Tag: Diabetes Awareness

The itch that won’t quit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xxx

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Theresa May, first UK Prime Minister with Type 1 diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa May

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

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

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Guest Post: Appleton

INTRODUCING

APPLETON

 

Appleton undercover

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

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

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

All a Board

All a Board

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

South Bound

South Bound

 

Appleton’s relationship with Diabetes,

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Cool Blue Designer Insulin

Cool Blue Designer Insulin

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

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

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

 

Amina xx

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Are children not getting the recommended diabetes checks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

These checks for this age group should include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – Tips and Tricks

 

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

Positivity Tips and Tricks

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

Maya-Angelou

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

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

better-things

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

Finger Pricking good

image

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

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

Working it out

trainners

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

DSC01106

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Network and be happy

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

fighter

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

 shine

Amina xxx

Diabetes Blog week 2016 – Monday Message

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

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

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

Online presence

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

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

SUGARHIGHSUGARLOW

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

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

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

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

Awareness of Diabetes

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

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

 What are the signs one can get before diagnosis?

symptoms

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

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

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

Aminaxx

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

daytimebasal1

daytimebasal-rate2

daytimebasalrate3

daytimebasalrate4

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

Listen to your body

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Action, repetition and  finally recognition

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

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

brain

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

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

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

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

Tips to avoid hypoglycaemia unawareness

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

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

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