Category: My diabetes

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

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Happy “22nd” Diaversary

Everything related to diabetes is testing, from the continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels, the debilitating symptoms I’ve experienced due to low and high blood glucose levels, the lumps and bruises from injecting and placing inserts on my body. Diabetes has and always will be a constant presence in my life.

January 1st 1995, marks the day I was first diagnosed. Many choose to celebrate the day that they were diagnosed. You can read more about my diagnosis here.

In all these years, I’ve never celebrated my “Diaversary”. However, when days like today come around, something I’ve learnt to do, is to appreciate the things I have in that mtoment and believe it or not, diabetes is one of those things. Would I have achieved all the things I have today without it? The truth is no one knows but I know that because of diabetes I have developed an inner strength that was not there until that day I was diagnosed. It has continued to strengthen and develop with each passing year. When I encounter major impediments in life, I can look at it and work through it critically, positively and in most cases find a solution.

Whether we have diabetes or not, we all have extremely testing times in our lives. With diabetes, I’ve found that being able to develop a positive attitude has helped me immensely but I also have very loving and supportive family and friends and most of all I am continuously working toward improving my diabetes management.  I’ve set high goals for myself and have been able to achieve them without allowing my condition to be a hindrance. That’s not to say, I haven’t failed at some of these goals, of course, I have but I try to learn something from my failure. I am not afraid to give it another try or try something new.

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Twenty-two (22) years of living with diabetes is a significant milestone to reach. January 1st 2017, I’ve made it this far. Twenty-two years of relentless challenges. I’ve devoted my time and efforts to maintaining a good life with diabetes. I’ve battled with acceptance of its presence and the demands of such a rigorous disciplined routine. I’ve learnt many a lesson from diabetes, adapting and maturing with its endless burdens and most importantly I’ve learnt that, regardless of the number of years you’ve endured diabetes, knowledge and understanding  can be limitless.

Although today is a celebration, I won’t be having a party or bringing out a cake. However, I will be reflecting deeply on all the things I’ve achieved so far, regardless of my condition. I will be contemplating where I started in this journey and where I am today. It is a celebration of all that I have accomplished, the obstacles I’ve faced and overcome, the challenges (both diabetes and non-diabetes related) yet to come. It is also a celebration of all the years that I’ve been able to advocate for diabetes. I’m always thinking about how I can improve in my management of diabetes and also in my life in general. What do I want to do for myself?

It isn’t smooth sailing living with this condition but it is something that you can work around. Don’t allow it to completely take over your life and if you feel you aren’t in control right now, then its time to take charge of it right now! Start to figure out what is going on. Do the basics first, test your blood sugars regularly (this is always the best way to get a picture of what is happening), make sure you take your insulin or diabetes medication, I couldn’t stress enough how important this is. Work at it! Work at it! It will get better, believe me.

Amina xx

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What are the different types of diabetes?

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

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

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

This occurs because the pancreas either:

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

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

Type 1

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

Type 2

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

Gestational diabetes

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

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

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

MODY diabetes or Type 3 diabetes

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

Types of MODY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diabetes Facts and stats 

Diabetes Awareness Poster (print and share)

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

Thanks for stopping by friends

Amina xx

Finding your comfort

Comfort between you and the needle

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second level of comfort

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

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

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

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

Car park experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Are children not getting the recommended diabetes checks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

These checks for this age group should include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

“It’s all about the Pump Peelz!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So here’s my pump now!!

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

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

 

Amina xx

Snow day tips!

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

snowfall

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

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

A few hours after school run……..

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

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

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

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

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

 

Amina xx

 

Let them in!

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

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

He has many interesting questions;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isabgtesting

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

 

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

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

Moving on……

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

See already her understanding is developing!

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

isaandsusu

Word of advice….

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

diabetesluvones

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

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

Amina xx

A BS kinda day!

*BS  as in  Blood  Sugars*

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

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

SHSL-BLOOD-SUGARS

So here goes

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

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

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

Nighttimehypo

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

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

Blood sugar reading – 3.4mmol/l

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

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

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

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

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

Do I wait till I reach the 15 Mins?

