Getting Used to an Insulin Pump

Posts tagged ‘Australia’

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

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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!

Here’s Looking at You Diabetics!

Looking Ahead

Looking Forward

Well, new year new me! Actually that’s a lie I’ve not made any kind of resolutions and I don’t intend to change anything in particular, however I am quite excited as to what the next 12 months might hold for myself and all the other Diabetics in the world.

Personally I think the most exciting short term news is the fact that there are some serious jumps being made in CGM, that’s Continuous Glucose Monitoring, technology at the moment, I’m hoping that by the end of this year or not long  after we are going to be seeing the first commercially available CGM enabled Insulin Pumps, that is Pumps with a continuous feedback loop that monitors your BM and adjusts your insulin intake to compensate.

Of course like most scientific developments this could actually take a lot longer than it should and will need proper sign off by whoever the governing bodies are, however it will certainly be a big step, when available, to giving us Type 1s a fairly normal life (minus the obvious infusion set changes and being woken up in the night when your pump battery runs out, etc.)!

Next of course are the ongoing promises of some kind of genetically engineered “cure” for Diabetes, as far as I can make out at the moment the scientists are looking at a number of ways of doing this, for instance putting beta cells in one way membranes which carbs can get through but white blood cells can’t so they pump out insulin without getting destroyed. Another one is fiddling about with your existing biology to regrow the cells in your pancreas that do all the hard work (that they don’t at the moment). This is much further off and I think of all the things happening the First thing I mentioned here the “Artificial Pancreas” is probably most close to fruition and also most exciting for all of us.

The Notts Type 1 Diabetes Group is also steaming on with various members doing various exciting things, the next of which is apparently some kind of video performance thing (sic.) by the committee members prior to the next meeting but I’ll tell you more about that when I’ve had some more details myself. Also just a quick aside, I apologise for not updating the web pages, however it does tend to be a darn sight easier and less disruptive updating Facebook and Twitter so I tend to do those most often and leave the website for if there is anything specific that is worth putting on it!

Personally this year is quite a big one as Deanne and I have a trip to Australia for a month coming up in the not too distant future, the reasons behind this are several-fold but it’s mainly to show the Little-‘Un off to the in-laws, but while I’m there I think I might look in to what’s going on Type 1 Diabetes wise as it is always interesting to get a different perspective on things.

Other than that it’s business as usual, work is busy, life is packed with things to do including childcare, housework, open mic’ nights and attempting to write a novel. Apart from that of course it’s a breeze.

Look after yourselves in 2012, do lots of blood tests, eat well, drink well and most importantly have lots of fun!!!

🙂

Happy (ever so slightly belated) new year!

Advance Australia Fair

Diabetes Australia

Diabetes Australia

We’ve recently booked our tickets to go to Australia next year, the main reason for this being that Deanne is from Australia and all her family (and by extension my in-laws) live there, in Perth to be precise. Therefore the only ones who have met the Little ‘Un face to face are his Nana and Aunty Donna who came over last year just after he was born. So we’re going to go visit and show our boy off to all his relations. “Sounds nice” I hear you think (didn’t I mention I’m telepathic?!?!?) but with a trip to Australia come a number of  Diabetes related challenges:

1. Time zone

2. Heat

3. Food

4. Routine

5. Supplies

I have been over there before but never with an insulin pump so I’m going to have to relearn some of my coping mechanisms. For point 1. I think it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, rather than a big bang I think I’ll do a phased time change altering the time on my pump by two or three hours starting the day we leave. The time difference is around eight hours so it’ll take a few days to normalise but the jet lag usually takes that long to get over so this might even help that process…

UPDATE… I had my checkup at the hospital and my consultant suggested that it would be simplest to set my basal rate back to the original setting of half a unit an hour and see how I get on, can change it to the right time zone after a few days when my body has caught up or leave it if it seems to be working then!…END OF UPDATE

For 2. it’ll be autumn over there when we go and so the temperatures should be between 30° and 24°, which is obviously a darned site hotter than it is over here, even in the middle of summer! ThereforeI’ll have to keep a close eye on my control and possibly drop my basal and meal rates depending on how I go.

3 is only really a problem if I do what I have done in the past and snack between meals, however I seem a lot less inclined to do that now I’m on an insulin pump as I know the slightest amount of carbohydrate can send me sky high, so I’m guessing I shouldn’t have too much of a problem as I just give myself more insulin if I’m eating more food.

