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  1. Reevaluating the goalposts

    Wednesday, 31 March 2010

    It's a strange thing, work. In general, we spend the majority of our week there. I know I do. I was reading this post over at Olivejooice about work, and it got me thinking. I've worked a whole bunch of jobs since I was old enough to be legally employed. I've been a waitress, a dishwasher, worked in retail with clothes, jewellery, newspapers, toys, electronics, chocolate, and food. I've worked in a library, I've stuffed envelopes. I've worked for the Health Protection Agency. I've been a secretary for an estate agent. I've been an actress. I've been a professional viking, and a professional fake archaeologist. Oh, and then the job that I do now. I'm also sure I've missed a few off there, but I'm not going to go through old CV's to make sure I've got them all! I think it's clear though, that I've had a lot of jobs. I don't like being unemployed. I haven't constantly had a job, even when I was doing my degree. But it's not far off the mark to say that for most of my employable life, I've been working. So to say that I spend the majority of my time at work is probably true.

    I find it strange when people talk about their 'colleagues' or 'work friends'. To me, work is so much my life that most of my friends are my 'work friends'. And I love them. I don't know how I would have coped this past year if I'd worked somewhere else. Particularly if I'd still been working for my previous employer. I'm not going to name names publicly, but I could see my getting written up for 'not being able to work to standard'. I don't have much pleasant to say about that company. 

    But I feel safe where I work. Not only do my best friends work there, but pretty much everyone there understands that sometimes I need to do things a bit differently. Which I appreciate so much. For the most part, if they don't understand something, they ask. They know there are Glucotabs in my bag. That sometimes a really bad hypo can leave me sluggish, and if I'm trying really hard to chug a Diet Coke, it's most likely for the caffeine to try and wake my brain up.

    I hate feeling useless. I've been having (for me) some real highs as of late. I don't do double figures normally. But they make me feel anxious, jumpy, drained. I can't concentrate well. I get aggressive. When I'm low, I can be just as drained. I still can't concentrate. I can get weepy and scared. None of these things are particularly conducive to being productive in a worth environment. Of course, I'm always trying to control these numbers, and get rid of the highs and the lows, but sometimes that's just not possible. If you're reading, you probably know how it is (if you don't - it is difficult).

    I like my workplace. But as much as I do, I'm not going to work there forever. Eventually, I will want a new challenge. What do I do then? I have several friends online who have told me about being 'let go' because of their diabetes, or who just haven't been able to find work in the first place. Some won't tell a potential employer. It's certainly something to think about.

    I know in the UK I'm covered by the Disability Discrimination Act. This is interesting, because I don't like to think that I have a disability. Not that I have any problems with the concept of disability, but more because a) diabetes seems a strange thing to consider a disability, and b)I didn't think that it would ever happen to me. I guess no-one ever does. I've been told that, when applying for a job, if I say that I have a disability, in some instances I'm entitled to an automatic interview. I'm not sure how to feel about that. Do I look at it with the view of 'I don't want any favours, or pity. I just want to be judged on my merit alone.' or do I look at it as a foot in the door? I still don't know, as it's not something I've been thinking about for a long time. 

    I'd like to say that diabetes doesn't change my ability to work to 100% all the time. But I'm forced to admit that it's just not true. I find myself thinking back to when I was completing my undergrad degree (BA Hons Performing Arts, if you're not aware), and the sorts of hours I used to work, and the kind of things that were required of me, in order to get a good mark. I'll give you an example from my second year. I was rehearsing a community theatre show for my own degree. I was also working as Deputy Stage Manager and Lighting Designer and Operator for a third year performance of Jesus Christ, Superstar at the same time. That was what we did. You were pretty much expected to do both performance and technical roles for third year performances. It wasn't necessarily written in the course syllabus, but it was part of the way things were. It was how you got better opportunities. It was how you learned. How you got ready for your own third year shows. So the production 'week', which was really three days, went something like this:

    Wednesday day I had my own rehearsals all day. I probably got some food before going to see a performance of Sarah Kane's Blasted, which was in the main house theatre. After that show went down, begin the turn-around for Superstar. By the time the set is in, which is a LOT of heavy lifting, it was probably gone midnight. Then most of the production crew goes home, and myself and the Stage Manager begin rigging the lights. If you've never worked with stage lighting, these lights are heavy. Hanging them over a gantry, which has a low ceiling and about an eighteen foot drop, is hot, rather sweaty (sorry for the lovely mental image) work. We didn't finish this, but got told we had to leave because the theatre manager wanted to lock up, at about two thirty or three in the morning. I walk home, and after showering, get to bed at about four. Up at six, to be in by seven thirty. I think some food might have been eaten. More rigging, and trying to start focussing the lights. Go to my own rehearsals at ten. Break at one, but have to carry on focussing and trying to plot the lights onto the board. Back to my own rehearsals at two. Well, let's just say that I'm running on adrenaline and sugar, with no real break till gone past midnight again. Back again in the morning before nine. Show nights and my own rehearsals, until Saturday night, when we take it all down, and life goes on.

    Could I do that now? No. I don't know if I could safely manage one day of that. At the time, it was all something I could just power through. It was all part of the game, and was 'hardening me up' to actually go into the profession. And in my ideal world, I would probably still be chasing acting work. But it's hard to get, and I seriously wonder if I'd be able to get a decent contract now, if I decided to passionately pursue it again. I'm not sure I would. I don't think employment law is quite the same in the arts, since they can turn me down for a job simply because they don't like the shade of my hair.

    But does that mean I give up on the things I want to do? No it does not. Maybe I don't have good enough control to chase acting work again. Or maybe I've just gone past that point. Maybe I'll come back to it again. I just don't know. That's what's exciting about life really. I have my dreams, my goals, and my aims. I know what my ideal would be by the time I'm forty. I'm not going to let diabetes stop me doing any of the things I want to do. But it might be that I have to re-evaluate things a little. 

    The only person on this planet that can give me the ultimate 'no' is me. I'm not saying no.

