Getting Used to an Insulin Pump

Posts tagged ‘Dan Ladle’

The … Diabetic

The ... Diabetic

The … Diabetic

I received an e-mail the other day relating to playing volleyball with an insulin pump and thought that the questions and my answers may be relevant, not only to volleyball but to a lot of other sports and activities.

I asked the nice young lady if she’d mind me using it for a blog post and she said that was okay as long as I used her pen name which is The … Diabetic, She writes her own blog (click on that link to get to it). I’ve also changed her e-mail address for the one she requested so feel free to contact her if anything on her pages floats your boat.

Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2013 14:43:08 -0800
From: the_3dots_diabetic@yahoo.com
Subject: Insulin Pumps and Volleyball
To: NottsType1@hotmail.co.uk

Hi Dan,

I came across your blog when doing some research on insulin pumps and playing volleyball. I’m quite interested in getting an insulin pump, but am only at the start of my investigations. I have an appointment with a Pump Doctor at my local clinic in a few weeks time, so I’m trying to do some homework beforehand and be prepared at the appointment!

I’m quite a keen volleyball player. I train 2 hours on 3 nights each week, I help coach juniors for 1 hour on one of these nights (before training), and play matches on a Saturday. Depending on the match schedule, I sometimes play on a fourth night in the week too.  I guess my main worry is how well infusion sets stay in place when jumping, blocking, hitting and diving, as well as how easy it is to avoid a pump getting damaged whilst throwing myself around court.  Would you be able to give me a bit of insight? Do you disconnect your pump? Have you had problems with air getting into sets or sets coming dislodged? From your blog, I gather you’re using a Roche Spirit Combo – has it been a positive experience? Where do you put it when on court? Finally, did you have to ask permission from the referees commision to play with a pump at matches?

Apologies about the million questions, there aren’t many testimonies out there of people playing volleyball with their pumps, and providing details on how they manage, so any extra insights would be much welcomed.

Kind regards,
The … Diabetic

My Response:

From: Type 1 Diabetic <nottstype1@hotmail.co.uk>
To: The … Diabetic <the_3dots_diabetic@yahoo.com>
Sent: Wednesday, 6 February 2013, 16:34
Subject: RE: Insulin Pumps and Volleyball

Alright The … Diabetic,

I’ve actually quit volleyball temporarily for a number of reason’s, none of which, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, are to do with the pump!

So to answer your questions as best as I can:

1. My infusion set always stayed in fine while playing, I chose the Accu-Chek TenderLink when I started off pump therapy but have changed to the FlexLink, both of these have a flexible cannula but the TenderLink goes in at an angle which I thought would protect it better from bumps while playing, however I am on the thin side (about five foot eight (1.72m) and 10 and a half stone (65kilos)) and I found after a bit of use my stomach looked like a pincushion. The FlexLink ones are, in my opinion, if anything a little hardier and come with the added bonus of the Link Assist Insertion Device which works like a kind of staple gun to get it in to you (honestly, better than it sounds!!!). If you have a preference for which side you dive on it might be worth considering that when placing infusion sets but with the amount you play your probably better just to stick it in and see how it goes. Certainly reaching up for blocks and the force of hits seemed to have no effect on the set staying put!

2. I have a neoprene pouch with a loop to feed the velcro elastic strap that came with it through, not sexy but worked for me, however you sound like you play pretty intensely so it might be worth you looking at the hard case along with sports belts here. I wore my pump on my back turned so it ran vertically up my spine, more or less, so there was little chance of me falling on it, kept it on the whole time and didn’t have any problems with bits falling off or coming loose.

3. Keep it plugged in pretty much all the time, only time it comes off is when I shower or swim.

4. Never had problems with air getting in, they are pretty well sealed units, although when I got it I was warned that I should keep checking the tightness of where the pump connects to the cannula and I now do that pretty much as standard without even thinking about it.

