Tag: Type 1 diabetes

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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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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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.

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  • 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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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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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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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
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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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Guest Post with Ashley Ng

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

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

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

Who is Ashley?

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

ashley

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

 

Diabetes Story

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

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

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

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

How do you stay motivated whilst living with diabetes?

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

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

Bittersweet Diagnosis blog

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

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

Ashley the dietician

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

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

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

Advice to new patients…

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

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

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

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

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

What does Ashley eat?

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

A typical day this week may look like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you deal with unfamiliar foods?

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

Young Leader in Diabetes

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

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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

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

Diabetes Blog Weeek 2016 – The Healthcare Experience

 

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

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

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

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

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

The National Health Service

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

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

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

Turning to  private care

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – Language and Diabetes

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

Positivity Jar

Diabetes living is undeniably a struggle. It’s relentless and arduous in every sense. This life-long illness’ is far from enjoyable.

Many may say that diabetes does not define them, which is true. However, what is also true, is that it will always be present and  looming in the shadows. It’s almost like a force that you can’t escape. Repelling it would be detrimental to you in every way and embracing it would allow you to nurture and manage it better.

Yes, we have insulin, but insulin is not the cure that we all wait for with bated breath. The day that they announce that there is a cure, I dare say I probably won’t believe it.  Taking our insulin on a daily basis definitely helps us sustain. It is most certainly an asset to us, prolonging our existence. However, continuing with a frequent, restricted routine can be gruelling on the mind and body.

I must admit, many a time I’ve quietly felt fed up with diabetes, I’ve wished it away but also I’ve patiently endured the tests placed in front of me. It can be hard to remain positive about having diabetes but what I try to do is find things to keep me motivated and steer clear of any negative feeling which may creep in. Ultimately I want to be happy, healthy and live hassle free. I want to be the one in control of my health.

Also, I’ve realised that sometimes in order to gain that positivity it also means I have to occasionally have my down day. I mean everyone has a down day, diabetic or not.  So if you’re feeling down, then I say, just feel down.

The question is, what do you do to bring yourself out of this negative state you find yourself in? In that moment, at your lowest point try to find something that will help you or remind you about being in a happier mind-set.  Don’t let the negative feelings consume you.

D POSITIVITY JAR

Something which I started recently is my diabetes positivity jar. I basically write down all the things that keep me motivated. Things that have happened and have had a positive impact on me and things that keep me patient.

Keep track of all the positive

It could be a memory or memories, a picture/s or just a word. It’s totally up to you. Collect them in a jar or a box and when you feel down just sit and look through them.Look at them and remember that moment and how you felt about it. Be proud of the things you’ve achieved and the challenges you’ve overcome.

positivity-jar

Here are a few other things that I do to keep my mind positive.

  • Fitness – A big one for me is working out. This is a great way to release some tension and de-stress. Plus you’re getting fit in the process. You’re active, moving and taking charge of your diabetes. At the moment I’m following a workout programme called PIIT 28 by Cassey Ho. I will be doing a post on this once I’ve completed my first 28 days.

 

  • The Munchkins – My kids are another huge motivator for me. They keep me on my toes, make me smile and make me want to retain my health.

 

  • Loved ones – My support system – My family and friends are a great support system, when I’m feeling a little down. Don’t be afraid to share it with them, laugh, cry, talk it through with them but don’t hold it in.

 

  • Set realistic goals – Don’t let this condition take over your life and be a hindrance. Just because you’re diabetic it doesn’t mean you can’t do the thing syou want to do. Check out my two inspirational guest post, by Chirstel and Tobias from TheFitBlog and Angelica Chavez. They don’t let their diabetes get in the way. Don’t limit yourself. You are more than capable of doing so many great things. Let diabetes be that driving force which makes you see new things and do new things. Set realistic and achievable goals and push for them.

 

  • Be thankful – I’m thankful for the insulin that I’m so lucky to have access too. You can read my post on access to insulin. Many people around the world aren’t as fortunate to have access to insulin. Also I remember having to inject 5 times a day and it reconfirms my appreciation for both my insulin and my pump.

 

  • Control the D – Try to stay on top of the blood glucose taking, the insulin doses, everything. Take it one step at a time, find a routine that you’re comfortable with. Write down you sugars, make a note of patterns and adjust when needed (seek advice if you’re uncertain).

 

  • Change your environment – If you’re at home, take a long walk or drive. Whatever you choose, take that time to really de-stress and hash it out.

So my friends, please don’t give up. You can do this, have faith in yourself and remember things don’t change overnight. However, it has to start from somewhere. Try to surround yourself with positive people and begin to think positively about taking charge of your diabetes. If you work on your strength in mind and body, your strength can only grow. You are much stronger than you know.

POSITIVITY

 Amina xx

 

 

Guest Post: Angelica Chavez

Anglica1I’d like to introduce Angelica, an entrepreneur, designer and blogger at Lyfebulb, who has type 1 diabetes.

I’ve been drawing since I was 5 years old, intrigued with studying the human form. Art from paintings and architecture has also always captivated me, along with science and film. I’ve always had a curious mind for obtaining loads of knowledge on new topics, so I research like crazy when I design or work on a new project. 

I was diagnosed with Diabetes on November 6th, 1998, a couple days after dealing with painful symptoms and a final night of trauma. The few days before being diagnosed, I lost weight to the bone, threw up everything I ate, needed to pee constantly, and had horrible throat and stomach pains. After two trips to the doctor, I had a glucose of 1000mg/dL (55.6mmol/l). The next twelve months were the hardest my family and I would ever endure, especially because of a hypoglycaemic attack I got one night after not eating.

“I’ve honestly never felt like diabetes affected me, but it did affect my family.”

My mother was really traumatized after the attack and became almost obsessed with watching over me to make sure I was always ok. Sadly, everything flew past her except for me, which in turn affected my sisters. My middle sister grew up fast having to take care of our youngest sister, and my youngest sister felt alone for a couple years of not having our parents’ attention. As time passed, though, we overcame this stress and separation.

Pump or needles?

I have a Medtronic pump and LOVE the freedom, but like all diabetics, I want to be needle-free! Or at least pain free haha! The pump needle still scares me every time. Thank goodness it’s not every day.

