Monday, 20 August 2012

Same song, different chorus

So I had my annual review at the diabetes clinic earlier this afternoon, and I'm sitting here feeling frustrated and angry.

I will start off by saying that in general, I really like this clinic: the DSNs are awesome, through this clinic I've been on a DAFNE course and moved from Mixtard (when I first arrived) all the way to an insulin pump, and my diabetes management has really improved.  However, I have one major grip with the clinic, and it's this: I never see the same doctor twice.

Usually, I find this mildly annoying, but no big deal. Then I had the appointment with Dr Pillock and it really threw me. I was so angry after that appointment, and I sat in that waiting room afterwards waiting to see the DSN feeling like a complete and utter failure.  I know that isn't true, and I generally don't feel like that, but now every time I go to that clinic, I sit in the waiting room not knowing which doctor I'm going to see, and I remember that appointment and how I felt, and I stress.  The last two appointments I saw a DSN (which was actually quite good) and a doctor who seemed very nice.  Today, one of the doctors I've seen before (and got on really well with) was in clinic, so I was hoping I'd get him, and instead I got a patronising *insert naughty word here*

He started off by asking me the same questions they always ask (while reading over my notes) we had the usual surprise that I'm not in regular touch with the DSNs *sigh*, and I asked about my HbA1c.  Turns out it's actually gone done a little bit, and is now 6.7%, which I was very pleasantly surprised by, as I was convinced it would have gone up.  The last three months covers our honeymoon and all the surrounding chaos and I felt that I was completely slacking in my diabetes management.  In the last month or so I've got back on track and really made an effort, and maybe that's what made the difference.  Regardless, I was pleased, but I think part of the reason that I'm so frustrated by today is that the rest of the appointment took away from that.

Anyway, I mentioned that I thought that some of the reduction in my HbA1c has probably been helped by the fact that my liver doctor is currently in the process of reducing my steroid dose, which he then looked up to see what had been written in my notes, and then proceeded to get confused as to whether I had stopped or not, and why I was on the dose I was on.  We then got into a slightly heated debate where he seemed to decide that I didn't understand any of it, stated that "we know what we're doing with prednisolone because we're endocrinologists," explained some of the tests I'd had in baby language, and started to suggest things they could do with my steroids.

At this point I was pretty much ready to bash him over the head with my Biochemistry PhD certificate and tell him that there was no way in hell I was letting him do anything to my steroid dose because I wasn't under his bloody care for that and he'd met me once.  *takes a deep breath and counts to ten* Instead, I explained, as calmly as I could (which, to be honest, probably wasn't all that calmly...) that I had discussed all the options with my liver doctor, and that we had decided on a course of action that we were both happy with. He scribbled something in his notes, and stopped pushing the matter.

I'm sorry, but I trust my liver doctor.  I've seen him every couple of months for the last two years, and I really like him.  He treats me like an individual, and he always discusses my options and asks my opinion.  He knows my case far better than some endocrinologist who has just looked at my notes for the first time and decided that he knows better.

Then he went through my last appointment notes, and asked if my basal rates were the same.  When I told him that they were considerably lower (about 40%, because of the reduction in steroids), he said that he didn't want to write all that down, and moved on...

I just...I feel that the appointments are worse than useless. At best, I get my HbA1c results, and check everything else is ok, and nothing else; at worst, I walk out feeling like this.  I don't get anything out of the appointments, and to be honest, I'm not even sure what I *want* to get out of them, but I know that when I have doctors like the one I have today, I don't want to ask questions, I just want to get out of there as soon as I can.  And that's not right.

I'm pondering emailing one of the DSNs at the clinic (since apparently I should be doing that anyway...*coughs*) and asking what the actual policy is in the clinic, and if there's any way I can make sure that I see the same doctor/group of doctors. I don't want to make an actual complaint, but I'm tired of walking out of the clinic feeling frustrated, and it's pushing me to do something about it. 

