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  1. The name of the game

    Monday, 31 May 2010

    Ever had a puzzle that you just couldn't figure out? I've had a few of them in my time. I used to have a Rubik's cube, but I got so fed up of the damn thing that I ended up putting it in a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. We also used to own a puzzle that was actually a birthday present for my brother one year - it was a plastic box that had 3-D Tetris style pieces. The idea was to take the pieces out of the box, and then put them back in again. Most annoying puzzle ever. I think I couldn't have been any older than ten or eleven when this puzzle arrived in our house. I'm twenty-five now, and no-one in my family has ever managed to solve this thing. 

    Puzzles can be immensely frustrating, so it's completely understandable that sometimes people need help or clues to help them get through the difficult bits. Which is why I'm a huge advocate of testing. 

    The whole management of blood sugar is a huge puzzle - to get it to play fair, you've got to track it and learn to spot trends. Which is why I can't wrap my head around people who say you can test 'too much', or that testing more than four times a day makes you 'obsessive'. 

    I don't see it that way. We're all in the same game here, which is trying to manage this thing the best we can. How are you supposed to spot the clues to help you do that if you don't test? Personally I test at least seven times a day - before each meal, two hours after, and before bed. It quite frequently ends up being more than that. I would never just 'guess' at what my levels were, because I'm a human being, and I'm more likely than not to get it wrong. If I were to try and guess too often, and it turned out I was guessing wrong, what sort of damage could I be doing to myself? 

    No-one likes testing. I mean, come on - it does hurt, and there's no getting round that. It's not like we do these things for fun. So why are people testing more than four times a day doing it? Well, I can't speak for everyone else, but for me, it's so that I can feel that it's me in the driving seat, rather than diabetes. I don't want to leave these things down to chance. I carb count, so I need to test before and after, so I can check I've got the count right. I would also never not check before bed, because I need to make sure that I'm about 5mmol/l (90 mg/dl), otherwise I need to have a snack.

    Aside from this, I add on any time I feel hypo or hyper, before I exercise, before I go out with Andrew on the back of the motorbike, if I'm not feeling well. I've also taken to testing at 15:00 when I'm at the office, as I tend to slump around then, and I want to make sure that I have a snack if it's appropriate.

    Of course, there's only a point in testing if you know what the numbers mean, and know what to do with them. Otherwise, your meter might as well sing Baa Baa, Black Sheep to you. But if you know what the deal is? Well then I firmly believe that then you should have the ability and necessary supplies to test as much as you need to. 

    Would I call that obsessive? Nope, not a chance. I don't think it's obsessive, when it's under the provisos that I've just mentioned. It's proactive. I thoroughly believe that I'm being proactive in looking after my health and my future. We're in a social climate now where we're all being encouraged to take control of our own health and well-being. So when you've got maintaining the best blood sugar management that you're able to, added into the mix, then surely that's just following advice generally given to everyone? After all, it's not easy, and sometimes we all need a few extra clues.

  2. I'm a nail biter. Hate it, but it's true. I have been for years. I do it when I'm anxious, mostly, or distracted. Well, I say I'm a nail biter. I prefer to think of myself as a partially reformed nail biter. I stop and start. Right now my left hand is bitten, and my right hand looks great. 

    I abuse the hell out of my hands with all the lancing. Seven plus fingerpricks a day adds up quickly, and I don't like the way that my fingers look these days. They're rough and calloused, and still quite tender most of the time (any guitarists out there got any tips? Hurts like hell to play for long!), so most of the time, I like to do what I can to take care of my hands. 

    A big no-no that I learned fairly early on, both through advice, and through own experience, is using hand cream during the day. Messes with readings on my meter no end, if it turns out I have even the tiniest bit left on my hands. Last thing at night, however, I personally make a point of it. Best time of day to do it, in my opinion, as you're not busy doing things when you're asleep, so it gives  the hand cream plenty of time to soak in.

    Now there are lots of really great hand creams on the market. There are also overnight 'masks' and similar intensive treatments which I plan to look into. But for general day to day use, I have two particular ones that I would recommend. First up is the one I use the most, which is Almond Daily Hand & Nail Cream from The Body Shop. Smells amazing, helps strengthen your nails, and leaves them really smooth and soft. Second tip is Helping Hands from Lush. Not as nice smelling, to be honest, and it doesn't feel as great when you put it on, but you definitely feel that it's giving your hands all the right stuff. 

    Speaking of Lush products, which I'm a big fan of, it's good to hear that other people have been having success with a product I recommended back in March called 'You Snap The Whip'. It's honesty time here, I lost my own bar of this, but have managed to find it again, and plan to give it another try. But as I say, I've been hearing that others who've tried it have been having good results.

    But my biggest tip for making your hands feel great? Manicure. Now, I don't care if you're a guy or a girl, having well cared for nails is a real ego boost. It makes me feel smart and a bit glamorous, which is a very nice feeling. It makes me feel that I'm looking after the part of my anatomy that gets the most pounding. 

    It's all about controlling what you can. So the sides of my fingertips might be covered in dots where I've drawn blood (oh, changing lancets frequently is also good!), but if I can make them look smart, tidy and well presented in all the ways that I can, then I know it makes me feel better.
    What about the rest of you out there? What are your top tips?

  3. Overly Sensitive

    Saturday, 29 May 2010

    I've made no big secret of the fact that I use very small amounts of insulin. My ratios are tiny. I use 1:25carbs in the morning, and 1:35 in the evening, with only 3u of Lantus. Quite often this gets a huge reaction of -cue shockface- 'Whoa, those are TINY amounts!'. Yes, I realise that.

    I've always put my small insulin requirements down to the honeymoon period. But the idea has been recently put to me that maybe the honeymoon ended whilst I was looking the other way, and I'm just incredibly insulin sensitive. 

    Now there's a thinker. So far I've been approaching this whole thing with the attitude of 'it's awkward and frustrating, but it will end.'. The frustrations of carb counting with massive ratios, and feeling like there's not much that I can do to make any sort of adjustments. Even with a demi pen, it's a bit like trying to crack a nut with a sledge hammer. Or getting rid of adorable truffling pigs for a JCB. At any rate, similes aside, if this isn't going to change any time soon, I might have to do a massive rethink, and possibly a bit of soul-searching. 

