Diabetes won’t hold me back / Wordless Wednesday – Port Meirion

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After a night of lows, the day started with a high BG of 14.8……. I wasn’t going to let it stop me from enjoying myself.

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BTW the sun kept making an appearance then disappearing hmmm!

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It got sunny for a while, so I took advantage and took some great shots.

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BG’s came down nicely🙂 Thank god I got to enjoy my day with good sugars. 

Amina xx

You can follow me @

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You can also click on the link below to see my VIDA shop, which I talked about in my previous post here

@http://www.shopvida.com/collections/voices/amina-mahdi-gonzalez

 

 

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When I became a featured artist for VIDA

VIDAFASHION2Recently, I was contacted by a company called VIDA, after they saw my artwork on my blog and on Instagram, they asked me if I’d like to collaborate with them and design my very own fashion apparel.

I was completely excited, what an opportunity! I was going to be able to showcase my artwork, design fashionable apparel, in collaboration with VIDA all on my very own online shop. Amazing!

So who are VIDA?

VIDA’s story is that of the rich, interconnected world we live in — the story of contemporary life and mindful, global citizenship.

 – VIDA

VIDA is a Google Venture-backed fashion e-commerce platform that brings designers and makers together from around the globe, to create original, inspirational apparel in a socially conscious way.

VIDA gives designers the opportunity to turn their artwork, photography, or sculptures into products like scarves, tops, pocket squares, shawls etc. For someone like myself, who loves to transfer my sketches into graphic drawings, this was a great platform to develop and share my artwork. My artwork is an interpretation of my life with diabetes. It gives me the opportunity to advocate for the condition. I hope that people will become inspired by my designs and develop a better understanding of my perspective on diabetes.

We believe beautiful products should create beauty every step of the way.

-VIDA

The designers creative flare is then matched with makers to create these products.

Besides being able to share my designs with the world and advocate for diabetes, what I love about VIDA, is the opportunity they give to others. For every product made, VIDA offers literacy programmes to the makers of the products in Karachi, Pakistan.  The literacy programme allows individual makers to learn how to read, write and develop their maths skills. This is a fantastic prospect, which gives makers a chance to have a stable income and also expand their knowledge. Therefore, I decided to create my own shop with some of my artwork here

As a designer for VIDA, I was able to really design the pieces I wanted to appear in my shop. I selected everything from the design I wanted to use, to the colours I would use and finally the fabrics.  VIDA were so supportive and were always ready to help me when I needed help.

Below you can see a few of my designs🙂

8needles

1balloons

3boarder

My collection went live yesterday and you can now pre-order Sugar High Sugar Low designs. My collection is still very small but as more items are added it will continue to grow.

I will leave you with this fantastic video from VIDA.

Thanks for stopping by

 

Amina xx

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Je suis fatigué of the monthly P

Sorry guys this one is for the girls. This is one aspect of life that doesn’t affect your diabetes, but for us girls we are faced with the not so pleasant monthly, painful and uncomfortable period. Diabetes, as you know can be absolutely crazy at times, when you are stressed, fatigued, ill, let’s just say a lot of things can affect your BG levels. So let’s now throw in the monthly period we girls go through.

PERIOD-2

 At different points in the menstrual cycle, BG levels can be affected. It can differ from person to person and for me, it has always been a challenging time. However, since I had my children, I’ve noticed that my need for insulin fluctuates a great deal at different times within a single month. Sometimes, I need more insulin and sometimes I need a lot less. My insulin requirement severely decrease. Why? I have no idea! Could it just be down to my body changing after experiencing pregnancy? Hormones? Who knows?

As a side note – This also reminds me of when I was going through my teenage years and all the changes I had to make in my insulin regime. Back then I was MDI taking two injections a day which then increased to five injections a day. Anyway, that’s a whole other post entirely.

As frustrating as it has been, I’ve had to deal with this extra struggle that comes with diabetes. At first, the patterns in my sugars were very hard to detect and I suffered from a lot with low BGs. It seems as if, my body just needed a lot less insulin at that particular time. Initially, I must admit I did suspend my pump at certain times just to try and avoid those lows. However, with a lot of hard work, I’ve managed to , when I needed to make changes to my background basal rates.  The only real way to do this is to watch what your sugars are doing. I had to write them down and try to find patterns over several months and then compare patterns from month to month. It was crazy!!

So what did I find out?

Week 1 of any month – This is usually the normal week and most stable week. BG’s are close to perfect.

May 2016 Week 1 Sunday 1/5/2016 Monday 2/5/2016 Tuesday 3/5/2016 Wednesday 4/5/2016 Thursday 5/5/1016 Friday 6/5/2016 Saturday 7/5/2016
BB 5.2 4.4 5 4.4 4.8 4.4 3.9
AB 6.4 7.9 6.2 6.6 8.5 8.7 9.9
BL 4.8 5.8 4.3 5.2 5.9 5.3 6.5
AL 6.6 8 7.6 7.9 8.8 7.6 8.4
BD 4.2 4.3 4.8 4.1 4.6 5 4.7
AD 8.3 9.3 8.8 7.9 8.5 7.4 8
BB 7.2 7.1 6.9 7 7.9 6.5 7.1
DN 6.7 6.5 5.8  6.8

Week 2 (before the P) This is when things start to get a little tricky and I notice a slight change in my sugar levels. My BG levels start to drop and at this point I have to decrease my basal rates. My pump (Animas Vibe) has a great setting which allows me to reduce or increase the basal rates by a percentage. So Initially, I reduce my basal rates by – 20%, which did nothing, so I then took it down by a further -40% which really helped to stabilise my BG levels.

May 2016 Week 2   Sunday 8/5/2016   Monday 9/5/2016 Tuesday 10/2016 Wednesday 11/5/2016 Thursday 12/5/1016   Friday 13/5/2016 Saturday 14/5/2016
BB 4.2 4 4.9 3.6 3.8 6 3.9
AB 5.8 6.3 5.7 7 7 7 8
BL 3.8 4.3 3.9 4 2.8 3.7 4
AL 5.6 7.4 6.8 6.7 9.9 7.6 7
BD 4.2 3.2 3 4.2 3.6 3.4 3.9
AD 6.5 10 7.7 7.5 7.2 6.8 6.9
8.3 9
BB 6 7.9 5.8 7.7 6.1 6 7.1
8 8
DN 4.4 3.5 5.5 5 3 4.1 5.2

Week 3 – (week of the P) – This week all chaos breaks loose on a BG level. Regardless of the changes, I’d made in week 2, I continue to experience severe lows which means I have to  decrease my basal rates even further. I do this by using the percentage setting again. First, I reduce it in increments of 10% until I’ve reduced it by -60%. This eventually seems to stop the frequency of low BG levels.

May 2016 Week 3 Sunday 8/5/2016 Monday 9/5/2016 Tuesday 10/2016 Wednesday 11/5/2016 Thursday 12/5/1016 Friday 13/5/2016 Saturday 14/5/2016
Changes in BR Changes in  BR Changes in BR Changes in  BR
BB 3.3 2.8 4.2 4.8 5 5.7 5.5
AB 4.8 5.9 6.4 7.5 7 7.5 7
BL 2.4 3.8 4.7 5 5.5 5.9 5
AL 6.6 7.4 7 6.9 7.4 7.7 7
BD 3.2 3.8 4.4 5.5 5.9 6 5.6
AD 5 6 7.2 8 7.3 8 7
BB 3.7 5.1 6 7.9 6.2 6.9 6.4
8
DN 2.2 4.3 3.1 4.2 4.6 6.5 4

To completely stabilise my BG’s I must then reduce my insulin sensitivity factor( ISF)  and insulin to carb ratio(I:C). My ISF is usually 1U will reduce my BG by 6mmol/1. During this week, I drop it to 1U of insulin reduces my BG by 1mmol/1. My, I: C ratio of week one is 1U: 6g (of carbohydrates), during week 3 this is doubled to 1U: 12g.

In general, during this week I feel hungrier and more exhausted than ever.

Week 4 – This week usually means that I have to increase everything, basal rates, ISF and I: C ratios. My BG levels spike beyond belief. I have to increase my basal rate setting by +60%, drop ISF back to 1U : 6mmol/l and I:C ratio back to 1U : 6g.

May 2016 Week 4 Sunday 8/5/2016 Monday 9/5/2016 Tuesday 10/2016 Wednesday 11/5/2016 Thursday 12/5/1016 Friday 13/5/2016 Saturday 14/5/2016
Changes in  BR Changes in BR
BB 12.8 8.2 8.5 7.9 6.1 5.5
AB 11.8 10 9.4 16 8 6.3 6.5
BL 8.8 8.4 7.5 3.3 6.6 6 5.3
AL 11.5 8.9 7.9 15.9 7.9 7.2 6.8
BD 7.9 12.6 9.1 4 6 5.8 5.6
AD 15 9.8 8.8 12 7.8 7.9 7.4
BB 9.1 14 10.3 11 7.7 6.9 6.5
DN 12.6 12 8.6 9 7 6.5 6

I suppose for those who have no clue about the work both I and my pump have to do to manage this condition, then you can really see how beneficial it is to me. I well and truly appreciate my pump and I am so lucky to have it.

I really think that the drastic fluctuations were due to possible pregnancy hormones which still existed in my system. I really don’t know, it’s just a guess. I decided to do a detox to try and flush out my system and I thought that maybe it would help to get me back into a more normal BG crazy diabetes management routine. After the detox, I noticed a change in the way my BG’s behaved. They weren’t as crazy as they had been and there was definitely a great improvement. I also took it a little further and started to:

  1. Work out more and maintaining a more regular routine
  2. Tried to get more sleep – which is hard as a mama of two but my body definitely needs and benefits from it.
  3. Eat more clean/watch my portions etc
  4. I do detoxes from time to time to flush out my system.

With all these changes I’ve been able to cut down my basal rates to just having two programme setting for the month. One for the week before and during my period and the two weeks after my period.

It’s a tough one girls but it has to be done. Close monitoring of those BG is really the only way to figure the unpredictability of those sugars on a normal week without a period. So it becomes even more crucial during the menstrual cycle.

This is yet another aspect of the crazy life of a diabetic!

 

Amina xx

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Theresa May, first UK Prime Minister with Type 1 diabetes

Theresa-May-640x480This week, it was announced that the previous home secretary, Theresa May is now in line to become the UK’s second female Prime Minister and the first with Type 1 diabetes.

It was in 2013 when she was first diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes but after medication failed to work, she then took further tests which showed she actually had Type 1 diabetes

“My very first reaction was that it’s impossible because at my age you don’t get it,” she says, reflecting the popular misconception that only younger people get diagnosed with Type 1. In fact, one in five people diagnosed with Type 1 are over 40 when they develop it. “But, then my reaction was: ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to inject’ and thinking about what that would mean in practical terms.”

After her second diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, she then went from taking two tablets a day to two injections a day and finally injecting four times daily.

Her extremely demanding role since 2010, as home secretary, combined with her diabetes management has never immobilised her ability to carry out her role. She always seems to have a very positive and yet a very blunt approach, when it comes to speaking about life with this condition.

I really like this quote from her interview with the Mail on Sunday, which clearly indicates how she feels about her diabetes and having such a demanding schedule as home secretary:

‘Type 1 diabetes, doesn’t affect how I do the job or what I do. It’s just part of life… so it’s a case of head down and getting on with it.’

Her diagnosis with diabetes was not her first encounter with the condition. She had seen it with a younger cousin of hers. She had to quickly adjust to her new life with diabetes and develop an understanding of what it meant to live with the condition on a day to day basis.

“I hadn’t appreciated the degree of management it requires and I hadn’t appreciated, for example, the paradox that while everyone assumes diabetes is about not eating sugar, if you have a hypo, then you have to take something that’s got that high glucose content.”

Keeping on top of her diabetes has also led to her breaking the very strict rule of not eating in the House of Commons.

“There was one occasion when I had been expecting to go into the Chamber later, but the way the debates were drawn up meant I had to go in at 11am and I knew I wasn’t coming out till about five. “I had a bag of nuts in my handbag and one of my colleagues would lean forward every now and then so that I could eat some nuts without being seen by the Speaker.”

Although, before her diagnosis she kept her private life quite separate from the public eye. Since, her diagnosis, her attitude towards diabetes is extremely encouraging and she doesn’t hold back when it comes to speaking about the condition.

“I don’t inject insulin at the table, but I’m quite open about it. For example, I was at a dinner last night and needed to inject and so I just said to people: ‘You do start eating, I’ve got to go and do my insulin’. It’s better to be open like that.”

She has given many interviews where she has spoken openly about her condition, she is involved in many diabetes charities and recently even wrote to schools in her Maidenhead district about Diabetes UK’s campaign to make sure schools understand the support they are legally required to give children with Type 1 diabetes.

Primarily, I think she strives to paint a picture of strength for those like myself with diabetes and to show that diabetes doesn’t hold us back and that we are still able to obtain our goals with hard work determination and regardless of this condition. You can read my post on Diabetes and not allowing it to hold me back here.

“I would like the message to get across that it doesn’t change what you can do,” she explains. “The more people can see that people with diabetes can lead a normal life doing the sort of things that other people do, the easier it is for those who are diagnosed with it to deal with it.

“The fact is that you can still do whatever you want to do, for example, on holiday my husband and I do a lot of quite strenuous walking up mountains in Switzerland, and it doesn’t stop me doing it. I can still do things like that and can still do the job.

“But, people who don’t understand it assume that the fact you have a condition means there must be something you can’t do; that it must change how you live your life in some way.

“And, of course, it does change your life in that you have to make sure you’ve got the right diet and that you’re managing your blood sugar levels, but, beyond making sure you’ve got that routine, you just get on with other things exactly the same.”

Theresa May

So does it make a difference, whether our new Prime Minister is a Type 1 diabetic or not?

Personally, I don’t think that it will make much of a difference, whether she is diabetic or not.  Is she the right person for the job? I honestly don’t know! I like that, she refuses to let her diabetes be a problem and I don’t think it will get in the way of her being able to perform as Prime Minster. She seems to manage her condition well alongside her role as home secretary, although the role of Prime Minister is going to be that much tougher. Theresa May will have a very hard job on her hands. Nevertheless, her frequent presence in the media will allow people to become more aware of diabetes and develop a better understanding of the condition. We have a very long road ahead of us and we can only remain hopeful that everything will work out in the future.

You can find the full article in the current issue of Balance magazine.

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Eid al-Fitr

Not diabetes related but I thought this great post by ISOYU would accompany my Ramadan post, as Eid is the celebration that takes place after a month of fasting from sun rise to sunset.

ISOYU

As many of you may know, Muslims all around the world have spent the last month fasting abstaining from food from sun rise to sunset. This is known as Ramadan. Ramadan is a very spiritual time and Muslims try to engage as much as they can with the teachings of their religion, Islam.

At the end of this month is the celebration of Eid al-Fitr known as the festival of breaking the fast. This day of celebration concludes the end of the 29th or 30th day of Ramadan and starts the first day of the new Islamic month Shawwal.

This Eid, I thought it would be nice to wear some tradition Qatari clothing.

I also thought it would be nice to show one of the many Algerian styles women wear on this big occasion.

I & Y (11)

WHAT I WORE:

The main piece of clothing in this outfit is called a thawb which…

View original post 201 more words

Guest Post: Appleton

INTRODUCING

APPLETON

 

Appleton undercover

Appleton is an Artist and Photographer, who has been creating art images and sculptures for over 40 years. He attended Boston University, where he studied both art and photography. After completing his studies, he moved to New York City, where he found that the diverse cultural landscape offered him great inspiration for much of his early documentary work.

Area’s such as, West Side Highline, before its massive makeover specifically offered a great platform for inspiration.

“The old rusted tracks and overgrown grass,  the bright open and vastness would become negatives that would eventually fill a few three-ring binders. A love of industrial objects, the lost and found would become the work and the sculptures.”

All a Board

All a Board

Appleton’s work, takes the ordinary, often overlooked images, the ones you walk past everyday to another place and time, he is able to bring these images to their rightful place.

South Bound

South Bound

 

Appleton’s relationship with Diabetes,

One of the main focuses of Appleton’s current pieces, is to promote diabetes awareness by incorporating into his work different essentials diabetics need on a daily basis to survive.

 

Some-times-you-have-to-Spell-it-out.

Some-times-you-have-to-Spell-it-out.

 

After surviving a diabetic coma at the age of six, Appleton began to collect almost every insulin bottle that had gone through his system. This amounted to hundreds of insulin vials, faded syringes and old blood strips. They were all reminders of his survival through the years.

 

With no cure in sight, Appleton’s mission is to spread and raise awareness of diabetes through his art. Appleton hopes to inspire the millions who have this nightmare of a disease, to carry on but also to educate those who know nothing of the condition. By doing this, he also hopes to eliminate misconceptions and false hoods about the condition.

Cool Blue Designer Insulin

Cool Blue Designer Insulin

Joseph BeuysMark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Andrew Goldsworthy, the Starn Twins and Shepard Fairey  – are amongst many artists that have greatly inspired Appleton.

Thank you Appleton for sharing your truly inspirational pieces. Your creativity has motivated me to continue to share my experiences with diabetes and I know that it will also inspire many others living with this awful disease. I’m also convinced that, it will reach many others who have yet to learn about this condition.

Connect with Appleton @   www.AppletonArtWorks.com @appletonpictures (instagram)

 

Amina xx

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What does Ramadan mean to a Type 1 diabetic?

Monday 6th of June, marked the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan, which is observed during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this month, Muslim’s fast from sunrise until sunset, when they are without food and without water.

Fasting-TIME-LINE-  So what does Ramadan mean for Muslim diabetics? What does that mean to me?

As a Muslim and a diabetic, I am exempt from fasting. Islam makes exceptions for those who are ill or on medication, for pregnant or breast feeding women etc.

Something you may not know about me, when I was first diagnosed it was also the very first time I tried to fast. I was excited to attempt the fasting and had set my mind to really giving it my all.

Day one was a struggle. I felt awful of course because I did not know that my diabetes had begun to manifest. I felt exhausted. I had an urge to drink constantly and why did I need to urinate so frequently? I hadn’t taken one drop of liquid all day. I slept and slept, but still could not find the motivation to do the things I needed to do. I thought to myself, maybe this is how the fasting was supposed to feel. It was was a struggle but I made it to the end.

