Tuesday, December 22, 2009

sleeping with an insulin pump

there's only one downside to having an insulin pump and that is sleeping. it can be quite awkward. i suppose it depends on how you sleep normally; i was always a shuffler, so it's no great deal to me. currently my set is on my abdomen, and as such its really easy to sleep, as i only sleep on my side or my back, so it's easy to just roll around and move patrick with me whilst i sleep.

but when my set is in other places, ahem (it's so not ladylike to say it!), it is truly weird to sleep. although i can sleep on both sides technically, it really isn't wise too, becuase that generally results in a set failure due to some tube moving or my lying on the tubing. it can all get in a tangle.

i hope i don't scare you all. let me just say i wouldn't be without patrick, and i'm quite happy to shuffle. be very thankful if you sleep like a log always.

and there's another thing, my nightmares are always consisting of large pools of water and me forced to go in them with patrick still on. occasionally i get super natural dream powers to walk on the water, but not always. it can be kind of scary. thank goodness that these are the only type of bad dreams i have, but it's not a helpful sort of dream.

anyway, sleep is super important for diabetics as it definitely helps to establish a routine within your body, and gives it time to repair. i always have at least 8 hours a night, and feel the effects if i don't quite reach that many hours. because i'm so sensitive to what my body is saying, i can feel the eye strain and the worse circulation might have something to do with not getting enough 'repair time'.

having said that, i also realise that if i sleep for 8 hours but not at my usual time, my blood sugar levels are also slightly off balance throughout the day. even if it shifts by two hours, say instead of 10:30-7:30 (my usual times) i go to sleep at 1am and wake at 9am. as fantastic as it is to lie in, i'm never quite prepared for the reprecussions of eating later, and doing everything later (as well as being more tired!). you can always go to bed earlier, for sure, that never seems to make much difference, and in fact means i wake up more refreshed and energetic. but to wake up later is not usually brilliant...

as always, i hope this is helpful, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Counseling Diabetic Children

Thanks to Lauren for another amazing question! She asked:

I'm a Nursing Student and I'm going to a Children's Diabetes camp as a counselor. Having no experience with juvenile diabetes I was wondering if you could give me some tips on what to watch out for emotionally and physically with the kids.

This is such a relevant question to anyone who knows any kids with Type 1 Diabetes, as sometimes it's difficult to know what to be on the look out for.

I've never been to a camp, so I don't really know how they function and how strict they are with checking sugar levels and things like that, but a sure fire way of looking after your kids is to make sure that they know what their levels are all the time, especially when they're doing a lot of exercise, and more importantly to make sure they've always got a couple of snacks with them! Even I forget and need reminding sometimes, so always remind them!! And make sure you've got sugar tablets with you just in case too.

In terms of signs of high and low sugar levels, which will be a big thing to obviously be aware of symptoms of, everyone has their own specific symptoms, so check with your kids on what they feel and look like when their levels go up and down. I'll give you some for instances, and how I look and feel just as a hint and hopefully a little help:

- When I go low, I get really dark circles under my eyes, and my pupils dilate, also I do act totally drunk, I talk faster and my movements are much less coordinated. I also get very hot and dizzy. These are the symptoms that are the most important to watch out for, as they are the most immediately harmful.
- When I have a high sugar level, I get very thirsty and act hung-over, I get very tired and lethargic. Everything goes very slowly and it's difficult to get me to do anything. It's really difficult to keep my eyes open as my body is on shut-down mode. I also become really pale and start to look pretty unwell. There's also the tell tale pear breath smell, that's quite prominent in a lot of diabetics when they have a high level.

These really are the different physical symptoms that you will experience with the kids, but it is different with everybody.

I suppose it also might be worth mentioning that if they get homesick or ill at all that you'll need to monitor them very carefully, and stay with them whilst they're checking their level, and help them decide what to do when they see it.