Diabetes, Beyond and the positive impacts on my life

Diabetes has kept me mindful of my health, and taught me strength and independence. All the Diabetics I’ve met through Instagram have also inspired me to feel proud and not to give up!

My current entrepreneurial projects are: Veltimera- an ecofashionable nonprofit for animal rights, in which I’m currently designing a Fall 2016 collection to fund animal rescues.

Anglica2Fashion Academy & Network- an upcoming online fashion school with courses on design to business.

Anglica6Piece of SASS Swimwear- a sustainable swimwear line for all beautiful body types; and Rebel Empire Apparel– an upcoming t-shirt line based in Los Angeles.

Angleica3Teamwork, organization, and persistence are the key to making these all successful one day. There is a quote that says,

Anglica9

That is a hard lesson that not many people understand, because all they see is the success of a company or person and not its dedicated work. Another quote that I absolutely love is 

Anglica8

I know I definitely have already failed tons of times, but I’ve learned what not to do and have researched new ways of doing things the right way.

One tip I recommend when starting your own business is having an intense passion for what you’re working towards keeps you focused and strong. Without passion, people give up after the first failure or don’t have the drive to educate themselves in what needs to be done.

My drive and passion are animals. Ever since I became vegan, I have not stopped thinking about them. They are the reason I became an entrepreneur in 2012 and haven’t given up.

Veganism in my life

Veganism has actually made it easier for me to manage my diabetes, because most of my foods are plant based. For example- Breakfast is tofu stir-fry, Anglica7

Brunch is a peanut butter banana smoothie, Lunch is a Veggie burger with fries, and Dinner is bean and vegan cheese tacos with chocolate almond milk. Anglica4

I always switch my meals around, because I LOVE flavours, but I’ve managed to keep my meals constant in carb count and reduced my basals (which are hourly insulin pump administrations). I do recommend, though, if you consider trying veganism, write everything down for the first 2-4 weeks to understand your body. Everyone reacts differently to new lifestyles.

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P.S. To answer any questions, I’m 100% healthy with all my vitamins and minerals, and vegetables and nuts fulfil my bodies need for protein. No, I never feel deprived; in fact, I’ve become more open to new foods, because taste has improved like a thousand times. I also transitioned to veganism over the course of 3 years, and I don’t buy organic like people might assume.

Advice to the younger, newly diagnosed, me!

You will make it through and be a great artist with lots of good friends and successful creative projects. It might be hard right now, and I know you don’t want to take your shots because you hate the needles, but think of your family. You are a warrior, and they need you.

If you want to follow Angelica’s work or have any questions for her, then you can find her on instagram @ Inspired Vegan and Diabetic with Style. You can also connect with Angelica via Facebook and Twitter. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

HyPoS

Many-types-of-hypos

Hypo’s can be very unpredictable and can affect everyone in different ways. Here are a few of the hypos i’ve experienced.

  • Stuck: My train of thought just remains paused on the last thing I was doing, the last thing I was thinking about or the last thing I was talking about. I find multiple ways to talk about the exact same thing over and over again.

 

  • Mrs Jekyll Mrs Hyde: I have a complete change in mood. I become completely enraged. I definitely become more vocal and extremely irritated. The strange thing is, I can hear myself but can’t stop myself. I have no control over what I’m saying.

 

  • Zombified: This is the type of hypo, where I can’t do anything at all for myself. Thank god this type of hypo has only hit me a few times. I usually have an outer body experience, whereby I can hear everything that is being said to me but I can’t respond in sentences. My brain, my mouth and my body just won’t coordinate, so instead I produce a sounds which resembles that of the living dead lol.

 

  • Is it me Or is it hot in here?: With this hypo, I feel as if the temperature in the room is above 30 degrees Celsius and raising. What follows next is me asking other people in the room, “Why it’s so hot?” Again I can become quite vocal.

 

  • Pins and needles: My BS level has come back up very slowly and what I’m left with is my tongue feeling as if it’s tingling and numb.

 

  • Where did that hypo come from? I decide to check my BS level and it’s extremely low but I feel absolutely fine.

 

  • Clean teeth no more:  I’m ready for bed, I spend my time brushing my teeth and then check my BS level only to find out its low.  This then means I have to eat or drink something to bring it back up pfff!

 

  • Puke fest: With this hypo, I want to eat everything in sight. Resulting in everything been served up together. In that moment anything goes. Jam + a sprinkle of cheese + some gummy bears, a sip of juice, a bite of that pear, oh crackers with Nutella. JUST ANYTHING TO BRING THAT SUGAR BACK UP!!This is something I’ve been working hard to try not to do, because it just means serious rebound BG’s later on.

 

  • Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride it out! This the new me, where I sensibly correct my BG with 15g of fast acting carbs. These days I usually go with raisins or fruit strip. Honestly, I just try not to over correct the low too much. Although the feeling of waiting for that low BG to come up is awful. I’ve really been trying to hang in there and let it come up without over eating and sending my BG through the roof.

 

  • I’m convinced that I’ve mastered Korean: With this type of hypo, I’m usually watching a Korean drama (Kdrama) and can completely understand it word for word. FYI, I’m still only a beginner when it comes to learning Korean. I watch a lot of K dramas but I guess my brain has stored a lot more than I think it has. Hmmmmm! This has also happened with other languages I’ve learnt or heard.

 

  • Beating drums: I start with a mild headache and then it develops into a severe migraine. My heart is also beating. Is it the usual beat? I have no idea but I can definitely hear it and it’s louder than ever.  

 

  • Le vache qui rie (The laughing cow): Let’s just say, I find everything funny. Whatever might be happening, it just becomes funny. SHSL you’re a total loon!

 

  • Pass me that towel please: This is the type of hypo, where I’m sweating profusely, as if I’d been dunked in a swimming pool a few times and come out dripping wet.

 

These are just a few of the hypos I’ve experienced over the years. What type of hypo’s have you experienced?   

Amina xx

Guest Post continued: The Fit Blog Part 2- Nutrition

How important is nutrition to you? What types of food do you consume on a typical day before and after a workout and also when maintaining your BG’s?

