One day everything will change for you. You may not feel it
now, or for a very long time in fact, but one day everything will start to get
better. I promise you that.
You’ve just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. You’re
scared, angry, confused and currently you’re very much in denial about your
condition. You’re hiding away from it as much as you possibly can and at the
same time you’re trying to fight it, to protect yourself and your family from
the way it makes you feel. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Each day is an ever
weakening battle to muster up the energy to move, to think, even to smile, but
you but you carry on regardless because you don’t know what else you should do. You don’t
really understand what it entails, what this diagnosis will bring, and what you
do know of it has frightened you enough to make you want to run as far as you
possibly can and hide from it.
I wish so very much that you could see that you don’t need
to do this, any of it. I wish I could bring you here, almost 14 years on, and show you that
your life will be so much kinder and rewarding if you would only take the time
to talk, to listen, to share and to care more for yourself and the people who
love you. By trying to hide away from the reality of life with Type 1 Diabetes
you aren’t doing yourself any favours, you’re making your future (you do have a
very bright future by the way) so much harder. I know it sounds harsh, I know
you don’t like to think about it or hear it, but it’s true. Please love your
body now, you will be so pleased you did in the years to come.
In only a few months time you will make some mistakes which, at the time, will seem like to only way to cope. You will stop taking your insulin as you should. You will stop testing your blood glucose levels. You will stop seeing your health care professionals. You will drop out of college. You will leave your friends. You will meet new people who do not care about you. You will stop caring about yourself. If only I could turn back time.
When you’re 17 you will enter into a relationship that will
make you so much stronger, a fighter in fact, however, this won’t be an easy
ride and you will learn to become this fighter the difficult way. If only your
voice, you courage and you fight was as powerful as it is now, you may have to
strength to stand up and do what is right. You may have the courage to look
after yourself and your diabetes in the way that you deserve to be looked after.
I wish you could see that you, and your diabetes, deserve respect and not to
accept the harsh lies that you are told. When you turn 21 you will summon the
strength to say “no more”. You will stand up, turn your back and you will get
away. This will be a powerful moment. But by that time, those cruel words that
you will hear so often about your body, injecting insulin and pricking your
fingers will start to feel true. You will come to believe them. You will feel ashamed, guilty, a burden, unwanted, and you will be manipulated. You will,
sadly, learn to hide your condition in order to keep another person happy. This
is something that you will learn to never do again.
When you turn 25 you will have been through 9 years of dangerous
routine without realising the damage you have caused to your body. You will
have regular hospital admissions in which you will tell the same tale over and
over again about your daily diabetes management. You will know just what health
care professionals want to hear (or so you think) and you will tell them
exactly that. However, what you say will be lies – you would have become an
expert at lying in order to keep health care professionals happy. You will even
start to believe your own lies after repeating them so often. This is one of
the most unhelpful things you can do. There are some good people out there, people who
can help when you are suffering. People who can educate and guide you. You’ll
find these people eventually and when you’re ready you will accept their help
with open arms. You’ll even become one of them! But by that time the silent, lurking, damage
that neglecting your diabetes has caused would have stored up inside of
you. It would be slowly growing more powerful until it is ready to raise its
ugly head when you’re least expecting it and it will stop you in your tracks.
The life that you had, the fun, the games, the carefree and
reckless attitude will be your downfall as you are suddenly faced with the ugly
consequences of ignoring your condition for so long. You will have treatments
that you had never heard of before; procedures that will turn into nightmares
for years to come. You will feel more scared and guilty than you ever have and you
will need some serious help to get through it. The independence that you craved
when you were first diagnosed with your condition will be turned on its head as
you depend on others to help you through this time. This isn’t what you
wanted for yourself. You thought you were invincible, that you could beat
diabetes by turning your back on it, but it came back, stamped its feet and demanded
to be heard.
One day you will realise that diabetes is very similar to
you – you are both very stubborn. You will smile to yourself as you think about
One year after being stopped in your tracks, aged 26, you
will reach a new chapter in your life. This will be completely different to anything
you have experienced before. It will be incredibly refreshing but it will take
a lot of work; you’ll be ready for that though. All of a sudden you will realise
that what doesn’t kill you does in fact make you stronger. You will stand up
against the damage, the past, the cruel words, the hurt and the loss and you
will, once again, find the strength to say “no more”.
You will become determined, empowered, motivated, passionate,
confident, knowledgeable, proud, creative, open, honest and resilient. You will
find a new and much louder voice that has been supressed for such a long time
and you will make your voice heard. You will learn from your mistakes, you will
take a new path and you will grow to become someone who works hard to prevent others
from experiencing what you did. You will challenge yourself and others, you
will question, you will learn, you will try your very hardest to
understand and you will change. Yes, diabetes will change you, but it will
change you for the better. You will experience even more than you ever thought
possible – fantastic opportunities will come your way and you will grab them
with both hands and make the most of every moment. You will work hard, harder
than you ever have before and you will achieve things that without diabetes you
wouldn’t be able to achieve. You will finally feel comfortable and see that you
have a purpose in life. This is something that 16 year old you can’t imagine,
but it will happen. You will kick butt.
