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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

NYE - 1 pump

I was going to post tonight about the year that was - 2014 & my achievements, happiest moments and the other necessary stuff you talk about at NYE to get you all pumped and excite for the coming New Year.

Diabetes didn't agree. To be totally honest, I think it was feeling left out. I haven't been blogging much (you might have noticed. Or not.) as of late as diabetes has taken a back seat to my fast-approaching wedding and all the plans I have been making for it. I will catch up, I promise. In addition to being too exhausted by seating plans (as an ACOD seating plans actually need a ridiculous amount of attention) to catch up with the happenings of the DOC, I have paid much less attention to my Diabetes. I still give insulin and still check my BGLs, but thats kind of as far as it goes. Refining basal/bolus rates and properly counting carbs is not high on the list of priorities right now.

So perhaps that's why, as I sat down to enjoy my last meal of 2014, my pump malfunctioned. Button Error. Message of death. However you want to interpret it.

Seriously, it couldn't have waited? I didn't even get to bolus for the deliciously carby meal on my plate. Mostly I was annoyed that I had put on nice clothes, brushed my hair and made myself presentable, and I had to turn around and go home. I even went to the effort of putting on make-up!

I never planned for a big night. As previously lamented, my diabetes is not friends with alcohol. But I would have liked to have been able to go out for a lemon lime & bitters & maybe see the fireworks, provided I could keep my eyes open.

Dinner became a hurried affair, so we could dash off home & make sure I had some long acting insulin in the fridge. I do. Score. AND it was in date. double -score. Then it was off to call the Help Line, The wonderful Help Line of Medtronic. When they say 24 hour, they mean 24 hour. Even Christmas. I asked.

I've now settled in, taken my cold Levemir direct from the fridge, and looking through my closet for clothes that I avoid because they're hard to wear without a pump. Hey, if I'm going to be pump -free until at least Monday/Tuesday next week due to setbacks of the public holiday variety, I may as well make the most of it by wearing non-pump friendly clothing .

The funny thing is, Medtronic has just released the new pump which I desperately wanted. Or so I thought. Now I honestly just want my working pump back, ANY working pump back. Maybe this was a lesson, never to take such amazing technology for granted. After all, my pump allows me to eat when I want (note to self: remember regular meals), eat what I want, sleep in, exercise on a whim (this wedding body aint gonna shape itself). Its been 3 1/2 hours and I feel like I'm missing a part of me.

And just to reiterate how amazing the DOC is: they got me transitioned back to needles in no time, and I had so many offers of long acting insulin when I wasn't sure if I had any. The DOC is definitely on my list of things to carry through to the New Year.
















Friday, 14 November 2014

T1D: A step-by-step assembly guide

Happy WDD everyone!!!

This post goes out to everyone in my life who doesn't understand what it means to be pancreatically challenged.

Type 1 Diabetes: A How To Guide

Step One: - You have just been told your pancreas has gone on permanent vacation. Please commence feelings of sadness, loneliness and despair. Mourn your dead pancreas. Continue this for a few days, weeks, months or years. Maybe forever.

Step Two - Withdraw a couple of Hundred $$ from your bank. Go to your chemist. Buy syringes, needles, insulin, testing supplies, jellybeans, ketone sticks, a sharps container. Maybe some other stuff. But these are the basics you will need to survive. DO NOT leave the chemist until all your money is spent. 

Step Three: - Learn to inject yourself with insulin and prick your fingers. The chemist probably sold you a crappy lancing device (finger-pricker). Poke your finger before and after every meal, whenever you want to drive, and before, during and after any physical activity you do (and yes, sex is a physical activity). If your fingers don't feel bruised and/or are covered in black/red dots, you aren't poking enough. Stab insulin into your stomach 5 - 7 times per day. Expect lots of bruises, lumps, red marks and pain. Occasional stinging feelings are to be expected. 

Step Four: - Try to keep blood glucose levels between 5 - 8 at all times. Ignore feelings of failure when you cannot achieve this 80% of the time. 

Step Five: - Prepare a meal. Do a complex maths equation to estimate the number of carbohydrates you are about to consume. Work out how much insulin to give yourself. Give yourself the insulin. Cross your fingers and hope that it all works out OK and you don't get hypo or hyperglycemia from miscalculation. Success rate is probably about 30% correct. Don't take it to heart, there's always next time you eat to try again.

Step Six: - Its time to exercise. Exercise helps to regulate blood sugars, so this step is important. Before you head off find a bum bag, spibelt or similar. Play tetris and try to cram your glucose meter, testing strips, lancing device, mobile phone, spare cash, keys, and juice into it. Once you have successfully attached all of these items onto your body, you can commence exercise. During & after exercise, be aware that you may experience hypoglycemia.

Step Seven:  - Prepare for bed. Please ensure you have checked your blood glucose before brushing your teeth. We do not recommend mixing OJ & toothpaste together. If blood glucose is lower than 5mmol/L, consume carbohydrate foods regardless of hunger levels. Go to bed. Lay awake for a few minutes and convince yourself you will still be alive in the morning. Set an alarm for 3am to check blood glucose levels to help ensure that you will wake up in the morning.

Step Eight: Wake up. Check blood glucose levels. Repeat Steps 3 through 7 daily for your expected life duration.


Occasionally you will need to repeat step 2, particularly if you are looking into insulin pump therapy.

Every few months you will need to add in a maintenance step (step nine).

To fully prepare for maintenance you will need to undergo a diagnostics test. See your nearest pathology laboratoty to have blood drawn for this. 

Step Nine: -  Your diabetes specialist visit is today. You have just spent all your money on Step 2. Call your parents and ask for money to see your doctor. Go to your diabetes specialist. They will focus on the things you are doing wrong, because you don't need help with the stuff you are doing right. Try not to take it to heart. Reward yourself for going with a slice of extra-chocolaty cake.



Congratulations! You have now assembled the parts required for a 'working diabetic'. Commence use of this model immediately, as it will supersede all 'working pancreas' models previously available on the market.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

#T1D4MEIS

World Diabetes Day is nearly upon us. This year, DQ (Diabetes QLD) are running the #T1D4MEIS campaign, asking people with T1D to take selfies with what T1D is for them.


What is T1D for me? It's a whole bunch of things.

Its a community. 10 finger pricks a day. Being challenged. Pushing myself harder. Dreading set change day. Getting to set change day and just refilling my reservoir instead. Being motivated. Having a better perspective on the value of good health. Blood. Pain. Tears. Sleepless nights. Lows & Highs. Doing things despite diabetes. Eating KitKats. My insulin pump. The smell of insulin in the morning. Determination. Being proud. The 5.5 dance. 2.8's. 25.7's. A big big handbag. Happiness. Sadness. "What did I do wrong?" "How the hell did I get that right?". Hope. Juice. Needles. Life.

A part of me. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

The problem with cocktails

When I was younger, I never really got into the party & drinking scene. Probably because I'm just about to marry my high school sweetheart, & so when we all turned 18 (who am I kidding? I went to school in Vincentia - when we all turned 12) and everyone got right into drinking I never did. Most people get drunk so they feel confident enough to try contorting their bodies into weird shapes to the beat of music in attempts to 'hook-up' with someone else. I had my lovely, steady boyfriend so I didn't need to do this. Holding peoples bags while they mash their faces into someone else's is never much fun, so I just never got into the alcohol culture.

It turns out to be a good thing. I used to drink alcohol about 4 to 5 times a year pre-diagnosis & normally only 1 drink at a time. We could say I'm a bit of a cadbury. Actually more like a half a bar.

I can count how many times I have had alcohol on one hand post-diagnosis. The story is the same every time.

