Tag: Type 2 diabetes

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

monday-3

Feel free to add to the list.

Just remember friend’s, stay determined, be positive and don’t let diabetes stop you from being able to do the things you want to do. Yes, it’s a challenge, but you are more than capable of overcoming it. Struggle through it and you’ll soon discover how much stronger you have become.

Sending love and support to all the carers giving their all to help their loved ones fighting this ever so demanding condition and from one person with diabetes to another, keep on going xx

Amina

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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Guest Post: Appleton

INTRODUCING

APPLETON

 

Appleton undercover

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

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

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

All a Board

All a Board

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

South Bound

South Bound

 

Appleton’s relationship with Diabetes,

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Cool Blue Designer Insulin

Cool Blue Designer Insulin

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

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

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

 

Amina xx

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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?

diabetes-week2016-11

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

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

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

This occurs because the pancreas either:

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

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

Type 1

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

Type 2

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

Gestational diabetes

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

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

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

MODY diabetes or Type 3 diabetes

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

Types of MODY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diabetes Facts and stats 

Diabetes Awareness Poster (print and share)

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

Thanks for stopping by friends

Amina xx

Carbs & Cals have a new Salad book

salad book cover

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

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app

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

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

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

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

Recipe I tried:

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

 

Cooking from Carb & Cals Salad book

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

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

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

12-May-king-prawn-avacado

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

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

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

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

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

Amina xx

Finding your comfort

Comfort between you and the needle

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second level of comfort

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

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

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

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

Car park experience

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

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

malcom-x

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 Week 2016 – Tips and Tricks

 

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

Positivity Tips and Tricks

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

Maya-Angelou

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

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

better-things

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

Finger Pricking good

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

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

Working it out

trainners

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

DSC01106

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Network and be happy

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

fighter

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

 shine

Amina xxx

Diabetes Blog 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 – 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

 

 

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?

Emotional Diabetes

 

 

faces

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