The difficult one of course is number 4. While I may not do the same things every day I do generally have a fairly standard list of things that I do, both inside and outside work, being on holiday is more like a weekend, only for a whole month or so. I guess we’ll have a routine of sorts as with a 2 year old child you can’t really help it but even so it’s not the same as being at home.

Finally I have to do some forward planning which, frankly, I’m a bit rubbish at. For number 5 I have to make sure I have plenty of infusion sets + cannulas, insulin, blood test sticks and lancets, batteries for the pump, batteries for the monitor and to be honest probably loads of other things I’ve forgotten about at the moment. This means I need to contact and probably have an appointment with my GPs surgery in order that they will allow me to order, e.g. twice the number of things to normal, as well as ordering new stuff from Accu-Chek in enough time to actually have them arrive (when no one is in the house as per normal) then have enough chance to go to the post office collection depot to pick the stuff up which was delivered while there was no one at home because we both work…as I would imagine is the case for most people. “Not too much of a problem” you think (see I’m doing it again) but did I mention that I’m not a good organiser and only tend to remember these sort of things at the last minute.

On the bright side I’ve added an appointment to my calendar at work which will keep reminding me so hopefully that’ll be enough to actually get me to remember to make a call to Accu-Chek and an appointment with the doctors!

Anyway, aside for all that and any worries I might have about travelling with a two year old and adjusting my regime for foreign climes I’m actually pretty excited really, the other two times I’ve visited Perth have been brilliant, admittedly one was to get married and the other was to attend a wedding so you’d expect it to be relatively cheerful, but even so I feel a lot more confident about my Diabetes these days and hope that it isn’t a misplaced sense of confidence!

Down and Up

Up and Down

Up and Down

Don’t have much time to write today as I’ve been fairly busy with other bits and pieces…

Well the night time/morning results seem to be coming back to nearer where they should be at least! had a slightly earlier supper last night at 20:53 then actually managed to get out of bed before I went to sleep and was 4.1mmol/l at 23:18!

Then got up this morning and was 12.8mmol/l at 06:35. This is an improvement and just goes to show that holidays obviously have a bigger effect on control than I previously realised.

Am going to try and be a bit more of a fascist about my carbohydrate counting over the next few days just because I’m hoping that it might sort out the ups and downs I’ve been having since I got back from Dorset.

Holiday Time, Sort Of!

An Umbrella

Not that Kind of Holiday Sadly 😦

After today the updates may be a bit intermittent for the next couple of weeks as I am not at work for a bit. However I’ll do my best to keep updating every now and again until normal service is resumed.

My blood tests yesterday afternoon did not finish as I expected staying pretty much where they started for the rest of the tests, even going up a bit towards 6pm. I believe the reason for this is because once again I’m not entirely well, I have a sore throat, a cough and am apparently snoring like a herd of Aberdeen Angus (sorry Dee)! What with this and my annual leave I’m going to leave the fasting blood tests until after I’m back at work again.

I also badly misjudged the amount of mashed potato I had served myself at dinner time last night and ended up with a blood sugar around 18mmol/l which just goes to show that you’re much better to check if you’re not sure, which I wasn’t!

My time off work is going to be spent doing a variety of things including trips to Dorset and Cornwall, another (final) birthday party for the Little ‘Un and a host of DIY tasks at home so it should be a good test of my pump management skills.

The party should be good as all three of my brothers are making it, even the one who lives in Brazil, so it’s a nice way to celebrate my son’s first birthday, even if it is nearly a month after his actual birthday. There will be cake and chocolate and all manner of interesting foods.

Talking of tasty food I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but Deanne is from Australia and with it being ANZAC day we should be having ANZAC biscuits on Monday (the 25th of April) so I need to figure out how much carbohydrate they have in them, not such an onerous task really 😉

Volleyball tonight should be okay, I’m feeling a little more confident about how to not have hypos and not get too high while playing now but I shouldn’t get too complacent because that is always when things go wrong.

I’ve also got the Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group website fixed and have updated that, including details of the talk I will be doing on the 7th of June on how I went about getting hold of my insulin pump and then how I’ve been dealing with adjusting to having it so be sure to check that out and keep the date clear in your diary.

So for the time being I’ll sign off and until I’m next on-line I’ll bid you farewell and have a nice bank holiday.

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