I know it’s hard to look to the future when what you’re
faced with right now is holding you back so much, but try to look beyond the
here and now. Life moves so quickly and before you know it, you’ll be 30 years
old and sat on your sofa, writing a letter to your 16 year old self. Do what
you can today to make a better future for yourself. It’s absolutely worth it.
"I thought about my own knowledge when it comes to sex and diabetes and realised that this page seemed to be missing from the book. You know that giant dusty diabetes book that most of us edit and adapt in our own unique way..."
It's time to grab a tea or coffee, maybe a biscuit too (go on, treat yourself!) and settle down on the sofa to read more about sex and diabetes in my latest column for The Diabetes Times.
When your feet ache it’s usually
a signal that you probably need to rest them.
However, the alarm bells should start ringing when you can’t actually
feel any pain in your feet or toes.
In this instance your feet and toes could be affected by what is known
as “Peripheral Neuropathy”. This
condition, caused by a number of different health issues, affects the feet
and could be responsible for reducing your lifespan without you even knowing anything
about it. Although there are a number of
health issues that cause peripheral neuropathy to occur, this blog post is
going to focus on how it affects diabetics.
So what is Peripheral
Let’s start by looking at the definition of the individual words:
defined as on the edge or at the ending as in the term ‘on the periphery of…’. As
far as you body is concerned this means the feet, toes and tips of your
defined as a disease or a dysfunction of one or more peripheral
nerves. Anything that affects the nerves
usually causes a weakness or numbness to occur.
Therefore, in layman’s terms, peripheral
neuropathy is classed as a condition that causes damage to the nerves in your
feet and other extremities of the body, resulting in a loss of sensation or
feeling. This can manifest itself in
many ways: a tingling feeling; muscle weakness; shooting or stabbing pains at
random points; loss of balance; or complete numbness.
How does peripheral
neuropathy affect people with diabetes?
So what does this mean for you,
as a diabetic, in relation to your feet? How much about the importance of foot care
been explained to you in detail? The key
thing is that if you have peripheral neuropathy there will be certain spots
under your feet that you may not be able to feel. The result of this, more importantly, is
that you may not notice whether or not you have hurt your foot. Putting the fact that you’ve diabetes into the
mix, brings the added complication that wounds you do get are slower to heal
than somebody without diabetes. But how would that happen, you may be
thinking. All I need to say is blisters due
to a shoe rubbing your heel, a small stone that has got into your shoe and is
now stuck between the bottom of your foot and your shoe and, a personal
favourite of mine, walking across a hot sandy beach on holiday. There are many causes of wounds on your feet,
and sadly as a diabetic they’re much more difficult to treat.
Should I care about
Let’s be fair. Most people tend to neglect their feet at
some point. Daily we push them into
(often ill-fitting) shoes, some of which rub and pinch our feet. When was the last time you clipped your toenails? You are not alone as most people leave it
until absolutely necessary. As we don’t tend to wear shoes around the house we
stub our toes on chairs, tables, etc. Think about the general forces that you
inflict on them – your whole body weight for a start. This weight is too much
to be counterbalanced by the cushioning in most people’s shoes. Not surprising when you consider that your
big toe alone takes 40-60% of your body weight.
Still surprised that your feet sometimes hurt? Well if this happens to you it’s a warning
that maybe something is not quite right.
But hang on, what if I have
peripheral neuropathy? Doesn’t this mean
that I can’t feel the pain that most people feel? Yes.
This simple warning system is not there for you. This means it now needs replacing. Your body is good at counteracting a
deficiency in your senses. If touch and
feeling is taken away, you can switch to using one of your other senses – your
eyes. You should be looking under your
feet on a regular basis. If you don’t it
might be too late by the time that you do.
Any rubbing shoe or simply even dry skin can cause the skin to crack,
creating a small wound, which might already be infected. And you wouldn’t know this if you haven’t
looked at your feet. Infections can be
very painful and take a long time to heal properly, especially in a diabetic as
blood flow to the feet may be reduced.
If the infection has spread too far it can lead to amputation of the
infected limb. If that wasn’t bad enough
an amputation can also take ages to heal, possibly resulting in multiple
amputations. Statistics show that once a person with diabetes has an
amputation, the risks of morbidity are higher than in a person without
diabetes. Don’t let this happen to you.
