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

Dr Faustman’s vaccine for Type 1 Diabetes

They say, that there is a vaccine that can not only halt type 1 diabetes in its tracks but also that it has the ability to reverse the condition.

When I first read about this vaccine, it really did sound too good to be true. Could it be the cure we’ve all been waiting for? Or, is this yet another diabetes research breakthrough which amounts to nothing? This vaccine has been depicted as a “promising vaccine”, an “ideal vaccine”, a truly effective treatment.

But what is this vaccine and does it, will it really work for someone like me?

This vaccine, would you believe, has actually been around since the 1920’s. It was first cultured by Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin at the Pasteur Institute in Lille, France.The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin otherwise known as (BCG) vaccine has been used to cure Tuberculosis and Bladder cancer and has been very successful.

It has been used in trials ( in both mice and humans) to show its impact on Type 1 diabetes, with positive results so far. The research is being carried out by Dr Denise Faustman, MD, PhD and her main focus is to carry out trials on individuals who have had diabetes for five years or more. She has targeted adults between the ages of 18 to 60 to determine how effective this vaccine will be in reversing type 1 diabetes.

Associate Professor of Medicine Denise Faustman is conducting a study of a decades-old TB drug that reversed diabetes in mice and has shown promising results in an initial human study. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

To understand why this vaccine was chosen, we must first consider how Type 1 diabetes occurs in an individual.

We live in a world full of germs, viruses, bacteria and toxins (invaders). The immune system plays a huge role in protecting us from these possible harmful microbes. When harmful invaders try to infect us, the immune system is able to first sense the presence of these invaders and then it is able to destroy any foreign cells.

With Type 1 diabetes, the immune system confuses its own cells as foreign cells.  Attacking and destroying healthy beta cells. This is known as autoimmunity or self-attack! Type 1 diabetes is then, in fact, an autoimmune disease and NO it’s not caused by eating too much sugar. It’s so much more complex than that.

So what role does the BCG vaccine play?

The BCG vaccine would possibly be able to halt or reverse the beta cell deterioration in individuals who have the condition. It would conceivably reduce the amount of insulin needed or remove the need for insulin completely.

The way in which vaccines usually work are, a less potent version of the vaccine is injected into you and it allows the immune system to build up immunity against potentially threatening viruses. In a sense, your body becomes stronger and more capable of dealing with any bigger potential threats.

With Type 1 diabetes, the immune system produces antibodies which are capable of killing off beta cells. The vaccination would be used to encourage the immune system to see the beta cells as no longer being harmful which will then allow cells to grow and repair whilst avoiding a decline in beta cells. Hence a healthy production of beta cells like a non-diabetic individual.

Type 1 diabetics are deficient in the hormone TNF (Tumour Necrosis Factor) which is able to produce good T-cells and reduce the presence of bad T-cells. These bad T-cells are responsible for encouraging the immune system to terminate healthy beta cells. The BCG vaccine would be able to increase levels of the TNF hormone whilst potentially removing bad T-cells.

During the trials BCG doses were administered to patients which resulted in an increase in TNF levels, removing bad T-cells which will then allow the immune system to function as it would in a person without diabetes.

Dr Faustman has said, “BCG is definitely modulating the immune system.”

This is only the beginning and there is still a lot that has to be researched. I have so many questions:

– What dosage would be required to make the reversal process successful?

– Would it really be permanent?

– Would I have to have continuous vaccinations and how frequently would this need to happen?

– Would I still partially need to take any insulin?

– What would the long-term effects of taking the BCG vaccinations be?

As someone who keeps up to date with all the diabetes research and advances in diabetes. I must say that this one does sound very promising. However,  I remain sceptical because you must understand that there are so frequently many different research projects surrounding diabetes which have been labelled the possible next cure for Type 1.

Even still, I remain hopeful, I remain positive that one day one of these research projects will succeed and finally bring to light the cure we’ve all dreamt of. We’ve come such a long way from the times when having diabetes was an automatic death sentence. Without the discovery of insulin, and the endless hours of research executed by Dr Frederick Banting, where would we be today?

I won’t give up on that cure! I continue to pray that, one day it will come. As they say, “Nothing worth having comes easily” 

I will definitely keep following the progress of this vaccine and hopefully, I’ll have something great report when they next showcase their research findings.

Amina xxx

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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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A few things you didn’t know about Frederick Banting

Today, November 14th marks one of the most important days in the diabetes calendar, World Diabetes Day. On this day, we remember one of the most prominent figures in diabetes, Sir Frederick Grant Banting, the man responsible for co-discovering insulin, as a source of treatment for diabetics in the early 1900s.You can read more about it here.