Girl goes out. Girl has alcohol. Normally 1 glass. Girl gets wasted because girl is a lightweight. But that's ok because girl only spends $10 getting wasted whilst everyone around her amasses huge bills. Girl takes off pump before alcoholic drink. She does not bolus for any food or drink that she consumes from first alcohol consumption. Girls BGLs stay on 6 for ages. When girl gets home hours later she reattaches pump on 20% temp basal (80% reduction). Girl eats food until blood glucose levels are on about 15. Girl goes to sleep

At 5am girl wakes up low.

It happened again Saturday night. I had 1 alcoholic drink, then ate 3 slices of cake and had 2 orange juices with no bolus and with my pump disconnected. I went to bed on 14, woke up at 6am on 3.4.

Here's the creepy part: I wasn't the one who knew I was low. My fiance woke me up to test my BGL because he had a dream where I called him and asked him to remind me to check my BGL. He woke up and immediately asked me to test my BGL. Low.

I don't need a diabetic alert dog. I just need my partner to be telepathetic (I once had an English teacher who spelt Telepathic as Telepathetic. I'm now incapable of spelling telepathic right. I present to you: Vincentia High).

How does everyone else handle their alcohol?










Monday, 3 November 2014

Understanding

I was at an event hosted by Diabetes QLD last month, and there was an endocrinologist speaker who made mention a couple of times that people with diabetes were still the same people, but with an external pancreas.

A lot of people in the audience nodded their heads in agreeance at the remark. I always find these remarks confusing and difficult to make sense of. When talking of diabetes and the role it plays in our lives, I don't agree with this statement. Diabetes most definitely has shaped who I am as a person and how I live my life. I think it is foolish and silly to believe that you are still the same person as you were before diagnosis and that diabetes is just a little something you do on the side for shits and gigs.

I believe in giving diabetes the distant respect it deserves. It is more than running an external pancreas, because that external pancreas is being run 24/7. Saying we are simply running an external pancreas detracts from what we deal with on a daily basis.

Diabetes is my silent stalker, following me everywhere I go. 3 years ago, I was stalker-free. There were no hypos and highs lurking in the shadows. I had never had to sit out a meal and watch other people eat, despite being starving because my BGLs were too high. That level of self-control didn't exist for me before diabetes.

There is a fine line between letting diabetes run your life, and between giving it the attention needed.
This line also spills over into my relationships with other people. Which is another reason I didn't like this particular statement.

I learnt fairly quickly once people knew I had Type 1 Diabetes that they didn't actually want to know anything at all about it or how it affected me. My Diabetes is now only discussed without about 3 or 4 non-diabetics.

In the company of most Type Zeros, I stopped treating my diabetes like it had any impact on me. Then one day my older brother told me that 'he didn't feel sorry for me having Type 1 Diabetes because I could still eat whatever I wanted'. But he did 'feel sorry for his friend who was coealiac and a VEGAN BY CHOICE', because 'she can't eat much'.

I don't want pity from anyone for my diabetes. I live well with my diabetes. I just want understanding.

It was glaringly obvious that my brother, unfortunately, had no idea what it was that made having diabetes hard to have. I'm sorry your friend has coeliacs disease, I really am. That must be shitty. But the vegan thing - thats her choice. Comparing my auotimmune disease to her choice was really crappy. Being able to eat what I want is the trade off I get for nights when I wonder if I will wake up alive the next morning. Its the trade off for taking a massive supply bag with me everywhere. Its the trade off the fact that I might go blind one day. I don't know what coeliacs disease causes, but the choice to eat gluten or not is probably not that hard to do. If I inject insulin - the medication that saves my life daily - I am at risk of death by overdose simply because today I am more sensitive to it than I was yesterday. That's what I want people to understand - that its complicated and I don't ever get a break. I am always thinking about how to handle every situation with my diabetes.

I was on a CityCat the other day and for some reason read the safety instructions on where the life vests were located in case of emergency. I had to figure out a diabetes plan. My pump isn't waterproof, so in the hypothetical emergency, I was hoping I would be able to clip it to the top of my life jacket so it would stay above water and still work. I would have to somehow take my juice with me as I swam to shore, because that would be unintentional exercise that I had no time to prepare for, so the likelihood that I would hypo either in the water or on shore would be very high.

That's what diabetes is. No offense meant to my brothers friend who is coeliac and chooses to be vegan, but I don't think that those issues means that she has to worry about medical emergencies if she has to swim unexpectedly across the Brisbane River.

Diabetes is not just something I do on the side when I feel bored. Thats what I want people to understand.




Monday, 27 October 2014

Having diabetes is so often about what we have done wrong, what we need to work harder at. When we go to our Endo, educator or otherwise, they don't spend a huge deal of time concentrating on the parts that we're getting right. They're trying to fix what's wrong.

When things are going well with my diabetes, it becomes a background nuisance instead of an in-your-face temper tantrum, so I don't really think about it. I often forget the self high-five. The only time I ever really think to congratulate myself is when the oh-so-wonderful-must-be-magic 5.5 appears on my meter. Then its stop whatever I'm doing and happy dance it out.

Last weekend, my diabetes put on its 'Mr. Nice Guy' mask. It wasn't a fluke. I have been trying really, really hard lately. I'm going to take the time to tell myself: "Well done Ash, well done".

I woke up and went for a walk in the ridiculous Brisbane heat both days this weekend. First thing in the morning. It was good for my BGLs. (N.B. - exercise gives amazing BGLs all day. Exercise more).

The rest of the weekend was just a bunch of self-high-fives and some fist bumps with my fiance as somehow we managed to get diabetes to do what we wanted it to do.







It made what was a great weekend even better. You know you're doing something right when you can go to somewhere called 'Eat Street Markets' (read: gigantic street-food markets) eat a calzone, a potato spiral, a honeycomb milkshake and a cronut and end up on a 5.8. Just for reference: Cronuts quite clearly do not cause diabetes, as might have been stated by some very silly cafe a few months ago. 5.8. Non-diabetic range.







Getting it right just gives me so much more confidence to live my life as I want to. The difference between feeling controlled and uncontrolled for me can very much impact on what I feel comfortable doing. I had always wanted to go to one of those colour festivals, and there have been a few that I have almost signed up for, and with everything going so well, I finally got to go to one. I got covered in colour, and diabetes behaved itself.

Which was a massive relief because despite the Springflare fesival being a celebration as part of the G20 happening here in Brisbane this month, there was obviously no budget allocation for first aid. Like none, none. I had more medical equipment on me than the 1st aid tent. There were about 2 young volunteers working the tent with limited supplies consisting of tissues, rubber gloves and bottled (not even saline) water. I found all this out because I had to wander up there to get a BGL check done - thankfully I had my own supplies because they had none - and needed them to clean off a finger so I could actually find real estate to test on.

Fair warning for any Diabetics wanting to do a colour festival or run - pack alcohol swabs so you can clean a finger off. And bring some little zip lock baggies for your diabetes supplies too - I remembered one for my pump but forgot about my BGL checking supplies, and ended up with a pink lancing device.

It was so awesome to be able to enjoy my weekend without stressing that diabetes was doing things it shouldn't. I hope I have more of them.










Monday, 20 October 2014

I got tired and forgot to blog

If anyone knows anything about what I want as a diabetic, they know that its support within the diabetic community. A pain-free method of taking my insulin would be amazing, but I know that we're not quite there yet. Thankfully support doesn't require advancements in technology that take 10 years to get through human trial stages. Support can be offered straight away without use of squeaky white lab mice.

