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  1. Dream a little dream of me...

    Sunday, 30 August 2009

    I think everyone has dreams. I don't think you're really human if you don't. I know I dream. But it seems to me that, so often our dreams seem completely unattainable. I think back on the many, many things I've said to myself that I want to achieve over the years. So many of them seem utterly ridiculous now. For years and years, I've wanted to be an actress. And guess what? I've done it. So that's one box ticked. It may not have been for a particularly great company, or very long lasting, but I did it.

    But, before that, I had a dream that I quite frequently pretend that I never had. It's one that a lot of little girls have at about the age of 5 or 6 I think. I wanted to be a dancer. Quite badly. I went to ballet classes, as a lot of girls do. Actually, if memory serves me, I had a chiropodist who 'strongly recommended' that I went. I had a curvature of the foot that meant I didn't really walk in a straight line, and he thought that would help. And I did ballet classes for a couple of years, and then started tap. Then I stopped. And for the life of me, I can't remember why. I think it was getting too expensive. But over the years, I've done various dancing classes. I did modern dance, where I remember my mum bargaining with me, that I could only go if I had school dinners, which we got for free. Otherwise we couldn't afford it. Now, I did this for a while, and did a few exams and earned a few rosettes even. But again, I stopped. Again, I think I knew it was getting too expensive to carry on.

    After that, when I had my own pocket money, I took up line dancing. It was pretty fashionable at the time, and I was actually good. I won a regional trophy against people I was pretty sure would wipe the floor with me. I passed lots of exams with extremely respectable marks. I had a bash at choreography, and it actually led me to meet the closest thing I've ever had to a boyfriend (but let's leave my miserable excuse of a love life out of it, hey?). But again, I stopped.

    I was a fat kid. I got thrown out of the school dance production auditions because I was too fat. This sounds like something I'm making up, I know. But I swear it's true. I got through to the last audition, only for the head of dance to tell me 'You're too big. You won't keep up with the rest of the cast.' and ask me to leave. And I didn't really dance any more after that. Sure I did a few workshops and whatnot, but all I could think was that I was clumsy and graceless, and too fat for dancing. I had far too many people who called me clumsy, and it really did nothing for my self esteem. Because I believed them.

    Now, I'm sure you're probably wondering what this all has to do with diabetes. And that's a fair question at this point. But stay with me, I'll get to the point eventually.

    So when I went to university, I went to Cumbria Institute of the Arts and did a degree in Performing Arts. This, naturally, included dance. Our dance tutor there put me in the 'high stream' class. I argued with her, and didn't understand why. I found the whole thing extremely frustrating, and shed more than a few tears over it, because I just couldn't keep up. But in retrospect, I know why she did it. I was better than I gave myself credit for. I didn't sign up to take part in dance shows, or take the dance electives, because all I could think was 'fat, clumsy, graceless'. But I'd see what they were doing, and part of me knew I was missing out. But I took up tango for a while, and loved it. Then after uni, I took modern jive classes as something to do in our town, which was in the middle of no-where. It was simply bad timing that I actually got an acting job which took me away, and I then moved to York, so I've not been able to carry it on.

    There are lots of other things I've wanted to be able to do. When I was younger, I imagined that by the time I was 25, I'd be working regularly as an actress, have an amazing boyfriend, two cats and a gorgeous home. I'd be playing at least five instruments, painting, know how to surf. I would be a published author. I would travel, and speak multiple languages. I would know how to fence, do archery, and I'd be an amazing cook, I would be happy going for a run. I would be pretty and slim and confident. Oh, and of course, I would dance. And if I want to stay in line with that, I have about 6 months to complete an awful lot! And it wasn't that long ago that I thought all these things were achievable.

    Now, with diabetes thrown into the mix, I've got a whole load of new things I want to achieve. I want to lose enough weight for my BMI to edge away from its current 29 (I really hate BMI - I think it makes everyone feel bad). I want a brilliant HbA1C. I want perfection in my blood sugars. No hypos. No highs. I want to be able to take everything in my stride. I don't want to ever feel down, depressed, angry, stressed or frustrated about this chronic condition that I didn't ask for and don't want. I want to eat better despite the hang-ups and issues I have with food. I want to exercise plenty. And I want to do it all with grace and humour. I want to make it all look easy and effortless.

