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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Be Prepared

Scar's lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with this post. As far as I am aware, I won't be plotting to overthrow Mr. Turnbull and take over leadership of Australia anytime soon. Although if they continue on with this idiotic idea that we should Americanise our health care system, maybe I might find myself a-plotting. All I can say is, once the pathology companies start charging me for blood tests that I don't even want to take in the first place; my endo is going to have to be satisfied with one single HbA1c test per year.  And she won't get me to do any of those frilly extra tests like cholesterol and kidney function that always get ordered. You want bad diabetic, libs? You got it.

I forget where I was going with this post, because I am definitely replaying the Lion King in my head right now. I know what I'll be watching tonight.

Be prepared. Constant Vigilance. 

Listening to Made-Eye has taught me well (But really, when has anything from Harry Potter not taught me well?).

I keep a spare vial of insulin in the fridge at work. Because CONSTANT VIGILANCE. I take spare needles with me because CONSTANT VIGILANCE. Spare Lancing device. CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

When you're diabetic, constant vigilance works out well. Diabetics are still, surprisingly, human. Humans make mistakes. Some humans might leave home with 2 hours left in their reservoir. Some humans might arrive at work, and find out they didn't remember to bring any extra insulin with them. Or reservoir connectors.

So I am very grateful for all these safety measures that I put in place. The insulin in my office fridge saved me a dash home during peak hour. The pen needles in the bottom of my bag meant I could inject the insulin into the reservoir in lieu of having no connectors.

A spare lancing device meant that when I was coming back from Japan a few years ago now, and my husband dropped and lost my lancing device in a crowded plane, I could still test my BGLs.

Diabetes requires CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

Friday, 15 January 2016


I identify as many things. Type 1 Diabetic. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Team Michael shipper. Nerd. The quintessential 00's emo kid. Metal-head. Adult colouring-in enthusiast (although honestly, I've been printing colouring in pages off the interwebs for years, this new colouring craze just makes my hobby more accessible). Pokemon Master. Fussy eater.

A child of the Harry Potter generation.

It was ridiculously cute when my sister messaged me to ask me if I was ok today. 

Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman.

Monday, 11 January 2016


Today as I was browsing along in the interwebs, as one does, I came across an insightful & beautiful article written by a girl who was diagnosed with genital herpes. Although I don't have herpes or any related diseases, I still found myself agreeing with every word she had written about the stigmatisation of diseases such as herpes, HIV/AIDS, and of course...diabetes.

A mere 2 hours later, in a completely unrelated manner, I had a friend throw this picture up on Facebook:

What I'm sure was meant as a self-congratulatory pat-on-the-back came across as insensitive and uneducated on many levels. This picture tells people to be ashamed of themselves if they can't 'say the same'. It offers no chance for explanation (not that any is needed. In this life we live, stuff happens all the time that is completely out of your control). It again reinforces that specific diseases can make us less worthy to be called human beings. Having or not having AIDS does not make you a better person, nor does it increase or decrease your worth as a person. It doesn't change who you are as a person or what you've done, or will do, in your life.

It made me appreciate Elle's article even more.

Even the title of her article gave me the 'I feel you' fuzzies that can only come with knowing someone else out there gets you, however indirectly. Titled 'Why I Love Telling People I have Herpes', I feel very similarly about my T1D. Life and my interactions with others becomes so much easier when my T1D is announced and out in the open. Just like the author, Elle, I had a brief 6 month period where I felt like less of a person, and more a giant cesspool of self-blame, for having a disease that has been so stigmatized as something to be ashamed of. Diabetes is very much portrayed as a lazy persons disease with a very defined description of how hideously awful we are as human beings. I briefly wondered if I would wake up one day and have transformed overnight into the stereotypical diabetic - terribly unmotivated, largely obese and all of a sudden extremely ugly. Safe to say that so far that hasn't happened to me - because so far, diabetes is a disease that doesn't concern itself with how you look or act - It just picks a person and forces them to become best friends forever.

Like Elle, I also get a little kick out of the moment I tell someone I have T1D. Their reaction often opens up a natural conversation about T1D and Diabetes in general and gives me a chance to educate someone about what living with diabetes is really like. Its a chance to change the way we view and think of people with diabetes in a negative sense and hopefully one day, turn diabetes into just another disease that sucks to have, instead of a disease that society says we should be ashamed to have. A chance to reintroduce the human aspect of living with diabetes. I can only hope that if enough of these conversations are going on - by people with all types of diabetes - that there might be a day in the future when I am not asked why I am not fat.

