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  1. In love, in fear, in hate, in tears

    Monday, 10 October 2011

    I don't know about you, but I have certain pieces of music that I'll come back to time and time again. Pieces that mean a lot more to me than others - the ones that always provoke a reaction. I've had a weird, unsettling day today for reasons that aren't entirely mine. And I've found the past few months or so a bit of an uphill battle a lot of the time. I also know that I'm not the only one out there. And sometimes you don't have the words to really show the support that you want to. So instead, I'm going to let someone else do it for me, in a way better than I ever could. 

    I love this song. I loved it for many, many years, but it took on a whole new meaning when I heard it sung as part of the Manchester Passion a few years back. I've never been able to find a recording of that, sadly - but it was amazing. But all I know is that, tonight, if you've been struggling, I want you to know that you're not alone in this. Because I love you. 

  2. And I ask did I get here?

    Tuesday, 27 September 2011

    I have Statcounter on my blog. And a very handy little thing it is too. It lets me know all sorts of interesting things, like where you're all reading from and all sorts of other fascinating bits of data, allowing me to feel a bit like a spy. Or a stalker. Whatever's your poison, I suppose. 

    One of the interesting bits of data it tells me is what search terms brought people here in the first place. Some of them are slightly more bizarre than others. For your delectation, some of the more puzzling ones include:

    Man screaming in fear - erm...ok.

    Really thin pancakes - those things that people call crepes when they're being poncy, but normal people call pancakes? 

    Timber logs being taken away - I really have no idea how this one brought someone here.

    Phillip Schofield and his little friend Gordon the Gopher - ....sure.

    All human beings talk about the weather. Yes. Yes they do. And if you're in Calamity Jane you might well sing about it.

    Wonder Woman is a babe.  No arguments here.

    Sexy girl surfing hot underwater hd - Again, no idea with this one.
    Cotton wool head and legs like lead - I hear you, friend. Been there. 

    Scary oranges - Yes, I hear they're utterly terrifying.

    And possibly my favourite - 

    Pigeon going to work

  3. Getting armed and ready

    Monday, 26 September 2011

    Let's just get this said right off the bat - diabetes sucks. It isn't any fun, and it's not something we ask for. I'm riding at a 'lovely' score of 14.8mmol/l (266) as I write this - I'm not exactly in the best mood, as you can imagine. However, I'm trying to put a positive spin on things as best I can. 

    I read the '15 measures' article from Diabetes UK the other day, and had to stop and think some. If you've not read the article (which I suggest you do, if you haven't), the basic premise is that there are 15 basic health checks that people with diabetes in the UK should get every year. What was rather horrifying was the statistics provided of the sheer thousands of people who were failing to access basic tests to help educate and prevent complications. Education and basic tests are far more cost efficient than treating complications later down the line. Really, there is no excuse not to be offering these checks to people. 

    I'm lucky. I really am. I've been offered, and taken up several diabetes education courses. Of course I'm pro-active about my health and my diabetes education. Not everyone is. But through asking, and I mean simply asking - I didn't have to beat down any doors - I've accessed carb counting courses, courses for 'newly' diagnosed people and pump training. I am aware how lucky that makes me. Not every area offers these things. On the whole I've never had to fight for my test strips. I pray that never changes. Through being educated, and given the right resources, I can know that my sugars were at that 14.8. I know how to correct and what to correct by, rather than leaving it up there. This has to be a good thing, surely? This is the application of preventative measures! This is how you enable people!
    On the flip side,though, the problem with having all these checks done is that sometimes the results tell you something you really don't want to hear. I reference you back to the whole 'chubbygate' situation. I didn't want to hear that. It hit a raw nerve for me. But my consultant wasn't to know how my weight has been an issue for me for pretty much as long as I can remember. And I'm trying to do something about it. You bet I am. It's not easy though, and I'm sure many people out there can relate. 

    It's not just chubbygate though. I've been going round and round in my head about how I was going to bring this one up. I don't want to make something out of nothing, but it got to me. This is going back over a month, to the end of July. I had just got back from working a week long event as part of my job. Believe me when I say I was tired when I got back home. I found a letter waiting for me at my door, which I knew from looking at the envelope was from the retinal screening service. I wasn't worried to open it - the rather lovely young woman who'd taken my pictures had said that it all looked fine at the time.

    The letter was saying something different. Minor background changes. Apparently nothing to worry about, and nothing that required anyone doing anything. We'll see you in a year. 

    I would very much like to meet the person who reads that letter and doesn't worry. I'm sorry, but they're not human. I was tired, it hit me from nowhere. I dumped my bag at the top of my stairs, lay on my bed and started crying. Was I going blind? Was this my fault? I'd only been at this whole diabetes game for just over two years, and I was already getting this letter? The one I wasn't hoping to see for another ten, fifteen, twenty years, if ever? Had I done this to myself? Could I fix it?

    Well, of course, I got past that eventually. And do you know what? Being upset was ok. I keep telling myself that. Staying that way, though, is just self pity. And no-one likes that person. I certainly don't. I've since been for a standard, 'real-person' eye test. Part of that was the non-drops version of the retinal photograph. I talked to my optician about what I'd been worrying about, and he talked me through everything. Seems that if it were his own eye, he wouldn't have been concerned; it's the sort of thing that can disappear as quickly as it came. Turns out I needed to get glasses for cinema and driving, which I wasn't expecting, but what can you do? Most of my family wears glasses (or should - but I won't go there), and it wasn't like I was completely shocked. That's 'real-person' stuff, and nothing to do with me and my D. 

    Getting that letter, and 'chubbygate' were a real punch to the gut. I didn't want them, and I didn't really see it coming. But in the long run, I'm probably the better for knowing. You can't see your way through the darkness, and you can't work with information you don't know. It hurts, and sometimes it feels personal, or like people are rubbing salt into the wound, but I've been thinking and asking myself lately whether I would rather not know these things, and carry on blind, or know where I stand and what I'm working with. Personally, I'd go with option B. So to anyone out there who might be reading this who isn't getting all their '15 measures', please do yourself a favour. Make some calls, knock some doors down. Be your own advocate and your own enabler. Get what is rightfully yours to inform yourself and arm yourself against a disease that, let's face it, sucks and isn't going anywhere. We need all the tools available in our arsenal, so let's make sure we get our hands on them.