The saying that you can’t outrun a bad diet is very much true. So nutrition is very important for me. If you are looking to make changes to your body, mood, and diabetes management, getting your nutrition right is the place to start. What you eat is actually more important than how you work out. I eat 6 small meals throughout the day consisting of low glycaemic carbs (oats, sweet potato, and rice), lean protein (chicken, fish, and eggs) and fats (coconut oil, nuts, avocado).

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“TheFitBlog offers some amazing, cost effective meal plans for example the Female Fitness Program. It’s a general workout and meal plan for women but can be used by everyone, so it doesn’t mention diabetes at all, Untitled-14but it definitely works for people with diabetes (as it’s the program Christel used when she first started her fitness journey).

There is also an opportunity to have Online Personal Training. Christel works directly with clients and creates a custom- made workout meal plan weekly follow-ups and all the things that you would expect from a personal trainer. For Christel’s clients with diabetes, she is able to help them with diabetes management, especially when it comes to working out.

 

 

Are there any specific foods you would advise a diabetic to have when working out?

Yes, but it depends on what kind of exercise and the individual’s goals. If you want to build strength, you need a good low glycaemic carb (oats, sweet potato, brown rice) and protein (chicken, fish, egg) before your workout and a higher glycaemic carbUntitled-16 (white rice, banana, rice cake) and protein (whey shake or eggs) after your workout, accompanied by insulin. You actually need that insulin spike after your workout in order to feed your muscles and build strength and volume. Don’t be afraid to eat, and insulin is not the enemy!!!

“As diabetics, we are constantly counting how many carbs we’ve consumed in any given meal. A lot of us are inclined to follow a lower carb diet to keep BG levels under control.”

How many carbs do you have in a day?

Let me start by saying that I’m not a fan of no carb diets. They don’t fit my goals and I don’t think you need them in order to have good blood sugar control. My standpoint is that carbs aren’t the enemy as long as you eat healthy carbs. Eating too many of the high glycemic carbs are what’s going to mess with your blood sugar and your waistline. Right now, I’m doing carb cycling which means I have about 100 g of carbs for 2 days, then 125 g on day 3 and then 225 g on day 4. Bear in mind that that’s my bikini prep plan. If it was off-season for me, I would most likely be eating more and when I get closer to competition day, I’ll be eating less.

Do you keep a record of this? 

Absolutely! I use an app called MyFitnessPal. It’s brilliant and it’s free, hurrah.

What evaluations do you conduct on a new diabetic client who wants to begin a fitness regimen?

I always have new clients fill out a questionnaire about their health, workout experience, previous injuries, diabetes control, etc. I also ask them to track their food and beverages for a few days before our initial phone/FaceTime/Skype session. This allows me to understand what their starting point is so we can discuss goals and set expectations. I want to create a plan that will get the individual the results they want but it also needs to be safe and sustainable. I’ll never promise a 50 lbs weight loss in a month and I don’t expect clients to do what I do.

How do you ensure that a fitness program is effective?

After the first meeting with a new client, I create a customized workout and meal plan. We then have regular check-ins and status updates (how do you feel, your weight, diabetes management, perhaps progress pictures, etc.). Based on the clients’ status, I will make any adjustments necessary to his/hers workout and diet. I’m also available for questions on Facebook messenger or text when needed. Everybody is different so a cookie cutter approach won’t work

“When it come to my diabetes management, I’m so fortunate to have the support of my husband. He’s there through most hypos, he’s even become quite good at counting carbs and always encourages me, when it comes to working out.”Untitled-18How does Tobias help you with your diabetes management, motivation and fitness?

Tobias and I have been partners in crime for 16 years now so he knows the ins and outs of living with me and my diabetes. I’m very independent when it comes to my diabetes management. For me the most important thing is that he understands that sometimes it just sucks, and I’ll complain, but I’ll get over it. He actually wrote a very sweet piece on how to support a diabetic spouse on TheFitBlog, check it out.

I want to say a big thank you to Christel and Tobias for sharing TheFitBlog with us. Christel is a true inspiration and has given me hope that I too can be successful when it comes to maintaining my fitness goals. Better understanding of my insulin sensitivity, carb ratios, learning how much insulin and food to consume around workouts and not over correcting my low BG’s will definitely not limit my ability to reach my true fitness potential.

Amina xx

“It’s all about the Pump Peelz!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So here’s my pump now!!

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

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

 

Amina xx

Guest post: The Fit Blog Part 1

I’d like to introduce husband and wife, fitness instructors, Christel (who has type 1 diabetes) and Tobias. Through their blog, TheFitBlog, they share CNT1their passion for a healthy and fit lifestyle, whist giving people the support to succeed with their fitness goals.

How did you start TheFitBlog?

Tobias and I have always had the desire to do our own thing. The summer of 2015 it all came together and we decided to take a leap of faith and make our hobby and passion our occupation. TheFitBlog is a general health and fitness site while the “Fit with Diabetes” section on the blog is my platform to discuss health and fitness from a diabetes perspective.

When I started working out more seriously, I searched without much luck for good information online on how to successfully combine training and diabetes management, so I had to figure it out on my own. TheFitBlog is my chance to share my experience and learnings with others.

How long have you had type 1 diabetes? How did you find out? What steps did you take?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in December 1997. I’d just finished high school that summer and spent my time working in a preschool, partying hard and eating and drinking everything in sight. I displayed all the classical diabetes symptoms; hunger, thirst, sleepiness, frequent need to urinate and a slender physique. But all of that I simply attributed to my lifestyle.

At one point, my family did urge me to see a doctor, I did, and he was determined I had diabetes. I was admitted to a diabetes clinic as an outpatient and they spent the next two days teaching me about diabetes, how to take my shots, test my blood sugars and how to treat lows. First day of my diagnosis I was encouraged to never let my diabetes manage my life or to be a hindrance and I took that to heart and have lived by it ever since. Eight months later, I left for my first backpacking trip around India and I never slowed down.

How often do you work out?

Hi, my name is Christel, and I’m a workout –holic :-). I’m in the gym 6 days a week right now. However, 2016 is also a competition year for me so I’m working out as an athlete. I compete in NPC bikini competitions and have qualified to potentially take home a pro card later this year. A more normal gym schedule for me is 4-5 times a week and I think that is plenty for most people.Untitled-11

How do you balance working out with diabetes?