**Disclaimer** This blog is about
methods that work for me and my diabetes, in my clinic setting, with the team
that provides my care. We all have very different care, funding, time,
management techniques, preferences etc, so this blog is from my personal
experience and musings.
I’m conscious that when I’m asked
to present at conferences, training sessions, lectures or write for journals
and other publications, many of the requests I receive are about what went
wrong with my diabetes and my care. When I deliver a presentation I always
ensure that whoever is listening understands that what happened was in my past
and is not my present or future. A great deal has changed in my T1D care over
the last 4 years and I have a lot to be thankful for. Spending much of my time
engaging with patients and carers and discussing their experiences has been a
real eye opener as to just how well my care is delivered, and looking back I
can see just how much has changed to make that happen. I don’t know the ins and
outs of how those changes came about but, as a patient, I can see and feel that
whatever was done has worked well indeed.
This blog is about what works.
Email is not
a new concept, dare I say it’s even a bit old fashioned in some ways, but it is
a very effective method of communication in health care when I need a
non-urgent question answering and I don’t have the time to keep phoning my
diabetes clinic in an attempt to reach my consultant. I know that he may not be
near a phone when I’m free to make or take a call; instead he can reply to an
email as and when he picks it up, send a few lines to reply (or even a simple
“yes” or “no”) and that’s it, my question is answered and my mind is put at
ease. I think it’s very important to understand that there are boundaries and
expectations from both sides however. I wouldn’t email any of my team at 3am on
a Saturday morning and expect to have a reply within an hour; a Monday morning
or afternoon reply is a much more realistic expectation. Similarly, I know that
if I’m in a situation when I’m very unwell and need advice straight away then
email isn’t the best method of communication. However, in the right situation
it has proven to be very effective for me, providing flexibility and a
different method of access to my HCPs, sharable information (e.g. blood glucose
data) and HbA1c results and importantly it helps to build a trusting
relationship between my HCPs and I. Personally I find some topics much easier
to approach over email than on the phone or face-to-face and this allows for
further conversations to develop in person if I so wish.
Much like email, I have been
provided with my consultant and my diabetes specialist nurse’s mobile phone
numbers for certain situations. This came about when I started using my insulin
pump and I was provided with these numbers in case I found myself in a
situation that was not an emergency but could not wait until the next day or
after the weekend to be resolved. I realise that providing patients with mobile
phone numbers requires a lot of trust and as patients we are advised of
situations which would warrant a phone call or a text. As with email, I know
there are boundaries and I would not abuse the privilege of being given my HCPs
phone number. This is a method of communication that I haven’t had to use,
however I was very grateful to have an extra safety net in the first few weeks
of using my insulin pump as it can be an uncertain time for new users.
ADHOC appointments are brilliant
for me with my hectic schedule and never knowing whether I’m coming, going or
just been! Often at the end of my appointment my consultant will arrange our
next one there and then rather than waiting for me to be sent a letter with a
time/date which isn’t convenient. He will tell me when he’s available and he
books me in there and then, followed up by an email to confirm the time and
date. Although I do have my regular 6-12 monthly appointment booked via normal
means, if I have an issue that I need to discuss which can’t wait for that
amount of time, or he feels that it is necessary for me to be seen more
frequently, then he will arrange this between the two of us. I very much
appreciate how flexible he is to meet my needs and I find that even a quick 5-10
minute appointment is far more effective than waiting for my annual review or
being put onto a long waiting list to see one of his team.
This is so very important to me –
respect is a two way street in my appointments. I have a great deal of respect
for my team and I know that is reciprocated. We value each other’s opinions,
skills and strengths and we are all honest about our weaknesses. We are all human
after all and I can’t expect them to have the answer every time, but what makes
the difference is when someone says “I don’t know but I will find out for you”.
I imagine that is very difficult to do as a HCP (I know I’ve been in that
situation myself before) and when it comes to something as important as my diabetes, I
respect the fact that they don’t take a wild guess or leave me with no answer
at all. I look up to my team because I know that they have worked very hard to
implement the changes that myself and other patients have needed. I hear so
often from other patients outside of our local area that they don’t feel valued
or listened to and it makes me realise how different my team is to many out
there. That’s not to say that there aren’t other forward thinking and proactive
teams; I know there are some great HCPs leading diabetes care with us.
I'm unsure of when or why it
happened but a few years ago I stopped receiving letters from my GP to have my HbA1c done at the surgery. I have my blood taken at the hospital after my appointments and I used to
find it very frustrating that I would then be requested to have it repeated by
my GP. I honestly don’t mind where I get it done, as long as it is only done
once and as long as the result is shared between my GP and consultant (which it
now is). Perhaps this is where the issue comes in… how easy is sharing of
information between the two? I’m more than
happy for my results to be share and discussed if it means that I’m not having
my veins poked and prodded more than it is necessary. This goes for any test
that I need. One thing I will say is that having all of my tests done consistently in one area would be a benefit to me. I find that although I have my blood taken at
the hospital I am then required to have my other health care essentials completed at the GP surgery,
sometimes going home with urine bottles to bring back at a later date (which I
admit to forgetting about), then going off to have my eyes tested at a later
date. With all of my other appointments and commitments I would prefer to get
everything done and out of the way in one go.