So I was super-duper-triple excited a bit over a week ago when Diabetes Queensland hosted  a networking event for young adults with diabetes. The young adult agenda is quite often overlooked in diabetes land, for both types of diabetes. Let's face it, Type 2 is generally older people who actually have time in their lives to go and do social stuff together, and Type 1 is usually seen as insanely cute little kids toting pumps in Peppa Pig waistbands. Both very, very deserving of support. But so are we young adults.

Being a free event, and being that young adults are normally pretty busy people, running between multiple jobs, university and social commitments, I was happy with the amount of bodies in the room. I tried to make a point of speaking to everyone attending, but I know I missed a fair chunk of people. The 2 hour time period flew by in a happy daze of diabeticness - the awesome kind of diabeticness where you have instant connections to everyone else in the room.

Going to these types of events is always a little different to any other kind of social event I attend. We have unique kinds of ice-breaking questions: "Do you still shoot up or are you pumping? How long have you been pancreatically challenged?" And I always get confused with all the other pumps and meters beeping. Normally when I'm out, like in a shopping centre, a meter or pump beep is a welcome noise that reminds me that I'm never alone in this disease. At a diabetic event I get confused and want to meet ALL the diabetics.

It was such a great event and if you haven't  been to a diabetic event yet, push yourself into going to the next one offered. You will meet amazing people, who when you say 'Im having a crap day' on FB, will actually jump on and say 'Me Too' instead of silly things Type Zeros say, like telling you to stop talking about your crappy disease and to be thankful you've got diabetes and not 'insert crappy disease here' (yep, this happens, and no it doesn't help, especially when I see those same Type Zeros complain of an itty bitty cold 2 days later).











Thursday, 2 October 2014

What I Wish I Knew

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a lady who had been told she had gestational diabetes. Insulin had been mentioned to her and she was quite upset over the whole thing. I did my best to try to tell her everything would be alright, and that it would all be worth it when she had her bub. I ran into her today and she thanked me for talking to her, but mostly for telling her it would be ok. Thinking about it afterwards brought back memories of when I was told that I had Type 1 Diabetes. Any diagnosis of diabetes is scary, whether temporary, such as GDM, or a Type 1, 2 or other diagnosis.

 I have vivid memories of the months where nothing was normal anymore and nothing that was happening to my body made sense. There are definitely things I wish I knew, or things I wished people had told me. Certainly things that I wish people hadn't told me.

The biggest thing, was that I wish someone had told me that it would be ok. Your life becomes a blur of doctors appointments in that 1st instance and they're all so busy teaching you how to live your new life with an impaired pancreas that nobody thinks to tell you that YOU ARE GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS. One day you will wake up and having diabetes is going to be something that is ok for you. Everyone I meet now with newly diagnosed diabetes, this is what I tell them, that it will be ok one day to have diabetes. Its one simple reassurance that nobody really understands how effective it can be. Luckily, about 2 months after diagnosis, I walked into an ice-cream store and asked if they had the carb count available. The guy serving me asked "Newly diagnosed Diabetic? It gets easier". They should tell you this straight away, but they should also add "In time" and tell you that everyone's 'time' is different. Thankyou, random diabetic.

In addition, here's some other stuff I wish I had known earlier:






  • Insulin pumps. They exist. This is ALSO something random ice-cream serving diabetic guy told me about. After establishing my newly-diagnosed status, he pointed to his hip and told me "Get one of these. Best thing I ever did for my diabetes". He was right, and less than a month later, I had one too.

  • There's this amazing pocket sized book called 'Alan Borusheks Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate counter'. It has the carbs to almost everything you can think of. There's a wesbite too that you can use on your phone. 
  • Life is never going to be the same again. This is not a bad thing, of course your life will change. What is normal just happens to change too. I was told that so long as I took my insulin and checked my BGLs I would live a normal life. The"I must not tell lies" mantra of Dolores Umbridge comes to mind when I think of being told that I would live a normal life. Once I realised my life was different, I was a much happier person.




  • People are going to say silly things to you. I think they should hand out guidebooks on how to calmly deal with silly questions and situations when they diagnose you. People kind of suck in the understanding department if they haven't experienced it themselves.



  • Doctors and other medical personnel should stop pretending that needles aren't scary. Yes, I got used to them, but having people tell me that it was 'nothing' and I had to just get over it made me feel like a failure when I wasn't coping with it too well. Whereas if I had been offered support and shown different ways to do them I would have coped much better and might not have moved onto insulin pump therapy as quickly as I did. (I later discovered I could do it easily through clothing which somehow made it easier for me to handle). Just to reiterate, It's ok to still be uncomfortable with needles when you're diabetic, but you do need to recognise that whilst being uncomfortable at times, they kind of give you life, which is kind of awesome. Take the time to learn how to make them more comfortable in your life.


  • Don't look up 'diabetes' in google image search. You can never unsee it. If you must look up something diabetes related, be really specific: glucose meter or insulin pump.
  • Be proud of yourself and don't feel like you need to hide your diabetes away. Unfortunately some comments were made when I was newly diagnosed  that had me in the bathroom to do a shot whenever I was out of the house. Once I realised that I had nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide life was a whole lot easier, and not only because I was no longer trying to find a bathroom to inject in if I wanted to eat out.
  • I wish someone had thrust the reality check booklet at me and refused to let me leave their office without it. Find an internet forum, stalk other diabetics when you see them testing or join your local diabetes body. Just find support. No-one else knows what its like nursing a 3am hypo and eating ALL the food. 
  • You WILL get to be old one day! Isn't technology brilliant? Yep, diabetes will not stop you being one of those elderly people in the stock images; where they're standing smiling next to their significant other, all fit and healthy and happily enjoying their retirement. These people:


And finally....
  • Your feet aren't going to fall off spontaneously in the middle of the night. find a good team who you can trust to be there through your good and bad diabetes days and actually listen to them and take care of you health, and the whole feet falling off deal can be avoided. 

Readers: What do you wish you knew?



Friday, 26 September 2014

I am so hungry right now

There's a few funny things I like to hold onto from before my life with diabetes that make me feel, well, less diabetic. Normal, in a sense. One of these things was that although I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes over 2 1/2 years ago, I maintained a similar eating regime. I struggled when I was 1st diagnosed to match my food to my insulin, but once my loyal pump came along it was a non-issue and I could go back to eating as I pleased. Which made me feel normal. I already had to test my blood sugars, give insulin in public, so being able to go out with friends and eat what I wanted was great in helping me to feel like diabetes wasn't attached to everything.

Lately, not so much. I don't know if any readers have had this problem, but it seems like all of a sudden, that small grain of my previous life I was holding onto, has slipped out of my fingers and ended up in the diabetes ocean that laps close to so much of my life already.

At first I thought I was getting higher BGL readings from a barrage of illnesses that I managed to catch, one after another. However they went away and my higher BGLs did not. I upped my insulin to food ratio. I upped my basal ratio. Despite that, I found that I could eat only select foods without my BGLs going into a tizzy.

So I increased my exercise from about 40 minutes per day to 1 hour and 30 minutes every day. All it has done is give me hypos at 3am. I haven't even lost any weight.

I am at a loss. The only thing I find now to keep my blood sugar in check is to eat minimal carbohydrate, 30gm for breakfast (whcih is really pushing it), 20gm for lunch and 20 gm for dinner. The sudden decrease in carbohydrates has left me feeling run-down, tired, cranky and I want to cry.

I feel like a failure and a liar. I have spent my time as a diabetic up until now chastising people who tell me "I cannot eat that". Now it seems they are right, and I really can't eat that. I consoled myself that at least, even though I had to have insulin, I could still eat what I wanted. Now it seems I have the worst parts of both Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes.