There is definitely a learning curve, but once I understood my body and how I react to different kinds of exercise, it’s actually pretty easy. When you understand how your body reacts to certain foods and exercise you’ll know how to adjust your insulin and not have to worry about lows all the time. Of course, I don’t always get it right but 95% of the time my sugars are perfect pre, during and post a workout. My advice is to take a lot of notes and find out how your body reacts to different foods and exercise and learn from it. In the long run, I find that working out makes your diabetes easier to manage, not harder.

How often do you have rest days?

Rest days are usually the hard ones for me since my insulin sensitivity goes down. I have a minimum of one rest day per week. There are some great sunset walks where we live in Santa Monica CA. It’s important to have rest days, since that’s when your body rebuilds and get stronger.

“When I work out, I’ve found that it’s much better for me to work out in the morning opposed to the evening. My sugars have a tendency to drop drastically in the night time, so I lean towards working out in the morning. Being able to stay motivated whilst maintaining good BG levels is extremely difficult.”

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What time of day do you like to work out? Have you found that working out at certain times are better for you and your BG levels?

My advice is to work out the time of day that suits you best. In the morning, you’ll have less insulin on-board so you’ll be less prone to low blood sugar. If your goal is weight loss, you might even benefit from morning sessions before breakfast. I do fasting cardio in the morning and resistance training in the afternoon/evening to build muscle mass. The key is to determine the right insulin level. It will depend on what you eat, your insulin sensitivity and how aggressively you work out.

Do you use a pump or injections?

I’m one of the rare MDI / CGM combinations. Pumps are awesome, but not for me at this time in my life. It’s still an extremely valuable tool and something I recommend for everyone who starts working out. I have very good control with MDI because I’m willing to inject 10 times a day if needed and test my blood sugar just as often.

How often do you test your BG and how do you record your BG levels?

Whenever I feel I need it. So it might be 10 times a day or it might be 8. I have a Bayer meter that saves all my readings so I can just download it when needed.

How do you stay motivated whilst managing low BG levels?

I guess I really don’t think about my blood sugar in those terms. My motivation to do what I do is not affected by my blood sugars. I manage them to allow me to do what I do.

How do you correct your BG levels without ruining the hard work you’ve put in?

By learning how much insulin and food to consume around workouts I hardly ever have low blood sugars during exercise. If I do, I treat it as it is; a medical emergency. I’ll eat 2-3 glucose tablets and either have a fruit strip and continue my workout or simply go home. A few glucose tablets and a fruit strip will never ruin your progress even if you are trying to drop weight. What will derail your progress is if you treat lows with candy or sugary soda.

What advice do you give to your diabetic clients when it comes to low/high BG’s when working out?

I always have clients track their activities, food, sleep patterns etc., and then together we work on determining why and when he or she is going low to reduce the risk of it happening

“As a mother, my schedule can be pretty hectic and fitting in a work out can sometimes be impossible. I like to do quick HIT workouts for a 20- 30 minute period or target one area e.g. my abs. My goal is to be working out a lot more than I currently do.”

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What advice would you give to me and to others who are struggling to achieve their fitness goals due to the hectic lifestyles or plummeting BG levels?

Even a little physical activity is better than nothing. First, decide what you want to achieve. If it’s cardiovascular health, focus on cardio. If it’s building strength, chose resistance training. Since time is a limited resource, you might have to focus your attention to one thing only.

I mainly do resistance training, because I think it gives a better return on the time I spend. Muscles help burn calories and increase your insulin sensitivity, so adding a little muscle mass is great for people with diabetes.

The reason why your blood sugars drop when you work out is that you have too much insulin in your system. So just as you learn your carb ratios over time, put in the time to get to know your insulin sensitivity after different types of workouts and adjust your insulin accordingly.

Look out for Part 2 of TheFitBlog guest post from Christel and Tobias on Nutrition. In the mean time if you want to read more about Christel and Tobias, then check out their blog at TheFitBlog. You can also find them on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram.

Amina xx

Let them in!

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

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

He has many interesting questions;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Moving on……

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

See already her understanding is developing!

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

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Word of advice….

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

diabetesluvones

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

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

Amina xx

Insulin gone bad

insulin

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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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/

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

No strips and expired strips!

As a T1D I know how important it is to have blood glucose strips which aren’t out of date, an expired strip could potentially give me the wrong blood glucose reading. Let’s face it that number that appears on the meter is so important, because as a diabetic I live by the numbers which appear on my meter. It allows me to confirm whether I have a low, high or a good blood glucose level (4-7 mmol/l).  Depending on what the outcome may be I can then act by either treating my low, high or just do nothing but record my level. Knowing my BGL’s are of great importance and it is just as significant as my insulin. My insulin and test strips are pivotal to me being able to manage my diabetes to the best standard possible. Unfortunately I can’t say that I’ve always had an abundant number of strips available or never been faced with expired test strips. I’d be lying if I said that has never happened to me.

That night I realised I used expired blood glucose strips……………..

I was woken one night because I just didn’t feel right. I felt as if my sugar was high. I reached for my blood glucose meter and realised I’d run out of strips. Actually I knew I didn’t have that many strips available the night before and had used the last one before bed. Therefore I checked in my usual back up strip storage places and couldn’t find a thing. My next move is always to go to my other blood glucose meters (x1) and see if there might be any strips in there. Yup I found nothing! So I decided to dig out some old meters (how I did this half asleep I do not know). By the way I have one really ancient meter with no battery and the other was the same as my (One touch Ultra Easy).

I opened up the case for the meter and (bling) I’ve never been so happy to see blood glucose strips and a full tub of 25 strips.  Without even looking at the expiry date I grabbed a strip, pricked my finger and tested my BGL.

HIGH

“WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTT?” OK I felt that way so at least I’m able to recognise my high symptoms.

I don’t know about any of the other T1D’s but the very few times I’ve had a reading that just says high or low on my meter, I totally freak out and want to correct it right then and there! I corrected it with a bolus and then I gave it 30 minutes to see if it would come down. I drank some water because strangely enough that seems to help too. Anyway finger prick number two, I expected the reading to be lower. My meter then produces another reading of

HIGH

“WHAT!! WHY HASN’T IT COME DOWN?”