    My control generally isn't bad. I have a HbA1c that I'm happy enough with (6.2% at last check), and according to my meter, I'm mostly on target. But I'm working hard to keep it that way. You all know this, you never stop working. It's tiring. 

    I've also not really hidden that I'm not amazingly keen on the idea of pumping. However, there's a part of me that is thinking that the tiny amounts you can bolus by would be a good idea. But I just can't shake the fact that I don't want to be tethered to something 24/7. It would just feel like a constant reminder of diabetes to me. 

    This is awfully vain of me as well, but I don't know how sexy I would feel with a pump. I feel sexy maybe 10-15% of the time, so I worry about diminishing that 10-15%.

    If anyone has any opinions on whether pumping is something I should think over some more? I have an appointment with my DSN coming up in the next month or so - I can bring it up with her then. But I'd just love some thoughts on the matter.

  4. Pirates are all we can be

    Friday, 28 May 2010

    This is a strange place to start this post with, but I do so love the Eurovision Song Contest! It's happening tomorrow night, for those of you not in the know, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's so wonderful in its camp naffness. With that in mind, I decided to go searching on Spotify for a song that I remembered from a previous contest. Turns out it was Latvia's entry in 2008.  The song was 'Wolves of the Sea' by....erm, Pirates of the Sea. Have a look at them performing at Eurovision on You Tube, and tell me it's not hilarious. As I said on Facebook and Twitter earlier today, you just don't get enough singing Latvian pirates during the rest of the year!

    Problem was that after listening to it once, I listened to it a second time, because it cracked me up so much. And dammit if the song isn't actually catchy. So I spent the rest of the afternoon at work listening to it on Spotify, and thinking about pirates. 

    So pirates. Obviously the glorified fictional kind, and not the very real modern day ones. Famous for treasure hunts and quests. On the trail of hidden booty, usually whilst wearing rather fantastic boots. Sometimes it turns out to be misleading, and X doesn't always mark the spot in the way you might think. Weirdly, I can relate. I also imagine that a lot of you out there can, too. 

    So many of us living with diabetes are on the trail of some goal or other. Whether it's a better HbA1c, a pump, losing weight, more stable levels...the list goes on and on. For me at the moment, it's getting a better grip on my carb ratios, and having fewer hypos. Getting myself sorted generally, and into a better routine. 

    Another thing that came to mind when thinking about pirates came because I'm currently re-watching The West Wing, (it fills me with hope!), and the episode 'And It's Surely To Their Credit' was on the other night. In the episode, several characters keep mixing HMS Pinafore with The Pirates of Penzance. Apparently, 'He is an Englishman' is in 'the one about duty'. As various characters point out though, when it comes to Gilbert and Sullivan, 'they're all about duty'. 

    I love a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan (I really do!), and duty is an interesting thing to think about. Like pretty much every G&S is about duty, pretty much every person I've met in the DOC (diabetes online community for anyone who has been puzzled) has been about duty as well. Speaking I personally, I know that I feel a sense of duty to myself. No-one is going to do the work I need to do for me. If I want to look after my health, it's my duty to do everything that I can. 

    I also see an amazing level of devotion to duty in the DOC from parents, friends, partners, spouses. People who don't have diabetes themselves, but are willing to step up to the mark, and fight. Fight for good health, fight for better public understanding, fight for the right to access proper and appropriate care. Now that's spirit for you. Pirates would be proud!

    So welcome aboard the good HMS Diabetes! As far as I'm concerned, you're welcome whatever your treasure hunt may be. You're all pirates of the best kind. And if the ninjas decide to turn up for a fight, I believe we've got at least some of them on our side!

  5. Wrestling with Tigers

    Thursday, 27 May 2010

    Yesterday evening was the last session of my four week course at the hospital, called 'Living With Type One Diabetes'. Sure I've been doing that for a year, and sure it's not the catchiest name of all time, but in its way, I found it useful.

    Two of the sessions that we had, involved some time talking as a group with a 'psychologist with a special interest in diabetes'. If you ever get the chance, I would encourage you to take it. I think others in the group would have found it much more useful than I did, but it did make me ponder over a few things.

    She asked us what we actually thought about diabetes. About what it might look like. Personally I couldn't come up with an answer for that, but the nearest that I could come up with was something that I remember hearing off someone a while back. I can't even remember who it was. Whoever it was, what they said was that diabetes was like wrestling a tiger. Sometimes it's a baby tiger (one of the cutest things in the world), but it still has teeth and claws! But other days it's a full grown, and rather angry tiger. Sometimes you've stepped on its toes as well. But how do you learn to do that? No-one is good at that. Also, on the days when things go right, is it that the tiger is behaving better, or that you have better control of the tiger? Or both? How can you know?

    This also makes me think of a discussion that I had with Andrew a while back. Imagine a trying to stand on a surfboard, whilst being in the possession of naff all balance. That's hard, I'm told. But paddling along moves to standing up, and you get the hang of the basics. After that though, the waves start. You never know whether these waves are going to be big or small, and when you're knocked off the board, you might feel like you're drowning under the water. 

    You come to the surface though, and you have to get back on the board and start again. Like everything, the smaller waves which flummoxed you at first become easier to handle. But there are always more waves coming. Bigger ones. Because you can't stop the ocean, and you can't stop a tiger. You don't mess with nature.

  6. Oranges and Mice

    Wednesday, 26 May 2010

    There was an interesting discussion on Diabetes Support today, about whether people were actually taught how to inject by practising on oranges, or if this was just a myth. Now personally, after I came off the sliding scale - delivered by what I believe to be a syringe driver - scary looking piece of equipment when you're not actually sure what it is, by the way - after I came off that, I did my first injection myself. Novomix 30, into my arm. No oranges for me. I can't imagine what advantages there would have been to me learning that way. I think it would have frightened me more, and built it up to be this huge thing that had to have lots and lots of practice before I was able to do it. Also, this might be me, but I can't see how oranges and skin would actually have that much in common - much more effort to get a needle through an orange than through skin, surely?

