’m talking about my ow problems I get self conscious really easily, which might surprise some people because I know it doesn’t seem that way! 

15:54pm I was supposed to meeting a friend in 6 minutes. So I scrambled my stuff together and was about to walk out the door. I should have tested as I had been high before lunch, but I was late to meet said friend so testing was put off. 

Diabetes didn’t come up again until dinner actually, at 18:40pm I grabbed my test kit from the bag where I’d put it at my lunchtime test. It had only been 4 hours and I was 11.8 so nothing had gone too badly at all but I should have tested and given insulin in between those tests. My friend who was with me joked about how much she could remember in terms of diabetes because in high school we spent so much time together that she picked it up amazingly well and was so on it with T1, but even though I hadn’t seen her for 3 months she still knew what my bloods meant and what everything I was doing pre-meal was for! We always mention it somehow when we see eachother, but that’s okay with her. 

On another positive note, for the first time today I gave insulin before I’d started eating! I completely guessed the carbs as I had noodles but considering I was 8.2 about hours later I was happy. 

21:00pm was roughly when I was 8.2, but the only reason I tested was when I glanced at my sensor to find out it was till turned off from the high blood sugar at lunch. Whoops. But, it’s easily sorted so I tested, turned it all on and put my number into my pump and hey presto, hello working sensor. 

Finally, my last (I hope) diabetes moment of the day is the nighttime test. 22:15 I sit down and test – 6.7. Aaaand my pump beeps “suspend before low”. Okay. Well, as I did almost 21 hours ago I will leave my pump to do it’s job. If I pretreated because I’m going to bed I would definitely go high. Maybe I would treat if I’d been in the lows 5s or 4s, but the 6s? That’s a bad night in the making. I’d end up awake at silly o’clock needing a drink and unable to sleep. So I’ll leave it be and if I stay getting symptoms I’ll test and treat as needed. 

So that’s my day! This was a normal day for me. No two days are the same, for instance today didn’t involve any hypos, temporary basal rates, revision (affecting blood sugars), sports, big meals, injections, barely any low or high symptoms (the ones I did get were nothing compared to what I’ve had before) and there weren’t any big conversations about T1 which are somehow a common occurrence for me, either me making a comment nor anyone asking me about it. There would also usually be a hell of a lot more beeping from my sensor going on to tell me I’m going high, low or that it can’t find a reading. But as I didn’t have a working sensor all day, you guys missed the tuneful side to my average day. But, in short, that’s what goes through my head on a pretty minimal day! 

Filling the reservoir with insulin:

The new set and filling it:

My new and slightly problematic sensor:

Am I a Bad Diabetic?

Are you a bad Diabetic?

The terms ‘good diabetic’ and ‘bad diabetic’ are thrown around a lot. Maybe it’s a group of friends sat around and one tests their blood sugars revealing they’re 15.5mmol/l so they exclaim “I promise I’m not a bad diabetic!”. Or maybe a mum sat scrolling through their child’s meter or sensor graph celebrating because on the child’s first sleepover they’d been a good diabetic. 

But what do we truly mean when we use these?

We use ‘bad diabetic’ as a throwaway comment. But does it have a definition? A blood sugar above 15 perhaps. Maybe an A1c on the higher side. Is it eating a chocolate bar despite being out of range either way? A day of off blood sugars that you have to fight, or choose not to. Does that mean you’re a ‘bad diabetic’? 

Personally I thinks it’s ludicrous that one mistake, one bad decision or a struggle to maintain good control leads to you believing you are or being called a ‘bad diabetic’. 

I don’t understand why we fling this phrase around at anything that isn’t perfect with our control. Yet I’m guilty of it too. But with this logic, we’re all ‘bad diabetics’! Everyone slips up, or has that day of not giving a care for their blood sugars. 

We, after all, only human. 

Equally on the other hand does everyone who can correctly give insulin for a pizza once jump for joy at being a ‘good diabetic’? With numbers that are generally in range or a will of steel to overcome the less fun blood sugars, you are put into the imaginary category of ‘good diabetic’, something that some people strive to achieve. But is it all that good? 

When we claim to be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ diabetic or use it as a descriptive term for somebody else’s control, we might have harmless intentions. But is it affecting our attitude to diabetes? Even subconsciously?

You would think having labels such as these would be positive, either motivating us to work harder at becoming a ‘good diabetic’ or celebrating at our success. But that’s not what I think. (Please bear in mind these are my own views and are not representative of anybody else). 

I think they are detrimental to our health. Genuinely. The people perceived as the ‘bad diabetics’ of the world, the momentary ones to those who feel permantely in that zone are being scolded. Punished by a title. How is this in any way, shape or form, fair? It becomes an excuse to not think about diabetes, a mindset, a routine that you get stuck into of bumbling your through the condition not really worrying about it because you’re a ‘bad diabetic’ already! What’s the point?

As for the ‘good diabetics’ of the world – are there any negatives to this, you ask? Well. Indeed there are. I, myself am often described as a ‘good diabetic’, on top of my condition and always managing it.  But sometimes the pressure to stay like this is insane, diabetes can come to feel like it’s your whole world and it can feel like it’s diluting your life. The smallest of mistakes can feel like the biggest of failures. 

Of course you can switch between these two categories, I definitely do. But why is this even an option? Why do we have categories?

Blood sugars are just numbers. A measurement. Carbohydrates are just numbers. Diabetes is just a medical condition. So why do we almost turn it into a measurement of our worth? A measurement of our determination and skills?

The question shouldn’t be “are we ‘good diabetics’ or ‘bad diabetics’?” There shouldn’t be a question. We are people required to live and think like an organ. We are just diabetics. No fancy titles, no questioning and no judging. After all, we’re only human!