Sunday, May 15, 2011

things i've learnt

taking part in this year's DBlogWeek has been a great opportunity to find new bloggers, as well as to hear other people's overwhelmingly positive remarks on how diabetes has impacted their lives.

i think that the best lesson i've learnt is that this community is really about inspiring other's who are connected with diabetes. it offers a fantastic means of support, and is THE most helpful resource for me personally.

where else can you learn that you are in fact a normal diabetic!! or figure out that everyone else is going through the same things you are. it's comforting and encouraging. and i am so so grateful for it.

thanks so much for all of your support and advice over the years - long may it continue!

and thanks karen for organising DBlogWeek 2011! i look forward to catching up on all the posts and blogs later into this week ♥

Friday, May 13, 2011

things diabetes has given me

it's weird, when i'm sat thinking about what diabetes has given me, my immediate thought is - well, how do i know? because i've been diabetic longer than i can remember. it's such a part of me, that i don't know what i would be like without it - but in a good way.

you see, i think my positive attitude, my desire to try new things and my love of healthy, natural living are all intertwined with being diabetic. who knows whether i would be the same person without D? 

but if i have to pick one particular thing, i would have to say that my passion for healthy eating is the greatest thing diabetes has given me. i've even got my own food blog, called not just apples. and am writing a cookbook at the moment too. 

without diabetes i might never have discovered the joys of swede fries, or coconut flour pancakes, or homemade no-sugar jam, or cauliflower pizza crust. i adore food, creating recipes and cooking in general. and all of this has come from a deeper understanding of the importance of good, nutritional eating to help manage my diabetes better.

i'm also totally grateful to have my puppy dog Bruno - who was purchased on the recommendation of my doctor, who was convinced it would help my exercise more and get better control - which was true! so, diabetes has given me a puppy...sort of. and he's such good company, especially as i work from home (oh, i shall miss him so much when i go to australia next month!)

oh, and thank you diabetes also for teaching me about patience, and self control

and of course, blogging - this was my first ever blog way back in 2006, and it has been such an amazing thing to be able to share on and be a part of the DOC

and last but not least, gardening and growing vegetables and fruit. i never would've realised how much i love weeding and nurturing plants and watching things grow. my passion for eating healthily and organically coupled with a low budget has meant that i've been forced to do something i actually REALLY love ♥

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

10 things i dislike about my diabetes

well, even though yesterday's post was more scary than funny, today's DBlogWeek entry is about to get serious and angry - a whole new range of emotions to this blog!

without further ado, here are 10 things i dislike about my diabetes:

  1. broken infusion sets
  2. unexplainable high levels
  3. unexplainably high levels that won't come down
  4. all the little dots on my fingertips from all my BG tests
  5. having to lug around so much extra stuff with me, like injectors, testors, snacks and set changes (for once i'd like to leave the house with nothing in my hands!)
  6. the fear of my retinopathy getting worse
  7. the 'wall' i hit with a high BG, that renders me completely useless for a few hours
  8. not being able to jump straight in a lake if i choose to because Patrick would drown
  9. not being able to wear short tight dresses because there's nowhere to put Patrick
  10. my pancreas - just like Michael said, i dislike my pancreas the most because it's broken, and it's brokenness causes me so much discomfort.
i could probably go on, but these are the first things that came to mind this morning... so they're probably the most important things to me.

i'd much rather talk about all the things diabetes has given me, or that being on an insulin pump has made possible. because generally i'm much more of a positive person - but sometimes it helps to get a little frustration down in writing... 

plus i think it's important for all you D-Mom's and D-Dad's to know what's really the most annoying things about living with D, and the things we're most concerned about 

diabetes bloopers...

so, after a very emotional day yesterday, today we have a lighthearted DBlogWeek post in which i will tell you 2 of my most memorable and funny moments with diabetes - karen is right, for all the trials and difficulties, sometimes diabetes can actually be hilarious!

funny D moment numero 1:  laughing at ducks
you know, when you're low, sometimes the world doesn't look the same. your perspective shifts, and suddenly things that would never be hilarious otherwise, become so with the funny goggles of a hypoglycaemic mind (lol). when i was about 16, i was walking along the riverside path into town with a few friends in order to catch the bus. it's a very pretty little amble in our very picturesque town, and there are always ducks and swans and chicks paddling down the water.