I'm at a loss and I want my old life back (see, lack of carbs making me sad and emotional. Next minute I'll pull out my simple plan CDs, don some heavy black mascara, and go sit in front of Hungry Jacks in Queen Street with the rest of the emo kids).

This diabetes thing, it sucks.





Thursday, 18 September 2014

Why I don't believe in a cure.

I was asked the other day if I was doing the JDRF Walk for A Cure this year. The one in Brisbane is being held on the weekend that I am in Melbourne, so I considered doing the Gold Coast walk.

I went to sign up and got to the point where you tick the little box to say if you're fundraising or not. I stopped my registration there. Because I no longer believe in a cure. Truthfully, I never believed in a cure. I felt like a traitor signing up for the Walk for a Cure when I don't believe in one.

And somehow that makes me feel like a traitor the diabetic community. I know so many people who need to believe in a cure, it keeps them going. I don't want to insult them. I don't want to lie though and be all gung-ho for something I don't believe in. I know many people were told on Diagnosis that a cure was just around the corner. I wasn't. I was told this is for life, and not to entertain the possibility. I hope I'm wrong. I want the people who believe in a cure to be right so badly it aches.

Don't misunderstand me, I believe a cure exists. Already. I think we've found one. But I don't for a second ever believe it will make it to me.

Because Diabetes makes money. A lot of money. It's ripped from the pockets of you and I. I forgo seeing movies with friends if the choice comes down to fun or test strips. Test strips and living to see another day for the win. A cure makes no money. A cure will destroy companies who have big stakes in diabetes management. Unfortunatley, Type 1 Diabetes is growing. More people are being diagnosed. More money.

So I believe in advancing technology. In 10 years time I hope to have the smart insulin patch sitting on my skin doing my thinking for me. Although I do wonder if that's too close to a cure for release. I wonder if it will disappear into the dark abyss that so many potential cures fall into and be forgotten.

My family and friends ask me what I will do when I'm cured and how far away I think it is. I don't have an answer to that, because I believe my diabetes is for life. And it HURTS to think about the life I used to have where I could have run around naked and free if I wanted to. Boy, do I regret not crossing that off my bucket list when I had the chance. It HURTS to know that I will never live a day where I'm not fighting my own body for control of my blood sugar.

I DON'T THINK IT MAKES ME PESSIMISTIC. Yes, it hurts, but I am NOT SAD about having diabetes. If I feel like I can't face the truth that I will have this disease until I die, then I don't think about having this disease until the day I die. I think about having this disease for today and managing it for today.

And honestly? Not believing in a cure is what makes me TRY so hard to control my diabetes. Not believing in a cure gives me acceptance. My cousin has Type 1 Diabetes and his parents pushed the 'cure in 5 years' belief on him. He has never accepted or made adequate space in his life for his diabetes. I can't do that.

Not believing in a cure makes me happy, because I can move on with my life. So this post is not a sad post. This post is me, living with diabetes and living with what is available to me in the here and now.

This post is me, putting my efforts into supporting those living with diabetes now. 

 






Wednesday, 3 September 2014

It's Raining Pumps

Earlier this year Diabetes Queensland asked me to write a few sentences on how having access to my insulin pump had contributed to my ability to live well with diabetes and how it had positively impacted on my life. It was for a study that Diabetes Australia were hoping to present to the government to improve access to and funding of new technologies in Type 1 Diabetes.

I think at the time I was moving, and I wrote something real quick just to show my support for the initiative.

Today DA met with and presented the report to Federal & State Governments and PHI companies, asking them to open up support to more people with Type 1 Diabetes, and to increase access to insulin pumps, continuous glucose meters, and other emerging technologies.

Currently only 12% of people with Type 1 Diabetes are able to utilize insulin pump therapy. 12%!!!! When I think of how much of my life using an insulin pump has given back to me, it blows my mind. One more time for good measure - 12%. Its no wonder I can easily convince random strangers that my insulin pump is actually a police tracking device or that I'm obviously a doctor with a pager. With less than 15,000 of us running around in Australia with pumps on, people have no clue.

Currently, for anyone over the age of 18 years, there is no available help for initial purchase of the insulin pump - people never quite believe me when I tell them the little beeping, vibrating device on my hip costs more than my car! Thankfully, I had Private Health Insurance which covered the cost of my pump for me. However had I not been financially secure enough to afford PHI, which in itself can be quite costly, the insulin pump would have been a pipe dream for me. The current Government funded Insulin Pump Program has helped pay for a mere 611 children (as adults are excluded, something I believe was addressed today) to buy insulin pumps since its creation in 2008.

I feel incredibly lucky to have my insulin pump when so many people in Australia still go without. And as much as I have just said I feel lucky, by the same token saying I feel 'lucky' that I can afford my PHI or the pump consumables is not something I should feel. The pump gives me the freedom to fully live my life as I want to. Why should that be lucky or rare just because I have Type 1 Diabetes? Your regular Joe Blow walking down the street can do what he wants, when he wants. Why is it 'lucky' for me to be able to do that? Every Type 1 Diabetic should be able to enjoy the freedom of life a pump can give.

After being diagnosed with T1D more than 2 years ago, and going onto injections, I felt like my life had stopped. I didn't see a future anymore. When I woke up and thought about my future, it was a blur of needles several times a day and eating at regimented times to avoid hypos and hyper. My life was about pre-planning exercise the night before and taking less insulin at that night-time dose to account for exercise the following day. And if the exercise didn't happen for some various reason, my day was about constantly fighting high blood sugars.

The pump doesn't just give me a good A1c (now in the non-diabetic range with help from my CGMS which DA also presented for today), and it doesn't just give me less needles (and therefore I am able to deal with my diabetes better psychologically) and it doesn't just help to cut back on hypoglycaemic events. The day I got my insulin pump, I got my future back. I could exercise, eat, sleep, when I wanted. Like anyone else could. All of a sudden, I had a lot more time in my day to dream about silly little things like my upcoming wedding (which I would hate to attempt on injections), having children, living to 80.

I have my fingers and toes crossed that the Australian government will offer its support to all people with Type 1 Diabetes  in Australia and help them access these life-altering and life-SAVING technologies.










Friday, 15 August 2014

"Genie, I'm Gonna Miss You"



A few days ago now, the world was shocked to hear of Robin Williams' passing by depression. I don't know what its like to live with depression but it does affect some of the most important people in my life. 

Similar to diabetes, depression is an 'invisible' disease that can show no outward obvious physical symptoms. And for some reason, because people can't see these symptoms, they think its ok to have a very wrong, ill-informed opinion of what it's like to have depression, anxiety, diabetes or similar and think that that opinion is right.

Horrible misconceptions have been said about Robin Williams' 'choice' to die. I read a few articles, including this one by Tom Clempson, explaining how suicide can be seen from a person with depressions point of view, and how society and the media can have it very very wrong. Suicide shouldn't be seen as a selfish 'choice' by the person affected by depression. Tom puts it clearly –

“Robin Williams didn't die from suicide, he died from depression. It wasn't his choice to suffer that”.

Dealing with diabetes, that is something I can understand. Like diabetes, depression is not an illness you choose to have, and like diabetes, there is no magic button that switches it off to allow you to enjoy life without the burden of your health problems; whatever they may be, whether physical or mental.

So when Robin Williams passed, I called someone whom I love very dearly, someone who had been and is being affected by depression. I had nothing that I could say about it, and no reason to call, other than knowing this news was far more than an interesting bit of gossip to them. In the end I didn't ask, because certain factors involving the flu made me think that whilst someone is dealing with the flu, probably not the best time to make them think about emotions, and emotions and sore throat is probably not helpful. So instead, I decided to educate myself on what depression can mean for a person with it. I might have no idea what it feels like if anyone ever talks about it with me, but it doesnt stop my ears from listening and doesnt stop that someone (or some people) knowing that I care about them and will do whatever I can to help them feel ok.