  4. Victory is mine!

    Thursday, 15 September 2011

    And we have a WINNER!

    Oh yes, oh yes, ladies and gentlemen. It is Thursday 15th September, and today, I got rid of the sharps bins! 

    As I put them out on the doorstep last night, I was starting to think that it would never happen. I was convinced that when I checked if they'd gone before I went to work, they would still be there. But, lo and behold, they had gone. I didn't quite believe it, to be honest with you. My landlord (perfectly understandably) didn't want to leave a huge bag like that on the doorstep all day, so I said I would bring it back in if it was still there when I checked. But when it wasn't, I thought maybe he'd taken it back inside. But oh joy, oh wonder, when I got back from work, it was no-where to be seen!

    Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come. You can, however, rest assured that I plan to write to my council over the shockingly rubbish service I got off them up until this point. In happier news, though, I would like to present the ultimate solution to finding something the right size for a travel sharps container. I've found it darn near impossible to find something big enough to fit an inset in. But then it came to me...

    Miniature Pringles cans! Throw a handy roll of LX tape into the mix and you've got yourself the perfect disposal vehicle. Plus - Pringles! What's not to love?

    Score one for me, and score one for just common sense...

  5. The Legend of the Sharps Man

    Monday, 5 September 2011

    It's like some diabetes urban legend. Say his name four times into the telephone, and he might appear to you that night...

    Sharps man...

    Sharps man...

    Sharps man...

    Do you dare say it one more time?

    I did.

    See the terror! Hear the horror! It's a tale that will leave you trembling with fear!

    Or just deeply, deeply annoyed. For me, it was the latter. 

    Something I've heard over and over again from other D-friends is the trouble they've had getting rid of their sharps bins. I've had some trouble myself, but in two years, I had only had to sort out one collection...

    until now. (Can't you just hear the dramatic sound effects?)

    Not because I don't fill up sharps boxes - because I do. I just don't like to call for mine to get picked up with just one box, so I save them up to try and make fewer collections. 

    I know some people can hand in their boxes at their GP's surgery. Some people can hand them in at the chemist. Some people have to take them to hospitals. I've heard all sorts of different variations. For me, I have to have mine collected by specialist waste management. Which I have to arrange via the council. 

    Now, the last time I tried to sort this out, I called up the council to arrange a pick-up, expecting to leave my boxes on the doorstep, and for waste management to come and collect. Oh no, no, no. Can't do that. Health and safety, don't you know? Well ok, fair enough. What am I supposed to do then? Well, they collect between 7am and noon, you'll just have to listen for the doorbell. 

    Well there are several things wrong with that. Firstly, I have to be at work. I have to keep my holiday days for using to cover my MA classes. I can't be using them for you to collect sharps! Secondly, even if I was prepared to do that, I can't. I live in an attic flat of my landlord's house. I have no access to the front door for entry and exit, and I can't hear the doorbell. So I can't do that. So last time, the Sharps Man and I arranged for me to take my boxes to work, and he would walk over and pick them up. I work in the city centre, and not far from the council offices. Which I appreciated him doing, and that was fine. Everything was lovely. And since he was doing me a favour, I decided I would save up my boxes until there was a reasonable amount, to save him trips. So I have three 5 litre bins that I've used since I started pumping, and three 1 litre bins. That's 18 litres worth of sharps, which I carried over to work, and then made my first call.

    Sharps Man!

    This first time round, things seemed straightforward enough. I called on Thursday (18th August), and he said he would come and pick them up between 10:00 and 14:00 on Monday or Tuesday. Everything's good, I'm happy, the world is well.

    Until a week later. Still no collection.
    Sharps Man!

    Answerphone this time. I leave a message. It's just about to be Bank Holiday weekend. I say that I know no-one is going to pick them up Monday, but could someone please come on Tuesday and get them? This is where I am, this is my name. Thank you very much. 

    Then it's the end of Tuesday. Still no collection. It becomes Friday. Still no collection. It's been two weeks by this point. I am annoyed.

    Sharps Man!

    Answerphone again. I make it very clear this time that I have been waiting for two weeks now, and I am not impressed. If there is a problem with this, could someone please call me? If not, this is my name, this is where I am, and I do not want to have to call about this a fourth time. I use my stern voice. I consider the matter settled. 

    It's 15:00 on Monday. Still no collection. I am royally narked off. I make my fourth call...

    Sharps Man!

    Except it's not Sharps Man. It's Sharps Woman on the phone. Sharps Man 'is on annual leave'. I am not impressed, and suggest that in that case, they might want to put a message on his answerphone saying the service is not operational. Apparently it is operational. Then why has no-one called me back, when this is the fourth time I've had to contact them? They don't seem to have a good answer for that one. I tell her that I've been waiting since 18th August. It is now September 5th. I am not happy.

    Would I like to arrange a collection? Well, I explain the situation - he was coming to me, I can't leave them at home, because you won't let me do that, and I work during the day, etc, etc. Well it seems that you can't authorise anyone to come and pick them up. Health and safety reasons. I need to take them back home and leave them in a bag on the doorstep.


    So that thing that you told me I wasn't allowed to do, because it was against health and safety regulations, is now the thing you WANT me to do? So, you can't pick them up until a week on Thursday? You won't come and pick them up at work this time? Well, thank you VERY much. I guess I'll have to do that then, won't I, since I have no other way to get rid of them. I do point out how annoyed I am, and though I'm not trying to be awkward, you're making this very difficult and overly complicated. You tell me that you're sorry, of course. Despite the fact you don't seem in the least bit concerned. 