I actually started to feel a lot better but then silly me instead of trusting how I was feeling.  I then corrected again! I waited another 30 minutes and at this point I started to feel a little low. It just made no sense. I then decided I’d go and wake my husband up who was actually already on his way to me.  I got him to test his BGL which read

HIGH

Side note: My husband isn’t a diabetic so really his BGL should have been within the norm.

I quickly checked the expiry date on the tub and saw that it was out of date by a year {{shock horror}} so all my readings had been incorrect to start with. I couldn’t do anything but at this point I felt as if my BGL was extremely low so I treated it slightly and waited until I felt OK. It was already morning I stayed awake and went to pick up my prescription as soon as the pharmacy opened.

My advice to all the diabetics who use test strips. Please make sure you have sufficient strips and strips which aren’t expired. This experience was extremely scary for me and an experience I’d rather not find myself in again. Having strips and strips that aren’t out of date is so crucial!

Has anyone else ever found themselves without strips or used expired strips without initially knowing? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Thanks Amina  xx

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

Omipod or stick with the Vibe??

The other day, I found out that my warranty on my Animas Vibe had actually ended and it was just a continuation of my previous pump (Animas 20/20). So essentially I have been walking around without any warranty for the past 3 months.

WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAT!

Anyway! I’ve been given the option of either getting a brand new Animas Vibe or an Omnipod. I’m well aware of what both pumps can do. However I wanted to get your views on which pump would be the better option for me to go with? Or you’re experiences with either pump. I like my Vibe it’s small and easy handle but I also like the idea of the Omnipod as its cable free, I can check my BGL’s on there too and it seems more advanced than my current Vibe.

How does the Omnipod work with the Dexcom G4? Would I need a receiver?

I would appreciate any feedback you can give me to make my decision a lot easier.

*BTW I and other UK WordPress users have been having a lot of trouble using WordPress due to the Internet Watch Foundation blocking WordPress. Although the block has been lifted, some of the WordPress servers are still black listed by ISP’s. On some days I can log on to my blog and access my blog posts. On other days I can’t access a thing. 

Thanks Amina.

 

#Wordless Wednesday~ What’s in your Mary Poppin’s bag?

This is my first wordless Wednesday post and it was inspired by one of my fellow D bloggers a1-Conceive! In her post “The day I lost it at the grocery store…”, she mentioned how us D ladies usually have to carry huge bags so huge that in fact they resemble Mary Poppin’s bag in size. So the pictures below show my MP bag today and its content.

bag1

insidethebagnumbers

1)Lucozade 2) Makeup 3)Glasses 4) Inserts and syringes 5) Novorapid Insulin and Glucagon 6) Purse 7) Peanut boys books 8)Blood glucose machine 9) Car Keys 10) Key chain  11) ohhh and the little green car that belongs to my peanut boy.

MORE WORDS THAN PICTURES OPPS

JDRF UK – My story

JDRF are a type 1 diabetes (T1D) organisations, who are known worldwide. They fund research with the main focus of finding a cure for T1Ds. One of the things I love about this organisation is that it is run by other T1Ds and they provide information for children, teenagers and adults with T1D. They are constantly fighting to better the lives of T1Ds by giving them a voice. By doing this we’re able to share our experiences, take part in fund raising and campaigns.  I was recently given the opportunity to share my diabetes story on their site, click here to have a read. Take a look at some of the other amazing T1D stories.

DSC05507

Thanks for stopping by Amina x

What is it about coffee?

Kaffee

© ram69 – Fotolia.com

Coffee  커피  قهوة  café Kaffee コー​​ヒー

Is coffee good or bad for diabetes? Hmmm!! This is a question I‘ve been asking myself ever since my blood glucose levels (BGL) started to wreak havoc.

As a child coffee was always painted in such poor light. It was something I was never allowed to have. I was told it would stunt my growth and that it was really bad for me. All the adults around me were drinking it so why was it such a bad thing? The smell it produced was amazing, it made me curious. “What was it like? Why was it so bad for me?” What made even less sense was that I was allowed to have milky tea, which made me happy because all the adults were drinking it too.

Side note: I also love a good cup of tea. Tea however doesn’t seem to affect me in the same way that coffee does.

As I grew I started to drink coffee, I’d drink one or two cups every week. I loved a good cup of coffee. It didn’t hurt me or affect my diabetes in anyway so I continued to drink it. Since I married my husband (who is a mega coffee drinker), I’ve drastically increased my consumption. My one to two cups every week increased to two to three cups in a day “shaking my head”. But I “love” coffee!!! Recently I began to realise that maybe coffee doesn’t love me back.

Every time I’d drink a cup of coffee I noticed that it increased my BGL with no sign of coming down. Also if I ever ate after consuming a cup of coffee my BGL’s would increase even more, forcing me to correct it with a bolus (insulin correction) to bring it back down.

I decided to do some reading about coffee and its possible effects on type 1 diabetes. A lot of the articles and papers I read were very confusing. Some of the articles would express how beneficial coffee was to diabetes and other articles would point out all the wrongs with coffee and diabetes. I think the reason for this conflicting information is because, coffee contains several types of chemicals and some of these chemicals are beneficial whilst others potentially aren’t. This is due to the fact that caffeine is able to impair insulin sensitivity.  In a person with type 2 diabetes this will increase BGL slightly, however with a type 1 diabetic BGL will increase a great deal and will require a bolus to reduce BGL.

FYI: coffee has many benefits it contains polyphenols which have been known to prevent illnesses such as type 2 diabetes. It also contains many nutrients such as magnesium and chromium. The nutrients have been known to improve insulin sensitivity. (Note to self I better get some magnesium and chromium supplements)

According to 2011 “Breast Cancer Research” studies show that coffee contains numerous phytoestrogens, which are chemicals found in plants that sometimes act like the hormone estrogen in your body. The role that phytoestrogens play in your body varies, however, with some mimicking estrogen and having the same effects as this hormone and others blocking estrogen’s effects. Coffee appears to have both varieties and factors like its preparation method, filtering or boiling may influence how much of each type you take.

