Category: Awareness

Diabetes and The School Run

For most mums, I  think the school run can be an extremely hectic and stressful process. Getting everybody up, cleaned, fed and safely off to school takes a lot of organisation, time management, patience and energy. 

The Mail Online stated, “Three out of four mothers find school run more stressful than going to work”

If you’ve read my blogs in the past, being a diabetes sufferer and maintaining a level of control takes a lot of juggling. I guess it can become an additional challenge in the morning, especially if sugar levels decide to do the complete opposite to what you need them to do. 

Diabetes aside, the morning school routine can be extremely overwhelming. From the squabbles over breakfast (I want toast not cereal), to what seems like a simple task of just getting dressed, the constant talking and questioning over school bags being packed or not forgetting an essential item for the day. Tantrums (“He’s got more cereal than I have”) etc. It can make the calmest of persons lose their calm  quickly, particularly on mornings when you’ve nearly reached the schools and have to turn the entire car around because of a forgotten library book or PE kit (that needs to be in that day).

The morning routine is hectic and can be very stressful  but there are a few things I’ve come up with to try and keep my calm and maintain a level of order in the mornings.

-Get up early and be organised – So, my day usually starts at 6am.  My alarm goes off to the sounds of ‘TVXQ -catch me’ and I roll straight out of bed and check my sugar level.

On a good diabetes night( no lows, no high blood glucose levels) you can still wake up feeling pretty beat.

On a bad diabetes kind of night, the morning task of getting myself and the two munchkins ready can sometimes be extremely exhausting.

-Manage your sugar levels – If I have a good sugar level then I give myself 30 minutes to get showered, out of the bathroom and quickly put on the ensemble I set out the night before. If i’m having a bad diabetes kind of morning then I usually give myself a little more time to get my sugar level sorted.

Nevertheless, no matter the sugar level, I still have to be mum and keep things going. Twenty two years of living with this condition has allowed me to develop a better understanding of the high and low symptoms I can experience daily. Being able to recognise these symptoms quickly has also allowed me to address any changes in my levels quickly whilst still being able to  continue on with the morning routine.

Teach your kids to be responsible for some of their morning routinebrush their teeth, get themselves dressed, undressed, whatever is age appropriate.

Once I’ve sorted myself out, I quickly rush to the peanut boy’s (my son) room for 6:30 – 6.40am and get his morning regime underway. He takes himself to the bathroom, brushes his teeth etc

Boss baby(my daughter) can be a real misery in the mornings. No good morning, no cuddles, nothing. I don’t even dare suggest taking her to the bathroom to get her ready or heavens forbid put on her school uniform. She’s like day and night when it comes to the morning routine. Pffff you get the picture when it comes to this one. I usually have to give boss baby some time to get use to the idea that she needs to get up.

Meanwhile, every morning without fail, once peanut boy enters the bathroom everything falls silent. I can never hear any movement coming from the bathroom. I usually have to either call out to him or physically take myself to the bathroom to see what he’s up to. 90% of the time he’s either stood in the middle of the bathroom in a trance or he’s half asleep on the toilet.

Come on kid let’s get things moving! 

Once we’re done in the bathroom, peanutboy heads straight to his room to get ready.
I have to then coax boss baby into getting ready whilst also reminding the peanutboy to get himself ready and also how much time we have left until we go downstairs . 

-Keep your eyes on the time –  time can just get away from you on school run mornings so be sure to watch that clock

Once everybody is dressed we head downstairs for breakfast. We tend to talk about breakfast options before we reach downstairs and then that makes my life a little easier as I can just prepare what everyone wants. 

”Come on guys eat up quickly, we have to leave just before 8am”.

-Retest your BG level – With all the moving around I do in the morning, I know that sometimes my BG level can change drastically from the earlier check in the morning. So, once everyone is sorted I usually do another blood glucose test and finally have my breakfast. 

-Make sure your pump is ok (if your a pump wearer like me) On some mornings I’ve had to face things like this – A low battery and no insulin being delivered.

I’ve also had to deal with 

  •  Occlusions in the tubing (when insulin is stuck in the tubing)
  • Changing my pump insert because there is no insulin left in the syringe
  • Irritated pump sites
  • Or just other crazy alarms, the list is endless.

Whatever the alarm, the crisis must be averted and quickly so I can get back on track, get coats and shoes on, collect bags and finally get everybody loaded into the car.