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Hypo Awareness Week Part 2...

2. Other people's reactions to hypos

Over at Shoot up or put up, Alison blogged about hypo awareness week and asked "What would you make people more or less aware of about hypos?" This is the post that actually got me thinking about Hypo Awareness week, and public understanding of hypos in general.

If there's one thing in particular that I would change about friends and family's knowledge about hypos it's this:

Please don't panic if I say I'm low

Yes, hypos suck, and they feel like crap, but (usually) they're not the end of the world. The majority of the time, I feel low, I test, I treat and I move on. That's it. 

I once had a conversation with a colleague who had just returned from a first aid course, where, of course, they had covered what to do with a diabetic who is hypo (their answer was give them chocolate but that's a rant for another day). She'd come over to talk to me about it afterwards, and in the course of the conversation commented "you must be a really well controlled diabetic, because I've never seen you go hypo!"

After I stopped laughing at the idea that well controlled diabetes merely involves not ending up passed out on the floor at regular intervals, I pointed out that we had had entire conversations while I was low and she had no idea. Public perception of a hypo seems to be at the extreme end of things, and to be fair, the bad ones are probably the ones you hear about most often.  However, most hypos aren't like that. I usually don't tell people that I'm low, because the few times I have, they've generally panicked, and I don't want to deal with that at the best of times, even less so when I'm hypo. It would nice to just say "I'm a bit low at the moment, can you give me ten minutes to get my brain back into gear" and not have it be a huge Thing. 

While I'm writing this, I'm realising that I'm probably part of the problem! By not telling people when I'm low, they're not getting a change to see what a minor hypo actually looks like, so that they know when to help and when not to. Maybe one of the best things to come out of Hypo Awareness Week is just to get people talking about these things, and chatting to diabetics about what they actually want and need with regards to help when low.

Hypo Awareness Week!

It is Hypo Awareness Week this week, which seems to be a new thing, and I've had a couple of throughts knocking around my head about the subject in general. Part of the week is about educating healthcare professionals working in secondary care about hypos, what they might look like, what to do if you find someone hypo, etc, and it got me thinking about a couple of things, which I'm going to actually going to split into two posts, because I can ramble on a fair bit... ;)

1) Hypos in hospital

I've had two experiences of being hypo while staying in a hospital, and they were quite different from one another.

The first was while I was participating in a study.  The study part had ended, but I was hooked up to IV insulin, and they were continuing to monitor my blood glucose levels over night (part of the study protocol as I was instructed not to take my lantus the previous day).  I woke up at some point in the wee hours, and I knew I was low.  They had just taken a sample to test, and I was still in that sleepy/hypo groggy stage where I was deciding what to do when they came back and asked how I felt. I replied that I was pretty sure I was low, to which they responded "your BG reading is 2.8"

By this point I was fully awake, and ready to grab some skittles and just get on with it (as you do).  I knew I was low but it wasn't a particularly bad one, so I wasn't bothering that much, other than being slightly frustrated that I couldn't just get up and treat it.

The nursing staff, however, pretty much went into panic mode at this point.  They asked me what I wanted to treat the hypo (fair enough), so I asked for some juice if they had any.  They gave me a glass of orange juice and four biscuits, and then asked me if I wanted a couple of slices of toast and a cup of tea.  I drank the juice, ate one of the biscuits, and then explained (while hypo) that if I ate all of the stuff they were trying to give me, my BG would end up skyrocketing.

They were very nice, and very concerned, but oh man, it's so hard anyway to avoid overtreating a hypo without someone trying to force food on you! I was also surprised, as the study was diabetes related, that their night staff were not better educated on how to treat a hypo.