but on this particular occasion, as i was walking and admiring said beauty i couldn't help but stare at the ducks legs. i found myself giggling at the way they waddled on top of stones, and swam awkwardly in the river. soon enough, i'm full-on cracking up, almost hyperventilating with laughter at the way these ducks were swimming. they became THE funniest thing ever. and  i actually ended up sitting down on a park bench to watch them, all the while laughing loudly with tears starting to roll down my cheeks.

funnily enough, my friends figured out that although i'm generally a happy person and find things funny most of the time, i was finding this extraordinarily funny, i mean ducks, really? they politely asked if i was in fact low, which of course i was, and i continued to sit there giggling for another 5 minutes until i came back into the realms of normality. never will i ever find ducks so amusing ever again.

odd D moment numero 2: snorting sugar
about a year after my diagnosis, i was sat in history class listening to a teacher talking about world war 2 and the trenches, when i suddenly realise i'm going low. i'm getting a little clammy, and my hands can't seem to hold my pen properly.

i politely (though, not sensibly) wait a few extra minutes until group work and the teacher has stopped talking to rummage in my bag to find some dextro tablets to suck on and a snack bar.

now, it's important to note that in school, any opportunity for group work is an opportunity for a chat, gossip and giggle. so, of course, one of my friends makes a joke whilst we're sat talking (which we're not supposed to) and i find it so funny i go to laugh but have to hold it in so i don't make as much noise. so in that short moment whilst i'm sucking on a glucose tab, i inhale really deeply through my nose to try to stifle my laugh so the teacher doesn't here.

and that's when it happened.

a painful shot goes up through my nose, and i realise i've inhaled my sugar tab up my nose, but backwards... how is that even possible?!

it was actually pretty distressing at the time, and sort of painful. i got really confused (even more so, because i was in a low daze), and started tearing up. the teacher had noticed by this point that something was wrong and sent me to the nurse's office with a friend. on the way, my wonderful friend Charlotte starts calling my diabetic nurse to ask if this is a normal thing, and what we should do. meawhile i'm getting more low, more jittery and feeling very dizzy from a backwards inhalation of sugar...

as we're walking across the school yard, we hear a loud angry 'GIRLS! What are you doing?' - the headteacher and deputy are standing on patrol. oh dear! how does one person explain whilst their being connected to the nurse's office at the hospital, and how could i explain anything to the scary headteacher (we were 12) whilst i was low? it wouldn't make any sense. and then we'd be in detention for being 'drunk' and on the phone during class...

thankfully, the deputy came to the rescue and told the head that i was diabetic (thanks to my lovely mum for making sure there were pictures of me all over the teacher's lounge) and we were allowed to continue on to the nurse's office. where i promptly drank lots of water and blew my nose (bad idea, because the sugar has basically burnt my nose, so i get another painful shot) and then chilled out by talking to my nurse and my mum.

we still laugh about both of these moments to this day... i'm happy to be a hilarious, 'drunk' low person ♥

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

to my mum

dear mum,

when i was asked to write a letter for today's blog week challenge, there was only one person i wanted to write to - you! my wonderful marmee.

there's no actual way i can ever express my gratitude for all you've done in helping me with my diabetes. it's so vast, and extremely immeasurable.

you've been the one person who understands most what i go through every single day, and you are always so gracious towards me when i'm feeling bad or in the hyper blues.

you battled hard to get me an insulin pump when no-one else had one, because you knew it would be the best answer towards getting better control. you've taken me to uncountable doctor's appointments in far away cities, and you've shouldered so much worry and concern about my health.

i feel so bad that it's taken me so long to realise how much you've done for me - because you've always been so modest about it. perhaps you've seen it as your parental responsibility...but not all parents out there would look after their diabetics in the way you have me. you've checked my level in the middle of the night about a thousand times, and been patient with me when i've been angry, you've eaten the same food as me, you go for walks with me to help me get more exercise. you even bought a dog so that i would have to go for walks more often ;)

you taught me how to look after myself, and how to stay positive. you sorted out supplies and teacher information on school trips, and left work to come sort out broken infusion sets. you make sure i've BG tested, bolused and injected, because you know how forgetful i can be. and you encourage me every day to keep trying. you are so utterly selfless, it amazes me.

do you remember that time i came back from tutoring and i was actually in tears with flowers in my hand? well, it's because it wasn't enough. there's no way i can say how appreciative i am of what you do for me.

ok, well, marmee, i may have cried my whole way through writing this letter to you, because i always get overwhelmed with how marvellous you are, and just HOW much you do for me! but i suppose like mother, like daughter, heh?