If a child has had a couple of high sugar levels, it would be worth sitting with them to figure out how you can both bring the level down together. Sometimes when I've had a couple of bad sugar levels in succession I make bad decisions, and don't think properly about what I should do, like injecting rather than bolusing. I can get quite stubborn too, and think I know better, when I know I'm not thinking clearly! I can also get very forgetful when my levels are bad, and forget to bolus which makes things a lot worse...

in terms of emotional things to look for, if I haven't already covered them, then I'm not really sure! there'll be the usual camp problems like homesickness, which could mean disturbed sleeping patterns, illness or just some dodgy sugar levels. and homesickness won't just happen to the quiet ones, it'll affect the loud ones too!

i suppose also, there'll be a varying range of ages and stages of diabetes, and some children will be better able to cope with things themselves than others. Some might have just started on an insulin pump, whereas others might have started a few years ago, and some might not have made the switch yet and still be on injections. Make sure you ask them this, and watch carefully to see what they do know how to do. The great thing about a diabetic camp is that the kids can learn from each other and be supported by their friends, so make sure that they are all getting along well together!

I hope that kind of answers your question! Do ask other questions as a comment if you like, and I will answer as best I can! The other thing to do, is to read back through some of my older posts, which will help you get a better feeling for what living with juvenile diabetes is like, so you can relate more to the children.

Here in the UK, as far as I'm aware there aren't any diabetes camps at all, so I don't have any experience of them. Although I did go to a regular camp when I was younger, it's not quite the same...I would love to do some counseling at one though, it'd be so much fun! I hope you enjoy your experience! (I stand corrected on this matter, and am totally going to email Diabetes UK to ask about helping out at one...!)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

what to wear with an insulin pump

Thanks Amanda for your fantastic question!:

I find that there is a restriction on the type of clothes that my girl can wear after having the pump. She can't tuck in the shirt into the jean like most of us did. It is also difficult to find her a dress ( one pcs type ) as there is no place to keep her pumpy unless she wear another shorts with pocket. Did you face similar problem ? Can you share where and how you put Phil?

Now, this is a question I know I have some expertise in answering! In some of my early years on the pump I got really frustrated with how to wear it, and I was really conscious of other people seeing it or the tubing.

Fortunately I got over it...it helps when you rehearse what you'll say to people when they do see it, and to realise it's nothing to be embarrassed about, in fact you ought to be super proud to have one, and also to figure that actually no-one will notice it being there and think it's a phone or a pager if they do.

If someone does notice it, sometimes they ask directly, but other times when they're staring or I catch them glancing curiously, I just straight outright tell them what it is and ask if they have any questions. Pump therapy (and juvenile diabetes for that matter) is something most people don't have a clue about, and so I like to educate people!!

Moving on to clothing. I used to cover up so much, but now I don't care. I'd sometimes rather protect P from too much damage or the weather, especially when I'm going to be quite active. In fact, here are some pictures of me, with my pump on, I've pointed out where Patrick is in these photos, but can you actually see him?



So here are my tips and tricks:

- A Pump Clip - so that you can clip your pump onto your trousers or skirts or underwear. These are useful and sturdy (but make sure you always have a spare, because they do snap if you accidentally sit down too fast in the cinema or on a plane where the seats are small with armrests to bash against)

- Tubigrip/leg support - these are particularly useful if you are wearing a hip skimming dress, as you can comfortably wear your pump on your inner thigh, without worrying he'll jump out.

- Empire line dresses - or dresses that are fitted around the waist, or just under the bust, will flare out as your pump is rested on your hip and therefore skim straight over the top. I buy lots of tshirt dresses and unfitted dresses, which i pull in the a belt under my bust, which creates a shape, but does not make Patrick too noticeable. I wear leggings with dresses all year round, as they are a sturdy support for P. In my experience, there's only one type of dress you cannot wear, and that is a very short, very tight one, as there's nowhere to put the pump.

