Wednesday, 10 August 2016

I'm just a normal person. Except I'm Diabetic.

I talk about diabetes a lot online. Mostly because it's not difficult to answer the harder questions online, because people can't see me blush instinctively and I can take longer to think of a more meaningful answer. However, when people ask me about my type 1 diabetes when I am doing ordinary tasks and going about my everyday life, I get embarrassed. 

I like to think that I can do everything everyone else can, so when someone asks about something to do with diabetes, it interrupts what I'm doing and makes me feel embarrassed. I'll be having a normal conversation with someone when they suddenly ask "What's that sticker on your arm?" I know they are just curious about what my CGM is  and it's good for them to know what it is, but it just ends up reminding me that I do have type 1 diabetes and I'm not the same as everyone else.

It's little things that give me a reminder that I'm diabetic. Things like having to sit out of netball practice because I'm hypo and I can't see, let alone run about. Having to stop at the side of a country road while cycling because my blood sugar is dropping and I don't want something to happen on a little road no one ever goes on. Even just walking to the shops and having to walk extra slow because my blood sugar is high and my legs feel like 

I'm always told that I can do whatever I want to. Do whatever job I want. The new Prime Minister has proved that, but I don't want to be prime minister. I want to get through one day not feeling ill, not constantly have to explain why I'm testing my blood sugar, and meet new people without having to tell them why I'm carrying my pancreas in my pocket.

I can do everything non-diabetics can do, but I have to take extra precautions, make sure people around me are aware that I'm diabetic, and this can be tiresome sometimes. I do live a normal life. I play sports, play guitar, use the Internet way too much. I'm just a normal person. Except I'm diabetic.

Until next time,

Alyssa x

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My Next Adventure - Moving to University

As of the 3rd of September I will be moving across the country for university to start the new chapter of my life in Dundee. I will be studying Community Learning and Development (it's like a branch of social work). I am scared and excited at the same time. It is such a new experience that I don't know what to expect, if I will fight or flight, if I will cope or crumple.

I find it difficult at home to control my type 1 diabetes, but I have my sister and mum to prompt to and make sure I do what I am supposed to. Sometimes it is overbearing but I appreciate it because whenever something has happened, both my mum and sister were there, making sure I was alright. At Uni, as I will be staying in halls, I will be surrounded by people who probably wont know about diabetes, which means I will have to make sure they know what to do if I'm ill. Most of the time, I will have to deal with my diabetes myself, and not have anyone to remind me that I do need to take care of myself. This is the scary part.

On one hand, moving away from home means independence. I can make my own mistakes and learn from them. On the other hand, I'll have to do everything. I will have to learn how to cook, do my own washing, do the shopping, book my own appointments, order my own prescriptions. At home, my mum does a lot for me, so it is going to be a culture shock having no one to rely on but myself.

The nights out scare me a lot. Alcohol lowers blood sugar naturally, and that increases the risk of severe hypos. Alcohol obviously gives the liver a lot of work, and because the liver is hard at work filtering out the toxins, it can't give out glucose to bring me round from a hypo, so I have to be extra vigilant. I worry that I will accidently get myself in a state and end up in hospital, or worse. I just have to find a balance and keep an eye on my blood sugar.

When I get a job I will need to explain to them about everything. At my previous job I was allowed to take a break when needed, but what if my new employer isn't as accepting? I find the "what if's" are the worst. "What if" my employer doesn't accept that I'm diabetic and I may need to take a day off if I'm ill?

As far as the University learning itself, I'm not as worried. I've met with the disability team at Dundee University and they are putting provisions in place for me. All the lecturers will know I'm diabetic in case I'm ill and I'll have advanced notes in case I'm not able to attend because of illness.