Up to date info
This isn’t as much of a big deal
to me at the moment as I am quite proactive in knowing who does what and when
they do it when it comes to my care, but it is important for those times when I
need to quickly find a phone number, or check the day of a certain clinic. I
know which nurse assists in running which clinic and I know which consultant
has a special interest in __________ (fill in the blank) aspect of diabetes,
however if I wasn’t so nosey I could find clear and up to date information available
on my hospital’s website. This, I imagine, is very useful for people who have
been newly diagnosed or have just moved to the area.
Willingness to try new ideas
In a way this ties in with
respect but I find my team are more than happy for me to try different
technology or methods to manage my diabetes. An example is when the Freestyle
Libre came onto the market – I was amongst a group of 6 patients in the UK to be the first to use it and my consultant was more than happy to assist me with this in order to
get the best outcomes from the technology. This included me emailing him data (at his
request, I must add) for him to review before I met him. A year or so later I
was asked to trial the new MiniMed 640G insulin pump which required him to
assist me should I need help. He was more than happy to learn about this new
insulin pump, as was my DSN, in order to see how it could benefit me. When it comes
to my diet I do tend to intermittently try low carb and I’m aware that not many
HCPs advocate this to their patients. He talked me through the pros and
cons and accepted that it was something I would like to try after helping me to make an
informed decision; he then supported me with following that decision through. It leaves me feeling like I
can have open and honest conversations with him about my diabetes whilst
helping me to feel more in control of the decisions I make. This is valuable as
it builds my confidence but also maintains a good relationship between the two
Partnership and team work
Last but by no means least, my
consultant, DSN, dietician and I are able to work together as a team to improve
our outcomes. I say “our outcomes” as I am very aware that my results equal
their results. We each have targets that we want to reach or maintain and I
feel that this is very much a team effort. In all honesty I wouldn’t want to
take on diabetes with anyone other than my consultant but there have been times
when barriers have gotten in the way. The biggest barrier being myself. There have been periods of struggles when
I’ve become frustrated with my diabetes, with my management and results, and
there have been times when I have let this become an obstacle between us.
However, those times are thankfully rare and I overcome them because I have such a
supportive team alongside me. Not behind me or in front, but alongside me. Everything that I have mentioned in this blog is in place
for the benefit of patients and whilst it may also make the jobs of our HCPs easier, ultimately they have made changes for their patients.
The weekend just gone was very special for me and one that I will
remember as the first time that I have ever felt truly positive about change in Type
1 Diabetes care.
I was invited to attend an inaugural meeting in which patients
with T1D, carers, Health Care Professionals (HCPs) and commissioners would come
together to develop ideas to improve the care that patients receive throughout
the UK. It was an honour to be asked and to be amongst some of the best in the world of diabetes. The group included many people that I had met before through my diabetes
work and I can honestly say that if anyone was going to make waves in T1D care,
it was this group.
First up we had patient and parent presentations to set the
scene regarding what we needed to change, move away from, embrace, improve and
continue developing further. Kev did a excellent job of talking to us about being a “diabetes
dad” and describing his daughter Amy’s time with T1. He articulately discussed
his experience as a parent, the tools that himself and Amy use to successfully manage her
T1 and what they had and hadn't benefited from in terms of the care Amy has received. Before this talk I hadn't heard Kev present before but he did so in a way that captured the audience and
made us all think about how some aspects of children’s and young people’s care need to improve.
Next up was little old me, and I won’t talk too much about my journey
as so many of you know it inside out, but what I really wanted to get
across to the room were two key points; that change is happening in health care with regards to digital and online education and support, and HCPs need to
embrace that change. Also, in terms of education (which was my main focus), it is lacking in
many areas and it is so very important that from day 1 of diagnosis we take
away some education. Reflecting back on my experience, I was on a dose of 100
units of insulin per day, from the age of 16-25. For these 9 years I was told
to take 20 units of fast acting insulin for every meal I had, no matter what that meal was, and 40 units of long
acting insulin at night. I knew nothing of carb counting, correction doses or even how dangerous insulin could be. Is it any wonder that I stopped taking my insulin because of the crashing
hypos I was experiencing from those doses.
We then heard from Jens who described the lack of transparency
in his care and the complicated system that he found himself up against. It was
very interesting to listen to someone who had challenged the system and the
people in it and to hear that there was very little interest in making improvements.