    Of course, that's ridiculous. I'd be completely in cloud cuckoo land if I thought I could do all that. But wait! There is hope, as I see it. Of course I can't do all that. I can't be a multi-instrument playing, surfing, quad-lingual, travelling actress with perfect blood sugars, a HbA1C to envy, and probably perfect hair and skin as well. But what I can do is try. Simply TRY to achieve some of these things, and be realistic about what I can and can't do. Self-destructive behaviours don't help anyone, and they simply hurt you. Now, I'm not claiming that I won't ever doubt myself or want to quit trying to do better. What I need to try and realise is that I could do all these things, and be this amazing person, but I'm probably not too bad as I am. Even if I don't think I am.

    So, just to take stock of a few things, I've lowered my HbA1c from 8.8 to 6.0 since June. That's pretty good. I've lost about a stone pre-diagnosis, and I've not put any of it back on. I've lost another couple of pounds. That's an achievement, Becky! I'm going to try and get to the bottom of why I keep hitting the 3's before lunch. Oh, and I plan to send an email to York Dance Sport about their beginner's ballroom classes after the Bank Holiday weekend is over.

    So what about you? Want to join me? What's your dance class?


  2. 200 needles in

    Thursday, 27 August 2009

    I have a box of pen needles on top of the bureau in my bedroom. Every morning I pick out three of them to put in the case of my meter, so that I have all the three I'll need for the day, in case I get delayed somewhere and I'm not at home for dinner. Yesterday there were three left in the box. That was my second box of 100 needles. It was then that it hit me that I've been through 200 needles. In honour of the 200 needles, I was hoping to come up with a list of 200 things that I've learned/realised/observed during the time I used them.

    Then I tried it. It's hard. So I managed 50 things. And here they are...