    I imagine you think that because it's only 'drugs waste', I can wait. What does it matter to you? What does it matter that I have to jump through your stupid hoops, stressing myself out for something I don't even want to do in the first place? It doesn't matter, of course. It doesn't matter that I'm angry, and upset, and feel like I'm being a huge nuisance. It doesn't matter that I'm convinced that I'll leave those boxes on the doorstep, and you won't take them. For health and safety reasons, I'm sure. 

    I wonder if I'll be seeing Sharps Man when I turn out the lights tonight?

  6. Homing Pigeons

    Friday, 2 September 2011

    Life's a funny old thing, don't you think? I do, anyway. I never planned to take any sort of hiatus from blogging - I've had plenty to say, but every time I opened up blogger to write a new entry? Nothing. Absolutely nothing would happen. I don't know why. Having thought about it, I think I might well have been on some sort of overload. A bit like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit if anyone remembers that? Too much input. 

    It sounds like I'm a bit of a broken record, but I've had a lot going on, with work, and being at the Edinburgh Fringe. Everything just seemed to feel like it was building and building, and piling on more and more until I got to the point where I just wanted to hide. I didn't really want to talk to anyone in the DOC, but then got upset with myself because I couldn't find anyone to talk to. I felt awful for neglecting my blog, my exercise, for trying to ignore all the things I would normally do. I just wanted it all to stop.

    Of course, it doesn't. It never does. But when I was stuck right in the middle of it all, I called out to a friend. Being the angel that she is (and she KNOWS who she is), and the absolute rock she probably doesn't even realise she is to me, she sent me back a message telling me not to worry. Things like the blog didn't matter because my readership 'will come back when you do'. And in my heart, I know she's right. It'll all get back to normal. I'm talking to you wonderful people again. I'm easing myself into stuff to say again. So I'll say that I'm back properly this time.

  7. I was planning to post every day this month. Not quite Nablopomo it, but more or less. Since I've not been posting, I've been storing up so many things that I want to say. But for today, I'm going to try not to say too much, and speak in a different way.

    I didn't do Diabetes Art Day last year. But this year, I thought I'd give it a go. I had some help with it from Andrew (for which I'm very grateful)

    Read what you will into it. I know what it means to me. I'd love to know what you think. But I'll have more to say tomorrow. 

    I love you all.

  8. I had been looking forward to the summer. Now, please don't get me wrong, I haven't been having a dreadful time, but I have been having a rather busy time. Which is why I've been away since...whoa, April. Yikes.

    I've not been entirely silent though. I've recently written a guest post for DiabetesMine, and had the rather lovely experience of chatting with Chris for an episode of Just Talking. In the real world, I've been to a couple of D meet-ups - a lovely London based one with my wonderful friend, Shelley, and more recently I popped my head in (not really for long enough, sadly) to one on my doorstep. I also got invited to do a Q&A for a group of new start pumpers at my hospital (a post on that in the near future, I promise).

    With the first year of my MA under my belt, with no scheduled classes for the summer term, I had anticipated having time to breathe a bit, get my thoughts in order. Has it turned out like that? Well, no, not really. Sure, I'm done with the MA until October, but other things have stepped up to fill the void. 

    I don't consider myself to be immensely highly strung, or very high maintenance. But in truth, I'm not exactly the most laid back person in the world. I stress. A lot. I get anxious, which doesn't help me in any way, shape or form. Stress and I have a bit of a vicious cycle. I stress, which pushes my levels up. Which means I don't sleep well, which makes me tired and edgy. Which makes me stress more. Which starts the circle all over again. Oh and don't forget to throw in the small fact that my IBS symptoms are mostly stress induced. And round we go, again and again.

    So I've been quiet on the whole social media front. I've barely been on twitter, which is normally my haunt of choice. I've not been blogging. But, oh my D-friends, I have missed you. I really, really have. But I had to try and keep a hold on my sanity, whilst struggling with this horrid cycle, working my normal 9-5, and then turning my mind over to the equivalent of a 5-9, which is getting a new company off the ground, and getting creatively and practically ready to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

    So there you go. I've been battling the heat, the ongoing nagging in the back of my mind that I should be trying harder to lose weight after 'chubbygate', the stress, and, if I'm honest, feeling very alone and isolated. But I'm still here. I'm trying - and I've missed you all.

  9. Coming Unstuck (part II)

    Thursday, 28 April 2011

    A couple of months a go, I had a bit of fun with trying to get my new sites to stick. Admittedly, that was mostly due to my own stupidity with some self tanning body lotion. What I've found with a few of my recent sites though, is that they're starting to unpeel at the edges somewhat by the third day of use. With that in mind, travel back a week or so with me...

    Lately at work, I've been having a huge blitz on my (very large) pile of (extremely overdue) filing. I don't have any shelves near my desk, but I do have a rather extensive number of files that I'm responsible for. So that means lugging them to and fro from the main office to my desk.

    One afternoon in this administrative marathon, I keep looking for something like a staple that might have got caught in my top, because SOMETHING is poking me in the side periodically, and I cannot work out what it is. But nothing is to be seen, so I carry on regardless, as you do.

    Along rolls the time for me to switch files. So, resting two on my hip whilst I juggle with the code locked interior door, I realise what's been poking me.

    Yes, that would be my cannula, which must have been dislodged whilst I was carrying files. Proving that either a) I have a slightly dodgy box of insets, or b) filing is hazardous to my health, and I should stop immediately. Personally, I'm voting for option B. One of two completely unplanned site changes at work that have happened recently, anyone? I'm going to have to start keeping a sharps box here, I swear.

  10. The Last Taboo?

    Sunday, 17 April 2011

    I had my annual review with my endo on Monday. I'll be honest, I was extremely nervous about getting my HbA1c result back. I normally run the usual 'having everyone guess' pool on Twitter, etc. But I didn't this time, because for once, I was actually scared about the result. With my several month run of extremely fruity scores, I was worried. I had prepared myself for a double figure score, knowing that whilst that would be a huge jump from my previous result of 7.1, if I prepared myself for the worst, then at least it wouldn't be too much of a shock. 

