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  1. Getting a sense of humour...

    Monday, 10 February 2014

    I consider myself to be a fairly well read and educated person. I'm also surrounded by a lot of very well educated, well informed and well read people an awful lot of the time. Sometimes it seems that however well educated and well informed a person is, you can still find things that surprise you.

    Case in point - I read A Christmas Carol when I around twelve years old, and thoroughly enjoyed it. As adaptations of the book go, I maintain that The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of the best, even though I'm thoroughly aware it makes plenty of changes - it feels the most faithful to the book's spirit. No pun intended. 

    Just before Christmas I found myself having a discussion about A Christmas Carol, and more specifically The Muppet Christmas Carol with some friends. Someone admitted that because they love the Muppets version so much they sometimes forget that in the original there is only the one Marley brother. Which made me stop and think, then I realised that I had done the same thing myself more than once. How about that, when I'm actually well noted amongst people who know me as having a ridiculous memory for facts of this kind?

    Between us we decided that because the Muppets version was one of the most loved, and most watched adaptation, it was often what people came to know first, so no wonder they're surprised when they go back to the source material and see that something's a bit different. 

    Now, as amazing as the Muppets are, you might wonder why I'm talking about this. I have a point. 

    See this?

    This has been floating around Facebook again today. I've seen it before, and no doubt I will see it again. I know it's not just been on my newsfeed as well, as I've seen various members of the DOC addressing it. 

    'It's just a joke!' I've seen people saying. 'You're reading too much into it', when I point out that I find it offensive.

    I have a sense of humour. A good one. I know people often say that when they're trying to defend the fact that they don't get jokes. I get it. I get what you think is funny about this, but I'm sorry, it's just not. 

    This is exactly the sort of misinformed 'humour' that perpetuates myths about diabetes as whole, regardless of whether it's Type 1 or Type 2. There is so much ignorance and misinformation about there about what diabetes is, cause and treatment that does anyone think that 'jokes' like this are really helping anyone?

    Like with my point about A Christmas Carol, if a person's first point of contact with any sort of information is incorrect, and they then hear that repeated over and over, what do you think they'll believe? You only need to do a quick flick through your television, or a quick search on Youtube to see people making these sorts of 'jokes' again and again and again (and again and again - I could go on). It becomes mainstream. And no matter what you think, it still seems as though blaming anyone with diabetes for their condition is still an acceptable target. Couple that with the often downright dreadful portrayal of diabetes as a whole in fiction, and the blunders and idiocy of mainstream journalism, is it becoming clear now why I, and many others don't find this sort of joke funny?

    Would you make this joke if it was something that impacted you or someone you love? What if it was about something that you cared passionately about people understanding and getting right in their heads?

    When I saw this appear on Facebook today, I took to explaining to a few people exactly why I don't like it. And to their credit, they seem to have listened to me, so this is not me 'having a go' at them. Really, it's not. They're my friends and I love them. But things like this, for all the reasons I've just said, make me sad. They make me angry and tired and just want to sigh. Some days I just don't have the energy to fight these battles. So maybe you'll excuse me when seeing multiple people 'like' this picture on Facebook upsets me. Maybe you'll forgive me if I don't see the funny side.


  2. WDD14 and Cinderella's pumpkin

    Friday, 15 November 2013

    I talked recently about going down to London for World Diabetes Day. I did. and it was great.

    I got to London on the evening of the 13th, which meant I got to join in with a JDRF Type 1 Discovery Evening - I'd always wanted to go to one, but travel and finances have always prevented me. Boy was I glad to be there! The speakers were excellent, and included Fredrick Debong, from mySugr,  Kyle Rose (of Team Type 1, Delta PM Diabetes and about a million other places), an update on artificial pancreas research, and diabetes poetry. I ever got to plug my show quickly, and hand out a few flyers and press releases. Oh and a free bar. Excellent. 

    On the 14th, I woke up, and joined in with the #wddchat13 24 chat, still lying in my sleeping bag on my friend's settee, with her cat still staring at me.

    And we were off! I had people responding to me, loads of which had already been going for a couple of hours already. It was great. As were my levels that morning. 7.6 (136) - I'll take that happily. I threw on my Hello Kitty onesie, and got on the underground.I'll be honest that, with my tube-anxiety, I thought I handled myself very well all day in that regard!