    Also as a separate topic, I've found myself thinking about all the news articles you see about research into diabetes. It's always on mice. I'm not for animal testing for frivolous reasons (ie, cosmetics, etc), and I'm definitely anti-cruelty. But I do see a need for testing medicines on animals, even if I wish we didn't have to. All the same though, if you had to be an animal with diabetes, wouldn't it be great to be a mouse? Research into curing Type 1 in mice seems to be quite extensive.
    Just a thought...

  7. Where does it all go?

    Tuesday, 25 May 2010

    You may have been sensing a theme over the last few days, but I am losing things. A lot. So here's an update, since I have no real time to blog tonight.

    Frio Pouch - Still missing

    Insulin - Was embarrassingly forgotten today. As with my meter, Andrew had to go and fetch it.

    Lost? Well, I have finally seen the end of it (thank you Mum!). Verdict? Sadly disappointed with it at the moment. Need to mull it over some more.

    My marbles? Not been seen in quite some time.

  8. Out Of Order!

    Monday, 24 May 2010

    What is going on at the moment? Can anyone tell me? All of a sudden, it's like someone has flipped some sort of switch, and things are either not working or breaking. I've also noticed this strange vibe going around, both online and offline. I blame the heat. It does make people act differently - I know it does for me.

    But to add to the broken medical alert bracelet, and the missing Frio Wallet, (which I have STILL not found) I now have the broken lancing device! The Microlet 2 lancer that came with my Contour USB decided to break today. Either that, or I'm just much stronger than I think I am when I'm hypo.  And whilst I am genuinely quite strong, I don't think that's the case. Thankfully I have several other lancing devices, so it's not a problem. Otherwise it would have meant resorting to just sticking myself with the lancet. My mum does that, and I seriously couldn't bring myself to test that way. I'm squirming now just thinking about it!

    So that means, I have missing, broken and binned items. Man, you think I would have had enough with just the broken pancreas, wouldn't you?

  9. It's an inanimate object. It can't have grown legs and walked away. It has to be there somewhere!

    So, I can't find my Frio Wallet, by the way. As the temperature has been over the mid 20's for the past couple of days, I want to put my insulin in the pouch to keep it cooler.

    But can I find it anywhere? Of course not. Andrew and I have turned my bedroom upside down, but the damn thing is nowhere to be seen. 

    So, if you happen to come across one Frio Wallet, doesn't answer to the name of anything (being as it doesn't talk...), do point me in the right direction? I don't really want to have to buy another one.

  10. During last Friday's mad hypo incident, my medic alert bracelet broke. How annoying. It was actually my second version of the same bracelet, after my first one snapped back in December. The very nice people that I bought it off replaced it without any complaint. I wouldn't put down their customer service - it was excellent. I plan to give them a ring, in case they're willing to replace it again. 

    However, I'm wondering if beaded bracelets are just not the right fit for me? It might be that I'm just a bit too 'rough and tumble' for something so delicate! I had an amusing conversation on twitter with Holly from Arnold and Me about bracelets. We both admitted to be more than a little clutzy, and I said I would probably end up resorting to something coated in kryptonite! 

    Jokes aside though, I'm currently wearing my band on a piece of ribbon. Works for now, but I need something else. I'm really quite picky here. I want something attractive, but robust. I'd be willing to consider a leather cuff of some sort, but they all seem to look either too broad, or remind me of a watch strap. I already wear a watch - I don't need two straps! I don't really want to wear a necklace, either. I don't want something that slides up and down my wrist. I don't want one of those rubber sports type bands. I'm not actually sure that the thing I want exists. As soon as I find something I seem to like, it turns out I can't fit what I need on there, engraving wise. It won't fit my name, for heaven's sake!

    So I'm finding the whole shopping experience frustrating. To be fair, I find this to be true whatever I'm shopping for. Shoes, trousers, you name it, I hate shopping for it. So does anyone have any good leads for me? A robust but stylish bracelet that you can actually fit my name on? Silver, not gold?

  11. Oh Thigh There!

    Friday, 21 May 2010

    The 'kitteh' (yes, I am fluent in lol-speak, but it is so against my nature to spell poorly on purpose!) says 'hai!'. I however, want to talk about thighs. More specifically....erm, my thighs. Which is a bit of a weird start to a post. 

    I inject in my stomach pretty much exclusively. When I started injecting, I didn't want to, because I found it strange, and I wanted to inject in my arms. Now, as I say, it needs a very good reason for me to not inject in my stomach. 

    It's warm at the moment, and that's lovely. It does mean that I want to wear skirts and dresses more though. I'm not a big one for skirts and dresses. I love my jeans, which lend themselves to injecting in the stomach. Skirts aren't too hard to overcome. Dresses on the other hand? Now those I find awkward. I was rather thrilled when I was at my work's Christmas party, whilst wearing a rather lovely dress, that (the still wonderful and amazing) Jenny told me I didn't need to leave the table to inject before dinner, as I was puzzling out how to inject without either shooting into my arms, or leaving to lift up my dress. She helped me be subtle with some shielding from napkins and the tablecloth. Problem sorted. 

    I'm wearing a dress today, and I was trying to work out how to inject in my stomach. The conclusion I came to was that I couldn't. There was no way I was going to go into a toilet to inject, and I couldn't lift my dress in the office. I can't seem to juggle things right to inject into my arms. So that really left my thighs. Dress is just above the knee, so it's a perfectly acceptable and decent thing to do.

    Was it easy? Not too difficult. Was it comfortable? Not really. I wasn't confident that it was definitely fat that I was injecting into. Trust me, my thighs are not short of fat to inject into, but knowing me, I'm bound to get it wrong. But my worry is that if I'm constantly injecting into my stomach, I'll end up with the fatty lumps that you get from injecting into the same place repeatedly.  So I guess whilst the weather is encouraging me to wear dresses, it's also encouraging me to try and get the hang of this thigh thing.

