Getting Used to an Insulin Pump

Posts tagged ‘DIY’

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 πŸ™‚

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!

Mine’s A Pint

A Pint

Mine's A Pint

What a long weekend that seemed!

Volleyball on Thursday night went okay, I had two Bounty bars (about 33 grams of CHO each) and that seemed to very nicely get me through volleyball, coming out the other side with a BM of 4.9mmol/l, it stayed exactly the same between my post practice blood test at 21:59 and the test I did before I ate at 22:10, which mildly surprised me!

Friday was a bit stressful as I had to mosey over to Clifton to try and sort out some problems people have been having with some new software that I’m helping get installed on peoples’ laptops around the University. I finished work at 16:30 which is admittedly when I should (but rarely wait so long to) finish work on a Friday but usually I jump on a bus straight home whereas this time I had to get to town first.

However Deanne and the Little ‘Un decided they would meet me there and we could have a drink somewhere so we did, which was nice, then we had to go home (which took longer than normal due to some roadworks), feed ourselves, put the boy to bed and then I had to get ready to go out.

Went out with four of the guys from my NCT “having a baby” class, we’ve known each other for about 18 months and occasionally go out on the town together. Suffice to say that I probably drunk more than I should have and woke up the next day feeling a bit ropey, however I failed to write down any of my blood tests for that night so have no idea what my blood sugar did πŸ˜›

Saturday morning I was 16mmol/l which is kind of high, however I came to believe that I actually had something wrong with me (e.g a cold rather than a hangover) later that day ’cause I had difficulty bringing my blood sugar down all day long.

Went shopping in the afternoon and the three of us ran around town and then home for a late dinner at which my BM was 18.2mmol/l 😦

Sunday was better, started off a bit high but soon brung it down and spent most of the day within reasonable limits, even though we were doing some gardening, but the garden looks nice now.

Today I’m still sorting out software problems at work so have been back and forth to see various users in various different buildings, however blood sugar seems to be back on usual form with relatively good control most of the day then dropping in the late afternoon so I might do a fasting BM tomorrow afternoon to try and get back on track to sorting out my basal units again after a bit of a break.

Busy

Busy

Busy, Busy, Busy!

In case you were wondering I’m kind of busy at work at the moment which is why I’ve been a bit quiet, blog-wise! Thankfully I’ve managed to steal a few minutes this afternoon to post an update.

I think the last time I wrote anything I was still having high blood sugars first thing in the morning and was wondering if it was something to do with my extended time off work. Well it looks like it was because I am now back to where I should be with my morning BMs, which is good.

I had a strange night last Thursday at volleyball because didn’t drop my basal rate I just had about three lots of 20 grams of carbohydrates and was fine throughout the practice and the night afterwards. Think I might try this again this week, although the season and practices are nearly over so I will then need to remember this stuff until we start back again in a couple of months.

Went to my EDWARD 12 month follow up course today, I’m quite pleased because my HbA1C test came back at 7.0mmol/l which is frankly better than it’s ever been, Admittedly my previous results were 7.8, 7.6 and 7.8 again but the main reason for that was the number of hypos I used to have, pretty sure it’s gone down or at the very least they aren’t as severe as they used to be as I seem to get warning signs in the high 3s now rather than under 3.

I built and installed a raised bed in the garden yesterday, excitement central at the Ladle house, but the reason I mention it is because I didn’t have a hypo even though it was quite good body and brain exercise. There was however a fair bit of swearing, even though I have vowed to stop, the only times I seem to swear now is while doing DIY or volleyball, personally I think that’s excusable.

Last (but obviously not least!!!) for anyone interested I will be doing a talk at the next Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group meeting on Tuesday the 7th of June at 19:30 at the YMCA on Mansfield Road. I have entitled the talk “A rambling session from Dan about his life with Diabetes and obtaining and operating an insulin pump“. I think that may perhaps be overkill in terms of wordcount for the title of a talk but I asked Alex and she didn’t disagree so that’s what it is. I will be talking about my life up to now with Diabetes along with information on how I managed to persuade the NHS to give me an insulin pump and how my life has been since getting it. Feel free to come along if you are interested.

