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Friday, 14 November 2014

T1D: A step-by-step assembly guide

Happy WDD everyone!!!

This post goes out to everyone in my life who doesn't understand what it means to be pancreatically challenged.

Type 1 Diabetes: A How To Guide

Step One: - You have just been told your pancreas has gone on permanent vacation. Please commence feelings of sadness, loneliness and despair. Mourn your dead pancreas. Continue this for a few days, weeks, months or years. Maybe forever.

Step Two - Withdraw a couple of Hundred $$ from your bank. Go to your chemist. Buy syringes, needles, insulin, testing supplies, jellybeans, ketone sticks, a sharps container. Maybe some other stuff. But these are the basics you will need to survive. DO NOT leave the chemist until all your money is spent. 

Step Three: - Learn to inject yourself with insulin and prick your fingers. The chemist probably sold you a crappy lancing device (finger-pricker). Poke your finger before and after every meal, whenever you want to drive, and before, during and after any physical activity you do (and yes, sex is a physical activity). If your fingers don't feel bruised and/or are covered in black/red dots, you aren't poking enough. Stab insulin into your stomach 5 - 7 times per day. Expect lots of bruises, lumps, red marks and pain. Occasional stinging feelings are to be expected. 

Step Four: - Try to keep blood glucose levels between 5 - 8 at all times. Ignore feelings of failure when you cannot achieve this 80% of the time. 

Step Five: - Prepare a meal. Do a complex maths equation to estimate the number of carbohydrates you are about to consume. Work out how much insulin to give yourself. Give yourself the insulin. Cross your fingers and hope that it all works out OK and you don't get hypo or hyperglycemia from miscalculation. Success rate is probably about 30% correct. Don't take it to heart, there's always next time you eat to try again.

Step Six: - Its time to exercise. Exercise helps to regulate blood sugars, so this step is important. Before you head off find a bum bag, spibelt or similar. Play tetris and try to cram your glucose meter, testing strips, lancing device, mobile phone, spare cash, keys, and juice into it. Once you have successfully attached all of these items onto your body, you can commence exercise. During & after exercise, be aware that you may experience hypoglycemia.

Step Seven:  - Prepare for bed. Please ensure you have checked your blood glucose before brushing your teeth. We do not recommend mixing OJ & toothpaste together. If blood glucose is lower than 5mmol/L, consume carbohydrate foods regardless of hunger levels. Go to bed. Lay awake for a few minutes and convince yourself you will still be alive in the morning. Set an alarm for 3am to check blood glucose levels to help ensure that you will wake up in the morning.

Step Eight: Wake up. Check blood glucose levels. Repeat Steps 3 through 7 daily for your expected life duration.

Occasionally you will need to repeat step 2, particularly if you are looking into insulin pump therapy.

Every few months you will need to add in a maintenance step (step nine).

To fully prepare for maintenance you will need to undergo a diagnostics test. See your nearest pathology laboratoty to have blood drawn for this. 

Step Nine: -  Your diabetes specialist visit is today. You have just spent all your money on Step 2. Call your parents and ask for money to see your doctor. Go to your diabetes specialist. They will focus on the things you are doing wrong, because you don't need help with the stuff you are doing right. Try not to take it to heart. Reward yourself for going with a slice of extra-chocolaty cake.

Congratulations! You have now assembled the parts required for a 'working diabetic'. Commence use of this model immediately, as it will supersede all 'working pancreas' models previously available on the market.

Thursday, 13 November 2014


World Diabetes Day is nearly upon us. This year, DQ (Diabetes QLD) are running the #T1D4MEIS campaign, asking people with T1D to take selfies with what T1D is for them.

What is T1D for me? It's a whole bunch of things.

Its a community. 10 finger pricks a day. Being challenged. Pushing myself harder. Dreading set change day. Getting to set change day and just refilling my reservoir instead. Being motivated. Having a better perspective on the value of good health. Blood. Pain. Tears. Sleepless nights. Lows & Highs. Doing things despite diabetes. Eating KitKats. My insulin pump. The smell of insulin in the morning. Determination. Being proud. The 5.5 dance. 2.8's. 25.7's. A big big handbag. Happiness. Sadness. "What did I do wrong?" "How the hell did I get that right?". Hope. Juice. Needles. Life.

A part of me. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

The problem with cocktails

When I was younger, I never really got into the party & drinking scene. Probably because I'm just about to marry my high school sweetheart, & so when we all turned 18 (who am I kidding? I went to school in Vincentia - when we all turned 12) and everyone got right into drinking I never did. Most people get drunk so they feel confident enough to try contorting their bodies into weird shapes to the beat of music in attempts to 'hook-up' with someone else. I had my lovely, steady boyfriend so I didn't need to do this. Holding peoples bags while they mash their faces into someone else's is never much fun, so I just never got into the alcohol culture.