  12. Making Friends With My Scales

    Thursday, 20 May 2010

    We had cake in the office again today. I was 'good', and did not partake. However, I decided that in honour of the fact it is no longer absolutely freezing, I wanted ice cream. I have just finished it, and it was very good. 

    Before diabetes, my diet wasn't exactly a shining example of excellent nutrition. It wasn't awful, don't get me wrong. But I probably would have had the cake, and also had the ice cream, and not given it a second thought. Now, on the other hand, I didn't have the cake, because it was a (pretty great looking) home made cake, and I wasn't confident that I could come up with a decent carb estimate. And I weighed the ice cream. My scales are pretty good friends now. They're out all the time on my kitchen table, and if I'm at home, I weigh most things. Cereal, pasta (ice cream). Not rice for some reason - I've never worked out why I don't weight that. I'm strange? That seems like the most realistic reason. 

    I hear a lot of people saying 'insulin makes you gain weight'. I don't understand this, myself.  It could be because I've re-evaluated my diet, portion size control and exercise, but I've continued to lose weight. I may be naive about it, but I don't see why there's any reason that you would put on weight, if there aren't extra factors involved.  I know that insulin helps you turn unused carbohydrates to fat, but so does insulin in everyone non-diabetic, surely? I don't think that you can accuse diabetes for that? If you were eating and not burning off the same amount of carbs, it would make you put on weight regardless of whether or not you have diabetes.

    Now I don't want anyone to think that I'm having a go at people who struggle with their weight. That would be unbelievably hypocritical of me, as someone who has a lot of issues with her size, and has battled with issues with food. I just find this thing confusing, and haven't really seen any scientific proof that insulin makes you gain weight, rather than it being what you're putting in your mouth. I would be both happy and extremely interested to read any studies anyone could point me to, though!

    I definitely think about food differently now, though. I'm starting to build up a mental guide to how much carb is in many items. A glass of juice, a slice of bread, half a tin of baked beans, my usual portion of pasta. I'm nowhere near fluent in the 'language' of carb values yet. I used to sleep with my radio on when I was younger. This meant that I acquired a rather sponge-like ability to soak up music and lyrics. I'm rather encyclopaedic, which you'll know if you've ever met me in real life. Maybe I need to make a song out of all of this?


    As a little side note, I'm guest blogging today for Kerri over at Six Until Me. Thanks for having me, Kerri! A big welcome to you as well, if this is the first time you've read INI, after seeing me there. You're most welcome, and feel free to say hi!

  13. New Year - 365 days a year

    Wednesday, 19 May 2010

    I don't really 'do' New Year's Eve. I've never done the whole giant party thing. I'll either stay in and watch Jools Holland, or maybe go out for a meal with a couple of friends. And much as I don't do much for New Year's, I don't do resolutions either. I said in my first post of 2010 that I made one resolution years ago, which I kept. That was not to make any more resolutions. I'm very good at it as well. 

    However, there are always things that could do with changing. These days, I'm trying to be all about the realistic goals. It's one of those jargon-y 'buzz' terms, but I think trying to keep things 'SMART' is actually a good thing. If you've not come across this before, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable  Realistic, Time controlled. 

    But why should we confine these sorts of changes and decisions to New Year? The problem I find with New Year's Resolutions, is that they have such a huge amount of hype and pressure behind them that by the time you've reached the second week in January, you're setting yourself up for failure. From that first day of the year, fulfilling whatever goal you've got can seem huge. A year seems a long long time from the first of January. So why put that pressure on yourself? 

    I think changing things because you want to, and not because you feel pressured into it is good and important. Change can be scary, but it doesn't always have to be, if you start with the small steps. Every journey starting with a single step, and all that jazz. One thing that I've been trying to come to terms with myself is that you can't control everything all the time. Trying to do that is like trying to keep sand in a sieve. You just can't. You've just got to do the best that you can. 

    Failure isn't a great thing to think about as you try and make positive changes. But you know what? You might fail. Nobody's perfect. I know I'm not! I fail at things all the time - and I don't like it. That's normal, right? But the nitty gritty of it is that I think you're only a 'failure' if you tell yourself you're one, and you don't try again. It's not about how many times you fall, but how you pick yourself up again, I believe is the saying. 

    Picking yourself up again isn't always easier, either. Especially when you're trying the best that you can and things still go wrong. It's disheartening. It's disappointing. But the great thing is that we can try it again if we get things wrong. We can start over. If you think of every day as being New Year, then to throw another saying out there, 'tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life'. And that's every single day.

  14. That's How You Know

    Tuesday, 18 May 2010

    I don't know if you've seen the film 'Enchanted'. I love it. It's camp, and fun and pokes fun at itself and the genre of Disney 'princess' films in the most wonderful way. I highly suggest getting your hands on a copy, if you haven't seen it. If you've got any warmth in you, it should leave you with a smile on your face.

    Anyway, Amy Adams, who plays Giselle in it, has this most amazing, old school style song called 'That's How You Know', where she talks about all the different ways that a guy will show a girl that he loves her, even if he can't actually say it.

    I didn't want to start quoting loads of songs at you, but this one is right. Love is a many splendoured thing, I believe it does lift us up where we belong, and much of the time, all you need is love. But since I'm not a big winner in the world of romantic love, I'd like to take a moment to exalt the virtues of the other kinds of love, and platonic love in particular.

    You don't necessarily go around all the time telling your friends how much you love them. Maybe you do, I don't know. I try to let them know as best I can, as the song in question says, with the little things you do. What I know though, is that there are people in my life who have been showing me day by day how much they care.

    It's the friend who, when we go out for lunch, is happy to drop whatever she's doing so that the time we go fits with where my numbers are.

    It's the dance partner who will carry my Glucotabs in his trouser pocket when we're performing because my skirt has nowhere to keep them.