The second experience occurred while I was in short stay for a liver biopsy.  I'd had the biopsy, and was in the middle of the six hour bed-rest-and-observation period.  During this, they take your blood pressure and heart rate every 30 minutes to make sure you're not bleeding to death.  At one point, I'd just checked my BG and I was a little bit on the low side, so I'd had some jelly babies and was waiting to come back up.  The nurse popped in, measured my BP and heart rate, and stopped to comment that my heart was racing (I believe it was 135 bpm at that point...) She asked if I could feel it, and I explained that yes, I was aware of it and it was because my BG was low.  She looked at me and said "so I guess we should get you something to eat then?"  I said that I'd already had something, and said "ok" and left.

I'm in two minds about this.  I'd insisted on having my pump and meter and being able to monitor myself, as I had the last time, but they were meant to be recording things like BG etc.  It's part of the reason I said I wanted to manage my diabetes by myself, because I'm always vaguely terrified that I'll end up with someone who doesn't understand what's going and will do something wrong.  While I wanted to manage my own diabetes, they were still meant to be monitoring/recording data, and the fact that none of this occurred, and the nurse's lack of attention or concern about the fact that I was low (simple things like: how low are you? What have you taken? I'll check back in ten minutes) worries me, and did nothing to relieve any concerns I have about ending up unconscious in hospital with no control.

So I've had two experiences of being low in hospital, and they were pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum.  One was a panicked over-reaction, and the other was a worrying under-reaction.  As a result of this, I'm really pleased to see hypo awareness week, and I hope that it improves the way taht hypos are dealt with in these situations.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Diabetes Blog Week 2012: Diabetes Hero

Sunday 05/20 Let’s end our week on a high note and blog about our “Diabetes Hero”.  It can be anyone you’d like to recognize or admire, someone you know personally or not, someone with diabetes or maybe a Type 3.  It might be a fabulous endo or CDE.  It could be a d-celebrity or role-model.  It could be another DOC member.  It’s up to you – who is your Diabetes Hero??

I posted last year about my admiration for parents of diabetic children, and my mum (and parents like her) will always be one of my diabetic heroes.

Today, however, I want to talk about another of my diabetic heroes - my lovely husband Stuart. I think it's easy to forget that diabetes affects more than just the people with it - it affects those around them as well.  In my case, as well as living with me and my diabetes, Stuart has done it while dealing with a fairly severe needle phobia.  When we first started dating, I was still on MDI, and we quickly figured out a system where I could warn him that I was about to do my injection (usually by unsubtly saying "hide!"), and he could look away. 

He was there while I went through the process of getting started on my pump.  He supported me every step of the way, even though the very idea of it freaked the hell out of him, because he knew that it was the best thing for me, and by extension, for us. 

 I've said before about how I am quite territorial about my diabetes management, and he lets me get on with my diabetes management on my own, and he doesn't tell me how to do things or judge what I'm doing.  He would never dream of telling me that I shouldn't have a piece of cake because of my diabetes.  He's listened to me rant and moan when I'm having a rough day diabetes wise, or when I've done something stupid like pull out a site.

And he has quite literally picked me up when I've fallen down.  I've only ever had two seizures in 23 years of being diabetic, and they happened about six months apart, both after Stuart and I were living together.  The first happened in a supermarket, and Stuart came to pick me up in A&E, and sat until the wee hours when I was discharged.  The second happened at home, when I went down in the kitchen (pulling a table down with me...) with Stuart in the next room. He called an ambulance, and stayed with me the entire time.  While there is nothing quite as horrible as waking up and realising that you've had a seizure, waking up with him next to me very calmly explaining what had happened and that things were going to be ok? That takes a lot of the scariness out of that scenario.  He waited in A&E with me again, and both times he took the next day off work to look after me.

He has taken me, diabetes and all, to be his wife, and there was even a line in both of our vows about how he picks me up when I fall down.  He is, and always will be, my big gorram hero. <3

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Diabetes Blog Week 2012: Saturday Snapshots

Saturday 05/19 Back for the third year, let’s show everyone what life with diabetes looks like!  With a nod to the Diabetes 365 project, let’s grab our cameras again and share some more d-related pictures.  Post as many or as few as you’d like.  Feel free to blog your thoughts on or explanations of your pictures, or leave out the written words and let the pictures speak for themselves.

