Diabetes Diary: Jan 2017

I’m thinking to do a post like this, maybe 3 monthly, to keep a log (or a blog, if you will) of how everything diabetes related is going.  This one may be a bit lengthier, since I’ve not blogged in such a long time but here goes…

Update

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DAFNE – In November 2015, I completed the week long “DAFNE” course (dose adjustment for normal eating) – a structured education course about all things insulin related.  I had been on and off the waiting list for this course for years, with some doctors thinking it was exactly what I needed, others thinking I ‘wasn’t ready’.  The course really inspired me and I might do a post about DAFNE alone.  However, I have to say, it hasn’t changed my blood sugars, health or wellbeing.  This is not because the course is no good – if you’re in the right place, it could work wonders – it is because of my mental health and motivation that I’m still struggling.

Breakdown – At the last clinic I went to (July 2016) I decided to be honest and admit how much I was struggling in the hope to referred for counselling.  I tried to explain how I was feeling to the doctor but as soon as I started, I burst out crying and couldn’t stop!  I think the doctor felt a bit awkward and passed me on to one of the nurses, Gillian, saying she was “very sympathetic”.  She has type 1 diabetes herself and is a brilliant nurse.  She sat with me and listened and understood how I was feeling.  She agreed to help which leads me on to my next point…

Nurses – The DSNs (diabetes specialist nurses) have been amazing.  Pauline and Cath who did our DAFNE course are always on the other end of the phone and Gillian has been supporting me via phone and email ever since me getting upset at clinic.  I was completing diaries for her and she was helping me tweak my insulin.  This is so helpful of them and I am hugely grateful.

Positives

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Think Like A Pancreas – I started reading this book a few weeks ago and although I haven’t nearly finished it yet, I would definitely recommend it.  It’s full of interesting information and keeping me engaged with my diabetes, which is something I find challenging.

New meter – Oh. My. God.   I have a new meter and it is AMAZING.  It’s the Contour NEXT ONE and it links via Bluetooth to an app on your phone.  I had the previous Contour Next meter and really liked the size, style and ease of use.  It could plug into the computer via USB but, in all honesty, the first time I tried to do that, I didn’t set it up properly and never used it again, so only used the USB to charge it up which was a really handy feature.
The new meter doesn’t have the USB port so uses batteries instead but meter batteries last forever and a day, so it’s not too much of an issue.
The main advantage is the app and automatically having a diary on your phone without inputting the BGs!  I love it.  I have only been using it for two days so don’t have a lot of data to show you but I have put in the screenshots to illustrate.
You can set your own targets, add your insulin doses, food you’ve eaten and carb content, exercise, notes etc.  You can also send the diaries via email which is a great feature and add in appointments, HbA1c info and much more.  It’s a game changer.
It also creates graphs from your readings and (a favourite feature of mine) the meter itself, has a light which appears red if you’re low, green if you’re on target and yellow if you’re high.

 

DAFNE catch up – The best bit of the DAFNE course was undoubtedly meeting like minded people.  We are now in a Whatsapp group so you can get support or advice from them all the time.  We also catch up at both DAFNE follow ups and our own (usually boozy) get togethers.  Our next is scheduled for February and they’re great for a rant and a moan!

Negatives

Nightshifts – I work as a support worker in emergency accommodation, for homeless men, which poses many challenges, included diabetes related ones!  I don’t work nightshifts as part of my contract, but recently have been doing some to cover as we were short staffed and for some extra money.  I won’t be making a habit of them anyway but the main downside of them was not the sleeping pattern, or trying to stay awake at 3am… it was the crazy blood sugars the next day.  I wasn’t doing them for long enough in a row to change ratios or background doses so I had a bit of a rollercoaster and many unexplained highs after them.  If I was working them regularly, I’m sure I’d find a way but for the odd one it played havoc.

Exercise – Like everyone at this time of year, I’m trying to exercise a bit more.  The most frustrating thing is thinking you’ve had a super healthy start to your day, then testing your blood sugar, to find out your body has had the most unhealthy reaction.  The other day I went to Metafit for the first time… I woke up at 9.2mmol, had cereal for breakfast, carb counted did my injections, went to the gym, then a few hours later I was 20.5mmol!! So infuriating.  One of my DAFNE pals said she avoids exercising in the morning where possible and if she does, takes insulin and no breakfast.  For me, this isn’t very workable.  I usually go to gym classes around 10am before I’m working a backshift, so need to eat before, and whenever I plan to exercise in the evening, I always manage to talk myself out of it through the day!  Back to the DAFNE textbook to find a solution….

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Prescriptions – I have been so disorganised recently and keep running out of test strips/needles before my prescription is ready.  I need to get a grip – simple as that!

HbA1c

At my last clinic in my A1c had come down slightly but is still too high.   I can’t remember what it was but I think roughly 9% (or 75 mmol/mol) – this is an average BG of around 12mmol.  I’ll update this post when I find out exactly what it was and plan to blog them on here after each clinic.