5. The Accu-Chek Combo has been brilliant for me, although I suspect that there are probably better pumps out there already, I’ve had it nearly two years now after all. This site is pretty good for the latest info, but as above it’s probably worth checking what accessories you can get when trying to make a decision, it might also be influenced by your healthcare team but frankly I have a lot of friends on various pumps and no one has been disappointed!

6. Never even thought to ask the referees, although I did check with my coach as well as my Diabetes consultant, whether they thought I needed to consider taking any action other than what I had already decided (e.g. wearing it strapped on and on my back while playing) and they both said it should be fine.

If there is anything else I can help you with, Volleyball related or otherwise please drop me a line, I’m always happy to help.

By the way is it okay if I use your e-mail and my response in a blog post? I suspect this information would be useful to a lot of people!

Cheers

Dan

Web-Monkey
Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group
I’m Gonna Stick You!!!

Hope you all find that useful!

Let’s Have A Party!

Xmas Pump

Xmas Pump

You might have noticed it’s getting a little close to the Crimbleton holiday period, which is nice, a week or two off work and food, drink, presents and family time for most of us. With this in mind I thought I’d just give a quick update on a few things.

  1. Don’t forget it’s the NottsType1 Xmas do at Fat Cat’s in the city centre this coming Saturday (the 15th of December). If you happen to be the sort of person who uses Facebook then you can tell us you’re coming here. If not just roll up and start imbibing. There will be the customary blood tests at ten o’clock, highest BG wins, plus we’ll probably have some kind of long drawn out discussion about the merits of drinking and bolusing.
  2. If you went along you’ll know this already but last weekend was the inaugural-probably-to-be-Annual NottsType1 Quiz Night at the The Willow Tree Pub in West Bridgford. According to those who attended the night was a roaring success. Personally I think it may have been some kind of set up as Sam won and she doesn’t even live in Nottingham, however the night managed to raise us £158.00 which isn’t bad and may go some way to allowing us to continue to hold our meetings and events and frankly do the stuff we would like to do.
  3. Web-Monkey attended a pump clinic yesterday, not as much fun as it sounds! The topic was festive eating and it mainly consisted of lots of Type 1’s guessing how much carbohydrate was in Christmassy fare like mince pies, etc. A useful exercise and handy because it meant Web-Monkey could invite all those people to Saturday’s knees up too so we might just get some unfamiliar faces turning up.
  4. The first “Travels with my pancreas” story has been submitted to Alex, if you have no idea what I’m talking about it was suggested some while ago that the NottsType1 group produce some kind of publication on holidaying in far flung places with Diabetes, without giving too much away the tale is called “How I Met Your Mother” and is about five thousand words long. If any of you are interested in doing something like this and becoming a famous writer, published author, target of others’ derision then get in contact with us and get writing,
  5. In case I’m too lazy to write anything else before the 25th, have a Happy Christmas.

See you all on Saturday.

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!

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!

I Opened The Door And…

…Influenza!

Deanne and I have both had the flu (must be proper flu not man flu as she has had it as bad as I have) since Tuesday this week which has meant all the clever stuff I was planning on posting this week (honest) has gone out of the window. Thankfully we’re on the mend…finally, however as my brain still hurts and I need to get myself back in order I thought I’d just post the first scene I wrote for a book I started in 2005 that only ever got up to about three and a bit thousand words before I realised I had more important things to think about at the time, like getting a better job and stuff!

It was going to be a thriller about a diabetic guitarist in a rock band who got framed for the murder of one of his bandmates but I didn’t really have a plan after that, which is probably one of the other reasons it fizzled out! There are a few sweary words in it so please excuse that. Anyway, it’s not much but here you go…


The first thing I notice is that the back of my hand feels warm, and sort of slimy.  I look down.  My vision seems to follow the movement of my eyeballs after a couple of seconds.