I spent quite a while considering what to do for this post, since I didn't really feel I had a huge amount of photos to add this year.  I thought about using one of the wildcards, but then I decided to do something different.

Five weeks ago, I got married.  I'd decided beforehand that I was going to do  my best to make diabetes as small a part of my day as possible, and I pretty much succeeded.  My bridesmaid's had hypo treatment in their bags, my chief bridesmaid had my meter and related stuff, and I managed to keep my levels fairly stable throughout the day.

I use an insulin pump to manage my diabetes, and about a month before the wedding I got in touch with Animas and asked if they could send me a couple of sets with longer tubing, just so I had options on the day.  They sent me eight, four of each of the sets I use. I was very impressed!   worked with my dress maker to sort out where I was going to store the pump during the day, and he made me a pocket so that I could hide the pump, but still get access to it when I needed it.

So, to make this picture diabetes related: can you spot my pump? ;)

I said that I managed to keep my levels mostly stable throughout the day, and that's true.  I only had two stumbling blocks during the day; the 27.5 I hit before dinner (damn adrenaline - who'd have thought walking down the aisle would be so scary!), which came down nicely with a correction, and I dropped low in the evening during the dancing, at which point I used the very handy pick and mix we had set up for our guests to treat the hypo... ;)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Diabetes Blog Week 2012: What they should know

Friday 05/18 Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September.  The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”.  Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes.  Have more than one thing you wish people knew?  Go ahead and tell us everything.

If I was to list everything that I wish other people knew about diabetes, I'd be here all night (and possibly the rest of the weekend too...)  So I'm going to focus on one thing.  One thing that I want people who don't have diabetes to understand about living with diabetes.

It's not easy.

That's it.  One thing.  Living with diabetes and trying to manage it on a daily basis is not easy.  It's such a simple thing, but one that I think a lot of people just don't get.  I think we are very good in the DOC (and by extension diabetics everywhere) at making it look easy.  We just get on with it, because what else are we going to do? Additionally, a lot of the things that we do are invisible - people notice the finger pricking and the injections if they pay attention, and maybe treating a hypo, but the calculations that go through your head when you sit down to eat, or when you try to decide what to do about a walk into town, or how much you need to eat to treat that low, if your set needs changing, or if you need to order supplies, or why the hell are you high/low and a million other little things that we do on a daily basis just to try to keep ourselves ticking over?

Those things aren't really noticeable. I will never forget one of my co-workers saying to me one day that being diabetic was easy, because it just involved testing your blood sugar and taking a couple of injections every day.  That was seriously all that he thought it was about.  (I may have ranted at him for about ten minutes about how wrong he was.  He doesn't believe that anymore... ;) )  But it stuck with me how unaware people are of what we do as diabetics, and thinking about it, if you're not diabetic or looking after someone who is, then you don't really have any reason to know. 

I'm not complaining, because I don't really want pity or sympathy - this is part of my life and complaining about it isn't really going to help (though I reserve my right to rant at the diabetes fairy from time to time!), but I really wish sometimes that people would realise that just because I'm not complaining, and I seem to be doing ok with managing my diabetes and you don't see me doing something as obvious as falling over, it doesn't for one moment mean that it's easy.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Diabetes Blog Week 2012: Fantasy Diabetes Device

Thursday 05/17 Today let’s tackle an idea inspired by Bennet of Your Diabetes May Vary.  Tell us what your Fantasy Diabetes Device would be?  Think of your dream blood glucose checker, delivery system for insulin or other meds, magic carb counter, etc etc etc.  The sky is the limit – what would you love to see?
So there are many cool things going on in the world of diabetes right now - the artificial pancreas, the search for faster insulins, more accurate CGMs etc

So I'm not going to talk about them, but if I could wave a magic wand and have any diabetes device I wanted? I would have a magic carb counter.  Something that I could point at a meal, a piece of cake, a bowl of fruit, anything that I a about to eat and press a button and "bing!" it would tell me exactly how many carbs are in it. That would be awesome.  It would take so much of the guesswork out of managing my diabetes, especially when eating out, or away from home.  Hell, even at home when i just want to have a handful or grapes or some ice cream or something without actually weighing it or measuring it.