    It's the friend who brings brownies in to work, and has carb-counted the recipe

    The other friend who says she's found a place round the corner that sells ice cream with an option of diabetic ice cream cones, if I'm interested. (Franks Diabetic Ice cream being the only 'diabetic' thing I'll buy)

    It's the absolutely amazing friend who will do a thirty mile round trip to pick up your prescription of test strips because you forgot to call it in, you'll run out over the weekend and are panicking.

    The same friend that took cans of diet coke on a trip because he thought you would go hypo due to all the walking and would want the caffeine after you came back up. Who can't stand needles, but has never said a word about me injecting in front of him.

    It's all these things and a hundred more that I could spend all day listing.

    That's how you know.

  15. Sweet Dreams

    Monday, 17 May 2010

    One of my (many, I'm sure) flaws is that I have absolutely terrible sleeping habits. Even I'm embarrassed by them. It's very rare that I'm in bed before midnight, and I'm a frequent oversleeper. I have two alarm clocks - one on my phone, and one old-fashioned clanger sort that goes like the clappers and is the size of a dinner plate. I still manage to sleep through them with alarming (I wrote that with genuinely no pun intended) frequency.

    I need to get into a routine again. When I was at university, I'd be up all night quite happily, and I would be highly productive that way. I guess, in my mind, if I could do it then, I can do it now. But maybe I've changed? If I can drag myself out of my wonderful (but not as wonderful, and nowhere near as gorgeous as the one pictured!) bed earlier than I would like, I actually get a lot done early in the morning. My problem right now is how to get into a routine of up early, to bed early. I'm always tired!

    Most of this is my own fault, and I'll admit that quite freely. However, I've found if I go to bed higher than I would like, I feel absolutely trashed in the morning. I don't know if this is true of anyone else, but it seems to be true of me. Case in point would be last night. Went to bed on about 13.9 mmol/l (250mg/dl), and woke up on around 7mmol/l (126 mg/dl). That's a fairly substantial drop overnight? Maybe it did something to contribute to the rather freaky dreams of last night. Something to chew over, I'm sure.

    I remember bedtime routine as a child. My bedtime drink of choice was Vimto (do you guys have that in the States? It's amazing!) in a mug. The cordial version, of course. I don't know why it was always in a mug, but it was. I think tonight, to mark the start of my 'better sleep hygiene' (a weird term, surely?) might require Vimto in a mug. Then maybe I can start trying to get things done.

  16. Glucotab Envy

    Sunday, 16 May 2010

    Just after I was diagnosed, I was bought a whole order's worth of Glucotabs from an online medical order shop. I still haven't used all of them, but I've been through a fair few of the 50 tablet pots. I'm collecting spare change in two of them, which helps me feel like I'm being thrifty. 

    I don't mind Glucotabs too much, really. I don't LIKE them, but that means I'm disinclined to snack on them. I have several of the little plastic tubes that the 10's come in. I just refill them from the large pots. I do carry an empty one around in my bag with me though - it's an absolutely ideal sharps disposal pot for when you're out and about. That there's a top tip for you. I also know that three of them will bring me up from pretty much most hypos. In fact the only thing that bugs me about Glucotabs is the flavours.

    Here in the UK, you have a choice of two flavours - orange or raspberry. Of the two, I prefer the raspberry, but what I wouldn't give for a change! I know over in the US, there are more choices. A quick search on the Walgreens website (I've come to the conclusion Walgreens must be a bit like Boots over here?) showed an absolute bounty of flavours in comparison! As well as your bog standard orange and raspberry, I found mixed fruit, grape and sour apple! 

    Let's just say I'm jealous!

  17. On the road again

    Saturday, 15 May 2010

    So, Andrew took me out on the bike again tonight. It had been a strange old day, in that when I looked out of the window this morning, it looked like it was going to pour it down with rain. And it looked cold. 

    Thankfully though, it both brightened, and warmed up enough for me to go protesting (great turn out, both the speakers and people in the crowd were lovely), and boil in clothing I thought was going to be weather-appropriate. 'Interesting' fact about me is that I never, ever choose clothes that are appropriate to the weather. I freeze or boil - it's not fun.

    But by the time I'd got back home, (after another hypo) it had warmed up nicely, and Andrew wanted to try an experiment. I recently acquired a little pocket video camera, and I've taken to making short films. So Andrew wanted to try seeing if he could attach the camera to his bike gear and film his rides. This meant another experiment with 'Gaffa- Mache', in which you make a case for things out of Gaffa tape and clingfilm.

    So we tied it to him, and it did indeed film. However, we forgot to cut a gap for the microphone. So it consequently sounds like there is a giant helicopter attacking us the whole way through this!

    Things that it is important to remember! 

    1: I've said it before, but bike clothes make you look unbelievably fat
    2: I don't know why I say 'hello' like a complete loony. I don't normally talk that, I promise
    3: There is no helicopter. Much in the same way 'there is no spoon'. If it's really hard for a lot of people to understand, let me know, and I'll put up subtitles!

  18. It's been a hard day's night

    Friday, 14 May 2010

    It's ended up turning in to one of those days, it really, really has. We've got a show in the theatre tonight, which means working late. However, half our staff are away, which means we're understaffed. On a normal evening when we have the public in the building, we have three members off staff on. Tonight, we had two - myself and Andrew. 

    So, I'm busy doing box office (shocking), and we're about five minutes off opening the house. I'm feeling a bit wibbly, and I'm pretty sure a hypo is headed my way, but unfortunately, box office is busy, and my meter is in the other room. OK, I think, I can wait a couple of minutes to check. 
    Then the fire alarm goes off. Oh yes, you heard me right. ANOTHER fire alarm with me in the building. Thrills! So, good, responsible little steward that I am, I make sure everyone is out of the building. It's not going to be fire, I know that - it's going to be the haze machine combined with the fans in the theatre kicking up dust. For some reason, that sometimes sets off the alarm, as has been previously observed by the times our Stage Manager, Rob, has set the alarm off with his sander. But we get everyone out, and I'm running up and down the stairs (we have quite a few), to check all the levels. Everybody out, everything is safe, everybody in. 