    I met up with Shelley, the wonderful founder of Circle D and we hit the streets. We weren't really trying to collect money, we were more about making people look at us, and hopefully ask questions. We got into some great conversations with members of a London bus tour company, an owner of a souvenir stall, a taxi driver and a bunch of commuters. We joined in on a JDRF coffee morning. Then I sadly had to part ways with my other Type Onesies, who had to go back to work. I found myself hypo in a coffee shop, and whilst I was waiting to come back up again, I joined back in with the chat.

    I dropped in and out throughout the day. I went walking down the river and took pictures of buildings that had gone blue for the evening. It was great. I got back on the train to go home, and chatted away. As I pointed out...

     I really did feel tuned in and switched on throughout the day. I love the DOC, I really do, and I've made some wonderful friends over the past few years, but I do think that my location sometimes makes it difficult to join in things like DSMA. Much as I want to join in, I can't ever really justify staying awake to participate, because there's always work the next morning. So the 24 hour chat was a revelation to me. I met all sorts of new people, who cared about what I had to say, and I was fascinated with their answers to the questions. As I travelled back, I was tweeting away. And then it went past midnight. World Diabetes Day was over for me. 

    And the world continued. And my levels were RUBBISH by the time I got home. I was not enjoying the glue-mouthed 17's (300's). And that's the thing, I supposed. WDD is just one day - there's still the other 364 every year, where there's less visibility for us as a community, there's less of everything. Or is there?

    When midnight hits, and we leave the ball, we're still like Cinderella. We might have to put our ball gowns away, and our carriage might be a pumpkin again, but we're still there despite all the finery being put away. And we've still got a job to do, and it's an important one. We've still got to keep supporting each other, managing to stay alive, and stay strong. Even if it's in a slightly less celebrated way for the other 364 days.

  3. On the road again

    Saturday, 2 November 2013

    Just can't wait to get on the road again...

    Well, on the train, anyway!

    I'd been trying to make this work for a while now, but you can imagine how thrilled I was that shortly after my first Blue Fridays picture for November was taken, all the pieces fell into place to send me southwards for World Diabetes Day!

    Hoorah! Now, I will admit I am far from the biggest fan of London. I'm a northern girl through and through - it's noisy, dirty, busy and expensive, and there aren't enought trees. But many of the people I love tend to end up there, so I try to go when I can. But it's been a while. 

    So when my wonderful friend Shelley, of Circle D fame said that she was running a Type Onesie Day for World Diabetes Day, I wanted to do everything I could to be there. And yesterday, all the required bits came together to make it all systems go. So I shall be donning a Hello Kitty onesie and parading around the streets of London, praying that it doesn't rain! 

    What is also wonderful is that it's turned out that due to timings of travel, I will be in the Big Smoke in time to join in the London Type One Discovery Evening on the 13th. I've never been in the right place at the right time to join in one, so it seems things are very much on my side at the moment! UK DOC, do let me know if you're going to be along, so I can say hi!

    On a side note, it would be great to see your photos filling my inbox soon. In case you missed it last time, I'm very keen to end my show with hope, and would love you to be involved. I am putting together a video, which I am inviting you to be a part of. If you would like to be part of the video, all you need to do is take a picture of yourself holding a sign with your name on it, and the words 'I live in hope'. Then email it to me. Simple as that.  I really hope to see your pictures soon so I can start putting this together for a brilliant end to things!

  4. Taking the stage

    Wednesday, 23 October 2013

    So, back in May - all the way back in Diabetes Blog Week I teased about a project that I had in the pipeline. No, really I did. And since then, I've been working away behind closed doors, and letting my ideas bubble away. 

    Now I'm ready to share them, and I hope, DOC, that you'll be pleased with what I'm planning. 

    Over the past four years that I've been part of the DOC, I've seen an amazing array of advocacy, from the ridiculous to the sublime, which have all been beautiful and marvellous in their own special ways. What has made them all so individually wonderful and perfect in my eyes is that all the people involved used what they were great at to make them brilliant. Which has had me thinking. What do I think I am good at? What are my skills?

    Most of you probably know that I write for the stage. I've been doing it seriously since 2005, and I've been fortunate enough to see several of my scripts brought to life. But before I ever thought about writing, it was performing that I loved. I still love it - I used to perform professionally, so I certainly hope I still love it! I found myself thinking about the skills I have, and how I could use them in advocacy.

    I've been planning to launch myself into creating and producing my own theatre for a good few years, and decided that this project I'd been working on would be the one that I would use to launch myself with.

