Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Microsoft way of thinking

It's no secret to anyone who reads my blog (or is 'friends' with me on Facebook) that I have been having a 'blip' diabetes wise lately. No big deal, everyone has them, right?
Well for me the odd blip here and there is normal. There will always be the days of miscalculated dinners, the biscuit which had more carbs than you thought, the stressful day at the office which renders your insulin all but useless and those days when you just can't figure out what went wrong. But this latest blip of mine seems to have not only lasted longer than normal and for the life of me, I have been simply unable to fathom it. My diet hasn't changed, my weight hasn't changed, my routine hasn't changed. Nada!
So for the past two weeks I have been stumbling from one frustrating blood test to the next, becoming more baffled and more irritated with each test, exercising my right to swear at random and sometimes inopportune moments (mainly at my desk with my boss in earshot). One minute I seem to be in the major hypos, the next I am having 'highs' even the most hardened drug addict would be phased by.
I guess the most frustrating thing about this last couple of weeks is that it was all too reminiscent of a life I thought I had left behind. A life which involved nothing but fear of the blood test machine, fear of complications and fear of my own body. Deep down I suppose I always knew that it wouldn't last forever, but being grown up about it and being able to see the wood for the trees can sometimes be hard, particularly when it is my body and my health at stake.
So this weekend I decided enough was enough; it was time for some drastic action. Not only to save my own sanity, but that of my poor facebook friends and family members who no doubt have barred me from ever being allowed to comment on their wall again, following my many desperate and harassed sounding status updates. I wonder how many people can delete you in one weekend, before you get an official warning about the content of your updates.
So, I decided if it was good enough for Bill Gates it was good enough for me. I quite literally turned it all off and on again.
That is, I unplugged my pump, dusted off my insulin pens and needles (having found a stash at the back of the diabetes cupboard) and brought it back to basics : I minimised my carbs to a very basic amount so that I could make fewer mistakes when it came to boluses, I didn't do any stressful exercise, I made sure I got a perfect amount of sleep, ate healthily and tried to stop testing my bloods so fanatically.
It must have been about 3 hours before I started to miss the pump; noticing that only being able to inject full units at a time is very difficult when you are eating low carb and sometimes a meal consists of 15 grams of carbs. Do you inject one or two units? With the pump it isn't an issue. With pens, it is.
Hello and [un]welcome back injecting in public! I had forgotten all about this beast of a task for a diabetic. I had never realised what a pain this was when I had to do it, but having joined the pumping club, I had obviously adjusted to the much easier way of life that was whipping out your pump or better still, notching up a couple of units on the remote control that is all possible on the pump. But it was not so on my 'days off'. Back with a vengeance was the 'do I go to the loo or inject in front of that woman who won't quit staring' dilemma. I had forgotten what a pain that was. And I think I have a new found appreciation of the ease of just tapping a few buttons.
Another thing I was reminded of very quickly, was that on a pump, you have exact knowledge of how much insulin you have in your system in any one time. When you first programme it, you tell the pump just how long your insulin takes to wear off (based on your own experiments). So if you test your blood glucose and find a nice big fat double digit staring at you, on a pump you can check to see how much 'active insulin' you still have in your system. Sometimes I ignore what the pump tells me, because if my sugars are up near the 20s, then it is pretty obvious that I need a whole bunch more. But if you are 12 or 13mmol, you really need to know how much active insulin you still have. If you have 5 units, it would be kind of silly to inject seeing as the active insulin will still be taking effect. It wasn't long after taking the pump off that I realised how useful this function is, and how much I must rely on it! Ever noticed how much you miss the clock on your kitchen wall when you have to take it down to get more batteries for it? Well it was a lot like that.
I'm sure that had I stayed off the pump for much longer I would have found a million things to 'miss'. But the fact is, 48 hours off the pump was enough for me. I got to spend a weekend without wires, batteries and a beeping chest and I got to have a couple of nights without having to wear my pump to bed. I got to feel 'normal' for a little while.
But it was never going to last. Within a couple of days I noticed even bigger swings than before, and not having the sound knowledge that I have with the pump, I re-connected yesterday and plugged back in to the Matrix. It's much nicer in 'there'. Safer, I guess.
Today I have somehow managed sugars between 4.1 and 8.4 mmol. I'm not sure what made the difference. Perhaps it was the low carb, perhaps it was cutting myself some slack and having some time without the pump, perhaps it was the natural end to the blip.
I have no idea - and knowing type 1 diabetes as well as I do, I don't think I ever will.
But what this little exercise did teach me is that I do like my pump, even when it can't solve all of my diabetic hassles.
I missed it, I needed it and I remembered why I like it.
Perhaps when it comes down to it, that's what I needed; to be reminded of why I do this on a daily basis.
Anna (7.7 and trying not to rock the boat!)

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