To all the beautiful people in my life, who are battling depression or have been affected by it: You inspire me with your bravery and courage to fight.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Position Vacant


Position Vacant: Diabetics Wanted! 
Exciting New Work Available in our Growing Company 'DiabetesCorp'

Who We Are:
DiabetesCorp is a worldwide company, whose stocks and shares are growing every day. 

Our company is a very busy, fast-paced company that's sure to keep you engaged, as no two days will ever be the same, regardless of if you attempt to structure them the same. We have been assured by all our employees that they are never bored.

We are offering a very exciting, confusing and painful position in our global group. Full-time hours are required as we do not offer part-time. Working hours are 168 hours per week from Monday to Sunday inclusive and you will always be on call. You will not get weekends or holidays. We do not offer maternity leave and will ask you to increase your workload once we find out that you are pregnant. Once signed, working contracts are void only by death.

Applicants can be of any age, race or nationality. We pride ourselves on our anti-discrimination policy and we are an equal opportunity provider.


Role Requirements:
To be considered as a successful applicant you will need to possess a hard-working attitude, a willingness to learn and strong self-motivation skills

We require the following to be considered for the role:
  • Maturity beyond your years
  • Excellent maths skills
  • Medicine degree
  • Comfortable around needles and blood
  • Able to handle criticism and stupid comments in a calm and collected manner from everyone you have ever met once they know you work for Diabetes Corp and complete strangers who have no affiliation with the company
  • A sense of humour
  • Able to work on minimal sleep
  • Extremely alert and self-aware at all times
  • Multi-tasker
  • Ability to think on your feet

Position Discription:
Your role will be as a 'Person With Diabetes', the most essential role to DiabetesCorp. You will be required to check blood sugar levels, count carbohydrates and inject insulin several times a day to maintain your job function properly.

A few times a week you will be required to take control of emergency situations. The very nature of the emergency situation will make you feel weak, tired, confused, disorientated, shaky, sweaty and will affect your vision and hearing.

At the end of each days' work, your superior will rip up everything you have done and ask you to repeat the exact same work the next day. This will go on forever; however please note that no two days work will ever produce the same results, keeping you busy and amused.

You will have a meeting at minimum once every 3 months with a company medical official where your progress within the company will be rated.

Very basic hazard training will be provided briefly as your role is very prone to safety issues and injury is not uncommon. 

You will need to supply your own large handbag to carry around all the job-specific supplies.


We Offer:
  • Mental anguish, stress, anxiety and depression
  • the flexibility of multiple office locations, or you can work from home or anywhere else you go as the job travels with you
  • On your initial start up with us required items such as glucometers will be supplied, but all refills and running costs will be at your own expense. You cannot claim these on tax as a work-related expense
  • Great career progression - starting with microvascular complications and working your way up to macrovascular complications. 
  • A Kellion Victory Medal to commiserate 50 years of service
  • Great, friendly and supportive team environment
  • Dental scheme*

We offer an attractive remuneration package costing you between $1000 - $10000 and up every year

If this sounds like a role that would interest you please email us at thisjobreallysucks@curediabetescorp.com.au

*Due to recent policy changes the dental plan is no longer available


Monday, 14 July 2014

I Spy With My Little Eye...

....diabetics. Everywhere I turn.

It's National Diabetes Week this week. We wouldn't have a national diabetes week without diabetics, and I seem to have run into a lot of them this week. One of the best things about having diabetes (look at me go - saying there's good things involved with diabetes) is meeting other diabetics. Getting to know their stories. No two stories are the same.

Lately, I seem to be meeting them left, right and centre. It gives me such a buzz every time, knowing there's other people walking around with broken pancreases.

I was at Garden City the other day and had just sat down to my extremely fatty, carbohydrate loaded lunch - the kind of lunch that would give my endo a coronary just to see the number written down in the carb column. I had just bolused when I heard a distinctive 'beep' coming from the table next to me. There's no mistaking that beep - the beep of a glucometer, springing into action.

My head instantly snapped over towards the source of the sound, and I saw a girl probably just a bit older than me stashing her meter away in her bag. I think I kind of just sat there in a happy daze as she pulled out an insulin pen, dialed up the number and proceeded to give herself the good stuff. "Look! Another diabetic" I basically punched my fiance in the ribs getting him to spot the other diabetic. Her husband, or partner, or brother or whoever he was must have overhead me, or otherwise noticed me staring weirdly at his wife, partner sister or whoever she was to him.

I guess the smart part of me was a little slow off the mark, because I know its rude to stare when you're doing your diabetic business. So I declared myself: "I'm diabetic too! Sorry, I didn't mean to stare. Its nice to know you're not alone." He nodded at me, as she had already begun eating. "It's ok, she feels the same way too."

As I left, we exchanged a friendly, 'in the club' smile.


Yesterday, the first day of National Diabetes Week, I was standing in a line for some delicious crepes at the Abbey Medieval Festival. Wearing a deep blue Medieval Dress, my purple people eater pump, Vernon, was clipped onto the top of my dress...I didn't think it would be very ladlylike to go fishing about in my bra to bolus. Pumps must be some sort of beacon for other pumpers...next thing I knew I had another young lady in front of me saying she "liked my pump",  as she pointed out her own purple Medtronic pump.

As we stood and waited for our crepes we swapped diagnosis stories and dates. We found out we had gone onto pumps at nearly the same time. Eventually we got our crepes and parted ways to enjoy the festival - but not without first wishing each other good BGLs for the day.

After the festival I came home to a facebook message from someone I knew a long time ago, who had just been diagnosed with T1D recently. I hadn't spoken to this person in about 6 or 7 years, but wanted to ask me some advice after finding out through a mutual friend that I had had T1D as well for the past few years. And that's the thing with diabetics. We reach out to each other, constantly, and I have not met a diabetic yet who isn't happy to help.



For me, it isn't National Diabetes Week. I'll leave that to the Diabetes Organisations. For me, it's National Diabetics Week. I'm going to celebrate all the amazing people who live with diabetes every day of their lives.




Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Cronut of all evil

I have blogged a few times about how ignorant comments made about diabetes or to a diabetic about their condition can make people with the condition feel.

Most things, whilst I can get upset, I can politely discuss with the offending person because I know a very large part of what they have said comes from misconceptions made worse by the very wrong public perception of diabetes.

Then there's The Paramount Coffee Project, who came in with fully loaded bazukas and blew all other ignoranases clean out of the competition. The fact that I am still cranky enough the next day to write this is testament to the anger that pulsed hard through my veins.

I opened up my facebook newsfeed yesterday to see a post from the Paramount Coffee Project being passed around in diabetic circles. They had erred harshly on the side of "how is being this horribly ignorant and rude even possible" with their post. They had created a secret menu item that was only available if you asked specifically for it - prior knowldedge only kinda deal. Which is a great marketing strategy. Unfortunatley their marketing genius obviously used up all his genius on the secret menu idea and had a severe case of brain fart when coming up with the title and marketing catch phrase of this secret item.

They called a ridiculously delish looking cronut topped with affogato and some other fancy thing I can't remember 'Diabetes'. Yes, Diabetes is what they named their dish. The cronut they had pictured was very soft and looked like heaven for your mouth . Diabetes does not look like this. Diabetes looks like fingers covered in red and black pinprick marks. Diabetes looks like an alien insulin pump canula stark white against pink flesh. Diabetes looks like bruises, blood and needle marks. It looks like dark circles under your eyes and worry lines on parents' faces.

