Monday, 19 December 2016

Dressing with Type 1 Diabetes

This may seem like a vain topic, but it is a very important in order to feel confident. I personally feel weighed down by all the diabetes supplies and having to constantly carry everything around with me is hard. I wear an insulin pump with long tubing, and also wear a CGM stuck to my arm, so I often find it difficult to find a discreet place to hide my pump, whilst it still being accessible.

Here is a few ways that you can store your pump!

  1. In the front of your bra
    • This can be convenient and discreet, except when you go to take out your insulin pump. If you take it out in front of males they tend to look very shocked and look away as quickly as they can!
    • There can also be a problem  if you wear a crop top, the tubing will show. I get this a lot as I always wear my cannula on my stomach or legs.
  2. You can keep it on your waistband or in your pocket of your trousers or skirt. This is comfortable and easily accessible but I find that it draws too much attention to the pump for my liking.
  3. You can wear it clipped to your underwear if you are wearing a dress, but you have to have quite sturdy pants to make sure it doesn't make your underwear fall down under a dress! If you do this, you can make it more secure by wearing tights over it. I like doing this because my pump becomes almost undetectable, but it also awkward if you need to get out your pump to bolus for food!
  4. You can buy a garter for your leg in which you can store your insulin pump if your wearing a tight dress. I personally don't like this because it falls down my leg, and if I wear it over tights the tights end up snagging on the Velcro
  5. You can get belts for your waist, which is perfect if your wear a loose fitting top. If the clothing is tight-fitting, I don't like wearing it because it sticks out too much. It is also not very accessible
  6. You can also wear your pump clipped to the side or back of the bra. I haven't really tried either but it is always an option.

If I'm wearing jeans, I'll just place my insulin pump in my pocket or clipped to my waistband but if I have a tight top, I clip my pump to the middle of my bra. It may stick out a little, and I may look like a robot when my pump lights up in between my chest, but it is discreet. Most of the time, if I am going out or wearing a nice outfit I will wear it in the middle or my bra.

As for my CGM, it is hard to hide, but I find that if I act confident about it, even if I'm not feeling confident, it is easier. If you act like you don't care about it being there, not many people will notice it or ask about it!

Everyone is different, and has different ways of dealing with things. Often I find it hard when I just want to enjoy myself and not think of diabetes, and so that is way I place my insulin pump in my bra, but it is personal preference!

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x

Ps I use a Medtronic Minimed insulin pump and Enlite CGM

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Moving Diabetes Teams

Moving Diabetes Care is scary. You have to start off fresh, explain every aspect of your care and bond with new Health Care Professionals. I was apprehensive to move diabetes teams when I came to university, because I wasn't sure if it was worth it, or if the new team would be good, but I'm really glad I moved.

It took a while for me to be referred to the new hospital. I had asked my old team to refer me, and I hadn't received an appointment yet, and when I had a problem and needed help, I didn't have a new team. I called my old hospital, and they told me they couldn't help me because I had been referred and was no longer on their system. I remember being so upset, because I didn't have my GP set up yet, I didn't have a new diabetes team and I was in limbo. I was floating between health boards and no one was really responsible for me.

I got an emergency appointment at the GP I had registered at, and they put in an emergency referral to the diabetes team. The following day, I got called by a nurse at the new hospital and got a face to face appointment straight away. I was really impressed at the pace in which the new hospital handled things. I remember at my old hospital it took a while to even get in touch with anyone, and the speed that the new hospital handled things was really impressive.

When my new team surprised me!
After my appointment with the nurse, I came away calm. The nurse I saw reassured me, helped me with my problem and applied for funding for my CGM straight away (which was another reason I was nervous about moving hospital, I was scared I wouldn't get funding). I was given all the contact details for the team, and told I would get a clinic appointment soon.

I got seen by a doctor at a clinic appointment within the month, which in terms of clinic appointments is really fast. I would have to wait at least 3 months before I got an appointment before. At my appointment, I got my annual bloods, height, weight and hba1c, the full works, done. I also saw my nurse for a full hour and got to see the doctor. We made a lot of progress, and I was really impressed by how the clinics were run, because my old hospital wasn't as smooth.

After my first clinic appointment
Since my clinic appointment last month, I have already had 3 appointments with my nurse, and calls in between to check how I'm doing. After I ended up in hospital from a hypo seizure, my nurse has been trying so hard and working with me to make sure it doesn't happen again.

All in all, I was so nervous about starting with a new diabetes team, having to reiterate every bit of my care, but I'm glad I moved. The hospital is really nearby, have made an effort to get to know me and have already helped me a lot.

Moving teams is nerve racking, but in my case it was worth it!

Until next time,

Alyssa x

Monday, 14 November 2016

World Diabetes Day - Hypo Seizures

Today is world diabetes day, used to raise awareness about all things diabetes. This year I'm gonna talk about hypos (low blood sugar) and what effect it has on me, and more specifically what effect it had on me last week. #IHateHypos

Every type 1 diabetic has experienced a hypo before. It isn't the most fun experience, usually makes me feel shaky, weak and verrry hungry. But for me, they are so scary because they cause me to have seizures. Hypos happen, and it is really hard to prevent them. Having too much insulin by miscalculating how much food you ate, or walking a little bit further than planned. So as much as I tried to prevent hypos, they are unfortunately inevitable.