Jens, if you didn’t know, if the founder of Diabetes Care Finder, which (when
it’s up and running) will allow people to find the diabetes care that they
need, read patient reviews, review the services that they attend and ultimately
make decisions that are best for them about where their care is delivered. Jens is a real innovator and Diabetes Care Finder could be a big game changer for patients with diabetes.
And last but certainly not least we saw Mike inflate a
balloon and make a rude noise with it! True story! Mike wowed me with his
experience of working as a lay member to create the NICE T1 Diabetes Guidelines. I was impressed to learn that the
process involves a monthly meeting for 5 years - now that takes some real dedication.
Developing NICE guidelines is something that I don’t have much knowledge on so
it was interesting to hear Mike educate the room as to just what goes in to
creating these guidelines and why he decided to do this. In the past I will admit that I have been too quick to
judge based on what I see in front of me but I must say, I don’t think I could
have done what Mike has. When we, as patients, all have such individual needs it must be an incredibly
difficult task to undertake, so I have a lot of respect to Mike for stepping up
to the challenge!
So as far as patients and carers go, we had a really insightful session which would guide the HCPs later in the day with regards to developing ideas for new models of care.
After a quick break we heard from the legends, Professor SimonHeller and Dr Fiona Campbell who gave an overview of how diabetes care has
developed over the years, but recognising that it isn’t where it should be. They
highlighted that it isn’t as advanced in capturing technology in the way that
it should and that the reality is that we don't just need to keep up but we need to stay ahead. Prof
Heller asked the question “Which condition demands more of an individual that
Type 1 Diabetes?” There was silence in the room as we all knew just how much input
is needed from patients and carers to manage T1D on a daily basis.
Up next was what Partha described as “the fun bit”. And it
was fun indeed! The HCPs split into 4 groups, each with a scenario (including a
pot of gold) and were asked to develop a possible model of care which was then
pitched to a panel of commissioners and a patient representative (Roz Davies).
The groups were allowed to select patients to join their groups in order to
probe us further about the care that we receive and any suggestions we had for
improvements. Ideas developed, I sat back and listened as the HCPs challenged
each other and forced each other to think outside the box. I was impressed at
their passion drive and determination. I could see genuine excitement in their
eyes as within around 45 minutes their ideas were looking promising. As I said before, this was an incredible group of people
and it was reassuring to know that we have these people fighting our corner in
the world of Type 1 Diabetes. I just wish everyone could have been there to hear what was said throughout the day.
One of the main points that I have taken away from the meeting,
which seems incredibly obvious now, is that I tend to live in my own little
bubble in which insulin pumps, CGM and access to specialists as and when I need
them are the norm for me. The meeting reminded me that there are many more
people with different needs; those who choose not to use pumps and CGM and those
who aren’t able to; those who receive very little support and education and for
whom access is hard to come by; people in nursing homes or those who are house bound or those who are in prison or are homeless... This is why we need options for patients and more
than we have at the moment. If a patient would prefer to be seen within the
community then can we make that happen for them? Should they have to see a specialist? If someone needs to be seen in secondary care how can we ensure they are seen within an appropriate time frame? What needs to change to make hat happen? If patients would like to have all
of their 15 health care essential checks delivered in one place then what can
we do to provide that? The fact is that we need flexibility in what patients
are offered, we need choice and most importantly we need services that people
are going to use and get good outcomes from.
I won’t go into details about the final proposals but I must
say that they were all very promising. Please keep watching Partha’s blog for
more details as he has promised to do a write up for you all but trust me when
I say they were creative, forward thinking, innovative and patient centered. I
have been to a lot of meetings which have promised to improve T1D care and not
one of them has followed up with their plans. Not one has made the effort to
cover so many aspects of the patient journey in order to influence change. A
quote from Dr Pratik Choudhary (which I have pinched from Roz’s blog – sorry Roz)
is something to think about… "Current
practice kills at least 30% more people by the age of 50 than best practice
It’s time to do better.
You can catch up on the weekends tweets by searching #TalkT1 on twitter and on my storify archive here.
I promise one day I will film my monthly favourites and put them on my youtube channel, but until then...
My first December favourite is this foot care Christmas gift set by Baylis and Harding. Yes, as you can see, I have bought myself a Christmas present, but only because I wanted to try something new on my feet and it cost the same amount as my usual Neutrogena foot lotion (but this has extra goodies included)! So in this gift set you will find a manderine and grapefruit foot lotion with vitamins A, B and C, scented foot soak crystals also with vit A, B and C and a pair of super soft, fluffy, white socks. With diabetes it's important that we look after our feet, check them every day and keep them well moisturised to prevent any breaks, cracks and dry skin which could cause problems. As I mentioned, I usually use Neutrogena foot lotion but I love the Baylis and Harding hand washes and thought I'd give these products a try instead. I added the bath crystals to warm water and soaked my feet for 10 minutes, dried them well and applied the lotion (being careful not to put any between my toes) and then I slept with the socks on over night while the lotion got to work. The result - silky soft feet with a fruity scent and the gift set didn't break the bank! You can get this gift set in Asda for only £5 in their Christmas gift section.