Regardless of all the crazy events the morning has to offer, I, unbelievably love taking my kids to school. It’s important to me and them and most of all I have to remember that they won’t be this age forever. They’ll get bigger and probably won’t even want me to tag along in the morning. So remember to enjoy the crazy times and try your best to have fun. These moments are so precious.

Amina xxx

The itch that won’t quit

From time to time, when I change my infusion site it itches like mad. We’ve all had that itch that just won’t stop. For me, its the site where my insert has been stuck to my body for 2 or 3 days or even a freshly inserted infusion set. It itches and itches and I really have to try my best to resist the urge not to scratch it to death. From the moment it makes contact with my skin or from the moment I remove it, the itch becomes unbearable.

When removing the insert, it can also prove to be very difficult as the insert is extremely sticky. It clings to my skin for dear life and I sometimes find it difficult to separate it from my body. What makes it even harder are those awkward new sites you decide to try out. You transform into a performing Cirque du Soleil acrobat whilst manoeuvring your body to get it in the right spot.

As for a new insert, ripping it off a brand new site would be an absolute waste (especially since diabetes accessories are so costly) and for those old tatty insert’s that just won’t let go, you just want to tear them off!!

After removing the insert, the skin underneath reveals a raised surface, slightly irritated and now, finally, it is able to get some air and it just seems to itch even more.  A grey sticky adhesive coats the area where the insert once sat and resembles someone who hasn’t moisturised their skin for days.

I remember having itching issues from time to time when I was on multiple daily injections (MDI) but not as much since I’ve been an insulin pump user. I suppose when you introduce something foreign on to your body that isn’t supposed to be there, it can cause a number of potential of problems. Several aspects of insulin pumping can cause skin irritations or allergies for diabetics. Causes may include the Teflon cannula, the metal needle, the site adhesive or adhesive materials, and even the insulin itself. When I was MDI, my itching was mainly due to the overuse of certain sites and the metal needle.

When it comes to my itchy insert sites, the truth is it happens very rarely and I haven’t really been able to pinpoint the direct cause of the itch. So, for now, I think I’m just going to try my best to keep rotating my sites, moisturise those sensitive sites (after 22 years I’ve got quite a few) and just continue to keep my skin well moisturised and maybe even try a protective cream to create a barrier between my skin and the inserts to reduce any irritation. With everything that diabetes throws at me I try my best to work it out and make it work. Although I get an itch from time to time, I’ve accepted that it is a part of MY diabetes and that’s ok. I’m very lucky to have a pump and I can deal with a little itch now and again.

Amina xxx

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus

Neonatal diabetes mellitus is a form of diabetes that occurs in the first 6 months of life. NDM is a very rare condition and affects one in 100,000 to 500,000 live births. A result of having this condition means elevated blood glucose levels occur. This condition can often be confused with Type 1 diabetes due to the early advancement of the condition. However, type 1 diabetes usually affects individuals after 6 months of age.

In some cases of NDM, the condition is permanent and is known as Permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus (PNDM). However, for others affected by the condition, the disease is temporary and disappears completely during infancy. The condition can reappear in later stages of life, this is known as Transient neonatal diabetes mellitus (TNDM).

What is the cause?

There are specific genes which are responsible for the development of neonatal diabetes mellitus. Here are a few of thos genes:

  • KCNJ11 gene: is important for the regulation of insulin and an inherited gene. This gene is the most common in cases of PNDM and is known to affect the protein 2. It usually affects children between the ages of 3 – 6 months old.
  • ABCC8 gene: is involved in multi-drug resistance. With NDM a mutation in this gene has been observed in children from the age of 1 – 3 months of age. It is a rare mutation but also affects individuals suffering from Type 2 diabetes. This affected gene causes PNDM.
  • GCK: Glucokinase which is responsible for identifying how high the blood glucose level in the body is. It is able to detect the presence of glucose (glucose sensor) for the pancreas. If the blood glucose levels increase in turn the level of insulin increase. This affected gene glucokinase (enzyme), although rare, it causes PNDM and affects babies a young as 1 week old.
  • IPF1; also known as PDX1: This gene is responsible for maintaining and developing the pancreas as well as beta cells maturation. The affected protein is insulin promoter factor 1, this mutation also brings on PNDM, although it is rare it affects babies after 1 week of birth.

 There is also a gene called, PTF1A, FOXP3 (present at birth), IPEX syndrome (sometimes present at birth), EIF2AK3, Wolcott-Rallison syndrome (present at 3 months). All these gene mutations result in PNDM.

