Sunday, 3 March 2019

The Problem with Mental Health Campaigning

One day I was working, and I was having a bad mental health day. All I wanted to do was to seclude myself, sit in a corner and cry, but I had to continue on with my day as if nothing was wrong, so I decided to listen to a podcast called “Happy Place” – presented by Fearne Cotton (available on Spotify), because I felt like I needed to listen to some positive, upbeat messages. I stumbled across an episode of this podcast in which Fearne Cotton interviewed Stephen Fry, who is the president of the mental health charity “Mind”. I thought it was such a coincidence that the exact thing I was struggling with was being discussed so openly, when mental health is often something that I try so hard to hide.

As I was listening to the podcast, Stephen Fry made such a good point about mental health awareness campaigning. There are 2 points that need to be made when doing the campaigning, otherwise it can do more harm than good:

  1.  “Mental Health is dangerous, often life-threatening and is a shockingly awful experience for some”, but…
  2. “It is so possible to lead a fulfilled, happy, connected, loving, beloved life in which you are a full proper member of society and you are not owned by your disorder”

This really struck a chord for me. I often talk openly about mental health online, when I have a screen to protect me and allow me to articulate my feelings without getting upset, but in person, seldom do I talk about my struggles with mental health. The main reason for this is the second point, I don’t want anyone to underestimate my abilities, coddle me or constantly question whether I am up to the job.

Stephen Fry, later in the podcast, talks about how someone with a physical illness (e.g. Type 1 Diabetes or Asthma) is more able to admit when they are unwell because people are more likely to understand that it isn’t their fault, and this is so true for me. I find it hard to admit when I feel unwell with Type 1 Diabetes, but when I do admit defeat, I can explain why. When I am struggling with my mental health, and I can’t explain to people a logical reason why, I find it difficult to tell people when I need to step back. I don’t want to be treated differently.

In the podcast, Stephen Fry eluded to the fact that “We live in a country that often think that passion and emotion are an embarrassment”, and I cannot agree to that more. The act of showing and sharing emotion can be so powerful, it shows a vulnerability that I truly believe people respect. I want to be able to open up fully and show people my full emotions, but I end up bottling it up, hiding it and often making it worse, and that may partly be because I *am* embarrassed to show weakness.

I want everyone to understand mental health. I want everyone to know that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues at some point in a year, and it can be very dangerous. I also want people to understand that because someone admits weakness, it doesn't mean they should be treated any differently in the future!

I hope that in the future, I can be as open and honest about my mental health as I am about my physical health. I aim to be open, transparent and confident about all aspects of my life, as I am only human after all, but for now I will acknowledge the need to educate about mental health and also know that because someone struggles with mental health, doesn't mean they can't live a full life.

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x - The home of Happy Place podcast - "Mind" mental health charity

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

A New Adventure - Corrymeela!

2019 brings a completely new adventure for me, something I have never done before!

Last semester I managed to gain much better control of my Type 1 Diabetes (but definitely not perfect!), and I felt so much better for that. One of the things I want to do when going away to Northern Ireland (where my University placement is) can help me redefine what living with Type 1 Diabetes means to me. In the past year I have quite a negative outlook on it, it has held me back from doing thing, and although it has given me opportunities, I have resented it. This can be a chance to gain a positive outlook on the strength it has given me and the opportunities. I have already noticed that I use the fact that I live with Type 1 Diabetes as conversation starter, a way to connect with people who have been through similar experiences, and that in itself is a strength which I wouldn't have gained without Type 1 Diabetes.

I'm on a placement at an organisation called "Corrymeela", which is based on the North coast of Northern Ireland. I live, eat and work on site, interact with all the groups that come through, help out wherever I can, but one of the main things I am using this experience for is to figure out how to be myself. I am living in a house with around 20 volunteers from all different cultures (There are volunteers from America, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Canada, Germany, South Korea currently!) and this will be a test to see whether I can prioritise living with so many other people and taking care of myself.
In front of the beautiful scenery at Corrymeela
Me on the Giants Causeway

Corrymeela brands themselves as a centre for peace and reconciliation, and it has 4 areas of work, which are Sectarianism, Marginalisation, Legacy of Conflict and Public Theology. The groups that come through include school groups, international groups, people who want to learn about the conflict in Ireland and how it relates to them e.g. South Korea, and many many more. The work that Corrymeela do varies so much, but all groups leave with a legacy. They use the phrase "Corrymeela begins when you leave" because Corrymeela sows the seeds for lifelong learning. After being here for less than a month, I have already learned so much, both from the groups and the people volunteers and staff at Corrymeela. I often feel naive, because I didn't know the extent of the problems that Northern Ireland faced and still face, and so it has reminded me that lifelong learning is so important, and that we should never judge anyone else's lives unless we know all the facts.