Last week, I decided last minute that I needed to walk into town and pick up a few things. Before I left, I checked my blood sugar was fine, and set off. Unfortunately on the way back I had a hypo, which cause me to have a seizure and split my head open.

Me in hospital featuring my split open head
Just before it happened, I remember thinking, "Wow, I haven't had a hypo seizure in over 6 months", and this was a massive achievement for me. I had begun to imagine the day I would be able to drive, and do any sport I wanted without worry. It was an amazing thought.

Walking home after I had been into the town centre, I began to feel weak, and sick, and ultra-hungry, and very hypo. I was almost home at this point, but even so I reached in my bag to retrieve my Glucotabs (Which are sugary tablets I use to treat my low blood sugar). I never got there in time. Then I remember being in a fast response ambulance surrounded by people, with blood dripping down my face.

I had a seizure 10 feet away from my front door, hit my head and split it open, which needed glued shut. I was found by the staff who worked in my accommodation. My insulin pump alarmed that my blood sugar was low, suspended my insulin, which meant my blood sugar would eventually come back up.

Someone went to my flat ten feet away and told my flatmates, Alex and Mel, what had happened, so that I wasn't myself when everything was happening. I remember being very confused and not remembering what day it was, and what I was doing prior to the ambulance being called.

After a seizure I feel like lead. All my muscles hurt so much, and my limbs feel heavy. I have a thumping headache, and in this instance, a head wound to make things worse

My flat were brilliant. Alex and Mel came with me, and Katie, Ruaridh and Stephen all came to see me afterwards, and they all made sure I had everything I needed.

The flowers and chocolate my flat got me!
I hate having to rely on other people. As I was by myself, I had to rely on a stranger to call an ambulance and make sure I was okay, and it's a scary thought. I could do everything possible to prevent hypos, and it could still happen, and it's a scary thought.

This is part of my reality, and it hangs over me all the time, but I just have to get on with it. I can't stop doing exercise because it may make me hypo. I have to live my life to the full, and that's what I intend on doing.

Until next time,

Alyssa x

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Diabetes Burnout: It's Real

Diabetes Burn Out. Diabetes UK describe diabetes burn out as: Diabetes burnout, also known as diabetes distress, is a natural and rational response to living with a demanding, long-term condition.
 It’s the term given when people feel frustrated, defeated and/or overwhelmed by diabetes.

So many people I have talked that have Type 1 Diabetes have experienced this at one point or another. Everything just builds up and get on top of them, and it becomes harder and harder to control. And even though it happens to so many people, it is still a very stigmatised topic and something that is difficult to talk about. People end up feeling isolated, and frustrated, and overwhelmed.

Me Modelling "I am greater than my highs or lows" T-shirt
It is something I feel like I am experiencing now. I don't want to have type 1 diabetes anymore, and I get so frustrated and annoying by it. It does hold me back, and that's is the worst part. I can be surrounded by people, and still feel alone because no one will understand how I'm feeling. And I feel like I'm isolating myself, because I do become unwell quite a lot. And I don't want to be feeling like this anymore, but I can't help it.

Fact - Type 1 Diabetes is 24/7

There isn't a moment where I can forget about my diabetes. I have to think about my blood sugars and if I've given my insulin and if I have to adjust my insulin for the walk to the shops. It's exhausting. It is part of my reality and I find that so difficult to comprehend sometimes. It is draining having to put health on top of everything that sometimes it is easier to put it to the back of your mind and deal with it later.

The photo shown above is an amazing painting done by my best friend Lydia Parkhurst, who also writes a blog called "The Backpacker and the pod". On the left side it, shows the external appearance of someone suffering diabetes burnout. It just looks like a normal, smiling person. On the right, it shows how someone suffering diabetes burn out feels on the inside. The picture on the right shows the true feelings of the person, rather than the mask they wear on the outside.

Lydia said, "We put this pressure on ourselves to be normal and never let diabetes get in out way. I do this with my diabetes and I'm sure many other people do too. There is no such thing as a perfect diabetic! It's impossible. Yes, we all want a low HBA1C because we want to have the lowest risk of complications but at the same time Type 1 Diabetes is unpredictable."

Lydia and 1 at a conference
Her painting is amazing because it is so true. Diabetes burnout is real, but we often want to hide it from people, so we wear a smile and pretend everything is okay. But it is okay to feel this way!

I asked one of my good friends, Julia Edwards, to tell me her experiences of diabetes burnout, because she is also Type 1 Diabetic, and it is something she has been through and eventually overcame. She said "Over time I have learnt that there is no reason to beat ourselves up about this. It happens to more people than you probably realise." She also said, "DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. You are not alone. You do great 24/7. It's ok to have an off day. Be kind to yourself."