Here is a list of some of the affected genes which result in TNDM (transient neonatal diabetes mellitus):

  • ZAC/HYMAI (present from birth to 3 months)
  • ABCC8 (present from birth to 6 months)
  • KCNJ11 (present from birth to 6 months)
  • HNF1 β (beta); also known as HNF1B (present from birth to 6 months)

The availability of genetic tests allows for the easy detection of these mutated genes. This will also impact the treatment that should be given to the infant suffering with the condition. Research has proven that infants who are suffering from this monogenetic diabetes can be treated with oral diabetes medication instead of insulin injections. However, genetic testing isn’t offered to everyone and people interested in being tested must fall under certain criteria.

Amina xx

Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus  – how Jack was spared insulin injections through genetic testing

Wordless Wednesday #6

Happy Diabetes Awareness Month Friends! My aim this month is to try and spread as much awareness for diabetes as I can.  As someone who advocates for diabetes, I want to continue to share the correct message about what it truly means to live with this condition.

JDRF have created an amazing tool which helps diabetics calculate some of their personal daily diabetes stats. I wanted to share my stats with you so you can have an insight into what my life with this condition has been like and what it has taken for me to still be here living a healthy life style.

jdrf-t1dfootprint-11

This is a rough calculation as there wasn’t an option to enter how many injections you took per day. In my case, I went from 2 injections a day to 5 injections a day in my teens, therefore the number would probably be a lot higher.

jdrf-t1dfootprint-12

These calculations are for my time on an Insulin Pump – 7 years and 5 months.

 

If you want to calculate your own or your loved ones footprint then click here.

 

Amina xx

Save

Myabetic Giveaway 1st November -14th November 2016

Since today marks the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month, what better way to kick-start the month and advocate for diabetes, than by collaborating with some of diabetes extremely influencial bloggers and advocates, to give away accessories from one of my favourite diabetes companies  – Myabetic

myabetic6girlmyabetic5-boy

I absolutely love the accessories available!! If you don’t know anything about the Myabetic accessories then I suggest you check out their site here.

Their amazing accessories, for me, have become the Chanel of diabetes. It has transformed the dull and sometimes invisible blood glucose case I’ve carried around with me most of my life into something that I can be proud of. On first glance, you would perceive it to a beautiful handbag or wallet and it is on closer inspection that its true purpose comes to light.

myabetic7-red-girlWhen I first heard about Myabetic accessories, I was instantly drawn to them. They were bold, chic and beautifully put together. It offers a way for diabetics of all ages, men women and children to express themselves. The dismal blacks and greys that I was once restricted to were now being transformed into something that was very personal to me. It offered many varied, vibrant and colourful choices, which made misplacing my blood glucose meter a thing of the past. Like a brand new bag, it showed my individuality and allowed me to be proud of my diabetes.

myabetic3

myabetic-pic-for-tuesday-3

Here’s what you need to do to be in with a chance to win the Myabetic accessory of your choice:

  • Go to TheFitBlog
  • Click on the giveaway form
  • Follow Myabetic, TheFitBlog and all the other diabetes advocates on social media.

You can follow me here:

Follow in as many places as you can and share the post with friends online.

 **Giveaway runs from today the 1st of November – 14th November 2016. The winner will be drawn randomly  at noon on the14th of November and contacted directly by email.

 

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE. I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST!

 

Amina xx

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sick Days!

monday-31-10-16

Having a cold can be awful, but a cold combined with diabetes is even worse. It messes with your sugar levels making them difficult to manage. Blood glucose levels can become extremely high. These high BG levels are due to a release of stress hormone which occurs when the body is fighting an illness. Glucose is produced in abundance making BG levels sky-rocket.

This weekend I’ve been fighting a cold. I always try to be prepared for cold viruses but the truth is you can never really be prepared. I’ve realised that sometimes the plan can completely fall apart. Usually, I struggle with very high BG levels when I have a cold.  However, this time,  Instead of high BG levels, I experienced a combination of extremely low blood glucose levels and a few high BG levels. So I’ve literally been “yo-yo’in” all over the place.  PFFFFFF!!

Last night, after hours of trying to correct my BG level, I made the decision to completely suspend my pump because my BG level would not go any higher than 4.2 mmol/l, even whilst my pump was suspended. It remained on 4.2 mmol/l and then started to drop again. It was not until I administered a Glucagon injection that I was able to finally reach a BG of 6.0 mmols/l, at which point I was so exhausted that I passed at 3am until this morning.