Not to mention those times where you're out and you order food and when it arrives it's one of those things that are really difficult to count (and don't get me started on sauces or soups - it's so hard to guess what people have put in them!) Or like when I used to go to formal halls when I was doing my PhD (basically fancy three course meals held at different colleges) and I'd be served something and have no idea what it even *was* never mind how to count it...

It's not a huge thing, and I doubt we'll ever get anything that will be that amazing, but it's one thing that I dream of. I'd love to be able to just eat food and take one of the variables out of it. That would be awesome. :)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Diabetes Blog Week 2012: One thing to improve

Wednesday 05/16 Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at.  Today let’s look at the flip-side.  We probably all have one thing we could try to do better.  Why not make today the day we start working on it.  No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

So I could probably write a list as long as my arm about things I could do better - I'm not perfect, and while I muddle along fairly happily with my diabetes management, there are lots of things that I could do just that little bit better.  

If I were to pick just one thing though, I think it would be basal tests.  I hate basal testing, as I'm sure everyone does, but it's not so much all basal testing as those in the afternoon/evening - the ones that cover lunch and dinner times.  I'm pretty good with the overnight ones, and the morning ones I'm generally fine with - it's just a case of waking up and not eating breakfast.  But there's something about the other ares of the day that I just find...difficult.

I'm not sure what it is - I think part of it is that it's generally when I'm up and about, and I'm hungry.  Lunch ones are harder because I'm at work, and I generally need something to keep me going, not from an 'I need carbs' perspective, but purely from needing fuel to get me through the working day.  Added to that, there's the whole thing about people asking why you're not eating lunch, and then the well-meaning sympathy that you get because you have to fast for a few hours.  The evening ones tend to be a bit the same - I'm aways hungry in the evenings, and it's hard to make dinner for Stu and then not have anything myself.

I do keep and eye on things in other way - I can usually tell if things are needing tweaking by looking at my levels around meal times, and I have a few ways of figuring out if I need to alter my basal or my bolus (and I love temp basals), but I know that I could always do better by doing a couple more actual fasting tests!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Diabetes Blog Week 2012: One Great Thing

Tuesday 5/17 Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”.  But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit.  Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly!  Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes.  Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well! 

Alright, one thing I do well.  Hmmm...

One thing I am good at is keeping my pencil case organised and fully stocked:

This is my little diabetes on-the-go stash.  I posted about it in my picture post from last years blog week (though I've got a new pencil case since then!), and it's probably one of the most sensible things I do with regards to my diabetes.  In this little case, I have my meter, strips, finger pricker, ketone meter and strips, hypo treatment, a spare pen, insulin, a battery, a spare infusion set and a syringe.  It's quite amazing how much you can fit in one little case, and I love that pretty much everything I need to keep me going for a little while diabetes-wise is in there.  I started using it for work, and then realised that I can just stick it in a bag whenever I head out somewhere.  As I've found that this really helps with being spontaneous while being diabetic (no need to try and find everything if someone suggests heading out for a while), I've really made an effort to make sure that it's always keep up to date, and that I refill it whenever anything runs out.  It's just a little thing, but it's one thing I do well, and something that I find makes living with diabetes just that little bit easier. :)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Diabetes Blog Week 2012: Finding a Friend

Monday 4/14 It seems the most popular thing about Diabetes Blog Week is that it helps us find blogs we weren’t reading yet and connect with some new blog friends.  With that in mind, let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by making some new connections.  Think about the d-blogs you read that you think we may not know about and introduce us to one that you love!!  Let’s all find a new friend today! 