There's infinite amounts I can say about how naming a dessert 'Diabetes' is just plain wrong and should never have been suggested or followed through with in the first place. Comments were made about how there is no way they would ever call a dessert 'SIDS surprise' or 'Cancer Cake' (N.B. - I fully understand how serious these are - this is for example only) - because diabetes isn't recognised as being the serious disease that it absolutely is.

After the shock of the name, I read the description, which ended with the phrase 'So come in and ask for diabetes today'. This was the part for me, that made me wish all sorts of evil things on this establishment. NOBODY - I repeat NOBODY would EVER EVER EVER IN A HEARTBEAT ask for diabetes. NOBODY does this 'to themselves' willingly. I don't ask for needles, sleepless nights, hypos and hypers, fingerpricks in the blistering cold or anything else that settled into the spot where my defunct pancreas resides when diabetes wriggled it's way into my life.

Thankfully, the DOC was all over this. I think this post was averaging 3 tirades per minute about the seriousness of what they thought was a 'joke'. People posted links to tribunals to make official complaints, tagged Diabetes Australia and all sorts of fun things to help with the message that this was not even a little bit o.k.

Unfortunately for the establishment, this was all going on whilst the 'creative genius' behind it all slept soundly. The post was removed today and a belated apology issued. I don't know how many phone calls they recieved this morning. I feel sorry for the staff, who might have had to deal with eventuated threats from parents that they would bring their 5 year old with Type 1 in to the store so the workers could explain to him that some cronut he had never eaten was the reason why he has to inject insulin for the rest of his life. For Paramount's employees sake, I hope they left the phone off the hook today.


Power to the DOC (who I can see are still worked up over it this morning based on the posts and jokes being made about Paramount). I hope I never see anything this disgustingly ill-informed again in my life.







Wednesday, 25 June 2014

If These Walls Could Talk

I don't know how many other people watch the Big Bang Theory. Today the episode where Howard moves in with Bernadette played. They mentioned, “If these walls could talk”. Coincidentally the real estate showed potential renters through our house as we are leaving and moving to a bigger rental.

I happened to be getting a glass of water as one prospective tenant inspected the kitchen. Her eyes swept the cupboards, coming to rest on my bright yellow sharps container. It's not something you find sitting in among the canned veggies and cereal in your average Australian household. Nothing was said, but the stunned “OH MY GOSH, Do they do drugs?” look is preeeety hard to miss. I wonder what she thought my story was.

The walls know my story. If walls could talk, and she could listen, she would know my story. It's weird to think that diabetes ties in with where you live. A reminder that diabetes is woven into the fabric of my entire life, whether I think about it consciously or not. It's not necessarily a bad thing, its just there, all the time.

If my walls could talk: They'd complain that at odd hours of the night, light switches turn on and off, or the fridge light turns on, the illumination casting an eerie light over a weird girl who rapidly shovels food into her mouth, eyes still squeezed shut.

Maybe my walls would tell you that that girl uses a funny machine in the kitchen, but never in any other room. She carries it with her everywhere, but unless desperate, she always walks to the kitchen to use the machine that displays ever-changing numbers.

They'd probably tell you about all the times she had to wipe blood marks from them, and how much they despised having the sticky fluid dry onto them.

In agreeance with the floor, they'd muse about the strips that, even though they only get used in the kitchen, make their way all throughout the house. The floors and walls have a theory that these strips are building a colony and will one day take over the world.

The walls would whisper about how the girl often comes home and goes straight to bed. She is often woken by her phone and will complain of 'hypos' that made her go to bed.

If they could talk, they would gossip about how the girl is soooo disgusting and sometimes trash dives to retrieve food packages she threw away only moments before. And all she wants to do is read some numbers before throwing it away again.

I'm sure my walls would have many things to say about me, my diabetes, and how little use that bright yellow container actually gets because I always forget to clip my cannulas before throwing them away into the normal trash.





Monday, 19 May 2014

Food For Mortals



I didn't know this, but apparantely when you become diabetic, you don't need to eat anymore. We have no need to partake of any oral ingeston of any vitamins, minerals, proteins, good fats, or any other sort of nutrition at all. I think that all of my doctors must have neglected to tell me that I now absorb all these nutrients through magical diabetic sunrays or osmosis. Food is now something I have purely just to get fat.



At least that's the way non-diabetics can make it feel to me. I had a blood test on Saturday as my endo appointment was today. The collection lady was chatty and cheerful and my first impression was that I liked her and maybe I would always get my bloods done on a Saturday with her from now on. Unfortunately, my first impression was wrong. About halfway through the collection she took a closer look at what she was harvesting my blood for and out it popped:

"Oooooh this has your 3 monthly average (HbA1c) on it! Will it show that you've been a naughty diabetic?"

She was lucky there was a needle jabbing into my arm. Otherwise my fist might have (Who am I kidding might have? Would have. My fist WOULD have) met with her face.

Besides that fact that her job is purely to stick things into my veins and make me bleed into a little tube and not at all to question my diabetic habits, this is insulting. No wonder diabetics can have a pretty volatile relationship with food at points. The basic gist of it from everyone else is 'diabetic eating = bad. Starving = good'. Do not put anything into your mouth and you have done well.

I should have asked her if she had any alcohol last night, or EVER really and proclaimed she was bad.

EATING IS NOT BAD. That is all I have done that could possibly ever make me a 'bad' or 'naughty' diabetic. I test alot. I don't always write it down and I sort of went to my endo appointment empty handed, but I test so damn much that I could give my endo my ranges before and after each of my meals and what I needed help with. I take insulin for everything I eat. Sometimes it doesn't work out the way I wanted it to, but that's not for a lack of trying. The ONLY thing I could posibly have done to be a bad diabetic is to have provided my body with the nourishment it needs to sustain my life. I wasn't aware I had reached god status and no longer needed physical consumption of food.

And even if I didn't follow the testing and injecting regimen as closely as I do, I am still not BAD, and no diabetic is naughty for it and NOBODY has the right to make these judgments without knowing diddly-squat about us or what we have going on in our lives.






Friday, 16 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week Day 5: Diabetes Life Hacks


Share the (non-medical) tips and tricks that help you in the day-to-day management of diabetes.  Tell us everything from clothing modifications, serving size/carb counting tricks to the tried and true Dexcom-in-a-glass trick or the “secret” to turning on a Medtronic pump’s backlight when not on the home-screen (scroll to the bottom of this post). Please remember to give non-medical advice only! (Thank you Rachel of Probably Rachel and Kelley of Below Seven for this topic suggestion.)


Diabetes Life Hacks? I probably don't have anything original that I haven't picked up from other blogs or D-forums/chat rooms.

I guess I struggle with remembering how diabetes devices affect my body - like lancing devices, set changes, etc. So whenever I need hacks these are the things I look for. 

For the 1st 6 months I was diagnosed I have a favoured finger that took the brunt of testing. Consequently that finger is now very calloused and require 1 1/2 whole lancing points above my other fingers to draw blood. Eventually I worked out a system where I assigned each finger to a meal or a specific testing reason. My thumbs are for my pre and post breakfast, index fingers for pre and post lunch and middle fingers for pre and post dinner/before bed. My ring finger (and the equivalent on the opposit hand) is for pre-driving checks and my pinkies, because they bleed much more readily are reserved for hypos. In doing this my fingers have a chance to heal and the callous on my favoured finger is slowly softening. 