It’s my left hand and its red, the hair on my arm is stuck to my skin.  I think the phrase I’d be looking for is ‘caked with sweat’ but currently I don’t seem to be geared up for thinking.

My temples are throbbing, as my brain starts to restart I realise that I’ve had a hypo.  It must have been quite a bad one otherwise there wouldn’t be blood.

The sweat is fairly normal but I must of cut something or there wouldn’t be blood, either on my hand or…bloody hell, on the carpet.  That’s going to be a bugger to clean up when I’ve come round properly.

There is a slightly more immediate problem though.  I’m lying on the floor in my bedroom but none of my limbs seem to be coordinated enough to actually carry me towards the kitchen.

I’m thinking the only reason I’ve come round is because of the adrenalin pumping round my body from whatever injury it is I’ve given myself.

I can reach the drawers from where I’m laying, I manage to turn myself over enough that I can use both my arms and my legs to lever myself into an unsteady upright position.

I’m definitely not stable but thankfully the kitchen is just down the corridor and the corridor isn’t too wide!

I make my way along by propping myself up with my arms on either side of the passageway.  I’m sure I look pretty dumb, but for one thing there’s no one here to see me and for another I wouldn’t care if there was.  In fact I wouldn’t be like this if there was somebody else here!

I meander through to the kitchen.  The adrenalin seems to be doing its job because by the time I get there I can almost stand of my own accord again.

I reach into the fridge while supporting myself with my hand on the bench.  I take the orange juice out with one hand and tip the carton back so it pours in to my mouth.

I never like the feeling of the raw cardboard against my lips.  I should probably cut the container so the top layer of waterproofing doesn’t rip off like that.

I don’t know how much I drink, I finish it though.  ‘Ah crap!’  My first words after hypos tend to be colourful metaphors of the four letter variety.

I put some bread in to the toaster and push the knob down, guess I need to wait until it’s done…


Two possibilities are that you will:

A. Think that is okay!

B. Think it is utter tosh and that you won’t get those few minutes of your life back in which case my work is done as I have been bed bound four out of the five days of this week and will personally definitely not get them back 😛

Have a good weekend.

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!

Up and Down

Up and Down

Up and Down

Having an odd day today – Control wise!

These are my blood test results since midnight:

Time 24hr Blood Glucose in mmol/l
02:30 31.7
05:02 27.0
07:01 23.8
11:32 13.2
13:00 7.8
14:26 2.9
15.11 3.9
16:17 2.9

Let me give you a bit more information…

Deanne and I had a nice meal together last night after we’d put the Young ‘un to bed, it consisted of Pizza, Garlic bread and then a wonderful chocolate Torte all from Waitrose (other supermarket chains are available!) I made some frankly random guesses about the carbohydrates but did do a bit of checking up afterwards and thought I’d massively overestimated. But as it turned out I hadn’t!

I woke up at 2:30 ish needing to go for a wee (sorry too much info.) but I also felt pretty ropey so decided to do a blood test as well, the 31.7 was not what I was expecting, usually my highs only go up in to the 20s even if I’m ill (which I suppose I might actually be).

I didn’t consider that my infusion set may not be working properly because frankly it was half past two in the morning and I wasn’t really thinking straight. So I stayed up and watched some six-s-side and beach volleyball on TV as it was on when I turned on the telly. I did the next blood test at 5 and was a bit shocked to find out I’d only gone down by 4.7 mmol/l. so I did another bolus and went back to bed.

Got up this morning and realised there was probably something up with the infusion set so I changed it (it was due today anyway) and waited to see what happened. Had my lunch at half eleven and was still 13.2 the pump gave me a couple of extra units bolus to get my blood sugar down!

It worked. The rest of this afternoon my blood sugar has been rock bottom and I’ve been eating Jelly Babies like there is no tomorrow.

I don’t feel particularly unwell, although I’ve had such an up and down day that it’s hard to say for certain and what I’ve eaten hasn’t been massively different to normal so I really have no idea what’s caused it.