Even though my BG levels have been fluctuating, I’ve still tried my best to follow a few steps to maintain some level of control with my sugars.

Here are a few things I do:

  • Regularly monitor my glucose levels
  • Check for ketones if  my sugar is high
  • Drink a lot of water to dilute the glucose in my blood and also to keep myself hydrated.
  • If I continue to experience high sugars then I make a slight adjustment in my basal rates by first using the temp basal function on my pump. I usually increase my temp basal initially by 20%,over two hours, whilst continuously monitoring my BG levels. It’s probably wise to seek advice from a doctor with this if you haven’t discussed a sick day plan for your insulin. Also, when I was on multiple daily injections, if my BG rose above 13mmol/l then I’d increase my dose by units for each injection. If it went over 22mmol/lk then I would increase my dose by 4 units per injection. ((Please seek advice from your doctor before you do this))
  • Even though I can’t really taste much and I don’t feel like eating, I still force myself to eat something.
  • Although high BG levels are prone, make sure you still have an up to date Glucagon injection in cases of Hypoglycaemia.

Amina xx

Non- diabetic but you’re affected by Hypoglycaemia!!

I deal with hypos on weekly basis. Hypoglycaemia and diabetes go hand in hand. These attacks occur when blood glucose levels are too low. For me, this usually happens when I’ve taken too much insulin, not eaten enough food, eaten too late or depending on the type of exercise I choose to do that day. For example, cardio or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) all cause my blood glucose level to drop.

However, non -diabetic hypoglycaemia is a very rare condition which affects individuals who aren’t suffering from diabetes. These individual’s experience hypoglycaemic episodes resulting in the same symptoms that a person with diabetes would experience.

So what are some of the symptoms one can experience?

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Feeling weak
  • hungry
  • Breaking out into cold sweats
  • Feeling anxious
  • Dizzy
  • irritable
  • confused
  • Difficulty being able to articulate
  • Feeling shaky
  • Nervous

My first encounter with this condition was during my final year of University. I met a veterinarian surgeon in the USA and at first, I thought that she was diabetic just like me. She always carried glucotabs with her and was always ready with a snack. She used words that I always found myself saying when my sugar drops such as,

“my sugar is dropping”, or “my sugar is low”.

So I just presumed that she was diabetic too. I proceeded to ask her if she was diabetic too? But to my surprise, she told me that she wasn’t diabetic and in fact, she was a non-reactive hypoglycaemic.

A non-diabetic individual can experience two types of hypoglycaemia:

  • Reactive hypoglycaemia which happens a few hours after consuming food
  • Fasting hypoglycaemia ( which occurs before the consumption of any food)

Potential causes of Reactive Hypoglycaemia:

  • The presence of Prediabetes or a family history of diabetes.
  • A deficiency in enzymes which make it difficult for the body to break down foods you consume.
  • Other possible reasons are some types of stomach surgeries, which makes food pass into the small intestines rapidly.

Potential causes of Fasting Hypoglycaemia:

  • Over indulgence in Alcohol (especially binge drinking)
  • Illnesses which affect the heart, liver or kidneys
  • Low levels of hormones such as growth hormone, glucagon, cortisol and epinephrine.
  • The presence of pancreatic tumours that are capable of producing insulin or similar hormones which have the effect of lowering blood glucose levels.
  • Medication such as antibiotics, quinine (used to treat Malaria), pentamidine (used to treat Pneumonia) and also pain suppressants can all effect the body’s ability to regulate insulin release into the blood.

How do people manage their non-diabetic hypoglycaemia? 

Take a look at these video by youtube vlogger : blogsoidontforget as she goes through the ins and outs of living and managing the condition.

Treatment for non-diabetic hypoglycaemia really depends on what the cause may be. Seek advice from your doctor, take note when you experience these episodes and also how you feel during those times.

 

Amina xx

When Hypos strike in the twilight hours

untitled-7

Hypo’s that strike in the twilight hour. Oh! How I wish they didn’t exist. It’s completely unnatural, physically exhausting and absolutely out of my control.

I battle the early morning hours, the plunging sugars, overwhelming outer body experience, numb lips, numb tongue but for how long will this go on?  Like a robot, malfunctioning, I’m shutting down, down, down.

