Friday, 22 March 2013

Crazybetes, steel cannulas and I can only apologise for the 'dancing'

 After some major blood sugar wobbles this week I made some changes to my diabetes treatment and added a new weapon to my diabetes arsenal.

I've added a little video to talk about how and why I gave them a try which you can watch here below.

 The cannulas are called 'Sure Ts' by Medtronic and carry lot number MMT 864.

The look like this when you wear them:

And this one is just the box label, in case you have trouble tracking them down.

So, as a newbie myself tell me, do you use Sure Ts and if so, whaddya think?

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Doing the hard work for me

I've now had my Dex for a little over 3 weeks.  The post about first impressions is still under way because I have been marvelling at it so often that I have yet to find time to say all I want to say about it; I am permanently stuck on my 'amaze' setting at the moment.

But something I wanted to quickly share with you today was just how the Dex proved its value when I emerged from my post-burnout 'lull' and decided to once again brave the gym.

Learning all of the exercise rules all over again - like how long to leave between lowering my basal and starting exercise, or how many carbs I need before I workout - can take a while.  In fact, as it has been a month since I was last in the gym my body has been busy changing its insulin needs at an alarming rate, so I wasn't sure what to expect. 

After a long day of high BGs it was a welcome sight to be under 10 mmol (180 mg/dl) by the time I reached the gym.  But the downward trend at 7mmol made me a little wary so I popped a couple of Dextrose, just in case.

I had been thinking it would just be nice to know what I was when I exercised, rather than relying on being 'OK' during exercise and testing my bloods as quickly as I can after.  So when at 27 minutes in I was facing this little chart, I new that my first day back would need to be treated as a 'work in progress'.

Lucky that I had my Dexcom because only 5 minutes later in the gym cafe, I was facing this little beauty. You gotta love the 'YOUR HEADING DOWN FAST, LADY' trend arrow; it's a pretty good early warning system

Why do I love my Dexcom? 

Because I don't get hypo symptoms during exercise but today that didn't matter; My Dex was all over it.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Dexcom G4 Sensors - Life Tally

It is the diabetes community's worst kept secret that Dexcom CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) sensors last well beyond the seven days they are approved for.

While I am not a diabetes professional and would never recommend using a sensor for longer than the approved seven day period, I do bend these rules myself. I may not be a diabetes professional, but I am a professional diabetic; I manage this beast full-time and have had to find ways to make CGM a more full-time part of my self-care.

In the UK, there is no such thing as medical insurance and as yet there is no guidance on providing diabetic patients on the NHS with sensor funding. This will change one day, I hope. But until it does I have decided to fund my sensors myself and at £62.50 for each sensor, wearing them for only seven days is just not an option for me; being more economical with them is the only way I am going to make this work.

In fact, it was one of the reasons I chose a Dexcom in the first place.

So I have made the decision to wear each sensor until:

a) the sensor expires naturally
b) the results become unreliable/inaccurate
c) any irritation occurs (indicating my body may need me to remove the sensor before an infection occurs

I have decided to keep this tally of my Dexcom sensor lifespans out of interest; mainly my own, but I suspect there may be other people out there with an equal interest.

I hope you find it useful.


Less than 7 days
7-14 days
15-21 days
22-28 days
29-35 days
36+ days


* These two sensors laste 8 and 11 days respectively, on a holiday when a sauna was being used daily.  Having never had another sensor last less than 14 days I believe these conditions contributed to 'early fail'.

Post-script:  I have changed the chart to just hold numerical information for ease of reference.  

Saturday, 9 March 2013


Last night I boarded my plane home from Scotland with my pump alarm peeping away in my pocket. Through the day I had acknowledged several of these alarms, squawking away at regular intervals, aimed at informing me that I was running low on insulin.  I 'okayed' the alarm and clipped the pump back on to my waistband, having done the quick calculation in my head that 3 hours travel time would put me back at home as the last 4 units ran dry.

Of course, when I actually met up with Jamie at the airport I was full of the news of the day. I chatted to my him, ate my dinner and went about my evening fun, eventually crashing into bed; worn out from the day's events.

My insulin ran dry at 10pm.

When I awoke this morning and checked the trend graph on my Dexcom G4 (my new favourite thing to do), I saw a beautiful straight line.  It was heading down slightly heading towards the low 4s (70s) so  I pulled out the pump, intending to lower my basal rate at 4am, having seen this trend several nights in a row.

Then I see it: Empty reservoir symbol.


