Getting Used to an Insulin Pump

Archive for the ‘About Me’ Category

Strewth

Australia

Where I’m Going

Okay, so you may have noticed a worrying lack of attention to this ‘blog for quite some time, however I’m thinking of reanimating it because I may have some fairly interesting things to write about over the next few months.

To explain why I will post a letter I just wrote to all my colleagues and let you work out the rest for yourselves.

Dear All,

It appears that the grapevine has had some breaks in service recently, as some people are still unaware of my impending departure. So I thought I’d try and come up with a workaround, which is this email, until the grapevine messaging system is back to 100% uptime.

So, I’m leaving the University, off to pastures new, and when I say that I really mean it! My family is emigrating to Perth, not the one near Dundee but the one that sits on the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean in Australia.

To answer your questions in a rough approximation of the order they are normally voiced when people learn of the move:

1. No, I don’t have a job yet but my wife (who is originally Australian) does, at Perth Zoo, so I’ll get to hang out with the relatives. I’ll be spending the first couple of months settling the young ‘un (who’s 4 in April) in to life in foreign climes. After that I’ll look for something interesting to do, maybe IT, maybe writing, maybe something completely different.

2. It will take about eight weeks for our things to ship over. During this time we will be staying at my Mother-in-Law’s house, then finding somewhere to rent where we can unpack our stuff before we’re fully Australianified and find ourselves a house to buy.

3. Yes, eight weeks is a long time to spend in someone else’s house!

4. No, I am not keen on large arachnids/deadly snakes/birds that are taller than a person and have lethal claws and a nasty kick/sharks/crocodiles/poisonous jellyfish/etc. but these things are slightly offset by the temperatures/lifestyle/price of a good wine/non-poisonous wildlife and plants/beaches/volleyball. Also helped by the fact that the country doesn’t contain David Cameron, Cliff Richard, Paul Daniels, Asda or Peterborough, and football (soccer) doesn’t override chances of any intelligent conversations taking place for nine months of the year.

5. Yes, Perth is the most remote city on the planet. That is furthest from any other city, even the other ones in Australia. This can be a good thing because it gives it that nice small town feeling, but it can also be bad because it also gives it that nice small town feeling! However in the grand scheme of things, and to quote directly from a very clever man: “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” So really I won’t be all that far away.

6. No, I don’t mind being called a whingeing pom. In fact my Father-in-Law (who is originally from Scotland!!!) already calls me a pommy *insert offensive expletive here*. It’s a term of endearment!

7. My last day at work will be the 20th of December, however I am on A/L after that and actually finish employment with the University on the 10th of January, so if you really need me drop me an email.

8. No, you can’t come and stay with us for a cheap holiday.

9. Yes, I’m excited, terrified, confused and extremely busy.

As I am not the sort of person who partakes of the pub lifestyle I am not going to the Orange Tree/Horn In Hand/Slug And Lettuce/etc./etc./etc. However you will be pleased to learn that I am having a leaving party which I* have organised for this <details of event removed to stop any likelihood of flashmobbing at my department’s xmas party>. It will start at 12:00 and I believe that food is being paid for by the department, in my honour. Okay so this may not be altogether true but as it was booked anyway it seemed like a good idea to merge my event with an existing one! (* – For “I” please read “IS Admin Team”)

I started working for the University on the 19th of December 2005, so my last working day will be one day after my eight year anniversary of starting here. I will miss it and all the people I have worked with. Although I may have undertaken some fairly difficult and annoying tasks while I’ve been here I hope that I haven’t upset anyone too much and that you may remember me with some level of amusement/fondness/apathy, rather than horror/disgust/hatred.

If you are really interested in how I get on I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and probably some other social network-type-things I’ve forgotten about. You can try and connect with me and I’ll do my best to post lots of pictures of myself holding bottles of beer and sitting by the Mother-in-Law’s swimming pool.

Have a nice life, and let me know if you’re ever visiting Perth. We can meet up for a drink and a chat about the “good old days” at NTU.