There are several blogs I follow regularly, and you can see them on my reading list at the side here ->
I'm looking forward to seeing what other people post today and hope to pick up a few more blogs to add.  It was difficult to pick a couple of blogs to highlight from my own list, but here goes!

Shootuporputup  This was one of the first diabetes blogs I came across when I first started poking around the DOC.  I immediately loved the attitude that Tim and Alison showed towards diabetes, and the blog is informative and funny and, when I first started reading it, one of the rarer UK-based blogs.  I love the slightly irreverent view of diabetes while still acknowledging it as a serious thing.  I'm very much a believer in using humour and fun to help you through things, and this site is a great example of that.  One day I will make it to a shootup meetup - despite coming from Glasgow and visiting fairly often, I have yet to time it so that I'm up when there's a meetup in Edinburgh!

Everydayupsanddowns  I came across Mike's blog after reading some of his posts on the diabetessupport boards.  I found his blog to be just as thoughtful and interesting as his forum posts, and I continue to enjoy his posts.  He posts wonderfully though out posts about his diabetes experiences, and I've particularly enjoyed reading his transition from MDI to pump.  As someone who had no doubts of reservations about pumping, it has been really enlightening to read what it's like from the point of view of someone who was came at it in a more cautious way.

Sixuntilme  I'm sure pretty much everyone already reads Kerri's blog, but it's one that has always struck a chord with me.  I love the way Kerri blogs about life with diabetes, and again, it was one of the first I came across and had the whole 'omg it's not just me!!' revelation.  One of the things that had particular struck me about this blog is that Kerri's a little bit ahead of me in dealing with the big things in life, like marriage and kids, and it's been especially inspiring to read about these things  from someone who's actually going through it.  I actually took printouts from the post about pumps and wedding dresses to my wedding dress person to show him what I wanted him to do with my pump, and it worked fantastically, and so when I think about what's going to happen in the future when we start thinking about kids, it's blogs like this that actually make me believe I can do it. :)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Diabetes blog week 2011: What we've learned

What we’ve learned - Sunday 5/15: Last year, Wendy of Candy Hearts made a suggestion for this year. She commented “I think Day 7 should be a post about stuff we've learned from other blogs or the experience of coming together online...” Today, let’s do just that!! What have you learned from other blogs - either this week or since finding the D-OC? What has your experience of blogging the DBlog Week topics with other participants been like? What has finding the D-OC done for you? If you'd like, you can even look ahead and tell us what you think the future holds!

I think this might be my favourite topic this week. I owe so much to the DOC.

When I moved to Cambridge about five years ago, I was on two injections of mixtard a day, my HbA1c was in double figures, I barely tested and had stopped carb counting.  I wasn't because I didn't know how to do these things, or didn't realise their importance, it was just that it seemed that nothing I did made a difference.  I'd test, the number would be high, and there was nothing I could do - I had no fast acting insulin, or knowledge of how to correct even if I did.  I didn't know how to adjust my insulin, and it didn't seem to matter what I ate or did, my numbers were always Bad, and so I just stopped bothering.

The first thing the clinic at Cambridge did was switch me to MDI, which helped, but I was still suffering from what I now realise was a fairly extended burnout.  My HbA1c came down down a little, into single figures but only just, but I still felt like there was nothing I could really do, that I was powerless in the management of my diabetes.

And then, one day, I can't even remember how, I came across the DOC.  I've alwasy been fairly active online, parts of various forums and mailing lists (huge geek here ;)), but I'd never thoguht to look for anything diabetes related. I came across a couple of websites (diabetes daily was the first, I think) and it was amazing.  Here were all these people with diabetes, getting on with things, helping each other, talking about problems they were having and, most importantly, people who got it, who understood what it was like to live with diabetes.  It was a revelation.