Jamie, poor guy, got a slightly rude awakening this morning.

I remembered my calculations from the day before and that I must have been out of insulin for 8, maybe more, whole hours.  I bolted to my kitchen, washed my hands and pulled out my blood test kit, convinced that my precious Dex (Lorraine) had made a mistake.  She was telling me I was 4.9 and fairly steady.

Longest five seconds ever.  

5.2 mmol...


I have no idea how it happened.  My diet has been insanely good recently and I had a seriously busy day on Friday so maybe, just maybe, I was due to have an enormous hypo during the night that didn't happen because of the extra activity and low, low carbs.

I've been over what happened again and again, convincing myself I had more time that I thought, but each time the calculation is correct.  10pm.  I was very, very lucky.  But it has left me thinking: 'why is the alarm on my pump for 'your reservoir will need filling in the next 12 hours', no different to the "holy crap Batman, you're flat out of insulin' alarm, and why is there no escalation of noise/urgency when I don't acknowledge them?

And as this is not the first time this has happened, I'm slowly realising that perhaps this is something I need to look for in a new pump.  I renew in 10 months.

So, what pump do you use, and are the 'out of insulin' alarms different to the 'low reservoir' alarm?

   Type '0'?

Or just a very lucky wally?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Animas: beyond promises.

Losing weight is hard. Fact. It is no coincidence that there are as many diet plans to choose from as there are countries in the world and that diet clubs are bursting at the seams (hello, awful pun) with people trying to shed the pounds and improve their lives.

Last year, I attended the Animas Sports Day Event at Loughborough University, which made promises of learning about sport and exercise with the Consultant Endocrinologist who helped Stephen Redgrave train for the Olympics and meeting inspirational people who had completed challenges like swimming the channel and climbing Kilimanjaro. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

My reasons for going were simple: I wanted to absorb as much of the information as I could so that when I was back home I could hit the gym and shed my own lingering weight, conquering the weight battles that tainted every occasion that required dressing up or 'looking nice'. Not that you can't looked good with a few extra pounds - but my pounds had extra pounds and I just didn't feel, 'nice'.

The weekend was fantastic and any early fears I'd had about the fact I was one the biggest people there and wouldn't fit in, were totally unfounded. Everyone was welcoming beyond belief and the activities, while challenging and fun, were thankfully not enough to leave an Anna-shaped slump at the side-lines. Oh and I like playing football, who knew?

I came away with some great tips for coping - thriving, even - with exercise and felt totally confident that this was what I had been waiting for. As I left I took the chance to thank Animas for the opportunity they had given me (or I had somehow wangled because my friend Alison at Shoot Up was busy growing a human and Tim was, in his words, too lazy). I told them confidently that I felt sure that my weight loss would be aided no end by the help and tips I had received and suggested trying to encourage more people like me, whose fat even had a fat complex, to come and join in next time.

The team at Animas took that very literally and offered me another opportunity; to track my weight loss and come back at the next conference to talk about my journey. I know, who gets that kind of opportunity and kick up the backside, all in one?! Not only that, they were also putting me in touch with Dr Chris Kelly, one of the UK's leading diabetes and weight loss specialists, who would be joining the next weekend to give a weight management talk.

Tomorrow, a very excited Anna (probably burning an extra 500 calories a day just in excitedness (real word)) will meet with Dr Kelly for the first time, when he and his team will go over my food, look at my metabolism and make recommendations around what I am currently doing and what could help me further. With a stone now safely under my belt, clothes fitting me better and people starting to notice the difference in how I look and seem, I can't wait to meet him and use the last 2 months before the challenge to the greatest effect.

So tomorrow I travel to Scotland, kindly sponsored by Animas, who took me far beyond the original promise they made of a rewarding and informative weekend.  They blew that promise right out of the water and offered me 100 times more. 

I will be sharing what I learn with you, as I know I am not alone in the weight issues boat.  So please keep posted for updates and news.

Anna (currently a stone lighter, and a quarter of the way to the end goal).

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Have you heard...

of the GB Doc? 

The GB Doc (Great Britain Diabetes Online Community) was born in 2012 when one person had the vision to create a community of people affected by diabetes.  Where?  On Twitter, Wednesday nights at 9pm (GMT). 

Want to join in?  Then create a Twitter account and meet us here. We can run through the how-tos and what-nexts, and you too can get talking to bucket loads of other people affected by amazingness.

I have been asked to guest post now and then over on the GB Doc site, so here is my latest about what the GB Doc means to me.

Big love,