As well as this, I change my lancet on pay day every fortnight, which is the same day I buy my strips and other diabetes supplies, so I am just able to start with everything fresh. Failing every fortnight if I buy supplies in bulk, I try for at least once a month


My next hack is to remember when I last did my set change as I always forget and will just wait for the insulin to run out. I calculated an average of how much insulin I use per day and I fill my insulin up with this exact amount for 3 days, plus approximately 6 - 7 units for prime/air bubbles. It also helps to curb overeating because I have to remember I have only given myself x amount per day, so if I pig out one day I take it easy the next to save premature set-change.


The other hacks I use most often are about remembering carb counts for things. When I package up sausages I will write on the outside in marker how many carbs are in the serve I just froze so Its not something I have to look up later. Or for cereal I find a small bowl, scoop, etc that is roughly the size of a serving and have attached to it a label with all the cereals I eat and how many carbs is in 1 scoop - so that way  I never have to weight it and can just quickly use the scoop to get out an exact amount of carb. I tend to cycle through about 3 different cereals so the scoop has all 3 written on it and I just move it from one box to the next. 

Not over exciting hacks, but they help make diabetes care just that little bit easier for me.






Thursday, 15 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week Day 4: Mantras and More

Yesterday we opened up about how diabetes can bring us down. Today let’s share what gets us through a hard day.  Or more specifically, a hard diabetes day.  Is there something positive you tell yourself?  Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through?  Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost?  Maybe we've done that and we can help others do it too? (Thanks to Meri of Our Diabetic Life for suggesting this topic.)

Dance Magic Dance! I am a shocking dancer. No sense of rhythm whatsoever. But when diabetes is kicking my ass, my lack of groovin' moves is the least of my worries. So when I'm having a hard diabetes day, I post a few gripes to the DOC, and when I have had understanding and suggestions a plenty thrown my way from amazing people all over the world, I go to groove town. I twerk in my kitchen like no-one can see me (except my bogan back-door neighbours really can see me).




Its not just the dancing that helps - I have a collection of songs that specifically relate to diabetes (at least in my head they do anyway). They're all mostly break-up songs and I sing them to my defunct pancreas. Except for that one random 'The Used' song "Together Burning Bright" which I reserve for when I've had enough hypos that my happy-making hormone is exhausted for the day. On particularly bad days I close all my windows and doors and warble along with Bert McCracken to how everything is going to be AOK at the end of my day:

"I think it's gonna be alright, now
I think it's gonna be okay
Just close your eyes
'Cause we are only sparks
But together burning bright"


Failing singing and dancing, the diabetic rap always makes me want to wrap my diabetes in a bear hug again, cos without diabetes, things like this wouldn't exist:








Dancing doesn't exactly solve diabetes problems...but it makes me happy and gives me energy, which bad diabetes days suck from me hard.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Diabetes Blog Week Day 1: Tell Me a Story



For the 2nd year now I am taking part in Diabetes Blog Week. Today we are supposed to be talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up.However, I think I do this on all-to-regular basis and I'm just not in an advocate and cause mood, so I decided to go with the 'Tell me a Story' WildCard instead. 

Write a short story personifying a diabetes tool you use on a daily basis. A meter, syringe, pump, pill, etc. Give it a personality and a name and let it speak through you. What would it be happy about, upset about, mad about?  (Thank you Heather of Unexpected Blues for this topic.)


The dark is all around as I wait, crammed against many more of my kin. We all stand, patient, knowing that one day, we will see the light. One day it will be Bob's turn, or Mary's turn, or my turn.

Outside, I can hear a snap. I am rattled about in my prison. A grubby, pin-pricked finger reaches in. Is this is it? Is it my turn? I cannot bear to stay here, in the stifling blackness anymore. The finger passes me by. Now is my chance; I stick myself firmly onto the warm pink flesh.

Now. The light is everywhere, flooding me with warmth. I bask in the world around me as I am roughly shoved into the care of a higher intelligence. A little care, please. I am here to help, after all.

I tense with anticipation as I see the red shadow near. What I was made to do. Fulfilment. I drink in the deep iron flavour of the blood as the finger tries to steady beside me. I relay the flavour to my God, a very sweet tasting blood. My duty fulfilled.

Now. I am finished with the obligations, I can help no more. But I am not ready for this adventure to be over. The world outside my confinement is so big, so bright. As I am wrenched free of my god, I deftly twist and manage to fall. I drop a long, long way and strategically land on a tile in similar colour to my own body. Eyes lumber close, stupidly blinking. However I am a master of disguise. They will never find me. At the first opportunity, I see a dark passage and wriggle away underneath, somewhere I may rest to plan my forays into the world.

I am halfway there when a creature of too much hair sees me. It pounces and attacks, dragging me off to a corner as I fear for my life. It appears my end is not today, as the creature is frightened away by shoe-clodden feet. A foot passes by me and I quickly swing under the footfall of the 2nd step, gripping tightly to a shoelace as it lifts.

I ride to freedom. The greens of the great outside await me. I drop off and into a pot plant. I plan to scale the heights of the washing line and spend my night in a comfortable looking sock. My adventure, the adventure of Harry, a test-strip who dared to dream, is just beginning.








Saturday, 3 May 2014

Stigmatic

stigma
ˈstɪgmə/
noun
  1. 1.
    a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
    "the stigma of mental disorder"



Chances are in your life that you have felt stigmatized. Maybe you just like the colour black, so everyone assumes your part of a dark goth vampire cult, and cross the street just in case you want to suck their blood with a quickly applied straw-stabbed-through the neck as they pass. Or maybe your smart, so you never got picked for the sports team, and the lack of being allowed to play is probably why you're not good at sports in the first place.

Diabetes also has a stigma. It's a stigma that can make it very hard to tell people around us that we have the disease, or let on how hard it really is. Before you knew anyone with diabetes, what did you know about the disease? Did you believe the pretty blonde lady on the T.V. spouting that diabetes only happened to fat, ugly people? Did you hear about your neighbors grand-daughter who was just diagnosed with diabetes and wonder how many family-sized packets of M & M's her mother tipped into her throat to cause it? Did you think that we are all lazy and unmotivated or that we don't care enough to take care of ourselves? Did you think that we are sickly and won't be able to hold down a job or have a future because of health concerns? Did you think we DESERVE it? Do you still think these things? 

The stigma of diabetes is real. It can stop people getting jobs and it can ruin relationships. Diabetes stigma can create social exclusions. It can make us feel bad about ourselves and maybe even begin to believe we deserve everything that's happening to us. Stigma can stop us from learning about diabetes enough to take proper care of the disease.

When I was first diagnosed, sitting cross legged on a crisp clean hospital bed, I asked for a pregnancy test. I hoped it was gestational diabetes. Unsurprisingly, the pregnancy test was negative and I did not have some sort of super GDM given my over 30 levels.

After I was told that no, there was no bean growing inside me, I WISHED for Type 1 Diabetes. I don't believe in a god, but I concentrated all my energy on willing my pancreas to be fully, 100% non-insulin productive. I was very much aware that Type 1 Diabetes was the one with needles, and that Type 2 diabetes had potential to be reversed, or at the very least I could diet control or have tablets every day instead of multiple daily shots of insulin straightaway.

Being that I hate needles, the wish to have Type 1 Diabetes is crazy, right? It's not if you're aware of the stigma. I knew about the diabetes stigma - and I did not want the stigma of diabetes, let alone Type 2 Diabetes - or the diabetes percieved to be made of an inability towards any sort of self-control. A Type 1 Diagnosis meant that I could interject that in uncomfortable situations - I could say "I have TYPE ONE Diabetes" or "autoimmune diabetes" and explain that it wasn't my fault. A Type 1 diagnosis meant I could say "Oh no, That's Type 2 Diabetes that get it from poor lifestyle".