I’ll leave you with one more quote, from my favourite author:

It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.

Au revoir

Dan

Toothbrush, Boots and a Memory Man

Boots The Chemist...and whatever else they do these days!

Boots The Chemist…and whatever else they do these days!

When I have a shower in the morning I tend to leave my insulin pump in my dressing gown pocket and then plug myself back in as soon as I’m dry and have something to clip it on to again. You may wonder why I’m telling you this, don’t worry hopefully it’ll become more obvious as the events of today unfold!

I was busy doing some important stuff at work this morning and I’d not bothered making any lunch as I thought I’d have a quick trip away from my computer to Boots in town to grab something. Because it had been busy I hadn’t done a  blood test since breakfast time.

So, one o’clock arrived and I headed out in to the frankly unpleasant weather, swiftly walking the five minutes or so in to try and avoid getting too damp. I got to Boots, picked a “”Delicious” Cheese & Pesto Pasta Salad”, a packet of healthy-ish crisps and a bottle of Diet Coke, then I headed over to the dental bit ’cause I need a new head on my electric toothbrush. I paid up and left heading in to the Victoria Centre to find somewhere to sit and have my lunch.

First thing I did was look at the food I had bought to see how many carb’s I needed to wind up on my pump, I was a little upset to find that Boots have re-branded their “”Delicious” Cheese & Pesto Pasta Salad” so it doesn’t actually tell you what the carbohydrate content is. After searching all over the packet many times I resolved to guess at the contents and adjust after getting back to a computer that I could look it up on (Web-Monkey without his own smartphone – funny I know!).

I did a blood test, as I always do before eating. I was a little surprised to find my BM was at 15.6mmol/l. “Hmm, that’s a little odd” I thought, that new bread must have a lot more carb’s in than it says on the packet. Anyway I wound up the CHO and hit the bolus button to which I was greeted by a “communication error” message. I cancelled out and tried it again and it did the same thing. Then I had one of those moments when you realise what the problem actually is. I patted myself down and realised that the reason I was getting a communication error was because my insulin pump was about two and a half miles away in my dressing gown pocket at home!

I ran back to work, carrying my carbohydrate-camouflaging salad, crisps, drink and toothbrush heads, grabbed my keys from my bag, excused myself and ran to get the bus home.

I got home in a little under fifteen minutes, which isn’t bad going, surprised Deanne who works from home on a Monday, plugged myself in and did a blood test, I’d dropped a little to 15mmol/l, which must have been a mix of the residual insulin and the running to get the bus. Gave Deanne a quick peck on the cheek and ran out the door again.

Getting back to work I looked up the “”Delicious” Cheese & Pesto Pasta Salad”, (56 grams in case you’re interested), wound up the total on my pump and bolused as quickly as I could.

Sadly after being unplugged for about six hours my blood sugar hasn’t yet normalised and I suspect if anything I’ll get a sudden drop at about six o’clock this evening.

When I had sorted myself out to my own satisfaction I posted a message on the Boots UK Facebook page, and to give them their due they actually told me they would look in to a way of including all the details on the back of the packet, you can see my overly sarcastic posting and their responses here if you’re interested.

Anyway, it was a stupid thing to do and closely aligned with last weeks stupidity of bringing my insulin to work ’cause I knew it would run out before the end of the day but forgetting to bring a cartridge in which to put said insulin!

All in all I seem to be having a couple of slow brain weeks, I’m hoping it won’t last much longer!

Ooh, Pointy!

When I was at the clinic the other week for my annual pump check up I asked if I could try a different infusion set, because my stomach looks a little like it has a bad case of acne from the places where the needles have been. My pump is an Accu-Chek Spirit Combo and I’ve used the TenderLink infusion set since I got it because I thought having the bit that sticks in to me at an angle rather than at 90 degrees would be better for e.g. when I was playing volleyball and such like.

