Monday 30 April 2012

Shards of glass and chocolate roses

This weekend saw the wedding of two of my closest friends so Jamie and I hot-footed it to Birmnigham ready to celebrate. Thanks to being amongst friends when diabetes came up - which it inevitably does when the pump is produced from various pockets and nooks and crannies - the conversation started to flow and for once, the eyes didn't glaze over. People were actually interested.

While chatting about it one friend commented how difficult it must be to negotiate a day like this.

"Naaaaaah" I confidently stated, "It's nothing. As long as I test regularly and think about what I'm drinking, it's only the same as everyone else's night, really."

But there it is; I test regularly and think about what I'm drinking. For me, that's normal. Necessary. For everyone else, it's a hassle. So it got me thinking about how differently I really do act. Just how much extra does it take? Well I thought I would write it all down so you can see for yourself. So here it is:

3pm - The wedding is about to kick off so naturally (for me) a test is in order. 12mmol. Drat; a touch on the high side. Thanks to the drinking plans, I need to sort that out. A small correction (extra insulin) later and I'm back on track. It's just a diet coke for me, at the moment. The ceremony takes place. We smile, we well up, we hear readings from our own wedding, we remember.

4pm - The drinking has started, I still feel a little 'wonky', time for another test. 11.3mmol. Ok so I haven't gone down much, but I'm now drinking Gin and Tonic and I haven't gone up. I'll take that, in this instance. We continue to drink.

7pm - Time for the food - better test again. 9.2mmol. Fab, G and Ts obviously agree with diabetes, I better swap to doubles on hearing this excellent news. We continue to drink.

9pm - Dinner was delicious, but thanks to the guest next to me not wanting their cheesecake desert, I am two deserts up and wondering what that means for the blood sugars. 10.3mmol. Well, after 2 deserts, several double gins and a fair bit of emotion, I am pretty happy with 10. We continue to drink.

11pm - I don't test (I am far to busy dancing), but I have discovered that the hearts on that wedding cake are actually made of white chocolate. I eat them. Most of them. I continue to drink.

12.30am - Well, the lack of tests over the last 3 hours no doubt evidences the fact that I am trollied. I am dancing barefoot and can feel the shards of glass from broken drinks flying past my feet. My sugars are 12.2. I don’t even care. It's a final double for me, please Mr Bartender.

1.30am - I am back at the hotel. Despite being very drunk I wash my black, grub-covered feet which are all danced out, so Jamie can check them for damage from shards of glass. They are fine. We stop drinking.

At 2am the night is over. My blood sugars are 8mmol. I give myself a temporary 80% basal overnight, I chow down on a banana and I keel into bed.

So what's the verdict? Is it a pain? Does it change my night? My answer is this:

Yes, we have to make adjustments.

No, a diabetic dancing barefoot is not a good idea.

Yes, I have to blood test more regularly.

But I challenge you to find anyone there who had more fun than I did (bar the bride and groom, hopefully). Congratulations to my wonderful friends Emma and Matt. Your wedding was a gem.

Anna (still dancing barefoot and enjoying every beat)

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Thanks for the good times, Mr Clip

'They' always say you don't know what you've got 'til its gone. Well, this week saw the sad demise of my insulin pump clip.

We had some good times. Like when you used to hide on me, making me where a horrendous 'carry-all' bra to bed. Sometimes during exercise classes you'd lose your grip and send Lord Pumpington flying in the direction of an unsuspecting fellow gym-er. How we laughed.

It seems two and a half years was your life-span, and not a day over.

For now, I have to revert to the horrendous bra, and thank the gods I discovered running trousers with a zip-up pocket, just big enough to cater for the pump. It's not as fun as wild gym-flinging, but it makes for an easier ride.

As much as I will miss you, I had to move on; so your replacement is on the way.

Good times, 'old' friend.

Monday 16 April 2012

InPuT Luton roadshow - a resounding success!

There aren't many things I would give up my Saturday for.  This is my day. In fact, come cricket season I usually relish the days when the husband heads off to a game and I can grab a few hours to myself to batten down the hatches, get some 'me time' and watch a bunch of really girly crap on TV, like 'Road Wars' and 'Police, Camera, Action'.  Tomboy alert!