    Oh, and in case you're wondering about the turtle, it was a present off our Education Assistant, Rosie, who left us today. She also brought in brownies. She carb counted out the recipe for me. Like I say - my work friends aren't 'work friends'. They're just my friends.

  2. Slipping through my fingers

    Tuesday, 30 March 2010

    Come Thursday it will have been eleven months. Eleven months of all of this. And the thing that is bothering me the most right now? My fingers. They feel absolutely shot. I'm starting to form callouses on certain ones. Yes I rotate. But what I've found lately is that I can't get half my fingers to bleed. The ones that will are so UNBELIEVABLY sore. I picked up Cassie (my beautiful guitar) last night, to practice, and had to put her down after five minutes. I tried playing Lucy, one of Andrew's guitars, who has a lighter action, but couldn't even handle that. Very upsetting.

    What else I have come to notice, however, is that whichever fingers won't bleed when I'm lancing them for testing, will then insist on bleeding on close to everything that's in the vicinity. Now, this seems familiar, I'm sure. It's not the first time I've mentioned it. But when you look and there's now blood on your mouse, keyboard, the telephone, the light switch...the list goes on. 

    I'm finding that my lancing device is not my best friend at the moment. Normally, I'll do nothing but sing Bayer's praises, but this thing is really trying my patience. Even set to the deepest level, it's a real swing and a miss as to whether it will get any blood out at all. Which is why I'm alternating with using the supposedly 'comfort' single use lancets that I bought a box of online last year. I don't trust alternate site testing, since every time I've tried it, it has ended up only hurting me more. So much for 'giving your fingers a break' as it's marketed in the pamphlets I've picked up from clinic in the past.

    Testing hurts. I don't like doing it. But I do it because, one, it needs to be done. And two, if I don't, I just sit and worry and end up doing it anyway. I don't think I'm the least bit obsessed, but there's no way I could cut down to testing less times than I do. Which, in case anyone is interested, is usually 7-10 times a day. I remember a particularly interesting exchange with my endo where he told me I could just get away with testing twice a day. Needless to say, I told him I wouldn't be comfortable with that, and it wouldn't be happening. 

    But please fingers...get it together? Before it's not just my ability to bleed that slips away, but the last vestiges of my sanity as well?

  3. DiDkA - a call for help

    Monday, 29 March 2010

    If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know about my involvement with DiDkA. If not, then check out these posts. DiDkA is my major soap box style project. And this week we need your help.

    We're looking for volunteers for our Big Dipper Weekend, which is running over the Easter four-day weekend. If you're able to help with either project listed here, please do. If you know someone who could, please tell them, Facebook or retweet this. We're trying to make a difference here, but we need as much help as we can get in order to get this off the ground. If you think that this is worthwhile, please help.

  4. Yesterday

    Sunday, 28 March 2010

    I promised a bit more detail about yesterday's Forum Meet Up. Well, I'll just say that I very much enjoyed it. Getting to meet other people who knew what I was talking about was very refreshing. 

    Sweepstakes on levels and comparing everyone's kit was ridiculously interesting, as was the opportunity to try using a 5mm needle, as opposed to the usual 8mm ones that I use. They were all really lovely people, and it was a pleasure to meet and spend the day with them. I'm really looking forward to next month's Circle D London meet now!

    I also had the chance to play with a new toy - a hand held digital video recorder. So I spent today having my first attempt at using Adobe Premier Elements, and doing a bit of video editing. It's not very good, but do have a look at what we got up to yesterday!

  5. The lone balloon

    Saturday, 27 March 2010

    That balloon nearly got me into a fair bit of trouble today. Who knew that the British Transport Police really don't like you taking balloons into train stations? Turns out that somehow they can interfere with the overhead electricity. Or so I was told. Three times, by three different people.

    So I met up with some very lovely people from Diabetes Support today. I like to believe a good time was had by all. I will do a full report on this tomorrow, but I'm currently rather wiped, and I'm having a bash at some video editing. We'll see how that goes!

  6. Exciting day tomorrow

    Friday, 26 March 2010

    That there is my lovely friend Jenny. Mentioned before as 'my lovely friend Jenny' of our joint birthday party. And the thing she's pointing at, whilst I stand photographing her (recorded as a blurry reflection in this image) is my restaurant review of Sanctuary. Turns out they really rather liked the things I had to say. So much so that they returned my e-mail, and asked if they could put it up in the window. My reply? Of course they could! But strolling down in that general direction on my lunch today, I wanted to see it for myself. Not that I didn't believe them, but more of a point of 'wow, they really liked it that much?!'. Photo stands as proof in point - it looks like they did!

    Hopefully I'll be back there again tomorrow, with a small group from Diabetes Support, including Tom from Diabetes Dramas et al, as we have a York Forum Meet. 

    Bloods have been better today. Two hypos, but they don't seem to have thrown me too much, which is the way I like them. This is an improvement!

    Anyone from the Yorkshire area reading this by the way? I'm possibly looking into setting up a North Yorkshire branch of Circle D. Just wondering if anyone interested is out there.

  7. We have another company using our theatre space at the moment. As a thank you, they brought in chocolates. And left them on my desk. It's like they were watching me. So I drew eyes on them. Shame that I chose to do it in a permanent marker that soaked through the paper and on to my desk. That meant getting out the meths. 

    On reflection, I'm not sure it was worth it. 

    Today has been a bit rubbish. A post lunch 9mmol/l was followed with my attempting to overcome a 3.7 by force of will alone. Seemed to work, as came in at 4-5mmol/l, which is fine. But I spent the follow two to three hours in a horrid state. I was unbelievably hot, and I felt like my skin was crawling. I couldn't concentrate on anything, and all I actually wanted to do was hide under my desk and cry. I was angry at everything, and I didn't want to answer the phone or the door. 

    So because we had a show in with an early start, I had to eat dinner early as well. But as soon as I'd injected my NovoRapid, I realised a potentially huge problem with being over building capacity. This had to be solved, and had to be done in ten minutes, as that's when NR tends to kick in on me. Now, obviously I could have solved this issue by drinking some juice, sorting out the problem and then bolusing again for my meal. But I wasn't exactly thinking straight. 