Day two came and I felt like it was even more of a struggle than day one. I continued to tell myself that, this was how the fast was supposed to feel. The symptoms from the day before seemed to be amplified. I walked around with my eyes half closed from sheer exhaustion and a thirst like no other.  It completely drained me but I made it to the end of another day. I remember breaking my fast and consuming ridiculous amounts of water, juice anything to quench my thirst.

I had started to lose weight, my clothes were hanging off me. If you knew me then, you’d know how skinny and tall I was. Therefore any amount of weight loss was extremely evident. My Mother noticed the severe amount of weight I had lost and some of the symptoms I presented. She insisted that I stop the fasting. Even though I felt awful, I also felt sad to stop fasting. It pained me to think that I was not going to be continuing, but deep down I knew that I could not continue as I was. And as they say the rest is history, you can read my diabetes story in more detail here.

After my diagnosis and every year Ramadan came around, I found it hard to truly find my place.  Everyone in my family was fasting and I could not partake in the fasting so what else could I do?

I had to find other ways to be a part of this special month.  As I investigated and connected more with my religion, I began to understand that there were other aspects to Ramadan and that Ramadan wasn’t solely just about the fast itself. It was only one portion of the whole month.

 

So what did I learn?

  • Connecting with the Creator – One of the first and most important aspects that I learnt was, that for the entire month I had to try my best to live in an environment where I was more conscious of my creator, every second of the day. It was also a time for spiritual reflection and deep devotion of oneself to worship and pray to God     and to try my best to solidify my relationship with him. Reading as much of the Quran (the holy book for Muslims) and really taking my time to understand it properly.

 

  • Check yourself before you wreck yourself – It was also a month where I could evaluate my own behaviour and attitude towards myself and others. It taught me how to control my anger, ego, arrogance and to show humility and politeness, kindness and forgiveness to others (something I try to do every day, regardless of month).

 

  • Offerings – It was also a time to be generous and give charity (Zakat) to those in need. Because I wasn’t able to fast, with this aspect I give money to support someone (with food) in need for the entire month. It also became a time for me to strive to do as many good deeds as possible.

 

  • Leave off that bad language/ attitude/ everything – For those who know me, I don’t use bad language. I leave off the F and P’s and Qs and try to avoid it all together daily. However, during this time it is important that we aim to do these things and to be more aware of the language we chose to use. Staying away from desires and sins becomes very important for observing this entire month.

 

  • Brain training – One of the benefits of fasting is that it helps to repair and build new connections in the brain by generating new synapses and ultimately keeping the mind young. I have had to find other ways to challenge my brain to allow it to grow and strengthen itself and in turn keep it young. I do this by constantly learning new things, new languages (currently tackling Korean), reading on subjects I knew nothing about or reading around subjects in more detail.  

 

 So what are the benefits of fasting?

By fasting, it demonstrates our ability not only to conquer hunger but also our capacity to control psychological aspects of our behaviour, such as our reaction to things that we dislike. There are also many scientific benefits such as;

 

  • Speeds up metabolism – Fasting Intermittently, gives your digestive system a break whilst promoting your metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently. Intermittent fasts can regulate your digestion and encourage healthy bowel function, and therefore improving your metabolic function.

 

  • Fasting can improve your immune system – It does this by reducing free radical damage, reduces inflammatory conditions and also eliminates the production of cancer cells.

 

  • Improves Brain function – This fantastic lecture by Mark Mattson who is the Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging. He is also a professor of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University, and one of the foremost researchers in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying multiple neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, outlines some of the benefits fasting can have on the brain.

 

  • Fasting for Clarity of mind and soul – Fasting is not just a practice for Muslims, many other religions also chose to fast,  just ike many members of my own family, who fast during Lent. It is a way to help many people feel connected to life by practicing things such as reading(holy text), meditating , performing yoga and martial arts. Because the body is deprived of food for a period of time this allows the body to make more energy. It gives the body a respite and a chance to heal and to reorder its systems. It allows us to feel better both physically and mentally (the mind is able to repair, develop new connections and reset itself).  With a lighter body and clearer mind we become more aware of our surroundings, our beliefs and of course our actions.

 

Amina xx

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Guest Post with Ashley Ng

ashley1.jpgI want to introduce Ashley, an Australian based blogger at www.bittersweetdiagnosis.com. She is an accredited dietitian and is currently studying her PhD in the field of diabetes education in young adults.

Ashley also has an active role at the International Diabetes Federation as the President-Elect of the Young Leader in Diabetes Programme.

I’ve known Ashley since I first began Sugar High Sugar Low and we have been good diabetes buddies ever since.

Who is Ashley?

When I’m not working away, you’ll find me trying out new place to eat with my boyfriend. , I hit the gym fairly regularly as it helps me to de-stress too. I also play clarinet in two concert bands, which gives my brain a bit of a break. If I’m not doing any of those, I’d be having a snuggle with my gorgeous fur baby – Rosie the cat.

ashley

Ashley, her sister & Leo Sayer, after a clarinet concert

 

Diabetes Story

I was diagnosed with diabetes by chance. I had a stubborn sinus infection that wouldn’t go away. I  had blood tests done and an oral glucose tolerance test.

Oral glucose tolerance test – measures the bodies ability to use glucose

Within one hour, my blood glucose was 22mmol/l and I felt quite ill! I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Being quite young (19 years old at the time) and relatively active, my family doctor/GP wasn’t satisfied with the diagnosis and sent me to an endocrinologist for a second opinion. I had an antibody and genetic testing which both came back negative for type 1. However, my pancreas was failing to produce the normal level of insulin so now I’ve been classified as having type 1b diabetes.

However, I recently had genetic testing done for MODY and am yet to find out the results. Although, I’ve been told I don’t fit any of the common MODY strands they have already identified.

How do you stay motivated whilst living with diabetes?

I don’t know to be honest! I think it’s definitely wanting to live a long and healthy life and reducing the risk of complications. But It would be hard to do the things I love if I didn’t feel like my diabetes management is adequate.

A way I get back into my diabetes management if I feel like I’m going off track is to get a new diabetes ‘toy’. Recently, it’s been about trying a new CGM sensor. Sadly, this is something I won’t be able to afford on a long term basis. So I’ll go back to buying new PumpPeelz for my pump and meter or a new diabetes carry bag etc. Anything to keep it fun.

Bittersweet Diagnosis blog

I love to write. I first started Bittersweet Diagnosis as a personal blog about life, thoughts and feelings. But once I started writing about diabetes, I remember thinking that I should focus my blog on my experiences on living with diabetes. Initially, I mainly wrote to share with my family and friends what living with diabetes is like. Now, I’m honoured that it gets shared around the world.

There are times where I feel pressured to write a good blog post. During these instances I need to remind myself why I started writing in the first place. My friends are also very encouraging and I often hear about how my blogs have helped others develop an insight into how complicated and complex life with diabetes is.

Ashley the dietician

As a dietitian, I work with clients to develop strategies towards their goals and develop a healthy relationship with food. People like to think dietitians are the food police,

but we are much more. I help people develop a better understanding of how foods affect them, how to achieve balance in their food habits and to remind them that food is more than just calories and nutrients.

For the moment, I’ve given up on seeing patients as my current workload with my PhD and the IDF YLD is enough to keep me on my toes. But one day, I would like to set up an online practice where I will consult with people over Skype to minimise travel and the inconvenience for clients.

Advice to new patients…

It’s okay to feel like crap. It’s okay to have a cry or to be angry. My biggest advice for people who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes is not to panic. You can still live a normal, full and exciting life. Be prepared for the biggest learning curve you’ll ever experience. Remember that there is no one size fits all. It will take time to find what works for you. Diet wise, I would say to keep calm and remember you can still eat anything, but with slight adjustments here and there.

Remember that no one is perfect. While we strive to always be in the ‘green zone’ the odd day or time outside of this zone is okay. It’s frustrating and annoying to deal with but just deal with it the best you can.

Remember too, that you are never alone. There are so many people in the diabetes online community willing to give you a helping hand. All you have to do is ask.

What sorts of food do you encourage your clients to have in their diet?

Eat the foods they enjoy eating! Even if that is desserts, we will work through strategies around mindful eating to ensure we don’t over eat and we are listening to our bodies. Absolutely healthiest foods are a little bit of everything really. But if I had to choose a food group, I’d go with vegetables.

What does Ashley eat?

Ooh!!!! I just had my lunch and should’ve taken a photo because it was delicious! I had leftover home-made butter chicken with rice and veggies. My mum is a fantastic cook and she cooks extra so I get to bring leftovers to work/uni. Over the years I have lowered my carb portion by at least half and included more vegetables and dairy foods.

A typical day this week may look like this:

Breakfast – A slice of wholegrain bread with peanut butter and honey (~25g CHO)

Snack time –  A tub of yoghurt (180-200g) (~20-30g CHO)

Lunch –  Leftover dinner – often some sort of carb (about half a cup to a cup cooked) with vegetables and meat/fish (~50g CHO)

After Lunch –  a small packet of crackers or popcorn (~15g CHO)

Dinner –  Some sort of carb with lots of veggies and meat/fish (I’d eat out maybe twice a week and have a chicken Parma or a burger or something) (~60g CHO)

I drink at least 1-1.5L of water a day with many cups of tea in between! I also don’t really like fruit. But once in a while I might have an apple or some berries or something.

How do you deal with unfamiliar foods?

SWAG it! I’d like to think that as long as you have a good basic understanding of what a carb food is, you can generally estimate portions to some degree. I find Asian food to be the most challenging, particularly with the sauces that they use. When I’m feeling nerdy (not very often) I might google the dish and a recipe to get a better understanding of the ingredients used.

Young Leader in Diabetes

The YLD is a programme of the International Diabetes Federation. We serve to be a voice for all young people living with diabetes around the world. We advocate to improve the lives of people living with diabetes against issues like lack of access to medication and care, discrimination and lack of awareness around diabetes.

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Young Leaders in Diabetes

I’m currently the President-Elect of the IDF Young Leader in Diabetes (YLD) Programme. As part of my role, I work with the executive council of the YLD to ensure that all our Young Leaders are receiving adequate support for running and managing their diabetes project. The YLD will also work on global project such as on World Health Day or World Diabetes Day to raise awareness for diabetes and keep advocating for causes we support. In the background, the executive council works really hard to ensure that the YLD continues its survival as a sustainable program and planning for the next leadership training program.

 Thank you Ashley for sharing all the important roles you play within the diabetes community, you’re a true inspiration to us all. Keep up the fantastic work.

You can keep up with Ashley on, instagram,  Facebook  and Twitter at Health4Diabetes

Article Ashley is featured in : New device for diabetes eliminates the need for painful finger pricking

Amina xx

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What are the different types of diabetes?

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This week marks the beginning of Diabetes Week. This year the main focus is on, the misconceptions people have in terms of what diabetes is and how it affects individuals. The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.

There are many myths which surround diabetes, that make it hard for others to believe how deadly diabetes can be. Stereotypes and stigmas have created an inaccurate image of  what the condition really is. As a diabetic blogger, I feel the responsibility to spread the correct message to my readers.  Let’s start by setting the message straight about the different types of diabetes that can occur.

There are many types of diabetes, the main types include; type 1, type 2, gestational diabetes and MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young). Diabetes is a long- standing condition that affects the body’s ability to process glucose (sugars). All these types cause blood glucose levels to increase. Glucose levels are high due to the body’s inability to use the glucose properly.

This occurs because the pancreas either:

  • No longer produces insulin
  • The amount of insulin being produced is not enough, or
  • The insulin that is being produced does not work properly (Insulin resistance)

Therefore glucose is not able to enter into the cells and remains in the blood stream.

Type 1

Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder, which occurs due to the body’s immune system attacking and killing beta cells (insulin cells) in the pancreas, where they are made. The reason why this occurs still hasn’t been discovered, however there are researchers constantly working to find out this very reason. This autoimmune disorder is usually diagnosed in children but can also affect people up to the age of 30, resulting in no insulin being produced. People with this condition learn to use insulin therapy to manage their diabetes.

Type 2

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It occurs due to insulin resistance, where the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or the insulin that is being produced does not work properly. Type 2 diabetes for some people can be managed through diet and exercise. Some people also need medication to manage their blood glucose levels/ diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes affects women during pregnancy. This usually occurs during the second or third trimester. Women who develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy usually don’t have diabetes beforehand and for some women gestational diabetes disappears after the birth of the baby. Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the first trimester, there is a possibility that the condition existed beforehand.

During the second trimester blood tests are done to determine whether or not gestational diabetes is present. If gestational diabetes was present in previous pregnancies, then tests are performed earlier.

Pregnancy hormones can affect the body’s ability to allow insulin to function as it should. This can then cause insulin resistance to occur. Pregnancy already puts a huge strain on the body, so this additional strain on the body can sometimes cause some women to develop gestational diabetes.  Woman who are likely at risk include, women who have suffered from gestational diabetes before, overweight or obese women, women who have had very large babies and have had a family history of diabetes.  Ethnicity also plays a huge part in the development of gestational diabetes. If you are of, Caribbean, South Asia, African or Middle Eastern decent, then you are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.

MODY diabetes or Type 3 diabetes

What is this type? MODY stands for Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young. This type of diabetes is quite different from both Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. It is strongly present in families and is triggered by a mutation in a single gene. If a person carrying this gene has a child with a person who doesn’t carry the gene, then any children they have will have a 50 % chance of inheriting the gene. If a child inherits this gene they will then go onto develop MODY before they reach 25 years old, whatever their weight, lifestyle or ethnicity. These diabetic also don’t necessarily need to take insulin either.

Types of MODY:

  • HNF1-alpha– this is the most common type of MODY and can be found in populations with European ancestry. It accounts for about 70% of all cases in Europe. People with this type of MODY don’t need to take insulin, instead they take a mixture of sulphonylureas tablets.

  • HNF4-alpha– this type of MODY is very rare and usually affects people whose birth weight was more than 9lbs or suffered a low blood sugar level after birth. People who have this type of MODY are also treated with sulphonylureas tablets.

  • HNF1-beta – People with this type of MODY develop several problems which can include; renal cysts, abnormalities in uterine, gout as well as diabetes. With this type of MODY, if diabetes develops insulin treatment becomes essential. A healthy diet and exercise must also be followed to manage diabetes better.

  • Glucokinase – This gene once present and functioning allows the body to recognise increase in blood glucose levels. If this gene isn’t working then the body isn’t able to detect high blood glucose levels, allowing the BG level to go higher than it should. The BG level is only slightly higher between ( 5 – 8 mmols/l). There are no noticeable symptoms and it can only be detected through routine tests. No treatment is needed for this type of MODY.

It’s extremely important to know if you have any of these MODY types. If treatment is needed then you can then get it. Also if you have the gene, there is a 50 % chance that you could then pass this gene onto your children. Therefore genetic testing usually is extended to other family members.

I hope that this has helped you to understand the different types of diabetes that can occur.  For more information on the prevalence of diabetes and also if you want to help to spread the correct message, then click the links below.

Diabetes Facts and stats 

Diabetes Awareness Poster (print and share)

You can also follow me on twitter, instagram and facebook.

Thanks for stopping by friends

Amina xx

Carbs & Cals have a new Salad book

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Cook book: Carbs & Cals Salads by Chris Cheyette & Yello Balolia

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Overview: Carb counting is so important for us (diabetics) as we must constantly be vigilant of what we are putting into our bodies. I’ve been a huge fan of Carbs and Cals and have been using their app for many years now. I found that the app really helped me to understand how many carbs I was consuming daily whilst understanding how it affected my blood glucose levels. On the app you can search for different foods types which have been measured out into different portions. It breaks down the amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, calories and fats within certain foods. It also contains a calendar which allows you to input your exercise routine and all foods you consume.

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to review the Carbs & Cals new Salad book and of course I was delighted to review it and try out some of their new recipes. If you’re new to carb counting, you can really begin to develop a stronger understanding of how many carbohydrates you are having from meal to meal. Life is definitely made a lot easier because like the app you’re getting a much better understanding of what you are putting into your body and for those of us who still like to flick through the pages of a book the Carbs & Cals Counter , Salad and Smoothie books are all great additions to have alongside other cookery books.

If you are thinking of incorporating more salads into your diet, then the healthy new salad book gives you so many fantastic ideas to create new recipes, whilst exploring delicious ingredients filled with so many health benefits. The Salad book provides the option of both hot and cold salads.  If you’re looking for salads which are higher in fibre, protein or if you’re pursuing a low carb diet then there are many options to try out.

At the start of each year, people make promises to work out and lose a few pounds here and there. Well, I decided that this year I was going to try and get rid of some of the extra mama pounds I’d gained during and after my pregnancies. I wanted to maintain a regular fitness routine and improve my diet as a whole. Previously, I’d only eaten salads alongside my main meals but with this book I’ve been able to incorporate gains (which are more filling) into my salads, allowing me to have salads as a main dish.

Recipe I tried:

King Prawn & Avocardo – which can be found in the Low carb section of the book (P.34)

 

Cooking from Carb & Cals Salad book

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The King Prawn & Avocado recipe has ingredients that I was familiar with, although I have never used pineapple in my salad before. It was surprisingly really nice. The recipe suggests that, “the sweet pineapple and salty olives make for a great combination”. The salty olives mixed with the sweet pineapple flavour really worked well. 

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The recipe is very easy to make and follow plus the ingredients weren’t costly. I also added the olive oil and lemon dressing which made it taste delicious. It gives you the option to leave off the dressing (saving you 35 Cals and 4g of fat) but I think the flavours it adds makes the salad even better. The recipe was very filling so I shared the remaing with my family, who also enjoyed it very much.

So here’s the full recipe for you to try out

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My favourite parts of ‘Carbs & Cals Salad’ are the colour coded sections at the top of each page, which divides the book up into different salad recipes, categorised by salad dietary types. The very back section of this book outlines the different portions of vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, nuts, seeds and even grains like pasta that can be included into whatever salad/s you choose to make or create.

Just like the app and the Cabs & Cals counter book, carbohydrates, calories and fat contents are all clearly shown in colour coded circles. I love it! Your eyes are automatically drawn to these circles and you begin to recognise the carbs, cals etc, instantly when you turn to each page.

I’m so excited to give some of the other recipes in this book a try and even create my own salad recipes using the portion section at the back of the book. I will be able to develop an even better understanding of the carbs, cals etc content in different foods. My son has already requested a few of the salads, so I’ll be making many more salads from my new favourite recipe book. Thanks Carbs and Cals.