Sweat pouring profusely from my head, back, and chest. Completely soaked, chills run down my spine. Reduced to tears, feeling alone, wiped out and confused.

Hands, fingers, muscles won’t coordinate, shaking as I reach for that something sweet. Without my energy source, evidently,  I’m running on fumes. Overcome by a ravenous hunger, I devour everything in sight.

As I plough through the symptoms I hope, I pray that I can get myself back to some feeling of normality. Anything to feel better, to sleep peacefully for what remains of this night.

Amina xx

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insulin Pump Therapy Pros and Cons

Before I embarked on my journey, with an insulin pump, I had been on multiple daily injections (MDI) for almost 15 years.  It wasn’t until I began to learn about insulin pump therapy that I truly grasped how different the two were.

With MDI, I feel less training was given in order for me to manage my diabetes. I didn’t learn how to carb count or even have an understanding of what insulin sensitivity was. The main focus of my diabetes management was to administer my insulin (my doses were worked out by the doctor and diabetes nurse, based on my blood glucose readings) when I needed to take it and checking my blood glucose levels.

It was only with insulin pump therapy that I began to have a better understanding of my diabetes management. I had to undergo a process of training before I was given free reign with my pump.  I had to learn how the pump worked and in doing so, I had to develop my understanding of carb counting, insulin to carb ratios, insulin sensitivity, and basal rates. All of which, I have, to be honest, I had no idea what it even meant. I think this is because the nutrition and diabetes management were explained primarily to my mother but this information was very basic and she very much had to figure a lot of it out for herself. This then carried on into my transition from the children’s hospital to the adults clinic.

img_9286

The insulin pump, I think isn’t for everyone, it takes a lot of work to make it work. Diabetes management can be improved but it also takes the individuals being able to understand the ins and outs of their condition, how foods interact’s with their body as well as their sensitivity towards insulin.

There are many benefits, as well as problems which can arise due to wearing an insulin pump.

Some of these benefits include:

  • No more MDI: A sense of freedom from having to inject daily. At one point in my diabetes life I was taking 5 injections a day and I think that was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever experienced. It worked well with my sugars and control but it tied me down in so many ways. Let’s just say the insulin pump came at the right time.
  • Data Collection: The insulin pump is able to store a lot of data and when downloaded a clearer picture appears as to what blood glucose levels may be doing at certain times. With my pump (Animas vibe) it allows you to see how much insulin may still be on board in your system which on some occasions has helped me avoid a lot of hypos. There is also stored information on how much insulin is being administered daily over several days. If you can’t remember if you’ve bolused or not, then the pump also has a stored history bank which tells you when you last bolused.
  • Doses: Meal time boluses can be planned out in accordance with the amount of carbohydrates you may consume for that particular meal.
  • Sensor: The pump combined with a sensor, you can see blood glucose levels recorded every 5 minutes over a 24 hour period in graph format.
  • Ease of mind: receiving insulin doesn’t involve dialing up a pen and then finding the perfect spot to inject. It’s as simple as pushing a few buttons and insulin is delivered to you.
  • Cost: This only applies to my UK readers, but insulin pump therapy here is free! However, if you want to use a sensor then this is something that you will have to pay for yourself (which can get pretty costly).

Problems can also arise when it comes to being attached to an insulin pump.

Some of these problems include:

  • To Tube or not to Tube – I’ve been hooked to many a door handle and had my insert ripped from my body (Not nice at all). I’ve had to learn how to conceal my tubing in a way in which it won’t be affected by my surroundings. So the question is, do you choose a pump with tubing or not?  The decision is entirely yours. I suggest if you do choose a pump with tubing then take precaution, keep the tube concealed well under your clothes. There are so many cool diabetes undergarments that can be used to keep our pumps and tubing safe. One of my favourite undergarments for men, women and children is a Swedish company called AnnaPS

  • Wear and Tear – Protect your pump! I think the picture below explains my reasoning for this.

img_9281

 