    I wrote a show, telling a story. My story. Using this blog as a starting point, I have written a one woman show of my experiences from diagnosis onwards, and I'm going to be performing it. In less than thirty days time. Yikes.

    I plan for it to be warm, funny, engaging, and very, very honest. There's a lot of content that I've never spoken about here, and working on it so far has been an unusual and surprising experience. I also really want it be a success. And there are a couple of ways in which I could use your help, DOC.

    Firstly, I need to start reaching people to tell them about this project. Wherever you are in the world, as the people who are passionate about the heart of this, you're invaluable. If you would take the time to check out the website of White Tree Theatre, my new professional operating name (the site is still a work in process!), follow on Twitter and like on Facebook, I would really appreciate it. If you have a friend that you think would be interested and you tell them, that would be even more amazing. I'm going to be blogging about the development over the following month with a more theatrical slant over there as well, so if that's of interest to you, it might be worth a few minutes of your time.

    Secondly, and very bluntly, if you're reading this and you're in the UK, take a moment to consider buying tickets to see it performed. I'll be performing at Friargate Theatre, in York, (where I happen to work) on 22nd and 23rd November at 19:30. Tickets are only £5.00, and you can either buy them online here, or you can call 01904 613000 during office hours. Since I run the Box Office, you might even get to speak to me! I'm keeping ticket prices low, as I'm planning to run a collection on the two evenings to split between several D-Charities. I'm not aiming to make a profit from this, but I still want to reach as many people as possible.

    As I'm performing this in November, as my contribution to Diabetes Awareness Month, I want to be able to offer as much information as possible, even if it's not discussed outright within the performance. I'm going to have an information stand at the theatre, and I'm going to be running a Q&A after both performances. Is there something in particular you think that I should have there to offer, or someone I should be in touch with? While I might have already thought of it, there's no guarantee that I will do, so do please drop me an email and let me know if there's something you think I could miss that I shouldn't.

    Lastly, and I really hope this is something that the DOC will want to be involved with. I am very adamant that this show ends with hope. I don't want it to be depressing or pitiful in any way. I want to end with hope, and with that in mind, I am putting together a video, which I am inviting you to be a part of. If you would like to be part of the video, all you need to do is take a picture of yourself holding a sign with your name on it, and the words 'I live in hope'. Then email it to me. Simple as that. 

    Well, there you go, world. I've let this loose now - we'll see what happens next.

  5. What have you done today?

    Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Pride's a funny thing. When I consider it, it seems like I always think of it as a bad thing - it has a lot of negative associations. Walking home today, however, I found myself thinking of that song by M People, which asks us to think about 'What have you done today to make you feel proud?'. 

    Interesting question.

    A friend of mine shared the picture on the left on Facebook a few days ago. They thought it was disturbing, but I can relate to it. 

    This past week I've rather felt like I've had all my blood transfused with this. I've been running high for several days, and with the beginning of feeling real-person sick, I was not doing well. Sleep was poor or non existent, coupled with all the physical and emotional drags of running high. My temper was short, my nerves were frayed. Every weekday morning, I wrestled with whether or not I had the energy to get up and go to work, when I felt like I'd gone through a mangle, and all I wanted to do was sleep and desperately try and recharge.

    I hate letting people down. I got up, I walked to work, I worked the day, I walked home rinse and repeat for a few days. And whilst I am so, so thankful to the people who have put up with me whilst I've been, at times, less than useless, I realised today that I am allowed to be proud of myself. That it's ok. Pride can be a good thing, when you take a moment to think about it. These few days have been rubbish, but I survived them. I am still alive.

    Doesn't sound like a lot, does it? Some days it feels like it, though. And there will be some of you reading this that will know exactly what I mean because you've just had one of those days too. 

    Be proud, my friend - you've survived too.

  6. Oh lancing device. I hardly knew ye.

    I don't know if it's me, but I just can't make a lancer last for over a year. I've just said goodbye to yet another one. Is it just me? I know I use that bad boy multiple times of day, but it feels like it should last longer than it does.

    I had to resort to my standby box of Unistiks because, ladies and gentleman -  

    The spring is dead.

    And it's bloody annoying. I now have a collection of utterly useless lancing devices in my kit boxes - I don't know why I keep them, I suppose I think they must have a use, but all they do is rattle around the box, sitting there, being useless. 

    There must be a better way of building a lancer that doesn't revolve around a spring that will eventually wear out, surely? Come on engineers, get it together. Or if it already exists, and I'm just being blind, please someone point me in the right direction!