You can follow Carbs & Cals on instagram, twitter and their website.

You can also follow me on twitter, instagram and facebook.

Amina xx

Finding your comfort

Comfort between you and the needle

Administering insulin, whether that be by injecting or by bolus through an insulin pump, is just another one of the thing we (diabetics) need to do on a day to day to keep on surviving. Taking that first injection is such a huge step.comfortneedle It is the moment that you are able to find that inner courage to get the job done. It’s a new prospect that is extremely daunting and scary. You know you must do it but you also don’t want to stick a needle into your leg.

 This is your new beginning. Your new life. You’ve found the bravery to inject and it’s over.

Those moments (which feel like forever) between injecting the needle into your skin, are awful but you’ve now progressed to a new level of courageousness. You’ve reached a new level of comfort. You’ve moved past the initial fear you had of taking that first injection.

 I’m not saying that the second time becomes any easier. However, what it does mean is that you’ve developed a better understanding. You now know what to expect on your next needle encounter.

You find the strength to get through it. You’re that much stronger, that much braver, you’re in control of this awful condition. You’re amazing! 

Even if you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry you’ll get there (you must), just keep trying and you’ll get the hang of it. Keep on it and don’t give up. Formulate a routine and try your best to maintain it.

The second level of comfort

Once you are able to inject yourself and you become content with your routine, you then have another barrier to face. This barrier is that of being able to do your injection or bolus in the presence of others and where ever you desire. This may take some getting used to, for both you and the people around you. However, it shouldn’t be something that you hide from them.

This condition is a part of you and just like you must get used to it, so must they. Don’t be embarrassed and don’t you dare be ashamed. I’m sorry but if you’re loved ones have a problem with it, that’s on them. You shouldn’t be forced into a corner or another room, out of sight just so they don’t see you injecting. You need all the support you can get in the initial stages and throughout, but everybody has to get on board.

The way I looked at it when I was diagnosed was, although I was the one directly affected by the condition it also affected my family. They had to make adjustments in their lives too and that also meant being accepting of me performing my daily duties as a diabetic, which included, blood testing, hypoing, injecting, everything. It was also now a part of them too.

 I was very lucky to have a very supportive family, who never made me inject away from them. In fact as I’ve grown and developed with my diabetes comfort,  in order to be a bit more lady like, I’ve had to remember not to inject at the dining table when I’m sat with a table full of family members lol. After all I’m not a little kid anymore. Who am I kidding, I was doing it throughout my teens into my twenties and actually just the other day. I really am not fussed when it comes to being bothered by the people who don’t want to see me injecting. It goes as far as, going out to a restaurant and reaching into my bosom to get my pump out to bolus. If people want to stare then so be it.  If they want to ask questions then I’m poised and ready.

Car park experience

A few months ago, I was sitting in my car in the supermarket, when my pump started to beep. The cartridge was empty. I decided to change my insert since I had a spare insert and insulin in my bag.  I proceeded to change my insert (in what I thought was the privacy of my car). Then I was confronted by a lady in the car park, staring through my window, shouting because I was changing my pump in the car park. I was completely shocked but finished putting my insert on and came out of the car to talk to her.

She expressed her disgust for what I was doing. So I asked her what she thought I was doing. She presumed that I was taking drugs or something along those lines. Even though I was furious, I paused for a moment whilst I listened to her shouting and carrying on and then I took a deep breath and explained what I was actually doing. She, of course, was completely gob smacked and apologised profusely. However, she did thank me for teaching her more about diabetes. Despite feeling annoyed by the initial accusation, I felt she benefited from the situation and it became an opportunity for me to educate someone who wasn’t aware of what  diabetes is.

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Although, this was my experience I know there are many others who may have or may be struggling to find their comfort to inject or bolus freely in front of others. I’ll say one thing, it is very important that you do find that comfort when it comes to this condition and doing the frequent daily task of bolusing or injecting. This life style may be new to you or you may have been living with it now for some time and still haven’t discovered your comfort (I’d hope you’ve found it at least with yourself). You need to search within yourself and find out what you’re comfortable with. Become comfortable with your routine, testing blood sugar levels and injecting at meal times. Once you have the confidence in yourself, within your own space, then you can help the people around you adjust and understand diabetes better. You’re new to this life style but so are your family or friends.

I know how overwhelming the initial encounter with this condition can be. However, I’m sure for the people around you too, seeing you experience the things you must now experience is also very daunting for them. The injecting, blood testing and hypo’s are but a few to mention.  They are all frightening things to deal with.

As the diabetic, we don’t really get to see other diabetics in the same situations we go through. When my siblings and I were younger, we saw my cousin hypo’in even before I was diabetic and it was an upsetting thing to witness.  Nevertheless, even though it was terrifying to watch, I realised how hard it must be for her to live with diabetes experiencing changes in her body which were out of her control.

If your family or friends are shocked by seeing you inject or bolus, then I think that’s something that they have to work through.  They should experience being in your presence whilst you inject/bolus and with time they can then find the strength within themselves to accept the things you must do, the things you have no choice but to do. Shunning you is probably the worst thing that they could do for you and your mental wellbeing. You shouldn’t be embarrassed and neither should they.

Most of all they shouldn’t treat you any differently. They should just support you knowing you’re doing the right thing for your health. With time, I hope they will develop a deeper understanding of this condition and not be afraid or in denial that you in fact have diabetes.

Amina xx

Are children not getting the recommended diabetes checks?

imageWhen I was a child, I remember having several check-ups every time I’d attend my diabetes appointments. After my diagnosis my check-ups were every 3 months and then it became every 6 months. These checks covered everything from, cholesterol testing, blood tests, feet check-up. Both of these tests would also be checked at my GP surgery once a year.  My eyes were tested at my opticians, annually.

Nevertheless all the results from these check-ups would then be sent over to my consultant at my diabetes clinic. Every appointment the doctor would have the most recent results from these check-ups. Appointments moved swiftly and results were explained in as much or as little detail needed. Any concerns or advice were given and time for listening was also given. Everything was in order and none of my check-up were ever missed.

However, a recent study of children ages 12 to 24 with diabetes, attending paediatric diabetes units in England and Wales proposed that, nearly 75 % of these children are not getting the necessary health checks.

70 % of these children are in fact type 1 diabetics, who are insulin dependent and require these check-ups to be carried out at least annually, routinely and efficiently.

From the study, data was collected from 27, 682 children and young people, which outlined that only 25.4 % of these children (ages 12 to 24) were having the seven recommended annual checks.

 “Guideline from NICE (The National Institute For Health and Care Excellence) state all children with diabetes should have their blood sugar levels checked every year and those over the age of 12 should also have six other health checks.”

These checks for this age group should include:

  • Measurement of growth
  • Blood pressure
  • Thorough eye tests, examining the backs of the eyes in detail
  • Cholesterol testing
  • HbA1C
  • Feet check-ups
  • Kidney function

The study also found that, from this age group (children age 12 to 24 years old), those who were considered to have “excellent diabetes control” of 7.5mmol/l, had in fact risen to 15.8mmol/l in 2012 and then by 2014 -15 this had risen even further to 23.5%.

These results are extremely disturbing and it clearly shows that there is a failure within the basic support and care of children and young people living with diabetes. These check-ups should be routine and frequent enough so that both the patient and the doctor are aware of the patients diabetes management.

As alarming as these results are, the report carried out also showed that at least 98.7% of these children in this age group had their HbA1c tested. However, only 23 % had started to increase their chances of not developing complications due to poorly managed diabetes.

On the other hand, the most frequently missed checks amongst children age 12-24, involved foot examination, eye screening and cholesterol testing.  All these tests are crucial when it comes to managing diabetes treatment and the regularity of these tests being done will only aid in the detection of any signs of diabetes complications or any damage being done to organs. Detecting signs for complications such as (blindness and kidney damage) early could potentially help to avoid or lessen the effects of the complication and if treatment is necessary then it can be administered at an early stage.

The study also showed that children from poorer areas were found to have worst HbA1c test results whilst children in more prosperous areas were found to have better HbA1c results.

Bridget Turner, director of policy and care improvement at Diabetes UK, said, “There remains considerable variation in the level of care provided. This is very worrying because if children and young people are not supported to manage their diabetes well in early life, they are more likely to be at risk of debilitating and life threatening complications in adult life such as amputations, blindness and stroke.”

Since the report, The NHS (National Health Service) are working to improve the delivery of effective integrated diabetes services with the help of clinical commissioning groups across Wales and England.

I hope that future reports will show that children within this age group suffering with diabetes are being taken care of and not going without these fundamental check-ups, regardless of their economical status.

Amina xx

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – Tips and Tricks

 

Since today Is the final day of the #DBlogWeek, I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks I use to not only keep my diabetes in check but  to keep going.

Positivity Tips and Tricks

Try, try, try and try again to do the best that you can do for yourself. You are worth it and you deserve to be ok. You can do things regardless of your condition. You are so much more.

Maya-Angelou

This beautiful quote by Maya Angelou really rings true for me. It is the way in which I have tried to do things in my life. Whether that be, my diabetes or even attempting new and challenging tasks. Whatever it may be, I always push to do that thing to the best of my capability. Especially, when it comes to diabetes, we have no choice but to try our best no matter how hard it may be. I’ve found that, it is within that struggle, that I am able to become much stronger, wiser, capable and ultimately more in control. From my diagnosis to now, this is how I’ve managed myself and my diabetes.  After all it is mine and no one else’s.

 Make a list of all the thing you want to achieve when it comes to being in control with diabetes. What do you want to achieve? It could be testing your BG more frequently, or working out more. Whatever it maybe, just write it down and keep striving to reach those goals. #Youcandothis

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A little positivity goes a long way. You can read my post on ways to remain positive here

Finger Pricking good

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So this is the state of my fingertips, after 21 years of BG testing. They are so hard and calloused that I’ve now taken to doing my finger prick in the palm of my hand. You know the meatier part of your hand. It’s great for getting enough blood each time I do it but it can be quite sensitive. The tip here is, you need to set your finger prick to a lower setting to avoid the constant flow of blood and try to alternate the sites you choose to prick.

For a good blood supply, wash your hands (wash your hands anyway to make sure you’re not testing that sticking jam you just touched) under warm water.

Working it out

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When working out, you need to figure out when is the best time for you to actually workout. How is your BG affected at different times of the day? What does different types of exercise do to your BG levels?  A recent thing I learnt about myself and working out with diabetes is that morning times are one of the best times for me to do my workouts. This is usually in the form of some sort of cardio or HIT workout, before I consume any breakfast.

After a workout I usually follow with a breakfast which has some protein and carbs in it. There are many benefits to consuming carbs. One of which is, it helps to replenish the muscle glycogen that is burned during a workout. Carbs aren’t the enemy, everything in moderation is good!!

Food

I cook a lot, using fresh ingredients daily. It’s a good way of knowing exactly what you’re consuming.

When it comes to take outs, you don’t completely know what goes into the food and usually it causes huge spikes in my sugars.

If you’re not a great cook or you don’t have enough time, you could prepare your meals in advance for the week and freeze it.

The world is vast my friend, go out there and enjoy it!

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Don’t panic!! You’re going on holiday for god sake. Relax and think about the holiday not just on your diabetes. Organise yourself and everything will be ok.

When you travel make sure you have a copy of your prescription with you, just in the unfortunate event that you lose your medication or you require more.

Before you fly, contact the airline and let them know that you are diabetic and will be carrying medication with you.

 DO NOT PUT ANY OF YOUR MEDICATION IN YOUR SUITE CASE, which will then goes into the hold. This could freeze your insulin and essentially spoil it. Always keep it with you.

Double up on the amount of supplies you may need and if you’re travelling with someone, then give them some of the supplies to hold for you.

If you’re a pump user, don’t forget to take a spare pump. Contact your provider at least a month in advance and they will provide you with a loaner pump, as well as a letter that states you’re a type 1 diabetic.

Remember to detach from your pump on take-off and landing, as the pressure in the cabin can cause insulin to be primed through the tubing and into you.

I would definitely recommend purchasing a FRIO bag to store your insulin in, it’s great. It keep the insulin at the right temperature.

Network and be happy

I’ve said it before, I’m going to say it again. Network with others, at your diabetes clinic, at different events, and of course online. It is a great way to connect with others people experiencing the same things you might be. It’s a fantastic form of support.

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Keep on fighting, keep on smiling, and don’t give up. I know how difficult diabetes can be, but it isn’t impossible. Keep trying, keep track of it and with time you will make progress. Work hard and find the inner strength I know you have, to be able to take control of it and everything it comes with.

 shine

Amina xxx

Diabetes Blog Weeek 2016 – The Healthcare Experience

 

I’ve been very fortunate to have had very good healthcare, throughout my time with diabetes.  I first attended Saint Mary’s Children’s Hospital for my diabetes care, after my diagnosis, until I was 18 years old (and considered an adult).  I then began to attend The Manchester Diabetes Clinic, which was a very difficult transition for me, it was all new and up until that point I only really saw younger children and kids in their early teens just like me (at the time). I was now with patients who ranged from 18 upwards and of course every time I’d go for my appointments it just seemed like I was the only one in my age group there. (At the time it would have been nice to get to know more of the newly transitioned diabetic patients). Initially, it was a very daunting transition and I was accustomed to the children’s hospital and  the people and it felt like a place where I could be at ease. I had to quickly get use to this new setting in the adult’s clinic, this meant dealing with receptionist who weren’t particularly friendly and then dealing with several different (and new) people. Towards the end of my time at the children’s hospital, I was attending appointments alone (without my mother). However, my first appointment at the adults clinic, I had to really pluck up the courage to attend the appointment alone. (It was all new and scary for me)

 The adults clinic used a team approach to treat its patients. There were;

The doctors, some good and would listen and take you through your results and some bad who lectured you and joked about diabetes. I’ve experienced both of these types of doctors. However, they are there to give specialist care and advice the patients. Recently I found a very good doctor.

Then there are the nurses who are solely there to take blood samples, weight and measure patients, check your blood pressure levels and test urine samples.  They are friendly and do their jobs well.

The diabetes specialist nurses (DSN) for me have always played a huge role in supporting me, educating me and no matter what, they have always made time for me. I’ve always been fortunate enough to have direct contact with my DSN, which in some case meant I had their numbers.  On many occasions they’ve even made time for me during their lunch breaks and during packed schedules. They are the most caring and understanding of people and I’ve come to realise that they have really dedicated their time to diabetes and the people it affects. They know all about the latest technologies and in some case are even better versed than the doctors. They truly know how to connect with the patient. For me, I can always guarantee a very good appointment when I’m down to see a DSN.

The National Health Service

So here in the UK, for those who don’t know our health care system is known as, THE NHS (National Health Service). You can read more about it here.

The NHS, helps to pay and take care of people like me with diabetes and other chronic illnesses. All treatment is free, all medication is free and all diabetes related technology is free (except things like sensors but the majority of things are still free).

However, recently the NHS has been squeezed beyond its means and in the long run may not cater to all the needs of diabetic patients like myself. There may come a time when I may have to pay for my insulin again (like I used to when I was first diagnosed) or even turn to private care.

Turning to  private care

There are many benefits to going into private care such as: being able to arrange better times for appointments, better access to consultants and more time spent on you. Nevertheless, there are also disadvantages to private healthcare, first and foremost, the costs involved in being able to have specialist diabetes care will be staggering. Unless your employer will cover you for this care, it would become very costly indeed. Medical insurance, may not cover everything you currently receive on the NHS, you would have to make sure you know exactly what it covers you for. I’ve heard from some of my American diabetic friends, about times when they’ve finished test strips and even insulin and contacted their health providers and been told that they should have enough to last them till the end of the month. That’s a frightening prospect and so we’d have a lot to consider.

Being able to make appointments isn’t as easy as it used to be. I think the increase in people who suffer from diabetes is possibly starting to put a strain on diabetes care in the UK. This was discussed in an article about the cost of diabetes in Norfolk.

A new report states that by 2035, the NHS will be spending a whopping 16.9 billion a year on treating patients.

Recently, I was given an appointment to see the diabetes consultant, however it was during a timewhen I was going to be travelling (JULY 2015). As soon as a received this appointment I let them know I wouldn’t be able to make the appointment. So the lady I spoke to said, she’d look to see when the next available appointment would be.  So I thought, well it won’t be too far away and thought she’d give me a slot the following month. She then said, the next appointment isn’t until March 25th 2016, which completely blew my mind. Waiting times are increasing, which means not being able to get the care you need.

‘The cost of diabetes to the NHS is over £1.5m an hour or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales. This equates to over £25,000 being spent on diabetes every minute.’

I’m fearful of the direction diabetes care may go in. However, whatever the outcome I will have to adjust and find the best options for myself and my diabetes, as I always have.

Amina xx

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – Language and Diabetes

 

When it comes to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, many will actively campaign for the use of words that don’t give individuals labels such as ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes’. They strive to use more inclusive language when referring to people with diabetes. For them, words like ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes’ becomes quite a derogatory word to use. Words are words, and I suppose it really depends on how those words are conveyed by individuals.

How do I feel about these words?  Well, the lovely lines delivered at the end of this video (one of my favourite movies🙂 ), by Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) sum up my feelings pretty well.

Personally, I’ve used the term ‘diabetic’ quite openly throughout my diabetic life. It’s a word which has never offended me, I’ve never felt upset by being referred to as ‘diabetic’. If someone asks me if I’m diabetic. I respond, “Yes, I’m diabetic”.

Many a time, this then leads to meaningful conversations and many questions which for me becomes a chance to make others more mindful of what living with diabetes is all about. Since becoming a blogger, I’ve become even more self-assured and don’t feel apprehensive to advocate for diabetes, when the opportunity presents itself.

Living with diabetes, I’ve had to develop a thicker skin and not let something as small as a word affect my emotional state of mind. I have way too much to cope with to waste time pondering over the words people chose to label me with.  In all honesty, I really don’t care.

A person who becomes too hung up on the labels and what they prefer people to call them, will only focus on that and not take the occasion as something to share with or educate and network with other people. It becomes a missed opportunity to share your knowledge.

For those of you, who are new to this journey and may feel a little sensitive to those words people may reference you with,  don’t let it bog you down. 