People with Diabetes deserve to have their disease and their own sense of self treated with respect. The current generalised attitude denotes one of shame, avoidance and denial. Whilst we know people in the medical profession are taught the pathophysiological mechanisms of diabetes and its contracture, they too can become prey to this way of thinking that we should do as they say because we brought it on ourselves to begin with. Too many stories of doctors or nurses treating a person with diabetes as a lesser person or someone who needs to be 'controlled' by them, because of the way they percieve us, and our apparent lack of respect for self.

I have self-respect in bucketfuls. Self respect is far deeper a notion than how many minutes you worked out for today or what food you put in your mouth. Self respect is about consideration for your body, and all of its needs, including sometimes, the need to forego looking after one aspect of your health, in order to build up another. Its about recognising that balance between mental and physical health. You can have self respect and be in burn out. To me, self respect is about being able to speak up when people say or do something that doesn't sit right with you - including telling a medical professional that maybe they haven't got it right. Because I respect my body so much, that I do all sorts of unimaginable things to make sure I keep kicking on. Its through respect of my self and my body that I push needles into my skin and lancet my fingers.

We need more Elle's in this world. People who'll tell it like it is, and take embarrasment and shame away from ordinary situations.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Meet Mr. Awful

There are some moments (or in my case, years) of life that you'd rather forget. My biggest regret in life was the degree I received my bachelors in. My whole body cringes when I think about it, and as soon as a thought or memory related to it enters my head, I force myself to think of something else.

One of those gigantic mistakes I don't want to face up to. Not just because the degree was worthless and a waste of all of my HECS money (ohhhh, the HECS money).

But because I hadn't really become 'me' yet when I did that degree. I was miles away from the woman I am today when I did that degree. I hadn't learnt to stick up for myself yet. I hadn't found my passions in life yet. I was just this in this awkward 'post-teen' phase where you don't really know how to be a person and you're kind of testing out what things are like in the adult world. You don't realise that you have the ability to fully control your own future. I would take my emo teen years a million times over reliving that stage of my life. Actually I really liked my emo teen years. MCR and The Used for life. 

Not being me presented a problem. These days I would call myself an over-opinionated, strong willed (yet caring), childish and yet mature woman. Before diabetes and during my degree I was weak. I didn't stand up for myself.

So I cringe when I think of my degree because I inevitably remember all those moments when I should have been stronger. When I think of some of the lecturers and tutors who took their own bitter feelings about an industry that doesn't really exist in Australia out on students. When I got the most awful email I have ever recieved in my life from a lecturer and was told by the administration staff to apologise to that lecturer when I raised it. And I did. Because by that stage I was so close to then end, that I didn't want to jeopardise the freedom from that awful degree that I could almost grasp. Then I found out later that he had acted the same way towards other students and I felt ashamed that I didn't stop it earlier.

I cringe when I think of the lecturer who acted almost openly hostile. It was unfortunate that he was basically the principle lecturer. Someone who offered help and advice only if you pandered to him. And if you didn't pander, made it obvious that he didn't have the time of day for you.

He used to live down the road from me when I was in my final year of university. I ran into him once when I was collecting a parcel from the post office. It was my last semester at uni and I had definitely realised by then how much I hated my degree. He said 'Hello' in an uninterested manner. I replied with "this is awkward" and walked out as quickly as I could. The next time my lease was up for renewal I moved out of that suburb.

I saw him again when I was shopping the other day. He didn't see me. I didn't know if I wanted him to notice me or not. Inevitably, when you see someone after a while, they ask what you're doing. I don't think he would like my answer, but I really want to tell it to him.

I'm doing nothing with my degree. As best as I can pinpoint, I blame my degree for my Type 1 Diabetes. The degree caused me such severe stress that I was regularly passing out from the sheer pressure of completing it. For the last year of my degree I was visiting the PA Hospital for CBT to help with my anxiety. Funnily enough, I never needed to again after I left uni. And Funnily enough, I was diagnosed with diabetes less than 3 months after leaving uni. When I had pressure put on me again to go back and help further with sending out our final grad project to film festivals across the world.