Some fellow volunteers in front of a mural in Belfast

That being said, being at Corrymeela has been difficult because all the food is served cafeteria style. I give my insulin dose based on how many carbohydrates I eat, and this usually means I can look at the nutritional information on a food packet, or weigh the food I eat and figure it out. I don't have any of that information here, and so I have to guess how much carbohydrates I'm eating. I have gotten it very wrong so far! This means that often my blood sugar is high, making me tired and not be able to concentrate properly, which in turn means that I am not as productive as I hope to be. I think this will be an ongoing challenge for my remaining time at Corrymeela.

Having a day off in the pub
I want to use Corrymeela as a chance to learn skills of self-care, to help with my ongoing mental health. I think the location itself helps massively, just looking outside the window at the outstanding views is so peaceful. Corrymeela also holds something called "Silence in the Croi" every morning, where volunteers living on site can go and reflect on their day, or read a book, or journal, and I have found this an amazing way to start my day. Just sitting there, not having to think about anything and just being present in that moment is such a good feeling and sets my days up perfectly.

Being here, I have already learnt so much, but the main thing I have learned so far is how to be part of a community. Being able to lean on others and have them lean on you is an incredible feeling, and something which I have never truly felt before. If that is all I gain from being at Corrymeela (and I'm sure it won't be!), my time will have been worth it.

I'm looking forward to seeing what else Corrymeela has in store for me and how much I can learn in the short time I am here. I want to be a tourist and learn the culture that Northern Ireland has. I can already tell it's an experience I will cherish.

Until next time,

Alyssa x

Volunteer dream team

Friday, 30 November 2018

Common Misconceptions about Type 1 Diabetes

As with everything, there are so many misconceptions about type 1 diabetes, mostly made worse by the stigma the media causes. Here are some questions and comments someone living with type 1 diabetes can get:

At least its not cancer
Cancer and Type 1 Diabetes are not comparable at all, and by saying this you are making light of how hard type 1 diabetes can be to live with!

Invisible Disability - Someone living with Type 1 Diabetes
looks the same as everyone else!

Wow, you must have ate too much sugar as a kid!
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means the immune system essentially attacks itself, it has nothing to do with eating too much sugar or being overweight.

You can reverse diabetes if you lose weight, can't you?
This is a confusion between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, it can *sometimes* be put into remission through dieting, but with type 1 diabetes you are insulin dependant for life, as the cells in your pancreas don't work anymore.

I would rather die than inject myself everyday!
This one is quite insulting actually. If I didn't replace the insulin my body doesn't make, it is a death sentence. You get used to it, because you don't have another choice!

Can you catch type 1 diabetes from someone who already has it?
No! Diabetes isn't contagious, it is genetic.

Should you be eating or drinking that because of your diabetes?
People with type 1 diabetes can eat anything, they just have to know how many carbohydrates are in the food, give insulin accordingly and know how each food affects their own body. We are recommended to eat the same healthy diet as everyone else!

Someone living with type 1 diabetes can eat and
drink anything (within reason!)
Basically, Type 1 Diabetes should not hold you back. It is hard to live with, it requires constant control, but you can live life to the full nevertheless. Someone with type 1 diabetes will be dependant on insulin to live for the rest of their lives, it's not something you can grow out of.

Asking questions is a brilliant way to get to know what someone goes through, so please keep them coming, but also be sensitive about it!

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Natalie Balmain - More Than Just a Type

I asked my friend, 'Natalie Balmain', who is founder of Type 1 Clothing, to write a blog for me talking about her life as a whole, both positive and negative. When living with type 1 diabetes, it is easy to let it take over , and Natalie talks about how living with type 1 diabetes has played a part in hers. Please read it until the end! - Alyssa

"I've been thinking of how to start this blog for a long time. I don't generally find it difficult to write about my opinions or experiences, but I do find it hard to be vulnerable.

You see, I have a lot to be vulnerable about. I've felt every hollow, stinging, shot-to-the-heart pain you can imagine, but because the foundation of my soul lies in loving everyone, (whether they be an old friend or someone I've just met on Facebook), I've never wanted anyone else to feel the pain I've felt. So, I never shared it.