I’m not asking for sympathy, advice or even acknowledgement from anyone I just thought it might interest those of you who are more newly diagnosed that even after 35…nearly 36 years of doing this I can have a bad day. I’m not trying to depress you all just reminding you and all of those who support and live with you that you can never take Diabetes for granted.

…and on that cheerful note I’ll sign off for now 😛

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!

Christmas is Coming

Oh Dear :-(

I Ate Too Much!

Well it’s less than two weeks until the big day…and when I say “the big day” I mean “the day where you stuff your face until you need a bit of a lie down”! Previously at Xmas I have had problems because as well as having a large meal…at least twice throughout the day…and alcohol…I have also never managed to resist the urge to snack between meals forgetting of course that I am Diabetic and therefore need extra insulin to cope with all the extra pummelling I am giving my poor stomach and digestive system.

However that was before I was on an insulin pump and knew quite so much about carbohydrate counting and how insulin is related to blood sugar and carbohydrate intake. Now I am fully conversed in ratios of insulin to blood sugar and carb’s, also “Mr Pumpy” (I’ve never actually found a decent name for him, still open to suggestions!) does a darned fine job of doing all the complicated calculations for me so all i really need to know now is that I have enough blood test sticks and how much carbohydrate is contained in whatever the next thing I am going to put in my face.

So…does that mean I am going to have a really well controlled seasonal feast this year?

Well, probably not. Getting the guestimates right takes years of practice and it gets a bit hard to remember what you’ve already eaten after the 4th mince pie so “I’m sure just one more won’t hurt” becomes a kind of self fulfilling pronouncement of blood sugar doom!

Unusually I am not heading down to Dorset this year to stay with my Parents, instead they are coming up to visit us so at least I will be in my own house surrounded by food I can easily calculate the carbohydrates of and without too many things that someone has made that I do not have easy access to the recipe for.

I do though feel a lot more confident this year and know that if I do have any wildly turbulent blood sugar episodes that at least after an hour or two I can be back on track and ready for another round of charades.

Unidentified Flying Illness

Unidentified Flying Bacteria

Unidentified Flying Bacteria

I’m Ill!

Okay that may seem like stating the bleeding obvious, however I’m not talking about my Diabetes, this is something new and frankly not super-comfortable. Let me tell you about it.

A couple of weeks ago we visited my parents in Dorset for the weekend, everything was fine until Saturday Morning when I started feeling a bit odd. Then at about ten or eleven in the morning I ran to the toilet and was ill. I continued to feel unwell for the rest of the weekend.

After getting home I forgot about it until the next weekend when I got a kind of pain under my ribs which lasted a good chunk of Saturday. We went to our neighbours’ house in the evening and frankly got a bit drunk, which was quite good fun, then on Sunday I didn’t feel great, which I put down to the alcohol I’d consumed, however I had a volleyball game on so I thought “self-inflicted, just put up with it” and played anyway (even with my ill-health and at-the-time-unrealised underlying health condition we won three sets to none – I actually played pretty well!!!).

Anyway, it got to Tuesday and as the day went on the pain under my ribs came back and I was having pains every time I took a deep breath in, coughed, sneezed or laughed…funny! I got myself to the NHS walk-in centre in town and got seen by a Nurse. Deanne had suggested it was Pleurisy but he discounted that because when he listened to my lungs they didn’t rattle, probably a good thing really.

After a bit of consultation he decided that it was possibly pancreatitis, caused by my recent-ish change in regime on to an insulin pump, he said this may have upset my pancreas due to the difference in my blood sugars and general control from being a bit random and bad to being quite well controlled.