Anyhoo, I was given the only one they happened to have a few of laying around which was the Ultraflex, this one has a needle which goes straight in to you but is much shorter and (I think!?!?!) thinner than the TenderLink. Anyway I got four of them and so I used them over the previous couple of weeks, then last night I went back to the old standard.

I have put a picture of both below, the old one on the left and the new one on the right and I just wanted to say that the old one now feels like trying to stick Cleopatra’s Needle in to myself. Sadly I have about three or four boxes of the TenderLinks left and I don’t believe in needlessly sucking money out of the good old NHS so I’ll use them up first but when I next give those nice people at Roche Diagnostics a call I’ll be changing my standard order to the FlexLink infusion sets!

Accu-Chek FlexLink Infusion Set

Accu-Chek FlexLink Infusion Set

Accu-Chek TenderLink Infusion Set

Accu-Chek TenderLink Infusion Set

Ban(ne)d

Tomorrow night I’m trying out with a band, they want a guitarist and I kinda play guitar…badly, or at least I used to about four years ago. Here’s a picture to prove it:

Me, Playing Guitar!

Me, Playing Guitar!

As I say I’m a little out of practice and probably need a few go’s before I can actually play along with their music so I’m hoping they’ll be patient.

Anyway last time I lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle I was using a pen to inject four or five times a day, I didn’t do carb’ counting and I frankly managed my diabetes by crossing my fingers and having a lot of hypos and highs so I’m hoping it’s going to be a bit easier what with all this modern technology I’ve managed to persuade the medical establishment to supply me with.

However What I do have now is of course plugged in to my belly 24/7 and also has a three thousand quid piece of kit hanging off me, this is why I’m going to have to think carefully about my set-up before I head out of the house tomorrow night. I think I’m due an infusion set change tomorrow night so I’ll probably do that before I go, this means I need to pick a spot…and a side of myself that will cause the smallest inconvenience in terms of catching cannula on sticky out bits of guitar or continually rubbing said guitar over infusion set and causing discomfort.

Further to this is of course the fact that I have experienced most things which come up in every day situations since getting the pump, however I haven’t stood up for a couple of hours with a frankly rather heavy guitar (I own one of these now) which weighs about nine pounds, that’s about four kilo’s if you’re a youngster! Also there’s the unpleasantness of hefting guitars, pedals and even worse amplifiers up and down stairs to practice rooms and back to your car afterwards.

So with all these things considered am I having second thoughts about going tomorrow night?

Don’t be silly,  I’ll just do a lot of blood test before, during and after and hope Im lucky enough not to stab a finger so it hurts when I press the strings down, if I do I’ll just have to live with the pain. I’ll just make sure they are all aware that if I play particularly badly it may be a mixture of nerves, not having practised properly for about three years and low blood sugar all combined in to an ear splitting wall of feedback and noise. Or maybe that’s what they want???

Wish me luck 😉

Wait for Me!

Some Food

Some Food

Today I am going to talk about something which nearly all of us Type 1 Diabetics have to endure, namely the discomfort that can be caused by eating with other people!

Some Plates

Some Plates

You meet your friends at a nice restaurant, or even just a pub or café for a bite to eat, you exchange pleasantries, hug kiss and generally try to think of funny things to say, you settle down at your table then pore over the menu until everybody has decided who’s going to have the crab, lobster or chicken nuggets. The waiter sidles over and takes everybody’s orders.

After twenty minutes and a couple of drinks you all breathe a sigh of relief as the food emerges from the kitchen, smelling like something you’d be quite happy to eat, of course the plates aren’t all brought out at the same time and invariably the last plate will be that of the Diabetic at the table.

You make a random guess at the amount of carbohydrates contained in your aubergine surprise, obviously failing to take into account the spoonfulls of sugar in the sauce, you grab your blood test monitor out of your bag, unzip the little case, attempt to prime the jabber, realise you need to put a new cartridge in, scrabble about in your bag again until you find another one, replace it then stick a blood test stick in to the monitor, only for the monitor to error out with some unhelpful message like “E3” or “LoTemp” or some such. Finally you get it working, stick yourself and bleed on to the blood test stick.