    After eating, my two hour post test comes in at 12.6 mmol/l. Fantastic. Sort that out with a two mile walk home. But due to early dinner, I'm now hungry again. What a fantastic day.

  8. I've been baking again. If you watched yesterday's vlog, you would have seen that I possess a copy of a book called 'How To Cook'. So knowing that I've been baking might alarm you. But worry not. I'm actually not a bad at cooking. But though I'm 'not bad' at cooking, I'm good at baking. Baking I can do. 

    So today's experiment consisted of lemon muffins. I say muffins, but it's basically a general cake mixture that I adapt to suit whatever I have in the cupboard at the time. 

    Now, these cakes aren't for me. These are for my friend from work. He's trying to give up smoking, and as a way of encouraging him (because I HATE those dirty cancer sticks and the thought that they could be stealing life away from the people that I love), I promised a variety of baked goods for ten weeks. 

    During my joint birthday shinding this time last week, he and I were talking about the blog. He asked me who was going to play me in the movie. I had to laugh. I told him I'd cast Dave Gorman to play him if he didn't want to play himself, and that he could tell me who would play me. He came up with a fairly bizarre set of suggestions, but hey it was a good giggle. Suggestions ranged from Emily Mortimer to Sandra Bullock, and ended up with the strangest one of all.....

    OK, you probably don't know that I personally believe that this tree has more acting ability than Ms Knightley. So that one puzzled me no end. But like I say, it was an entertaining thing to chat about. 

    So that is who the cakes are for. And whilst I'm pleased to support him in this weird way, there's something about baking when you know you're going to give it away. That's what I tend to do with most of my baking, these days. I know if I have a bit of it, I'll really struggle to stop. It's not that I think I'm greedy, or that I have no self control. It's just that it's difficult sometimes. If I have one, I want a second. I'm sure you know what I mean. I think everyone has something that they act that way around. 

    So I try to give it away. I like to think that it makes other people happy. Here's hoping anyway.

  9. Story Time (Episode One)

    Tuesday, 23 March 2010

    Today's post comes now with added vlog! I came across this lovely little story today on the Diabetes UK Facebook page, so I was really surprised to find it hadn't been removed. I've removed the brand name from the story, but I went on the site's website. Just to be fair to the site, I can't find anything on there claiming that their products will help diabetes. So why on earth someone would is beyond me. 

    Notice the amazingly comfortable jumper I am wearing (hand made by my Mum, don't you know?) and the very strange voice I choose to read this story in. Normally I'd read a story a lot better - I am an actor by training (not that you would believe it from this video!), and am embarrassed by how rambling this goes. But enjoy!

  10. 30 seconds longer

    Monday, 22 March 2010

    I was going to vlog today. I still plan to vlog, but not today. Now I am tired.

    I felt like a bit of a moron this morning. I'd forgotten to sort out food for breakfast, so scrounged what I had, including some Innocent Smoothie. I thought I had it sussed. I knew what the carbs were, I remembered where 250mls was on the glass, and all was well and jolly. 

    Then I did my two-hour post breakfast test. First test - 17! Then two at around 14mmol/l (259 mg/dl), which made me realise what I'd done wrong.

    Yes, I had poured 250ml of liquid. But the figures I knew for smoothie were for 100ml. When I'd been measuring 250ml it had been for an experiment with carb counting for fruit juice. 

    So yes, I felt stupid. Really stupid. It was a proper head-meets-desk moment. If I'd thought about it for 30 seconds longer, I could have probably averted that. But what was even worse was that I felt rubbish for the rest of the day. I felt like I was recovering from a really bad hypo all day.

    So well done me.

  11. A drink with a friend

    Sunday, 21 March 2010

    Books are great. I was always a great lover of books as a child, and I'd get through several a week as a minimum. These days, I don't get as much time to read as I'd like. I've been trying to make my way through reading Les Miserables for several years. Rather a pathetic admission, and it doesn't please me. Especially since I've rather forgotten what's going on at the point that I'm up to, and will probably have to start over again anyway.  But to get to my point, I like to read. I like to know things. So, because my friends know me, I got brought Diabetes UK 'approved' cookery books whilst I was still in hospital (not pictured, since I just grabbed the first ones I saw), so I could read up on food. After I was discharged, I went on Amazon, and looked for books. I bought some in the sales at Borders (oh Borders, how I miss you...), and yes, I did read them. Some are more useful than others. 

    The thing that I found though, was that as helpful and informative as some of these books are on a clinical level, there were things that I wanted to know that they just weren't telling me. What I wanted to know was not how people 'controlled diabetes'. I wanted to know how people lived with it. 

    All I can say is thank goodness for the internet.  Somewhere in the bowels of the Diabetes UK website, I found a link to Diabetes Support. That place has been an absolute lifeline to me. And I can't even remember what it was that I searched for, which sent me to Six Until Me. All I know was that when I found Kerri's blog, I spent HOURS reading every post I could find. Then looked through her blogroll and found other blogs, which I read just as keenly. 

    I think it was seeing how people handled the day to day highs and lows that interested me the most. Reading about their lives made feel stronger. These amazing people, who were so willing to share with the world the their day to day trials and tribulations made me feel as if I could do it too, because they were doing it. So there was no reason that I couldn't do it as well.

    There's something about hearing about diabetes from some who is living with it. It's comforting. It's like being sat down with a friend, having a drink together, and knowing that you're not alone. So to every single one of you who writes a blog - thank you. I'd sit down for a drink in real life with any single one of you. And for those of you reading this, I hope it might make you feel less alone. Writing it certainly makes me feel less alone.

  12. God gave rock and roll to you...

    Saturday, 20 March 2010

    So I'm doing my Lantus tonight, but I notice that there's an air bubble floating at the top. So I decide to do a 2u air shot.

    Andrew was sat next to me and said 'Now, don't you think that's cool?'. I guess he's right - air shots are a little bit fun. However, he did then go on to point out that there was now insulin on the carpet. 