    Wait a few minutes, serve lots more drinks. OK, I feel REALLY low now. I drink some juice off the bar, but I'm shaking on the insides, I'm sweating, and I can feel waves of heat rushing up and down me. Lovely. A couple of minutes later, I see a window of opportunity, and I run off and grab my meter, and try to check. 

    Shunk, goes the lancet. 

    No blood. Try another finger.

    Shunk goes the lancet.

    No blood this time either. Grrr!

    Flick my arm to try and get some blood to my fingers.

    Medical ID bracelet flies off my wrist, and is now a bunch of beads cluttering the floor between the box office and halfway through the main office. Well, that's just peachy, isn't it? I start picking them up, and try again to test.

    Shunk goes the lancet.

    4,3,2,1, numberwang says......3.2mmol/l (57.6mg/dl) AFTER juice?! Aw man. I'm seriously sweaty and swaying by now. I go back over to the bar.

    'Andrew? Andrew, I'm really low.'

    So being as I'm supposed to stay downstairs as Duty Manager, whilst Andrew goes upstairs (ironically, mostly in case of a fire-related emergency, ha ha ha(!) ), I decide to possibly over treat this, so that he knows I'm not going to drop whilst I'm working alone downstairs, and can't get to anyone. 

    Pour another glass of apple juice and down it. Then pour another glass (they're very small). I pause to look at it. There's mould floating in it. Well, isn't that just LOVELY? And isn't it good we hadn't had anyone buy any? I couldn't have noticed this before I'd drunk two glasses of it though, could I?

    I drink a bit of orange juice instead, and grab a bar of chocolate off the bar as well, thinking that my bar tab is rocketing up by this point. Everyone goes up, and I sit down at my desk.

    I post a cry for help on Twitter, Facebook, and Diabetes Support, saying I was on my own, and could anyone who had my mobile number check on me in ten minutes or so?
    And bless their hearts, did people come through for me? Sam, Siobhan and Tom all texted me within a matter of minutes, asking if I was ok, did I have stuff to treat with, etc.

    I was climbing slowly. 4.9, 5.2, all the way up to 6.8mmol/l (122mg/dl). Still felt like utter rubbish though, and my WORD was I hungry by now?

    Interval comes, and we do a roaring trade on the bar. But I want to go home. Show has just finished, and now I'm at 10.7mmol/l (192.6 mg/dl), and I'm still having to think much harder than normal to type this correctly. 

    Is it home and bed time yet? How was your day?

  19. Timber!

    Thursday, 13 May 2010

    I've been way behind on my logging. And no, not the sort in the picture. I'm onto my third log book now, as provided by my clinic.

    I've said time and time again that I struggle to kick myself into being organised. I also struggle from sieve-brain in a lot of areas. Oh yes, I can be a real winner!

    It's been a couple of weeks where Andrew has been going to me 'Logbooks?'. It actually doesn't need to be a sentence, because it only takes that one word to get me going 'Yes, I know, I know, I'll do it tonight.'. Which I invariably would not do. 

    But what's a girl to do? I know if I were to do it daily, it's a task that wouldn't be any sort of issue. I'll say to myself that I will sit down at the end of every day and log my scores, and I'll keep that up for maybe three days. I'm such a procrastinator. Now kids, listen to your Aunty Becky -  don't procrastinate. It's not cool. It just means you've got loads of rubbish to deal with later.

    So tonight, it seems that my putting off doing my log books had gone on long enough. We eventually resorted to bribery. Not that it was called bribery. Hoovering the stairs, giving the George Forman grill, and taking out the bins, since it's bin night, were all the things it was decided I would have to do if I didn't sit down and write up my logs.

    So I did. I really, really hate taking out the bins. It turns out that though it's immensely tedious, it was quite interesting. I hadn't logged since the end of March. Bad, bad Becky. I've had way more hypos than I perhaps had realised. On the flip side though, I've had more 'reasonable' days than I'd been anticipating.

    I know I should do it more often. It's hard to see any sort of patterns if I don't write it down. The Contour USB is great for showing me trends and patterns. However, because my own laptop is being seriously squiffy at the moment, I haven't got access to my graphs. Which is making me sad. But the game of 'what the HECK happened on that day?!' is both frustrating and fascinating in almost equal measures.

    But don't do what I do. You can do it better! I'm just an idiot who needs to get her butt in gear, really! I better. Otherwise it's bin night again this time next week. And the stairs will need hoovering again, I'm sure.

  20. Ready to stand tall and speak up

    Wednesday, 12 May 2010

    I was going to write about something completely different up until about five minutes ago. I started writing a different post, but then deleted it all. I want to talk about something else. I imagine this is more than slightly influenced by the fact I've been rather riled up, coupled by my seriously considering joining the Take Back Parliament rally in York on Saturday, but I've been thinking about the way I want to campaign for things more and more these days. I believe strongly in fairness. I believe in equality, and injustice bothers me down the the core. Social welfare is one of my major concerns in life. 

    So with that in mind, it shouldn't surprise me, really, that I want to fight for the 'little guy'. For all those who are under-represented in the DOC and non-OC, who find themselves shafted, or thrown aside. Who see doors shut in their face. This sort of thing makes me unbelievably angry. Wrong doings in corporations? Oh don't get me started. 

    It comes naturally that I'm firmly behind DiDkA. I've also spoken before on how I want to be a good advocate for Type Ones. I don't even know how to go about that, really, but I know that I want to be someone who is concerned with what is right, what is fair, and in helping people with diabetes access what they're entitled to in terms of education, resources and support. I'm still aiming to run the Rat Race Mean Streets Challenge in September to raise money for JDRF

    Having been inspired by the amazing work of Circle D, (which, if you're not familiar with the group, is an awesome support group for 18-30's living with diabetes) I've moved to set up Circle D North Yorkshire, which is not really exclusive to North Yorkshire! If you're within travelling distance, you're more than welcome. If you, or anyone you know might be interested, please do check it and get in touch. 

    But those of you who have greater and longer experience in such matters, I turn to you. How do you become a good, strong and positive advocate? What tips would you give me, and where do you think I should go? I've got my soap box out, and I'm ready to roll my sleeves up.