you know we've been talking about the proverbs 31 woman... well now is my time to rise up and call you blessed - 'many women do noble things, but you surpass them all' 

i couldn't have got through so far so well without you. and i am so, so thankful.

with love,
bidshine, your daughter xxx

Monday, May 09, 2011

admiring our differences

so, it's the beginning of diabetes blog week! how exciting is that? ♥

today we kick off by sharing what things we admire about other bloggers, and how the DOC has helped us learn new things and gain a new perspective on diabetes...

well, where do i begin?

in the 5 years i've had this blog, i've learnt SO much about living with diabetes. through your kind comments i've discovered other bloggers, helpful books, ways of managing my diabetes, been encouraged to start a diabetes YouTube channel, and found so much encouragement and inspiration to keep trying hard.

it's tricky to pinpoint just a handful of other bloggers who inspire me, because the DOC is such a diverse place, and everyone handles life with D in their own way, so there's always a fresh perspective to find!

i've been particularly appreciative of the tudiabetes community (now up to almost 20,000 members!!!), who are willing to answer any random question i have, whether that's about high blood sugar symptoms or going to the beach with an insulin pump.

and, in the last few months i'm particularly thankful to have discovered andariego and three2treat. they both inspire me so much...and i'm very thankful for their no-nonsense guy's approach to living with type 1 diabetes.

andariego has done so much travelling, and is committed to staying well through exercise and eating right. the food posts are epic and so tasty! and nothing seems to phase him - several months in the Bolivian outback looking after big cats? no problem! he inspires me to dream big and not let diabetes get in the way of my life.

and three2treat amazes me with his attitude with dealing with his own and his childrens' diabetes. looking after 2 diabetics can't be easy... but he does it with such a positive attitude, and he is constant in his effort to do better. he also has a lot of scientific info that he shares - the importance of vitamin D, a look at lipohypertrophy, is caffeine good or bad?

i think more than anything, the thing i love most about these blogs, and other diabetic blogs written by men (generally speaking) is how frank they are. i have a tendency to get really caught up and frustrated with the little things - but to them it's just another bump in the road, and they attack it head on.

so, apart from guy blogger's who else can i put on the inspiration list... well, US diabetics. that sounds super general, because there's more diabetic bloggers across the pond than there are on my tiny little island. but seriously, i have learnt so much from you!!

in the UK our free healthcare system means that most UK diabetics i know don't take their health totally seriously. perhaps because they don't get specialist care, or just because they know that if something goes wrong or they develop a complication the NHS will be there to pick them up and give them treatment.

but in the US, you have to fight so hard to get proper care, and having an insulin pump can be a constant battle with insurance companies. you take diabetes seriously. and i've learnt to do that through you. for a long time i lived with diabetes in a haphazard way, trying so hard to stay 'normal' - but i didn't realise how much better i could feel if i actually started eating right and exercising and learning more about my diabetes, rather than relying on my doctor.

and last but not least D-Mom's and D-Dad's - you have my total respect! living with a diabetic isn't easy... and your confidence, support and diabetic advocacy is such an important thing. you fight for a cure and look for answers more than any other group, because you want the BEST for your little ones. and your love and encouragement is very uplifting and positive.

we are all different, and that's what makes the DOC such an amazing platform to learn from and be encouraged by!

so my thanks go out to every single one of you ♥

Thursday, May 05, 2011

keeping blood sugar logs & records

i've recently discovered something super duper helpful in my journey to improve my diabetes management, lower my hbA1c and generally just feel better... blood sugar journals!

well, yes, it may be a very time-consuming practice, and for many years i just 'couldn't be bothered' but, it really does make a difference! and there's so much you can work out from this tiny little book, which happens to be so wonderfully tiny and portable, and contain a row for everything you would want to write down like ketones, set change, basal rate, correction bolus, exercise, illness, food, etc...

find out more from my latest video on my youtube channel, notjustapples:

please comment below to let everyone know how you log your blood sugar levels throughout the day...