Nope!  I go straight for the apple and satsuma.

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

 

07.31 am – BS reading before breakfast 6.0mmol/l

  

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

13.09 BS reading before Lunch

17.10 BS reading before dinner

22.32 BS reading a few hours after dinner.

This was definitely a rebound BS.

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

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

Thanks for stopping by  Amina x

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly!

stethoscope

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When did you become diabetic?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Is this doctor caring and patient?

– Is this doctor thorough, conscientious and persistent?

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

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

Thanks for stopping by
Amina xxx

 

Let’s make it happen together!!!

1.  Push for the best results for you

2.  Stay strong

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

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

5.  Overwhelmed don’t suffer by yourself 

STAY POSITIVE

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

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

The curious Peanut boy

My 3 year has a very inquisitive mind and could absolutely drive you mad with the millions of questions he can come up with. isa scooterHe never wants to hear the straight forwards answer. He always wants the answer with detail. He loves learning about new things and is absolutely obsessed with everything from Space, to Volcano’s and the sea. His favourite subjects of discussion right now are the human body and my diabetes.

I’ve never felt that I have to hide my diabetes from anyone and it has never been a secret to my son either. He is very use to seeing me changing my inserts, playing with my insulin pump, pricking my fingers and he’s even found strips I’ve dropped in some place or another. If I’m guzzling down a sweet drink, he’ll ask me, “Mami is your sugar going low, low, low?” He’s very brave and has come to understand that in situations where my BG is dropping, that I need something sweet. He’ll run to my “special” cupboard of sweet goodies and bring a whole selection of foods and drinks. Of course he’ll wait patiently, smiling his biggest smile, waiting to get his sweet or sip of my drink hahaha! 

I guess right now he’s just taken a strong interest in my diabetes. Instead of just being an observer he wants to get involved and help me with anything diabetes related. He has even asked me a few times to test his blood glucose level and is starting to understand what a good number and bad number is. He’s even asked me if he can insert my insert. On many occasions he’s been with me at my diabetes appointments, taking it all in.

I recently made the decision to teach him how to dial my husband’s number, family members and even the emergency services. Just in case I may need any of them and he is the only one there. Thank god this has never happened and I pray I don’t need him to call anyone in an emergency. Surprisingly enough I ask him from time to time if he remembers and he recalled every instruction and number I gave him. He never ceases to amaze me.

Being a mother with diabetes I feel that it’s very important that my son knows about my condition and doesn’t feel ashamed or afraid of it, but instead that he knows every aspect of it. His recent curiosity and approach to diabetes makes me very proud. He has a great deal of awareness of what diabetes is and how it affects me. Now that he has taken an interest I try my best to include him in what I do on a daily basis. If he has any questions I always give him a good answer. He now knows that although he doesn’t have it the lady in his life (his mami) does. I’ve come to realise that although it affects my life ultimately it also has an effect on his life.

I really hope that other mothers and fathers with diabetes will be able to read my post and not feel that they have to hide their condition from their children. Include your children and don’t feel ashamed to share this aspect of your life with them.

Amina xxx

The invisible Diabetes

When I first meet someone, I don’t introduce myself as, the type 1 diabetic, who has an insulin pump and pricks her fingers between six to eight times a day.

To look at me, you’d just see Amina. The girl, who stands at 5ft 6 and 1/2 inches tall. The girl, from the northwest, with a strong manccunian twang. Always trying to smile, but sometimes frowning. Sometimes boring others to tears with her talk of science.photo (1) Never missing an opportunity to mention the latest K drama she’s engrossed in that week.