© Mary Evans Picture Library / SZ Photo / Scherl

© Mary Evans Picture Library / SZ Photo / Scherl

Although, you may know of his work surrounding discovery of insulin, there is however much more to him than just his involvement with diabetes.

Here are a few facts about him:

  • First World War – Sir Frederick Grant Banting, served in both World War I and World War II. He was wounded during the First World War and received the Military Cross for “distinguished and meritorious services in time of war,” for attending to injured soldiers for up to 17 hours, even though he was badly injured himself.
  • Second World War -During the Second World War,  his aircraft crashed. The pilot died instantly. As a passenger on the plane, he was wounded and also died from his injuries and exposure on the following day, February 21st, 1941.
  • Personal Life – Sir Frederick Grant Banting was married twice to Marion Robertson in 1924 – 1932 and married Henrietta Ball in 1937 – 1941. In his first marriage, he had a son called William Roberson Bill Banting 1928- 1998.
  • Featured in a Comic – Banting was featured in a comic book by the
    Corporation of America. He appeared alongside other famous historical figures.

    comic-2comic-1

  • Aviation – Due to Banting’s interest in aviation he was in charge of research done on behalf of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). He researched phycological issues faced by pilots flying aircraft’s as well as blackouts experienced by these pilots.
  • Artist – Banting became an acclaimed artist, joined painter A.Y. Jackson and travelled around Canada painting iconic Northern landscapes and the Canadian Rockies.
  • Google – If you haven’t seen the google search bar today, then here’s a little peek.google-banting

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY WORLD DIABETES DAY EVERYONE

AMINA XX

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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Sick Days!

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.”

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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 

 

 

 

 

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Je suis fatigué of the monthly P

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

PERIOD-2

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

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

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

So what did I find out?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Amina xx

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Theresa May, first UK Prime Minister with Type 1 diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa May

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

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

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

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Eid al-Fitr

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

ISOYU

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

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

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

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

I & Y (11)

WHAT I WORE:

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

View original post 201 more words

Guest Post: Appleton

INTRODUCING

APPLETON

 

Appleton undercover

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

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

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

All a Board

All a Board

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

South Bound

South Bound

 

Appleton’s relationship with Diabetes,

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Cool Blue Designer Insulin

Cool Blue Designer Insulin

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

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

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

 

Amina xx

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What does Ramadan mean to a Type 1 diabetic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

So what did I learn?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 So what are the benefits of fasting?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Amina xx

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Guest Post with Ashley Ng

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

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

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

Who is Ashley?

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

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

 

Diabetes Story

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

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

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

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

How do you stay motivated whilst living with diabetes?

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

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

Bittersweet Diagnosis blog

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

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

Ashley the dietician

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

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

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

Advice to new patients…

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

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

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

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

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

What does Ashley eat?

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

A typical day this week may look like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you deal with unfamiliar foods?

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

Young Leader in Diabetes

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

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Young Leaders in Diabetes

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

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What are the different types of diabetes?

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

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

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

This occurs because the pancreas either:

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

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

Type 1

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

Type 2

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

Gestational diabetes

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

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

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

MODY diabetes or Type 3 diabetes

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

Types of MODY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diabetes Facts and stats 

Diabetes Awareness Poster (print and share)

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

Thanks for stopping by friends

Amina xx

Carbs & Cals have a new Salad book

salad book cover

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

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app

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

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

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

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

Recipe I tried:

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

 

Cooking from Carb & Cals Salad book

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

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

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

12-May-king-prawn-avacado

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Finding your comfort

Comfort between you and the needle

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second level of comfort

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

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

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

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

Car park experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Are children not getting the recommended diabetes checks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

These checks for this age group should include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – Language and Diabetes

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going back to the use of words…….

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

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

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

Amina xx

 

 

Diabetes Blog week 2016 – Monday Message

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

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

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Online presence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awareness of Diabetes

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

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

 What are the signs one can get before diagnosis?

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

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

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

Aminaxx

Testing your day time basal rate

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

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

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

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

 

Testing your daytime basal rate

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

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

Amina xx

Guest Post: Introducing Dr Joan St John


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

What sort of care do new patients recieve?

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

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

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

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

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

Do not be downhearted!

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Prevention, Prevention, Prevention’

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

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

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

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

Dr Joan St John

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


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

Amina xx

Change is Inevitable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can do this!!

Amina xx

Insulin gone bad

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

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

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

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

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

(4) Does the insulin look stringy?

(5) Has it changed colour?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmm! Ok,  that’s great for a workout.