Sunday, May 01, 2011

tips on going low carb

ok, so i've already talked a little bit about eating a low carb diet to help manage my diabetes better, and the amazing change i've experienced since then (as well as some of the dangers commonly associated with it).

but how does it actually work out in practice? and what tips can i give any of you thinking about switching over to low carb?

well firstly i would say - do it! you know it's the wisest thing to do for your health... and really at the end of the day is a slice of pizza or a bite of a donut really worth the increased risk of complications in the future? i think not.

after reading the diabetes solution i pretty much jumped in at the deep end - i went dramatically low carb (like almost 6, 12, 12) overnight. i was convinced that eating substantially fewer carbs was going to be the answer for helping control my levels. and i was right. since the change i've had more predictable levels, more even levels, and ultimately lower levels.

i did go low a lot though that first month - like a LOT. which was ok, because i was always prepared, and i treated it properly each time so i didn't put myself back into rollercoaster mode. and after realising just how low i'd been all the time, i wondered if i should lower my basal rates (it took me a while to catch on - so this is a warning!!). so, i tried and tested over a few days, and literally cut my basals in half - from 0.6 per hour to 0.3.

it's odd how all of a sudden my body was becoming so much more sensitive to insulin. like really weird. my routine hadn't changed so much...just a little extra walking. but obviously the less insulin you use, the less you need. the law of small numbers i suppose.

the other thing is that then my body has become a lot more sensitive to my highs and lows too - i feel highs at 12 instead of 18. and i'll feel them as it's going up, or my set is malfunctioning - it's almost like i can tell when the insulin isn't being effective or is wearing out. and my highs now are way more nasty than they use to be (which i'm grateful for, but highs now render me useless really)

anyway, enough of the serious diabetes stuff, and onto more of the practical fun stuff like, how do i eat?

well, at first i was eating about 30-50g carbs a day. that was, until i noticed i was producing ketones, and was running low on normal energy. i scoured the books and forums for advice, and eventually decided i needed to up my carb intake, reduce my fat intake and increase my protein.

so, now a typical day involves 75-100g carbs. which is still very low by most standards, but is enough to satisfy me and keep me going properly.

i start most days with porridge (1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup water with a little apple puree or St Dalfour jam - about 25g carbs). why? because it tastes awesome, and is the perfect energy i need for the beginning few hours of the day. i tried bacon and eggs, but i found that i just didn't have enough available energy for my mornings.

then at lunch and dinner i'll have mostly salad and vegetables with a good fistful of protein and a little bit of carbs - like roasted swede or carrot fries, or some sweet potato, or brown rice, or beans, or a slice of toasted wholegrain sourdough. i'll follow these with some dessert sometimes if i've done enough exercise that day, and i haven't eaten too much at lunch - dark chocolate, fruit (anything with less than 15g carbs, so 1/2 a banana or a tiny slice of melon is ok) and homemade yogurt are my favorite things to have!

and then of course, throughout the day, i snack! i love prunes, hummus and crispbread, tinned smoked mackerel, dark chocolate, defrosted berries, eggs, avocado, olives, peanut butter, tinned mandarins, etc. there's so many good things out there to enjoy in abundance with no/low carbs in!

but, don't i miss eating lots of carbs? nope. not really. honestly. truly.

there's nothing to miss when you are faced with such delicious foods - seriously check out my food blog not just apples lately, and see what i mean! i'd so much rather eat an amazing chicken and goats cheese salad than a boring tuna sandwich, or snack on cinnamon roasted almonds instead of a big bag of salt and vinegar crisps.   the way i currently eat is the way the italians, french, spanish, greeks, etc have been eating for hundreds and thousands of years - it's good, wholesome and tasty non-'diet' food that anyone would be happy and proud to eat.

there's nothing i don't allow myself a small bite of if i really want it. and that's the key - i think restrictive deprivation 'diets' are nasty, and not so helpful (to anyone). but i have to actually want it for the right reasons! i don't eat to satisfy emotional needs, or to fill a bored moment. if i'm going to have a treat, i make sure it's a good one - like a freshly cooked hot cinnamon donut after a long morning of market shopping, or a cold ice cream on holiday in italy. it has to be really, really worth it!

another thing is that you'll want to check how your body reacts to certain foods - because there's an awful lot of no's on dr bernstein's low carb list which my body can quite happily process without spiking my blood sugar... i've gently put these back into my diet after a few weeks, and measured my reactions. some things are really surprising...

and of course, not keeping high carb things around the house helps a lot! in fact, stock up with low carb snacks and foods keeps you feeling empowered and positive - instead of being faced with things you can't have, you'll be overwhelmed with the amazing foods you get to eat.

and then, last but not least, if you're going to do this, i recommend you sit down with a good carb counting book and look at all the different lists. then measure some of your regular food to see just how much your regular portions actually weigh, and therefore how many carbs are in them - i was so surprised when i did this! there's as many carbs in one small apple as there is in half a tin of mixed beans?

i hope this has been helpful, and i pray that you are all keeping well ♥

if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask... that's what i'm here for!