  • Changes: The insulin pump does require that you change your insert every 2 – 3 days when the insulin cartridge is running low. This is something that you get used to, it has to be done so you get it done!
  • Ketosis: With pump therapy, long-acting insulin isn’t needed. Quick acting insulin is the only form of insulin used. I’ve had occasions where there have been occlusions in the pump tubing during the night and because there is no long-acting insulin available, it has caused my sugar levels to rise at a rapid rate. Acting and reacting quickly when the problem is spotted is essential to getting the blood glucose back in range and avoiding ketones in the urine.
  • Breakdown: Pumps are just machines and they can malfunction. I’ve had many a time when my pump has malfunctioned. One of the worst case scenarios was when I was on holiday, I noticed a crack in my pump and salt water had entered the pump, destroying the battery. My pump wouldn’t come on and was making all sorts of noises but thank god I took a spare (please remember to do that if you go on holiday).
  • Rotate: Remember to rotate you infusion sites as it can irritate the skin where the adhesive sticks to your body.
  • Control: Of course we want to have better control when we first start pumping. However, this doesn’t happen straight away. It took some time for me to understand more about the pump in relation to my body. Your control will start to improve but it won’t be immediate. You have to work on it to achieve better control.

If you are thinking of starting up on an insulin pump look at both the pros and cons involved in managing your diabetes with this technology. Be prepared to work hard at it and most of all be patient with it, you may not get the results you’re after straight away. Nevertheless, don’t give up on it, you’ll get there eventually.

Amina xx

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Whatever Next?

Hacking is something that has been in existence since the introduction of the first computer. In fact, it has been around for many centuries. As we’ve had more advances in technology, many hackers have also developed and broadened their hacking skills and techniques enabling them to target larger companies. They have even been able to access people’s private information, stealing it and sharing it with the world. Recently, Talk Talk Business were affected by hackers. Over 157 000 of their customers, information was accessed.

 There are now mounting concerns over the threat of medical devices being hacked. Kaspersky Lab a security firm announced in February 2016 of their success in hacking into a hospital’s I.T infrastructure, which gave them full access to the hospital’s MRI device (magnetic resonance imaging).

The pharmaceutical company, Johnson and Johnson, who produce many types of insulin pumps, from the Animas Vibe, The One Touch Ping and the 20/20, have recently warned that one of its pumps, The One Touch Ping is at risk of being hacked, which can result in an overdose in patients using the device. They have reported that although these pumps were vulnerable, the risk of hackers entering the pump data was very low.

However low it might be, this is an extremely frightening prospect. We have enough worries when it comes to managing our condition. This is just another extra burden to carry. I have a great deal of trust in my pump but to my diabetic friends who are users of the One Touch Ping, I can imagine that this will affect their relationship they have with their pump. Being able to rely on it as you once did before will be difficult. Yes, the risk is low, but the fact that a risk even exists is extremely unnerving.  

Johnson and Johnson said, “It would require technical expertise, sophisticated equipment, and proximity to the pump” before the pump could be accessed.

As this pump is only produced in the United States and Canada, all patients using this pump were contacted on the 27th September 2016 and warned of these possible risks.

The One Touch Ping works via a Wi-Fi remote and enables diabetic users to administer insulin without having to take out the pump from underneath their clothing.

Johnson and Johnson have also said, “That the pump was not connected to the internet or any external network.” 

A diabetic and researcher with a cyber security firm Rapid 7 said, “He had discovered it could be hacked from a distance of 25 feet. Communication between the insulin pump and its radio frequency remote could be hijacked- in theory allowing a hacker to administer unauthorised injections.”

Whhhhhhhat!!

Although Johnson and Johnson had confirmed these findings, they still insisted that the pump was safe to use. They also stated that concerned patients “could take precautions, such as not using the pump’s remote and programming the device to limit its maximum dose.”

————————————————————————————————————-

This report was a few weeks ago now so,  what are your thoughts on this finding?  Existing users, what precautions have you taken since this information has come to light? Please feel free to share?

Amina xx

Knowing the signs for Prediabetes

Prediabetes, as it is known, is a condition which occurs before the onset of Type 2 diabetes. This condition causes a slight elevation in blood glucose levels. The normal blood glucose range for a person without diabetes tend to be between (4mmol/l – 7mmol/l). With prediabetes the blood glucose levels are slightly higher than the “norm” but not high enough for the individual to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Even having a slightly higher blood glucose level can put you at risk of developing and being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

So how do you know if you’re at risk?

If you think you are suffering from prediabetes be sure to take note of the way you might be feeling. However, some people have no symptoms whatsoever.

These symptoms could include:

prediabetes

According to the International Diabetes Federations (IDF), the prevalence of diabetes in adults between the ages of 20 and 79 worldwide for 2015 was 415 million and by 2040 is expected to increase to 642 million. The World Health Organisation (WHO), have also projected that “the prevalence of prediabetes is increasing worldwide and it is projected that >470 million people will have prediabetes in 2030”.