That’s it for now, back when I get some more spare time!

Baby, I’m Back!

Baby, I'm Back!

Baby, I'm Back!

Well, back to Nottingham, home and work. I apologise for not posting once while I was away but frankly I was too busy not going near any computers to worry about it.

My time away from work started fairly quietly with a bit of DIY in the first week, the best part of which is that it’s pretty much all finished so I can finally relax a bit, my blood sugars were okay and for the most part I had quite a successful week, also spent some time with my boy and my wife which was nice.

Then on the Friday (thanks Dee!) we set off for Dorset and my Parents house, the drive down was pretty good and fairly quiet because there was some kind of wedding going on at the same time, it was a nice drive, the rest of Friday was spent preparing for the Little ‘Un’s party on Saturday, blowing up balloons and helping Deanne make lovely food for the next day.

Saturday came and with it my entire family (more or less) that is Mike, Lilian, Paul, Kim, Marc, Linda, Ben, Richard, Ana, Rachel, Mark, Marcel, Deanne, Joshua, Daniel (e.g. me!) Everyone either a blood or marital relation or as near as is possible without an infusion.

It was a really nice sunny day and we ate lots of food, drank quite a lot of wine and sparkling rosΓ© and played Boules in the back garden, a good time was had by all and it went better than I could have hoped for.

After everyone had gone home and we had cleared up we got ready for our trip to Cornwall. My parents and us stayed in one of these cabins which was fantastic, visited the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan which were both pretty spectacular. My control was a bit up and down, I’m sure you’ll know what that’s like as I can’t be the only one that has issues on holiday when eating unusual food at strange times.

However the worst thing was that I had a catastrophic failure of my infusion set…probably my own fault…but a pain non-the-less.

The chalet we were staying in had a hot tub, which was nice, but I changed my infusion set pretty much on the first evening we arrived. Everything seemed okay but on the last day I should have had it in my blood sugars started rising, I just thought I’d been eating too much so ignored it but then at supper time I wound up the correct dose, hit the confirm button and as the insulin started going in to me it started coming out of the bottom of the sticky plaster that holds the pump on to me.

The reason I mentioned the hot tub is that I believe what happened was that the hot water in the tub affected the sticky plaster over the three or four times I went in it while using the same infusion set/cannulla and therefore it had come loose and come off me enough for the insulin to leak out.

What this actually meant was that I didn’t get my full dose of insulin and at the same time had absolutely no idea how much insulin I had received! Suffice to say the next day my BG was a little high in the morning.

What I should probably have done is waited up a couple of hours and done another blood test to see how I was but it had been a tiring and difficult few days and we had to leave early in the morning so I did not!

Anyway now I’m home I’m hoping that my BGs are going to get back to normal and stop being quite so up (mainly) and down.

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 πŸ˜‰

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.

Bats, Alcohol and a Garage

A Bat

A Bat

Sorry if they were helping you to keep track but after Ben commented last week that he thought a blood test monitor didn’t even go up to 42 I have decided to stop using the numbers at the start of each post πŸ˜‰

Friday night was fairly quiet, Deanne was out at Nottingham University attending a talk on bats, which meant I had the night in on my own so I did a bit of house tidying and a bit of painting. probably not the most exciting evening but my control was fine and it meant I had something to do for the night.

Saturday however was a different matter, had a fairly late morning only getting up at 8am, we went for a drive round some furniture shops to try and find a wardrobe for the Little-‘Un’s bedroom, found a suitable candidate but it was obviously pretty hard work ’cause I was low by half twelve. had some friends round in the afternoon so mainly just sat around chatting and playing with the babies.