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

What on earth was going on?

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

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

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

(3) It wasn’t stringy.

(4) It hadn’t changed colour.

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

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

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

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

 Amina xx

 

 

 

 

 

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Malfunctioning on Summer Break

This Summer, I visted the Caribbean

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

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

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

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

And so many beautiful views awaited

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

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

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

PHew pump sorted, back to the holiday

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

Amina xx

Access to Insulin!

 

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As a type 1 diabetic, living in the UK, I’ve always understood how extremely fortunate I am to be able to have access to insulin. I have access to it when I need it and it’s completely free. It’s as simple as me requesting a repeat prescription every other month at my doctor’s surgery, waiting for two working days before I head to the pharmacist to pick up my medication and there it is ready and presented in a nice paper bag with my name on it.

Not only do I have access to free insulin but my blood glucose meter, strips, my insulin pump, insets, batteries, syringes, everything is free. However, things like the Dexcom sensor aren’t free and are self-funded. Regardless, I can still have access to a loaner sensor through my diabetic clinic on certain occasions, free of charge. During both my pregnancies I was very lucky to have a loaner sensor throughout and even after delivery.

Having access to free insulin isn’t the case for many people living with the condition both in the western world and the developing world. In fact, access to insulin is not so accessible after all. Many of my diabetic friends have spoken of the many battles they’ve had with insurance companies over the fact that they should have sufficient insulin to last them the month.

As a diabetic, I know all too well that the amount of insulin needed can vary on a monthly basis, depending on blood glucose levels, stress, weight loss, sickness, a multitude of things could be the cause for a need for more insulin on that specific month. Even so I could not possibly imagine being told that I could not have any more insulin because I should have enough to last me till the end of a month.

In developing countries the cost of insulin can be extremely high, which means diabetics are not able to afford their insulin or medical treatment. I could not even imagine going without my insulin from day-to-day. It is just not an option. It’s vital to my existence and without it I wouldn’t be able to survive. This is the reality for many of these people living without insulin.

Charities like IDDT (InDependent Diabetes Trust), collect and send unwanted in date insulin to clinics in developing countries for distribution to diabetic children and adults, who cannot afford to buy insulin and are in need of insulin treatment.

IDDT collect:
-Unwanted, unopened insulin which is in date and has at least 3 months to expiration
-Syringes, lancets, needles
-Glucose test strips

If you are able or want to help donate any of your unwanted medication, then please send it in a padded envelope or box to:

InDependent Diabetes Trust
PO Box 294
Northampton
NN1 4XS
tel: 01604 622837
fax: 01604 622838

e-mail: tim@iddtinternational.org
http://iddt.org

 

Thanks Amina x

Save

Emotional Diabetes

 

 

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Ignorance is bliss, or so they say. In some cases the not knowing can indeed be a great comfort and it most certainly cannot hurt you. So is it better to remain ignorant of the facts and continue on in your ignorance?

Diabetes has taught me otherwise because I didn’t have the option to remain ignorant. I had to develop an understanding of what was happening to me and that did not happen overnight. In fact it has taken many years for me to even begin to acknowledge all the ins and outs of this condition and I still have a lot more to learn. Even without the diabetes, maintaining good health doesn’t happen all at once, it’s continuous and takes a good amount of determination and patience. Being able to accept that diabetes is now a part of your life isn’t an easy thing to do. I’ve experienced several emotions when I was first diagnosed, months and even years after my diagnosis.

Although I’d made the decision not to be ignorant of my new found condition and all that it came with, initially I must admit that I did experience several emotions, one of which was denial. In all honesty, I found myself at different stages with this emotion in my diabetes life. There are five stages of denial, these stage include Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross explains these stages in her book ‘Death and dying’. Everybody is different and therefore maynot experience all these stages or in the order listed. It really depends on the indivdual.

So what is denial?

Denial A denial of something is a statement that it is not true, does not exist, or did not happen.

“You can’t change what you refuse to confront.”

To begin with I found it extremely difficult to make all these new adjustments in my life. It was very unfamiliar and all so confusing to comprehend. Even though the lack of insulin in my body had now turned me into a skeleton and all the blood tests came back indicating that I was diabetic. I still sometimes thought that somehow the doctor must have been mistaken. I still found it hard to believe that these were my results. “How did it come to all of this?”

On the other hand, seeing my injections for the first time and my fluctuating blood sugars beginning to settle down, allowed me to understand that I needed to keep injecting in order to avoid going back to my pre diagnosed self. Remembering that I had just experienced first-hand what it was like to be deprived of insulin. I knew I certainly didn’t want to go back in that direction. I didn’t want to feel thirsty all the time, urinating uncontrollably and ultimately I just wanted to become the old me, the healthy me that diabetes had taken away.