Next up is this diabetes alert bracelet by Kirsty. I actually won this a few months ago in a competition and it was the first ever medical alert that I'd had. Obviously it's important for people to know that we have diabetes just in case there is an emergency situation, but most medical alerts don't look so great. Kirsty, however, has a lovely selection of not only jewellery but other diabetes accessories too. They're affordable, they look good and they would make great stocking fillers, birthday presents or just a nice treat! Check out Kirtsy's website at Diabetic Jewellery to see her full range and prices.
Now, I've raved about the Hid-In range before on my blog and youtube channel, and as these really are one of my favourite diabetes products of all time I thought I'd give them another mention. Katie, the lady who designs the Hid-In range, has type 1 diabetes herself and knows just how hard it can be to stash away insulin pumps inside clothes. She has come up with a whole range of attractive and discreet ways for insulin pump users to wear their pumps in a comfortable and fashionable way. From the range I have a pair of pocket panties, which have a pocket in the front for my pump, and I also have a body band which I can wear with any outfit. Something I also love is that Katie can customise the body bands to match your favourite underwear! Again, this would make a great Christmas stocking filler and I'd definitely recommend the products. Katie also has designs for men too, so guys... get hold of a pair of pocket pants or a body band for your pumps too! Take a look at the range on Katies website and check out her brand new kit bags too!
Moving on to blood glucose testing and for the last few months I've been loving this little duo by Nipro Diabetes Care. I was sent a whole bunch of their blood glucose meters to try out and this one has to be my favourite so far. Not only is it pink (it also comes in blue) but it is a 2 in 1 meter, combining the meter with the pot of test strips, therefore saving that vital bit of space in your bag or pocket and making testing that little bit easier. Something else, which I don't currently have, is that it also comes with a matching pink or blue jacket (yes a jacket) that fits over the test strip pot and has a sleeve for a finger pricker! I love how simple this design is, how easy it is to test my blood sugars with it and, obviously, I love that it's pink! Check out the Nipro range on their website.
Time to get diabetes appy! Here are two apps for carb counting that I'd like to recommend for any time of year, not just Christmas, and those are Carbs and Cals and Cook and Count. The first, Carbs and Cals, I've used for the last 3 years and I also have the book (it was a freebie with my accu-chek combo meter) and I've found it so useful, especially when I'm eating out and I'm unsure of the carb count. It's a great little app that doesn't use much space on my phone and it's really easy for me to use. The second app, Cook and Count, is designed by Deborah who's son has Type 1 diabetes. This is a fantastic app for home cooking - It allows you to select all sorts of ingredients (as well as add your own), add measurements and calculate your total carb count for a whole dish or per portion. It also allows you to take pictures of your food and store your favourite recipes to look back on later to quickly view the carb count. Both of these apps will make carb counting at Christmas a whole lot easier! Check out Carbs and Cals and Cook and Count on the app and play stores.
Aaaaaand finally! This isn't a diabetes product but in a way it's related so I thought I'd throw it into my December favourites... A few wonderful products from the Simple skin range. So during the winter my skin tends to suffer for a number of reasons - cold weather, stress, drinking more alcohol than I usually would and eating slightly less healthy food, but I've noticed that when my blood sugars are running high (which they have been in the last month or so) my skin becomes really dry and dehydrated and needs an extra boost. I'm loving the Simple range at the moment because it's just so simple! Micellar cleansing water is everywhere at the moment and it's not only a great make-up remover but also good for hydrating skin. I usually remove my make-up with Simple cleansing skin wipes, cleanse and exfoliate with Nivia products, then use the micellar water on a cotton wool pad, use the eye roller for a refreshing wake-me-up, apply a Olay moisturiser and finish off with the Simple beauty balm. It seems like a lot but my skin needs it in the winter and when it's so dry and dehydrated I can really see the difference. Take a look at the Simple range on their website and find out more about what their products can do for your skin.
This blog post is very different from my usual topic, however it is a message that I wanted to get out there, and what better place then here. As many of you will know I am a final year student nurse. I am thoroughly enjoying my training and I feel very lucky to be able to do it. However, had it not been for the NHS Bursary I would not have been able to do my nursing degree as I have a student loan to repay from a previous degree. Today it was announced that student nurses will no longer be supported by the NHS Bursary and will need to take out a loan. This will potentially mean up to £30,000 (or more depending on location) of debt for students who's starting salary is £21,478. Take into consideration that many nurses, like myself, have previous degree loans to repay, and many have families to support, it raises the question; how many will get into so much debt for a nurses salary...?