- Long tops and cardigans - can protect my pump from the weather and any damage, i layer these up to create a stylish look and then patrick gets lost under all the fabric

- Hipsters - I don't wear trousers that are waist high, because there wouldn't be space enough for the tubes, and when I have tried them before they are too tight and block the insulin. Hipsters generally have more freedom of movement, plus they just look better on me!

- I even have a couple of jumpsuits that I wore most of the summer, which I loved. They are impractical in a few ways, but it does protect P, and when I bolus I just go to the bathroom or my bedroom

- there are some times that i forget that i'm wearing a dress, and i'll need to bolus for food, but i just absent myself to the washroom, and bolus there. people don't mind, at all, you'll just need to be polite if you've forgotten whilst you're already eating!

- in summer, if you've got your pump in your abdomen, make sure you've got lots of all-in-one swimsuits with you, or tankinis, as you might not want to wear a bikini, and i'd recommend not being in the water all the time, as the solution that sticks your plaster down may wear off with too much swimming

- try not to wear tight trousers or jeans whilst your infusion set is on your upper buttocks, as this might reduce the effectiveness of the site, and can be quite painful.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

switching over to the pump

i was recently asked: is switching to the pump really difficult?

and my answer to that is, yes. but it is very worth it!

learning about insulin pump therapy is complicated, but if you put the time and effort in, it won't take you long. mind you, i was a teen, rather than a child so i was able to understand everything a little better and quicker.

there may be things you already know how to do, like counting carbs, but there will be things that are new. part of the learning is also working out real life problems that the doctors and nurses don't tell you about...which is why it's good to know somebody that is on an insulin pump already (like me, for example!) that's been through every problem.

the real difference about being on an insulin pump, which is why it is such a successful way of managing juvenile diabetes, is how much more aware of everything you need to be. you'll need to be more specific, check sugar levels more, be aware of the times you eat, what you eat, how much you exercise and when. there's basal rates to keep an eye on, and infusion set problems. but most of these you learn along the way. the key is to ask your nurse all the questions, and maybe take a pen and paper to write down things they tell you that aren't in the brochures.

all of this controlling is an effort to regulate your sugar levels, and can be trememdously successful and worthwhile in the end. and after all it does become routine after a time i promise! and as with everything, the more energy you put into it, the more you'll get out of it, and the healthier you will be.

i hope that answers things...

any questions anyone has, please don't hesitate to ask!

scars from infusion sets

thanks to Amanda for asking about infusion set scarring. i know this is a pretty frustrating issue for a lot of people who are on an insulin pump.

i do have a lot of little scars on my infusion set areas, and there are a few things that i do to avoid them getting really bad. the first thing is to make sure that i do regularly change my infusion set, as this will prevent any really bad scarring. my time change is every 2.5 days, that seems to work out pretty well for me, but it's different for everyone, depending on how your body copes with the absorption of the insulin in a particular area.

the other thing i do, is to rotate my sites, which will enable a particular area to heal itself a little better than it would otherwise.

as for the colour of the scars, my little white pinhole scars are practically the same colour as my skin, so i don't worry so much about them, but for anyone with skin darker than mine (which i would imagine is most people!) I can understand how this would be frustrating.

i would recommend using a body oil, as these are the most effective 'skin structure re-builders', and use something that's made for the intricate facial tissue, as it's more likely to have better and more effective nutrients in it. i would also recommend more expensive brands, as more refined oils are much less greasy, and more helpful. Two brands I would recommend are: Bio-Oil and Rosa Mosqueta Oil, which are both really magical re-structuring oils with great reviews.

make sure to apply it morning and night to the area, and give it a really good massage, as the heat from your hands will aid the oil to work properly, and the pummeling action will help to re-align the cells. massage for at least 2-3 minutes, working in different directions and motions.

if you still have questions to ask, please let me know what they are, i'd be happy to answer them for you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

all over the place

hey everyone!