To Do

Counselling – This has been on the list for quite a long time.  I think the root of most of my diabetes issues are mental health related.  I have been to the GP about this before and also hoped to be offered counselling at my last clinic, neither of which have come to anything.  So my aim at the moment is definitely to source some counselling.  Maybe from the Tom Allan Centre, in Glasgow.

BG diary – This is always on my to do list, to keep a blood sugar diary.  With my new app, I think it might be manageable.  Over the next few months, I’m aiming to keep on top of it and log my carbs and doses on the app.

MyDiabetesMyWay – I have been meaning to sign up to this website for years but keep forgetting to get a doctor to sign a form for me to allow me to register. This website, available in Scotland, allows you to track your A1cs, notes etc.  The main reason I want to register is so I can view my A1cs, so I’ve registered for another form to be sent out and I will get it signed this time!

 

(Sorry, this was much longer than I expected it to be)

Christmas colds and diabetes

Pretty sure everyone I know was a bit ill at some point over their Christmas holiday, whether it was from a bug or self inflicted!  The annoying thing about diabetes is that when you have the cold, the flu or a horrific hangover, you still have to deal with the diabetes and more often than not the illness makes the diabetes worse AND the diabetes makes the illness worse.

One thing that really grinds my gears, is when people are hungover and exclaim, “I need sugar!”, as they reach for their irn bru… because all they are really complaining about is their blood sugar dropping by about 2mmols.  I understand that hangovers are yuck, and I love to complain about them as much as the next person, but bitch please, our blood sugars can fluctuate by >20mmols in one day so pipe down.

Between Christmas and New Year, I was feeling pretty yucky.  I had the horrible cold and sickness, that my family seemed to pass from one to the other, throughout the festivities, but the really bad bit came overnight when I woke up feeling like DEATH.  I felt sick, my head hurt, I needed water but to lift my head was like trying to lift a 10 tonne truck.  When I eventually managed to check my blood sugar, it was 30.2.  For those of you who don’t know, this level is dangerously high.  It should be between 4-10, ideally around 6 or 7.
Luckily I was home at my parents and so I phoned my wonderful mother and father’s mobile phones at about 2am and mam came downstairs to help me, getting me water (with a straw so I didn’t have to lift my head to drink it), a basin and holding my hair back as I was sick.  I had a little cry with her about how shit diabetes is.
There can be days like this with type 1 diabetes and I’d really like us to raise awareness of how hard it can be – it is nowhere near as simple as some people seem to believe.  But I would also like to note that I know how lucky I am – I got better the next day and, since I didn’t feel well enough to go on a night out, spent a lovely Hogmanay with my fantastic family who I am lucky to have!

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I hope everyone else had a great New Year too and are sticking to those resolutions…  My resolution happens to be diabetes related too – trying my hardest to carb count properly and keep track of my blood sugars to figure out my insulin ratios, for once and for all (Also resolved to read a book a fortnight but Mark Zuckerberg went and stole that one!).  So far, so good – I’ve been weighing my foods and keeping track of the carbs on My Fitness Pal and I think I’m managing to see some trends.  I’ll keep my blog updated on that one and I have an appointment at my brand new diabetes clinic at the end of the month so I will hopefully do a wee blog then to say how it all went.

And remember, the next time you have a hangover – you will live – complain as much as you like, but if you’re around me, try not to mention your sugar levels!

Where I am now…

“How is your diabetes going?”

My most hated question…  Not because I don’t want to tell people about it but because it’s so vague and overly simplified.  I get asked this sort of question all the time…  at the opticians, by friends, at the diabetic clinic, getting a flu jab, by people I’ve just told that I have diabetes… the list goes on.

But what time-frame are they talking – this week, the past few months, today?  Are they referring to my blood sugar levels on average?  Do they mean am I having many hypos?  Are they asking whether I’m remembering to take my injections?  Do they mean are my carb:insulin ratios working for me?  Are they talking about mental health?  Your health, mentality and blood sugar levels fluctuate from hour to hour and there are so many components to type 1 diabetes that this question simply does not work.

My response?  Normally “Yeah, fine” or “My levels are a bit high at the moment”.  I have absolutely no problem with friends asking me this, it’s quite nice if anything, but when it’s a health care professional (HCP), it’s pretty pointless.

Anyway, I diverge.  How IS my diabetes going?  To be perfectly honest, not well.  My levels are all over the place; my hbA1C has been high for years and it’s taking a toll on my health.  I feel exhausted a lot of the time and just generally run down, the damage to my eyes is starting to show and last year I sought help from my GP for my mental health.  Because of this, I am determined to get my levels on track but as of yet, I don’t know how to.  I go through phases of trying to keep a food diary, change insulin ratios, testing two hours after eating, etc but after a while when I’m putting all the effort in and it’s making no noticeable difference, this fizzles out.  I think that I need a different attitude, approach and more support from HCPs, more frequent clinic visits but this is easier said than done.  I will keep the blog updated though!

For Diabetes Awareness Month, I will be following the topics of my fave book Balancing Diabetes by Kerri Sparling.  This includes blood sugar balancing, work, moving away from home, and much more.  Get your blue on for November and raise some awareness 😉