Your diabetes knowledge maybe very little (but you know even after 21 years I’m still learning) but you too can take this as a chance to let that person or persons know how you feel when they refer to you with the words ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with  diabetes’. Let them know! They too may know nothing of the condition or have only picked up on things here and there from the media etc. Be brave, be strong and be proud of yourself. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your condition or fearful to let others know your true feelings.

So words like ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes’ don’t bother me. Just like I won’t let diabetes hold me back, I won’t allow a words to impede me in anyway. I’ve accepted that I have diabetes and have become comfortable with who I am with diabetes.

Whether the word or words are conveyed in a malicious way or if they genuinely don’t mean any malice in the usage of the word, then why get all upset or hot and bothered about it. Correct them, defend yourself and teach them more about diabetes or the words you have a preference for.

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There are many occasions when diabetes is misrepresented in dramas, movies and even in the news. There are also times when diabetes is turned into a joke and isn’t in the slightest bit funny. These are the times when, I find myself becoming annoyed or frustrated. Firstly, the misrepresentation causes others to think that diabetes is a certain way and that it is all the same. Secondly, they aren’t delivering the correct message and therefore it causes misunderstanding of the condition.

There was a recent situation just like this with a well-known drama here in the UK ‘EastEnders’, where diabetes was misrepresented. A lot of people complained and a mother with a child with Type 1 diabetes decided to write an open letter to the BBC. You can read it here.

This then was followed by many others including medical professional like, Dr Partha Kar, who also wrote a letter to the BBC offering them his professional services.

There were many letters of complaints but finally, JDRF also got involved and finally the BBC responded to their concerns regarding the portrayal of diabetes in the East Enders show. The BBC agreed that in the future, their scriptwriters and researchers would contact JDRF for any referencing of diabetes. Click here to read their response.

Going back to the use of words…….

Although, I’m not bothered by either the use of the word ‘diabetic’ or ‘person with diabetes’, some people really are, so think before you speak or just ask. Truthfully, I wouldn’t want people tip toe around me just because they don’t know which words I like better.

To the ‘diabetics’ or ‘Person with diabetes’, don’t get mad and don’t dwell on the choice of words people decide to use. Instead, let them know your preferences, because how will they ever know you’ve been hurt by that word if you say nothing. And please remember you are no different because of your diabetes. You are so much more. Don’t let a word stop you from being that great person.

To the non-diabetic person using these words, ask us what we desire to be known as. Don’t presume that the use of one word or the other is better.  

Amina xx

 

 

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – The other half of diabetes

 

I could never have dreamt that living with diabetes would be such a challenging prospect to contend with. Mentally and emotionally, it is one of the most demanding and turbulent things I’ve ever had to deal with. It has stretched me beyond belief and it doesn’t give me the option to just check out. It’s a constant presence in my life and  for as long as I can remember it’s been with me. It’s actually hard to remember what life without it was like.

With all that said, I’ve had to find ways to make living with diabetes one that isn’t so gruelling and tedious. Instead of letting diabetes consume me, I’ve pushed myself to try new things to achieve new goals and to make my life into something more than just diabetes.

Of course I know all too well that it isn’t going anywhere and sometimes it can affect me. However, I’m also aware (as you should be too), that it shouldn’t hinder me from being able to do things I want to do. Even, during negative times, I know that those times eventually will pass. I’ve had to learn different mechanisims to help me deal with these darker times and come back to the light. Mentally i’m stronger because of diabetes and I definitely have my emotions in order. I give everything it’s just time and try not to be too hard on myself, because I know deep down that I do the best that I can.

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Mechanisims I take to make living with diabetes a little more doable:

Do what I’m supposed to do? –  Do the routine blood testing (write down my levels and keep an eye out for any patterns), take my insulin and just try my very best to keep on top of it all. If I can do this, #You can do this too! As perplexing as it can be, just try your best. Take it one step at a time and I know you can do it.

Reach for the sky – I find myself new goals, something I want to achieve or get better at. It helps to have something to progressively work towards and keep your mind engaged on something other than the daily diabetes grind.

Tiny steps – Take everything diabetes wise, one step at a time. Don’t let it drown you. Slowly work to the best of your ability to make a healthier more in control you.

Release – Find an outlet and let go of all you’re tension. My current outlet is working out. It’s a great stress reliever. I’m keeping fit and health and hopefully it will keep me looking good lol🙂

Family – I’ve always been fortunate to have the support of my family and this has been one of the major reasons for me being able to deal with some of those negative times. I know that some of us may not have that support which leads me to my next point.

Buddy – Your online, that’s great! Now start to make connections with other just like me and you. Whenever I meet another diabetic, I automatically have a strong connection with them. They can relate to the whole diabetes aspect of my life, which speaks volumes.

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Although this post was meant to be about how diabetes affects me mentally and emotionally. I wanted to get the perspective of my loved ones and how they think diabetes has affect me and them throughout the years.

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The Mother

What can I say about your mental and emotional disposition?

Exceptional. From the time I started to know you, that was when I gave birth to you, I felt that you were special. All mothers feel that about their children but as the months and years passed I realised that you had an extra-ordinary level of calmness and internal contentment.

Over the years, those attributes have grown more and more. You do not seem to complain like the rest of us but you may sigh and say something to the effect.” Oh! Man,” and the matter seems to be then closed.You have a level of tolerance which is outstanding, yet you are direct and can tell someone exactly what they need to do or to try in order to alleviate a particular problem.

I always feel that you have your life in balance. You constantly analyse your situation, research and make others aware; improving our life styles and understanding of not only diabetes but many social issues. I feel that you are well grounded; you have your aims and objectives planned out-even if you may not be successful you always move on. A great strength mentally and emotionally.

So, you are undoubtedly exceptional and an excellent role model to young and old, diabetics and non-diabetics. Your self-control and serenity has allowed me (selfishly) to worry less and live more.Thank you.


The Eldest sister

The strength to endure diabetes is a daily battle that I (a non-diabetic cannot begin to imagine or appreciate. It is not only a physical battle to maintain a healthy body but also an emotional struggle to want to continuously push yourself to do what you have to do in order to survive without complications.

My sister has had diabetes for 21 years and as I write down that number, the image of her laying on the living room chair so ill she can barely move but having to move because she needs the toilet, is so fresh in my mind that I cannot believe time has passed so quickly. In saying that the years are filled with lessons not only for my sister but for me also. It has given me the chance to learn not to feel so helpless and to be able to learn about this lifelong condition in a way that brings value to my sister. 

Our mother set a strong foundation for life with diabetes because a challenge that my sister faced on one day was never an obstacle for the next. I think this positive attitude helped me to see that life with diabetes was filled with as much opportunity as a life without. My sister and I would train for tennis together and she would go harder than I most of the time.

I don’t think my sister ever wanted to be defined by diabetes and because we always lived an adventurous life that continued after her diabetes diagnosis. 

Thinking about it now though, that push to maintain good BG’s must have been arduous,  must have challenged her daily, must have taken every ounce of strength but she continued and still does because of her determination to have a positive diabetes life. Regardless of life’s challenges, diabetes has given her the experience to handle the difficult situations that she may encounter.


The Husband

Before I met Amina, I only knew about diabetes as a condition other ‘people’ get when they are older or overweight. I never associated it with someone in my own age group or of good health.

Experiencing life married to someone with diabetes has not only taught me about the condition, but having an emotional connection to someone with the condition has opened my eyes to what’s really important in life. 

I reflected on, my own relatives and my personal health and saw that diabetes was already a part of my life. People I had known my whole life, aunties, uncles, my own mother all have this condition and the implications it has on their health affects the lives of all of my family. Also, had I not met someone with diabetes, my lifestyle choices would have inevitably led me to develop type 2 diabetes. I personally take more care of myself in order to take care of my wife. Although we can’t know what will happen in the future, I have at least taken steps to live a healthier life.

Living with a diabetic has also taught me a great many things. Amina’s mind-set is tremendously positive and her outlook on life has shown me the heights the human psyche can reach, and inspired me to become more positive and mature about life’s ‘thousand natural shocks’. Her ability to share her experiences has influenced those around her including myself, our children, her relatives and mine, as well as her blog followers. It has also taught me patience in dealing with people, when her hypos inhibit her abilities I have had to search deep inside myself to be supportive in ways that best serve her needs. 

The adversity faced by diabetics should not only be encouraging but the strength of the human spirit that is embodied by their struggle to overcome is truly inspirational to those around them.


The little sister

Unlike my older siblings and parents, I have no memories of Amina’s diagnosis with diabetes. I can’t remember – like my mother often says – how skinny she was or any of the other symptoms she presented. I was only about one at the time. So growing up there was no adjustment to a new lifestyle or shock at seeing her take injections or measure her blood sugars. She was never made to administer her insulin in a different room like it was some sort of secret, so it wasn’t something out the ordinary to me. I now appreciate how important that was; it was and is (literally) part of her survival and isolation could have affected her attitude towards her diabetic state (by the way she’s always had it under excellent control.)

Having had the opportunity to learn more about diabetes through my education, and considering the complications associated with a lack of control, I have developed a real sense of respect for how she has managed her diabetes through the years. From my point of view it never seemed like an overwhelming problem for her. Yes, it remains something she deals with daily. But she’s always on top of it. I’m always impressed by the fact that diabetes doesn’t rule her life, rather it is an aspect of her life that has shaped her in ways but never defined her.


The baby Brother

Being the youngest member of our family, I have always aspired to be like my elder siblings as they have all lived successful lives and I have never once thought that there is any difference between them.

I have only ever known my big sister to have diabetes and from a young age I could never really understand what it was, but with age I have a greater understanding; but even still I am always asking questions. Over the years, I have seen the slow effects it can have but with strong will and dedication, not allowing it take control, it can be managed. Personally I can see how many people could lose the will to constantly check what state their body is in at certain times of the day, however to those in the diabetic community, I believe you shouldn’t see yourself as any different from other people.

The reason I have this view, that diabetics shouldn’t see themselves as any different from other individuals is based on my sister. My sister, when possible, never acted as if she had an illness. She was and still is very proactive but what I believe to be key is she knows her limitations. And by knowing ones limitations you can build your life and wellbeing around them slowly overcoming them.

I know you’re probably thinking it’s easier said than done, especially since I have never been in that position. However, it can be done and Amina is an example of this.

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To my loved ones, thank you for all the love and support you’ve given me throughout the years. I love you all dearly. Amina xxx

Diabetes Blog week 2016 – Monday Message

Today marks the beginning of the 7th annual ‘Diabetes Blog week’. This week was first created by a blogger Karen Graffeo, otherwise known a  Bitter sweet in the blogging world. It has become a way for the online diabetes community to unite and express their views on many topics.

Topics are handpicked by Bitter Sweet and bloggers can sign up to post on the topic matter. It runs for an entire week and this week it begins today (May16th) through to the 20th May. Anyone who blogs about diabetes in any capacity can take part in this fantastic week.

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Online presence

The first topic of the week addresses why bloggers like myself are here on an online platform.

I first started blogging in 2013, it was a way for me to connect with others, to express and share my experiences of diabetes, not only with the online community but with others who wanted to know more about diabetes. It’s from my perspective, (the perspective of someone living with the condition) which with time I found that this was a very valuable and important angle to share with others.

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I came up with the name Sugar High Sugar Low, which represents the battles I have on a day to day basis with blood glucose levels. It is an ongoing struggle to achieve that ‘beautiful’ so called normal range. I can guarantee that all diabetics have struggled / struggle with their BG levels in some way or another. Relentlessly, diabetes requires a lot of patients and vigilance.

Being present online has also offered me the opportunity to understand my diabetes better. It has made me more confident in my diabetes management. My experiences, both good and bad with this condition has become something I can openly exchange with my readers.

Initially, I didn’t even make the connection that by articulating my practices and knowledge of diabetes, I was in fact advocating and increasing awareness of diabetes. This has now become a huge driving force for me to be a good example to others as someone living with the condition.

Diabetes has never held me back, yes the day to day aspects of it are challenging but it never stops me from being able to do the things I chose to do with my life. As a matter of a fact, it only propels me into new directions.

Awareness of Diabetes

There are so many important messages when it comes to diabetes.The most important diabetes awareness message for me is, being able to understand and recognise symptoms before initial diagnosis. The fine line between knowing and recognising symptoms is one that inevitably could mean saving someone’s life by giving them that diabetes diagnosis.

 Many people have no understanding of what diabetes even is and so when these symptoms present themselves they aren’t aware and in many cases this has proven fatal. Being able to listen to your body is such an important asset, which we all are able to do but sometimes chose to ignore. I recently wrote a post about ‘listening to your body’ and all the signs your body is able to give you to make you mindful of changes that could be happening.

 What are the signs one can get before diagnosis?

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I was diagnosed at a very young age and experiencing all these symptoms as well as DKA (Diabetes ketoacidosis) has definitely made this message in particular an extremely important aspect of raising awareness for diabetes. I’m so thankful that, my mum had some diabetes knowledge at the time and was able to recognise some of the symptoms, which made her take action and take me to the hospital to receive my diagnosis. It’s hard to even imagine what the outcome would have been, if she hadn’t acted as quickly as she did.

Although, we all have our time, hearing stories of people (usually children) passing due to misdiagnosis or lack of diabetes knowledge, troubles and saddens me a great deal. To think, if only they had known more about the condition or if the doctor hadn’t missed the symptoms, there may have been a chance for them to still be here. This is why spreading the awareness of these symptoms couldn’t be more crucial.

By sharing this message on my blog, I pray that this will reach many people and help them to develop a better understanding of these symptoms and in turn diabetes. I want others to truly understand what diabetes is and everything it comes with.

Aminaxx

Testing your day time basal rate

Sometimes it becomes necessary for you to be able to tweak your basal rates. During times where you maybe more active, during periods of stress and for the girls during that time of the month, you may be more prone to either lower or higher BG levels and this of course requires some adjustments in basal rates.  

Being able to adjust my rates isn’t something I’ve learnt overnight. It has taken me many years and a lot of time to understand my diabetes.Believe it or not I am still learning, when it comes to my own body and how it functions and reacts to different changes. Also I utilise my diabetes team when I can and get their input which sometimes can be a completely different perspective to my own, or most of the time they are in agreement with the changes I want to make. They are there to support you, so use them when you need them.

There are a few simple rules which I follow before I make changes to my BG. I ensure that,

  • I have not had a hypo in the last 24 hours ( of course if your having frequent hypos you probably have too much insulin in your system. You should definitely seek medical advice.)
  • I’m not feeling unwell
  • I am not due to have a set change
  • I’m not going to be more active than I normal would be.
  • I’m not more stressed than I would normally be.

 

Testing your daytime basal rate

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daytimebasal5I usually end the test with my evening meal. Look carefully at your BG readings for the day and make adjustments. If you’ve noticed an increase or decrease in BG levels, then adjust the basal rate about an hour or two before the change in BG levels were first noticed. Adjust the basal rate by 0.05 or 0.10 units/hr either up or down depending on whether your BG levels were too high or too low.

Although, these are the steps I take to make adjustments to my basal rates, please make sure you consult with your GP (diabetes team) before you make any changes to your rates.

Amina xx

Guest Post: Introducing Dr Joan St John


I’d like to introduce Dr Joan St John. She is a GP / Diabetes Specialist. She is the lead for diabetes in a practice in Brent, UK. Dr Joan also has a crucial role working with Diabetes UK as a Clinical Champion.

As a GP, I have been interested in Diabetes for many years and this has been for a number of reasons: I work in an area where there are thousands of people living with the effects of Diabetes on a daily basis, I have seen how it can affect individuals, families and communities and I am passionate about educating people to live healthier lives. I try to do this whenever I can, so this might be in the GP Practice, within my role in a local diabetes service and especially in my role as a Diabetes UK Clinical Champion. 

It’s about ‘Education, Education, Education’ and this could involve the person in front of me in the consulting room and their family member, or giving talks to community groups and also being involved in the education of healthcare Professionals.

I work in a Practice that has over 1,000 patients living with Diabetes. In our area, because of the communities that live there, more than 90% of the people affected by Diabetes have Type 2 Diabetes and less than 10% have Type 1 Diabetes.

The voluntary Clinical Champions role that I do for Diabetes UK seemed like a great opportunity to work with others to try to further improve the quality of care provided to people with Diabetes. The work has involved developing resources for people with Diabetes, giving talks to local groups and education events for healthcare professionals.


As someone who has lived with diabetes for 21 years, I’ve had the opportunity to have been in the care of many diabetes specialist.  I’ve had mostly good experiences but also some very bad ones.You can read about my experiences with good and bad doctors here.

What do you think are the qualities one should possess, when dealing with a diabetic patient? And how do you ensure continuity, when you have new GP’s in your clinic?

I think the qualities one should possess when dealing with a diabetic patient, are those that are required when dealing with any patient

  • A good pair of ears to listen with! Because I believe first and foremost it is about a conversation and dialogue between the patient and the healthcare professional.
  • Specialist knowledge is important, but although every healthcare Professional should have basic knowledge, realistically, not every healthcare professional could, or would have specialist knowledge. However, the important things are that they know where to seek the specialist knowledge, or direct the patient to a specialist for specialist care

Most GP Practices try to ensure continuity by asking Patients to wherever possible, see the same Doctor for the same, or an on-going problem. In terms of standardising care, we try to ensure that the care provided is standardised, by providing training in Diabetes to new GPs or healthcare professionals in our Surgery or Clinic.

What sort of care do new patients recieve?

It would depend on what type of Diabetes you have. Care will inevitably continue throughout your life-long journey with Diabetes, but the first steps of care will be different for the two different types of Diabetes. In brief,

If you have Type 1 Diabetes then you will need to be referred urgently for specialist care to start on Insulin. With Type 1 Diabetes your body is no longer producing Insulin and you need Insulin to survive. Following this you will need to have advice about the how to manage and live healthily with your Type 1 Diabetes and insulin treatment.

Type 2 Diabetes on the other hand usually develops slowly over a number of years. It can creep up on someone so that they don’t realise that the tiredness, infections, rashes, frequent urination or change in vision, might be due to the development of Diabetes. With Type 2 Diabetes the first steps would be to explain what it is and how it has developed. We would aim to ensure that you had some structured advice and education about how to manage the condition and advice about treatment.

With both types people will need on-going advice about the condition and treatment required, monitoring of the condition and support.

What advice do you have for people or parents of children, who have recently been diagnosed?

Do not be downhearted!

