The Other Half of Diabetes

“Our topic today is The Other Half of Diabetes.  We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk? (If you are a caregiver to a person with diabetes, write about yourself or your loved one or both!)” Karen Grafeo (Bitter-Sweet Diabetes).

I’m so far behind in Dblog week, my apologies, this year it happened to fall amongst my assessment week and they have had to take priority. I will write all the blogs planned they will just be really late 😛

Emotion, defines emotion to be:

1. A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling: the emotions of joy, sorrow, and anger.
2. Such mental states or the qualities that are associated with them, especially in contrast to reason: a decision based on emotion rather than logic.

So how does that tie with diabetes? How does your body not producing insulin link with you being angry, sad or happy? Honestly, at a chemical or biological level, I don’t know but it does have a huge affect! More than I to care to acknowledge, looking into some stats for this blog I discovered that people with T1D have two to four times the chance of developing depression. Whilst I cannot explain why there is is link o what that link is, I can describe/explain what happens to me and my methods of trying to deal with it.

Last month I was asked if I would mind contributing a blog to Diabetes Daily Grind it could be on anything I liked, there was only an approximate word count that I had to comply with. I spent a few days trying to come up with a subject to write about and then I had a really bad high and ended up blowing up at someone (I have a feeling it may have been my Mum but I can’t rightly remember 😦 ) Mum and I had a big talk about what happens when I am high and how much I have changed emotionally since going on a pump and gaining some form of control over my bloods. I realized that I cannot be the only one who experiences intense emotions with blood level changes and I felt like it needed discussed. So that was my blog Putting a Face to the Name (the High Blood Sugar Demon)  I have linked it in so that you can go and have a look at it rather than post the whole thing. Keep in mind in that post I am only discussing high blood sugars.

I also want to talk about low blood sugars and what I experience with them because whilst my coping methods are similar to high blood sugars what I actually experience is totally different. I want to link in a blog post written  by someone else here because I believe the author has hit the nail on the head and I am not able to describe any more accurately. The post is called ‘Everything was in slow motion. Even my brain was going slow. (A hypoglycemic event explained)’ written by Neel Jadeja on the blog ‘LifeLoveandInsulin.’

Having to deal with such an emotional roller-coaster everyday is exhausting, especially when there is the opinion that if you worked harder and controlled your bloods better then you would not be experiencing the emotions caused by highs and lows. It never stops, you don’t get a holiday, you don’t get paid and there is very little reward for the effort required in comparison to the flack you will get when you are deemed not to have done enough. It’s normal to feel confused, irritated, sad or frustrated about it all and on the whole those feelings come and go as your management changes but sometimes ruts form and those feelings don’t go away, they get worse and start effecting how you manage your T1D, or in some cases don’t manage it. If this happens one of the best things you can do is talk to your DN or endo, let someone know you are struggling, it sucks to admit it and have to talk about it (trust me I know) but if you don’t no one can help. Generally hospitals will have a psychiatrist on the team who specializes in chronic illnesses and you can be referred to talk to them. Being referred to them doesn’t mean you are sick, it just means that you need some support and you may only need this a few times or you may need it over a longer period but if its what you need in order to manage your T1D most effectively then it just has to be part of your management system. If you can find out if there is someone available who specializes in chronic illnesses (or even better T1D) but if not then a general councilor or just talking to your DN or endo is a fantastic place to start.

Most importantly, know that you are never alone in how T1D makes you feel and there is always someone who can talk it over with you and take some of the strain.



Putting a Face to the Name (the High Blood Sugar Demon)

I was recently asked if  would like to submit a blog post to Diabetes Daily Grind to be published on their site. I was over the moon!!! But rather stumped as to what to write about. Then I had a really bad high and I knew what to write about. What it is like to experience a high blood sugar.

Here is the blog post.


Please let me know what you think, do you experience highs differently? How do you handle the emotions that come with it?

Make sure you check out Diabetes Daily Grinds site too and some of the other fantastic blog entries 😀



How to do an insulin pump site change, using the Inset 30 for an arm site.

Hey Guys! David and I made a YouTube video today about how we insert an Inset 30 site in my arm 😀 Here is the link.     It’s a little longer than your normal video because we explained each step but … Continue reading

An Article in the Local Paper

During November (Diabetes awareness month) I was interviewed by a lovely journalist from the Otago Daily Times (ODT) our local news paper here. I was interviewed all about my type 1 diabetes (T1D).

I was so nervous! I wasn’t sure what she was going to ask and then there was the uncertainty of what she would actually write and how she would portray me…and others with T1D. I felt like I was being placed with such responsibility to make sure that the correct things were being heard and understood about T1D but at the same time I felt I had no control over any of it!

The journalist and I spoke for about an hour, about everything! From hospital appointments to how T1D affects friendships.

This is the article that was published as a result.

Hopefully if I have done this correctly you can just click the link above  and it will open in a new tab!

I thought I would put it up here to give you all: a) a chance to read it and b) a place to ask me further questions should you have any. I really hope that you enjoy reading this and please feel free to ask any questions about anything, if I can help in anyway I’m more than happy to 🙂

Just a shot…I think not

So as all of you probably know by now those of us with T1D have to give ourselves insulin manually, this is done either through an injection or an infusion via pump. Today I’m going to explain the process that you have to go through to have an injection of insulin, that right there is more to it than drawl up an amount, stab and push in insulin.

This is the pen that I use to deliver the majority of my shots (I have another one with a different insulin but I only use it once a day).

Insulin pen

Before I tell you exactly how the pen works lets start at the beginning of the whole equation (trust me the whole thing turns into a giant equation!)