When you watch my vlogs, or see me speak at an event, you'll see that my message is a positive one. My drive is to inspire others and make everyone around me happy. By nature, I'm a people person, and if I only achieve one thing in life it would be to help everyone else know that they can overcome anything, and live happy, fulfilling lives. Especially my type 1 family, because in all honesty, they are the some of the truest friends I've ever had.

So it upset me recently to hear stories from some of the young people I seek to inspire, saying that either friends, family, or they themselves, have used me as an example to demonstrate that 'controlling' type 1 diabetes should be easy, and if I can manage it so well, why can't they? And my heart sank. I've always sought to uplift people with the positives, but in that moment, I realised that the negatives are just as important. So, I decided that I'm going to share mine.

Firstly, I would like to make it very clear that controlling type 1 diabetes is NOT easy. My favourite meme on the subject describes it as "Walking a tightrope. Except you're on fire, the tightrope is on fire, and everything is on fire". Yup, pretty much sums it up. Over my 12 year tenure as a T1D, the most part was spent with an average HbA1C of 12. That's pretty horrific. I've had touches of neuropathy, signs of kidney damage, and a blue-light trip to hospital in 2017 in severe DKA with a blood PH of 7.0 (when I later saw the healthy blood PH range chart, 7.0 was labelled as 'Death').
Its only in the last year and a bit, and only because I've been fortunate enough to have access to technology like my Dexcom CGM and an insulin pump that I've been able to bring my HbA1C down from 12 to 8. And even that brought on haemorrhages in my retinas. It's still not perfect, but I'm getting there. Perhaps I'll even manage to avoid some complications, despite being told at diagnosis that complications were 'inevitable'.

So, maybe some of you reading this are not type 1 diabetics, and maybe you need an explanation as to why I'm still struggling after all these years to 'manage' my condition. (I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to scream in someone's face when I've told them I'm a type 1 and they have responded with 'but it's manageable isn't it?')

Well the dirty little secret is, none of us are JUST type 1 diabetics. We are human beings with the same real lives and stresses and emotions as any of you, AND we have type 1 diabetes on top of that. Perhaps if none of us worked, or cried, or danced, or ever had a heartbreak or lost a loved one; if we had no lives at all, then maybe we could all have perfect blood glucose levels all the time. But life isn't simple like that.

On top of the fact that everything we eat has a different effect on our levels (even the same food eaten at different times of day requires different doses); exercise, having your period, stress, excitement, heat and so many more things impact your blood glucose, and that's before we even factor in mental health and life.

Mental health is the biggie for me. You see, I suffered with depression even before my type 1 diagnosis. When I was 5 years old, I lost my Mum to cancer. I only found out recently from a cousin that I didn't speak for months after that happened- my brain had blocked all those early childhood years out. 

And maybe it was the fact that I didn't have my Mum around, that I was desperate to be loved. Whatever the reason, being desperate is a sure-fire way to NOT make friends. I remember being at primary school and hearing my child minder ring up other kids’ mum's to invite them round to play. I could only hear one side of the conversation, but it was always "Ahhh.. ok, never mind", as those kids' parents made excuses for their children who didn't want to play with me.

Over the course of my young adult life, I got into trouble a lot. I hung out with bad crowds just to feel part of something. When I got my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, the guy I had been seeing for just a couple of months couldn’t cope with it (and my severe depression), but I guess he felt too much pity for me to break up with me, and so I stayed in a 7.5 year relationship with someone who cheated on me from the first day to last, hoovering up any shred of self-worth I might have had left. (I'd like to add at this point that I don't actually blame him, we were both young and my diagnosis and depression was too much for either of us to deal with well).

When I eventually found the strength to leave, after a period of living on my friend's sofa because I had no home and no job, I got a place by myself and let strangers party in my flat just, so I wasn't alone. I ended up being assaulted in my own house. Since then, I've kept myself to myself because being alone has seemed preferable by comparison.

Even writing this now, I feel an overwhelming urge to apologise to you all for burdening you with this. But perhaps if I lay all my cards out on the table, it might make it easier for you to understand why managing type 1 diabetes isn't just about finger pricking and injections.

You could probably understand why people who have gone through things like that might have mental health issues, or even feel suicidal. But let's put that into perspective: what if someone with those struggles ALSO had type 1 diabetes, and was responsible for keeping themselves alive every minute of every day? Could you understand why that person just might not always feel like it's worth the effort? Why do we try so hard to stay alive when life itself can be so tough?