After all my reading, I made the decision to give the coffee a break and do a detox (I will do a more detailed post on my detox in the future), to cleanse my system and also to truly find out if it was the coffee that was affecting my blood glucose levels. I actually stayed away from all caffeine during the detox, so no tea as well. During the detox my BGL remained stable (no crazy lows or highs).  After two weeks of detoxing I slowly reintroduce the tea first and my BGL continued to act as it did during the detox.

I then reintroduced the coffee to see what would happen. I decided to only consume 1 cup of coffee every day in the morning. The first 2 days of drinking the coffee caused my BGL to rise beyond belief.  I would always have to correct with a bolus.

Was this the end of my coffee drinking days? L

I did some more reading and found a few articles which mentioned that a regular high caffeine intake has been linked to better insulin sensitivity. I decided although my BGL had been rising, that I would increase my consumption to 2 cups a day.

Day 3, the strangest thing happened. That morning I started my day with my usual routine of BGL check (7.2mmol/l) and my usual cup of coffee. I then checked my BG after an hour and to my surprise my BGL was within the normal range (4mmol/l – 7mmol/l). What did I do differently? Nothing at all!

My BGL continued to stay in the normal range so I had my second cup of coffee that evening.

Then day 5, my BGL started off in the normal range and then they began to drop almost after every meal. I struggled to get them up and it took a lot of glucose/carbohydrate consumption to get it within a normal range.  Day 6 and 7 were pretty much the same. I had to have my emergency hypo kit to hand all the time.

Week 2, I decided I would go back to having my 1 cup of coffee, once a day in the evening. This seemed to slow down the hypos. I guess that everything in moderation saying does work out after all.

Another side track: I then found out I was pregnant and I completely stopped drinking coffee all together. After my little peanut arrived I made the decision to breast feed so I stayed away from coffee for almost a year. Plus the pregnancy and breast feeding brought a whole new set of hypo issues. My insulin sensitivity increased so much that my rates were nearly zero. My I: C (insulin to carb ratios increased) and ISF (Insulin sensitivity factor decreased), but I was still having hypos especially in the night. Naughty me I admit I even detached from my pump at times. As a matter of a fact even after the pregnancy my BGL’s lean towards the lower side. This is something that I’m working on with my diabetic team.

To answer my initial question, is coffee good or bad for diabetes?

I definitely think that coffee has an effect on BGL’s. In my case too much coffee increased my BGLs. After the detox and reintroduction of coffee my BGLs still seemed to rise. An Increased consumption of coffee resulted in a decrease in my BGL’s.  However I feel that the pregnancy may have been playing a big part in it all.

After a few years I’m now back to drinking coffee and I try to limit it to 2 cups in a week or less. I do find that on the days I drink coffee my BGL can drop  especially in the night. This month I’ve been really good and so far only had 4 cups. I don’t think I’ll ever totally give up on coffee but I will definitely moderate the amount of coffee I’m pumping into my body since it seems to have some sort of effect on my BGLs. Overall my nocturnal hypos have decreased.

Does coffee affect anyone else in this strange way or any other strange way? Diabetic or non-diabetic. Or is it just me? Hahaha

 

Get creative with Diabetes #2

PrintWithout Me

It’s strange symbiosis we share
I who lift you up, morning noon and night. Yet you’d rather live without me

You’re provider your protector, your shield from an everlasting sleep.
Yet you’d rather live without me.

All I ask from you in return is a few moments of your time. To let me run through you’re veins. To be a part of you, yet you’d rather live without me.

By Maryam Abdullahi- Mahdi

Hope for a cure!

ONE DAY I WOULD LOVE TO SAY I HAD DIABETES

Since I was diagnosed, I always hoped that one day I’d wake up to the news of diabetes being cured. For now this is a prospect that I can only dream about. Type 1diabetes has been with me for 19 years and the truth is, until they find a cure it will always be a part of my life. I pray that, one day I will be able to say “I had diabetes” and “it affected me in this way and that way, but I now no longer have it”. I’ll be Amina and although my diabetes will be long gone. It will be like a scab, pick away and all I’ll have left of it will be the memory of our time spent together. I will be able to function just like everybody else. No blood glucose checks before meals, no insulin pump, no insulin and no need to correct my sugar. Diabetes free, I will be.

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I strongly believe that one day there will be a cure for diabetes. I may not be able to benefit from it, but maybe whatever cure they develop will help others affected by this condition. I know that there has been and there currently is a great deal of research being done to try and eliminate this horrible condition.  Just to outline the current research that is  being done:

1. Diabetes Research Institute Foundation – have developed a cell based therapy, that works by transplanting insulin producing islet cells and they have been able to restore natural insulin production in patients involved in clinical trials.  Patients have been able to attain insulin independence and experience normal blood sugar levels. A lot of these patients have lived without any insulin for a long period of time.

They have now gone further with this research and are currently trying to develop what is known as the BioHub (mini organ) which is able to function like a normal functioning pancreas. This BioHub will contain thousands of insulin producing cells and be able to know what blood sugar levels are and then administer the correct insulin required instantly.

2. Melbourne researchers, Professor Len Harrison, Dr Esther Bandala-Sanchez and Dr Yuxia Zhang – have identified an immune protein that has the potential to stop or reverse the development of type 1 diabetes in its early stages, before insulin-producing cells have been destroyed.

For all the type 1 diabetics like me who have had the condition for a longer period of time, this is not an option for us. Newly diagnosed T1D’s are more likely to benefit from this treatment. Click on the following link to read more about how this research works. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130520104932.htm

3. Matthias Hebrok, Ph.D, University of California, San Franciscohas developed a stem-cell-based strategy which is able to boost the immune system in mice. Click on the following link to read more about this great research. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130516123650.htm

4. Tech engineers and Emory University clinician – have made a significant first step with newly engineered biomaterials for cell transplantation that could help lead to a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes. Please refer to the following link. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509154554.htm

Today’s news 10/06/2013

5. Researchers from the University of Cambridge, have developed the ‘closed loop’ device. This device is able to monitor blood glucose levels minute-by-minute and uses infrared technology to relay this information to an Insulin pump attached to the patient’s body, which then delivers the correct amount of insulin into the blood stream. http://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2013/Jun/first-ever-home-trial-of-artificial-pancreas-for-diabetes-treatment-96325905.html

 

In order for more research to take place and for us to hopefully be successful in finding a cure for diabetes, organisations and research institutions need more financial support. If you’re able to help please refer to some of the links below or look for a diabetes charity of your choice.