I'm both nervous and curious about what this new chapter in my life will mean for me. Meeting new people, having new experiences, all of it is daunting, and the "What if's" are scary

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

A Sister's Perspective

I asked my little sister, Iona (age 15) to do a guest blog for me. She decided to write about what it is like to be a by-stander of my diabetes. This is what she had to say:

It was the scariest thing waking up to hear Alyssa's pump alarm going off. I always feel a responsibility to help her out of her lows before she descends so low and is beyond helping. Initially, I told her to take a drink of Lucozade or take some glucose tablets, but she was still half asleep so was very stubborn. Eventually she agreed to take something. I thought nothing of it and fell back in to a relatively light sleep but kept one ear open for any signs of unusual sounds coming from the other side of the room. When her alarm went off again it really put me in to a panic. Waking her up was a scary moment because I worried that she was unable to wake but she did. Then I noticed something strange. She was jerking. When I told her to stop jerking, I realised she was unaware of the involuntary movements of her body. I had found out from previous experiences that this "jerking" was an early sign of an oncoming seizure. After learning this information I REALLY panicked and decide this was too much for me to handle alone, and I called my mum in a panic. She started Seizing and I noticed she started to pull her hair and make a screaming motion with no sound. I was sent to fetch the Glucagon that would bring her blood sugar back up, while my mum and brother stayed with Alyssa. At this point I was in tears and was no help to anyone so I just stayed out of the way of my tearful mum. So far the Glucagon has always worked and Alyssa has eventually come round but its very scary until she does.

Me and my little sister
One of the most recent seizures she had was when we were walking home from school.  She told me she was going low and treated herself with Lucozade whilst still walking home - I know now this was a mistake and she should have stopped and waited for the Lucozade to work. We had almost made it home and were at the top of our street when she collapsed and started shaking.  I ran home and got the Glucagon while Alyssa's friend phoned the ambulance. I managed to open the box and load up the Glucagon injection but was crying too much to inject so a passer by did that for me. I had to phone my mum to come. Lots of people gathered and everyone was really nice but it was a horrible thing to happen.

Going out with Alyssa now is always a struggle for me because I am constantly worried that she will have a seizure and I will be alone and responsible for it. I tend to avoid going out with her alone to try and avoid the worry that's takes over my brain when I do. I feel really bad for that because it makes her feel upset but it's the only thing that will work for me. Sometimes she gets really angry at me because I never do things with her but It's not my fault I feel this way!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

My Assertiveness paid off in hospital

Last Year I had to have a minor operation on my foot which required general anaesthetic. I was worried about things because I didn’t want the hospital to take my pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) away and put me on a sliding scale (a drip of insulin and a drip of glucose). I had to go into the hospital early so that the nurses could help me with fasting and make sure I never went hypo.

Continue reading at:

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Best Prom!

Prom. It's an event that is relatively new to the UK, but has become a very important event in my school's calendar. It is a night where the girls get to feel like princesses and the men get to feel like princes, where everyone has a wonderful time together for the last time before everyone goes on their separate ways.

I went prom dress shopping with my mum in the January sales, in search of a bargain. I instantly fell in love with a purple dress, with clingy fabric and a low cut neck. I felt beautiful in it, but I never took into account where I would put my insulin pump. The low cut neck meant that when I put my pump in my bra, as I do quite often, it would poke out the top. The clingy fabric meant that if I wore my insulin pump in a belt around my waist, there would be a visible rectangle shape showing. If I wore it on a garter on my leg, I would have to reach up my long dress and fish around under there to fetch my pump. Normally I wouldn't care about my insulin pump showing, it is a part of me, but on this one night I wanted to look perfect, so I opted to move back onto injections for the day, but still carry around my Insulin Pump so I could see the values from my CGM.

On the night before prom, my mum helped me calculate my background insulin dose, which I would have to inject because my pump wouldn't be doing it as it normally would. We hadn't had to do this for a long time, and we made a mistake. Instead of adding insulin on to our daily dose, as you're supposed to do, we took it away. It resulted in me having high blood sugars of 30.1 in the morning, and ketones of 0.8 (for those who don't know, these levels would make me very unwell. I felt thirsty, very lethargic and very sick). This was not what I needed on the day of prom.

