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Friday, 21 September 2012

Packed Up & Ready to Go With D

As I write this I am halfway through a cannula set change that I am well overdue for. It has been 5 days since my last set change. 5 days of sun, sand and snorkelling, on the Great Barrier Reef. 

At 3am on Sunday morning, I was rifling madly through my daypack which I had stocked full of D-related items. Something I have never had to do before. My 1st holiday with D. So I quadruple checked that I had enough cannulas and reservoirs. That I took a back-up script in case all of my insulin mysteriously diseappaered or went off. Photocopied my Drs. note explaining why I was taking a million back-up needles and why my pump couldn't go through X-ray. A WHOLE BAG devoted to D.

At 6am on Sunday monring I was at Brisbane domestic airport, all prepared to have to explain why I was taking drug-related paraphenalia onboard with me. The securty station basically yawned at my explanation and waved me on. Relief. And oddly dissappointed, because I'd spent so long packing it all the right way and photocopying my million and one Drs certificates that I wanted someone to pay attention.

At 5pm on Sunday I had been in Cairns for several hours and was doing my 1st set change away from home. And thinking how bloody hot it was. In Brisbane I still have my doona on at night. In Cairns I slept naked with the aircon on and still felt heat-stroked. In cairns I also did my 1st set change ahead of schedule becasue I sweated so much in the first day all the sticky stuff came off and the cannula basically fell out. For the rest of our time in Cairns I double-taped my cannula down and left it that way. And promptly forgot to change it again for the rest of the trip.

On Monday I anxiously boarded the Quicksilver Wavepiercer for the trip out to Agincourt reef. Hoping against hope my BGLs would behave themselves and let me enjoy my day. And with a little persuasion from 5 bread rolls with no bolus, they did. D let me happily snorkel about in the reef for a good few hours of underwater beauty. The lifegaurd however didn't seem to have as much faith in the abilities of eating multitudes of carbs to keep my BGLs up and made me wear a specially marked snorkel piece that identified me as a 'risk swimmer'. Every so often I would pop my head out of the water to hear them asking each other "Where's Ashleigh?" whilst looking out for my specially marked snorkel. 

Amazingly my cannula site held up well in the salt water. I guess I did use half a roll of tape and borrowed a Lycra suit to keep it as dry as possible.

Later on when I knew I had been without insulin for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours I left snorkelling to go sight see from the top deck of the pontoon. An American couple stood next to Hugh and I. I was using my pump as a towel-holding clip (works really well). The American lady pointed excitedly at my pump, and with a big grin, twisted her side towards me, exclaiming: "I have one too!". Sure enough, there it was. It was so amazing to be able to talk openly with another D1. 

Tuesday was another test of my D, as we went to Kuranda by scenic rail (ok, that wasn't a test, but the journey was pretty) and then horse riding. I stayed disconnected from my pump for another 2 hours that day. My BGLs stayed at a happy 6 throughut the ride. Halfway through I took precautions and guzzled half a juice. Still ended up on a 6.something. :).

Later on that night we went for a walk after dinner down the Esplanade Boardwalk. Thinking it was a casual stroll, I only took minimal D supplies. At this stage I was sick of carting all my D equipment around. On the walk we found a massive children's playground. It was so fun! Right up until my 1st holiday hypo anyway. Then I realised I had no hypo treatment on me, and we weren't anywhere near any sort of sugar. At this point, our casual stroll became a panicked run back as fast as we could to the nearest shop (a bottle-o) where the guy was closing his tills. After explaining that it was super important he let us buy something sugary I left with a litre bottle of OJ. I drank half :S Lesson learnt.

Yesterday we went out to Green Island. In the instructional welcome video it was advised that if the boat were to sink we should: "Pull down firmly on the neck of the lifejacket as you jumpinto the water. After doing so, swim GRACEFULY away from the boat." Yep, they instructed us to swim gracefully. I'm sorry, but if  the boat was sinking, swimming gacefully would notbe high on my list of priorities. I would be thrashing about like a fish in a Pelican's beak.

My BGLs behaved much the same as at the outer barrier reef, but on much less food because whatever it was that I bought on Green Island (a hot dog suppossedly) turned out t be not all that edible. Green Island was a bit of a let-down really, as I was panicking about D most of the time because all the nice reef is very far out from the island, and quite a swim. I knew I wouldn't manage such a long swim back to shore if I had a hypo. The risks we with D take just to do simple things like swim. 

Today we returned. I had my 2nd hypo after attempting the boardwalk again. We did get further this time. I have also discovered that if you mix both a hypo and heat-stroke, you go into some sort of mega-badly-feeling hypo that incapacitated me for quite some time. Fun stuff. Great way to end the holiday. And start my birthday. Which finished slightly better, as after the plane arrived we went to see 'The Watch', where I made the discoevery that I had run out of insulin in my reservoir whilst hoeing into a family sized bag of M & Ms. Hence the canula set change now, as it had been again a good few hours between insulin. I did have my back-up needles and insulin on me at at the cinema. I chose not to use them. Hello high BGLs! Welcome back to Brisbane.

Monday, 10 September 2012


A week after I was first diagnosed I did my 'baseline' HbA1c test, organised by my endo. Basically the HbA1c that you 'start' diabetes with. Designed for you to compare yourself to and then try to beat it and get better control. My endo let me know my result the day after. It was 9.7%.

2 days after I did this blood test, I get 3 missed calls from my GP surgery. They left a voice mail message, asking me to make an urgent appointment. Having just been diagnosed with T1 a little over a week ago, I was freaking out, thinking "What have they discovered this time?". So I rang back and made an appointment for the next day. All they would tell me over the phone was "The Dr. has flagged your blood results as requiring attention". Thanks guys, way to ease my worried heart.

So the next day I go into my GPs office, having a mini-heart attack over the possibilities of what could be wrong now. I vaguely remember some blood tests being done for other autoimmune disorders such as MS at the same time as they took my baseline HbA1C. So its safe to assume I was sufficiently freaked out.

I made myself comfortable (or as close to comfortable as I can get; in a seated position that would still allow me to spring up from seat at any moment should something truly horrible be said and I had urges to run away). Hands shaking. My Dr. had a serious face. He never has a serious face, I am more than convinced that he uses some sort of illegal prescription for happy-giving effects. Even when he told me I had diabetes he was walking joyfully around the room, and at one point stopped to weigh himself (he made a comment about how pleased with his own weight he was). Anyway, at this point he looks at my blood results, sighs, turns to face me and says: "These blood results are very concerning. You have very terribly controlled diabetes, your HbA1c is 9.7%!".

And that was all he had to say. I kind of gave him this 'Are you kidding me' look and replied "You diagnosed me last week. That was my baseline HbA1c."

He looked confused and opened up his previous consult notes to check on this. I walked out laughing and more than incredibly relieved.

Bizarrely, he now knows who I am and my medical history off by heart. Everytime he sees the Dr. I work for at GP talks that she gives he asks how I am. He was super excited when I went in last week to have a check up and he realised I had Lewis (my insulin pump). He was extremely fascinated and wouldn't give Lewis back for a full 10 minutes, until I reminded him I needed Lewis to live.

He also hasn't asked me what my newest HbA1c is.