It made me aware that I wouldn’t be doing myself any favours if I chose not to deal with my diabetes. It was all too real and it certainly wasn’t going to go anywhere. I couldn’t just pretend it didn’t exist. I had to take the steps to start to change things in my life. From that moment I decided I wouldn’t let it take over my life in a negative way. It was now a part of me and I had to find a way to work with it in order to be normal again.

Nevertheless, a little acceptance of my diabetes wasn’t the end. I still struggled with my emotions towards having the condition. At times I found myself feeling very angry and pushing those feelings onto others around me and I’d find I’d become upset over the smallest of things. I used sports as an outlet for my anger. I swam, played basketball, tennis, netball and I ran every race I could run. I found I was pretty good at them all which helped me to change that negative energy into something more positive. Playing sports to the best of my ability was a way for me to deal with this new emotion of anger. I actually didn’t recognise it as me being in denial about my diabete it was only with time that this became more clear. I grew to like the sports I played and in turn I grew to like the way it made me feel.

Looking back I think that it would have been beneficial if I was able to talk to someone about these emotions and work through them whilst understanding them in relation to this condition. Although I had a great deal of support from my family, there was only so much that they could grasp and help me with. I think my family also had a difficult time with the changes that were happening to me and understanding what their roles were and how they could help me get through it. The doctors and nurses were very positive and helpful in any way that they could be. However, if I recall, how I was feeling with regards to my diabetes it was never really something that was discussed. I think it was discussed more with my parents, maybe because I was a child at the time. I’ll have to ask them about that.

 “To change your life you need to change your priorities.”

I definitely feel diabetes forced me to grow up a lot quicker than my other siblings. I stopped playing with my dolls and started learning more about my condition. Everything was put on hold. I asked more questions during my appointments and with the help of my mother I started a subscription to a diabetes magazine. In one of the magazine editions, I found an article on Dr Frederick Banting. It had pictures of children who had diabetes, how they looked before insulin treatment and once on insulin therapy. I could finally relate to someone else who had gone through what I was now experiencing, (although that someone was just a picture image). The drastic before and after pictures were proof that I could be me again, if I just did what was right for me.

 ”You don’t have to do it alone.”

Thereafter I was going to deal with my diabetes, most of the time that meant handling things on my own. I somehow found the strength and forced myself to get on with it. Initially that meant even refusing to attend the young diabetes group that my family and nurses tried so hard to get me to attend. Maybe I’d taken the ‘dealing with it by myself’ to an extreme. With time I was able to let go a little and let others help me more. However this new trait of doing it by myself definitely became the norm in other aspects of my life. Even if that meant it was hard for me, I was going to do it by myself.

 “And now I’ll do what’s best for me.”

As I grew up, I also learnt how to express my feelings better and in turn it helped me. I wasn’t bottling things up and waiting for them to explode on the nearest person I could find. Instead my family, friends, doctors and nurses were going to hear my tales of diabetes woes. I wasn’t going to do it all alone. I began to understand that they were crucial to my diabetes management and in order to obtain good control and regain my good health, I would have to utilise them when I could. The nurses introduced me to other Type 1 diabetics, online diabetes communities and gave me several numbers I could call for support from them and other diabetes associations. I was going to give it my all.

Acceptance

Coping with a chronic illness was never going to be an easy thing to do. I’ve come a long way with my emotions and diabetes. I’ve learnt to deal with it in a certain way. I’ve accepted it for what it is. It is a part of me. A part of me which I have to tolerate and not hate. It has been my companion for so many years now and we’ve been through a lot together. It’s made me the responsible, strong, patient adult that I am today. It continues to drain me, challenges me greatly and has allowed me to be more positive about other aspects in my life. I have a better understanding of myself, a confidence that grows with each passing year, that I am still here and that I’ve been successful in managing this condition. Having a blog has also helped me to continue to deal with these emotions. It has become a platform, an outlet for me to express myself. I’ve been able to connect with so many other diabetics who are just like me, going through the same daily struggles. We’ve been able to exchange stories and I hope I’ve helped them as much as they have helped me on many occasion.

 Stay Strong

The most important thing about having a chronic illness is not to give up on yourself. Keep fighting it and don’t let it drag you down. With the help of others you can maintain and manage it to the best of your capability. You just have to give yourself the chance to live as normal and stable life as possible. If you are recently diagnosed or even if you’ve been diabetic for many years now and find yourself struggling with your emotions, it doesn’t hurt to seek advice and help from others. Actually I strongly recommend it. If you want to do what is best for your health and live ahealthyl life style, you have to make diabetes a priority, you have to get your mind right in order to be able to manage this life style you’re in.

