Public Lows

This post is ones that is very important for me to write but one that is extremely difficult for me to post. Because of this I ask that you note that this is my personal experience and thoughts on a situation that occurred for me. Everyone has different experiences and thoughts but these are mine so please be gentle with that. Thank you x

Hypos or lows, they happen anytime any place don’t they? We have no or very little control over them. The ones that hurt and scare me the most-the ones that occur in public. 

Yesterday I was out with my new friend from college in a new city where we are both studying for six weeks. I’d tested and was 4.6 so had had some carbs and we started searching for a supermarket to find a cold drink. I began to feel low and explained this to my friend, by the time we reached the supermarket I was struggling with my words and vision and my head was spinning. Upon reaching the drinks isle I was having black spots in my vision and was struggling to stand. Eventually I managed to work out which drink was diet and which had sugar and found the check out, along the way I’d found two king sized crunches, mentos and a creme egg. Reaching the self checkout I somehow managed to scan and pay for it all. By this point I was barely able to see and had pulled my sunglasses down to help and hide me crying. I had black spots in my vision and nothing was in focus; I was beginning to shake, couldn’t speak well and was terrified I was about to collapse. I managed to tell my friend I had to drink there in the supermarket which (thank goodness) she understood and accomodated. I tested and was 2.2 😭  

 My friend sat with me next to the checkout for about 15minutes as I tried to get sugar into myself. She said I was really white and looked terrible. I went through various stages of the shakes and being unable to express what I needed all while trying to remain upright and not cry. 

I was humiliated, my friend had asked to hang out and I needed up turning myself into a public spectical who she had to babysit and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it 😭 I felt like a horrible friend and failure as a person.

With hypos at home at least I can lie down and sob while I go through the shakes and the sugar kicks in without anyone seeing. At least I am not in anyone’s way. At least no one has to know what happened. 

For my friend I am so grateful, I will never be able to tell her exactly what it meant for her to sit there with me, talking and making sure there would be assistance if I needed it. But I really wish she hadn’t had to. I find it terribly difficult to accept that this happened and whether I like it or not will probably happen again.

What can I do? Well I can work as hard as I can to control and maintain my blood sugar. I can carry fast acting glucose with me. I can do my best to explain to whoever I am with what happens when I have a low and what I may need them to do to help me. I can wear medical ID so that their conversation with a 111 operator is a lot smoother should they have to have that conversation. And if the situation does arise I can talk openly and honestly about it and its effects afterwards. And I absolutely have to come to a place were I know I did everything I could to prevent and improve the situation. It’s not much but in these situations it’s all I can do. 

How do you all handle your public lows? What do you have in place in case you have them? 

Thank you for reading my thoughts and experince, as always if you have any questions please fire them at me.

x Hope

Deciding to Move From MDI to Pump

*Deep Breath* where to start?

I guess a good place would be when I was first offered an insulin pump. About 6years ago (it may well be linger than this) I was told I would be an ideal candidate for an insulin pump and did I want one. I did some googling and found out that Nick Jonas (my icon for that month) had one, so of course I wanted one! It was after saying yes that I was told it would be $8,000 to purchase one and some other crazy number per month to keep it running. At that point coming up with $8,000 just wasn’t going to happen so I did a bit of inquiring into various foundations around and whether they would be able to help or not, I wasn’t met with enthusiasm and so didn’t proceed in any of my investigations. Basically a pump wasn’t going to happen so I began hating the idea, purely because I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

Over the years the suggestion of a pump came up frequently but I was still bitter at the fact that it was so expensive and I now had the added attitudes of my school peers, who, at the time felt that my having injections was ‘gross’ and treated me horribly for it. To me the idea of having something implanted in me 24/7 was just an added extra that they could tease me about. So I continued to refuse.

This continued in a varied fashion through to my late teens where, even though I was without a boyfriend, I worried constantly about what boys would think of my T1D and how they would react. I didn’t want to make myself even less attractive by having a machine attached to my hip. So still refused the offer of a pump, even though by this time they were finally funding pumps in New Zealand.

Finally last year (2014) I began to get involved in online groups for people with T1D. Those involved in these groups were predominantly from the USA and other countries were pumping is a common form of insulin therapy. I began reading posts about insulin pumps and seeing photos and memes popping up all over the place. The thought of an insulin pump became normal, not strange or weird. I began to feel like I could actually manage having one of these things. Later that year i had an eye examination, of which the results were not good and included leaking in one eye that was affecting my vision. My bloods were also all over the place! I was having 12+ injections a day to try and prevent peaks and troughs in my sugar levels but it just wasn’t working. While discussing this with the Prof, my Diabetes Nurse came in and I lost it, burst into tears and started begging for help because I was doing everything that I could and that they were telling me. (I think as a last desperate attempt) the Prof suggested a pump and too the surprise of him and the nurse I said yes, anything if it would make things better.

I think the combination of a pump now being viewed as a normal thing to me, not having a boyfriend and therefore not worrying what someone might think about me being rigged up to something 24/7, my feeling so sick all the time due to swinging BG levels, the bruises and literal pain of 12+ injections a day, and the damage occurring to my eyes had lead me to the point that I really was willing to try anything that would help make me better. It just turned out to be a pump.

So my nurse applied for the funding via the government funding department (I think that’s what it is) Pharmac and once I was approved all I had to do was wait for the next available training day to get fitted and learn what I needed to know to get pumping.

Moving from MDI to a pump is not a decision that I took lightly, a lot of thinking went into it before I went to visit the Prof that day and a huge amount of research and talking to people all over the world went on after receiving funding. I think I’ve made the right decision, but only time will tell.

I am now pumping but I will keep all of that for the next post so as not to overload you πŸ˜› If you are considering a pump and want anymore information please feel free to ask, I’m more than happy to answer and attempt to help if I can πŸ™‚

Hope

PancreaticallyChallenged – YouTube

And so I started a YouTube channel…

I’ve been doing a great deal of YouTubing recently and I have realized that there are no (none that I could find) YouTube channels about type 1 diabetes (T1D) in New Zealand or for New Zealanders (kiwi’s).

In New Zealand we have quite a different system when it comes to health care and in particular diabetes care. It is fantastic to see all the American and English ones! I really do appreciate them but at the end of the day what is available there and what is available here are quite different. So I started PancreaticallyChallenged.

My plan for this channel is to be a place where people can ask questions about T1D and get a really honest answer. I’ve found that often people are either too scared to ask or don’t know where to ask. So this gives people reasonable anonymity to ask and a place to do so.

I have only managed one video so far, it has been the holidays (dreadful time to start YouTubing!) but hopefully it will continue from there. I will also blog here all the extra details for the videos.

If you would like to check out my first video you can do so bellow and if you have any questions or ideas or videos please comment with them bellow, I would love to hear them!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtrd2TDxMnw

Enjoy guys!

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.

http://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/magazine/328536/fear-blindness-wake-call-diabetic

Hopefully if I have done this correctly you can just click the link above Β 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰ any questions about any of this y’all know where to put them πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰ ).

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 πŸ™‚ 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