    As I was sitting in the waiting room, all sorts of things were going through my head - what if they took my pump off me? After all, it was supposed to help me bring my A1c down. Well, it turns out that whilst it had gone up, the damage wasn't as bad as I'd been expecting. It rolled in a 7.8%, which I know many people would bite my arm off for. So, Dr J. wasn't too worried about that. He told me that he knew I'd get it back down again, and he had absolutely no doubt about that. He also wasn't that concerned about what I've been calling my 'fruity' scores. His argument was that a) my honeymoon has clearly ended, and b) my body was still getting used to pumping - the two things together meant that the scores I'd been getting didn't surprise him. What surprised me, however, was what seemed to concern him. Which was my weight. Or more precisely, my BMI.

    Now, I was pretty clued up to the fact that I'd most likely put on a few pounds, but it wasn't something that I was overly concerned about. I also dislike BMI as a form of measurement a) because for some reason, the hospital have measured my height as several inches shorter than I actually am, which skews things, and b) it just seems to make everyone feel bad about themselves. However, Dr J. seemed extremely concerned about it. Apparently my BMI was too high for someone with Type 1. He wanted to put me on Metformin. I did not want this. When I was in hospital after I was diagnosed, they weren't quite sure what type I was. This was despite the fact I had ketones that were (so I'm told) practically off the scale. Since I was out of adolescence, they gave me Metformin. It did not agree with me. I know for a fact it would most likely not agree with me now, for reasons I'll come on to shortly. 

    So it turns out that from about a year ago, I'd put on 5lb. This apparently had tipped things to a point where he wasn't comfortable with my weight, despite the fact that I'm still lighter than I was pre-diagnosis. I pointed out that my total daily dose was still coming in at under twenty units - I'm hardly insulin resistant, so I didn't really see the point in it. Then he asked me THE question, which has been rattling around in my head all week:

    "Have you always been on the chubby side?"

    Well, what do you say to that? Admittedly, I have always been heavier - I'm built that way, and even if I were to shed all excess weight, I'd still have a heavier build. I'm never going to be a size 8. That I've come to terms with. But I was slightly dumbfounded, and the best I could come out with was, "Uh, I guess so?".

    The discussion went on for a while, and eventually I convinced him that I didn't want to take him up on the offer. That was fine, he told me, he didn't want to twist my arm and force me into anything I didn't want to do. I said if my weight was really a concern, then I would try and do something about it. We agreed that I would try to lose a stone by my next annual review. Ideally, I want to lose two, so that he really has nothing to complain about.

    So the comments about my weight cut rather deeply. I've always had issues about my appearance, so having this put in front of me hasn't been exactly easy. It's upset me. I know he didn't mean it to, but it has. However, that's only 50% of what this post is about. 

    I said I had reasons for not wanting to go onto Metformin. I remember, from the couple of days that I was on it, that it did not agree with me. It caused many of the side effects that it's well known for - abdominal cramps and excessive gas being the ringleaders. You see, the thing is now, that I have issues with IBS. I don't talk about it much, particularly not on here, because's not really very pleasant. You just don't talk about those sorts of things, do you? That leads me to ask, why not? I don't mean graphically (I promise I will never do that), but why is it such a taboo to talk about this? I asked out on twitter about whether any other Type 1's had Metformin suggested to them, and eventually discovered that I wasn't alone in dealing with both T1 and IBS. I suspect there are more people out there than just the two of us, as well. But it's not the sort of thing one sits around and chats about in polite company. But surely that's where problems, particularly those of feeling isolated, start? When we don't admit things, and we don't talk about them?

    So this is me saying that I have IBS as well as T1. For me, my IBS is mostly stress induced, and I don't have it half as bad as other people I know. But it's there all the same. And for me, I didn't see the point of putting myself through the wringer of Metformin, in all probability exacerbating my symptoms, for the minimal payoff. So I'm going to try and get rid of this two stone the old fashioned way. 

    And if anyone else with IBS wants to say hi, please do - you're not on your own either.  

  11. I just came for the shoes, actually!

    Wednesday, 23 March 2011

    Yesterday, I 'thrilled' you all with the rather overly long story of my day out in Blackpool. However, there was a little side story that a missed out of that account. So I thought that I would share that with you all today.

    So, something that tends to happen at competitions, is that various vendors will come to try and sell you their wares. In the past, I've tried not go and look at them, because they'll make me want to spend money that I really don't have. However, this time, you had to walk past the stalls in order to get to practice space, and to the toilets, so of course I ended up having a look. 

    The stall I come to is a discount dancewear retailer. And they're having a clearance sale. This is really dangerous. I checked out the costumes, and there were several that I liked, and technically could afford, but I decided not to try anything on, because then I would be sure to buy something. But then I saw a pair of wider fitting shoes, on sale. Since I'd actually been thinking of getting a new pair of shoes, as the ones that I've been using are getting a bit worn out on the sides. 

    So I'm talking with the woman running the stall, and I'm umming and ahhing a bit over whether to buy them, mostly because I'm generally really tight when it comes to my money. I hate spending money, because, well then I haven't got it to fall back on. Then she suggests that I ask my mum for the money (a suggestion that never sits well with me when people say it), because "exercise will stop you from getting diabetes in the future".

    Well, ok then!

    I didn't really know how to react. I wanted to just laugh in her face - I wasn't sure whether to be narked off or not. 

    "Well, actually, I have Type 1 Diabetes, so...."

    Watching her try to dig herself out of this hole she'd created was, shall we say, interesting? I didn't try to embarrass her, but she couldn't stop apologising. Ouch, it was rather painful to watch. It was clearly one of those moments where trying to advocate would be lost, because she just wouldn't stop apologising, and I couldn't get a word in edgeways. So I just told her it was all ok, and did she take card?

    She did take card.

  12. So I've made no secret of my love of Dancesport. We're now far into the competition season, with only Roses 2011 left to go. This has meant some late nights, some early starts, and interesting dilemmas regarding the D. And where to hide Anneka. 