    But it made me think. Lantus comes in a 'solostar' pen. I wonder if that does make me a bit of a rockstar from time to time? Hey, there are plenty of us out there. I'm not a part of it (yet), but there's even a whole site called Diabetic Rockstar. Now, in the literal 'rockstar' sense, I play guitar, albeit extremely badly. This isn't my guitar in the picture, for the record. That's Andrew's guitar Lucy (who is one of many). Mine is an electro-acoustic called Cassie, who I don't play nearly often enough, sadly. I'm aiming to carry out a project with Cassie that my poor, battered fingers probably aren't going to be too impressed with. But in the 'Diabetic Rockstar' sense? What do I think makes a rockstar? I guess someone who carries on regardless of what's thrown at her. 

    I watched 'School of Rock' last night, because it was one of my birthday presents. Jack Black says rock and roll is about 'sticking it to the man'. In this case, I guess the man is diabetes. And if sticking it to the man means trying my hardest to keep this thing in check, then yeah baby, I'm rock and roll.

  13. How it all began

    Friday, 19 March 2010

    Ah the things we do at work. It's been a strange (and fun) few days, really. And it's in stark comparison to this time last year. I'm pretty sure that over the next month or so, I'll come back to this theme again. It's heading up to my first D-Birthday, which will be 1st May. But the journey to my D-Birthday, in my mind, begins with my actual birthday. Which, for the record, is today. 

    Last year, I remember feeling distinctly unwell around the time of my birthday. I looked back on pictures of last year's joint party, and the day after, and for some of them I look OK. But the morning after, when I'd taken off the make-up, I looked grey. And no, I wasn't hungover. I'm not a big drinker. I wonder a lot about that time. I'd been feeling ill, and now I think, was that the start of it all? Or was that what started it? And I guess really there's no way to ever know for sure. 

    What I do remember was having no real energy to party. I went home relatively early, and nearly fell asleep when we moved from the restaurant to a club. I felt sick, and wanted to sleep. So, I went home and slept. 

    On the day of my actual birthday, I went home to my parents' place in the afternoon. When I came home after the weekend, I remember saying on the phone to my Mum that I was unbelievably thirsty, and couldn't work out why. I believe in the end we put it down to a packet of crisps that we hadn't tried before. 

    What a difference a year makes, as I say. When we went out on Wednesday, I carb counted out pretty much perfectly, which was very satisfying. Then we went to try and find somewhere to get a drink. At 23:00, I found myself sat on the steps of the Hilton, doing my Lantus, as a police van drove past, finding the scene hilarious. Today, I went and had sushi for lunch, and had my chin painted by the graphic designer who works upstairs from us for photographs for a children's theatre festival.

    Rather different, as I say.

  14. Restaurant Review: Sanctuary, York

    Thursday, 18 March 2010

    If you read yesterday's post, you'll have seen that I was all dressed up with somewhere to go. I was off out for a joint birthday party with my lovely friend, Jenny. Both our birthdays are this week, so it has made sense, for the past few years, that we split the difference and do a joint thing between the two days. 

    So off we went to Sanctuary. Now, this really is one of my favourite restaurants in York. It has been for a while now, since I went there for another friend's birthday a couple of years ago. It's a very quirky little place. And when I say little, it's because well, it is. You can't fit a huge number of people in there. But whilst in a lot of other places this might seem like a bad thing, here it seems like nothing of the sort. Full of candles, beautiful flowers and soft lights, it reminds me of being in someone's home. Which I think the building may have been at some point in the past. It wasn't really practical last night, but I know in the summer, there's a lovely garden out the back as well, where you can sit and eat. 

    The whole place feels very welcoming, as are the staff. I'd rung up in advance to arrange the whole thing, and they were nothing but accommodating throughout. We changed the numbers? Not a problem. I remembered two of our party were dairy-free? Didn't even faze them. Another dessert is added to the menu (since we were ordering in advance), and all the dairy-free options are marked on the menu. And whilst we're on the subject of the menu, I can't praise the food highly enough. And that is rather important when we're talking about a restaurant, naturally!

    They'd put together a party menu for us, with two courses for just under £15.00, and three courses for just under £19.00. Hey, this was a birthday celebration (and I LOVE their food), so I decided to suck it up and ordered three. Tempura battered tiger prawns with sweet chilli jam. Supreme of chicken, wrapped in Parma ham on a thyme risotto. And a chocolate brownie with handmade praline and pecan ice cream. Oh yes, it was WONDERFUL.

    But what was the best part of the evening for me? Well, I'm having some rather botched attempts at trying to carb count at the moment. I'd decided to split my injection, and do a second one before I had my dessert. I had my ever faithful Collins Gem Carb Counter with me, but of course, I didn't know the weight of the brownie. So I went up and asked. I told them that I knew it was a bit of a weird request, but did they know how much it weighed? Apparently yes, it was a bit of a weird question, but as soon as I'd explained that I was a type 1 diabetic, and I was trying to work out how much insulin to take to cover it, a light clearly came on. It wasn't a problem, they could go and weigh it for me. Was there a certain weight that I wanted? Was there anything else I'd like to know about the recipe?

    My WORD. That was so utterly refreshing, that I don't think I took a grin off my face for a good half an hour. I went and sat back down, and someone came over and told me the weight, and when I was actually served, they'd made a note which one was for me, so that I was certain to get the right facts. Finding a restaurant that is willing to accommodate your requests, and understands that you're not just being picky or awkward is wonderful!

    Oh, and the Diet Coke is definitely diet. And if you ever have a problem with a drink, they'll most certainly change it. I went there once when there had been a problem with the line, and the drink had separated the fizz from the flavour, or something to that end. Swapped with an apology the moment I brought it up. That's service for you.

    Oh, and the food is local. Much of it is organic. Lots of stuff is FairTrade. In a word, I love this place. I very much recommend that you go there if you're ANYWHERE nearby. Sanctuary by name, also very much sanctuary by nature. I promise you won't be disappointed!

  15. Me and Mr Tiny-Bag

    Wednesday, 17 March 2010

    I'm off out, chaps! And since Mr Tiny-Bag no longer holds everything I require for an evening, I thought I would pose mournfully with him, before shoving everything into my fits-the-world handbag.