This actually seemed to make a lot of sense to me but he said it was sensible if I went and saw my GP anyway so he booked me an appointment in the afternoon. I went and saw the GP and after a bunch of questions she decided that she wasn’t sure exactly what it was but that it may have something to do with my diaphragm and lungs or else something completely different so she gave me some pills called “lansoprazole” which seem to calm the acid in your stomach down so it doesn’t upset your other organs but sent me to the blood-letters at city hospital in the morning for a blood test just to discount the pancreatitis.

So currently I have no idea what’s wrong with me but still have pain and no idea when I’m likely to hear about my results.

Great!

Tired

Tired Out

Having A Nap

Okay so it’s partly my own fault, the last couple of Sunday’s I’ve been going out (at 9pm) to an open mic’ night with the guy who lives next door to me, this has meant that I’ve got home both times at something close to midnight, which is way past my bedtime! As well as that I’ve had quite a few busy days at work due to colleagues being off and the surprising number of spam e-mails that seem to be circulating at the moment.

In any case I’m feeling a bit run down, of course  that’s not unusual at this time of year, I’m sure we’ve all heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder in case you haven’t) and of course the nights are drawing in and the temperature has plummeted.

However it’s only really the past year or so that I’ve become more acutely aware of the effect that the temperature and other factors have on my diabetes, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve been connected to a pump when the seasons have changed so dramatically so I’m wondering whether there will be anything different I need to do?!

Should I re-do all my basal rate tests to see if the base rate I am having throughout the day needs changing, or if my bosul needs will go up or down when I eat. I guess like everything else it is just a case of living it and seeing what happens as I do. I guess if I seem to be having a lot of hypos or high blood sugars then I may need to adjust but until that happens I should probably just keep on keeping on!

HbA1C

If you are Diabetic then you’ll probably know what an HbA1C test is, if not then I’ll tell you now.

Haemoglobin

Haemoglobin

HbA1C is a test which looks at the amount of Glycated Haemoglobin in your blood and returns a result which gives you an average blood sugar reading over a number of months.

As far as I have been able to figure out the way it works is that when your body creates red blood cells they contain the amount of carbohydrate that your body has in it at the moment they were formed. Because red blood cells have a lifespan of around three months it means that a sample of your red blood cells will always tell you what the average reading has been over the last three months or so!

For a Diabetic this is obviously important, the closer we can get to normal (between four and eight) the better our long term prospects will be, health wise!

Anyway I went to have a blood test a couple of weeks back in order that my results would be ready in time for my doctors appointment on Monday of this week. I went along quite excited but unsure of what to expect because it is the first blood test I’ve had since really understanding how the Insulin Pump works and how best to use it. It was my first visit to the consultant since getting the pump so that was also a bit nerve racking.

It was quite a good meeting, I asked a few questions and we discussed how it’s been going and then she let me know what my result was.

6.9mmol/l

I was amazed, this is the lowest I’ve ever had so obviously something is working 🙂

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!

In Bruges

Choco Story - A Chocolate Museum

Choco Story - A Chocolate Museum

We spent last weekend in Bruges in Belgium, a really nice place with lots of history and architecture and chocolate, all of which were nice!

The holiday got off to a positive start although the young ‘un was a bit unsettled on the trip over. We went by train from Nottingham to St. Pancr(e)as to Brussels and then caught another train to Bruges itself. It was quite a long trip what with all the waiting around for connections, he was really well behaved though.

Things were fine until we got there and got settled in then I did a blood test and it turned out I was 19.6 mmol/l…Oh dear, the next couple were higher at 19.9 then 21.3, in the morning I tested three times between half six and half eight and didn’t get under 10 on any of them. This was when I decided I’d change my insulin, infusion set and cannula, the next test I did two hours later at 10:40 was 3.3 so I’m guessing my suspicion was right and something was up with some aspect of my pump or my insulin.

The next day went pretty well and with most of my results being around 6 then on Monday another good day, I put it down to eating ice cream and chocolates!

Funnily enough the 23rd (Tuesday) was also pretty good but I did have one test out of the ordinary at 17.4 while travelling on the train again, I was worried that the Eurostar was having some kind of negative effect on my pump but my worries were unfounded as the next couple of tests were around 4.