Diabetes UK – https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Donate/

Diabetes Research Insitute (DRI) – https://www.diabetesresearch.org/Support-BioHub

Diabetes.co.uk – http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-charity/donate.asp?id=duk

The insert that bled

20130514-210204.jpgDon’t you just hate it when it’s time to change your insert (pump insert), you find the perfect site and in goes the insert. Only to find that your perfect site isn’t so perfect after all. It aches with every move you make. It’s impossible to sleep on and it’s just so uncomfortable.

This is the situation I found myself in the other night.  After changing my insert, as painful as it felt. I decided to ride it out till the morning. Then, silly me with my busy schedule I continued to suffer with this insert until the evening. I finally came to my senses and I thought, “No it has to come out”.

I detached my pump and went to remove my insert only to find, blood pumping out of my arm and from the insert. Could this be the reason for my weird blood sugar readings those past two days. Possibly, probably, now I think about it, most definitely.

This mini post is a reminder to me to not put myself in this situation again. The pain, discomfort  and not to mention the ample amounts of tissue I used to mop up my arm really  wasn’t worth it.

Happy pumping !!Print

Type 1 diabetic on Metformin

metformin extraType 1 diabetic? CHECK

Insulin dependent? CHECK 

Taking Metformin?  ERR CHECK

Yup your vision isn’t failing you. I’m a type 1 diabetic on Metformin. I started to take metformin over 4 years ago alongside my insulin pump therapy. I began to notice that my insulin basal doses seemed to be increasing steadily on a monthly basis. In fact my basal doses had more than doubled over a course of 4 months.

So what is Metformin?

Metformin – is a drug, which is usually used to treat type 2 diabetics.  It is commonly given to type 2 patients who are overweight, obese and with normal kidney function. It is also used to treat gestational diabetes and polycystic ovaries.

“So why do I take it?”Metformin1

I wasn’t overweight or obese and I maintained a good healthy weight for several years. So why did I need it all of a sudden?  It just made no sense at all. Being the scientist that I am, I started to look for different research papers which might be related to metformin and type 1 diabetes.  A lot of the papers I came across only made mention of type 2 diabetics taking this drug due to insulin resistance.

Wikipedia states that, Insulin resistance (IR) is a physiological condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. The body produces insulin, but the cells in the body become resistant to insulin (through changes in their surface receptors) and are unable to use it as effectively. Beta cells in the pancreas increase their production of insulin, further contributing to hyperglycaemia. This often remains undetected and can contribute to a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.

Could it be that I’d developed some sort of insulin resistance specific to type 1 diabetes? HMMMM!! As I delved deeper, I came across a paper which talked about insulin resistance occurring in type 1 diabetics.  Just like type 2 diabetics, type 1 diabetics are also known to suffer from insulin resistance. Metformin had been mentioned as a drug which was able to lower the amount of insulin required, by helping the body move and use the insulin more efficiently.

So maybe in my case the insulin from my insulin pump wasn’t being used and moved around my body efficiently!

I decided to make an appointment to see both my diabetic doctor and nurse to see what they thought, without telling them the extensive research I’d done. After a lengthy conversation they also came to the conclusion I might be Insulin resistant and suggested that I try Metformin. They explained all the past and recent research done, the success people with both type 1 and 2 diabetes have experienced with this drug.

So I thought,” why not, what’s the worst that can happen?”

Initially, I started to take (500mg metformin, prolonged release tablets), once a day with my evening meal. Almost instantly I noticed that the amount of insulin I had needed prior to metformin began to reduce. I was then advised to increase my dose to (500mg prolonged release twice a day) with my evening meal.

I started to experience different side effects. Some of the good side effects were, my HbA1c dropped from 7.9% to 7.0%. I dropped a few pounds and my insulin requirement continued to decrease drastically. Some of the unpleasant side effects were, severe abdominal pain followed by gas and severe upset stomach, which would then settle after 24 – 48 hours. Later I realised that this was down to sometimes forgetting to take my tablet. So if you make the decision to take metformin, remember not to skip your dose.

I began to think this drug really was amazing! It was reducing my insulin intake, my HbA1c was fantastic and I was in even greater shape than I was before. This all became extremely important because my husband and I had made the decision to try to conceive. When I finally conceived, I continued to take metformin for the first 4 months of my pregnancy. I then stopped taking it completely until nearly a year after my pregnancy. I’ll go further into this when I do my post on diabetes and pregnancy.

As a type 1 diabetic, if you’re considering metformin, I’d definitely recommend talking to your doctor first. “Do your own research, prepare questions to ask your doctor. Be prepared!” After all it is your body. You must remember that, we all react to medication in different ways and you may or may not have the same results that I did. However, I strongly feel that the metformin played a great part in reducing my HbA1c and also more than halving my insulin basal dose. Perhaps the metformin combined with other factors such as eating a low carb diet, exercising and eating healthily, which I was doing prior to taking metformin helped to achieve good results with the drug.

Avoid retinopathy

Let’s prevent retinopathy

How can we avoid these complications? Here are some of the steps I try my best to take to avoid complications.

1.      BLOOD SUGARS, BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS, BLOOD SUGARS. Get them as tight as possible. Stay within the target levels.I can’t stress how important this is. I try to test my BGL at least 8 – 10 times in a day.

Type 1 diabetic (adult) before meals should be aiming for 4-7mmol/l

Two hours after meals try to aim for less than 9mmol/l

Type 1 diabetic (child) before meal should be aiming for 4-8mmol/l

Two hours after meals try to aim for less than 10mmol/l

2.      HbA1c, A1c = Try to get this between 48 – 58mmol/mol (6.50% – 7.50%)

3.  Make sure blood lipids (fats) are in a healthy range.

4.      Get your eyes tested, every 6 months to a year. Let’s avoid any complications occurring.

5.      If you have high blood pressure, get this checked frequently.
125/80 (healthy range)

6.      I always try to eat healthy.

.   Stay Active. Get that blood circulating

8.  I always attend my annual diabetes check ups.

9. Look after your feet

ClearlyHealth

Don’t complicate it! Part 1

DIABETIC COMPLICATIONSAVOID, AVOID, AVOID!!!!!