i've had a few questioned asked me lately, so before I begin chatting to you, i thought i'd just welcome you all to ask questions! please if there's ANYTHING you want to know about diabetes or living with diabetes, please ask me. i am more than happy to answer them...so go ahead and leave a comment on this post, and i'll get to answering them in my next post :)

apart from inviting questions, i thought i would give you an update on where i'm at. i've had some pretty wobbly levels over the past few weeks, which have settled down more, and i seem to be having more lows, especially at night. i've adjusted my basal rates a few times, but it doesn't seem to be perfect yet. i'll do some more fasting days in order to map out my sugar levels over the day.

i'm joining a gym today, in an effort to lose the weight that i have put on since coming back from my RTW trip, and to lose the weight i'll inevitably put on at christmas time! lots of swimming in the next few weeks for me...

Friday, November 13, 2009

icecream even i can eat

i have found the most perfect ice-cream ever. and i swear its actually magical. today i ate some, bolused for it, and then a few hours later i went low...i know that isn't normally a good thing, but given the small amount i had bolused i was sure i would have a higher sugar level (these things are all guesses in the beginning aren't they, and even i am wrong sometimes, but happily so!)

so, i blogged about it on my healthy eating blog, check out the post entitled i'm seriously in love :) it's called Booja Booja ice-cream and is made here in the UK (in Norfolk actually) and sold in health food stores and on goodnessdirect.co.uk. i ate the Maple Pecan flavour, which was thoroughly delicious and creamy (without the cream)

what makes this so good is that, unlike regular ice-cream with a super high GI, this ice-cream actually has a really really low GI, so the sugars can be dealt with easier by the body, and there is no sugar high and low from it. can you hear the hallelujah chorus?

it's just so scrumptious. seriously good. seriously.

Monday, November 02, 2009

snacks for diabetics: part 1

i've talked about my diet before...and for those of you that are new to the blog, you ought to check it out by following the link:
http://juvenile-diabetes.blogspot.com/2006/05/diabetes-diet.html

my diet is pretty much the same now as it was then. little has changed. except i am even more adventurous with my foods! i eat everything; there's nothing you could put in front of me that i wouldn't eat. and although my brother calls me a hippy for trying foods like agave nectar, gluten free flour and pumpkin brownies; i know that the benefits of a well rounded diet are not measurable.

one thing that i am always on the lookout for are good tasty snacks. often diabetic foods have replaced the sugar with sweeteners like sorbitol (and often have 'may produce a laxative effect' on the back of the packet...hmm) and so i steer clear of these, unless people buy them for me as a present; in which case i am obliged to eat them, all be it one at a time, because of the aforementioned effect on your system.

so, instead i look for snacks with natural sweeteners, and different carb speeds. for instance, a dark chocolate, nut, oat and fruit bar will have slow release carbohydrates with the oats (2hours), super slow release fats in the nuts (5 hours) and quick release fructose sugars with the dried fruit - buy unsweetened if you can.

these sort of snacks, will help re-adjust sugar levels more normally, quickly but not unhealthily so. or at least that's my experience. i used to carry around dextrose tablets, etc. and i still do when i go running or something. but the reality is that my life isn't so energetic that my sugar levels could plummet super fast, and need something with such quick acting glucose.

i always weigh up what kind of low it is:
- if it's a mis-bolus, then i'll eat something that's the right amount of carbs to correct it, also something that will act fast, because this can be a fairly quick hypo. so yogurt or chocolate coated raisins are perfect here, or a piece of toast with some jam.
- if it's due to walking more than i do usually in a day (shopping is the usual cause), then i'll choose something that's sort of half and half, usually a cereal bar, because they are great when you're on the go.
- if it's a case of a too high basal rate, then i'll eat some dark chocolate, yogurt or fruit. anything that will get my level slightly back up, but not too high to escalate out of control.

for instance, last night i actually woke up at 1am, a few hours after checking my sugar level and going to sleep (my level was 6.6 and i didn't think i'd had considerable exercise in the day to warrant it going low...but i always forget housework). i was low. hot and shaky low. so, i automatically reached and got a cereal bar, a super-sweetened one, and then some yogurt coated fruit. it was about 25-30g carbs and i woke up with a level of 8.0.