    1: I actually have to eat. It's rather important.
    2: Chocolate is not the be all and end all of everything.
    3: I really miss the ability to freely drink fruit juice.
    4: Apparently I look like a horse chomping on polos whilst eating glucose tablets (I've been told this by my friend Jenny several times)
    5: When you don't drink coffee, and don't know how to carb count, there's basically nothing at Starbucks that you can freely eat or drink other than bottled water.
    6: When you have a 30% discount card, and go and pick up things for other people in the office relatively frequently, this can really get annoying.
    7: You cannot make a mango fool with Splenda. It makes something rather like scrambled eggs instead.
    8: Suddenly having to do fasting bloods on a night that you've invited 10 people over for food is somewhat inconvenient.
    9: Then finding out that those bloods actually had to be done at the hospital rather than the GP's and needed to make it to the lab within 30 minutes, not 40 hours (meaning they had to be done again) is irritating.
    10: Discovering that the labs at the hospital caught fire the morning you go to get those bloods redone is concerning. Thankfully they were no longer on fire when I was there.
    11: The irony that Innocent Drinks finally made a banana free smoothie which I love, and had become hooked on just before I got diagnosed, which I can't really drink any more, with 29g of carbs and 26g of sugars per 250ml, is not lost on me. (In case you don't know, I cannot stand bananas, and don't tend to eat a lot of fruit and veg, so that smoothie was like sweet lime rain from heaven)
    12: Nairn's oatcakes are amazing. Both regular and ginger.
    13: If you actually have to eat breakfast in the morning, you do need to factor in getting up earlier into the equation. Otherwise you're just late all the time.
    12: The less Cadbury's Dairy Milk you eat, the less chocolately it tastes when you eat it again, the more it tastes of cocoa butter. (Also, bravo to Cadbury's for making Dairy Milk FairTrade now!)
    13: If you accidentally lock a sharps box, it takes the force of a man with a pocket knife to get back into it.
    14: Said man will then tease you about accidentally locking it for quite some time.
    15: When you test and you come up with a score of 12.4mmol (199 mg/dl), two glasses of white wine will get you back down to under 10, and pleasantly drunk and marginally more aggressive than normal whilst playing Mario Kart on the Wii.
    16: When out and about, there is nothing more frustrating than being in bar or restaurant and having only water or diet coke as your non-alcoholic options. How about another diet drink?
    17: People who say that you should get some orange juice instead make me want to bang my head against the wall, no matter how well meaning they might be.
    18: I don't think my fingertips will ever look normal again.
    19: Pins and needles now make me worry, when before it just made me think my foot was asleep.
    20: I still wonder why no matter what time of day it is, and regardless of whether or not there are any children there, the TV in the reception at clinic always plays children's TV.
    21: The guy who does my height, weight, blood pressure et cetera, at clinic clearly has a broken measuring stick because there is just no way I am as short as he says I am, because everyone I know who is shorter than me would have to be ridiculously small!
    22: There is really nothing that can explain how miserable it is when the only long lasting carbs you have access to are some very, very soft digestive biscuits, and having to eat them anyway.
    23: Despite the fact that people have so many complaints about it, I'm very proud to be part of a country that has a system like the NHS, and I really wouldn't want to be without it. I just don't understand a society that could provide health care for all and doesn't. It just seems wrong to me. Give me the NHS even with its faults any day.
    24: I'm not totally sure that my meter reads below 1.9mmol. Either that, or the lowest I seem to go whilst hypo just happens to always be 1.9
    25: I hate having to throw away an insulin pen because it's been out of the fridge more than 28 days when there's still about 100 units left in there.
    26: Frio wallets continue to fascinate me
    27: The online diabetes community is full of pretty fantastic people.
    28: I feel extremely bad about having encouraged people to by 'diabetic' chocolates in a former job at Thorntons. I blame the fact that they expected me to sell lots of things, regardless of what they were because I was their best salesperson. However, I still feel bad!
    29: Having tried a bar of 'diabetic' fudge, I can honestly say that though it doesn't taste bad, or give me any of the rumoured laxative effects, it still has some 'interesting' effects.
    30: I shall not be hurrying back for more.
    31: My meter, the Asencia Contour seems to be deeply unsexy in the world of meters. Although they have said they will be sending me a pink case for my meter. I would have preferred a colour other than pink, but beggars can't be choosers.
    32: When you pick up a box of Splenda, it does seem like it's actually completely empty. If it were it would be a very expensive box of nothing.
    33: Glucotabs taste like slightly stale Refreshers - not unpleasant but odd.
    34: I have an incorrect set of test strips on my prescription, which I sometimes get instead of the correct ones. I still have absolutely no idea how to get rid of the wrong ones, despite telling the pharmacist again and again that I would really like to know how to do this.
    35: Cinemas have absolutely rubbish snacks when you think eating popcorn is probably a bad idea.
    36: Articles in magazines, etc, that just say 'diabetes' and don't differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2 really get my goat.
    37: Re-reading the Babysitter's Club book 'Stacey's Emergency' is quite comic with more knowledge. Also a flashback to being really little and enjoying the BSC series a lot.
    38: I find injecting in any place other than my stomach awkward, and particularly in my arm, a bit painful.
    39: This is weird, because after I left hospital, I really didn't want to inject in my stomach, because I found the idea strange.
    40: I'm oddly proud of the fact I managed to inject in the cinema without anyone noticing.
    41: I found the story of the demise of my friend's diabetic cat, Marmite upsetting. Not because of the fact it was heavily caused by the diabetes, but just because I love cats.
    42: Listening to my body is rather crucial.
    43: When I'm hypo, I find myself obsessing over the strangest things, which become the centre of my universe for that period of time, and then I can't always remember them five minutes afterwards.
    44: A dream that I had (actually last night) in which I forgot to take one shot of insulin, then decided to make up for it by taking two (whilst shopping for a basketball, if I remember correctly), disturbed me greatly. Mostly because it took me a minute or so to realise that I hadn't actually done it
    45: People behind the bar don't seem to ever listen to you when you say DIET coke. This actually caused a friend of mine to yell at one bartender. She then turned to me and asked me if I minded her bringing up my diabetes. I didn't, but it was a bit late then!
    46: Dead test strips get everywhere! I still can't work out how one got inside my sock.
    47: I still don't like needles. Especially if I'm not the one controlling them.
    48: A 45g 70% cocoa Divine Bar is 12g of carbs, and I can't easily eat a whole bar. Which makes it a good choice, as chocolate goes. And it's FairTrade (which is very important to me).
    49: I found myself amazed at achieving the magical 5.6 (90mg/dl) that seems to be on most boxes of glucose meters, today. Interestingly enough, not on the box of mine, which has 5.2
    50: I never appreciated how amazing my pancreas was until it stopped working properly.