  21. This Sieve? My Brain.

    Tuesday, 11 May 2010

    See this? This was my brain today. I had my meter case out on my coffee table this morning, whilst switching bags to a larger one, allowing room for my dance shoes. I had placed in more needles, put in a new tub of test strips. About to walk out the door. Phone, wallet, keys, insulin? Yep, all there.

    Time comes for me to test two hours after breakfast? Yeah. No kit. It's still on the coffee table. Well done me. Andrew remains my absolute star as he cycled off to get it for me. I've never left my meter somewhere before. I only seem to do a major cock up once every three months or so. So on balance, it's not too bad, I guess.

  22. Well hello there, ladies and gents, and welcome to the first volume of the Bureaux Carnival! For those of you who might have missed what we're about, the Bureaux Carnival is all about highlighting European health bloggers, and their writing.

    We've had a choice selection of submissions for this first volume - I'm sure that as people see what's out there, more and more submissions will come in for the subsequent volumes.

    All our submissions for Volume One have been on the theme of friendship, in all its various forms

    That's what friends are for...

    First up, Loubie Lou over at One Size Doesn't Fit All talks about how despite friends might come and go out of your life, their effects will always be felt, and why having friends you can trust completely is so important.

    Osob Gabdon of African Doll tells us how great it feels to find friends she can talk to about living with diabetes, and how a friend can make you smile about even the hardest things.

    Navigating relationships 

    While struggling with a chronic illness since childhood, Tight Rope Dancer has found trying to understand social codes and how to make friends with people especially arduous. In Patronizing authorities, social codes, friendship - a complex trail of associations , she discusses spending her adult life trying to fit in when it's not really possible, and how it calls for a different attitude altogether.

    With friends like these, who needs enemies? In My Darling, Diabetes, Alan of Poems For Active Diabetics waxes lyrical about making 'friends' with diabetes, a guest that won't leave - and how life with a chronic disease sometimes takes longer to get used to than you might initially think.

    Letting your fingers do the walking...

    In Someone to Share Things With, Sam at Talking Blood Glucose muses over how the Internet has given her a new lease of life, new friendships, and new social circle that understands where she's coming from.

    In a similar fashion, Siobhan at Click of the Light has found that the online community has helped her feel less isolated, and in Type One - The Lonely Condition Until Recently, she talks about finding friends who are her safety net, and are in it for the long run.

    Like what you see? Why not join in?

    Thanks to all the wonderful contributors of this first volume! The Bureaux Carnival is aiming to be a bi-weekly event. Volume Two is going to be hosted by Siobhan at Click of the Light with the theme of 'My First Day'. So do keep your eyes open for her opening submissions, which should be happening shortly. Please do point any talented European bloggers you know this way, and if you would like to be a future host, please give me an e-mail, and we'll see what we can sort out!

  23. I Like To Ride My Bicycle

    Sunday, 9 May 2010

    I know I can't speak for everyone over here, but I have found the last few days in the UK to be extremely stressful. So it was a real treat to go down to the river today to help celebrate my friend Anna's birthday.

    I don't know if I'm the only person this has ever happened to, but I never really learned to ride a bicycle as a child. Shocking, I know.I kind of taught myself, but when I outgrew the bike I had at that point, I never got another. But shortly before I was diagnosed, I bought myself a second hand bike, and was determined to learn how to ride it. Andrew has been teaching me - something I'm sure he regrets doing. I'm not a fast or patient learner, it turns out! It also seems that the old adage isn't true - you do forget the basics, as falling off a bunch of times, and nearly riding into walls, trees, the river and people has shown me. 
    Well, I haven't been 'riding' in about a year, since about this time last year I was pretty distracted with diagnosis, and Stage Managing Shrew in the summer. Then winter came, and it was long. I wasn't overly inspired to go out and continue learning in that sort of weather. So being as I was so rubbish generally, I was surprised that, when I suggested we cycled down to Anna's party, I was actually not too bad! Until I tried to gracefully duck under some bunting when we got there, drove into the back wheel of Andrew's bike, and came right off. Graceful, no?

    That besides, since this was picnic food, I decided to take a different approach than normal. As you generally want to graze, rather than pick all your food out at once in this sort of environment (or at least, I know I do), I thought I would try eating first, injecting later. I did go a bit carb crazy, I have to admit. Bread with brie, some cookies, some pringles, mini scones. Very naughty, and I was expecting at least a double figure score. But scores came in at 7.5mmol/l. Huh...that was weird. I tested a few more times, and when I got home, and I didn't go above 8.9mmol/l (160 mg/dl) My only conclusion is that I must have burned off a lot more energy cycling than I'd anticipated.

    Anyway, it was warm and sunny for the most part, and everyone seemed to have fun. We saluted all the boats going down the river, to see how many we could get to do the same. My personal favourite was the person who sang back at us. That was great fun. Inspired by others doing the same, I also decided to attempt something else that I'd not tried before - climbing trees. 

    I was not good at this either. I've mentioned before that I'm not really ladylike. But all the same, the lack of grace with which this was accomplished was quite extraordinary. Andrew ended up climbing the same tree in advance, whilst our friend Ivan helped me by letting me get up on his shoulders. Like I say, graceful. Getting down was easier, but as Andrew pointed out, gravity does work in your favour that way.

    We also raced paper boats up the river. I managed to pick the only one with a giant tear in it. So I dubbed it the Titanic. How surprising that it should then go on to win the race.

    We cycled back home, which felt a much bigger effort than getting there had. But rounding off this rather lovely, relaxed day is drinking some hot chocolate and watching Elf on DVD. Scores have all been good today. Sometimes you just need a day off.

  24. Confessions of a Pump Ignoramus

    Saturday, 8 May 2010

    A fortnight ago, I was fortunate enough to go down to London to take part in festivities for the second birthday of the fabulous Circle D. I had a really wonderful time, despite feeling very rough. The sun shone, and I got to meet some fabulous people, including Northerner from  'Poems from Active Diabetics', Tom from Diabetes Dramas et al, and Siobhan from Click of the Light. It was about as close to a UK Dbloggers meet as we could hope for, really, when it was actually for something else!