for those of you who wake up in the night with a low, it's a pretty weird experience isn't it? you realise you're awake, you question whether you ought to go to the bathroom, you start to stir a bit more and then realise you're really hot, and then as you go to move the covers from you to cool off, you also realise that you're shaking slightly...so reach for the nearest snack you can find.

then you have to try and eat whilst still being half asleep, tempting gravity whilst chewing down a cereal bar. and then you lie there hoping you won't get more awake, and that you'll be able to get back to sleep shortly and stop feeling so dreadul. and hoping that you haven't eaten too much that you wake up with a high....

there's also a lot to be thankful for if you do wake up with a low, as it is more terrifying if you don't!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

another doctor's appointment

i had another doctor's appointment on wednesday. i went to see my specialist which is about 1 hours drive away from my home. it's always worth it, as they are such a great means of support. i am supposed to go every 4months, but the clinic only runs once a month for one afternoon...so if i can't make an appointment the next one is usually several months ahead.

anyway, i'm not complaining because it is totally worth it. thank you NHS! i never understand people that actually moan about the NHS...it is after all FREE, and better than a lot of other countries. if you want better service, then you should pay for it like other countries do, or learn to treat yourself at home. hmm, bitter much?

my specialist team are amazing. so good. really helpful and they know everything, which is a change, because most regular GPs don't seem to understand diabetes, not type 1 anyway. i always seem to tell them things. i love explaining the inner workings of diabetes with people, so if you have any questions do ask them, and i will give you an answer!

the appointment was pretty quick actually, and the only difference to usual was being asked if i was thinking of getting pregnant soon. that made me smile. i was given a leaflet about it, and told that i must let them know the second i am thinking of becoming pregnant. it's important to have very stable levels during the first 3 months, and to have a specialist there who will know what to do when something feels weird.

but, i am not thinking of getting pregnant for some time yet, there's something else that's got to come before that...

so, i had my hba1c done whilst i was there, and they asked if i was doing ok and if i had any questions. they are just so nice, which makes a change from my pediatrist several years ago who told me that i was going to die (i might be being dramatic, but he did make me cry and it was completely unnecessary as i was doing the best i could with the advice i was given). shortly after this event, i was down at the specialist who told me that i was doing really well, go figure.

for those of you who have the unfortunate position of having a bad doctor, i sympathise.

but, maybe it's time to start thinking of switching to a more positive one, who encourages you to do better and try harder. exercise more and eat right. keep an eye on those levels. call them if you need anything. literally. that's the sort of care you have the right to have.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

counting carbohydrates

i was recently asked how i count carbohydrates and how i estimate insulin boluses, etc. so this is my post in response to that.

i have been counting carbs ever since i became a diabetic, and i got stricter with myself when i went on to an insulin pump.

when i had my first few appointments at the doctors, they gave me all sorts of books with estimations in, and taught me a bit about different kinds of carbohydrates. But most of what I know has been self taught!

so i'll tell you what it's like for me, and this will hopefully be relevant in some way to those of you that read this. of course it will vary from person to person, perhaps you are on insulin injections, or you are a type 2 diabetic wanting to control your diet better, or perhaps you're a concerned relative who doesn't know what to feed their diabetic family member (i know there's loads of you out there!)

when i go to choose something to eat, i almost always choose it depending on the amount of carbohydrates, and the amount i want to eat will depend on:
- how hungry i am
- what i feel like eating
- what my sugar levels have been like that day
- what me levels have been like in the past few weeks
- what my level is at that moment
- what food is available to eat

there's a lot of trial and error involved in counting carbs, and the best way of being super accurate is to buy something from a shop that tells you exactly how much is in it on the label. make sure you read the correct figure, as quite often there's a per 100g and a per portion measurement.