  3. What's in your bag?

    Wednesday, 26 August 2009

    So, I am a huge, huge fan of Kerri Sparling's blog, Six Until Me so, when I discovered that not only could I record videos with my laptop, but that she'd thrown down a vlog challenge, I had to have a go.

    So, this is "What's in your bag?" - my first attempt at vlogging

  4. Guilt, with a side order of guilt

    Saturday, 22 August 2009

    I have this problem. I'll mentally compose a post for here, but by the time I actually get a chance to sit down and write it down, I forget what I was going to say in the first place. And then I feel guilty. Which strangely enough, is what has been preying on my mind a lot lately.

    I tend to feel a lot of guilt, over a lot of things. I'm not sure why. But when it comes to the whole subject of guilt, there are two schools of thought that I always seem to remember. Number one is that guilt is normal, but you shouldn't let it eat you alive. Number two was something that I read in a book several years ago. Which was 'guilt is a self-indulgence'. Battling between these two ideas often ends up with my feeling guilty about feeling guilty. Which can get dizzying.

    But, what have I got to feel guilty about, you might ask? Oh, just about everything. If I eat lunch too late, having a lie in on a Saturday morning, which means I didn't probably eat breakfast early enough. Taking a lift home from work that was offered, instead of walking, which means I probably didn't exercise enough that day. Not drinking enough water. Forgetting to log down my BS scores for 5 days, choosing to leave them in my meter instead, which means I couldn't see any patterns forming.

    If I have a score that's over 7 mmol/L, I'm cursing myself for what I could have eaten to push myself up. If I'm anything lower than 4, I'm telling myself that I've chosen foods that were too high GI, or been irresponsible for leaving it too long without eating, or not testing enough. If I have a snack, I beat myself for a lack of self control, and for being 'bad'. Any hypo is obviously a source of feelings of failure.

    When they weren't sure whether I had T1 or T2, I was hoping and praying that it would be confirmed as T1. Not that I wanted either one, obviously, but because of T1 being an auto-immune condition, which means there was less way I could be blamed for it. Now, please don't read into this that I think people with T2 are to blame for their diabetes. I don't, but so many people do seem to think that, and I, in my selfishness, wasn't sure that I could cope with that. But of course, I remain unconvinced that I didn't in some way, do something to cause my T1.

    Pre-diagnosis, I did, as many people do, lose a lot of weight. I'm actually fairly convinced that I lost a lot of it on the days leading up to going into hospital. I lost about a stone. And of course, on one level, I'm fairly pleased with this, because I needed and wanted to lose some weight. But now, every time someone congratulates me on losing it, I feel bad, because it wasn't through my own efforts. And even though I'm now the thinnest I've been in years, apparently my BMI is still 29, which makes me heavily into overweight on those charts, and on the border of being obese.

    I have clinic on Monday, and wondering about what my A1c is going to be is driving me crazy. I was at 8.8 last time I had it done, and I'm hoping so badly that I've brought it down, but I'm not convinced.

    So what do you do with it all? I have absolutely no idea...


  5. Big fish, little fish, cardboard box

    Tuesday, 18 August 2009

    Do you remember that feeling of being an extremely small fish in a very, very large pond? I think everyone goes through this at some point. Going to 'big' school, or uni, or starting a new job are some that spring to mind. I know I've been there, done that all before. What I didn't expect, however, was how big the 'pond' of the online diabetes community would be.

    It's huge. Some of it's more helpful than other bits, that's true, but there's still lots and lots of it. I've found some amazing stuff, and come across some people that really make me feel optimistic. But as is the way with me when I come across a community like this one, I want to be a part of it. I want to have my say. I want to try and get creative. But the problem that comes to me is that being a tiny fish, I'm not sure that anyone is necessarily interested in what I've got to say - and what do I have to say that hasn't been said before anyway?

    I think really, it's all a matter of finding your feet by stepping in the footprints of those who've walked ahead of you. Or, without sounding utterly pretentious, seeing how those who do it well do it. Having access to the internet is a wonderful resource, and personally, I would hate to have come into this before the internet was about. There's something extremely comforting in knowing that somewhere out there is an account from someone who's been through whatever you're going through.