    So earlier in this month had me competing in the Inter-Varsity Dance Competition (or IVDC as it's more commonly known) in Blackpool - the home of ballroom dancing, doncha know? So we were dancing at the Wintergardens. This place is gorgeous, for the record, and has one of the best dance floors in Europe. Problem of course, is that in order to get there for doors opening, and to get ready in time for the first rounds (which of COURSE happen to be one that I was competing in), our coach had to leave at 5am. 

    Yes, you read that right. FIVE IN THE MORNING. Oy vey. By the way, I don't live near the university, so that means getting there. Too far to walk, especially with the amount of stuff I take with me, and several hours before the first bus. So expensive taxi ride it is.

    Now, in my infinite wisdom, I managed to get my weeks mixed up, and thought that I had another week before the competition, which meant that I didn't really have any time to do those two words that fill me with a kind of dread, coupled with self loathing and ultimately necessity - fake tan. So that meant I had about 24 hours with which to achieve a hopefully appropriate level of tan, which was subtle enough for me not to be scared of my own reflection. I bought a wash off instant tan. 

    There are a couple of things you should know about this. 1: I spent the end of my evening in a pair of latex gloves, pyjama bottoms and a bikini top. 2: It took about three attempts to get this right. 3: This was mainly because I hadn't realised I'd bought a shade too dark. 4: I realised about half way through that I would not be able to shower in the morning, and 5: It takes much, much longer than you think it will. 

    I slept for a total of 45 minutes that night. Then I got up again, and got a taxi. When we got on the coach, I disovered that I had, in fact, found the coldest place on earth. Customarily, one expects the indoors to be warmer than the outside, but I'm fairly convinced that the sadistic coach driver had actually put the air conditioning on. It turns out that it's a longer drive to Blackpool than I'd originally given it credit for. 

    Now last time, when I did a the Northern Universities Dance Competition (NUDC) in Chesterfield, I seemed to spend the majority of the day pretty high, scores wise. I headed out the door that morning coming in at 6.1mmol/l (109). Since my scores have still been rather....uncooperative as of late, I was very happy with that. As we pulled in to Blackpool, I was riding higher, at 13.2 (237), but a correction pulled me back down into range, and I was sitting pretty on 7.9 (142) as Round One of Beginner's Waltz started. 

    Alice and I unfortunately got knocked out of this first round. This wasn't much of a surprise though, as I got hit on the head with someone's elbow, and then got rammed by two couples, right in front of the judges' table. Sadly, there aren't any more pictures of us dancing, mainly because our heats of Quickstep, and Jive all happened in a different room, and we just got missed in Cha-Cha. It's probably for the best, because every photo of me dancing ballroom makes me look like a have no neck. It's something of a cross between my still needing to learn better dance posture, and the picture being taken from behind me!

    As with Waltz, we got knocked out of everything first round, which was a real shame, particularly for Quickstep, which went beautifully - I was fairly sure we'd progress to the following round. But such is life, and there's still Roses, and next year, although neither with Alice. And whilst I could easily believe that we got knocked out of each class, what I couldn't quite believe was what was happening with my levels. I'd been having such rotten numbers that it was like the Diabetes Fairy had waved some sort of wand over me for the day. Every number was acceptable! 5.3 (95), 7.0 (126), 5.5 (99), 8.2 (147), and so on! I'd decided on trying a grazing strategy, and somehow, it seemed to have worked!

    Between the Ballroom classes and the start of the Latin, was the Off-beat competition. This is so much fun. Each university team gets 3 minutes 30 to do whatever they want. It's marked 50% on dance, and 50% on entertainment. Since our entry was a piece choreographed to 'Star Wars Disco Boogie', we were clearly going for the entertainment angle. See my kick-ass Ewok mask if you need further evidence. The whole thing was utter comedy, but apparently comedy that worked, considering we made it to 6th place out of the 12 entries. I maintain that we would have broken the top 3 if we'd had more rehearsal time!

    By the evening, the individual classes were over, I was still coming in good at 5.6 (100), and we were all set to go with the team knockout competition. Alice and I were dancing Waltz for the C team (I had wanted to dance Quickstep, but hey ho, you go where you're put!). In an awesome move, all three of our teams got recalled to the quarter finals, and our A team came in 4th place in the 2nd division. Score one for York!

    We eventually got back on the coach home at just after midnight, and a score of 4.9 (88), with the heating finally coming on at Leeds, and into bed, after showering off my orange skin, at about 3am. That's one crazy, and very, very long day. 

    I don't know how I got such good scores. I need to look into it a bit more, I think. Shame I couldn't repeat it the other night though, when I was at a workshop on contemporary choreography for theatre. I ended up having a hypo halfway through, and spent the rest sitting on the sidelines, because I knew I was going down again after treating. 

    Ah well. You win some, you lose some. Bring on Roses!

  13. Damn you, Joss Whedon!

    Tuesday, 15 March 2011

    Ah, I love me some sci-fi. I know it's considered a bit geeky to many, but I've never minded. I loved Star Trek (TNG, DS9, Voyager) in my teens, and I'm happy with a good science fiction book. So when I finally got around to watching Joss Whedon's Firefly a couple of years ago, I was smitten. Smitten, and naturally bummed out that it never got to fulfil its potential (yes FOX, I blame you! For this, and many things). So the other day, Andrew and I start rewatching his DVDs from the beginning, and something jumped out at me from the Pilot...

    Unfortunately, we've been ordered by
    the Alliance to drop some medical
    supplies on Whitefall. It's the
    fourth moon on Athens, a bit out of
    our way, but we should have you on
    Boros no more than a day off
    schedule. Is that gonna be all right
    for everyone? 
    Jake by me... 
    What medical supplies? 
    I honestly didn't ask. 
    Probably plasma, insulin, whatever
    they ain't got enough of on the
    border moons.