Click here to find out if you may be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

If you suspect that you may be having some of these symptom’s listed above, then please go to your doctor.  To determine whether or not you may be suffering from borderline diabetes, the doctor will perform either:

  • Fasting Glucose Tolerance Test – can be carried out for 1 hours, 2 hours or 3 hours. It is done to measure how well the cells in the body are able to absorb glucose (sugar) after an individual has consumed something sugary. A fasting blood glucose level (no food before examination) is taken and HbA1c is measured to determine what type of diabetes the individual may have.
  • HbA1c test – gives you an average blood glucose reading determined over a few months. HbA1c result between, 5.7% – 6.4 % indicates prediabetes. To learn more about the HbA1c test click here.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test can also be performed but individual must drink a sugary drink. Their blood glucose level is tested before and after the drink. Also, the individuals are asked not to eat or drink for at least 8 -12 hours before the test. The individual’s blood glucose is tested and then they must drink the glucose drink. Their blood glucose is then measured every 30 minutes for up to 2 hours.

Someone who doesn’t have diabetes could start with a blood glucose reading of 6mmol/l and after the test could have a blood glucose of under 7.8 mmol/l

Someone who may have Prediabetes could start with a blood glucose level of 6mmol – 7mmol/l and by the end of the test could have a blood glucose level of 7.9mmol to 11mmol/l.

Some who has diabetes could start blood glucose levels start at over 7mmol/l and could finish at over 11mmol/l.

All these tests will give a clear indication as to whether or not the individual may or may not be suffering from prediabetes. In the worst case scenario, even if you receive a diagnosis of prediabetes, then there are many steps that can be taken to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The video below outlines a few of those steps that one must take in order to avoid the progression of Type 2 diabetes.

Just remember, it isn’t the end of the world, just because you have been diagnosed with prediabetes. It is an opportunity to make changes to your life. By taking small steps you will improve your life and delay or avoid Type 2 diabetes. Don’t  let it bog you down, put in the best effort you can and strive to make a healthier better you. You can do it! As someone who suffers from diabetes, if I had the opportunity to prevent my diabetes occurring I would take every step possible to stay away from it. This is your chance, make it count!!

 

Amina xx 

 

 

 

 

Save

Fighting Diabetes One Sugar at a Time

Hey! Friends! I’m so excited to share my new T-shirt collection with you.

18

14

The “Fighting Diabetes One Sugar At A Time” T-shirt, was created to spread and raise awareness for Diabetes. It aims to include those who want to learn more about the condition, give thanks to those who tirelessly support and stand by us night and day and most importantly this T-shirt is for my fellow diabetic sufferers, who battle with this condition daily. I want to support and encourage you and let you know that I’m right here with you going through those same struggles.

fighting-diabetes-1

With my artwork, I want to make a bold statement about diabetes. I want people to truly understand, what it means to live with this condition. I feel that I will be able to reach further afield and advocate for diabetes, even more, allowing others to develop a better understanding of the condition.

fighting-diabetes-wtee

As a diabetes blogger, I feel the responsibility to spread the correct message to my followers. Blogging allows me to, share the battles I’ve faced, as well as the many steps I take to deal with the condition. It is extremely important that people are more aware of diabetes, its symptoms, and complications.

The T-shirts will only be available for two weeks and I will be giving a percentage of the proceedings to a diabetes charity of my choice. So, if you like what you see and want to show your support or show how proud you are of the things you’ve achieved regardless of this condition. Then click here and reserve your Tee.

25

You can also follow me on: Instagram  Twitter  Facebook

 

Thank you for stopping by

Amina xx

 

My T-shirt was featured on Printsome. Click here to check it out.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

It’s all Diabetes at the end of the day!

monday-3

Feel free to add to the list.

Just remember friend’s, stay determined, be positive and don’t let diabetes stop you from being able to do the things you want to do. Yes, it’s a challenge, but you are more than capable of overcoming it. Struggle through it and you’ll soon discover how much stronger you have become.

Sending love and support to all the carers giving their all to help their loved ones fighting this ever so demanding condition and from one person with diabetes to another, keep on going xx

Amina

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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.

13101314_10154117176896948_1339548192_n

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

What are the different types of diabetes?

diabetes-week2016-11

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

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.

malcom-x

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 – 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.

Superhero

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

SUGARHIGHSUGARLOW

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?

symptoms

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

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

 

 

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.

brain

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?