    This is useful for me. I won't ever get this time back again, and knowing how I feel right now might well be beneficial for me to look back on 1,2,5,10 years down the line. I don't know whether I'll ever write something that's useful to somebody else, but who knows? I do hope, though that I'll be able to forge friendships with some of the great people that I've come across so far. Because, well....they're great. (Redundant statement is redundant, I know)

    In other news, I have made the realisation that, quite frequently, Rob Lowe looks like he's made out of wax.


  6. Drooling over my new laptop

    Monday, 17 August 2009

    Oh, I am a very happy girl. My lovely, new laptop has arrived! I think this will mean a much more frequent level of updates on here. I'm very excited, because I've never owned a new computer before - whole new world. Fantastic.

    Just done my 2 hour post dinner test. 3.6. My levels have been all over these past few days. Down in the 3's one minute, then 9's and 11's the next. I wish it would just make up its mind. I just don't like jumping around like that.

    And now I've got a headache coming on. A whole different kind of fantastic.

    A quick hello to any of the lovely ladies over from the Chronic Babe forum who might be reading. I highly recommend having a look over there. It's full of amazing young women, who are very friendly and welcoming. It's a great community, which is just starting up.

    I plan to make a more interesting a contentful (is that a word? I doubt it, but it'll do) update tomorrow. Now I plan to go and treat this headache. Hmph.


  7. Dear Diary...

    Saturday, 8 August 2009

    Organisation. Yeah, it's not my strongest attribute. I don't write down messages, because I think I'll remember them. If I write something down, then I usually can't read it. Or if I can read it, it's usually on a post-it (someone else's, because I've lost my own pad), or the back of an envelope that I will then lose. 'Dammit, I meant to do that!' is quite often my battle-cry. Usually at either 7pm when whatever shop I've meant to go to has shut, or at 2am, when it's too late to do anything about anything.

    Now don't get me wrong, I have good intentions. I constantly think that 'Becky, you really must get yourself sorted out'. I have a diary (because it comes free with my Equity membership), a 'things to do today' book, and other such things. But I'm just one of those people. I can totally organise other people. When I was working on Shrew, people did actually ask me daily how I held all the information in my head. But that's other people. When it comes to myself, I'm terrible. I recently sat on a cheque for 5 months. Not literally, because it had actually made it from underneath my laundry basket to the pinboard over my desk, which is a major improvement. But it had stayed pinned to the wall for months, because I don't 'do' banks, and 'going to the bank' doesn't rate highly on my list of things to do in a day. And so it would slip my mind a lot. I also had another cheque from a previous job at Thorntons, that they didn't give me until it was practically out of date. So when I did take to the bank (fairly promptly for me as well) it was out of date, and they wouldn't take it. So now I have to try and remember to call human resources at my old job . Any bets how long that will take me to do?

    So this is how I quite often find that I've left my log-book of results in a stack of papers at work, usually along with my mp3 player. This is also how I have nearly two full sharps boxes that need disposing of sat under my coffee table, since I have not yet remembered to call the council to arrange disposal.

    In the past I've never really had to deal with prescriptions. Sure, I've dealt with getting renewals on my inhalers, but to be honest, I used to get several at a time that would last me til they expired. And then before I had my free prescriptions, I actually used to use my Dad's, because they were exactly the same, and he got them free because he's over 60 (bad, I know, but still...). So actually having to remember about getting prescriptions filled, to book appointments to get blood drawn or similar, and then to actually GO to said appointments is something of a brave new world to me. It's awkward, and I've made a bit of a tit of myself a couple of times. I've dealt with angry receptionists at my GP's, who have actually made me cry. As I said in my last post, I've had one of my truly amazing friends drive from Pocklington to York to pick up and fill my test strips prescription, because I'd miscalculated when I'd run out, and would have been in a bit of a jam.