As a student nurse I have spent the last three years between
University lectures and clinical placements, showing my dedication and passion
for the nursing profession. I have given up my job, my salary and my financial
security to retrain and complete a three year adult nursing degree. I have
cared for and supporting my patients in the best way that I possibly can,
always putting others before my own needs, whilst maintaining my ongoing
education. I have worked long unpaid hours in order to gain experience,
knowledge and understanding in my new profession. I have stayed far past the
end of my shift when wards were understaffed, I have worked without breaks in
order to provide care, I have done everything possible to ensure that I am
being the best student nurse that I can be, so that I will one day be the best
nurse that I can be. Not only that but as a student nurse my time spent
studying is longer than most degree students. When others have gone home for
summer holidays and Christmas, my nurse colleagues and I are still diligently
attending University and clinical placements.
Being a student nurse is physically and emotionally
demanding – we undertake clinical practice for 8-12 weeks at a time alongside
studying to further our knowledge, writing essays, undertaking drugs exams,
working and caring for our families To me
the decision to remove the NHS Bursary shows very little respect for our future nurses and a complete lack of
understanding into how it will affect an already damaged NHS. The government has made mistakes and is trying desperately to claw back some money, however student nurses will be paying for those mistakes. It raises many
questions such as how many nurses will be able to train without a bursary? Will
the government raise the salary of nurses (who when qualified start on £21,478
per year) to enable them to repay student loans? How will student nurses who are
undertaking a very emotionally demanding degree cope with the financial burden
that a student loan entails? And as mentioned for some, repaying previous loans and/or raising families? And what will be the knock on effect should
training places not be filled?
Many student nurses rely on the NHS bursary to support them
through their degree. We become highly skilled, professional and committed
individuals who bring excellent values and beliefs to the NHS and we do so
because we care. Our strict University screening process ensure that students
who apply to study nursing are doing so because we want to make a difference,
because we have the qualities that will allow us to become caring and
compassionate professionals. These qualities are then assessed throughout our
degree, allowing us to build upon our skills, transforming us into proud nurses
who you would want to care for your nearest and dearest. When we apply to
become nurses we do not do so because we want to earn huge salaries at the end
of it. We know that is not going to be our reality. We accept that we will be
on an average wage, however the NHS bursary helps us to prepare for that. Now that this has been withdrawn how many caring and compassionate people will be able to train
to become a nurse? Personally I couldn’t have afforded to train without the
financial support that I have received from my NHS bursary and I am very
grateful for that. I wish that our future nurses would be given the same opportunity
that I have had – the opportunity that allows them to care for a career.
I don’t know if you’ll remember me, we met 13 years ago
in your GP surgery. You were the first Health Care Professional that I
had spoken to in the UK following my diagnosis in Paris. You had a kind face and you were friendly and
welcoming. You introduced me to a nurse who would help you to help me, and
together we would try to work out this messy and menacing illness called Type 1 Diabetes. We used to talk, though not for long, about this thing called
insulin. I didn’t understand it, even weeks after being taught how to
inject, but I didn’t know how to tell you that. I was young and nervous, you
were confident and decisive. I was worried that I would sound silly, immature
and like I couldn’t cope. You presumed I knew what it all meant, maybe
you thought that someone else had told me first, but I was very much in the dark. I
wish now that I hadn’t been so fearful, so apprehensive and stubborn; I wish that both
of us had asked “do you understand?” but neither did. I assumed that one
day I would be informed, you assumed from day one that I was knowledgeable. We were both
wrong. Things didn’t work out between us and I moved to a different team, but I wasn’t fearful anymore about not understanding. Lack of knowledge had caused me to become fearless.
I don’t know if you’ll remember me but we met 6 years ago in
the Emergency Eye Department. You noticed something that your colleague didn’t
and for that I am very grateful. You reassured me that I would be taken care of
and that I shouldn’t worry. I was alone, it was late and I began to
cry. You held my hand as a nurse cannulated me. You told me that I would be
admitted to a ward for further investigations and you made a promise that you would visit me once
I had settled in. I didn’t expect to see you the next day, on a Saturday, but
you stopped by to say hello. A few hours later you came back. You sat on my bed
and told me that a scan had showed a shadow. Whatever that shadow was it was
pressing on my brain and your team would need to investigate. You
saw tears in my eyes and told me to be brave. I took a deep breath and stayed strong for what seemed like the first time in years. I wouldn't have been strong without you there. When we met again you explained the procedure. The
thought of it scared me but there was no one else that I would have wanted to
operate on me. I was very pleased to have met you.