I joined a couple of these forums, and began reading.  It was inspiring, especially knowing that there were people who had similar problems to me, but who had improved their diabetes control.  who still made mistakes, and tried things that didn't work, and had the random highs and lows, and didn't beat themselves up about it.  It gave me the motivation I needed.  I picked up a couple of books that were recommended for MDI, I learned about pumps and how to deal with whatever diabetes tried to throw at me.  I asked questions, and I took every opportunity to learn that I could, and put the new information I had to use.

And it worked.  My HbA1c came down from 9.1 to 7.5 in three months.  I felt so much better, and I realised that it was possible to live with diabetes and not have it control me.  It was so empowering.

Now I have a pump, and my HbA1c had been around 7% for the last three years.  All thanks to the wonderful DOC. :)

Friday, 11 May 2012

Diabetes blog week 2011: Awesome things

Awesome things - Friday 5/13: In February the #dsma blog carnival challenged us to write about the most awesome thing we’d done DESPITE diabetes. Today let’s put a twist on that topic and focus on the good things diabetes has brought us. What awesome thing have you (or your child) done BECAUSE of diabetes? After all, like my blog header says, life with diabetes isn’t all bad!

Well, this post would have been rather timely! On the 14th May 2011 I graduated from my PhD and officially became Dr Angie. It's taken a long time, and there have been more than a few bumps along the way, but on that day I finally reached the point I'd been aiming at for so many years.

The reason this post is particularly appropriate is that diabetes is the thing which set me off on this path. I've been diabetic since I was 4 years old. I have no memory of a life without diabetes; to me, this is "normal". I plodded along for several years, not really thinking much about the whys or the hows or the wherefores, just living life with diabetes. However, when I was about twelve, I started to wonder more about why I was diabetic - not in a 'why me??' way, but wondering what was it that was wrong with my body that made me diabetic.

I picked up a couple of books from the library (no easy access to the internet back then!), and started reading about the biology of diabetes. I found it fascinating. I loved learning about all the things a pancreas was supposed to do, and why mine didn't, and about my immune system committing treason, and on and on. It sparked an interest in science, and in investigating the world around me that has only grown since then.

I always said that I'd love to be a research scientist, and especially one involved in diabetes research. However, when I was at school I had no idea how the hell you actually got into that kind of career, and it wasn't really the kind of thing that people at my school aspired to. This was when my amazing biology teacher helped. She explained the different ways of doing it, and suggested school qualifications and later uni courses that would I would need. I took all the science classes I could in school, and when it came to deciding what we wanted to do after school, continuing in science was completely natural.

I did my undergrad at Glasgow Uni in Medical Biochemistry, which involved a year's work placement in Bedford carrying out human studies and an honour's project looking at insulin resistance in young sheep (yes, really...). I then decided to carry on studying, and was offered a PhD place at Cambridge, and jumped at the chance.

And four years later, here I am. I'm now officially a doctor, I'm working as a research scientist, and while I might not be working directly in a diabetes research lab, I'm in a lab that is studying related things, and who knows when I might end up in the future. Diabetes was the thing that kickstarted that love of science that led me here. I'm made so many wonderful friends through this, both through uni and in the places where I've lived while studying. I've had so many wonderful experiences, and I'm proud of what I've achieved.

For once, thank you diabetes!

Diabetes blog week 2011: 10 things I hate about you Diabetes!

Ten things I hate about you, Diabetes - Thursday 5/12: Having a positive attitude is important . . . but let’s face it, diabetes isn’t all sunshine and roses (or glitter and unicorns, for that matter). So today let’s vent by listing ten things about diabetes that we hate. Make them funny, make them sarcastic, make them serious, make them anything you want them to be!!

I normally try to have quite a positive attitude towards my diabetes, after all it's not something that's going away any time soon, and so we have to find a way to live with it.  However, that doesn't mean I don't get pissed off at it...

1. I hate that you make everything just that little bit more difficult, and that I can't ever get a break from that.  I hate when you get in the way.