 

“2.3 mmol/l”

 

“Rubbish!” You go back in to your bag to find out your open packet of Jelly Babies has spilled and so you rub a couple of them on your trouser leg to get the fluff off before eating them. Finally you dial up the carbohydrate guestimate for what you’ve actually been served by the restaurant and inject/pump it in. You look up from your little world of Diabetes management and realise that at least one of your party has just finished a particularly amusing story concerning their trip to Beirut, another is just finishing their flambéed mushroom stroganoff and you’re just starting your meal.

Such is the life of the pancreatically challenged!

Of course this is a (possibly) exaggerated account of events as they often seem to occur but I’m sure I’m not the only one of us to always start eating after everybody else at the table. So what would I like to happen?

Well I’m not (that) selfish so I’m not after making everybody else wait until I’m done before they start eating, for one thing their food would probably be cold. I guess the main thing I want is not to feel like I’m always playing catch up, to be fair I could probably overcome a few of these problems by being better prepared and checking the state of my kit before going out, etc. however I’m not that well organised and so that is unlikely to happen.

What I would really like is not to have to think about it. “That’s never going to happen,” I hear you say but I’ve noticed a lot of articles on line recently about Continuous Glucose Monitors attached to insulin pumps and adjusting doses without interaction therefore I think it’s only a matter of time before my wish comes true and I’m able to just stick stuff in my mouth without having to faff about with little electronic devices.

Come on scientists, you can do it. If not for me then at least for my poor wife and son who have to eat with me at least once a day and endure my complaining and then watch as I try to inhale my food to catch up. To them I offer my most sincere apologies and keep my fingers crossed that the boffins get this sorted sooner rather than later!

Australia – A Really Badly Written Travelogue

Some Native Wildlife

Some Native Wildlife

In case you hadn’t realised Deanne, the Young ‘Un and I went to Australia for a month in March. This was partly to show the toddler off to the in-laws (Deanne is from Australia originally), partly because we hadn’t visited for five years and partly so we could all have a month off work/nursery and relax bit. I took the advice offered at the last Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group meeting by Dawn, she was rather handily (for me) talking about travelling with Diabetes. The main thing I was interested in, which she did actually mention was the fact that when she’s changing time zones she leaves her pump set on UK time until a few days have passed and she is more or less over the jet-lag. That may not be exactly what she said but that’s what I made it out to mean so that’s what I did.

The day of departure came and our bags were packed. My hand luggage obviously contained the requisite number of bags of Jelly Babies, a recently purchased Frio Insulin Travel Wallet (another suggestion from Dawn, thanks Dawn!), many, many infusion sets, insulin cartridges, blood test sticks and lancets and all the other Diabetes rubbish that we need to take when we go overseas. We arrived at Birmingham in plenty of time, which was lucky ’cause we had off site parking and had a bit of a job finding it, but then we got on the bus and it dropped us, with all our bags outside the main departures door at the airport.

The plane ride over was fine, although the service on the Birmingham to Dubai leg of the flight was less than we had hoped for, they (Emirates) hardly offered anything in the way of drinks (not talking alcoholic here, just water/soft drinks/etc.) and when the food eventually came they didn’t clear the trays up until about an hour later, which when you have a two year old makes doing anything in the already limited space available to you quite challenging.

Twenty odd hours after taking off we arrived in Perth. It was a bit of a change from the UK, it was about tea time when we arrived, eight or so hours ahead of the UK and the temperature was around 26 degrees (centigrade) when we left the airport. It was nice!

We actually went on a mini holiday the first few days we were there, drove a couple of hours south to Busselton which is a kind of hot version of Weymouth, only it’s nice! Being a bit further south the weather was nice but not too hot and we spent a lot of time going to chocolate shops and playing on the playground at the place we were staying at, it seemed to tire Deanne and myself out more than it did the Young ‘Un.