Yesterday was our first full day at home and I came to work, dropping the little ‘un off at nursery, I decided that I would be good and start redoing fasting blood glucose tests so I started at 12 o’ clock and got the following results:

6.9 mmol/l

6.9 mmol/l

6.0 mmol/l

5.3 mmol/l

6.7 mmol/l

7.1 mmol/l

I figure this is close enough to no change for me to leave it alone so I will do my morning tests again next and then something which I have been putting off and off which is night time.

I’m pretty certain I need to do these as I am having more insulin at night than I need for my supper in order to get my BMs about right in the morning, I think this means that at some point at night my blood sugar is going up and therefore I need more insulin, working this out shouldn’t be too hard it just requires that I get up through the night and do blood tests every couple of hours.

Anyway I’m signing off again now, sorry about my lack of communication recently but I’ve been doing some coursework for a thing I’ve been doing at work, however I’ve finished this now and therefore will hopefully get a bit of spare time back in order that I can start putting a few more updates on here again.

A Long Afternoon

A Big Clock

When's Home Time???

This afternoon has been a very slow one to pass, as you can probably tell from the title I’ve given this post, however on the bright side it’s nearly over now!

Part of the reason it has seemed long is ’cause I’m doing some frankly not super-interesting stuff, however the other reason is that I have been quite low twice, a 3.3 mmol/l at 13:35 and a 2.7 mmol/l at 15:16. “Why so low” you ask? To be honest I have no idea, I had my lunch at about 11:30 in the morning (a habit I picked up many years ago when I worked with my Dad) so the one o’ clock test was two hours after lunch and then the three o’ clock one was after a particularly dull meeting.

Because one of the team bought in some gingerbread men I also had one of those after the last couple of Jelly Babies, at 7.8 grams of Carbohydrate it’ll hopefully be enough to keep me going without sending me sky high.

Anyway I thought I should give a quick update on how life is going as I have been a bit busy at work lately and not really had the time to craft my prose on all things Insulin Pump.

It’s been over four months now since I first got plugged in, it has been  a fairly steep learning curve since day one but it is now a part of my normal day to day life and doesn’t really cause me any problems as far as changing  the infusion set or filling up and putting in a new vial of insulin (which I just had to do at my desk at work!).

My control is obviously only as good as my guessing of carbohydrates and for the most part it doesn’t seem to be going too badly, for instance I had a HbA1C test a while back which tells you how your blood sugar average has been over the previous three or so months and it came out at 7.0 mmol/l. This is fantastic and I believe the best result I’ve ever had for one of these.

I’ve also pretty much come to terms with doing exercise while plugged in, at volleyball now I tend to eat about 12 jelly babies (around 60 grams of CHO) over the course of a two hour training session and that seems to keep my blood sugar fairly steady.

I still haven’t got round to doing all my fasting blood glucose tests, partly because I have been lazy but mostly because it is hard to guess when a good date will be for waking up every two hours in the night when you have a hectic lifestyle and a 15 month old baby, however I really must try and do at least one before my appointment to see the consultant in September in order that I can get as near as possible to perfect. I know almost certainly that my blood sugar goes up at some point in the night because when I  wake up in the mornings I tend to be hovering around between about 8 and 14 mmol/l, even if I haven’t eaten anything prior to going to bed with a 5 mmol/l.

Of course whatever happens I am still Diabetic and therefore my control will never be perfect but all that means is that there is always room for improvement and work on my control.

I feel like I’m rambling now so I’ll bid you adieu and write again some time soon when I’ve gathered my thoughts.

One last thing, I recently wrote a short article for the Nottingham’s NCT (the UKs largest charity for parents) Newsletter, I have scanned this in and posted it here if you are interested in reading something totally unrelated to Diabetes that I wrote!