Now I'm not suggesting for a minute that everyone has been through things as extreme as I have (although many may have dealt with worse), but every one of us has struggled at some point. We've all lost loved ones, dealt with heartbreak, been fired from jobs or fallen out with friends. We all have good days and bad ones too. And those struggles impact us emotionally, and in turn, affect our strength and our motivation to look after ourselves. How many of you have gotten drunk to cope with things? You know it's bad for you, but you still do it. Well, type 1 diabetics know that not being on top of our control is bad for us, but we are only as human as you are.

So perhaps next time you judge a type 1 for not having good control, remember that berating us is only adding to the problem. Child or adult, all anyone in this world really needs is love, and support.

Love Natalie"

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

First dates with Type 1 Diabetes!

When you live with a physical disability that is visible to the people around you, it is hard to control how you are viewed because of previous stigma. Having an invisible disability means that you can control how people view you, and it means you have to decide how and when you let people in on what you deal with. On a normal day, I am very open to talking about living with Type 1 Diabetes, however when you go on a first date, it is very different!

Going on any first date is really nerve racking to begin with, knowing how to conduct yourself and how to act. You have to try and impress without being over the top, try and get to know the person your dating, and health issues aren't always on the top of the conversation agenda, however often they are really important to bring up. When I try to impress someone, I personally don't feel it is very 'inviting' to tell someone that I wear a cannula and an insulin pump 24/7, that I can get very easily get unwell and I might need someone to look after me. I always get afraid that they may feel it is more trouble than it's worth.

When I first started dating, I never brought it up until the second date, as I honestly didn't know how to handle things in that situation. Even testing my blood sugar and taking insulin, I would go to the toilet and take it to hide it more, but I feel now that it wasn't the best tactic to take.

I then tried to be honest about it, and mentioned it in the first date, but I was nervous about doing this and I made too big a deal of it, made it a big drama and went into the details. Living with Type 1 is a big part of my life, but it is only a small part of me and my personality. By doing this I made it seem like it was the only major part of my life.

I now tend to wear a small part of diabetes show, to try and give the impression that I have nothing to hide (which I don't!). For example, I will have my insulin pump visible by clipping it to my skirt/trousers, or I'll have my cannula from my insulin pump showing on my belly. I don't even mention it until my date asks, and I just get on with things, check my blood sugar and take my insulin as normal. Even though I'm not often confident about opening up fully, confidence is key because it isn't a topic I can or should avoid at the end of the day.

I have very limited experience on this topic, and this only really counts if you go on a date with someone you've never met before, but it has been a bit of a nerve-racking experience for me in general. First dates are difficult in the first place, but I added extra pressure onto myself that I really didn't even need to!

Until next time,

Alyssa x

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Pregnancy and Type 1 Diabetes

I normally write this blog about my personal experience with Type 1 Diabetes, however I am very aware that my experience can be very different from someone else. A big topic that I haven't had any experience with is "Pregnancy when living with Type 1 Diabetes", so I asked my friend Lindsay to write about her experience of pregnancy!  - Alyssa

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes age 6 and I remember being told several times as a “grown up” in clinic “you really must tell us when you decide to start a family”,  “ diabetics can have problems in pregnancy”,  “ diabetics are prone to big babies and complications during pregnancy"! My thoughts: "Gee thanks guys really make it sound like good fun, and yeah I am now petrified"! 

My husband and I spoke about kids and we knew we wanted a least one (coming from a big family I wanted more but one was a good start). 

I am fortunate to have an amazing consultant, who supported me pre-pregnancy, which was a lot of work. When I was told I would have to keep bloods between 3.9-5.2 and no higher than 7.8 two hours after food, I did think, "is this really for me"! My diabetes has never been textbook and never will be I am sure! I have struggled a lot with DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) in the past and I was not the strictest of person when it came to my diabetes. The thought of this really did scare me but my consultant had given me a script for folic acid (ideally we have 5mgs of folic acid 3 months before trying to conceive) so she must have been happy for me to try. Diabetes has never stopped me doing anything else in my life and why should it stop me doing the most important “job” I want in my life!! 

So I came off the pill and fell pregnant straight away!  Oh my word, I have never been so nervous, scared and anxious but also happy and excited about seeing 2 wee blue lines. My Husband knew first, but very quickly afterwards my consultant and dsn (Diabetes Specialist Nurse) phoned to warn them they were not going on holiday for the next 9 months!! 