  16. Sorry, you were out.

    Tuesday, 16 March 2010

    So thinking along the lines of reviewing meters, I requested another one from another site, since they were offering them for free.

    Of course, the world's most giant package came through the door just fine, but this one won't fit. So that means going out to the back of beyond to go and pick it up. 

    When I don't know where I'm going. 
    Fun times. 

  17. Sadly this image doesn't quite convey how amazingly LARGE this envelope is. It is HUGE. I have never had anything couriered to me before, so this was an extremely exciting discovery. As was reading the address on the inner (equally large envelope), which was addressed to me at 'Instructions Not Included'. This totally made my day, it really did.

    But what was inside was the really, really exciting bit. It was my 'for review purposes' complimentary Contour USB. Which means that there will be a review coming up soon! I'm really excited to start using it, but I'm going to wait until I can write proper notes

  18. Links galore

    Sunday, 14 March 2010

    Home again. With many, many needles. This is very comforting. By the way, that is an extremely nice bowl that I bought several years ago, and hadn't found a use for. Now it contains all my needles (and usually my ID bracelet when I take it off after work)

    Now, I haven't really much of my own to talk about today, so I'd like to play a game I'm calling 'Becky's Round-up', where I point you in the direction of various blogs and posts I've been finding interesting as of late. In my head, I automatically get the theme to 'Woody's Round-up' from Toy Story 2, but that is completely optional. 

    First up, my friend Shiv, over at Click of the Light is talking about all sorts, including meeting Richard Lane, and what it means to be 'normal'.

    Tom is writing about his current experiences with a borrowed CGM on his blog, Diabetes Dramas et al... during his countdown to starting life with a pump. 

    I've very much been enjoying reading all the posts over at Olivejooice, and highly recommend having a wander over there!

    Northerner has written a rather hilarious poem 'Cornish Clotted Insulin', inspired by a particularly insane bit of script writing on BBC's 'Casualty.

    Sam at Talking Blood Glucose is talking about her journey with carb counting

    And just today I've been introduced to the blog Mmol/ly, which is the start of an extremely interesting story. It's the blog of Ida, who lives in Finland, and is the mother of two. Her son, E was diagnosed with Type 1 in September last year, and they're hoping to train their puppy, Molly as a hypo-alert dog. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of their story!

    I do highly suggest looking at one or all of those links. They're all sites I've enjoyed going to. Hopefully I'll have something more constructive of my own to say tomorrow!

  19. Room to breathe

    Saturday, 13 March 2010

    Not a great picture today, (it's Diet Cola with Almond from Tesco's if you're interested. It's very nice!) but it does rather turn today's post back on to a subject that I'm sure you're aware is rather close to my heart.

    DiDkA is starting to pick up a bit. We've got a proper logo now, and I'm going to carry on making amendments to the site in order to put it live, and start asking you all for much more help. It's my hope that we're going to make some serious headway soon. People over on Diabetes Support have all been working so hard and making such good suggestions - I'm so proud and so thankful for each and every one of them who have spent the time thinking about this.

    Through the hands of the very lovely Shiv, over at Click of the Light, we have managed to get a letter to Richard Lane, the President of Diabetes UK, which will hopefully make them aware of who we are, what we're doing, and if we're lucky, make them want to help us. He's promised to get in touch. I find that I'm checking the DiDkA email account rather obsessively, and I don't want to be away from my mobile phone for too long. 

    It's been strongly suggested by some of the wonderful people over at DS that I should take a day or so off from working on DiDkA. I've been saying on there, and on here, just how tired I've been lately, and how I just can't seem to shake it. I don't know why - I wish I did, to tell you the truth. The problem I have though is that my mind very rarely 'switches off'. It doesn't matter how hard I try. The moment when I'm trying hardest to relax is when I'll think of something I should have done, or shoul be doing now, or I'll come up with an idea that just can't wait until the next day. And I'll beat myself up about how I haven't done it already, how I'm not dealing with it now, or that I just can't turn off.

    I'm really glad that things are starting to come together - I so badly want this to succeed. I also have other things that are weighing me down. I'll tell you about them more when I get written confirmation - for me it's very exciting though. But until I know for sure that things are going to happen the way I want, I'll fret and panic and so forth. 

    Maybe what I'm after is just a moment to catch my breath. But when you never switch off, or even feel like you have the time to do that, how do you even begin? 

    Answers on a postcard, people.

  20. Proper planning prevents....

    Friday, 12 March 2010

    Oh, come on. You know the rest. You don't need me to fill in the blanks. 

    So I'm at my Mum and Dad's house at the moment. It's my birthday next week, and this is the closest we were all free for me to come and spend the weekend. So here I am.

    I thought I was doing really well as I packed up my things. Took the demipen AND the flexpen, just in case something went wrong with the former. Opened a new pot of test strips, refilled my Glucotabs, and put some mini Mars Bars in my handbag. And because I'm always paranoid about getting stuck on a broken down train (as this has happened to me many, many times in the past, for several hours sometimes), I'd put a snack pack of pretzels in there as well. You know, just in case. 

    I tend to pack the world in my handbag. If you don't believe me, I very much suggest watching my first ever attempt at vlogging, in which I join in a blog meme, and go 'handbag diving'. But right now, I know there are hair bobbles, hand gel, a sewing kit, two pocket packs of tissues (one plain, one with eucalyptus oil), paracetamol, chewing gum, several pens...well, the list is extensive. But it appears I was not quite as zealous when putting my needles into my testing kit. 

    I counted off my meals - Friday dinner, Saturday, breakfast, lunch, dinner. Sunday breakfast, lunch. Home in time for evening meal. 

    Now, the attentive amongst you will have already spotted the flaw in this. Where are the needles for the Lantus? Surely that's quite important? Well, you'd be right. I hadn't thought to factor those needles into my packing. You see, the last time that I went anywhere for more than an overnight stop, I wasn't using my Lantus pens. So I didn't need to think about that. Things do, of course, change. But of course, this thought did not occur to me until I had pulled out of York train station, where it was naturally far too late to do anything about it. 