Of course I don't feel this way and I never ended up throwing any Type 2 Diabetics under the bus (I hope we're all well aware that Type 2 is much more complex than 'I ate bad'. Genetics, anyone?). I explain the differences between the 2 when asked about my diabetes but never lay blame to anyone with diabetes. And these days I know that the stigma affects Type 1's just as much as Type 2's. I just happened to know that Type 1 was autoimmune beforehand due to a cousin having Type 1, and so I preferred to pick this stigma instead. 

The fact is, I was aware of the stigma even before diagnosis and I knew I didn't want to spend three quarters of my life defending my pancreases right to an early retirement and the shame it might cause me. No one should be made to feel this way. 

So get on board with the Diabetes Stigma Project and support! If you can't do that, then at the very least next time you hear someone saying something about diabetes, blast the bejesus out of them and set them straight damnit! (But don't wish diabetes on them or anyone they love because that's just not fair. Diabetes isn't fair to anyone).







Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Flu Shots! Get Your Free Flu Shots!

I make it sound fun, right? Like going to a circus. But instead of seeing acrobats contort into weird shapes, you get to have a cold metal object twisted into your arm. So I would say its only half as fun as the circus.

But no, seriously, I'm gonna advocate the flu shot here. I have had one faithfully for the last three years. And not only because I don't want to sound like a hypocrite when I mention it to our patients at work. Originally I only started getting them because after I was diagnosed with diabetes, they were free. Having been a student for 4 years previously, if there is free stuff, you take it. Regardless of how useful it may be. Although I do see now how that mind-set could probably lead to some hoarding issues later in life *cough*10 surplus meters *wheeze**hack*.

Now I get them because I actually believe they help. For the past 2 years, it has been my fiance who brings home the colds and other seasonal illness goodies with the bacon. Even though I'm the one who works at a medical centre. So I can only assume flu jabs are good for things besides dead arms.

So if you haven't already, guys seriously, take advantage of the 1 free thing this disease gives you, and overrun your GPs with requests for free flu shots. Given the effect of illness on our blood sugars, go get the sucker-punch to the arm and save yourself a few highs, some ketones here and there and a vomit-induced low or 2.

Just don't let the untrained nurse give it to you. I don't know who taught my girl how to give shots, but she somehow got confused between keeping the needle still and wreathing it around in my tricep like she was in death throes with an arm-shaped croc. I had to laugh when  after she was told by my GP that I had type 1 diabetes, she felt the need to tell me not to panic if it came up with a red dot and/or bruise. It's OK love, I got needle spots sorted.

While your at it - push your needlephobic husband or wife into the nurses room and lock it behind you so they can get their flu shot too. Don't mind the terrified screams and frantic scrabbling sounds coming from behind the door...its just a needle after all. In 3 days time they'll have forgotten it ever happened and be happy that they are saving themselves and others around them from fluey badness.





Monday, 31 March 2014

EXPOsing Diabetes - Redlands Event

This past Saturday I took myself for a harrowing drive down to Sheldon College in Redlands. By harrowing I mean I drove for 20 minutes with a frozen GPS and a steadily-shining fuel light reminding me that I shouldn't stray too far from civilization.

Eventually I found my way to Sheldon College - with 15km of my reserve fuel left to spare - and gambled over to the registration desk for EXPOsing diabetes.

EXPOsing diabetes events are 1 day information exhibitions run by Diabetes Queensland for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetics. I think I read that more than 300 attendants came along for the day - with about 30 odd of us being Type 1's. The seminars were separated for each type which meant that the programs were tailored to each specific type and their particular program needs.

The Type 1 program that I attended was fantastic. Each speaker addressed us in warm, friendly tones and allowed us to ask plenty of questions; although doubtless this was easier for the Type 1 group as we were a much smaller group than the Type 2 group.

The lectures were informative and I learnt something new from every one of them, and began to consider things about my Type 1 that I hadn't before - like I might be asking for an inclusion to go to an exercise physiologist in my next care plan, as exercise is something I have always struggled with with my Type 1. The seminar on diabetes and driving, given the recent law changes was exceedingly helpful in dispelling some diabetes and driving rumors and myths - and to clarify what was the real deal. That HbA1c under 9% your doctors keep threatening you with is in actual fact just a guideline and not a hard and fast rule - but was put in places for obvious reasons such as the fact that you may be experiencing more tiredness and an inability concentrate with a higher HbA1c.

I was also really happy with the inclusion of the seminar that dealt with more of the mental health side of type 1 diabetes. However that's a blog for another day.

I was honored to sit among Type 1 Diabetics who had had the disease much longer than I have - including 2 Kellion medal recipients. I think I was actually hands down the youngest person in attendance - which didn't phase me. The ladies that I sat with ranged in age from (I think) late 20's to 70's...but the thing about a disease like diabetes is that it can create mutual understanding and friendships between vastly different age groups. The attendance of willing participants proved that you have the capacity to learn and better understand the disease you live with at any age!

Overall I commend Diabetes Queensland on the institution of the EXPOsing Diabetes programs and would recommend anyone who can to attend one - even if you think you know everything there is to know, I gaurantee you you will walk away with at least 1 piece of knowledge about living with diabetes that you didn't have before.

They also have stalls set up by meter, pump and other such companies for you to check out the available products and chat to about if you're thinking about say, moving onto a pump. As an added bonus for me at the event I walked away with a free pump skin from Medtronic Diabetes. I'm happy as pie (I can only assume that being as delicious as they are, that pies are happy). My pump looks vibrant and pretty and I have a renewed interest in mushing buttons to record everything that happens every second of my life (as you are expected to do when you have diabetes).




Friday, 28 March 2014

Help! I think there's a Diabetic in my house!


A guide to recognising the signs that you may be living with a diabetic

  • You find these babies everywhere: Yes, even in the stove. Or your shoes. Or the clean washing. Probably in your hair if you have dreadlocks. Maybe in your hair even without dreadlocks.
  • When numbers come up in any sort of print or screen media, you see your diabetic smiling or frowning, depending on if it's a 'good number' or not. 
  • You regularly play a game where you guess the amount of carbs shown in anything on T.V or in movies
  • You run out of sugar and your diabetic brings out a stash from their bag
  • Mysterious blood spots appear on crockery items and car steering wheels 
  • Sometimes you wake up spooning a bag of jellybeans
  • At 3am, you hide under the blankets when you hear crazed animal eating noises coming from your dark kitchen
  • You used to have spare storage spaces. Now if you try to open your cupboard, you have to duck to avoid being hit by flying syringes/canula sets
  • There's sugar remnants all over your fitness gear
  • You have more sharps containers and sharps in your house than a needle exchange. And you find yourself explaining to guests that you don't really deal drugs...it just looks that way
  • ...but your neighbors actually do think you deal drugs because they overhear conversations about getting high and shooting up
  • Every so often the adult you thought you moved in with regresses to the likeness of a 2 year old, demanding to be fed, crying, and unable to speak to you in proper sentences
  • You once hired out and tried to watch the Blu-Ray version of 'Hansel & Gretel'. All of a sudden you felt a massive pain to the side of your head and came to to see a monster screeching and smashing the disc into shards. You then had to pay the video store a replacement fee. 
  • You can no longer indulge in baking cookies laced with poison as the weekly treat
  • The suspect diabetic wears a weird 'box' that they refuse to take off, and it frequently beeps during the night, keeping you up at all hours. The suspect diabetic sleeps through this. You wonder if its perhaps a lullaby-making machine that helps them sleep.