    I think it's actually fairly overwhelming to suddenly have to deal with booking appointments and handling prescriptions when you've never done it before. Nobody actually tells you how to do it, and you feel a prat asking. For instance, I really want to get more pots of test strips on my prescription, rather than just two pots, so I don't have to ring up as often, and for them to take the wrong test strips off my repeats, because I don't want to end up with the wrong ones again. But how do I go about sorting this out? I have absolutely no idea. Can I do it over the phone? Then if so, who do I call? Receptionist, GP, DSN? I know that I've been told I'm entitled and encouraged to get a flu shot (and supposedly one for this ridiculous swine flu thing), but do I arrange it, or does someone send me a letter automatically? And how am I supposed to know either way?

    Please somebody, write a guide to navigating these mazes for those of us who prior to diabetes have had practically no contact with this sort of thing! Then I can try and get on with sorting the rest of my life out. And get on to calling the human resources department of Thorntons.


    Also, for the record, you should definately try Diet Cola with a hint of Almond from Tesco. It's really yummy, and reminds me of Diet Vanilla Coke, which I miss.

  8. Friends. They're amazing. But I think sometimes you don't actually realise how good you've got it, and how wonderful they really are until you're in it deep. And I don't just have it good. I have it great. I just don't say it often enough.

    If it wasn't for my friends, I don't know what would be going on with me right now. It was one of the most wonderful people I have in my life who pushed, urged and damn near kicked me to go and see a doctor in the first place. It was my friends who sat with me in hospital til 12:30 in the morning so I wouldn't be alone. They were the ones who made me laugh til I wanted to cry, who burned me cds so I wouldn't be bored, brought me books, spent hours on the phone with me when they couldn't physically be there.

    It's been my friends who've asked me loads of questions so they know what's going on, but who've also known when to back off and give me some space. Some who have sat with me and listened to me as I've cried and moaned. Who drove an hour each way to go and pick up test strips for me when I'd been a complete plonker and forgotten to put in a prescription, and was manically worried that I was going to run out over the weekend.

    It's been friends that I've called when I've been alone having a hypo, and just wanted someone to know. They've been the ones who've then said that they'll call me or come and find me if they've not seen or heard from me in ten minutes. They've been the ones who've known when it's right to make jokes, and when it's not appropriate. They've not been the Food Police on me, but simply had gentle curiosity, which I'll been forever grateful for.

    I've been surprised by how much people care who I perhaps hadn't anticipated to. And I've felt unbelievably humbled by it.

    Now I don't want you to go on thinking that my family haven't been great as well, but though I talk to them a lot, I don't see them very often. It's my friends that are my second family - the one I chose, and the ones I live and work with every day.

    So this is my small way of saying thank you to each one of them. You know who you are - I love you, and I salute you all for being completely amazing people that my life would be that much poorer without.

    Thank you so much. I couldn't do this without you.


  9. Advocacy

    Sunday, 2 August 2009

    Greetings all.

    So I've just been away for a week with work. Every year my work runs a Summer Theatre School, which has about 100 people living in a boarding school for a week doing all kinds of theatre courses. All staff help run this, so that's where I've been, and why it's been on the quiet side.

    Interesting though, was that on the Friday before this all kicked off, I had booked myself a (very) long overdue appointment to get my hair cut. Now, I'm a real cheapskate, and I don't like paying to get my hair cut if I'm not getting any major restyling done, but I decided for once to indulge myself a little bit. So, off I go, and I'm chatting away with the chap as he's cutting, and we were talking about my work, and how we're doing a big fundraising effort in September. I told him about the parachute jump that was going to happen, and how I'd considered doing it, but that I was probably not going to be able to do it. He obviously asked why, and I told him that I had T1 diabetes, and that they like you to have good control and not have a lot of hypos before they'll let you jump. Lo and behold, it turned out his 15 year old cousin had been diagnosed T1 a few months ago, and was really having a hard time of it. Poor bloke really wanted to know how he could help him, and though he was pretty well informed, naturally had lots of questions. So I answered as best I could, and gave him my email. I hope that was the right thing to do, and wasn't me doing something that wasn't my place.

    In other news, I'm thinking it might be time for the lantus again. For the most part, my numbers have been raised. Luckily though, I've got clinic at the end of the month, and I'll be able to talk that through then. I've also had my appointment letter for my retinal screening come through. Ironically, just the day before a letter came from SpecSavers, saying it had been two years since my last eye exam, and that regular eye exams can be crucial in detecting things like diabetes...