    So, in a panic, I pull out my meter case, and count out the needles I had on me. Thankfully, it turns out I have enough on me. Why? Because although I hadn't thought to put the needles in for the Lantus, I had, in my backwards logic, thought to throw in some extras in case on of the others turned out to be clogged. Because, of course you don't want to be caught out in a situation like that...

    By the way, if you do see my brain, or a reconditioned model that looks like it could work, please do let me know.

  21. Look what came in the post!

    Thursday, 11 March 2010

    I had a new toy arrive in the post today. A Novopen Demi, courtesy of my friendly DSN. I've been thinking that a half unit pen would be helpful for me to attempt better carb counting, rather than just aim for meals in carb value increments of 35g, 70g, 105g and so on. 

    So because they don't seem to do flexpens in half unit increments, I've had to switch to cartridges. Flipping heck, my prescription came in (without TOO much hassle for once!) with three boxes of five cartridges. At the moment, I'm lucky if I get through a flexpen a month - I usually end up having to throw it out with at least 100u left in it. The waste bothers me no end, but that's another story. Fifteen cartridges? If my insulin usage carries on at the same rate it is now, that should theoretically last me over a year! Not having to order any NovoRapid for a year? Now that's a thinker.

    Anyway, my comments on this at the moment. It's heavy. The flexpen weighs next to nothing, but this thing is metal and bulky, rather than plastic and light. I suppose it's better for the environment that way. It also doesn't have the initial '0.5u' step that I was really hoping for. But hey, I did 1.5u rather than 2u tonight, and it seemed to work OK. 

    But I've got to get on with it - although I've got best part of a box of flexpens left, I have now apparently had them taken off my prescription, so I've no choice, really!

  22. I snap the whip

    Wednesday, 10 March 2010

    Don't worry, there's nothing untoward about today's post. And no, I haven't murdered anyone in that sink. But what I did manage to do today was completely baffle one of the members of staff at my branch of Lush

    For the record, if you don't know what Lush is, there's something wrong with you! I try not to go in too frequently, because I would spend all my money in about twenty minutes. 

    So my fingers are absolutely trashed. I'll probably do a shot of them sometime soon. But where I test, I have sore, dry skin. I've been after something to sort them out. So when I was in Lush today, I saw a new product called a Lip Scrub. One of them smells just like After Eight mints, which is amazing. It's basically a sugar scrub for if you have chapped lips. Now I wondered if it could be used on your fingers as well, to try and calm the skin where I test.

    I decided to ask one of the members of staff, who seemed truly confused as to why I would want to do that. I explained that I tested my blood a number of times every day because of my diabetes, but he didn't seem to quite get it. So I showed him my lancing device. It was as if I'd shown him a machete that I repeatedly hacked at my wrist with. Yeah, he didn't like 'needles'. But he rather got my point, I think!

    So he suggested a product that I have used in the past, called You Snap The Whip. It has charcoal in it, and smells amazing. All blackcurrant-y. I used it for a while in my third year of university, before my housemate politely requested that I stop, because it turned the shower black and clogged the drain. As you can see, it turns the water an interesting colour. However it does melt away fairly quickly, so it might end up being too expensive to carry on with, even if it does work. But hey, it's worth a try. I'll report back with results.

    But for now, my hands smell awesome!

  23. All you need is blood

    Tuesday, 9 March 2010

    Blood's an amazing thing if you stop to think about it.It's fascinating. I just had to pull myself away from my reading to even post this! It's so balanced, that even the slightest change can throw it into complete chaos. I just decided to look up what its pH value should be, and if everything is normal, it stays between 7.35 and 7.45. That's tight control! It really makes me think about what on earth the pH value of my blood was when I was in DKA. All they ever told me was that 'it's very acidic' and that the ketones were at least ++++ most of the time I was there. The part of me that wants to know everything would really like to read my medical records and see for myself.

    I had a thought though. How often did I ever used to see any of my own blood? And how much of it did I ever see? Most of it, for most of the time, stayed inside of me. Which is rather how it likes to be! But these days? Well, I obviously bleed several times a day, I get blood tests done, and so on, and so on. I think about blood so much more than I ever did. I naturally think about blood sugar many, many times a day. But I still remember a time when I didn't, despite that feeling like a heck of a long time ago!

    I used to donate blood. I never did it as frequently as I liked, because donating sessions often used to clash with work, rehearsals, etc. But I did donate, and I was proud that I did. Yes, I was a complete wuss, and used to ask for the local anaesthetic, but do you know what? I didn't care. My moment of wussiness was likely to help someone, so hey, I was perfectly fine with being a wuss.
    Seems though, that I'm not welcome as a donor any more. This makes me really sad, because I know lots of people who, for various reasons, won't donate. Some of them are scared of needles, and I totally understand that. What I don't understand though, are those people who just 'can't be bothered'. Because you don't know whose life that blood is going to save. What if it was someone you loved, or they couldn't be saved because everyone else didn't bother to show up?

    After my DX, my mum decided to ring up the National Blood Service for me, because she knew I was likely to not get time to do it during the times they were open. She wanted to talk to them and ask whether I could still donate or not. Apparently, they didn't really understand what she was saying. I was supposedly welcome to donate if I wasn't using medication. When she told them that I was a type one, and used insulin, they replied as follows.

    'Well, get her to give us a call when she comes off her medication.'

    I really wish it was that easy. With things as they stand, unfortunately that's one life-time ban.

  24. It's a bit like the lottery....

    Monday, 8 March 2010

    Part of my extremely glamorous job involves stuffing envelopes. And for the past few days, it has involved stuffing lots and lots of them. And then a few hundred more. It has taken me (with help) nearly two days to get through the huge stack, which then took three people two trips to the postbox to get rid of. 

    Like I say, really glamorous. Don't let anyone delude you to the belief that working in a theatre is sexy. Even when I was doing acting, directing or something actually creative, rather than admin, 80-90% of what I'd get up to was not in the least, I promise you. 