 

In the words of the Cat: “what is it?”

Insulin and Carbohydrate

What Happens to Carbohydrate with Insulin

Okay, I’ve had enough of what I’m meant to be doing at the moment and anywhere to get a drink or something to eat has shut so I thought I’d start on my A-Z of Diabetes, or at least trying to give a bit of background on what it is and what all the things I talk about mean so…

Type 1 Diabetes, also called Diabetes Mellitus is an autoimmune disease, that is it is a problem with your immune system, in my case I believe I got a virus of some sort when I was about 22 months old, my white blood cells killed off the virus but then didn’t know where to stop and decided that my beta cells in my pancreas were also BAD so they started destroying these as well!

Beta cells have a few roles but the most important of these (to a Type 1 Diabetic at least) is that they pump out insulin and (sort of) glucagon. Both of these hormones have an effect on carbohydrates, insulin turns carbohydrates in your blood stream in to energy which your body can then use to power itself, glucagon turns stored energy, e.g. fats, etc. in to energy if you don’t have enough carbohydrate in your blood stream when you need it.

Obviously you need energy to power pretty much anything you do, if you do not have enough then parts of your body can start malfuctioning! This is called “low blood sugar” or a “Hypo”. I have experienced a whole gamut of different types of hypo and personally find they tend to be different dependent on what I’m doing at the time, for instance if I am exercising, not necessarily full on cardio-vascular body pummeling, can be as low impact as walking (or more likely these days pushing a pushchair!) then I will tend to have a muscular hypo, that is some muscle group in my body, possibly all of them, won’t have enough energy and therefore I’ll get wobbly legs or arms or possibly collapse on the floor or else not be able to get out of a chair.

Worse for a number of reasons are hypos that occur when I am thinking hard, e.g. writing a document at work or doing a brain intensive DIY task, in these cases the organ in my body using the most energy is my brain and so when I run out of energy my brain ceases to function properly. The reason this is particularly bad is because my brain, being short of energy, is often unable to realise that it is short of energy and so I miss the signs I would normally pick up and just get lower and lower until (on occasion but not so much these days) I become unconscious, it can also cause bad moods, arguing (more than normal) and a general change in personality. If it is one of these ones the best thing to do is just to tell me it’s a good idea if I do a blood test, I might well argue but if I do too much you can just leave me until I collapse and then call an ambulance 🙂

So, because I am unable to produce my own insulin I need to somehow get insulin inside my body, over the years this has been by syringe and needle, plastic syringe, pen injector and most recently an insulin pump (hooray), all of these devices do pretty much the same thing but to different degrees of control, syringes were okay but you simply sucked up as much insulin as was required by eye and injected it, insulin pens were a bit better as you wound up the dose and it would give you the same dose, standardised, each time you wound it up on the pen so you knew you were getting exactly 10 units if that is what you selected. I’ll come to the pump in a minute!

Of course to control the level of insulin you are giving yourself you also need to find out how much carbohydrate is in your body, originally when I (in fact my Mum and Dad) had to do this you had to catch some urine in a test tube and add some water and a pill which would then change colour to give an indication of how “sugary” I was, e.g. whether I needed to exercise to try and bring my blood sugar down or if I needed to eat something, they were pretty much the only options available back in 1976. Then they bought out dextrostix, which were plastic sticks with a reactive piece of chemistry on the end which, again, changed colour when you wee’d on it, somewhat simpler and less prone to accidents or mistakes in the process. Nowadays I have a blood test monitor, this involves pricking my finger with a lancet to draw some blood, this blood then goes on to a strip, not a world away from the Diastix I used to use but plugged in to a machine which then gives a reading as to your blood sugar, this has a number of advantages!