Here are a few ideas to help you with your diabetes emotional management:
– Create a support system, whether this is your family, friends, doctors, nurses or other diabetics.
– Educate yourself and others around you
– Don’t be afraid to ask questions
– Don’t be too hard on yourself
– Take your medication because god knows you need it.
– Test your blood sugars regularly
– Stay active
– Take it one step at a time
– Don’t let diabetes define you.
– It’s ok to be angry about your situation.
-Don’t bottle up your emotions, find an outlet, a way to work through it.

 

Support and Advice Links:
Diabetes blogs are a great way to connect with other diabetics. Here are a few of my favourites.

1) Bittersweet diagnosis

2)Life or something like it

3)My Lazy Pancreas

4)The Grumpy pumper   and many more……….

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Newly_Diagnosed/

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/How_we_help/Local_support_groups/

http://www.diabetes.org

http://www.twitter.com

http://www.facebook.com – several diabetes groups

http://www.sugarhighsugarlow.com

https://www.facebook.com/SugarHSugarL?ref=hl

http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-discussions/general/603-dealing-with-emotions

http://behavioraldiabetesinstitute.org/

Guest Post: Diabetes and oral problems – know your risk!

erin3I’d like to introduce a guest post by  Erin Stelbrink. She is a Registered Dental Hygienist with 5+ years of experience as a licensed hygienist and oral health care professional. She holds a passion for researching the latest technologies and methods for providing valuable health care service and clinical treatment. Aside from clinical work, Erin serves as a product researcher and journalist for Smile Brilliant, a company providing professional teeth whitening from home and cavity prevention products.

Words from a concerned dental hygienist

 

Do you see your dentist regularly?
Pretty much everyone knows that it’s recommended to see a dentist on a regular basis, but unfortunately many people don’t actually follow this advice. I’m a dental hygienist myself, so I often see how bad it could turn out for those who avoid the dentist. There are patients all the time who don’t come in until they’re having major pain in their mouth. (It’s never good news, I can tell you that much.

Why you should dread not coming to the dentist
Patients neglect coming into the office for long spans of time because they just can’t seem to make it a priority. And so, the pain, when they ultimately do come see us, means something is more seriously wrong and it will be more difficult (and probably more expensive) to treat than if it had been caught earlier. I must admit it’s a very common tale where I work. But wouldn’t it be awesome if it could be avoided?

See your dentist twice a year to help prevent complications — especially for those with diabetes
The thing is, routine check-ups and cleanings at the dentist can greatly reduce the risk of developing serious dental or oral problems. Yes — dental problems can be prevented! It’s pretty great! Moreover, if you have diabetes, seeing your dentist regularly is even more important than it is for other people. Diabetes can cause a lot of oral and dental problems, so it’s essential to stay on top of your dental appointments and know your risk!

Diabetes causes dry mouth — dry mouth causes loads more problems
With uncontrolled levels of blood glucose (AKA sugar), many people with diabetes end up experiencing dry mouth. It becomes apparent to me that a patient has dry mouth if they aren’t producing a healthy amount of saliva while I clean their teeth. This is an immediate red flag since dry mouth can cause a whole list of not-fun stuff involving your teeth and gums.

This, of course, includes tooth decay, which can lead to cavities, pain, ulcers, infections and tooth loss. And, since patients with diabetes weakened defenses against infections, sores and wounds in the mouth, it takes a lot longer for them to heal from these things. If only people knew how much salvia helps guard their teeth!

A good amount of saliva is needed for oral health
Maybe you never guessed that something like saliva would be so valuable to your oral and dental health, but it certainly is. The flow of saliva in the mouth works to hydrate your oral tissues and wash away debris from food you eat so bacteria don’t overstay their welcome. Furthermore, saliva has the power to guard your teeth from plaque by neutralizing the acids before they can start eating away at your enamel! Go ahead and start thanking your saliva for saving the inside of your mouth big-time! But if you have a lack of saliva, it’s best to do something about it.

What to do about dry mouth
Since uncontrolled blood glucose levels can cause dry mouth, it’s important that people with diabetes do their best to keep those levels as steady and healthy as possible. Apart from this, there a number of treatments to try that can either act as a saliva replacement or trigger the production of it. Maybe one of these solutions will work for you!