    Insulin?! Are you freaking kidding me, Joss Whedon? The year is 2517, and you in your fictionalised future there's still diabetes? And there are places that don't have enough insulin? Oh, come on! I was practically banging my head against the wall. 

    Come on world. We've still got another 500 years or so to prove Joss Whedon wrong. Probably one of the only instances in which I would ever wish that upon Mr Whedon, as well.

  14. Juggling - with strings attached

    Sunday, 27 February 2011

    Back in December, I was lucky enough to learn a bit of poi juggling at work, for part of the Christmas carol service at York Minster. For those of you not familiar with poi, think juggling balls, but with long strings attached, which you fit to your fingers. It's great fun, and looks beautiful when you do it right. But if you don't? Well, you'll end up whacking yourself all over the place. Especially when you're learning. Which hurts a lot of the time. 

    At the moment, things really aren't that dissimilar. I've been somewhat distant from a lot of things that I'm normally so engaged with. Forums, twitter, blogging here, and it's not because I don't love being invovled with social media - if it were up to me, I'd be able to devote a lot more time to it - thoughts of whether I could actually find work doing diabetes advocacy has crossed my mind more than once, believe me. But the problem is that I'm torn between all my commitments. I know that I'm not the only one - we all lead unbelievably hectic lives these days, and I know we'd appreciate the chance to just press the pause button for a few days, and slow the pace down. 

    I work full time. I study part time for a Master's degree, which means time on campus, as well as all the work outside of classroom time that goes with it. I'm part of the university's Dancesport society, which means I have lessons, and team practice for competitions. And of course, D always has to have its say on everything.

    I'm extremely lucky, in that my work are very understanding about my MA. I've been allowed to rearrange my hours to allow me time to take my lectures, which all fall within the working day. Of course, when I'm not there, I'm in the office. Which means that time to use the library, etc, is all in the evenings. Despite the ridiculous price of it, I do own a  bus pass, so I can get the bus to and from university. On foot, it would take me about an hour to walk between my flat and campus, and then obviously another hour back. So I get the bus. But because buses stop being frequent after a certain time, if I miss one, I have to wait another half hour. And they only go into town, which means I still have to walk half an hour back to my flat, usually with a stack of books. 

    So what's a girl to do? If I go to the library after work, the earliest I'll get home is about 20:30, but it's usually more like 22:00 or later. Trust me, by that point, I'm hungry! I've still not really got the hang of reducing my basal rates, and since I'm high an awful lot of the time, I'm not 100% comfortable with reducing them anyway, as I'd probably carry on being even higher.

    I knew that when I signed up for the MA it was going to be a lot of work. I'm not complaining about that, because I knew it was part and parcel. Trading off things in order to not completely burn out though? That's a bit more difficult. I'm glad I chose to do this part time, because there's no way I could manage it full time. 

    I'll be completely honest. My control has not been great at the moment. My 14 day average on my meter is way higher than I would like it. I'm probably not paying as much attention to things at the moment as I should be, and that is unsettling me a little bit. I don't like taking my eye off the ball, but giving myself some slack in one place is the only way I can think of handling things at the moment. At the end of April, all my assignments for the year will be handed in, and I can think of other things as well. 

    Until then, I guess I'm just going to have to try and avoid hitting myself with the various balls in the air.

  15. It's all beige

    Monday, 21 February 2011

    I don't like February. I really don't. It seems somewhat odd to have negative feelings towards a month, but I do. It's not because I'm some screaming anti-Valentine's Day sort. I generally couldn't give a toss about Valentine's Day, but that's mostly because I find the idea that we shouldn't show our love to others on the remaining 364 days of the year slightly abhorrent. No, that's not my problem. So what is it? What could I possibly have against February?
    It's beige. It really is. It's such a blah month, which I generally find nothing happens in. Nothing good, at any rate. When I say beige, I mean beige in the paint term, when you paint a room beige (or magnolia, to shake things up) to keep it plain and inoffensive. But I tell you for nothing, it's dull. 

    I can get on board with January. It's the first month of the year, and all that jazz, and I can usually find cheap presents in the sale at Boots (yes, I am that person). I also like March - it has my birthday, and usually the first signs of spring making an appearance. But I find the shortest month of the year generally has very little going for it. 
    I tell a lie to some extent - I did compete in my first ballroom competition this month, i went down to London to see a friend I've not seen in a couple of years, and I had a very nice night out having dinner with friends this weekend. But all the same, I will be very happy when this month is over and done with.

    Anneka and I have been having something of a tumultuous relationship over the past couple of weeks. I've changed my insulin:carb ratios, and that seems to have made something of a difference, but I'm still running far too high for my liking for most of the time. Changed my site out this morning, and found I had a kink in my cannula as well. Fun times. I'm not complaining, mind you - I still love my girl, and I've had some interesting times figuring out where to hide her as of late, but it's not all peaches and cream. As with everything D related, I'm certain it never will be. As always, it's all a learning curve.

    In other, non-beige related news, I was thrilled to receive my copy of my lovely friend Ginger's new book - Your Diabetes Science Experiment. I'm in the midst of reading it at the moment, and I'm planning to have a review of it up for you all soon. So far, I highly suggest getting your hands on a copy if you haven't already!

  16. Coming Unstuck

    Monday, 31 January 2011

     I hear tell sometimes of women who can take hours to get ready to go out of a morning, or if they're going out at night. Not me. It's not my way. Of a morning, I'm up, shower, wash my hair, dress and dry my hair. Brush it, and as far as grooming goes, that's pretty much it for me, really. I don't wear makeup - I'd much rather have the extra 15 minutes in bed. 

    You've probably heard me mention before that I take part in Dancesport. If you've not come across the term before, Dancesport is competitive ballroom and latin dancing. Think Strictly Come Dancing (the original Dancing with the Stars if you're of a US persuasion). I've been taking lessons since Autumn of 2009. Seriously, I love it. And between February and March, I'm going to be doing my first two competitions. That means several things: dresses, fake tan, hair and LOTS of makeup. 