In the evening however I went along to the Nottingham Type 1 Diabetes Group night out at Fat Cat’s bar in Nottingham. It was a good night and a lot of people came along, it was nice to meet everyone and have a night talking about all things Diabetes related including pumps, injections, hypos, and many other things too diverse to mention. If you didn’t make it then you missed an interesting evening.

It did however mean that I had a number of beers, which I haven’t done since starting the pump, unlike the wine I normally drink beer does actually contain carbohydrates which meant that when I did a blood test at half eleven my blood sugar had gone up to 10mmol/l, not hugely high but higher than it should have been, therefore as a future note to self “if I’m drinking beer I need to do more blood tests”!

Went home and had supper and was fine but when I got up the next morning I was low at 2.5mmol/l so apparently when I adjusted at near midnight I hadn’t taken in to account the drop that invariably comes after drinking. Oops!

Sunday was mostly spent tidying the shed in our back garden. The best bit of which was that I actually finished doing it and now have a useable space in which we can find things when we need them and keep things while we don’t. Was quite pleased with myself as I managed to only go low once while I was doing the thinking/physical exercise that the job involved, survived by eating occasional packets of crisps and having the odd chocolate cookie with an exercise adjustment.

Tonight I have a volleyball match which I’m hoping I’m going to manage better than the one I had last week but only time will tell.

Thirty Nine, Forty, Forty One – We’re All Going To The Zoo Tomorrow…

A Bit Like Our Shed

A Bit Like Our Shed

…actually that’s a lie, we went to the zoo on Saturday!

It was the Little ‘Un’s birthday on Sunday so we had a big birthday weekend, on Saturday Deanne and I and the young ‘un went to Twycross Zoo, I started off very well writing down all my blood test results in the little book and trying to accurately judge what I was eating (ice creams, etc.) but by 11am had given up completely and was just trying to play it by ear. The main reason for me giving up was because my blood sugar was dropping like a rock and so I had to keep doing blood tests and eating to try and keep up with the high level of carbohydrate that pushing a pushchair and carrying a one year old round a zoo entails.

A good day but a very tiring day.

Sunday was pretty good, didn’t do a great deal in the morning (opening baby presents, playing with new toys, going to the toilet on a potty (him, not me!!!)) but in the afternoon while the weather was hot I decided to start clearing the garden shed out. To understand this fully it is worth mentioning that our shed (prior to me starting this) looked very much like one of those old shops you go in that have bits and pieces of everything stacked higgledy-piggledy on top of, inside and around each other with a blatant disregard for health and safety.

So I started by clearing a lot of stuff out of it, then screwing some hooks up so I could hang some things up to save floor space, then I started chucking out old rubbish and filing stuff in to boxes.

Interesting as this probably isn’t to read what it meant is that I had to do a lot of blood tests and have quiteΒ  an amount of carbohydrate-y things over the course of the afternoon – which I did! Although the work wasn’t particularly back breaking it was constant and so my blood sugar just kept going down. More on this phenomenon in a minute though.

Today started with a high blood sugar, mainly because I had a piece of birthday cake with dinner last night and failed to calculate the carbohydrate correclty apparently. However everything settled down enough by lunch time in order that…wait for it…I’ve finally managed to do my afternoon fasting blood glucose tests. Hooray πŸ™‚

So far all is going well with a small surprise of my BM taking a swift upwards turn from about six to about nine at 4pm. This has shocked me because I was expecting it to start dipping about then, however I’m still guessing that I’ll be low before the end of the results. But don’t quote me on that.

I also managed to speak to the Diabetes Nurse this morning about my exercise rates and she pointed out something quite obvious which is that just because I have gone on to pump therapy doesn’t mean I don’t need to have carbohydrate while I’m exercising! So tonight I have a volleyball match and so I am going to have drink/food while I am playing to keep my blood sugar at a sensible level, as well as using a temporary basal rate and the exercise setting on my pump.

Frankly I should have realised this myself and/or called them up much earlier, but there are such a lot of things to consider when initially using a pump that you just have to try and address them one at a time.

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