my carb-insulin ratio is 10:1 which makes it easy to work out how much to bolus: i simple divide the amount of carbs by 10! it used to be 15, and then 12, which was much harder, much! your doctor or nurse should help you to come up with your ratio when you are first diagnosed.

ok, here's an example:

- in the mornings i usually eat about 60g carbs - either porridge, muesli (no added sugar) or wholewheat pancakes. i measured my porridge the first time i made it, and calculated how much was in there so i could eat the same-ish amount each morning. if i've had a bad level in the morning, my appetite will have decreased anyway, so i'll eat less so the other insulin can go to correcting out the sugars. if i've got a low level i'll drop the amount i bolus, so instead of 6 units, i'll give 5units.

here's some foods and their carbs (in the portion size i would eat):
- ben&jerry's - i used to eat this believe it or not, and would bolus a good 10units: more than 100g of sugar and the fat content is unbelievable too, so would have to bolus again when the fat turned into sugars and my level rocketed.
- chai latte in starbucks - another ridiculous thing is drinks out always contain a good 60g of carbs...especially fizzy drinks and sweetened hot drinks. another no go area.
- wholemeal bread - its usually about 10-15g a slice, depending on the size of the loaf
- vegetable soup - about 20g
- fruits - these can range anywhere from 5g to 30g depending on the fruit and how much you eat. an apple for example is about 5 and a few slices of tropical fruit could be 30g
- roast dinner - this is a pretty impossible meal, as the fat content is usually pretty high, i usually gues about 80g, but sometimes it's too low and sometimes too high, it depends on how many potatoes i eat, and who's cooked it!

so as you can tell, its a lot of guesswork, so if you're looking for something really easy to have, then buy a healthy premade meal like sandwiches or salad, that comes wrapped with the amount of carbs written on the back...then you'll get more of a feel for the amount of carbs that's in different things.

ps. if you are eating out at a popular restaurant, then ask the waiter for a nutrition guide. i did this once and the guy came back 5 minutes later with a hand written list of everything that was in the meal, and an apologetic look. this was still super helpful though, as different foods have different GI's and different kinds of carbohydrates.

if you are cooking for a relative with diabetes, then use far fewer carbohydrates, and cook low GI carbs (wholemeal varieties for example) if you have to. make most of the plate vegetables, and try not to cook too much fatty foods, and stop adding butter to the mix!

For dessert be more creative than a fruit salad, as diabetics get fed this all the time. My auntie once cooked a little dark chocolate cup, that was really delicious made me feel special, and only had about 15g of carbs because it was so small. I remember that to this day. Or check out my food blog at http://notjustapples.blogspot.com for ideas on healthy eating.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On Board Airplane Diabetic Meals

Hi everyone!

I'm back from my long trip around the globe!

It has been an amazing adventure...I've done loads of amazing things and seen some beautiful sights. There are two things that have super struck me along this trip; the first is architecture, and the second is food. Of course the first can't really apply to diabetes, accept that the more beautiful architecture I walk around and up the better control I have of my sugar levels.

But food. That I can talk about! I found it pretty easy to find healthy things to eat...especially in New York and Sydney. The bigger the city, the greater the choice it seems. I ate kangaroo, tried pretzels, had a Gray's Papaya frank. Mmmm.

But one of the most interesting parts of the food journey has been the on board diabetic meals. I real surprise every time that's for sure!

The best plane food was flying from New York to London Heathrow with British Airways, the final meal of all. I had a herb chicken with cauliflower mash, with a side salad and roll, followed by heaps of summer berries and some dried cherries. Yummy!

The strangest diabetic meals I had were on Qantas. For breakfast on the way to Sydney they gave me chicken, spinach and boiled potatoes. That was so wrong. So wrong. I don't know anyone who has the stomach for boiled potatoes and spinach in the morning. Oh my.

Qantas also gave me white (high GI) rolls, rice and pasta. Strange. Sometimes I felt like I was being given the wrong meal...like the vegetarian option (once I got tofu) and other times I thought it was just low fat.