    But there is a problem with that many envelopes and a job that takes that amount of time. During a work day, I'll test several times. Of course that means I bleed. Now, I do suck my finger after I've tested, but as you can imagine, sometimes that doesn't always work too well. So with a lot of white envelopes, there have naturally been a few unfortunates. Problem is of course, I don't often notice if I'm still bleeding till a few envelopes down the line. So without opening them all again, it's hard to know how many I've bled on. Like I say, it's a bit like the lottery. Just an extremely gross one. So if you're one of the poor unfortunates that ends up with a bloody one, I apologise. You won't know it's from me, but I promise, I'm sorry.

    I wonder what Gibbs would make of it all? He'd probably set Abby on me. And my keyboard. And the phone on my desk. And the back of my housemate's Wii-mote...

  25. Treating the lows.

    Sunday, 7 March 2010

    Today's hypo treatment of choice is a glass of Innocent Peach and Raspberry Smoothie. This stuff is amazing. No evil, bendy yellow fruit in that. No really, I can't stand bananas. The taste, the texture, makes me want to throw up. So it really annoys me that every single smoothie on the market seems to contain them. 

    I like to have some smoothie in the fridge. Good stuff for treating hypos with. I don't tend to drink smoothie or fruit juice at any other time. Mainly because I'm rather scared of doing so. Yes, I know that's stupid, because it's not like I can't have it. The thing is that I worry about the sharp rise that'll have on my levels, and I'm somewhat nervous about experimenting with trying to cover it. Shame, because I LOVE fruit juice and smoothies. 

    So that there next to the glass of smoothie is a 'fun-size' Mars bar. Shocking, I know. I doubt you'd have figured that one out if I hadn't told you. I don't really like them a huge amount, but they seem to be perfect for evening out my levels. And it's probably a good thing. They're not exactly sensible snacking material. 

    I had another hypo last night as well, which was also treated with that wonderful smoothie. I suppose I should make the best of it, really. It's only a limited edition.

  26. Have diabetes, will travel

    Saturday, 6 March 2010

    So my train tickets turned up yesterday! What train tickets, I hear you ask? Why the ones to go to the 2 year birthday party for Circle D. Now, I'm not a member of Circle D, because I'm not a southern sort. But I'm thrilled to be going all the same. Lots of people from Diabetes Support (where I hang out a LOT of the time) are going to be there, and I'm really looking forward to meeting them. I'll be honest, I'm really looking forward to spending a bit of time with fellow diabetics. I haven't really met any this past year. So spending a day with people who just get it is really exciting. Even if it means I have to go to London.

    I hate London. It's big, it's noisy, there are too many people, and it's expensive. People are rude, and you can never find anything. Of course, that's my experience, and Your London May Vary. But for a broke, claustrophobic, direction-inept crazy person like me (oh, who is scared of the big escalators that seem to be everywhere down there), London is pretty much my worst nightmare. So that there would be some serious commitment to the cause.

    One thing that will be pretty awesome is that a number of supporters, and several of the Steering Group for DiDkA are going to be there. DiDkA is moving along nicely - big opportunity coming up this week, for the record! 

    Further to my 'commitment to the cause' is the fact that, to afford to be able to do this, I am going to be taking a 6am train. This means I will be on my own, with nothing to do, in a city that terrifies me, from 8am in the morning. Anyone got any suggestions for good things to do at 8am on a Saturday morning in London?

    In other news, I'd like to take a moment to plug a new product from Successful Diabetes, which is the workplace of my friend Shelley Bennett (who runs Circle D, and is a member of the DiDkA Steering Group - seeing the theme here?) They've just launched a new e-book, Living With Diabetes 24 Hours a Day - A Personal Journey. I'm planning to get my hands on a copy soon and give a proper review, but for now, if it comes from this company, it's going to be good! I think this is a really good idea for those who want to know a first person account of what living with diabetes is really like. And that's got to be a good thing!

    Oh, and by the way I mean it. Know somewhere good for me to go in London at that time? Preferably en route to Leicester Square, then do let me know!

  27. Part two sees us continue from the beginning of the great cake saga, from all the way back in June.

    There are days when you do the right thing. Then there are days when you don't. On Facebook, there is a recipe that claims to be 'the most dangerous cake recipe in the world'.

    Five minute chocolate cake. In the microwave. Oh yeah. And because of my breadmaker, I happen to have proper measuring spoons, which is a useful thing. What was also great was managing to work out more or less the correct carb value for it. 

    I thought about using Splenda instead of sugar, but past baking experience has taught me that Splenda is good for biscuits, but not good for cake. So sugar it was.

    Now, sometimes I wonder what people think of me when I'm eating cake in public, and they know about my diabetes. I KNOW I can have it, and I know it's not like there's some sort of law that says I can't have cake. But I still wonder what people think. Whether they think I'm 'cheating', or handling my diabetes badly, or being irresponsible. Or whether they think that I've been telling them rubbish. Am I being a poor advocate for responsible behaviour? Do I have to be? Sometimes you just want cake. And even though I find carb counting difficult, I actually managed to work this one out. 

    Now I've made myself all confused. Where's the rest of that cake? 

    DISCLAIMER: Cake should be consumed responsibly!

  28. You can do it (If you B&Q it)

    Thursday, 4 March 2010

    This is not a nice picture of me. But I figured it would be a good start to my attempt at Diabetes 365. I haven't made an account yet, but I figure I can start with my camera phone, and move on to a DSLR eventually.

    But anyway, here's the story behind this one. I went up to B&Q today to buy a storage crate for merchandise at work. I was sure I could get there and back in an hour, in time for 12:30, to have my lunch. I was happy enough with my levels before we left, and with twelve complete hypo-free days behind me, I was fairly confident that I was going to complete day thirteen. Plus it would be ironic in a cliché-ridden way for the streak to end on day thirteen. 