Well this Saturday was InPuT's first 2012 Roadshow which, as someone who is an avid supporter  of InPuT, I volunteered to help out at.  The brainchild of Lesley Jordan, the roadshows are a way of getting the word out about InPuT, insulin pumps and NHS funding.  Areas were chosen by looking at where in the UK insulin pump uptake was at its lowest and Luton (the lowest in the UK) was an obvious choice as our starting point.  Having had no way of estimating numbers and no idea how many people would want to come along (or even whether anyone had successfully received a leaflet or seen our media build up), I have it on good authority that the whole InPuT team were suffering synchronised insomnia at 3 am, worrying about an empty room filled with some not-so-impressed medical reps, wondering what they could have been doing instead of this, and a rapidly cooling pot of coffee to cater for 40, being slowly chipped away at by the humble three-strong InPuT team! My concerns began to ease however, when the first arrivals showed up 30 minutes before we even had the coffee at the ready.  By mid way through, we had over 20 attendees.

For someone like myself, an extrovert with a penchant for talking about anything diabetes related, chatting to such a wide variety of people was as insightful as it was at times frightening: "My hypos aren't debilitating, but I am too scared to drive any longer".  "My son isn't allowed one as his HbA1c is too high."  I'm not sure if it is poor education on the part of the professionals wreaking havoc in the Luton hospitals or whether the PCTs just don't want to 'give it up', but within an hour I had spoken to 4 different groups, three of whom had a type 1 diabetic with them who by my count, should already be on a pump.  There were conversations with those who would be at a squeeze to fit the criteria (HbA1c consistently over 8.5% or debilitating hypos) and those who have been fitting it for years.  There were children, couples, older people and a family with three generations of it (who I immediately fell in love with when the mother  described them as "a group of five; 3 diabetics and 2 normals").  I had the chance to demonstrate my own pump, put minds at ease that you can't feel the cannula, that you don't have carry it around in a custom made rucksack and that for a girl, your boobs come very much in handy

We had superb attendance from the pump companies too, which I feel only served to strengthen the motivation to push for a pump.  Although InPuT will clearly never endorse one pump over another, the unique selling points of all the pumps on offer were out in force.  Medtronic were there with the low-glucose suspend and integrated CGM capability.  Accu-check were there with the Combo pump, a snazzy remote control enabled pump with integrated bolus calculator (no need to rummage through the clothing with this one).   Cellnovo (not-yet-available sexy patch/micro pump) were there showing off their 'smart-phone like' technology.  Animas came with their waterproof pump (hello to the surfers, swimmers and watersports types) and soon-to-be integrated Dexcom CGM.  Advanced Therapeutics (the folks who brighten our drizzly shores with the Dexcom 7+) were also there showing support and I took the opportunity to finally meet the director, someone who had been on the diabetes circuit for decades and is a true time-tested expert in the field.

After three and a half hours of talking away, we had just shy of 40 people come along, of which we estimate 21 people had type 1 diabetes. I would suggest that two thirds of those people at least, should already be funded for a pump. People generally seemed to stay for at least an hour thanks to the wealth of information they could soak up from the reps.  The coffee pot most certainly ran dry.

There were a few laughs as two thirds of the InPuT team near on cleared the Medtronic stand of their Mio's (cannulas complete with disposable inserter) after two failed cannulas of our own (what are the odds?!).  And thanks to me having avoided caffeine for a week and drinking copious cups in my nervous excitement, I was twitching all the way home (and into the early hours).

All in all the day was a GREAT success and certainly something I am prepared to give up my precious Saturdays for.  If those 21 diabetics don't have success (which would surprise me considering InPuT will continue to support them through their applications and offer advice and guidance where we can), the pressure those newly motivated people will put on their diabetes teams will undoubtedly go some distance to changing the attitudes of the professionals and people holding onto all the power.

The power is ours.

Next up, we are coming to you, Chester!

And FYI Anna, find a photo pose which disguises chin-zilla!

Monday 9 April 2012

INPUT Roadshow heads to Luton!

I can't say how many times I have seen/heard/read people wanting to know more about pumps; how do they feel, what do they look like, how big are they, can I get one?  It's hard to get to everyone at once.  Well, INPUT are starting off the 'getting to everyone' by coming to Luton and are ready for all your questions!  

If you are interested in a pump but don't know whether you qualify, want to have a poke around one first, want to know how to start the process of enquiring about one or just want to ask a question, come along on Saturday and ask any pump related question!

Any questions just let me know and I will endeavour to help out where I can.  I will be there along with members of the INPUT team and a number of the pump companies keep to show off their products.

See you there, everyone!