Getting Used to an Insulin Pump

Posts tagged ‘Deanne Gow’

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!

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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!

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.

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 😛

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!

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