By the time my friend Emma picked me up at midday (Emma and I were getting our hair and make-up done for prom together), I had gotten my blood sugar back in range by injecting several correction doses. I never ate anything until prom, and just had one correction dose until 8pm and that kept my blood sugar under control. I was glad about this because it meant that I could enjoy preparing for prom without worrying about my health.

Me with my best friends from school (don't they look gorgeous!)
It was lovely when arriving at the school seeing everyone looking so beautiful and handsome, and having everyone smiling and socialising. We hadn't seen everyone since the last day at school, so this was a fitting reunion and goodbye for everyone. Pictures and compliments were thrown about the whole day, with everyone gushing with happiness and smiles. It was brilliant.

Dinner was lovely. All the tables were mixed so that we sat with people we weren't best friends with, and it allowed us to be a lot more social, and get to know people we normally wouldn't talk to. At dinner I had to inject the insulin for my food in my arm, because I was wearing a full length dress and no where else was accessible, which brought questions in which I was more than happy to answer.

Sophie, Kirsty and I at dinner
It was at this point I realised I had left my blood glucose meter at my friend, Emma's, house. Panic! Even though I had my CGM, my blood glucose had risen too high for my CGM to register a reading. I couldn't give myself a correction without risking giving too much and having a hypo, so I just left it, and felt unwell the whole night.

The night overall was amazing. Everyone, including the teachers who attended, were up dancing together and enjoying themselves, and everyone was mingling as if they were best friends. The end of the night was perfect, with a fitting Scottish song and every single person in the room on the dance floor.

Me and my art teacher
When the night was officially over, there was a lot of crying from everyone. Everyone realised that this was the last time we were ever going to see each other, and therefore there were a lot of farewell hugs and tears.

Everyone looked so good!!
Even though I did feel unwell for the majority of the night, it was the best night. It was a wonderful, fitting event to our 6 long years at Kilwinning Academy, and I'm so glad I was a part of it!

Me and my friend Trae

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x

Friday, 17 June 2016

Adult Care Event - Type 1 in the City

" I had been to several child care events, and loved them. The experiences were life changing and the people I met were wonderful. So when I got the opportunity to volunteer at an adult care event, in the form of Type 1 in the City, I jumped at the chance."

Read the rest of the blog here :-
Until next time,

Alyssa x

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Dear Dia-bestie

Dear Diabestie,

Thank you for always being there, through the good times and bad, and everywhere in between. Thank you for being the person I can always turn to, no matter what time it is. Thank you for being my dia-bestie.

I am so proud of you. You have done so much despite having type 1 diabetes and you are truly an inspiration.

We wouldn’t have met unless we both had Type 1 Diabetes, but that is one of the big positives about having it. I met my best friend, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

You helped me feel confident about going to the care event where we initially met. By meeting you prior to the event, you made me less anxious about going to an event with 23 strangers, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

Me, you and the girls at the Care Event
The first meeting we had when you came to a town near to where I lived was very awkward. We made small talk, went bowling, had ice cream, but it wasn’t until I had a hypo and you helped me that we truly bonded. I didn’t feel abnormal around you like I did everyone else because you knew what it was like to have the added challenges of Type 1 Diabetes.

For the duration of the care event we both attended, we stayed close friends. Even though for many of the events we were in different groups, you still accepted me with open arms. After the event, there were many skype calls with the others from the event, and the numbers eventually dwindled down until there was 2.

I am so glad that we met again at the People with Diabetes Conference. It just reinforced our friendship and made us closer.

Us at the People with Diabetes Conference
Every time I see your achievements and all the amazing work you do, I am so happy for you. You do so much amazing work and you take everything in your stride. You get so much recognition for your work, and you deserve it.

We are friends despite of the distance that separates us. If anything, the distance makes our friendship stronger, because when we do see each other it's that bit more special. We are friends because we both understand the stress that diabetes causes us, and are able to support each other.

Lydia, Thank you for being my dia-bestie!