BA were the only ones to actually get it right, to pin the nail on the donkey. Everyone else was far off. Someone should totally have a word with the catering companies to let them know how inappropriate some of the food was. Diabetic food does not have to be boring or uninteresting, it does not have to be boiled and unflavored. Hmm.

There was a definite plus to the whole diabetic meal drama: I was always served before everyone else, which was nice, no matter who the carrier.

Friday, August 07, 2009

travelling with a pump, so far...


i was so worried before i left, and so was the rest of my family, that travelling with patrick (my insulin pump) would be really difficult, what with airport security, time difference and jet lag.

BUT, so far so good. my levels have been awesome, i've managed to find healthy food everywhere we've gone, and have stayed level despite the time differences and hugely long flights with not much sleep.

so much for diabetics having a lower immune system...i feel fighting fit, and although i'm currently running on not much sleep, i feel pretty alert and well!

what i've done is just change the time on my insulin pump once i've got to the next country, so when I arrived in Oz I changed it forward 8 hours.

exercise is definitely making a difference in keeping me level....i must remember to have more regular exercise when i settle back into normality.

and as for the airports, they've hardly noticed, except at Cape Town International where they didn't have a clue what I was talking about, and at Johannesburg where they were pretty rude.

anyways, as always, feel free to ask any questions if you have any queries :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

travelling for 7 weeks with an insulin pump

so in a few days i am heading off on a huge trip round the world, and although i am super excited, and everything i need is definitely going to fit in my suitcase, i am a little trepedatious (is that how it's spelt?)
i am travelling with one of my secondary school friends, who knows better than anyone how to deal with me both hyperglycaemic and hypoglycaemic. she's been with me on a million occasions when i've seemed a little drunk because i'm so low, and she's seen the tired, cranky high sugar level version of me too.

we have chosen to go to all sorts of amazing places, but places where they speak english and have good hospitals and doctors nearby. just because it's the first time we've travelled outside europe, and we are both a little nervous of what might happen to ourselves when we are jet lagged...that should be interesting.

i'll let you know how it goes.

then of course there are a million supplies i need to take with me. seriously loads. and spares too. this is half of what i'm taking:


and i've got an emergency box ready to post if i need it. i must go and print of medtronic's worldwide numbers, just in case i need extra infusion sets or syringes. the rest of it...i'd just better not lose! i'd better write a note on my luggage: please can no-one steal my suitcase or send it on the wrong plane :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

sugar level tester

My tester broke! the little lancet pinger thingy broke, the spring jumped out. so, i now have to get another one. i have been needing to get another one for ages as a spare, but have never got round to it. so at least i can temporarily fix the thing with cellotape whilst i try and find a new one. (i've emailed my doctor to see if they've got any spares lurking around...)

anyway, i've always had a onetouch, so i went on their website to see which ones they've got. and this is the new one i found, the ultralink. i wonder how it works, and if it does easily or if its complicated.

Perhaps I'll just stick to what i already have, but has broken, it has served me well! Its just so easy to use...


What kind do you use? Any suggestions...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

basal rates

To all of those of you who know that sometimes its easy to slip into bad habits, I understand. I do too.

I had a huge wave of bad sugar levels this last month, with no particular obvious change in lifestyle; except that I've been on holiday 3 times...but my whole life is fairly unstructured and unroutined, I thought this wouldn't make much difference.

Anyways, its totally easy to start accepting bad sugar levels, and it can become a bit of a routine. Thats bad. Thats why its important to have someone close to you who can ask you important questions...someone who understand the ins and outs of Type 1 Diabetes. Most people don't have a clue, so its important to train someone up. Someone who can keep an eye on you.

For me, this is my mum. She helped me a lot when I was younger, and she is always the one to make sure that my sugar levels are on track. This has changed a bit as I've gotten older.

During university when I wasn't living at home, I kept a sign on my wall, door or wherever that said, "What's your sugar level?" That seemed to work, though I had to keep moving the sign around, otherwise I got too used to it, and stopped reading it. I tried making new signs as well, and these were a helpful prompt.