I don’t know if you’ll remember me but we met 2 years ago in
Accident and Emergency. You were the person who was sat at the nurse’s station
when I came in with high blood glucose, high ketones and vomiting. It wasn’t until an
over hour later that we met, when you pushed yourself away from the desk to my
bed on one of those backless seats with wheels. You didn’t even stand up to walk
over to me. You had a clipboard in your hand and you put your feet up on the
side of my bed, balancing the board on your thighs to write notes. You looked
at me and said the words “so you’re my DKA?”. No. I was not your DKA. I was
your patient, with a name that was written down in front of you and you didn’t
have the decency to call me by it. You didn’t speak to me, but to my mother, as
if I wasn’t there. You wheeled yourself back to the desk then stood, picked up
your coffee cup and walked away. I was pleased to not see you again after that.
I know you will remember me, I’m still under your care. I’m
one of the patients who takes up far too much of your precious time, but you
would never tell me that. You always smile, you always ask, you always go the
extra mile. You are the kindest, most caring and supportive Doctor I have had
the privilege of meeting. You understand what I’m saying when I can’t
articulate it myself. You know my diabetes inside out; you know just what I
need, what I fear, what I think and feel. I can’t rate you highly enough as you have changed me for the better. I talk about you so highly amongst my peers
and with professionals too; the way you always have the right answer, it seems
like magic to me, I wish I had that magic too. But often, as you know, diabetes
can be tough. It gets too much, it’s unbearable at times, and when that
happens I turn and run. I’m not running from you, I’m running from it. You know
I’ll come back one day and I know that you’ll be there when I do. But now is
not the right time. It’s me, it’s not you.
My monthly article for The Diabetes Times is about understanding the reasons behind insulin restriction, omission and diabulimia. Please click this link to read it. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so please comment here or find me on twitter (@ninjabetic1) or on facebook (ninjabetics) to let me know what you think.
Here are some of my favourite diabetes things that I've been using this month. I should really have made this into a video but maybe this will work for now... Please let me know what your favourite diabetes things are!
First up are these cute pump cases and body straps from Pump Cases. They were sent to me to try out and I'm loving them! Another small blog with more detail will follow soon. The guy who makes them has a whole selection of colours and designs on his website and these 2 caught my eye. The pink paisley is really pretty and eye catching and the black Eiffel Tower case not only looks good but has a handy clip too. Not only are they great designs (I like my pump to be well dressed) but they're a pretty good price too (around the £8-£10 mark)! Check out Pump Cases website and facebook page.
A bit of a strange one but I love this bread! I've always been a thick sliced white bread kinda gal and nothing could change my mind. OMG door step bread is simply the best!! However, my blood sugars didn't seem to agree that it was the best kind around, so I thought I'd give this a go instead. It's called Burgen and it has 11 grams of carbs per slice. Compare that to my previous 22 (sometimes more!) grams per slice and there's a pretty decent carb saving there. I've actually been eating this for a few months now and haven't had thick white bread since I made the swap. It tastes good, only costs £1 per loaf (in Asda), my blood sugars love it and I've lost a bit of weight since swapping too. Plus it has seeds which give it a great texture.
Another foodie fav are these sugar free Hartley's jelly pots which have 1 gram (ish) of carbs per pot. They're not exactly an autumn/winter dessert but they satisfy my sweet tooth (which is getting out of control) and I don't need to take insulin for them due to the low carb count! Great stuff! I got these in Asda and they were 5 for £2 :) They're great for lunch boxes (even my grown-up lunch box).
Many of you will know that I have absolutely fallen head over heels in love with my new diabetes gadget, Dee-Dee Dexcom. I know it's not new to many people but it's new to me and I'm in a whole new world of diabetes control. Seriously, in the 13 years that I've had diabetes my control has never been this good. It's easy to use, pain free to insert, has great graphs/charts when uploaded and keeps my attention focused on getting better results. This is a lot more that I can say about this, but do follow me on twitter (@ninjabetic1) and facebook (ninjabetics) for more updates. I would rave about this CGM all day if I could!
My final product to rave about is this first aid tee-tree gel from the Jason range. I was actually sent a bottle of this by a friend 2 years ago and it worked wonders for soothing my angry cannula sites, so I bought another. It's about £2.50 - £3.50 online, so not too pricey, and it lasts absolutely ages as you only need a tiny amount. I find that when I take my insulin pump cannulas out, even after 2 days, I'm left with an angry red lump which can be very sore and itchy! After cleaning the old site I dab a bit of this on it and it instantly feels soothed. I'd definitely recommend trying this if you have angry skin after you take out a pump cannula (or even if this happens when you inject). It smells good too!