• After eating, rinse your mouth with water
• Sip water regularly throughout the day
• Chew on gum or suck on mints with xylitol
• Use an over-the-counter self applied fluoride
• Use products that simulate saliva
• Restrict use of mouthwash with alcohol in it
• Consume less caffeine
• Use a humidifier
• Breathe through your nose

A major step toward a healthier smile
Knowing the oral health risks related to having diabetes gives you a keen edge to prevent problems with your teeth and gums. That said, nothing can replace seeing the good ol’ dentist twice a year. I think I speak for all of us dental professionals when I say, we hope to see you regularly — especially if you have diabetes!

 

If you have any questions for Erin or if you wish to read more of Erin’s articles?  Then you can email her at erin@smilebrilliant.com or find more of her work on the Smile Brilliant Blog.

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…………

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

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

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

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

– Is this doctor caring and patient?

– Is this doctor thorough, conscientious and persistent?

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

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

Thanks for stopping by
Amina xxx

 

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

IMG_9219-0

Diabetic Problem #55:

Ever tasted insulin mixed with water?

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

Did it click then?

Nope!!

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

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

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

 

Thanks for stopping by

 

Amina xx

 

 

Talk about your medicines month

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

What’s my medicine?

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

“I am insulin dependent.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Sugar High Sugar Low: Preparing for pregnancy

Before conceiving I had a lot of things to contemplate such as being fit, healthy, eating well, having tight control of my blood glucose levels and most important of all achieving at least an A1c of 7.0%. Both diabetes and pregnancy combined have their own unique challenges. I knew that I would have a lot of hard work ahead of me.pregnancy tagcloud pictogram

My diabetes appointments are usually quarterly at the diabetic centre. My previous appointment showed that my A1c was 7.5%, so I decided to visit my diabetic team and inform them of my plan, as I did with my first pregnancy. The diabetic nurse retested my A1c and after two weeks I found out my A1C was actually 7.3%. Blood glucose control is vital during pregnancy because if you can imagine even before you’re aware of your pregnancy, your baby’s brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs have already started to form. This totally freaks me out because without tight control I could have possibly affected the way in which my child developed.

I was given the opportunity to have a trial run of the dexcom G4 sensor for a month which I talked about in my post, “Cyborg for a month or perhaps longer”.

Dexcom G4is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) sensor which is inserted into the body and is able to give blood glucose readings every five minutes. The sensor automatically transmits this reading to my insulin pump (Animas Vibe) and creates a graph. With my insulin pump I am able to set an ideal blood glucose range. If my blood glucose level goes above or below this range my insulin pump alarms to alert me of either an increase or decrease in blood glucose level.

My trial run actually went on for longer than a month and it was during that time that I conceived. My pregnancy journey had started and with my team we made the decision to continue with the CGM during this pregnancy. To start with the CGM really helped me achieve tighter control and a better understanding of patterns occurring at certain times in the day. After a month my A1c had dropped to 6.4%.

By week five of my pregnancy I had developed severe morning sickness. I was a complete mess. I had no appetite, I lost a lot of weight and I needed far less insulin. My insulin requirement continued to decrease during the next few weeks. The morning sickness continued and to make matters worse my CGM didn’t seem to want to cooperate. The readings on my insulin pump compared to a finger prick reading was completely different. It stopped picking up low and high blood glucose levels. It just did the complete opposite.

I was able to change my sensor and transmitter  a few times but unfortunately every time I got a new one the same problem occurred. No matter where I placed the sensor on my body it would react in the same way. My diabetic doctor seemed to think that it could possibly be the pregnancy hormones interfering with the sensor. I went one step further and decided to contact Dexcom with regards to this. They were unable to conform if this was a possibility or not. I was told that no research has ever been done on the effects of pregnancy hormones and the accuracy of this sensor.

My doctor asked me if I’d prefer to go without the sensor and I agreed to go without it for the duration of my pregnancy. I began my rigorous blood glucose testing and on some days I’d test up to fifteen times.

logbookHaving good control minimised risks such as miscarriage and birth defects. My pregnancy was able to progress well almost as if I did not have diabetes. Four months into my pregnancy I managed to achieve an A1c of 5.7% and it remained that way throughout the pregnancy

With the help of my antenatal diabetes consultant I was able to plan my target blood glucose range so that my blood glucose could be as close to normal as possible during my pregnancy. We also discussed and looked in detail at basal rates, insulin to carb ratio’s and insulin sensitivity. I was able to be in contact with him on a daily basis and then I attended the diabetic antenatal clinic every week. In actual fact I was very lucky to have had a team of people accessible to me which consisted of x3 diabetic midwives, x2 OBGYN’s x1 antenatal diabetes consultant and a dietician. I also still had contact with my diabetes team from before my pregnancy. I WAS VERY LUCKY!

