Thursday 24 May 2012

Unconventional cock-ups

There is a very good reason the insulin pump comes with a low reservoir warning alarm; we need insulin.  It's kind of the point of an insulin pump.  Without it, us pancreatically defective people have a time limit, and a pretty short one at that.  The low-reservoir alarm is our lifeline to making sure the pump is never out of insulin.  But when your pump is alarming for hours upon hours and - like me - you don't want to change the reservoir early wasting what insulin is left, you can lose track of the dwindling units. 

Last night I managed to go to bed without having stocked up on insulin (I blame the wine) and must have run out somewhere between 8mmol (11pm) and 17mmol (4.45am).  So my super-sleuth skills tell me, anyway.

In my fuzzy haze of high BGs I managed to change the reservoir, find a comfy spot in the bed again and return to the land of nod.

But today my slightly unconventional method of basal-testing (checking your background insulin dose is correct) has revealed that I have in fact been having a series of overnight hypos.  How do I know this?  For the last couple of weeks I have been having sugars of 15/16mmol during the day with no explanation of why.  I had put it down to my body not agreeing with the oh-so luxurious lunch of Ryvita and Cottage Cheese (hell on a plate) I have been adopting as a low-carb higher-protein lunch, but today I have barely strayed from 6mmol.  The only difference, tellingly, is the guaranteed lack of hypo.

I wouldn't suggest that attempting to go it alone without insulin (which works out less than unsuccessfully the rest of the time) is the way to carry out some decent hypo-testing, but in a backward and very unconventional way it has sorted out my little predicament.

It has also proven that I am most definitely and unequivocally, still a diabetic  :)

Wednesday 23 May 2012


When you are a person with diabetes - particularly one who talks like an AK47, mostly about diabetes -  it's pretty normal to run into a few questions here and there:

'How do you control it?' 'When were you diagnosed?' Or, everyone's personal favourite, 'Are you allowed that?' Most of us in the diabetic community, online or otherwise, have the answers which have stood the test of time in a special 'diabetic FAQ' file in our heads.

"I use an insulin pump". "25 years ago when I was four." and "Yes I freakin' well am!"

But this weekend was different. As I boarded my train to the Input Insulin Pump roadshow, my best friend called me.

"Anna, what do I do if a friend who stayed at my house last night just told me they are diabetic, but don't have their testing kit or insulin?"


As I unravelled the story and discovered that despite my friends attempts to get to a pharmacy to buy some hypodermics, some insulin and a testing kit, her sofa-surfing stowaway was protesting that he was 'just fine'. Of course, having been without any insulin for about 16 hours, and having been drinking the night before the chances he really was fine, were slim.

"He reminds me of you when you were 17."

Of course, I never skipped insulin and I would always tell people I was diabetic, but despite my initial shrugging off that we were anything alike, a flood of feelings came rolling in that left me thinking about this guy, how he felt and why he didn't tell my friend about his condition.

I hated diabetes too. I didnt want to be different, either.

Maybe we were alike. Maybe I was like that.

It's very easy to shake heads and wag fingers at people who do this kind of stuff. How can they? Why would they? But it left me thinking about my own journey. From somewhere on that wavelength, where blood tests were a pain in the backside and injecting was something that separated me from others -  a burden, a punishment - to a place where insulin pumps bring us together and our story is something to share; something that unites us.

My friend knows that just as soon as he is ready, she can give him my number. I will always talk. I will always listen. And when everyone is wagging their finger and playing the blame game, I will remind them that I too walked that path; mine was littered with fear, contempt, anger and isolation.

My pump, and the subsequent introduction to a diabetic community millions strong, brought about my eventual acceptance of the life I would lead and heartfelt gratitude for what you all would bring me.

I hope he too finds that way. Be it now, or tomorrow.

It is never too late.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

'InPuT' Roadshows head to Chester!

Well it's that time again; the time for InPuT (the UK's INsulin PUmp Therapy advocacy service) to head out onto the streets and hit your local town to tell you about who can have access to a pump and how to get the ball rolling.  The Luton Roadshow was a resounding success and we've had some fantastic feedback from people who came along. If we can continue increasing the number of people who get to the exhibition, I am hoping there will be dozens more pumps on order by the end of the year - so you should prepare yourself, Mr NHS.

This time, it is the turn of Chester to kindly play host to the InPuT team and we will be coming along to MacDonald New Blossoms Hotel, St John Street, Chester, CH1 1HL between 1pm and 4.30pm with a wonderful bunch of insulin pump companies.  So we invite you to come along and have a good look at some of the pumps on offer in this part of the world, ask questions of those who wear them and get advice on whether or not you can get funding for one.

Here is the poster with full details!

The InPuT team look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday 2 May 2012

'Special' shoes

As you get older things you once would never have considered suddenly begin to seem to be a good idea.  Like, growing your own veg or just having one night out this weekend; getting a smaller TV package to reduce the bill or putting money away for a rainy day.  This year, I began to consider - shudder - 'special shoes'.

Ten years ago I considered this sort of thing for people who had one leg significantly longer than the other and needed something to help them walk better.  Or perhaps for people who have conditions meaning they fall over if their shoes don't have weights in.  This was not something for me. I was way too 'cool' for that.

A few years on with some wisdom in the bank and at my ripe old age of 28 years and 18 months, things have begun to change. Gone are the days when I could wear heels so high I had to be drunk just to stand in them.  Countless times after eventful nights clubbing I would wake up with toes  completely numb thanks to being 'squished' (the only appropriate word) into your shoes for the inexplicable purpose of 'being fashionable'.

Nowadays, after having done my time in the 5 inch heels and matching blisters and having realised that those blisters really weren't worth it, I am beginning to realise the value and importance - for a diabetic - of wearing shoes which actually fit!

Don't get me wrong, my shoes don't look like this:

But I have started to wear shoes described as 'wide fit' which offer decent support and are properly measured. Why?  Because it is a very easy way to give your feet a helping hand - or, foot maybe - towards staying healthy.  My work shoes are now a cute pair of Clark's black ballet pumps with a small 1/2 inch heel and air circulation. Low and behold, they are like a pair of slippers compared to my former cheaper pair!

It's worth pointing out that with 'good' control and at the age of 28 and 18 months, there shouldn't be any reason I should be panicking just yet.  But you have no doubt seen the 'Putting Feet First' campaign that Diabetes UK are running.  The facts and figures about "100 people per week have a limb amputated due to diabetes" and the constant reminder that diabetics are disproportionately represented in the amputation stats countrywide, means I may as well take the easy route to good care wherever I can.  That means checking my feet after drunkenly danced barefoot, wearing decent shoes most of the time and taking care of any hard skin which could disguise a foot ulcer.

Not only am I a lot more comfortable most of the time, but I also now have the benefit of being able to giggle to myself at all those people teetering around in shoes far too high for them with the unmistakable, 'I'm walking downhill' motion about them.  Sexy?  ....Not really!  I'll stick to my 'special shoes' thanks all the same.

Anna (currently oh, so comfy)