The girl, that works out from time to time, the mother, the wife, the part time gardener. Most of all, the girl who tries her best to stay patient and positive at all times, because the one thing you don’t see about me, is “My diabetes”.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic illness. However, it isn’t something that is visible to the human eye. I don’t have any external apparent scars, or disfigurements which would indicate that I have a life long illness, or that for every day for the past 19 years I’ve been fighting, this never ending battle of diabetes. Some days I feel fine. Sometimes I find, I have the perfect blood sugars in the morning, and then it all changes just as quickly, limiting my day to day activities.

invisible

To my surprise, I recently discovered that quite a few people who I know, had no idea I even had diabetes. Some of these people, I went to school with and others I’d worked with. Although it may be invisible to others, for me, the one living and fighting each day to stay strong and healthy, it is more visible than ever. It is a part of my life, but not the only thing in my life. It has grown with me, matured with me, been there with me during the good and bad. It has moulded that part of me that makes me, me.

Even when experiencing low or high blood sugars, it still isn’t visible. My appearance to others might be that I’m absolutely fine. The people close to me, who have experienced me, during these times, may be more receptive to my symptoms, than others. They may understand that my ramblings, my shift in mood, might be a low or high blood sugar. Even still, it sometimes still isn’t that obvious. I may actually just be rambling like I do, or I may be angry about something. It doesn’t always mean I’m having a hypo. OK most of the time it does, but there’s that small window of a time, in which I’m just expressing my feelings.

LOVED ONE:  AMINA! DID YOU CHECK YOU’RE SUGAR?

ME: NO, WHY? (ANGRY TONE)

LOVED ONE: ARE YOU HAVING A HYPO? I THINK YOUR SUGAR MIGHT BE DROPPING!!

ME: (GETTING ANGRIER, BECAUSE IN THAT MOMENT MY THOUGHTS ARE JUMBLED. I FIND MYSELF RESPONDING WITH), MY SUGARS ARE JUST FINE. IT’S NOT MY SUGAR, IT’S YOU! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. THIS WILL THEN MAKE ME CHECK MY SUGAR.

During a hypo I feel antagonised, and always seem to pick a fight or defend myself. Something as small as asking me about my blood sugar during that moment can become a fixation and can be blown out of proportion. I become increasingly frustrated, words become confused,  and I feel a strong need to express my  emotions.

The truth is, without suffering from this condition, it’s hard to really understand the internal effects that those lows and highs have on me. The weakening and almost debilitating feeling, which accompanies the shift in blood sugars, just can’t be put into simple words.

I’ve even found myself in situations where I have had to prove my condition and the way I’m feeling to others, because they aren’t able to physically see my diabetes.

This first happened to me when I became diabetic. I started high school and one of the lessons we all had to take part in was P.E (Physical Education). I’d gone for several weeks without having any hypos at all.  All teachers we’re made aware that I was diabetic, well so I thought. Then, it just so happened that the day I had a hypo we had to do cross country running. This involved running around our huge school grounds about 8 to 10 times. For someone who loved to run it was a killer. The race started, and off I went. As hard as it was, I always seemed to be one of the ones at the front of the race.  Lap 6, “I got this!” I continued on and all of a sudden, I started to feel myself slowing down. I realised that my sugar was dropping and that I had to pull myself out of the race. As I ground to a halt, I heard in a loud tone, “AMINA, why aren’t you running?” It said. I turned, it was the teacher. I started to walk towards her at this point she was shouting at me. Asking me why I’d stopped?

“Miss”, I said. “I can’t go on anymore”. Her expression said it all. Almost disgusted by my words, she told me to go back to the race. Which is when I decided to say, “I’m diabetic.” “no go back to the race!”, she said.  “stop telling lies to get out of this race”. At this point I collapsed to the ground, begging her to let me go inside to get my emergency hypo supply.

One of my close friends, who knew I was diabetic, came towards us. “Are you ok Amina?” She asked. ” Is it your blood sugar?” she asked. “yes”, I said. She ran past the teacher and went to grab my emergency hypo supply. The teacher was shocked!

She did finally believe me and apologised for not listening. She wasn’t aware that I was diabetic and really did think I was making up an illness to get out of the race. From then on, she had supplies for me and always made me bring my emergency hypo bag out with me.

This story is a true example of how invisible diabetes is. The moral of the story is, that you should never take a person at face value. If someone tells you they aren’t feeling well, diabetic or not , never doubt them because their outwards appearance may not reflect what is going on internally.

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