There are lots of people who live healthily with this condition and there is a lot of help available. Healthcare professionals provide some of this, but given that most of the time the person with Diabetes is the one managing their condition, in a year they may spend about 3hrs with a healthcare professional out of the 8,757hours that they have to manage the condition themselves! So Amina, blogs like yours that provide peer advice, or other social media platforms can be really helpful. There are a number of local and national Charities providing help and advice for people with both forms of Diabetes and Diabetes UK run ‘living with Diabetes days’ and many other forms of support either with online, telephone carelines, or leaflets that People of all ages can find helpful.

Some of the important aspects, that I’ve learnt about managing my diabetes are, the routine blood testing, eating healthily and exercising. These are all very essential, when managing the condition. However, another important aspect of managing this condition, is being able to psychologically deal with all the challenge’s one may encounter.

What’s support is there for the psychological and emotional impact of a new diagnosis/ongoing condition?

I am pleased to say that the psychological impact of how receiving the diagnosis, and also living with this condition affects People is becoming more recognised and acknowledged by healthcare Professionals. As a result more healthcare Professionals are receiving training in how to help someone living with Diabetes make changes that the individual themselves identifies as important to them, to enable them to live more healthily with this condition.

In addition, it is the case that more diabetes services are enlisting the help of psychologists within their teams to support and enable people living with Diabetes to deal with the challenges they face on a day to day basis.

What suggestions or advice do you have for someone who has a family history of diabetes but hasn’t yet been diagnosed?

‘Prevention, Prevention, Prevention’

This is my other passion within the field of Diabetes. I know how important it is to spread the knowledge about how to prevent and avoid developing Type 2 Diabetes because there is a lot of evidence to show that this can be avoided or the onset delayed. Currently in the UK there are about 3million People living with Diabetes, but it is predicted that there could be more than 5million people at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Having a family history of Diabetes means that your risk of developing Diabetes is increased, this is more the case with Type 2 Diabetes but there is also some increased risk of developing it with a family history of Type 1 Diabetes.

There are some exciting developments in the NHS, in that a national Diabetes prevention programme is being developed. This will be the first National diabetes prevention programme anywhere in the World. I back this initiative, as my experience has shown me that people would welcome not only knowing that they are at risk, but also receiving advice about how to avoid, or delay the development of this condition.

I hope this has given you a flavour of what I’m doing and what I’m about. Hopefully, you will invite me back another time so we can talk more about the Prevention, new developments and the management of Diabetes.

Thank you so much for asking me to be a guest on your blog Amina. Wishing you and your readers, All the best.

Dr Joan St John

GP with special interest in Diabetes and Diabetes UK Clinical Champion.


Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us your knowledge and experiences with treating diabetes and working within the diabetes community. I look forward to the second installment, where we can learn more about prevention, new developments and diabetes management.

Amina xx

Diabetes won’t hold me back: Part 1- Atlas Mountain trek

imageHaving diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back from doing the things you want to do.

Diabetes is a part of my life but it isn’t my whole life. I have never let it stop me from achieving the things I’ve wanted to do. It’s all about being able to adapt whilst getting it to fit around the things you want to do. Travelling is one of those things I’ve never hesitated to do.  I recently travelled to Marrakesh, Morocco and had the opportunity to hike up the Atlas Mountains.

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Don’t you dare let diabetes stop you! You can do whatever you want to do! Don’t make it your excuse and don’t give up on any goals you may want to achieve. Work with it, continue on your path, being mindful of diabetes but without putting any limitations on yourself. DIABETES-DOES-NOT-HAVE-ME

Amina xx

Positivity Jar

Diabetes living is undeniably a struggle. It’s relentless and arduous in every sense. This life-long illness’ is far from enjoyable.

Many may say that diabetes does not define them, which is true. However, what is also true, is that it will always be present and  looming in the shadows. It’s almost like a force that you can’t escape. Repelling it would be detrimental to you in every way and embracing it would allow you to nurture and manage it better.

Yes, we have insulin, but insulin is not the cure that we all wait for with bated breath. The day that they announce that there is a cure, I dare say I probably won’t believe it.  Taking our insulin on a daily basis definitely helps us sustain. It is most certainly an asset to us, prolonging our existence. However, continuing with a frequent, restricted routine can be gruelling on the mind and body.

I must admit, many a time I’ve quietly felt fed up with diabetes, I’ve wished it away but also I’ve patiently endured the tests placed in front of me. It can be hard to remain positive about having diabetes but what I try to do is find things to keep me motivated and steer clear of any negative feeling which may creep in. Ultimately I want to be happy, healthy and live hassle free. I want to be the one in control of my health.

Also, I’ve realised that sometimes in order to gain that positivity it also means I have to occasionally have my down day. I mean everyone has a down day, diabetic or not.  So if you’re feeling down, then I say, just feel down.

The question is, what do you do to bring yourself out of this negative state you find yourself in? In that moment, at your lowest point try to find something that will help you or remind you about being in a happier mind-set.  Don’t let the negative feelings consume you.

D POSITIVITY JAR

Something which I started recently is my diabetes positivity jar. I basically write down all the things that keep me motivated. Things that have happened and have had a positive impact on me and things that keep me patient.

Keep track of all the positive

It could be a memory or memories, a picture/s or just a word. It’s totally up to you. Collect them in a jar or a box and when you feel down just sit and look through them.Look at them and remember that moment and how you felt about it. Be proud of the things you’ve achieved and the challenges you’ve overcome.

positivity-jar

Here are a few other things that I do to keep my mind positive.

  • Fitness – A big one for me is working out. This is a great way to release some tension and de-stress. Plus you’re getting fit in the process. You’re active, moving and taking charge of your diabetes. At the moment I’m following a workout programme called PIIT 28 by Cassey Ho. I will be doing a post on this once I’ve completed my first 28 days.

 

  • The Munchkins – My kids are another huge motivator for me. They keep me on my toes, make me smile and make me want to retain my health.

 

  • Loved ones – My support system – My family and friends are a great support system, when I’m feeling a little down. Don’t be afraid to share it with them, laugh, cry, talk it through with them but don’t hold it in.

 

  • Set realistic goals – Don’t let this condition take over your life and be a hindrance. Just because you’re diabetic it doesn’t mean you can’t do the thing syou want to do. Check out my two inspirational guest post, by Chirstel and Tobias from TheFitBlog and Angelica Chavez. They don’t let their diabetes get in the way. Don’t limit yourself. You are more than capable of doing so many great things. Let diabetes be that driving force which makes you see new things and do new things. Set realistic and achievable goals and push for them.

 

  • Be thankful – I’m thankful for the insulin that I’m so lucky to have access too. You can read my post on access to insulin. Many people around the world aren’t as fortunate to have access to insulin. Also I remember having to inject 5 times a day and it reconfirms my appreciation for both my insulin and my pump.

 

  • Control the D – Try to stay on top of the blood glucose taking, the insulin doses, everything. Take it one step at a time, find a routine that you’re comfortable with. Write down you sugars, make a note of patterns and adjust when needed (seek advice if you’re uncertain).

 

  • Change your environment – If you’re at home, take a long walk or drive. Whatever you choose, take that time to really de-stress and hash it out.

So my friends, please don’t give up. You can do this, have faith in yourself and remember things don’t change overnight. However, it has to start from somewhere. Try to surround yourself with positive people and begin to think positively about taking charge of your diabetes. If you work on your strength in mind and body, your strength can only grow. You are much stronger than you know.

POSITIVITY

 Amina xx

 

 

Guest Post: Angelica Chavez

Anglica1I’d like to introduce Angelica, an entrepreneur, designer and blogger at Lyfebulb, who has type 1 diabetes.

I’ve been drawing since I was 5 years old, intrigued with studying the human form. Art from paintings and architecture has also always captivated me, along with science and film. I’ve always had a curious mind for obtaining loads of knowledge on new topics, so I research like crazy when I design or work on a new project. 

I was diagnosed with Diabetes on November 6th, 1998, a couple days after dealing with painful symptoms and a final night of trauma. The few days before being diagnosed, I lost weight to the bone, threw up everything I ate, needed to pee constantly, and had horrible throat and stomach pains. After two trips to the doctor, I had a glucose of 1000mg/dL (55.6mmol/l). The next twelve months were the hardest my family and I would ever endure, especially because of a hypoglycaemic attack I got one night after not eating.

“I’ve honestly never felt like diabetes affected me, but it did affect my family.”

My mother was really traumatized after the attack and became almost obsessed with watching over me to make sure I was always ok. Sadly, everything flew past her except for me, which in turn affected my sisters. My middle sister grew up fast having to take care of our youngest sister, and my youngest sister felt alone for a couple years of not having our parents’ attention. As time passed, though, we overcame this stress and separation.

Pump or needles?

I have a Medtronic pump and LOVE the freedom, but like all diabetics, I want to be needle-free! Or at least pain free haha! The pump needle still scares me every time. Thank goodness it’s not every day.

Diabetes, Beyond and the positive impacts on my life

Diabetes has kept me mindful of my health, and taught me strength and independence. All the Diabetics I’ve met through Instagram have also inspired me to feel proud and not to give up!

My current entrepreneurial projects are: Veltimera- an ecofashionable nonprofit for animal rights, in which I’m currently designing a Fall 2016 collection to fund animal rescues.

Anglica2Fashion Academy & Network- an upcoming online fashion school with courses on design to business.

Anglica6Piece of SASS Swimwear- a sustainable swimwear line for all beautiful body types; and Rebel Empire Apparel– an upcoming t-shirt line based in Los Angeles.

Angleica3Teamwork, organization, and persistence are the key to making these all successful one day. There is a quote that says,

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That is a hard lesson that not many people understand, because all they see is the success of a company or person and not its dedicated work. Another quote that I absolutely love is 

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I know I definitely have already failed tons of times, but I’ve learned what not to do and have researched new ways of doing things the right way.

One tip I recommend when starting your own business is having an intense passion for what you’re working towards keeps you focused and strong. Without passion, people give up after the first failure or don’t have the drive to educate themselves in what needs to be done.

My drive and passion are animals. Ever since I became vegan, I have not stopped thinking about them. They are the reason I became an entrepreneur in 2012 and haven’t given up.

Veganism in my life

Veganism has actually made it easier for me to manage my diabetes, because most of my foods are plant based. For example- Breakfast is tofu stir-fry, Anglica7

Brunch is a peanut butter banana smoothie, Lunch is a Veggie burger with fries, and Dinner is bean and vegan cheese tacos with chocolate almond milk. Anglica4

I always switch my meals around, because I LOVE flavours, but I’ve managed to keep my meals constant in carb count and reduced my basals (which are hourly insulin pump administrations). I do recommend, though, if you consider trying veganism, write everything down for the first 2-4 weeks to understand your body. Everyone reacts differently to new lifestyles.

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P.S. To answer any questions, I’m 100% healthy with all my vitamins and minerals, and vegetables and nuts fulfil my bodies need for protein. No, I never feel deprived; in fact, I’ve become more open to new foods, because taste has improved like a thousand times. I also transitioned to veganism over the course of 3 years, and I don’t buy organic like people might assume.

Advice to the younger, newly diagnosed, me!

You will make it through and be a great artist with lots of good friends and successful creative projects. It might be hard right now, and I know you don’t want to take your shots because you hate the needles, but think of your family. You are a warrior, and they need you.

If you want to follow Angelica’s work or have any questions for her, then you can find her on instagram @ Inspired Vegan and Diabetic with Style. You can also connect with Angelica via Facebook and Twitter. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to your body

Something I realised after my diagnosis was, I had to really start to listen to my body and try my best to understand what was happening to me.

body1The body is a complex system which does everything from help you move your arms, fight infections and even process the food we eat on a daily basis. It is able to constantly give you signs and signals which lets you know for instance that you’re coming down with something or if in fact the problem is more deep rooted. Without a second thought, your body breathes for you, pumps blood through your veins, just to keep you alive. It’s pretty miraculous!

In the case of diabetes the body also gives us signs. Signs which allow us to begin to recognise symptoms of lows, highs, falling or raising BGs. Even before my diagnosis, my body was giving me warning signs, showing me that something wasn’t right. Whilst experiencing the symptoms of thirst, constant urination, tiredness and the weight loss, these were all indications that something was happening.  This is why diabetes awareness is so important.  For me, with the knowledge my mother had of diabetes, I was able to survive and begin my diabetes journey.  Many people, who have no diabetes awareness and aren’t able to recognise any of the symptoms may not be as lucky as I was.

When we’re affected by things like stress, exercise or hormonal changes, we are able to begin to understand so many things.

In the case of low BG’s, I’ve had to make firm decisions in my mind that I am actually having a hypo and  then act on it in that moment. I’ve had to train my mind to distinguish and realise that a high BG is a high BG and a low BG is a low BG. It’s not easy but with time we begin to get a grasp on some of the warning sign we experience.

 Learning and listening to these signs are crucial to recognising future symptoms which will occur.

The human body is even more amazing in that we have been given five senses which guide us, as we traverse through the world around us. Our senses are able to send messages through the brain, with the help of the nervous system to deliver messages to us. These senses include: Taste, Touch, Smell, Sight, and hearing.

I strongly believe that we also have a sixth sense. (No I don’t mean seeing dead people lol).  This sixth sense i’m reffering to is our intellect. It is the sense which helps us understand so many thing including our physiology. For we diabetics, being able to differentiate between a low or high BG level sensation/s becomes quite critical, because let’s not forget these are medical emergency after all. In some cases we experiences low or high BG on a daily basis, whilst trying to obtain that number in the ideal range. It is an endless cycle of sustaining and monitoring. We check our BG, we bolus and we eat.

Strengthening your consciousness and being aware of your physiology is an advantage in that it will allow you to have a better comprehension, when changes arise due to BG levels.

You can begin to listen to your body by training your mind to make you more mindful of the signs you personally feel, before, during and after BG level changes. Identifying these symptoms will help make you even more responsive in the following hypo/hyper events to come.  I know that symptoms can vary and even change with time but what is important is being aware of what is happening to you in these moments.

Action, repetition and  finally recognition

When we experience any symptoms related to BG levels changing, our brain is able to create a memory of these symptoms we’ve experienced. This process is known as Recognition Memory.

Recognition memory is the ability to recognise previously encountered events, objects, or people.

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When we re-experience a certain BG related symptom, the brain is able to match a previous occurrence of the event happening beforehand. This then becomes an indication for us to know that we’ve experience this feeling before.  It’s becomes familiar and we know that we’ve gone through it in the past. We’re then able to recall this memory by accessing details related to that memory.

 Since we all know symptoms can vary from person to person, sometimes we miss a symptom because in fact maybe it’s a new memory which the body has never experienced before. Therefore, when this happens, it will be the first time the brain makes a memory of the event happening. If the event occurs again, it will then go through the recognition memory process to let you know that you are in fact familiar with this event taking place.

In the past I’ve experienced low BG’s were I don’t have any symptoms and remain in the low for a long time. However, this was mostly during my pregnancies, when there were so many changes occurring in my body. Nevertheless, even when I wasn’t aware of the symptoms and found myself in the middle of very severe lows, I still made a mental note of how I felt in those moments. This helped me to learn how to treat them and achieve a more normal BG level.

Hypoglycaemia unawareness can occur after living with this condition for many years. Constant lows can interfere with the release of stress hormones, which occurs when BG levels drop too low.  Stress hormones encourage the release of glucose. The liver secretes a hormone called Glycogen, which is decreased in people with type 1 diabetes after several years of living with the condition.  If glycogen isn’t being released then BG levels will remain low because the stress response isn’t producing any glucose to elevate the BG level. Therefore you remain in a low state for longer.

Tips to avoid hypoglycaemia unawareness

  • Test frequently to be more aware of dropping BG’s.
  • With the help of your diabetes team make adjustments to your Basal rates to try and avoid low BG’s occurring.
  • Develop an understanding of how to get those low BG’s back up and in range.

The next time you have a low or high BG try your best to be aware of what is happening to you in that instant.  Think about what you feel beforehand, during and after the hypo. Make a mental note and acknowledge the feeling you go through. Even if you have no initial symptoms and find yourself in the middle of a low, during the hypo you still experience certain feelings so try your best to be aware.

What methods do you use to recognise that your BG is low or high?

HyPoS

Many-types-of-hypos

Hypo’s can be very unpredictable and can affect everyone in different ways. Here are a few of the hypos i’ve experienced.

  • Stuck: My train of thought just remains paused on the last thing I was doing, the last thing I was thinking about or the last thing I was talking about. I find multiple ways to talk about the exact same thing over and over again.

 

  • Mrs Jekyll Mrs Hyde: I have a complete change in mood. I become completely enraged. I definitely become more vocal and extremely irritated. The strange thing is, I can hear myself but can’t stop myself. I have no control over what I’m saying.

 

  • Zombified: This is the type of hypo, where I can’t do anything at all for myself. Thank god this type of hypo has only hit me a few times. I usually have an outer body experience, whereby I can hear everything that is being said to me but I can’t respond in sentences. My brain, my mouth and my body just won’t coordinate, so instead I produce a sounds which resembles that of the living dead lol.

 

  • Is it me Or is it hot in here?: With this hypo, I feel as if the temperature in the room is above 30 degrees Celsius and raising. What follows next is me asking other people in the room, “Why it’s so hot?” Again I can become quite vocal.

 

  • Pins and needles: My BS level has come back up very slowly and what I’m left with is my tongue feeling as if it’s tingling and numb.

 

  • Where did that hypo come from? I decide to check my BS level and it’s extremely low but I feel absolutely fine.

 

  • Clean teeth no more:  I’m ready for bed, I spend my time brushing my teeth and then check my BS level only to find out its low.  This then means I have to eat or drink something to bring it back up pfff!

 

  • Puke fest: With this hypo, I want to eat everything in sight. Resulting in everything been served up together. In that moment anything goes. Jam + a sprinkle of cheese + some gummy bears, a sip of juice, a bite of that pear, oh crackers with Nutella. JUST ANYTHING TO BRING THAT SUGAR BACK UP!!This is something I’ve been working hard to try not to do, because it just means serious rebound BG’s later on.

 

  • Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride it out! This the new me, where I sensibly correct my BG with 15g of fast acting carbs. These days I usually go with raisins or fruit strip. Honestly, I just try not to over correct the low too much. Although the feeling of waiting for that low BG to come up is awful. I’ve really been trying to hang in there and let it come up without over eating and sending my BG through the roof.