2. I hate that you take away the spontaneity.

3. I hate those pump set changes that hurt like hell

4. I hate that I have callouses/little dots over my fingers

5. I hate the inconsistency.

6. I hate that you made me sit through appointments where I was made to feel stupid or lazy or uncaring

7. This is for my immune system in general: this whole trying to kill me thing is getting old. Knock it off. Or at least let the two autoimmune disease I already have play nice together (Note: Giving me an autoimmune disease that requires steroids when I already have one with BG/insulin issues? *Not* playing nicely).

8. I hate that I'm going to have The Thought when I have kids. And that having kids is going to be harder (see point 1).

9. I hate that crappy feeling of not being able to think straight when I'm low

10. I hate that you force me to be practical, when sometimes I just want to buy the pretty sparkly bag without thinking about how my diabetes crap won't fit in it.

Actually, that was quite therapeutic!

Well hello there!

*blows dust off blog*

I haven't posted anything on this in quite some time (almost exactly a year to be specific), due to a few different reasons - mainly planning a wedding took up pretty much all of my spare time, but also because I took a little bit of a step back from interacting online in the DOC for a little while.  Not for any particular reason, but I felt that I needed a little bit of time where I wasn't thinking about diabetes quite so much, and I feel that it helped, and now my balance feels like it's been restored. :)

I've been wanting to get back into blogging for a while now, and I have a couple of posts that have been nagging at the back of my mind.  Next week is the third diabetes blog week, and it seems like a good opportunity to get back into blogging again.  I stopped blogging pretty much bang in the middle of last years, since I was on holoday for part of the week, and Blogger died for about a day while I was writing up the rest of the week's posts and postdating them, and I never got round to posting them since wedding planning kicked off properly at that point.

Since I have the posts pretty much written, I think I'm going to post the rest of them this weekend. I enjoyed writing them, and I want to have the week finished off, even if it is a year after they should have been up!  That way I can start fresh next week with this year's blog week. :)

Diabetes blog week 2011: Saturday snapshots

Saturday snapshots - Saturday 5/14: Today is the only day I’ve brought back a fun topic from last year. Inspired by the Diabetes 365 project, let’s snap a few more d-related pictures and share them again. Post as many or as few as you’d like. Be creative! Feel free to blog your thoughts on or explanations of your pictures. Or leave out the written words and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Ooh pics! Alright, here goes:

I have a place to store all my diabetes stuff (pictured below), but still things manage to escape.  This is just and example of some of the things that end up randomly placed around our flat, usually when I've been clearing out a bag or something.  Lots of jelly babies/skittles in particular...

 I keep a small whiteboard in the kitchen that I can scribble useful reminders on, such as groceries and whatnot.  One of the things that I use if for is to keep a note of the carb counts of things I make for lunch, especially since I sometimes stick things in the freezer for a while and then pull them out and can't quite remember how much was in it...

My scales. Not immediately obviously diabetes-related, but I love these, since I just keep them handy on the edge of the counter, and I can quickly weigh things like cereal or fruit when I'm at home to give me a quick carb count. :)

My stash. ;)  I have a little chest of drawers that I use to keep all of my medical stuff in.  This is it mostly full.  It never fails to amaze me how much stuff we accumulate as diabetics just to stay alive...

 My pencil case of goodies.  I find the easiest way to carry around all of the crap stuff I need for my diabetes is to keep it in a decent sized pencil case.  I can fit my meter, strips, finger pricker, hypo treatment, ketone meter and strips, insulin, syringe, spare set and a pen in one handy little container.  That means I can just grab this, stick it in my bag and go, and I'm pretty much set.  Diabetes can often interfere with trying to be spontaneous, but I find that things like this help.

My many pump cases! I may have a bit of a problem, but they're just so awesome! The pink one came from Animas, but the other two came from (and I may have acquired a few more since then...)

The little blob you can see my cat trying to pounce on is the plunger from one of my pump cartridges.  Apparently they make great cat toys (even better if you put them inside an empty test strip container...then they rattle!)

Well, that was fun! :)