Another important factor with diabetes and pregnancy is the health of your eyes. I had to have my eyes checked every trimester by the Eye hospital to make sure that no changes were occurring. A month after the birth of my first child, I developed changes in my eyes which then corrected themselves strangely enough. However it is routine for diabetics to have regular screenings during their pregnancy here in Manchester.

Preparing for pregnancy and the pregnancy itself was extremely difficult. I had moments when I felt stressed out, happy, anxious, nervous and mostly worried. Regardless, I felt that patience and maintaining a serene demeanour was definitely key to having a healthy pregnancy and ultimately a beautiful healthy baby.

Amina xx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can.  If I can, you can too.

Amina xx

Life’s Blessings

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

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

mami susu handSumayah sleeping

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Amina xxx

The beeping D ……

As you may know I recently started a sensor trial, which started off really well. I got my sensor fitted everything was running smoothly until I decided I was going to go to the supermarket.

First supermarket trip

The moment, I stepped into the supermarket doors.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP! (Anti-theft alarm)

Of course I totally ignored it and kept walking, there were so many people going in and out of the supermarket.

Major Side note: I was coming into the supermarket and in any case it’s not in my nature to shop lift.

I continued with my shopping, arrived at the till, paid for my goods and went through another set of alarms (WHICH WENT OFF).  I looked around because, that surely was not me! So I kept on walking. I reached the exit and walked through the doors with a herd of other people (YES the alarm went off again)! Still oblivious I continued to walk towards the car and go home.

“Wow those alarms were going off a lot. I wonder why?”

My second supermarket trip

Off I go to the supermarket nice and early to pick up a few things.

Side note: I love going to the supermarket nice and early. Its empty and I can just pop in and pop out. Job Done!

I reached the entrance and BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!  OK I was the only one walking through, was that me? The guard just nodded and smiled so I smiled back and continued walking in. Shopping done and paid for. I approached the first alarm, BEEP, BEEP, and BEEP! No that was definitely me that time. I decided to turn around and go back to the lady at the till to make sure there were no tags in my bag. The lady checks and finds no tags. She encourages me to just go through. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP! That now confirmed that it was me beeping.

So embarrassing! I had a feeling that perhaps it was something to do with my sensor. I was totally dreading going through the exit alarms so I decide to let the guard know I was wearing a sensor and it might possibly go off as I go through the alarm. I showed him my receipt and my pump just in case he didn’t believe me. Off I went!

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

I continued to use the sensor but I just felt that whenever I tested my BGL it wasn’t even close to the numbers on my pump. After 12 days the sensor totally failed and produced an error message that read ERROR 0.

sensor fail

After 5 hours the sensor remained like this so I decided to call Animas (they are so helpful) and I ended up having a lengthy conversation with them. The lady I spoke to asked me several question and tried to get the sensor running again. However she finally said, that the sensor had failed and that I should remove it all together. When I removed the sensor it was bent and had barely pierced my skin. I also mentioned my beeping every time I went through the supermarket alarm. She said that it’s possible that the transmitter may have been faulty. I gave her the codes on both the sensor and transmitter and I was sent new replacements the following day.

I then restarted my sensor trial and I’m now on day 5, no errors or false readings. My BGLs have been spot on when I cross reference them with my BGL on my BG meter. I’m starting to see a clearer picture of what my BGLs are doing and have been able to make adjustments in my basal rates. It still needs some fine tuning but I feel I’m finally starting to iron out all the lows.

Has this (the beeping) ever happened to anyone else? Or have you ever had a faulty transmitter or sensor in general?

 

Amina xx

Fighting Diabetes One Sugar at a Time

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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

The iLet (Bionic Pancreas)

Throughout the years, we’ve seen many advances in Diabetes technology. From the Insulin pumps, to the Freestyle Libre and so many other amazing technologies.

The most recent and major development is that of the Bionic Pancreas. This long-anticipated technology is able to completely manage an individual’s diabetes by tracking blood glucose levels, controlling insulin doses, as well as administering glucagon to individual’s when they need it.

 The Bionic Pancreas represents so many great things and has the potential to ease the immense amount of pressure faced by diabetics and carers. It could give users, a sense of, physical, emotional and physiological freedom from the day to day struggles and anxiety diabetes self-management presents.

The Bionic Pancreas is able to mimic a healthy pancreas, allowing for the normal release of liver enzymes as well as cellular metabolism.