Because we found out very early we had a bit of an agonising wait until our first scan (you generally get an early scan at between 6-8 weeks to check viability and everything is in the right place). This can be abdominal and/or internal scan due to size of sac. I had to have both at this time. I was told there was a sac there but that it was very early days and too early to see anything else (slight disappointment) but I was also told I must have got my dates mixed up. I knew that I hadn’t though! This is where my job as a nurse started to become a hindrance, because I knew potentially what this could mean but no one was saying anything to me. So I went back after a few weeks for another scan and blood tests, and there was still no growth within the sac. I had unfortunately had a miscarriage. I was completely devastated, and yeah, I automatically thought it was my diabetes fault. I hit rock bottom with my mood, and depression set in, I did not care about diabetes as in my head it had caused all this hurt and grief I was suffering, and I hated it!  It was horrible. I was told officially by doctors that my diabetes was probably not to blame, and that 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is a scary scary statistic! 

After a while, my husband and I decided to try again so in January 2014 I peed on that stick again, and there were 2 blue lines: “oh f***”! I was so so nervous, but was I ready for it! My diabetes team were again amazing, I was seen every two weeks in clinic right from the start, and we were working on getting tighter control etc. When it came time for that early scan, I was completely and utterly petrified! I jump onto the bed, wriggle my trousers  done a bit, have freezing cold Jelly on my stomach, and I couldn't even look at the screen. Then those magic words were said“do you see that flicking white dot, that is your babies heart beat and it all looks perfect”. I have never felt joy like that before. There was so many happy tears, I just had to get to next milestone at 12 weeks! 

Those early days seem to drag but I worked on keeping my diabetes in control as much as possible. I would beat myself up if my blood sugar was not in “target”. And oh my word it was tough at times, who knew bread could spike your blood sugar so much after eating it! My appointments with my consultant, dsn and dietitian continued every 2 weeks and I got a monthly hba1c (average blood sugar). Things were improving, however, due to outcome of previous pregnancy I was continually on edge! It was horrible, I wanted to get my hopes up, however I was scared too! So it felt like I was just going through the motions!

The dreaded scan day came again, so many tears that morning before we got to the hospital. I was prettified. I got there, jumped up on the table... jelly applied to my stomach and then we heard the most amazing sound ever! We heard a heartbeat, yep you guessed it, more tears. But happy ones. My baby looked the right size, actually measuring 13 weeks and a day. Heart beat was nice and strong. was amazing feeling being handed our scan pictures.  Everyone was telling me, “ now you can relax a bit”! Were they being serious, I was type 1 diabetic and pregnant, relaxing was not on the cards!

The bi-weekly appointments continued, my hba1c was being done every month. I dreaded this result more than ever because if it was high, I didn't know what damage I could be causing my little one. I would regularly be really upset if my bloods went high thinking of the damage I could be causing! Emotions and pregnancy are not a good mix at the best of times BUT add in the guilt of all of this as well, it was not good and I was often in tears due to this. My 20 week scan came and everything was perfect, our little boy was cooking nicely and measuring right on target. My consultant keep saying to me that I was doing a fab job, but did I believe her?! Nope, I was not hitting the “targets” all the time and I was striving to be better. My hba1c was 6.2% (44mmol/mol, right on target) which is the best it has ever been, but it still was not good enough in my head. 

At 24 weeks we had another scan, but this time it was checking the babies heart. This was so strange,  different from an ultrasound scan as we did not see our wee boy, we just seen all his wee heart chambers pumping blood around. All was fine no problems at all, another hurdle overcome! Could I dare to dream? My dream of being a mum was actually coming true. 

At the other scans at 28 weeks and 32 weeks, everything was still spot on, apart from my little monkey deciding be good fun to turn into breech position. If I was to have my dream of a natural delivery he needed to turn round. At 36 weeks he was still breech, so we were given a date for a planned c-section, with the option of a scan that morning to check if he had moved, and if he had moved I could be induced and have a natural labour. The date I was given was 11th September... no big deal, you might think, but it was my birthday that day too. This would be the best birthday present ever. I would be at 38 weeks and 2 days at time of delivery. I was so proud of myself for getting that far in a pregnancy with no complaints, no mega problems. Of course, I had hypo, I had to change my basal and insulin to carb ratio on my pump a lot during pregnancy as insulin requirements change SO much. But I honestly had the best control ever during my pregnancy, and I was determined from the start that I was not having a big baby. I was not going to be another “ diabetic mums have big babies statistic”. Yeah, my diet changed a bit during pregnancy too more low GI (glycemic index) foods to avoid the blood sugar spikes after meals but, you know what, it was not as bad as people make it out to be. Diabetes and pregnancy takes planning and is very time consuming for the 38-39 weeks but it can be done!! 