    Tom has recently become the (extremely) proud owner of an insulin pump. The last time we met, which was in York in March, Tom had said that he would bring me an infusion site to try wearing, so that I could see what I thought of the whole thing. 

    Well, he did. And we filmed it, whilst getting the dirty stink eye from a woman opposite us. Siobhan is doing the camera work, and I ask you to forgive me for the following:

    A: Being extremely nervous
    B: Laughing rather hysterically
    C: Being a complete wuss.

    The London meet in itself was interesting. I had never had the opportunity to see an insulin pump before. So it was very educational to meet several people there who were all more than happy to show me theirs. On the whole, they were smaller, lighter, and more discreet than I had anticipated them being. I have very small hands, and yet most of them fitted in my palm.

    So at the end of the day, I went away with this on, and proceeded to leave it in for the three days that I'd been told was appropriate. 

    It was a very strange experience. After Tom had put the site in, it didn't hurt, like I thought it might, rather I found it itchy. I don't know whether my skin didn't like the adhesive on the tape, but it itched. 

    Tom had also given me a shower cap for it, so I wasn't wearing the tubing attached to nothing. It would have been another thing I would have been interested in doing, but wearing the tubing attached to nothing just seemed stupid. So I kept the shower cap on. And I showered, and slept and went about my daily business with it on. I intrigued/freaked out/enlightened people (delete as appropriate for the different reactions) with the site. 

    I was terrified of getting the thing wet, or ripping it out accidentally whilst I was asleep. But neither of these things happened, as was proved by I woke up with it still attached, and showering was fine. But I was still conscious that it was there for about 70% of the time. I know that means that 30% of the time I didn't care, or completely forgot, and you would probably get over that if you were actually wearing a pump, not just flirting with the site. One other thing I would hope you'd get over is the urge I found to play with the site. Mostly taking the shower cap on and off. But then again, I'm a compulsive fidgeter. I play with keys, I chew and pull out my hair, and up until recently, I was a terrible nail biter. I don't know whether that would marry well with something like a pump that you shouldn't really fidget with.

    What I was really afraid of though, was taking the site out. I didn't have anyone to help me with that! Was it going to hurt? Could I do it 'wrong' and accidentally leave something in? I was all set to see if I could find something on YouTube to help me, but I thought I'd give it a go solo first, and seek help if I ran into problems.

    Well it seems I had built it up in my mind to be this huge thing, which it wasn't at all. It didn't hurt me any more than removing a plaster. I was surprised to see blood in it, but I don't know why. Makes perfect sense, really. The thing that really had me slapping my forehead and feeling like a prize idiot though, was the fact that what I was removing was actually NOT a needle. Of course it wasn't! But I had always believed that there was a needle inside the infusion site. Like I say, my contact with pumps had been virtually non-existent, and not being in active pursuit of acquiring one myself, I somehow had this misconception. Why would there be a needle? It would be far too easy for it to break off inside you, which would be perfectly horrifying. I guess that goes to show you that anyone can get the wrong idea about something, being as I consider myself fairly well informed on most things diabetes-related. 
    But will this experience, which allayed an awful lot of my fears surrounding pumps, convince me to seek one out for myself? I don't think so. I find the whole thing fascinating, I totally support those out there who are after a pump for themselves, and maybe in a couple of years I'll join them. I can see the pros. I'm getting tired of injecting, because my technique seems to have got a bit rubbish as of late, and I'm finding it hard to find a spot or an angle which doesn't hurt. Yet, I don't think I'd be ready any time soon to make the leap of being tethered to something 24/7.

    I'm currently taking part in a course at my hospital called 'Living With Type 1 Diabetes' (catchy!), and apparently we're going to get a chance to have a look at some pumps, and talk to a couple of people using them. So my pump education continues!

  25. Through the Wringer

    Friday, 7 May 2010

    I'm really very tired today. Now admittedly, this is mostly my own fault. It's hard to say entirely whether this was because I was stubborn (which I am), but I was determined to stay up to watch the results of the UK General Election. The concept of going to sleep whilst my country was changing around me didn't sit well with me. 

    I made it to 4am, before going to bed. I'm told that I just missed the result for the York Central constituency, which came in shortly after 4am. I woke up at 7am, but got up shortly after 8am. All in all, I didn't feel too bad. Had a low waking score in the 4's (about 79 mg/dl). Well, it's low for me, as I rarely ever get a waking score lower than 6mmol/l. 

    But two hours after breakfast? Hypo. Before lunch? Hypo. Two hours after lunch? Hypo. Good job I had a lot of Glucotabs on me, really. Chug some Diet (Cherry, yey!) Coke, and at about 16:00, Andrew makes me go out for walk to buy milk for the office, which clears my head a tiny bit, but man did I feel rough. To be honest, still not feeling brilliant. 

    I do feel like I've been through the wringer today, both physically and emotionally. I don't like sitting on this knife edge of a decision. I don't think I've ever watched so much news in a 24 hour period. The fact that I'm really stressed out over this probably hasn't helped matters much. But I often find that my hypos seem to come in three's. I hate being proved right!

  26. The Devil in Disguise

    Thursday, 6 May 2010

    Hypo symptoms are weird things. You don't want to lose them, because that's dangerous. On the other hand, you can sometimes confuse with them with signs of hypers. On top of that, I have been battling recently with normal levels, disguising themselves as hypos. I hate that.

    This afternoon is a classic example. Legs like lead, absolutely no dexterity, feeling like my head is full of cotton wool - but completely sound levels, of 4.8 and 5.2. Any other time of the day, I would be thrilled with those levels, so why did I feel so rubbish? 

    Whenever I've been feeling like this, it's not like I've dropped from an unusual high, and the feelings could be explained away by what I've come to term as a 'relative hypo'. I honestly don't understand.

    So being as I don't understand, I turn this over as a question to you in the DOC. Can anyone help me shed any light on this? I find it frustrating and bewildering, and advice would be most welcome.