Category: D BLOG WEEK

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – Tips and Tricks

 

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

Positivity Tips and Tricks

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

Maya-Angelou

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

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

better-things

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

Finger Pricking good

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

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

Working it out

trainners

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Network and be happy

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

fighter

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

 shine

Amina xxx

Diabetes Blog Weeek 2016 – The Healthcare Experience

 

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

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

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

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

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

The National Health Service

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

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

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

Turning to  private care

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – Language and Diabetes

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

words

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

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

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

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

Going back to the use of words…….

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

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

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

Amina xx

 

 

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – The other half of diabetes

 

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

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

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

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.

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

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The Mother

What can I say about your mental and emotional disposition?

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

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

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

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


The Eldest sister

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

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

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

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

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


The Husband

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

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

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

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

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


The little sister

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

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


The baby Brother

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

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

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

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

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

Diabetes Blog week 2016 – Monday Message

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

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

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Online presence

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

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

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