    Because I don't want to have to carry around a bunch of single use lancets until a new one turns up!


  7. The Good Glucotab Guide

    Sunday, 21 July 2013

    If there's one thing I've found that you can't get around, it's the inevitable fact that you will, however hard you try to avoid it, go hypo in a public place. We all do - I mean, come on, it's not like you can spend your life hidden away under a rock or in a cave. If you ever leave your home, you will go hypo publicly.  What can vary greatly, of course, is the drama which unfolds, or the reception that you get from wherever you are. 

    I've noticed that reactions from people you don't know when you're hypo can be absolutely fascinating. Probably moreso in hindsight, when my head is back on straight again. Some people and places are fabulous. I've never encountered anyone responding in a truly hideous manner, (although one or two that were a bit baffling - La Tasca, I'm looking at you...) but I know other people have. 

    What I'm starting to think is that there should be some way of rating different places. A sort of Good Star Guide for PWD reception, if you will. The Michelin Star equivalent. Hmm...that place got a four-and-a-half Glucotab rating, I must try and go there next Friday... You get the general idea, I'm sure.

    I started thinking about this because of something that happened to me this week that got me thinking.  It's been really, really hot here in the UK over the last week or so, which was more surprising because of it coming off the back of what felt like an unbelievably long winter. It's been floating around the upper 20's (which I believe is somewhere in the region of 80+ degrees Farenheit) - which I know isn't necessarily that high for some of my US-based friends, who I've seen talking about temperatures of 100 degrees Farenheit - around 40 celsius (thank you internet! I'd never know what any non UK based measurement was if it wasn't for you!) , but for me, and the UK in general, this is hot. Personally, I'm not really built for anything above the low 20's without feeling like I'm melting. I think sometimes that I must have a busted internal radiator. When I'm cold, I'm cold, and when I'm hot, I am HOT. I swear I have been a walking advertisement for Magicool recently. Yes, I know it's basically just water in can, but that stuff makes me pass for someone you can stand the company of, so I don't care. But the point is that as well as being a grumpy sod when I'm hot, I've found, like so many others out there, that the heat messes with my sugars. Thankfully we seem to be cooling off somewhat now, but I've spent the past week or so walking around feeling constantly hypo, and often actually being hypo. Which is what led to me nearly passing out from a hypo in Paperchase earlier this week. 

    I'd gone down in my lunch hour to go and buy my dad a birthday card, so nothing too strenuous, nothing too outlandish. Thankfully one of my lovely work friends had also come with me, looking for birthday presents. I started feeling a bit wobbly halfway there, but had chalked it up as it just being too darned hot. But I tested just before going into the shop, and came up as 3.4 (61 for US money) - great. So I popped into the shop next to it and grabbed a drink, because I really couldn't face any more glucotabs after the amount I'd downed lately. 

    So I wander around the shop some more, until I realise that my head is in a complete haze. I feel like I've stuck my face into a smoke machine. My friend is talking to me, and I know that what she's saying should be something that I can understand, but I have absolutely no idea what that is, because it doesn't sound like english. I'm very, very hot, and I can feel things starting to get a bit strange. 

    Luckily my friend insisted that I sit down. Which was a good move, because I think I was about to pass out - despite already having treated the hypo, I'd dropped down further to 2.3 (41) in about five minutes. So not ideal. Glucotabs it is then. 

    I ended up sitting against the wall by the door of the shop for about twenty to twenty five minutes. The staff were lovely, and didn't seem in the least bit concerned that I was blocking up their nice display of cards. They brought me water in a funky mug, and were very insistent that I let them know if there's anything else they can do for me. Excellent marks, Paperchase. They even offered me a chair, which was lovely, but I was happy enough on the floor - can't fall any further than you already are that way!

    So I would say that Paperchase would score very highly in the Good Glucotab Guide. Thinking about it now, good marks would also go to my Sainsburys Local, where a lovely cashier helped me when I was hypo by offering me sweet tea and opening up what I'd just bought to deal with my hypo, because my hands were shaking too much. HMV would also score highly, when I was VERY low and realised I was out of all glucotabs, as one of their cashiers gave me a Mars bar from the counter and made me eat it, not caring that I was holding up the queue (I did pay for it later, for the record!). Turns out he was a Type 1 himself, and used the same meter as me. I do love moments like that. They make you feel less alone. 

    So there are your opening pages of the Good Glucotab Guide - I might have to keep adding to this one...

    Oh, and I did find a card for my dad. Right above my head for where I was sitting.