I am terrible with writing down my sugar levels and keeping an accurate record of them. I always have been. I have never found a system that works for me. If you have found one, please let me know! I think I need to ask my specialist for a tester kit that does reports. I used to have one, but it died.

Anyways, so this last month I was going down this slippery slope. And the more bad sugar levels I had, the less aware I was of everything, it becomes harder and harder to look after yourself when sugar levels spiral out of control, awareness is practically nil.

And so, it was two days ago, on holiday in Greece that mum asked me when the last time I changed my basal rates was. It was such a wake up call. I looked at the rates, and they were so low. So, I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to try out some higher ones, and see how it went.

As it turns out, that was a brilliant idea, because my levels have been perfect since then!

I'm still waiting for my skin to return to normal, and my energy levels to increase, but I am pretty sure they will soon! Woo hoo! And I must start running twice a week again, and swimming...and pilates. Oh, and walking the dog helps too.

So, for those of you suffering with bad sugar levels on an insulin pump, have a look at your basals, that might just be the solution!

For those of you that don't know what a basal rate is, its the constant flow of insulin into the body through the infusion set. Mine vary from 0.4 to 0.75 throughout the day. And changing it by the tiniest fraction can completely change your balance. (I really should have thought of it sooner!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Diabetic Retinopathy

Scary thing arrived in the post today. It was a letter from my NHS doctor stating that I MIGHT have background retinopathy.

Which is weird because when the guy looked at the screen to check if there was any damage, he didn't seem too concerned, and I thought it looked exactly as it usually does.

Anyways, I think this has given me a little kickstart into exercise again. And more regular sugar level testing.

I have just come back from a holiday in Italy, where my sugar levels were all over the place. Not good. Probably because I was eating too late, and eating way too much fat as well.

So, now I am heading out for a walk with the dog. To clear my head, work out what practical steps I can take to reverse the retinopathy (as much as is possible) and then I am going to make sure I book myself an appointment with the screening clinic for next year.

Oh, and check up with my optician so he can see what the overall condition of my eyes are. Because, everything is linked and I just want to be sure.

The letter says that there's nothing I need to worry about, there is no treatment at this stage, just simply to keep a good control of my sugar levels. Which could be interesting given I am heading off on holiday again in a week.

I know that laser treatment is the best cure at more advanced stages, but lets hope I don't get that far. Come on Patrick, help me out here! Exercise and low GI foods are going to be more important than ever...

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Like a rollercoaster...

For the last few weeks, since Easter, my sugar levels have gone crazy.

Those of you who are diabetic will know that once they get out of control, its hard to pull them back in again.

But I have been trying!

Its exceedingly difficult when you have a desk job, that requires you to be sat down for a large proportion of the day, as this means more insulin and less exercise. And the more insulin, the worse the absorption rate is for Patrick (my Minimed Insulin pump). So, the more insulin you use, the more insulin you will need to use to compensate.

Anyway, things can quite easily go spiralling out of control.

Unfortunately, I didn't quite pick up on this one early enough. It was only a few days ago that I questioned why I wasn't getting much done, why I was snacking more and why I was constantly tired. Hmmm. It was obviously worse than I thought.

So, now I am back on track, trying to stabilise the levels. My fridge is full of veg, and there are tons of tasty snacks around the house and a gigantic fruit bowl too. But, as brilliant as this is, it isn't the answer to my problems.

I have changed my infusion set area, so hopefully the absorption rate will improve soon. And I am trying, trying, trying to stop working at my desk, but the credit crunch has meant that I need to work as much as I can.

So, where do I find the balance? How can I acheive it if I don't have time or money? Tricky, tricky, tricky. Well, I am heading off on holiday in a week, to somewhere that I hope will restore and rejuvenate. A good relaxation, lots of walking and swimming, sunshine and good food and company should help to balance out those levels again! Or, so I hope.