    Oh dear.
    Dresses? Hey, I can get on board with that - I love a bit of dressing up now and then, and I've managed to find myself a really nice ballroom dress for an absolute steal in one the January sales. Quids in. Hair? Oh that'll drive me crazy, but I'll just about cope, if I can find someone to help me. 

    Fake tan? Ah, now that's where the fun starts. You need to have at least some colour, so I'm told. Now, I don't tan. I'm pale and proud of it - you need to roll with what you've got, and that's what God gave me. So I bought myself some of that body lotion with tan in it. I got given some really good advice about it. EXFOLIATE for a few days before applying so it doesn't go all blotchy. OK, fair enough. Exfoliate I shall.

    Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Hmmm....let's break my 'no moisturising in the daytime' rule. Oh, set change time. Here we go. Oooooh, look! No bubbles! 

    OK, why won't this stick? Oh yes. That would be the body lotion. There's no way anything's sticking to that now. Alcohol wipes or something like that would be useful right now. Do I have any? Of course not. What do I have? Nail varnish remover. And of course, my skin loves that. So, Tegaderm. That looks sexy. 

    At least on the plus side - no bubbles. But I can't wait until I actually start using this tanning moisturiser. That should be a whole other state of affairs. And people wonder why I don't do the whole 'beauty regime' thing.

  17. Challenge Anneka

    Saturday, 15 January 2011

    So a few posts back, I told you that I had named my pump Anneka. I also said that I would explain why. So here goes.

    I don't know if you guys in the US had anything like this, but back in the late 80's to mid 90's, we had a TV show called 'Challenge Anneka'. Wikipedia seems to think you had something called Challenge America, but dammit, we had it first! 
    The premise of the show, if you're not familiar with it, is that the charming all-action heroine, Anneka Rice, would fix some terrible crisis, whilst wearing a blue jumpsuit. She also had a mobile phone, which was a really big deal in those days. The best part of the whole show though, when you were young, was the little animated hedgehogs in the opening credits. Seriously, I always thought they were adorable!

    It always seemed that Anneka Rice could handle anything. So that was part of my reasoning behind calling my lovely Animas pump that. But after a number of Borg and robot related jokes, it's also a partial nod to the human name of Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager, which was Annika Hansen. Yes, I loved Star Trek as a teenager. No, I'm not really ashamed! But she was always calm, collected, and fiercely intelligent.
    So my hope rather was that whichever Anneka/Annika she was taking after would be a good omen. At least they both had jumpsuits in common. Shame that so far, it's been a bit more of a challenge than anything Anneka Rice ever took on. 

    I always remembered her building orphanages, and youth centres and the like. Seems that though she did this, she also did some far more bizarre things - 
    Anneka has to trick a group of blind people that the wacky sound-effects played on her boombox are taking place in real life, in order to receive a donation to the Calibre Cassette Library.

    Anneka has to cut a hole in walled garden in Chiswick to let some victims escape. 

    Anneka helps a coward cross the road by building nice things on the other side, such as an ice cream parlour and dog salon. 

    Anneka has to organise a tape of music in time for a leaving party. 
    and of course, my personal favourite:

    Anneka has to convince a group of scared school children that monkeys have not taken over the world and that they are just in a Dorset zoo.

    As for me, I'm hoping not to have to challenge my Anneka to do any of these things. However, I have been dealing with an absolutely rotten cold for the past week, which has been making things much more of a challenge. I did mention that I'd been struggling with high scores. After seeing my team on the 6th, we'd made alterations to my basals in an attempt to try and sort things out. Of course the next day, this absolute beast of a cold makes an appearance. 

    This is the first time I've been properly ill since my DX, so I wasn't sure what to really expect, bg wise. They've carried on being high despite corrections, putting on temp basals, and such. Thankfully no ketones have appeared. But the problem of course is that I don't want to make any huge changes, because when this cold has gone, it'd be hard to tell whether I'd made too many. So I think I'm just going to have to hang on in there, until it clears up, and make my changes then. 

    But in the meantime, I suppose we could terrorise children with monkeys?

  18. The result is in!

    Friday, 14 January 2011

    I didn't really see it coming. Honestly, I didn't! I'd really enjoyed being part of the whole competition, but never saw myself actually winning. Not only were there really strong entries from some wonderful people,  I also don't win things - it never works out like that. 

    But being as life is stranger than fiction - I did win. It was announced on twitter and the website today.

    I've not been anywhere beyond a long weekend to see a friend in Belfast since I was seven. So a chance to go and see something of the world? Somewhere I'd probably never go otherwise? Whilst helping raise money for some amazing charities? Well hey, that works for me.

    If any of the other people who entered into the final stage of the competition are reading this, then I want to say thank you to them. Thank you for caring enough about the project, about charity and about the state of the world to want to be involved. That makes me so happy to know that people still care about things.

    So I'm thrilled. I'm so excited since I wasns't thinking I'd be able to go ANYWHERE till around 2012/13, and even then would be pushing it. I can't wait to go to Rio. I've been looking at the Lonely Planet website and there are so many things that look like I should see them!

    So a HUGE thank you to 7 Wonders team, and to each of you who helped with the video! You're all wonderful. 

    And now a question - Do we have anyone in the DOC in Brazil who fancies a meet? ;) Or does anyone know Rio and know somewhere I absolutely HAVE to go - first time traveller here, so any and all advice is welcome! 

    I'm going to Rio, baby! :D

  19. My Dream Donation

    Saturday, 8 January 2011

    I've got something today which is a little bit different. I'm so excited, because I'm now one of the last 9 people in the running to join the 7 Wonders in 7 Days trip. The adventure is aiming to raise money for 7 amazing charities - including Diabetes UK

    If I join the trip, I'll get to go the Rio de Janiro to see Christ the Redeemer. As someone who never goes anywhere, having the chance to go halfway across the world, as part of this amazing adventure would just be undescribable. Especially in aid of so many great causes. Some of these are charities that I hadn't come across previously, and I'm so pleased to have heard about them now. 