    However, it was there by the power-tools (see over my left shoulder) that my good run ended, in a collapsing jenga-tower-esque fashion. So there I sat in the B&Q cafe, eating my Glucotabs and sandwich, all the while wondering why on earth B&Q had a cafe in the first place. I was intrigued by a sign behind the counter, which said that outside food was not permitted, but 'exceptions would be made in cases of children with medical conditions'. 

    Why just children with medical conditions?  Why would children be spending significant amounts of time in B&Q? Good to know that understand that sometimes people HAVE to eat, but do they think the children that would need to eat because of medical conditions won't grow up to adults who are going to need to as well? And that are more likely to be interested in lawnmowers/shelving/taps/drills?

    Well, it's an interesting thought, and a rather surreal experience, watching men walk by with probably my body's weight in timber on a flat cart. 

    A new game starts tomorrow.

  29. Every now and then, with most jobs, you get a day off. It's Thursday tomorrow, which means the day after is Friday, and then comes the weekend. Hurrah! I have some holiday days to use, which means three whole days off coming to me as well. Double hurrah!  Everyone likes a day off, and everyone needs a holiday from time to time.
    Shame that diabetes never takes one, isn't it? It really is. It's happy enough to be with us all the time. Even when it's an inconvenience, it's there.

    I would like a holiday from diabetes. If you know where I'm coming from when I say this, I'm sure you're more than ready for one too.

    But we don't get one, do we? It's for every day of every month, of every year, 24/7, including Christmas Day and Leap Years. Now, whilst that would be a great thing for a plumber or similar, sometimes you'd just like a break.

    I've been looking at the Diabetes 365 project, and thought that I would really like to give it a go. I know I could just use my camera phone, but my heart is holding out for something slightly more exciting. However, my budget, brain and purse are telling me no, no, no. But what is really interesting is seeing these every day snapshots of people's lives as they manage their lives and their diabetes. Because, hey, none of us get a day off, but it's interesting to see what we do with out never-ending days on!

  30. The Weather Today....

    Tuesday, 2 March 2010

    I woke up yesterday morning, and it looked extremely bright and sunny. Almost spring-like, in fact. But oh no, I wasn't going to be fooled by THAT one again. However, by the time I was walking to work, I had taken off my gloves, my scarf, my hat, and undone my coat. But come the evening, it was freezing again.

    So this morning, I wanted to be slightly more optimistic that, for the day at least, it was going to stay warm. So I left my big furry russian-style hat at home, chose a beanie hat instead, and left my gloves in my handbag. But as soon as I'd walked out the door, it was cold. The pond was frozen over, and weirdly enough, there was some very light snow on portions of the grass. But then I walked out of the shade, and it was actually quite warm. 

    What the heck is going on? Would the weather please make up its mind? I don't know what to expect half the time, and it's getting on my nerves!

    I had my annual review at clinic today, and much like the weather, I wasn't sure what to expect from it, and hadn't quite figured out what to think about the whole thing. Despite this now being nearly a complete day eleven of my hypo-free streak, I'd been having lots of hypos prior to that, between one and three a day, most days. So I wasn't quite sure what that would have done to my A1c. 

    But I went along, and aside from the fact that I was shocked to see 'Deal or no Deal' on the waiting area television, rather than children's shows for once, I didn't have to wait too long. I apparently now weigh eleven and a half stone, which is the lightest I have been in quite some time.

    My HbA1c has gone up a little bit from 6.0 to 6.2. I'm not too bothered about this, it's still acceptable. I asked about getting a demi-pen, and my DSN is going to ring me about that tomorrow. So it looks like I might be switching to cartridges. I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about this though.

    But on the whole, the outlook is generally clear.

  31. Here's To Hope.

    Monday, 1 March 2010

    I have hope on my mind today. I also have it on my hand. I would show you a picture, but I chose a fairly rubbish felt tip pen to do it with, and it's rather faded at this point.

    But why? Well I got 'invited' on Facebook to what apparently is the 'Day of Hope' today. I won't cut and paste the info from the event, because I found some of the phrasing awkward, and I didn't quite agree with everything that was suggested. However, what I did agree with was the hope. All the people there are hoping for a cure.

    When I met with my consultant a few months after DX, he said to me, 'I thoroughly believe that there will be a cure whilst I am still practising, and probably within the next ten years.' And I really wanted to believe him. But the thing that stopped me was that I knew oh, so well, the stories of my new friends who had all heard the same thing before. A cure in five years, a cure in ten. So whilst I wanted to believe him, I didn't want to put too much stock in something that might never materialise. 

    There was recently a lot of publicity over the announcement of the artificial pancreas project, which JDRF are involved with. I recall that being asked about it when I'd read an article on the BBC, and what I thought. I thought it was amazing. But I wasn't jumping up and down. And surely I should have been? Well, maybe. I didn't want to feel desensitised to hope 'before my time', not even being a year old yet, in diabetes terms. But the truth was that I didn't want to get too excited over something that might not come to fruition, not matter how much I might want it to. But more than the artificial pancreas, what I wanted was a cure. I wanted this to be over. 

    And that made me think again. It made me think of all my new friends, and if this was how I felt with not even a year of diabetes-life under my belt, how did they feel with five, ten, twenty, thirty or more years under theirs? Do they still hope, after hearing promises of a cure that turned out to be empty, time after time?

    One of the Bible verse I hold closest to my heart is all about hope. I have it stuck on my wardrobe, so it's always there when I need it in my lowest moments:

    We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience, and patience produces character, and character produces HOPE. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts. He gave us His love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given us. - Romans 5: 3-5

    I'm not saying that having hope is easy. It's not. But I thoroughly believe that everything I go through teaches me more patience. And as that verse says, it makes me a better person day by day. The troubles give me hope.  I believe that there will BE a cure. I don't know whether it'll be in the next ten years, or I won't live to see it. I don't know which generation will know the joy that is brought around by the end of this disease. But I know I want to be part of the generation that is part of the change in the world. I want to, and will do all that I can. On the days that I can't quite manage hope, I will settle for faith, as I don't see them as quite the same. On the good days, they'll walk hand in hand. 

    But I'm not ready to give up on either yet. And if you have, whilst I can, I'll take your share and hope for you.