 

  • I’m convinced that I’ve mastered Korean: With this type of hypo, I’m usually watching a Korean drama (Kdrama) and can completely understand it word for word. FYI, I’m still only a beginner when it comes to learning Korean. I watch a lot of K dramas but I guess my brain has stored a lot more than I think it has. Hmmmmm! This has also happened with other languages I’ve learnt or heard.

 

  • Beating drums: I start with a mild headache and then it develops into a severe migraine. My heart is also beating. Is it the usual beat? I have no idea but I can definitely hear it and it’s louder than ever.  

 

  • Le vache qui rie (The laughing cow): Let’s just say, I find everything funny. Whatever might be happening, it just becomes funny. SHSL you’re a total loon!

 

  • Pass me that towel please: This is the type of hypo, where I’m sweating profusely, as if I’d been dunked in a swimming pool a few times and come out dripping wet.

 

These are just a few of the hypos I’ve experienced over the years. What type of hypo’s have you experienced?   

Amina xx

Guest Post continued: The Fit Blog Part 2- Nutrition

How important is nutrition to you? What types of food do you consume on a typical day before and after a workout and also when maintaining your BG’s?

The saying that you can’t outrun a bad diet is very much true. So nutrition is very important for me. If you are looking to make changes to your body, mood, and diabetes management, getting your nutrition right is the place to start. What you eat is actually more important than how you work out. I eat 6 small meals throughout the day consisting of low glycaemic carbs (oats, sweet potato, and rice), lean protein (chicken, fish, and eggs) and fats (coconut oil, nuts, avocado).

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“TheFitBlog offers some amazing, cost effective meal plans for example the Female Fitness Program. It’s a general workout and meal plan for women but can be used by everyone, so it doesn’t mention diabetes at all, Untitled-14but it definitely works for people with diabetes (as it’s the program Christel used when she first started her fitness journey).

There is also an opportunity to have Online Personal Training. Christel works directly with clients and creates a custom- made workout meal plan weekly follow-ups and all the things that you would expect from a personal trainer. For Christel’s clients with diabetes, she is able to help them with diabetes management, especially when it comes to working out.

 

 

Are there any specific foods you would advise a diabetic to have when working out?

Yes, but it depends on what kind of exercise and the individual’s goals. If you want to build strength, you need a good low glycaemic carb (oats, sweet potato, brown rice) and protein (chicken, fish, egg) before your workout and a higher glycaemic carbUntitled-16 (white rice, banana, rice cake) and protein (whey shake or eggs) after your workout, accompanied by insulin. You actually need that insulin spike after your workout in order to feed your muscles and build strength and volume. Don’t be afraid to eat, and insulin is not the enemy!!!

“As diabetics, we are constantly counting how many carbs we’ve consumed in any given meal. A lot of us are inclined to follow a lower carb diet to keep BG levels under control.”

How many carbs do you have in a day?

Let me start by saying that I’m not a fan of no carb diets. They don’t fit my goals and I don’t think you need them in order to have good blood sugar control. My standpoint is that carbs aren’t the enemy as long as you eat healthy carbs. Eating too many of the high glycemic carbs are what’s going to mess with your blood sugar and your waistline. Right now, I’m doing carb cycling which means I have about 100 g of carbs for 2 days, then 125 g on day 3 and then 225 g on day 4. Bear in mind that that’s my bikini prep plan. If it was off-season for me, I would most likely be eating more and when I get closer to competition day, I’ll be eating less.

Do you keep a record of this? 

Absolutely! I use an app called MyFitnessPal. It’s brilliant and it’s free, hurrah.

What evaluations do you conduct on a new diabetic client who wants to begin a fitness regimen?

I always have new clients fill out a questionnaire about their health, workout experience, previous injuries, diabetes control, etc. I also ask them to track their food and beverages for a few days before our initial phone/FaceTime/Skype session. This allows me to understand what their starting point is so we can discuss goals and set expectations. I want to create a plan that will get the individual the results they want but it also needs to be safe and sustainable. I’ll never promise a 50 lbs weight loss in a month and I don’t expect clients to do what I do.

How do you ensure that a fitness program is effective?

After the first meeting with a new client, I create a customized workout and meal plan. We then have regular check-ins and status updates (how do you feel, your weight, diabetes management, perhaps progress pictures, etc.). Based on the clients’ status, I will make any adjustments necessary to his/hers workout and diet. I’m also available for questions on Facebook messenger or text when needed. Everybody is different so a cookie cutter approach won’t work

“When it come to my diabetes management, I’m so fortunate to have the support of my husband. He’s there through most hypos, he’s even become quite good at counting carbs and always encourages me, when it comes to working out.”Untitled-18How does Tobias help you with your diabetes management, motivation and fitness?

Tobias and I have been partners in crime for 16 years now so he knows the ins and outs of living with me and my diabetes. I’m very independent when it comes to my diabetes management. For me the most important thing is that he understands that sometimes it just sucks, and I’ll complain, but I’ll get over it. He actually wrote a very sweet piece on how to support a diabetic spouse on TheFitBlog, check it out.

I want to say a big thank you to Christel and Tobias for sharing TheFitBlog with us. Christel is a true inspiration and has given me hope that I too can be successful when it comes to maintaining my fitness goals. Better understanding of my insulin sensitivity, carb ratios, learning how much insulin and food to consume around workouts and not over correcting my low BG’s will definitely not limit my ability to reach my true fitness potential.

Amina xx

“It’s all about the Pump Peelz!”

When it comes to my diabetes devices, I’ve never really thought about accessorizing them. I knew about the Pump Peelz from the moment they launched but I was a bit unsure of how well it would perform, in terms of its durability and quality. Lately I’ve seen more and more pump wearers showcasing their very cute and colourful Pump Peelz. It’s becoming the new trendy thing to have in the “diabetes world”.

For those who don’t know what a Pump Peelz is, here’s a little breakdown

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The Pump Peelz is a reusable, waterproof, extremely durable sticker which can be stuck onto a wide selection of diabetes devices e.g. pumps and BG meters. What I really love about it is, it’s a great way for ‘us’ to be able to express ourselves and add our own personal touch to our devices. The design is simple, easy to work with and it can be used on a variety of devices such as the, Animas vibe, Animas ping, Omnipod and One touch IQ are but a few.

The Pump Peelz were created by high school sweethearts, Scott Imblum and Emily Hixon. After Emily was diagnosed with type 1 and began to use an Omnipod, Scott began to think of ways in which she could personalise her diabetes devices. Accessorising is what everybody does. You can pretty much accessorise anything you want, from your laptop keys, tablets and phones so why not accessorise diabetes devices?

The design was originally meant to be a snap on case, that could be customised and reused, but due to high costs this product could not become a reality. However, they did not let it stop them. They had to think of another way to create funding, which is how they came up with the idea of the resilient sticker.

Pump Peelz have many designs to offer, when it comes to designing your devices. However, as someone who likes to draw and create things, I always thought it would be even more interesting if I could put my own stamp on it. To my surprise, when I looked on the Pump Peelz site they had added a design tool which allowed users to add their own image/s. Fantastic!

Untitled-8I quickly tested out one of my Sugar High Sugar Low images and tried my best to resize it to fit the Animas pump design that was available. The tool is great but I quickly realised that the image could only be made bigger or smaller and not stretched from different sides to fit the design better. (Maybe this could be a new idea when upgrading the design tool). I decided to make the image as large as possible so that it covered the majority of the pump surface. Another thing to take into consideration is, whatever image you use, part of it will be cut out to allow your pump screen and buttons to be visible.

The Pump Peelz cost around $14 which is roughly £9.99. This does not include postage and packaging, so depending on where you’re located the cost is different. At the checkout you have the option to calculate your shipping based on your location. For someone in the UK the postage and packaging cost £5, which in total is quite a lot to spend on a sticker, but I think it was worth it.

Once the order went through, Pump Peelz sent me a notification email to let me know that they had received my order and then I received an email when the Pump Peelz was sent out. Thumbs up for customer service.

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So, I’ve been waiting in anticipation for this package to arrive. I ordered it about 2 weeks ago and yesterday I was so happy to receive it! I wanted to see how my image had turned out. What was this thing going to look like?

So this is how it came. It was stuck to a glossy piece of paper, (Which by the way smelt  nice.Was that just me?” hahahhaa)

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So here’s my pump now!!

 pump1pump2What a difference it’s made. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about buying one. Only time will tell, how well it will be able to maintain its durability.  Keep an eye out for a review of the quality of the Pump Peelz sticker after using it for a few months.

I’m very proud to wear my pump but now I feel even prouder to wear my pump with my Pump Peelz.🙂

 

Amina xx

Guest post: The Fit Blog Part 1

I’d like to introduce husband and wife, fitness instructors, Christel (who has type 1 diabetes) and Tobias. Through their blog, TheFitBlog, they share CNT1their passion for a healthy and fit lifestyle, whist giving people the support to succeed with their fitness goals.

How did you start TheFitBlog?

Tobias and I have always had the desire to do our own thing. The summer of 2015 it all came together and we decided to take a leap of faith and make our hobby and passion our occupation. TheFitBlog is a general health and fitness site while the “Fit with Diabetes” section on the blog is my platform to discuss health and fitness from a diabetes perspective.

When I started working out more seriously, I searched without much luck for good information online on how to successfully combine training and diabetes management, so I had to figure it out on my own. TheFitBlog is my chance to share my experience and learnings with others.

How long have you had type 1 diabetes? How did you find out? What steps did you take?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in December 1997. I’d just finished high school that summer and spent my time working in a preschool, partying hard and eating and drinking everything in sight. I displayed all the classical diabetes symptoms; hunger, thirst, sleepiness, frequent need to urinate and a slender physique. But all of that I simply attributed to my lifestyle.

At one point, my family did urge me to see a doctor, I did, and he was determined I had diabetes. I was admitted to a diabetes clinic as an outpatient and they spent the next two days teaching me about diabetes, how to take my shots, test my blood sugars and how to treat lows. First day of my diagnosis I was encouraged to never let my diabetes manage my life or to be a hindrance and I took that to heart and have lived by it ever since. Eight months later, I left for my first backpacking trip around India and I never slowed down.

How often do you work out?

Hi, my name is Christel, and I’m a workout –holic🙂. I’m in the gym 6 days a week right now. However, 2016 is also a competition year for me so I’m working out as an athlete. I compete in NPC bikini competitions and have qualified to potentially take home a pro card later this year. A more normal gym schedule for me is 4-5 times a week and I think that is plenty for most people.Untitled-11

How do you balance working out with diabetes?

There is definitely a learning curve, but once I understood my body and how I react to different kinds of exercise, it’s actually pretty easy. When you understand how your body reacts to certain foods and exercise you’ll know how to adjust your insulin and not have to worry about lows all the time. Of course, I don’t always get it right but 95% of the time my sugars are perfect pre, during and post a workout. My advice is to take a lot of notes and find out how your body reacts to different foods and exercise and learn from it. In the long run, I find that working out makes your diabetes easier to manage, not harder.

How often do you have rest days?

Rest days are usually the hard ones for me since my insulin sensitivity goes down. I have a minimum of one rest day per week. There are some great sunset walks where we live in Santa Monica CA. It’s important to have rest days, since that’s when your body rebuilds and get stronger.

“When I work out, I’ve found that it’s much better for me to work out in the morning opposed to the evening. My sugars have a tendency to drop drastically in the night time, so I lean towards working out in the morning. Being able to stay motivated whilst maintaining good BG levels is extremely difficult.”

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What time of day do you like to work out? Have you found that working out at certain times are better for you and your BG levels?

My advice is to work out the time of day that suits you best. In the morning, you’ll have less insulin on-board so you’ll be less prone to low blood sugar. If your goal is weight loss, you might even benefit from morning sessions before breakfast. I do fasting cardio in the morning and resistance training in the afternoon/evening to build muscle mass. The key is to determine the right insulin level. It will depend on what you eat, your insulin sensitivity and how aggressively you work out.

Do you use a pump or injections?

I’m one of the rare MDI / CGM combinations. Pumps are awesome, but not for me at this time in my life. It’s still an extremely valuable tool and something I recommend for everyone who starts working out. I have very good control with MDI because I’m willing to inject 10 times a day if needed and test my blood sugar just as often.

How often do you test your BG and how do you record your BG levels?

Whenever I feel I need it. So it might be 10 times a day or it might be 8. I have a Bayer meter that saves all my readings so I can just download it when needed.

How do you stay motivated whilst managing low BG levels?

I guess I really don’t think about my blood sugar in those terms. My motivation to do what I do is not affected by my blood sugars. I manage them to allow me to do what I do.

How do you correct your BG levels without ruining the hard work you’ve put in?

By learning how much insulin and food to consume around workouts I hardly ever have low blood sugars during exercise. If I do, I treat it as it is; a medical emergency. I’ll eat 2-3 glucose tablets and either have a fruit strip and continue my workout or simply go home. A few glucose tablets and a fruit strip will never ruin your progress even if you are trying to drop weight. What will derail your progress is if you treat lows with candy or sugary soda.

What advice do you give to your diabetic clients when it comes to low/high BG’s when working out?

I always have clients track their activities, food, sleep patterns etc., and then together we work on determining why and when he or she is going low to reduce the risk of it happening

“As a mother, my schedule can be pretty hectic and fitting in a work out can sometimes be impossible. I like to do quick HIT workouts for a 20- 30 minute period or target one area e.g. my abs. My goal is to be working out a lot more than I currently do.”

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What advice would you give to me and to others who are struggling to achieve their fitness goals due to the hectic lifestyles or plummeting BG levels?

Even a little physical activity is better than nothing. First, decide what you want to achieve. If it’s cardiovascular health, focus on cardio. If it’s building strength, chose resistance training. Since time is a limited resource, you might have to focus your attention to one thing only.

I mainly do resistance training, because I think it gives a better return on the time I spend. Muscles help burn calories and increase your insulin sensitivity, so adding a little muscle mass is great for people with diabetes.

The reason why your blood sugars drop when you work out is that you have too much insulin in your system. So just as you learn your carb ratios over time, put in the time to get to know your insulin sensitivity after different types of workouts and adjust your insulin accordingly.

Look out for Part 2 of TheFitBlog guest post from Christel and Tobias on Nutrition. In the mean time if you want to read more about Christel and Tobias, then check out their blog at TheFitBlog. You can also find them on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram.

Amina xx

Snow day tips!

Yesterday, I was discussing the seasons with my son and now that it’s March we’d soon be able to see flowers blooming. However, this morning, we woke up to this!

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I love a bit of snow but I always have to take into consideration, how the colder weather will affect my BG levels. In most conditions, whether it’s hot, humid or cold, my BG levels always drop. So I knew I had to prepare myself, especially since I had the morning school run to do (which also meant I’d be driving) so yet another reasons to make sure my BG levels were under control. With all of this in mind, I’ve put together a list of tips on how to manage BG levels in the colder weather.

Test, test, test don’t guesstimate:
The cold weather can definitely affect your levels, so always remember to check your BG levels often. Frequent testing will allow you to avoid any high or low BG levels. Test before you leave the house. When I drive, I always make sure my BG is around 7mmol/l so today I started at 7.8mmol/l.

A few hours after school run……..

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Stay warm:
Make sure you’re dressed in warm clothing. Wearing gloves will help to keep your fingers warm so that when you need to test your BG level your fingers aren’t completely frozen. Try to warm them up before testing so you are able to get enough blood. Although I had gloves on this morning, my hands were still a little cold, so I used the car heater to warm them up. Also make sure you wear comfortable and warm shoes with a good grip that will protect your feet and keep them warm to ensure good circulation. Keep your feet well moisturised and check them regularly for any cuts or cracks etc.

Glucose:
Make sure you take some form of glucose with you when you leave the house. Choose glucose that will not freeze in the car. You need something that is easy to access in case of a low BG. I have a secret draw in my car where I hide snacks and juice boxes just etc. Just in case my BG decides to drop.

Protect your insulin and devices:
Just like hot weather, the cold weather can also affect your diabetes accessories. If you wear an insulin pump, wear the pump close to your body, under layers of clothing. In extreme weathers, insulin can break down and become ineffective. Also make sure your BG meter is in its case. I usually wrap it in a towel, if I’m travelling in the car for a long period of time in the cold.

Stay active:
The cold weather can make you want to just snuggle up in a nice warm blanket with a hot cup of tea or coffee. Nevertheless, you should try to keep yourself active during these colder temperatures. When you move around it will help to keep BG levels lower even when the weather isn’t a factor. Just because its cold and snowing outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the weather. I like to play in the snow with my children, building snowmen and throwing snow balls.Exercise is key!

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Cutting back:
Because my BG levels like to drop, this usually means I have to adjust my basal rates. If you notice a change in your levels then contact your healthcare team so they can help you adjust your rates.

 

Amina xx

 

Let them in!

How do you even begin to explain to your children, what diabetes is? It’s extremely important for them to know, but how much is enough?

My eldest has always been curious about my diabetes and all the technology I am so lucky to have. Isasmiling

He has many interesting questions;

“Mami, How’s does my body know how to produce insulin and yours doesn’t?
“What is Insulin?”
“What does insulin do?”
“When your sugar goes too high, what’s happening inside your body?”
“How does my body know when to stop giving me insulin, when I’ve eaten something?”

Which really helps me explain diabetes better and with ease. I try my best to answer his questions, as simply as I possibly can. Confusion and worry is the last thing you want, especially when you’re trying to enlighten a 6 year old about diabetes. Now I’ve come to think about it, I wouldn’t want to confuse anyone. There’s already enough confusion when it comes diabetes.

It’s not an easy job, but who said it was going to be? The fact that he is even asking, shows me that he has an interest in what is happening with me, me, his mother.

The way I look at it is, his questions are an opening, an opportunity for me to show him this side of me. He’s at that age, where he questions everything. He wants to know more. The short answer isn’t good enough. He wants to know every last detail. However, I still approach the ‘diabetes’ subject in a gentle way.

He’s observed me countless times changing my insert and knows that when I prick my finger, I’m in fact checking my sugar level. He’ll watch and wait for the numbers, close his eyes and say, “I really hope it’s a good number mami.” (Heart break) He now also knows that I’m looking for the best number range to appear on the screen of my BG meter.

What truly amazed me the other day, was when I was having a hypo. I made mention that I was feeling hungry, so he asked me if I wanted him to get my BG meter so I could test my level. So I said, “Yes ok”. I pricked my finger, applied the blood to the strip and he wait to see what it read. It was 4.2 and most likely on its way down, considering the way I was starting to feel. Before I could even get up, he’d ran to the kitchen and brought back a box of juice from my goody draw and said, “Here you go mami.”