    So we have been asked to say what our dream donation would be. After thinking about this for a while, I decided to make a short video to sum this up. Yesterday, I spoke to a LOT of people about this, and had help off everyone who took pictures, let me film them, or told me about their dreams. Thank you to all of you. So here's the video. It was an interesting experience putting it together, so I hope it's interesting to watch.

  20. Going Camping

    Friday, 7 January 2011

    I'm pretty sure I've made it clear in the past that I have a bit of an issue with the whole New Year thing. If I haven't, well then, I do. New Year's Eve? An anticlimax if ever there was one. New Year's Day? Well that's when the pressure starts. 

    A New Year, a new you! How many times have you heard that, or seen it on promotions? If you're anything like me, then it's far too many. Lose weight, get fit, stop smoking, eat healthily, start a new career, make every day count. Ugh, come on. Let's be honest here. This month's star buy diet book, or fitness DVD is March's bargain basement fodder.

    I don't do New Year's resolutions. I believe I brought this up last year, but I made one a few years back that I've managed to stick to really, really well. It was not to make any more New Year's resolutions. Ha, ha, very funny, I hear you go. Well, I mean it. I used to do them, but when it got to a week or two in, and something had gone horribly wrong? The sense of guilt and failure. It's because there's far too much pressure associated with the whole 'resolution' madness. You're setting yourself up for a fall 99% of the time, and why do that to yourself? 

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for trying to make changes in your life. I just don't like the whole label of 'resolution'. I mean, by day four of January, I got to work and realised I had my knickers on inside out. That's a low point, right there. What hope have I got of managing to keep something that has the pressure of 'resolution' attached to it?

    So there are lots of things I'd like to do, to change, to achieve. But how to go about it without the stress, without punishing myself if it doesn't all go as well as I'd like? Well, as it happens, my attention was drawn to a tweet by the lovely Jenni Prokopy of Chronic Babe, in which she was linking to a post by Dannette of FibroHaven. What was it about? Well, that's what I mean by 'going camping'. 

    It's about living with intent.

    I have Basil Brush going 'Boom, Boom!' in my head. Yes, I know it's a truly terrible pun, but it makes me smile. It's like a really bad joke from a cracker. But I do think this is brilliant, and as of Monday, I'm going to be keeping a notebook to write down my intentions. 

    This is better than resolutions. This can be flexible, and fit with where you are day to day. It's realistic. Each day you make and write down and intention, which is right for you on that day. Make it more ambitious when things are going well. Keep it relaxed and manageable when they're not.

    A way of making changes that is actually do-able? I know I'm in. What about you? Fancy coming camping?

  21. Welcome Back

    Monday, 3 January 2011

    I thought I would let this really wonderful flashmob speak for me. I've been away far too long, for reasons that I'll explain momentarily. So a welcome back to hopefully far more normal and regular service here.

    It's a little bit ironic that on this entry, I can announce that I was nominated for one of the 2010 DOC Awards! Category? Blogger that we wish would blog more. I'd like to say a huge thank you to whoever nominated me - I'm really touched. I'm also proving true to form, as voting has now closed! 

    So what's been keeping me away from here for the past month? Well, I'll be honest with you. I've been a)overly busy, b)stressed, and c)exhausted. I mentioned having to do some pretty intense testing immediately after my pump start, but that drained me more than I was willing to admit. I'd not been sleeping well before the pump start, so my energy tank was running on low from the get go. By mid December? I was so tired that I was worried that I was going to end up making some sort of REALLY stupid mistake that I would end up regretting. I tend to squirrel away my holiday days, rather like...well, a squirrel. With nuts. I don't like using them, in case of discovering I need them all of a sudden. But I ended up having to use several, simply in order to sleep. Not the most constructive use of the time, really. 

    And over Christmas? Thankfully work shuts for a week between Christmas and New Year, which makes sense, as we'd have no-one to do business with (straight out of A Christmas Carol there!). Several of my days off were occupied with travelling up and down the country to see the wonderful Rob 'Faceman' Gooch, of D-Team fame, get married to his lovely, now-wife, Anna. I managed to go home to see my family for a couple of days for the first time since May. I say May, but I think it may have been longer than that. I just read that sentence back to myself, and I promise you no pun was intended. Because if it was, that would be unforgivable, really. 

    I had a lovely Christmas at home, I really did. But between all the loveliness, work for my MA has been piling on, and although I've managed to get part of my work done to at least a first draft stage, I still have the evenings of the following week to get that piece up to scratch, and finish and then redraft my play. I'm swamped. And I'm back to work tomorrow. 

    And life with the pump? Her name is now Anneka, for reasons that will be better explained in a later post. I'm now over a month in to this pumping milarky. First two weeks? They were a lot of hard work, with all the testing, and getting used to the A,B,C's of the whole affair. Then I got into the swing of things, and my levels started falling into place. But over the past week or so? Well here are examples of a few tests, admittedly not in the right order, but still all genuine from over the past week.

    Meter goes 'Dee-Deed!' (I never like the double beep - it means I'm either high or low)
    11mmol/l (198) - Huh?

    15.3mmol/l (275) - WTH?

    13.8mmol/l (248) - OK, I'm starting to get narked off now...

    10.9mmol/l (196) - Better, but still no cigar.

    12.9mmol/l (232) - I'm losing my patience now...

    16.5mmol/l (297) - I could cry, I really could.

    Lather, rinse, repeat. Getting below 10mmol/l (180)? Quite the accomplishment, at the moment. Admitedly, I did start out having problems getting the hang of changing cannulas, and I've had a few pretty purple and red ones, but the cannulas themselves? Aside from one extremely dodgy one, they've all been pretty good. So I'm thinking that my carb ratios or basals have to be off. At the moment, ratios are the number one suspect. And right now, I'm just grateful to have an appointment with the pump team on Thursday. Trying to get a handle on Masters' work whilst running high all the time? Not easy - I get extremely restless and agitated when high. And I can't concentrate. Not the best combination. 

    Ah well. Bring it on, I suppose...