Anyway, on 11th September at 8am I went to the hospital, having fasted for theatre. They had wanted me to stay in the night before because I was “high risk”, however I stressed to them that I had been a “high risk pregnancy” right from day one and because it was my birthday the next day, I would be going home, going out for my dinner and be in the morning! Yeah I can be stubborn at the best of times!

I went to theatre for my c-section, peanut, as we called him, had not moved from the breech position! The whole experience was very calm and relaxed in theatre, my husband was in with me too, I had my insulin pump on still, no sliding scale and I knew what to do with basal rates etc as soon as baby was born!

At 10.17am our gorgeous LITTLE baby boy (7lbs 6oz) Logan James Milligan entered the world and he was perfect!! I've never been happier in my life! And he was tiny! My husband got the first cuddle and then me, and it was the best feeling in the world!

His blood sugars were “borderline low” all day but the midwifes were happy for him to stay with me and just try to encourage feeding. Come 10pm I was not happy and I wanted a doctor review, as he had borderline low blood sugar all day and he was a very drowsy baby! The decision was made to take him to neonatal department overnight and tube feed him to try and help his blood sugars (yeah I felt mega gutted but I knew this was the best outcome). The next day his blood sugar was fine and I had my wee boy back where he belonged beside me. 

He has been perfect since, and now I have a wee whirlwind of a 4 year old that I would not change for the world. He has no medical issues at all, yeah he has a slightly increased chance of having diabetes but we would cross that bridge if we came to it. 

So yeah diabetes pregnancy can be tough, stressful, frustrating and lonely at times BUT it is doable. I had the best control ever during my pregnancy, and it was not as bad as I thought. Would I go back for another go... possibly just need to wait and see.  

Thanks for reading! If you have any question etc I am happy for to answer, or if it is of a personal nature send me a wee personal message:

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Difficulties I Face Daily

I just want to be as honest as possible, and that is the reason for this blog. I often give the illusion that I am doing well, and when questioned, I almost always say that I am fine, even when I'm not. 

I am at a stage in my life where I am independant, I do a lot myself and I am very busy, but I walk about life terrified. I desperately want to be a model patient, because Type 1 Diabetes is *technically* controllable, but when it is complicated with Epilepsy which gets triggered with low blood sugar, like mine is, it gets tricky. On one hand I desperately don't want to let living with diabetes affect my life, I also don't want to end up having a seizure, which would impact on my life and the lives of the people around me.

A smile can hide a lot

In my mind I know that having high blood sugar is bad for me in the long term, it can cause complications such as eye damage and kidney problems, however it is hard for me to weigh them against the very pressing and iminant risk of having a seizure, so I make my blood sugar go high when I have something important going on that I don't want to ruin. Of course this makes me feel horrible, cranky and lethargic, but I don't feel scared and short term, that is really important.

At the beginning of the year, I had an amazing piece of technology called a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) which was a sensor that I wore on my arm, and it esentially tests my blood sugar every 5 minutes and sends a signal to my insulin pump. It would then alarm if my blood sugar was dropping or rising too fast, and if my blood sugar did go low, it would suspend my insulin flow. This was such a peace of mind, it allowed my blood sugar to be in range without me worrying. I knew that if I had a seizure whilst I was by myself, I would be okay because my blood sugar would eventually come up itself. I don't have this anymore, and I am trying to get back from the hospital, but it has been really difficult for me to adjust to having the safety net of having my insulin stopped to bring my blood sugar back up, to now having to manually test my blood sugar, which really isn't the same.

An old picture of a CGM on my arm
 One of the main things I struggle with is not wanting to burden anyone. My family members, especially my sister and mum, have had to help me when I have had seizures before. My sister tells me all the time that she doesn't like going places with me by herself in case something happens to me, and I don't want to put her or anyone else in that position.

I am not saying any of this for pity, I want to be honest. I don't want to sugarcoat living with Type 1 Diabetes, I have both good and bad days, and I know that it is okay not to be okay, but that doesn't make things easier. I don't want to write about my experience with health and only write about the positives, because that just isn't reality. I just want to show people that although I go through a lot daily both physically and psychologically, I still can do anything I put my mind too. Also everyone's health is different, so this is just my experience of living with both Type 1 Diabetes and Epilepsy, but it is important to not judge anyone, because you never know what people are going through.  

Until next time,

Alyssa x