Recently, he asked me if he could test his BG level, which totally blew me away. He is a very sensitive soul and extremely squeamish when it comes to cuts and blood, so I was shocked that he even asked. Of course, I completely jumped on this opportunity to explain to him what was required to test a BG level. Then, I asked him if he was ready he said, yes. I pricked him, he flinched a little bit and then smiled. We quickly put the blood on the test strip and he waited with excitement to see what numbers would appear.

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I praised him for being such a brave boy and he responded with, “mami, I don’t know how you do this every day.” I smiled at him, trying not to cry up a storm and I just explained to him that it was something that I had to do. Just like sleeping and eating, are the things we all need to do. He replied with, “but this is harder and you’re very brave mami.” (Heartbreak)

 

Now my 2 year old, as young as that might seem has also started to develop a very basic understanding of me having to always check my BG levels and change my insert. From the moment she was born, she’s been observing me, pricking my fingers and most likely hearing the familiar beeping sounds, being emitted from my pump.Untitled-3

Her favourite kiddie show is doc Mc stuffin’s and there’s a theme song. “Time for your check-up”. How do I explain this, she’s a child, who plays a doctor who fixes broken toys by finding a diagnosis. Yes I watch it too hahaha!

Moving on……

This morning, she ran to find my BG meter and reminded me, that I needed to do have a check-up. I laughed! She stood there with a huge smile on her face, while waiting eagerly for me to do it. Usually, when she sees blood she’ll say, “Ouch!” However, this time she just watched. Another thing she has taken to doing is, asking me if I’ve done a check-up when were sat down to a meal. When this happened for the first time, I realised that she had made the connection between me eating and testing my BG.

See already her understanding is developing!

They both amaze me because they aren’t frightened to be around my diabetes. It’s become quite normal for them to see me change my insert or test my BG. They have the understanding that it is a part of me and I think that they are alright with that. As they mature, they’ll develop a further understanding and in turn they will have a better understanding of my daily lifestyle.

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Word of advice….

If your children are asking you about your diabetes, don’t be afraid to explain it to them. Be open and honest with them, let them in. You’re important to them, if not one of the most important things in their lives. Even if they aren’t asking questions, you can always start by mentioning little things, giving them snippets of your life.

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Although, this is an experience about me and my family, this can be related to anyone in any relationship. If they are asking questions, answer them as simply as you can. Once you’ve opened that door of conversation, the questions will come thick and fast. But don’t panic! Don’t give too much detail at once and scare them to death. Stay positive when expressing things to them, which will allow them to absorb the information with confidence and know that things are ok with you. Diabetes awareness starts at home. Just think the knowledge you pass on to your loved ones, could potentially help another person in the future.

Please comment below and let me know your stories and how you’ve explained ‘diabetes’ to your loved ones?

Amina xx

Change is Inevitable

When you are first faced with a diagnosis of diabetes, it’s a very hard process to come to terms with. The realisation that this condition is now with you for the rest of your life, is indeed a very tough thing to confront.

Many emotions such as, anger, denial, and self-pity are but a few emotions which are bound to present themselves. Just remember this is quite normal and you must give yourself the time to deal with these emotions. However, what you must also consider is, change is inevitable. This is happening now, it can’t be pushed to one side in hope that it will disappear.

“Diabetes has always been a challenge for me. It has never been easy. Every step of the way, for the past 21 years, I’ve had to fight my way through everything it has thrown in my direction.”

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Developing an understanding that things are going to change is key.

It’s all new. I know and I know you’ve never experienced this before, but you must give it your best shot, to remain healthy.

Once you put in the effort, this new change in your life will start to become your new norm.

Don’t resist it because, it will definitely take control of you. You need to be on top of it.  If you’re having a hard time adjusting, don’t struggle by yourself. Look for and get support from people close to you. I found that the online community was a great place to start. Things that I was struggling with, I was able to get through it, with their support. They were just like me (diabetic) and that was enough for us to have an instant connection. They could really relate to me and had an understanding of what I was actually going through.

Family are a are great source of support too, even though they may not understand it quite like another diabetic. Remember, they have nothing but love for you and want to help you in whatever way they can. So don’t shut them out. It’s new to them too, but I can assure you they are ready and willing to help you. Use your medical team e.g, doctors, nurses and dieticians, whoever you can reach out to. They should be there to help you.

Be patient my friend, you are stronger than you know you are. Stay determined and try your best to accept this new change in your life. Turn it into something positive.

You can do this!!

Amina xx

A BS kinda day!

*BS  as in  Blood  Sugars*

Unless you are a diabetic or a person who has a loved one who suffers from diabetes, you may have no idea what diabetes is all about. How constant it is and in actual fact, how life threatening it can be. It is a hard condition to manage and you may not even consider the daily vigilance an individual needs to have, in order to keep a tight reign on their blood glucose levels.

I thought the best way to develop an understanding of what day to day living with diabetes can be like, was to give you a glimpse into the sort of days I can have. Every day is unpredictable.

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So here goes

December 15th–  I decided to pick a random crazy day, so you can truly see how up and down sugars can be. The day starts with the night of the 14th.

 10:37pm – Blood sugar reading – 6.5mmol/l 

The perfect Blood sugar reading to go to bed with. After a heavy pasta dinner that night, I’m pleasantly surprised. I usually aim for a BS between 6.5 -7 mmol/l  before heading off to bed.  Although 6.5mmol was a great reading, it’s become a habit to always make sure that i’m prepared for any lows in the night. It saves me from having to make that journey down the stairs, or disturbing my husband. Although he say’s,  “he doesn’t mind”. I sometimes feel bad that I’m disturbing his sleep too, but if I really can’t make it I do ask him.

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I head off to bed and a few hours later I reach a point in my sleep, where I’m fighting to open my eyes. I’m using every last bit of energy I have to try and get myself up. It isn’t just the feeling of being tired and not wanting to open your eyes. It’s a real struggle, one which means your draining every last bit of energy you have in your body. I tend to have this feeling, when I’m hypoing, but you can never be too sure so I decided to check my blood sugar level.

02.36 am – Reaching for my blood glucose meter I feel very weak. My pj top is soaked. It’s definitely a hypo. Thank god I brought up all those goodies the night before. I check my sugar level and low and behold, I’m having a pretty low low.

Blood sugar reading – 3.4mmol/l

To correct my low blood sugars I usually give myself  15g of fast acting carbs. This usually comes in the form of Lucozade (which by the way isn’t so great in the early hours of the morning).

But this is diabetes, being forced to wake up in the middle of the night to eat or drink something, when all you want to do is sleep. I dare not just go back to sleep!

So, after having my Lucozade I waited 15 minutes, I sat on the edge of my bed in my sweaty pjs. NICE! I watched the time as it ticked by slowly.

The thing about hypo’s are, they can make you feel quite ravenous.  In that momment, you’d do anything to get back to feeling more like your usual self again. Knowing that the food consumed will allow me to return to this normal state, sometimes I am guilty of consuming more than the 15g and waiting for my BS to increase.

Resisting an over correction is one thing but on that night I found I wasn’t able to wait the full 15 mins without checking my BS level again. 7 minutes later, at 2.43 am, when I tested my BS I got a reading of   3.4 mmol/l. Hmmm it hasn’t budged yet!!!

Do I wait till I reach the 15 Mins?

Nope!  I go straight for the apple and satsuma.

02.55 am  – And  yes I’ve  finishedboth fruits in record time. BS reading  is now 4.0 mmol.l. Great finally its starting to come up! I wait a little bit longer and test my BS at 3.30am 5.0 mmols/l. Maybe I was safe to go back to sleep now. At this point I’m feeling even more exhausted than ever.  In a sitting position I rest my head against the headboard and fall into a very deep sleep, until my alarm goes off at 6.30am.

 

07.31 am – BS reading before breakfast 6.0mmol/l

  

The rest of the day went a little something like this….

13.09 BS reading before Lunch

17.10 BS reading before dinner

22.32 BS reading a few hours after dinner.

This was definitely a rebound BS.

*Rebound otherwise known as the Somogyi phenomenon. This sometimes occur when the BS level drops very low and then rebounds very high, causing a high BS level.*

I’m happy to report that after a crazy couple of hours my sugar settled and fell more in the normal range again. PHEW! So just remember, the next time you see me looking all tired, or I make mention of feeling exhausted. It’s possible that I had a crazy night like this one.

Thanks for stopping by  Amina x

Insulin gone bad

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How do you know if your insulin has gone off? Does it smell bad? Does it look bad?

The question of insulin being off is indeed a preemptive one. Of course, there are certain ways to examine the insulin, but still one can never be completely certain that, the insulin being used is in fact ok to use. There are a few precautions that can be taken to make sure that the insulin isn’t ineffective. These steps are:

(1) Always checking the expiry date on the vial. Is it expired or not?

2) Is it cloudy in appearance with clumps that don’t disappear even after rolling the vial in between your palms?

3) Did you store it in a very hot or very cold environment?

(4) Does the insulin look stringy?

(5) Has it changed colour?

A few other things to consider, which could affect the performance of the insulin are:

(6) Has the insulin vial been opened for more than 28 days, stored either at room temperature or in the fridge?(depending on which insulin type you have,  the number of days differ)

(7) Has the rubber on the vial been punctured several times, due to only small amounts of insulin been used?

If all checks are made correctly, then it will help you avoid using insulin that has gone off.

So, what do you do, when you think you’ve made all these checks and the insulin seems fine? Of course you use it just like I did a few weeks ago…..

I decided to change my pump site and used an unopened vial I had left over from my Summer vacation. As usual, I inspected the vial to make sure that it was still in date, that it was not cloudy in appearance with clumps and I knew that it was stored in the fridge.

During my vacation, I transported my insulin in a Frio bag. When I arrived at my destination it was significantly hotter so I then put my vials directly from the Frio bag into the fridge. Keep in mind the FRIO bag can be used for up to 52 hours and it will maintain the temperature that the insulin vials need to be at.  However, when I initially went to put the vials in the fridge, it seemed warmer than it should be, so I adjusted the dial and waited . The fridge cooled down so I put my vials inside. This one vial was never opened and remained in the Frio bag and then in the fridge throughout the entire vacation until I returned home.

I changed my site, bolused, had my breakfast and off I went to take my son to school. I came home, checked my blood sugar and it was  9.5mmols/l.

Hmm! Ok,  that’s great for a workout.

I worked out and what usually happens is that my sugar will drop. In this case, my sugar was 16mmol/l. I decided to give myself a bolus to bring my sugar level down. I waited and tested it 15 minutes later, only to find out that it had now jumped to 20mmol/l. I then thought that maybe it was the site, where I had put my insert and that maybe I should change it. So, that’s exactly what I did.  I got a new insert, syringe and used the same vial of insulin. (At the time I didn’t realise that the cause of my high sugars was in fact due to this insulin vial.) I changed my site and decided to bolus again to bring my sugar down. I waited a further 15 minutes and checked my sugar level, which now read a shocking 25mmol/l on my blood glucose meter.

What on earth was going on?

It wasn’t until then that I had the thought that, maybe this vial of insulin wasn’t good. I  decided to do my checks again.

(1) I looked at the expiry date 07/2017. It was in date so that wasn’t the problem.

(2) It was stored in the fridge and the fridge is in good working order and it was kept at the right temperature. Plus I’d transported it correctly throughout my vacation.

(3) It wasn’t stringy.

(4) It hadn’t changed colour.

(5) The vial had not been opened and therefore it still had the orange cap on it and of course it did not have any punctures in the rubber.

(6) I took a good look at the insulin, it seemed ok. I then decided to take a good look at the vial whilst holding it in front of a light and then I realised it was cloudy with a few small clumps in it. I then rolled the vial a few times in between my palms and the clumps remained . The insulin had gone off, which would explain my crazy high blood sugars. I throw the vial away immediately. I didn’t quite understand, when the vial had, had a chance to go off. I had taken all the necessary measures to ensure it would be ok, but I guess it must have been affected at some point.

To bring down my sugar I took a syringe and a new vial of insulin and injected 6mmol/s directly into my leg. I checked my sugar after 15 minutes and it had started to fall and it had come down to 23mmol/l. It then took nearly the entire day of bolusing and checking my blood sugars before they came back into a range that I’d concider good. I felt absolutely drained from all the elevated blood sugars I’d experienced that day. I had ketones in my urine, but thank god they slowly disappeared as my sugar came back down.

If you suspect that your insulin is indeed ineffective after doing all the checks, I would get rid of the vial immediately and open a new one. Remember, once a bottle of insulin is opened, not all insulin has the same open expiration date. For example Novorapid, once opened must be thrown away after 30 days for a 10mL cartridge and 28 days for a 3mL cartridge and penfill.

 Amina xx

 

 

 

 

 

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Malfunctioning on Summer Break

This Summer, I visted the Caribbean

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Between, the kids, the blood sugars, insulin bolus’ and carb ratios, travelling with diabetes can be daunting. However, I wasn’t going to let any of it get in the way. I was going to enjoy every last minute of my holiday, soak up the sun and relax. So I prepared several check lists for all the basic things I needed to remember like, passports, things for the kids, tickets and of course a specific check list just for diabetes. It went a little something like this:

1. Make doctor’s appointments: Discuss basal rates and changes which might need to take place due to travels and weather. Ask doctor to provide a letter to explain that you are diabetic and what that means in terms of hypoglycaemia etc. Also that you are carrying an insulin pump and any risks which could occur due to being detached from the pump
2. Order loaner pump from Animas (or your pump provider). Animas also provide a more detailed letter and risks of putting pump through x-ray machines. AN12-1465A_v2_UK_Airline Letter FINAL (2)-1
3. Make sure you’re up to date with vaccinations.
4. Order more medication for the duration of your trip. (double, triple the amount needed)
5. Order Frio bags for medication that needs to be refrigerated.
6. Contact airline and let them know you are diabetic and travelling with an insulin pump and medication.
7. Travel insurance- Make sure your pump is covered and you’re covered for illness etc.

Going through the airport
1. Don’t put your pump through the x-ray
2. Don’t detach your pump
3. Make sure you carry all your medication with you in your hand luggage not in your suitcase
4. Adjust your pump for different time zones
5. Disconnect your pump during take off and landing – Pressure in the cabin can tamper with your insulin delivery as pressure can build’s up and force insulin through the tubing. Staying connected to your pump could cause you to have a hypo during your flight.
6. Wear some form of medical ID

10 HOURS ON A PLANE WITH A SCREAMING TODDLER AND I WAS READY TO LAND

And so many beautiful views awaited

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Many days into my holiday and after several beach sessions. My pump started to make a barage of noises. On closer inspection, I noticed that there was a huge crack near the battery lid.

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The salty water had entered the battery compartment and made it rust.  I was so glad to have a loaner pump. I quickly switched the damaged pump for the loaner pump and continued to enjoy my holiday.

BTW: JUST IN CASE YOU ARE UNABLE TO GET THE OLD PUMP WORKING LIKE ME. MAKE SURE YOU WRITE DOWN ALL YOUR BASAL SETTING, INSULIN TO CARB RATIO’S, WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN BEFORE YOU TRAVEL.

PHew pump sorted, back to the holiday

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Thanks for stopping by and just remember to have fun when your on holiday.

Amina xx

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly!

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We all know that when it comes to managing our diabetes, how essential it is to have a good doctor or consultant. During my time living with this condition, I can honestly say I’ve had less than a handful of good doctors. By “good” doctor I mean a doctor who will converse with you and not talk at you. A doctor who will give you advice whilst listening to your suggestions because after all you’re the one living with this condition on a daily basis. A doctor who takes your appointment just as seriously as you do and doesn’t make it a joke. A doctor who is just as dedicated as you are in helping you achieve something out of that 20, 30, 40 minute appointment. A doctor who actually cares about you and doesn’t scrutinise every low or high BG reading they see written down.

As a child I had great doctors, who explained everything to me and my parents and made me feel at ease. It wasn’t until I was moved to the adult diabetes clinic (which by the way was very daunting at 18), that I actually started to experience first-hand what dare I say a” bad” doctor was. Ever since I started at the adult diabetes clinic, I’ve had doctors who haven’t taken my appointment time or me very seriously. They were quick to point fingers, didn’t want to hear anything I had to say and personally I think they weren’t right for me or my diabetes.

I dreaded every appointment and would leave the appointment without any new ideas on how to work towards managing my diabetes even further. My time had been wasted and all I had to work with was negative and useless facts. On a positive note, I must say the nurses have always been a very strong support system in the clinic and in most cases they were better than the doctors I’d met.

I was also very fortunate to experience good doctors during my pregnancies, which is a completely different ball game. The doctors during my pregnancy set a very high standard, which made me fearful to return to the doctors I had previously. They were thorough, patient, caring, everything you’d expect from a good doctor. Nevertheless, before I was transferred back to the adult diabetes clinic, I decided to talk to the diabetes consultant. He helped me get through my pregnancies and knew all about my concerns when it came to finding the right doctor. He recommended a new doctor who was due to start at the diabetic clinic, so I went with it. When I finally got to meet this new doctor, I was extremely anxious because I had no idea who I’d get.

“Would it be the good doctor or the bad doctor?”

Well, I’m glad to say that this time I got a great doctor. He introduced himself and then instead of asking me a million and sixty question about my diabetes, I could tell that he had read my files. He’d looked at the notes beforehand and knew exactly where I was up to. Great! No silly questions like,

“When did you become diabetic?”

He did however ask me to present my sugars and my BG meters. He downloaded all the data and I waited for his reaction to some of my low lows and high high’s. I braced myself for a good telling off, but nothing came. He made notes and really studied my BG levels. Then would you believe we had a conversation about where and how we could tighten things up. He didn’t say, “Why was it so low here? “Why was it high there?” or “What did you eat here?” We all know that sometimes we can’t even remember what we ate the night before, let alone that Wednesday night six months ago.

So far so good. I gave him a thumbs up!

We went over everything from blood results, to trying out different setting on my pump, to exercise. We covered everything. What I really liked, is that he set out a goal for the following appointment. We discussed basal testing (this is the background insulin) at certain times where my sugars were a little crazy and to not freak out and over bolus (give myself too much insulin) when I see my BG going too high. I left my appointment feeling like I had achieved something out of the time. It wasn’t time wasted like it used to be. I felt determined. I was going to meet the goals he had set out for me. I was going to do it, not for him but for me!
To be continued…………

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I usually have a few questions I ask myself when I’m meeting a new doctor. Will this doctor help me on this difficult road I’m on? Or will he make my journey that much harder?