I wanted to tell him that he was part of the reason why I will spend my entire life fighting to keep my blood glucose under control. That if I lose a leg, or go blind, he played a part in that.

At the same time, I didn't want to say that to him. Because I don't hate my life with diabetes. I've accepted that it is part of my life, for all my life. And telling him what an awful person he was isn't going to change anything. It would just dredge up horrible memories of diagnosis, which I am past.

I made the best choice, and I walked away quickly, before he could see me. And really, he's probably been so rude to so many other students since, that he wouldn't have remembered who I was.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

New year Cranks

My diabetes plan for 2016 is pretty simple: Try, try, and try again. Educate people, because I became very lax about this last year. 

No sooner had the New Year rung in when ,yep, another crackpot cure pops up in the mainstream media. Please guys, leave these so called 'cures' in the dark ages of 2015 where they belong. There is a reason that we no longer use medieval medicinal techniques. 

So today's farce of a cure? I'm just going to say one word. Herbal.

Teucrium (or Golden Germander), to be exact. The one that happens to be banned for herbal use in several European countries because of it's toxicity...causing heart disease and liver failure among many other pleasant side effects. But never mind that! Because media wants you to know that some herbologist thinks that it might have glucose lowering properties. So we obviously NEED to have a news story, entirely about its use in Type 1 Diabetes. The sad thing is, it was picked up by a lot of Type 1 Diabetics, some of whom I know. People who can usually smell bullpoop a mile away when the word cure is used loosely with the generalised term 'diabetes'...but haven't this time because the entire story was focused on use in Type 1. Friends actually shared this story with me. It was very awkward. There's no polite way to tell people that, even though you know it comes from a place of caring, that they should probably just ask your opinion instead so they can understand why you don't particularly support ideas like this.

News stations should really look at implementing some sort of New Years Resolution to actually do some research and think about who their stories are hurting before they cast them out to the masses. Masses aren't typically very smart. Herd mentality just leads them around in circles, bleating the same useless pseudo-science at each other, until someone becomes convinced and they die.

So the basic gist of it is: Channel 9 picked up on some research going on at Curtin University (note to self: my children will not be allowed to attend this university) that looks at using an extract of Teucrium in pill form as a glucose lowering agent. The researcher basically describes insulin as the devil.  "Unfortunately, insulin injections are not only invasive but can be very dangerous for the user as the exact amount to be injected varies depending on the individual and the meal they consume (not set amount each time)." Yes. Exactly. The amount that needs to be taken is quite variable person to person. Please explain how a pill hopes to keep up with this, I'm very keen to know. You CANNOT vary a pill when you are sick, or stressed, or have exercised more, or your cold or hot or if you wore an itchy orange sweater vest.

Needles aren't the funnest of things, that is true. They do however, keep me alive. You know what's more dangerous than injecting insulin? Not injecting it. I hear being dead can be quite dangerous if you want to continue living. 

Insulin is not the enemy, so stop demonizing it for doing its job and allowing your body to absorb sugar. I am gosh-darn grateful that I have the privilege of sticking a a needle into myself so that I can live. It also happens to be insulin that my body is no longer creating. Not herbs (maybe I missed this in biology). So it just makes sense to me that I continue to replace lost insulin with well...insulin. 

So they plan to extract parts of this herb to pop in a pill. The issues presented so far are: that the solution they have come up with lasts for only half and hour. I like sleep. Blissful, unbroken sleep. I don't even think new parents get up every half an hour. 24 hour insulin with extra shots at mealtimes win hands down. 

The next issue is that the herb works by enhancing insulin production. Type 1 diabetes = no insulin production. No matter how many times you do the maths, 8 x 0 always equals 0. You can't enhance something that doesn't exist.  

At this stage they don't know how the extract works. They don't know the active chemicals. They've done some rudimentary tests on rats who were given diabetes by engineering. It's not the same thing. 

From now on, I'd like to see media attention given to actual accomplishments. When you run 5 minute slots on pseudo-science and crazy hippies who think herbs are going to save the world from Diabetes, you are holding back real research. From real scientists. Who have evidence. And have made stuff that actually helps people with diabetes to live long, happy and healthy lives.  (CGM <3, Pumps <3, insulin! <3 <3 <3).