Blood test, that’s right, it all starts here. Depending on what your bloods are you may need to factor in a corrective dose to your insulin shot. How do you work this out? Well every T1D is different on this point so I will just explain what I do. I have what they call a correction factor, so for every 2 mmol/L of blood sugar that I want my bloods to come down I need to have 1unit of insulin. So right now lets say that I want my bloods to come down by 5mmol/L, I would need 2.5units of insulin.

Part one:check.

Next are you going to eat anything? For arguments sake we are 😉 for this part you have another calculation to run. It starts with how many carbohydrates have you eaten? (as a diabetic you are taught to carb count but I wont give you a lecture on that right now or your head might explode, the easy way is look up on your phone how many carbs are in your meal) So lets say we’ve eaten dinner and all up dinner contained 60g of carbs. Now we have to divide those carbs by what is called a carb ratio (every T1D’s ratio is different!) my ratio is 10:1 so for every 10g of carbs that I eat i need 1unit of insulin. 60g of carbs means I need 6units of insulin.

Part two:check.

Now it’s time to have your insulin, right? Wrong, now you have to factor in how much activity you are going to do after dinner. If you don’t do this you will either need to eat again to keep from going low or your will go low. If I’m going to do exercise I will generally have 10% less insulin. So lets say that I am going to do some exercise and we’ll factor that in in the next bit.

So we have 2.5units for a correction and 6units for our carbs, together that’s 8.5, but now we have to minus 10% for exercise that we are going to do (I generally round the numbers to the nearest .5 because my pen has increases of .5) so that brings us to a grand total of 7.5units of insulin.

Now for the easy part, having the shot. Simply dial up the required amount, choose the place you want to have it, put the needle in and press the insulin in. I then keep the needle in for a count of 10seconds because it can take the insulin a little bit longer to come out of the needle and start to be absorbed. If you don’t wait insulin will come out of your injection site and then you’ll go high because you haven’t had your full dose.

As you can see having a shot just isn’t that simple. Every time that I test my bloods or eat food I have to go through this process. At first it was really difficult and I needed lto write it down and use a calculator but now I can manage it all in my head. But if my bloods are too high this makes thinking harder so doing all of the above takes me a little while longer. Hopefully now you see that we T1D’s have to do a bit more than just have shots to keep alive, I just felt the need to let y’all know 😉 any questions about any of this y’all know where to put them 🙂

What’s Wrong With Me?

So many people think that Diabetes is Diabetes, that everyone who has Diabetes has the same kind and it is caused by the same thing and can be treated in the same way…well today I’m going to tell you that is wrong. I’m going to explain what Type 1 Diabetes is in the most understandable way that I can, a little bit of a story for you. So lets give it a go, I’ve no idea which order to tell things in so if I say them in an order that to you doesn’t make sense I apologize.

Lets start with what a non-diabetics body does.

When you eat food with glucose in it (that’s sugar that comes in many different forms but the form that I count it in is called carbohydrate) the glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream. Now here comes the fancy part. In order for your body to use the glucose for energy it needs to get into your cells (where is is transformed into a form of energy that your body can use). Glucose cannot just float in and out of your cells it needs the equivalent of a hall pass, something which can accompany it through the walls of the cell and inside. This thing in your body is insulin and is produced in your pancreas by your beta cells.

So to wrap that one up, when you eat glucose it gets absorbed into your blood stream, then your pancreas produces insulin which accompanies the glucose into your cells. The glucose is then transformed into energy that your body can use for daily functioning, things like running around, thinking, walking, getting out of bed, pretty much everything that you do needs energy and you get this from the process above.

In a type 1 diabetics body this doesn’t happen. Our beta cells don’t produce insulin and therefore the glucose in our blood cannot get into our cells and be transformed into energy. Instead it builds up in our cells and turns into something called ketones, if the ketones aren’t dealt with or build up too much they become toxic to our bodies and we can die.

Here is why my body now doesn’t produce insulin.

One day there was a civil war inside my body, my immune system decided that my beta cells in my pancreas were bad and so they attacked them. No one knows what caused my immune system to think that my beta cells were bad, it’s just something that happened and it can happen to anyone at any time, although it is most common in your younger or adult years.

Over a period of time my immune system kept attacking my beta cells, now my body does not produce any insulin on its own. So the glucose that I eat cannot get into my cells and cannot be transformed into energy for me to use. There is only one thing that can be done to get insulin into my body and that is to inject it. The insulin that I inject is made in a laboratory (years and years ago it was made from pig beta cells!) but it has the same molecularity as the insulin that a non-diabetic produces and does the same job only in gets there in a different way.

It’s a pretty short explanation I know but it’s how I explain it to people and generally they seem to understand. I’ll post later on what exactly I have to do to use insulin (it’s not as straight forward as just injecting it) but I think maybe this will be enough to try wrap your head around in one reading 😉 If you have any questions about any of this or want more information I’m more than happy to try and help just comment below 🙂

Hopefully now you understand what type 1 diabetes is, it is not caused by eating too much, eating the wrong foods, not doing enough exercise, being over-weight, how you were raised, or where you live, it is just a freak event that happens inside you one day for no reason, it happens to some people and not to others, it is unfair, there is no explanation or cure, but it is not contagious and we can live reasonably normally lives (well most of the time anyway 😉 ).

Last but not least, this is what I look like as a type 1 diabetic, I have an identity, style and life that is unique to me just like all of you whether you are type 1 or not. Really when it comes down to it, I’m just another person 🙂 only I have a faulty organ in there somewhere haha.

Leading a Heifer in an A&P show grand parade

Leading a Heifer in an A&P show grand parade