Here are a few of the things I ask myself:
– Is the doctor empathetic: Does this doctor try to understand what I am feeling and experiencing, physically and emotionally and can he/she communicate that understanding to me?

– Is the doctor forthright: Can this doctor tell me what I need to know so I am able to understand everything clearly?

– How respectful is this doctor: Does the doctor listen and take my comments seriously and works with me?

– Is this doctor caring and patient?

– Is this doctor thorough, conscientious and persistent?

– Does this doctor have substantial diabetes knowledge? For example, current events, CGM sensors, blood glucose meters and pumps etc? Because what’s the point in talking to a doctor who doesn’t even understand how the pump functions?

If you’ve not figured it out yet, having a good diabetes doctor is extremely important when it comes to managing your diabetes. I do believe sometimes you have to experience the bad before you are able to know what is right for you. I hope at least that my post will help you when it comes to finding the right doctor for you.

Thanks for stopping by
Amina xxx

 

A moment of madness: When insulin got diluted/ injested! 

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Diabetic Problem #55:

Ever tasted insulin mixed with water?

Well this silly lady did just that, when I decided to change my insert just before dinner at the dinning table. Then obliviously I primed my pump right over my cup of water.

Did it click then?

Nope!!

Not until I drank 3/4 of the water and then said out loud, ” this water taste funny and smells sort of like insulin.” LoL

Only then did I realise what I had done. There’s a first time for everything and that will definitely be the last time.

I most definitely WOULD NOT advise you to ever attempt this brief moment of stupidity. It wasn’t my intention to try it out and by the way it taste dreadful! I doubt I’ll have any side effects but if I do I’ll be sure to inform you all.

 

Thanks for stopping by

 

Amina xx

 

 

Talk about your medicines month

This month of October marks the calendar as “Talk About Your Medicines” month. The American Recall Center invited me to talk about the medicine I use. I hope that this will help to spread further awareness for diabetes.

What’s my medicine?

My Medicine is Insulin. Insulin is a hormone which is produced in the pancreas.
As a type 1 diabetic, I am unable to produce insulin and must administer a synthetic engineered form into my body. It is essential that I inject insulin into my body on a daily basis. I greatly depend on it and it is vital for my survival.

“I am insulin dependent.”

My insulin therapy started over 20 years ago now and it will be with me for the rest of my life. You may or may not have gathered yet but insulin is not a cure for diabetes. As Dr F Banting once said, “Insulin is not a cure for diabetes; it is a treatment. It enables the diabetic to burn sufficient carbohydrates, so that proteins and fats may be added to the diet in sufficient quantities to provide energy for the economic burdens of life.”

Having this chronic disease means that I have no choice but to take this medicine if I want to live a healthy lifestyle. It allows me to live in general. Without it I would be extremely ill and my day to day functions would be limited.

When I was first diagnosed, without my natural insulin production, it took a matter of a week before I became a skeleton. I was weak, constantly consuming what seemed to be gallons of water and daily living became a struggle. The lack of insulin in my body meant that I couldn’t function well. “I was wasting away!”

Starting my insulin therapy impacted me greatly. I had to learn to accept it and trust that this medicine would help me be well again and allow me to be myself again. It was a big change in my life, but remembering the feeling of sickness I had felt before my diagnosis, made me want to be healthy and normal again.

How do you remember to take your medicine?
Remembering to take my medicine can be difficult at times. However after 20 years of living with this condition, there really is no room for forgetting to take your insulin. I’ve made it a priority and it has become a part of my daily routine. Having to calculate carbohydrates I consume forces me to remember to take my insulin. I won’t lie, I have on occasion forgotten to take my insulin. However, I usually remember during my first few bites of a meal and quickly give myself a bolus(dose of insulin). It really isn’t an easy job at all. It’s constant, everyday, night and day. You can’t really escape it or say, “Ok I’ve had enough” or, “oh no! I skipped that dose. Never mind I’ll take another dose tomorrow.” It just doesn’t work like that.

Where do I go for medical support?
For medical support I usually attend a Diabetes clinic. If I have any concerns I tend to reach out to the clinic and also to my GP. I am free to make contact with them during the week. Nevertheless, medical support during the weekend is limited to going to the hospital.

Advice for others
As a newly diagnosed patient about to start a course of insulin therapy. My advice to you is to remember, diabetes and insulin therapy is an enormous and daunting prospect to come to terms with. The concept that you will have to take this medicine for the rest of your life is a lot to contend with. Accepting that this is now your fate, is key to maintaining and managing your diabetes. You must make it your business to learn as much as you can about this condition and its treatment if you want to live a healthy life.
Take it step by step and try to do the basics, e.g. taking your insulin before meals, testing your blood glucose levels and taking note of what your levels are at certain times. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, consult your doctors about the insulin therapy your about to commence. Something that really helped me was to connect with other diabetics both newly diagnosed and diabetics who had been living with the condition for years.

What drug interactions must you be aware of?
When I was first diagnosed I had no idea about different drugs interacting with my insulin. It wasn’t till later in my diabetes life, that I began to understand that there are many drugs which in fact can interact with insulin, drugs such as Aspirin, oral contraceptives, anabolic steroids, thyroid medication and many more. Consulting with your GP is the best thing to do. They will be able to tell you exactly what drugs can interact with the type of insulin you are taking.

The risks and benefits of taking insulin?
The major risks involved in taking insulin are taking too much or too little. This can have a severe effect on your blood glucose levels and can cause hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia. Taking the correct dosage is very important.
The benefits of taking my insulin is that I am healthy. Even though I am dependant on it, without it I wouldn’t have been able to achieve many things in my life thus far. Would I be the adult that I am now without it? In all honestly I don’t think I would be the strong, determined individual I am today. This medicine has been instrumental in helping me face my condition. Without my insulin I would not have been around to encounter all of life’s challenges.

What do you wish you knew before taking insulin?
I wish at the time of my diagnosis I knew more about insulin and how it worked. Also I wish I had a better understanding of how soon my insulin/s peaked.

Taking you medicine is crucial when you are a diabetic. However, it is also very important to know more about the medicine you are taking. Don’t take it blindly without knowing more about it and how it will affect you. Being a diabetic is extremely arduous but try to stay positive, be patient, stay determined, reach out to others when you need the support and most of all remember to take your insulin.

Amina xx

Diabetes Week Sunday 8th June -Saturday 14th June 2014

This week in the UK is diabetes week and this year’s theme is ‘I can’.

Diabetes has been a part of my life since I was 11 years old.  At such a young age I had the burden of such a huge responsibility. It forced me to mature, it taught me about myself and even more so how I am able to deal with my emotions.

When I was diagnosed I went through a range of emotions from being angry, to being very upset about the hand I was dealt.  This would have daunted anyone but I had a realisation that actually “I can do this”. And with time I also realised that, I can do anything that anyone else can do regardless of my diabetes.

As a newly diagnosed diabetic, being able to deal with emotions is crucial to being able to progress and live a normal life.  Looking back to how I dealt with those emotions, it helped me move on with my life and live normally. Yes I have my bad days but I am able to push through and get the job done.

Diabetes is a priority in my life but not the only priority. I have not allowed it to be my main focus and stop me from being able to achieve everything that I’ve aspired to do. This may sound strange but I take care of it, so in fact it takes care of me. It has not crushed me and will never hold me back. It has propelled me into so many different directions. From being able to go to university and study, to travelling the world, to even being able to have this blog and ultimately being able to have my beautiful children. Even something as small as being able to drive. I can do it because diabetes has not prevented me from being able to do so. I won’t let it be a hindrance.

Even with diabetes you most certainly can do whatever you put your mind to.

I can.  If I can, you can too.

Amina xx

Life’s Blessings

So let me start by apologising to my readers for being away from my blog for the past few months. A lot has happened since I last posted but i’m back and I hope to be posting more frequently.

Life is amazing and can take you on so many different paths.  My life took a turn and I was very blessed to have a healthy baby girl

mami susu handSumayah sleeping

As you may or may not know diabetes and pregnancy is not so straight forwards. Diabetes is constant, twenty four seven, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year and every single second of the day. There’s no break! Now let’s throw pregnancy into the mix. Every worry, stress, discomfort and anxiety I have with just the diabetes alone was trebled. I no longer just had the responsibility of just managing myself and my diabetes. I was now caring for this precious life growing inside me. This gift which was now my responsibility. On top of all of this I also had to make sure my four year old son was cared for and entertained.

Although this was my second pregnancy, it was completely different to my first. In terms of how my sugars behaved, my insulin requirement during the pregnancy etc.  With my first pregnancy I definitely stressed myself out mainly due to blood sugar levels and I found that this time it was no different.  I think it’s a natural feeling to have in the beginning considering how important this journey is.

I’ve learnt to think of it in this way. I have to be able to create the best environment, the best condition for my baby to have the best start in life. Good sugars, good control, being vigilant, being involved in this whole process from the beginning to end and a lot of prays equals a healthy baby. God willing.

I also realised that even though stress is a part and parcel of the pregnancy it is still crucial not to let the stress take over completely. Stress can definitely interfere with sugar levels and I know that all too well. I had to remind myself of this and although still being vigilant I also had to let go of the worry a little and leave it in god’s hands.

beachThanks to my brother for sending me this picture during my pregnancy of his trip to Mexico. It was a great de stress tool. Also long deep breaths and sleep when I could fit it in.

 

I can honestly say that this pregnancy journey was extremely challenging. However the end result makes every emotion I felt, every difficulty I went through worth it. To all the D mums currently on this journey or about to start this journey. Be patient, stay strong and be positive. Try your best and remain stress free.

 

 

Amina xxx

Let’s make it happen together!!!

1.  Push for the best results for you

2.  Stay strong

3.  Be determined to reach and keep within that normal range

4.  Do what you’re supposed to do, ie test sugars levels, eat well, take your insulin, exercise (find something active that you love and can maintain).

5.  Overwhelmed don’t suffer by yourself 

STAY POSITIVE

6.  Remember a down day is normal. Everyone has their down day!

7.”Take responsibility and control of it, before it controls you.”

Get creative with diabetes #3 – This is to the mum’s

PARENTHOOD & DIABETES

 

This is a shout out to us “the diabetic mums”

The mum’s who live each day in constant turmoil with this ever so perplexing condition,

The mum’s who carried you for nine months,

Stressed about their sugars,

Concerned that they may swing too low or too high,

Ever so fearful for their unborn child.

The mum’s who give their all, their love, their support,

The ones who are right there through every blood glucose check fighting for your campaign (The D).

This is to the mum who cried and struggled all night with her sugars, but is always up the following day ready to greet you with a smile.

The worrying mum who worries inside, without a sign she remains positive and strong.

She waits calmly, patiently for that number to appear, ready to take action in an instant.

This is to the mum’s who, persist, stays determined and are very passionate about their D.

They feel no need to hide it or be embarrassed by it.

They share their knowledge, their life and experiences.

They educate one, they educate them all.

This is to the mum’s, who long after they’ve said their good nights and tucked you up in bed,

Come back and linger about you,

Glancing at your pump and inspecting your sugar level, all in hope that their little one is doing well.

This is to the mum’s who still fight for your D even now that you’re gone.

This is to the mum’s, who don’t like to get involved,

Aren’t open to talking about the D

Their expressions says I don’t care or it’s all your fault.

However deep down inside they want nothing more than to see that you’re healthy and well.

This is the mum’s who give priority to other things besides their D.

Neglecting and forgetting themselves, they suffer in silence too afraid to ask for help in fear of what people may say.

And

This is to the dad’s with or without D who’ve loved, feared fought for us and been the bravest of them all.

Amina xx

Answers to test your knowledge

SUGER CUBE WITH GLASSES

1. 1923

2. Leonard Thompson

3. 2007

4. Type 1 diabetes

5. decrease in blood glucose level

6. A lack of insulin, fatty acids being burnt  and the production of ketones

7. 347 million however i think this number may have increased a little.

8.  Happiness

9. 1962 by Leland Clark and Champ Lyons

10.  With diabetes bad days are a part and parcel of the condition. I’ve learnt that I am able to overcome these bad days, sometimes with difficulty and sometimes with ease. Keeping a positive outlook about the condition and having strong support around me has really help me learn how to cope with these difficult moments.No matter what I always find a way to get through it. I won’t let myself be defeated!

Test your Diabetes knowledge!

SUGER CUBE WITH GLASSES

Just a few questions to jog your memory with all things diabetes. See how many you can get!

1. When was insulin first discovered and extracted for the use in diabetic patients?

  • 1880
  • 1923
  • 1946
  • 1825

2. What was the name of the first patient treated with insulin?

  • Thomas Smith
  • Leonard Thompson
  • Jonathan West
  • James Collip

3. Which year was World Diabetes day recognised by the United Nations?

  • 2007
  • 1995
  • 2000
  • 1997

4. I am an autoimmune disease I attack beta cells in the pancreas, not allowing my victim to produce insulin. What type of diabetes am I?

  • Type 1.5
  • Type 2
  • Type 1

5. Hypoglycaemia is a term used to refer to:

  • An increase in blood glucose level
  • A stable blood glucose level
  • A decrease in blood glucose level

6. What is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) a result of?

  • Eating too many sugary foods which result in high blood glucose levels
  • A lack of insulin, fatty acids being burnt  and the production of ketones
  • Too much insulin in the body

7. How many people worldwide have Type 2 diabetes?

  • 600 million
  • 347 million
  • 2.5 million
  • 425 million

8. Which of these symptoms is not a symptom of untreated diabetes?

  • Fatigue
  • happiness
  • Frequent urination
  • Thirst

9. When was the first blood glucose meter invented ?

  • 1928
  • 1962
  • 1968
  • 1970

10. Think of one positive thing you’ve learnt from your diabetes and please share those positive thoughts with me.

I will post the answers later today.

Amina xx

World Diabetes Day – Insulin discovery

© Mary Evans Picture Library / SZ Photo / Scherl

© Mary Evans Picture Library / SZ Photo / Scherl

Since I come from a science background. I thought that this year for World diabetes day I would concentrate on one of the major breakthrough’s in diabetes. The breakthrough which stands out in my mind and is very close to my heart is the discovery of insulin by Dr Frederick Banting and Charles Best. Without this life changing discovery, let’s put it this way I probably wouldn’t be here today. I wanted to show my appreciation and write a post dedicated to these men.

Frederick Banting was a Canadian scientist, born on 14 November (World Diabetes Day) 1891 in Alliston, Ontario. His list of achievements stacks up high. In 1916, he received an M.B degree and was able to join the Canadian Army Medical Corps during World War 1. During the war, besides being wounded badly, he continued to help the sick and injured.

When the war ended in 1919 he returned to Canada and was awarded the Military Cross. He also became a medical practitioner for a short time. Until he returned to Toronto to study orthopaedic medicine.

1919-1920, he was resident surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. He did this whilst continuing his general practice, teaching orthopaedics and anthropology part-time at the University of Western Ontario in London.

*The Insulin breakthrough*

In 1923, Frederick Banting along with his assistant Charles Best discovered how to extract insulin so that it could be used on patients suffering from severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If you aren’t aware of the research you can have a look at the step by step documentation of the research carried out on http://link.library.utoronto.ca/insulin/timeline-frames.html

Dr Frederick Banting was presented with a Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1923 along with Dr. JRR MacLeod, Professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto.  His assistant and co-founder of insulin “Charles Best” was not recognised for the hard work he had contributed in the research. Dr. F Banting decided that he would share his award money with Best. According to the Nobel Prize,” as of September 2011, Banting, who received the Nobel Prize at age 32, remains the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of Physiology/Medicine.”

The Canadian government gave Banting a lifetime annuity to work on his research. Banting married Marion Robertson in 1924; they had one child, William (b. 1928). This marriage ended in a divorce in 1932. He was then knighted by King George the V in 1934 and became Sir Frederick Banting.

Banting and Best went on to work at the Banting and Best institute in the University of Toronto. Today this institute is known as the BBDMR. Dr. F Banting went on to work on other aspects of research such as, silicosis, cancer, and the mechanism of drowning and how to counteract it. In 1937 Banting married Henrietta Ball.

Dr F Banting reenlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. There he severed as a liaisons officer between England and North America. In 1941, he was involved in an air crash and regrettably he met his demise.

I’ll be forever grateful to Banting and Best for their astounding breakthrough. This discovery has helped many people suffering with diabetes and is definitely the biggest breakthrough in my eyes in the diabetes world.

Words of Sir Frederick Banting:

 “Insulin is not a cure for diabetes; it is a treatment. It enables the diabetic to burn sufficient carbohydrates, so that proteins and fats may be added to the diet in sufficient quantities to provide energy for the economic burdens of life.”

 

World Diabetes day!! 14th November 2013

WORLD DIABETES DAY 141113

Hi guys

Today is World Diabetes day!!!

I don’t know why but this day has always made me happy, proud and at times sad. On a daily basis I am reminded of my condition and the battle I go through, and I think that World diabetes day gives others the opportunity to remember diabetes. It is also a day whose popularity grows each year by the millions of diabetes campaigns and the wide spread awareness which is shared with the world. However, it’s a day which makes me sad because it reminds me of some of my loved ones who are no longer with us and suffered with both T1 and T2 diabetes. I feel that World diabetes day really allows us all to come together and acknowledge the effects of this lifelong condition.

This February will be my 20th year living with diabetes. When I was first diagnosed, I couldn’t have possibly looked forward and pictured this day and the person I’ve become because of my diabetes. At the time I knew I had a difficult journey ahead of me but I could never have imaged how difficult it would have been. I’ve never taken a day for granted and always try my best to control my diabetes and live a healthy life.

This World Diabetes Day I’ve decided to set out a few goals for myself for the following year.

 

– I would love to maintain a tight control on my blood glucose levels and in turn keep my HbA1c at 6.4% if not lower.

-Always stay positive about my diabetes especially on the difficult days.

-Continue to blog and raise more awareness about diabetes whilst sharing my experiences with the world.

– Keep up the exercising and eating healthy

-I was unable to take part in my JDRF run this year because I was extremely ill. So next year I’m aiming to take part in it.

Thanks for stopping by

Amina xx