This is what I think when I see, or hear  diabetic complications.

One of the reasons why I stress the importance of having good blood glucose levels and HbA1c control, is to avoid complications caused by diabetes. These complications can affect the eyes, the nerves, the kidneys, muscles and the heart. This is something which worries me a great deal. However my worries, drive me to want to have  better, tighter control of my blood glucose levels.

Complications are less likely to develop and are not as severe with diabetics who have good blood glucose level control.  If I can put in the effort to have the best control that I can, these complications are less likely to arise.

“Complications with a capital C”

Complication number 1

Retinopathy –  This is one of the complications which totally freaks me out.This complication causes damage to the retina. All diabetics are at risk of developing retinopathy, whether they control their diabetes by diet, tablet or insulin. There is a much greater risk, if your diabetes isn’t controlled well, if you have high blood pressure and if you’ve had your diabetes for a prolonged period of time.

Illustration of hemorrhage in retina - Diabetic Retinopathy

© Sophia Winters – Fotolia.com

Poor control and high blood glucose levels will cause retinopathy to occur. Over a period of time these high blood glucose levels, will affect the small blood vessels in the retina,  causing them to become inflamed and damaged without the patient’s knowledge.

Blood vessels burst causing haemorrhage and swelling. Blood leaks to the back of the eye (in the picture above, this is represented as spots near the vessels) and oxygen is unable to enter the retina. This results in the growth of abnormal blood vessels on the surface of the retina.  Without treatment, retinopathy continues to progress, eventually leading to blindness. Having good blood glucose control and ultimately a good HbA1c, will help to reduce the risks caused by retinopathy.

There are different types of retinopathy

1. Background Retinopathy (or non- proliferative retinopathy)

In this initial stage, many people do not notice any changes in their vision. These early changes are reversible and do not affect vision.  Diabetics must have regular eye checks to prevent these early stages progressing to a more serious stage of retinopathy. If this early stage occurs, it can be detected and monitored closely.

2.  Maculopathy:

Glucose build up in the eye and damages the small blood vessels in the retina. Diabetics can develop a condition called macular edema. Damaged blood vessels leak fluid onto an area of the eye called the ‘macula’. This part of the eye allows you to see fine detail.  With maculopathy the macula becomes swollen and can causes vision to be become blurred.

3. Proliferative:

As retinopathy develops, the retina becomes deprived of a good blood supply, due to damaged blood vessels. This causes blood vessels to proliferate (or grow). Due to a lack of oxygen in the retina and as the eye tries to repair itself.  This causes new brittle blood vessels to grow in the retina. These new blood vessels can bleed and grow rapidly. If this isn’t treated quickly it can cause vision to be clouded, resulting in a damaged retina. In severe cases this can cause retinal detachment, and glaucoma.

There are 3 main treatments used for diabetic retinopathy, which have been effective in decreasing the loss of vision.These treatments include,

To be continued…………………………….

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs due to a lack of the hormone Insulin in the body (Insulin is  produced in the pancreas). When food is ingested this lack of Insulin causes blood glucose levels to rise as the glucose builds up in the blood stream.

©Clearly Health

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR DIABETESBeing diagnosed with type 1 diabetes meant that I had to accept the dreadful truth that I now had this for the rest of my life and that I was now Insulin dependent.

There are two options for Insulin treatment. Either by injection or Insulin pump therapy. When I first became diabetic I only had the option of injecting therefore  I started my insulin treatment with injections, injecting twice a day. But as I grew,  my body required a lot more insulin. So my twice a day dose was then increased to five times a day. I asked myself, ‘How was I going to do five injections a day?’ I had only just got the hang of having to inject twice a day Print

pensAs difficult as I thought it was going to be, I remained calm and positive about the new situation I found myself in. I said to myself, ‘Amina you have no choice. It’s either you take control of this condition by taking five injections a day or succumb to it and let it control you.’ Despite my apprehensions,  I  remained on five injections a day for many years. As doubts crept into my mind again,  I remember thinking I was going to be taking five injections a day  forever (which seemed like a long time). During August 2009,   I was contacted by my diabetic healthcare team to tell me that my insulin pump had arrived. It couldn’t have come sooner! Print

pump

My Diabetes……

How it all started

At the age of 11, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The symptoms were very subtle to start with. Sheer exhaustion was the first to hit me. My mother began to question ”why was I always tired?” I went to the doctors and was told I was anaemic and needed iron tablets. I took them but still the tiredness continued. A few weeks later, the symptoms came on rapidly over a course of a week. I was constantly exhausted, carrying 2Litre bottles of water around with me unable to quench my never ending thirst. Waking up several times during the night became routine and not to mention the drastic weight loss which occurred over that week. I was a walking skeleton!!

Diabetes is a common trait with the women in my family which made both me and my mother more aware of some of the symptoms at the time. Knowing some of these symptoms are really important as it can affect anyone of us and it may make a difference in saving someone’s life. But to this day, I still believe that the little knowledge and experience we had helped us take action which helped me get the treatment that I needed.

My diagnosis at such a young age was a great shock and difficult to understand at first. I knew that I had to accept and deal with it if I wanted to be healthy. I can honestly say that I’ve had a great support network from my family, friends and some of the nurses and doctors. On the other hand, even with their support I’ve still had my ups and downs and ultimately I’ve realised that it’s my diabetes and my responsibility. I’ve learnt that my condition is something that I shouldn’t hide from or be ashamed of, but something that is a part of me but does not define me. Living with type 1 diabetes, even with its difficulties, I can definitely say that it has taught me the virtue of patience and being patient.

Diabetes UK have a campaign which is designed to raise more awareness for Type 1 diabetes. Its called 4T’s.

4Ts A4 Poster

Please click on the highlighted link above, print and post the poster somewhere so everyone can see it and learn these symptoms. Thank you.