It turns out to be a good thing. I used to drink alcohol about 4 to 5 times a year pre-diagnosis & normally only 1 drink at a time. We could say I'm a bit of a cadbury. Actually more like a half a bar.

I can count how many times I have had alcohol on one hand post-diagnosis. The story is the same every time.

Girl goes out. Girl has alcohol. Normally 1 glass. Girl gets wasted because girl is a lightweight. But that's ok because girl only spends $10 getting wasted whilst everyone around her amasses huge bills. Girl takes off pump before alcoholic drink. She does not bolus for any food or drink that she consumes from first alcohol consumption. Girls BGLs stay on 6 for ages. When girl gets home hours later she reattaches pump on 20% temp basal (80% reduction). Girl eats food until blood glucose levels are on about 15. Girl goes to sleep

At 5am girl wakes up low.

It happened again Saturday night. I had 1 alcoholic drink, then ate 3 slices of cake and had 2 orange juices with no bolus and with my pump disconnected. I went to bed on 14, woke up at 6am on 3.4.

Here's the creepy part: I wasn't the one who knew I was low. My fiance woke me up to test my BGL because he had a dream where I called him and asked him to remind me to check my BGL. He woke up and immediately asked me to test my BGL. Low.

I don't need a diabetic alert dog. I just need my partner to be telepathetic (I once had an English teacher who spelt Telepathic as Telepathetic. I'm now incapable of spelling telepathic right. I present to you: Vincentia High).

How does everyone else handle their alcohol?

Monday, 3 November 2014


I was at an event hosted by Diabetes QLD last month, and there was an endocrinologist speaker who made mention a couple of times that people with diabetes were still the same people, but with an external pancreas.

A lot of people in the audience nodded their heads in agreeance at the remark. I always find these remarks confusing and difficult to make sense of. When talking of diabetes and the role it plays in our lives, I don't agree with this statement. Diabetes most definitely has shaped who I am as a person and how I live my life. I think it is foolish and silly to believe that you are still the same person as you were before diagnosis and that diabetes is just a little something you do on the side for shits and gigs.

I believe in giving diabetes the distant respect it deserves. It is more than running an external pancreas, because that external pancreas is being run 24/7. Saying we are simply running an external pancreas detracts from what we deal with on a daily basis.

Diabetes is my silent stalker, following me everywhere I go. 3 years ago, I was stalker-free. There were no hypos and highs lurking in the shadows. I had never had to sit out a meal and watch other people eat, despite being starving because my BGLs were too high. That level of self-control didn't exist for me before diabetes.

There is a fine line between letting diabetes run your life, and between giving it the attention needed.
This line also spills over into my relationships with other people. Which is another reason I didn't like this particular statement.

I learnt fairly quickly once people knew I had Type 1 Diabetes that they didn't actually want to know anything at all about it or how it affected me. My Diabetes is now only discussed without about 3 or 4 non-diabetics.

In the company of most Type Zeros, I stopped treating my diabetes like it had any impact on me. Then one day my older brother told me that 'he didn't feel sorry for me having Type 1 Diabetes because I could still eat whatever I wanted'. But he did 'feel sorry for his friend who was coealiac and a VEGAN BY CHOICE', because 'she can't eat much'.

I don't want pity from anyone for my diabetes. I live well with my diabetes. I just want understanding.

It was glaringly obvious that my brother, unfortunately, had no idea what it was that made having diabetes hard to have. I'm sorry your friend has coeliacs disease, I really am. That must be shitty. But the vegan thing - thats her choice. Comparing my auotimmune disease to her choice was really crappy. Being able to eat what I want is the trade off I get for nights when I wonder if I will wake up alive the next morning. Its the trade off for taking a massive supply bag with me everywhere. Its the trade off the fact that I might go blind one day. I don't know what coeliacs disease causes, but the choice to eat gluten or not is probably not that hard to do. If I inject insulin - the medication that saves my life daily - I am at risk of death by overdose simply because today I am more sensitive to it than I was yesterday. That's what I want people to understand - that its complicated and I don't ever get a break. I am always thinking about how to handle every situation with my diabetes.

I was on a CityCat the other day and for some reason read the safety instructions on where the life vests were located in case of emergency. I had to figure out a diabetes plan. My pump isn't waterproof, so in the hypothetical emergency, I was hoping I would be able to clip it to the top of my life jacket so it would stay above water and still work. I would have to somehow take my juice with me as I swam to shore, because that would be unintentional exercise that I had no time to prepare for, so the likelihood that I would hypo either in the water or on shore would be very high.

That's what diabetes is. No offense meant to my brothers friend who is coeliac and chooses to be vegan, but I don't think that those issues means that she has to worry about medical emergencies if she has to swim unexpectedly across the Brisbane River.

Diabetes is not just something I do on the side when I feel bored. Thats what I want people to understand.