The old Diastix used to have a number of colours for the different readings, I believe that “blue” meant your blood sugar was between 0 and 9 millimoles per litre (mmol/l the standard unit of measurement until fairly recently) green was between 9 and 12 (or something like that, it was a long time ago!) and then a range up to brown which was frankly much too sugary! Bearing in mind that a normal blood sugar is meant to be between 4 and 8 it obviously didn’t give a lot of fine control over your blood sugar. Also it meant whenever you wanted to test your blood sugar you needed to be able to pee…and find somewhere to pee! Finally because it takes a while for your body to process carbohydrate and eject it the tests were always about an hour or two behind where your body was currently at.

Blood tests are more or less instant, you still have to carry kit about with you but no longer need to find somewhere private to test and the results are to 0.1 mmol/l, in this way my average blood sugar results have come down from somewhere between 9 or 12 to about 7 these days which is obviously desirable and in fact makes me feel much better about myself.

So these days I need to do blood tests to check my blood sugar, guess the amount of carbohydrate in food I am eating and adjust my insulin accordingly (a bit more about insulin types another day).

The pump is a fantastic device, it is programmed with the amount of insulin I need to deal with 10 grams of carbohydrate (CHO) and the amount I need to bring my blood sugar down by 1mmol/l (0.3 units I think) and when my blood test monitor tells the pump what I am eating (which I program in to it) and what my blood sugar is it decides how much insulin to give me for the food and to adjust my blood sugar to the right level and then pumps it in to me! Technology is fantastic.

That’s it for now, gotta go. I’ll continue this another day, feel free to ask questions if you want more info about anything I’m talking about and remember these are my views and opinions and probably wrong on a number of counts!

I’m Still Alive!

Not Crazy

...Really I'm not!

Don’t worry I am still well and of sound body and mind, I’m just kind of busy at the moment.

However I am planning on doing some updates before too long, firstly some information on the pump and how I got hold of it on the back of the talk I did at the Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group last week.

Secondly I shall do a post with information about Diabetes in general, e.g. what it is and what all the numbers mean, etc. This is due to the fact that a couple of people have pointed out that not everyone who reads this site is Diabetic so I shall attempt to explain what all of the rubbish I have spouted up to now actually means.

Back soon.

See Me Talk

YMCA Stormtroopers

YMCA Stormtroopers - They do exactly what you'd expect!

Tonight is the night, I’m talking about getting and having an insulin pump and being diabetic for nearly 35 years. Its at:

61b Mansfield Road,

Nottingham

NG1 3FN

See you there!

Not a Barbecue!

I had quite a good weekend. Most of Saturday was spent at a Diabetes UK Networking and Consultation group meeting, which was quite good, they invited Diabetes Groups (Like the NottsType1 Group) to give suggestions on a number of topics around volunteering. We all found it pretty helpful and enjoyed it. Although personally I had a problem guessing the carbohydrates in the buffet they laid on so was quite high by the middle of the afternoon.

A Tasty Salad

A bit like some of what we ate on Sunday.

Sunday was also a good day, in the afternoon our neighbour popped round and asked if we’d like to go to theirs and have some food and alcohol, which we did of course being good neighbours. It meant the Little ‘Un got to play with some other babies for a few hours and we got some fantastic food and a few glasses of wine. Surprisingly I managed to guess the carbohydrates much better for this than for the sandwiches at the event the day before.

Today has been fairly quiet, although busy…if that makes sense, one of my colleagues is away which means I’m doing about twenty five things at once but my blood sugar has been pretty stable. I have recently noticed that I seem to be high in the mornings when I get out of bed so I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do some overnight blood tests to see what my BMs are doing overnight. Looking forward to that 😛

In case you haven’t heard I’m tlaking at the Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group Meeting tomorrow night about living with Diabetes as well as how I managed to persuade the NHS to give me an insulin pump, if you’re free then head along to:

The YMCA International Community Centre

61B Mansfield Road,

Nottingham,

NG1 3FN

at about 7:30 in the evening to see me talking rubbish for about 20 minutes.

Hopefully see some of you then.

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