The initial model included a few different components; a smart phone, a sensor, and two pumps. The sensor is able to take a snapshot of an individual’s blood glucose readings, sends information to a smartphone device, which then communicates via Bluetooth signals to two pumps (one containing insulin and the other containing glucagon). Insulin and glucagon are administered when the individual is in need of it just like a normal functioning pancreas would.

Bionic Pancreas

Bionic Pancreas

More recently, a single handheld device called the iLet was developed. This device contains both insulin and glucagon and is able to acts in opposition to each other, when food is consumed and in turn when blood glucose levels increase or decrease. This giving the diabetic suffers a more stable blood glucose reading.

Within the iLet there still exists 3 components all combined into one device:

  • Continuous glucose sensor (sends glucose levels wirelessly to the device)
  • Mathematical algorithms which determine and make therapeutic decisions based on a person’s age and weight.
  • The algorithm is able to make suggestions every five minutes, 24 hours a day, giving a total of 288 daily decisions for each person’s insulin and glucagon requirements.
  • Built in pumps to deliver insulin and glucagon (a weeks’ worth of insulin and glucagon)
The iLet

The iLet

As exciting as this new technological innovation is, I feel a level of uncertainty when it comes to handing over complete control to this device. Having to trust in this device is going to be a huge hurdle for me.

After all, the iLet is still only a machine! A very sophisticated machine made up of carefully calculated algorithms but a machine nonetheless. Machines break, machines malfunction, as I have experienced with my insulin pump.  Also, for the past 21 years, I’ve been in charge of all the day to day decision making, when it comes to this condition.

However, as a pump wearer, I must remember I had to face the similar and very daunting task of deciding whether or not I should remain on multiple daily injections (MDI) or take that leap of faith and trust in this new technology.  The thought of using a pump at the time was both thrilling and frightening. Putting part of my diabetes management into the hands of a machine, being attached to a wire and insert, whilst carrying around the insulin pump, completely terrified me. I realised then, how accustomed I was to my MDI, although I had lived with the arduous task of managing MDI, it was as simple as injecting and then putting it away. With the pump, it meant I had to be attached to it constantly.  

Nevertheless, for me, the main focus and one that allowed me to accept the idea of wearing a pump full time, was the possible improvement I might have in my diabetes management. Also, at the time I was expecting my first child and I wanted to have the best control possible. I was given the opportunity to have a trial run. With it on I could see the vast improvement it made in my blood glucose control as a whole. It was then, that I decided to plunge into the deep end and take a chance with wearing the pump full time. Since then, I have never looked back

My control is much tighter than it was on MDl. The thing’s I feared, like having  a wire and inserts attached to me, have all now become intertwined in my life. It has become my new “norm” and although I am connected to it 24/7, it has without a doubt liberated me.

And now, in the absence of a cure, the iLet has given me another glimmer of hope. I am now more open to the idea of being able to free myself even more from the struggles I face with this condition. It isn’t much different to the wearing a pump. Yes, it’s much bigger and more complex but I personally would be willing to trade in my pump for an iLet, if that meant that I would have better BG control, even better HbA1c results, less stress and the pressure to maintain good control and the possible reduction of developing diabetic complications.Then I embrace it fully!

Although I’m very much sold, there are a few things I must take into consideration.

  1. Being connected to the iLet, doesn’t mean that my job of managing my diabetes is over.
  2. I will still have to monitor the device and calibrate it twice a day, as it will be a necessity for me to enter my blood glucose levels before meals.
  3. Inputting information such as meals I plan to consume before I consume them is going to be part of the day to day running of the device.
  4. I anticipate error messages occurring
  5. Changing batteries and inserts.
  6. Insulin and glucagon cartridges will need to be refilled weekly.

We must remember that this device will still very much need our input and it will only be there as an aid. It will give us a much clearer depiction of how our blood glucose levels work in conjunction with different types of foods, exercise and stress at different times. Most importantly, it will give us a reprieve from the constant monitoring we do night and day. The pump has given me a degree of  freedom and I feel that this will be greatly amplified when, god willing, I get the chance to experience using the iLet.

My experience with the pump has allowed me to be more open to this new technology. This sophisticated innovation will undoubtedly be welcomed and I guarantee it will change the lives of so many type 1 diabetics worldwide.

 

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When I became a featured artist for VIDA

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

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

So who are VIDA?

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

 – VIDA

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

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

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

-VIDA

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

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

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

Below you can see a few of my designs 🙂

8needles

1balloons

3boarder

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

I will leave you with this fantastic video from VIDA.

Thanks for stopping by

 

Amina xx

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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 co