When we got back to Perth we had the important and serious task of meeting up with family and friends which included going to lots of parties and spending a lot of time sitting in coffee shops by the river. It was hard work! My control was relatively stable even though I was eating some pretty strange food. Certainly a lot better than the previous trip I had five years before where I was neither carbohydrate counting or dose adjusting (also didn’t have a pump at the time). Admittedly I had a few high blood sugars, seemingly for no reason although I worked out afterwards that it was actually due to ice cream cones which apparently had an awful lot more carb’s in than I was expecting (like 80 instead of 40 grams that I was guessing).

Me at Diabetes WA

Me at Diabetes WA

Anyway, once I had sorted that out everything went much better, I had a relatively low number of hypos and most of my blood sugars were below 12 with the exception of a few after meals out, however that happens to me in the UK too so it was nothing to do with being away. I even managed to do some Diabetes Web-Monkeying while I was away, I found a few bits and pieces in local papers and magazines which I posted on-line when I got the chance and also decided I’d go visit the local branch of Diabetes WA to find out what it’s like being Diabetic in Australia.

The main difference seems to be the fact that they don’t have a National Health Service, like what we do! Instead you have to take out health insurance which then covers the cost of a large percentage of the things you need as a Diabetic, e.g. needles, insulin, etc., etc., etc. They were very forthcoming and I in turn offered them some advice on how we use Twitter, Facebook and other on-line resources to keep in touch with people. It was interesting to speak to some people on the other side of the planet who have the same everyday problems and annoyances that we have over here.

After being on an insulin pump for over a year now my Diabetes certainly seemed to be a lot easier to manage and although I had highs and lows the way the pump adjusts them down and up again seems to be a lot more natural and my body seems to respond well to that, I don’t feel ill for hours after a high result and I don’t keep dropping and rising all day long like I did previously. I also feel like I can eat whatever I want while away and have almost got the hang of guessing carbs well enough to keep me fairly straight and narrow without needing to refer to my Carbs & Cals book all the time.

Now however I’m home again, in fact we got back about a month ago now and it’s taken me all this time to get this written down what with one thing and another including a Little ‘Un with chicken-pox, work, getting the house back to a manageable state after being away for a month and all those things you have to do upon returning from a long holiday.

The main difference between this trip to Aus’ and holidays I’ve had in the past is that whenever I’ve been overseas in the past I worried almost constantly about my control and about getting high or having hypos from having strange and exotic foods and experiences, this time however I didn’t worry, partly due to the pump, partly due to the fact that I have become a lot more confidant in controlling my diabetes with a pump than I ever was with injections and I guess mainly because when you have a toddler to look after you spend more time worrying about them than you do yourself!

We’ve already booked our next holiday in fact, we’re headed for Barcelona in the not too distant future, is there anything I’ll be doing differently because of my experiences down-under? Well no, the time away just went to prove to me that I am coping as well as I can with a chronic (/annoying) illness and all I need to improve even more is further practice. Which you only get by living it and doing things which you want to do rather than worrying about what might happen!

Better Man

Better Man by Pearl Jam

Better Man by Pearl Jam

In case you’re wondering I’m feeling much better today blood sugar wise.

Time 24hr Blood Glucose in mmol/l
06:47 6.6
10:46 9.2
15:29 5.3

 

Okay so I haven’t done half as many blood tests but I’ve had a pretty crazy day at work and because I haven’t been massively high or low I haven’t needed to thankfully!

Anyway after yesterdays misery I thought I’d better remind you all that most days are quite good once you’ve got the hang of this Diabetes thing and that it’s not such a bad affliction when you come to think about it.

For many people it’s a wake up call that they need to look after themselves (Hi Gareth if you’re reading this!) and for others it just makes for a much more stable life.

Not writing much today as I am still having a busy day and have better things to be getting on with :-S

By the way, should I find it cute or worrying that my 22 month old son can say “blood test”???

…and just in case you are wondering Better Man is a Pearl Jam song which is very nice!

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