I find it really reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who I going through this or that has gone through it. It's natural. Having a chronic disability that affects someone all the time will eventually become draining, so I just need to remember that it is normal, and I will get through it.

Julie Edwards aka Jules
If you know someone who is struggling with controlling their diabetes, please don't judge. Diabetes management is hard, and they may be struggling. It is a very personal thing, and it's something I struggle to talk about, so just support them and be there for them.

Be patient and don't judge anyone experiencing Diabetes Burnout!

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x

Lydia's Twitter: @lydiasara19
Lydia's Blog:
Julia's Twitter: @Jules1315

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Here's What you Need to Know about Type 1 Diabetes

I have met a lot of new people in the last month, and I have found it difficult to explain what Type 1 Diabetes is and how it affects me to so many people. Often I say to people I've only recently met "I don't feel well" and be very general about what's wrong and how I'm feeling. With type 1 diabetes, there are a lot of different scenarios that make me feel unwell. Here's the basics on what you need to know:

Low Blood Sugar

  • When my blood sugar is low, it means I don't have enough sugar in my body. I have to stop what i'm doing and replace the sugar. I usually use lucozade sport to do this.
  • It is really important that I don't just continue when i'm "hypo" or my blood sugar is low because that can make my blood sugar drop lower.
  • Things that can drop my blood sugar include exercise, alcohol, insulin and heat. 

High Blood Sugar
  • When my blood sugar is high is means I don't have enough insulin in my body. I need to give a dose of insulin, but that takes a while to work, so I may be feeling ill for a while.
  • When my blood sugar is high, I feel so sluggish, I have brain fog (so I may act ultra stupid), I am so tired and thirsty and I go to the toilet a lot. 
  • It takes a lot of effort to even walk up the stairs, so don't expect much from me in that period.
  • When I take about being "High", I am talking about my blood sugar, not drugs!

  • I wear an insulin pump to administer my insulin, and this is attached to my body through a cannula. It has replaced multiple daily injections which I previously used.
  • I count every carbohydrate I eat, which helps me figure out how much insulin to give for a meal. So if  you see me looking at a food packet nutritional information, do not just assume i'm on a diet!
  • Diabetics don't need to differ what they eat, just be healthy like everyone else.
  • I can still drink alcohol! I just need to plan, and make sure i'm safe throughout the night.

Type 1 Diabetes is really hard to control, so I can't always get it right!

Until next Time,

Alyssa x

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Dundee Freshers Week!

Freshers week: a week where universities tries to introduce themselves and encourage you to get to know each other as the first year starts university.

Before I arrived at my university halls, I found a couple of my flatmates on a Facebook group, Katie and Alex. They both seemed lovely and friendly, but that didn't alleviate my anxiety towards moving away and starting university. I feared not making friends and not being able to keep up, which I imagine are normal fears when starting university. When I arrived, after the madness of moving in and getting sorted, my flatmates and I sat down together, and they were so welcoming, and put me at ease at once. We were really lucky with the people in our flat. Everyone wanted to go out and be social, we even had a flat dinner out the first night.

My photo wall in my room so I don't get homesick!

What I found out is that freshers week isn't just about going out at night and drinking, it is about getting to know everyone, the city and what the university has to offer. I tried to take advantage of all the free events that were on to make the most of freshers week.

The first few days of freshers week was a blur. Lots of people were still moving in, and when we went to the nightclub in University of Dundee union, it was always packed. Dundee is a really friendly city, and it is crawling with students, so there was a great atmosphere. Everywhere you turn there is someone giving you a leaflet about the next event happening.

My Flat: Alex, Mel, Katie, Ruaridh and Stephen
On the Monday night, we decided to go to the union, and I had a bit too much too drink (I was trying to be careful). The morning after, I woke up with high blood sugar and ketones in my blood (Ketones happen when your body doesn't have enough insulin, and makes you really unwell). It gave me a shock, because I was just trying to have fun but ended up being really unwell and had to take a couple nights out of freshers week to recover. I have learned that it is okay to take a step back, know your limits, and stick to them.

There were so many events on this week. A sports and freshers fayre showing off all the sports activities and societies offered by the university, giving away free pizza and other food (one of the best parts), loads of acts in the student union including MTV, Nick Grimshaw and Blonde and an outdoor cinema showing Harry Potter (which was very cold!). All have helped me get to know the University of Dundee and the city.

Beca and I
Freshers week has been amazing, definitely a great introduction into student life. I'm dreading the workload of university now, having been given a full timetable and a long reading list, having to juggle work and social life, I feel it is going to be difficult. Trying to fit all these things in, as well as having Type 1 Diabetes, is going to be hard but I imagine it will be worth it.

Katie, Alex, Lucy and I in the Dundee Union
I have already made some amazing friends in my flatmates, Mel, Alex, Katie, Ruaridh and Stephen, and on my course, and have reconnected with a friend who I went to school with and has followed me to Uni, Lucy, and I imagine I'll meet lifelong friends.

Freshers week has been crazy but amazing!

Until Next Time,


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Volunteering.. Is it Benificial?!

I read in an article that it is more beneficial for retired people to volunteer than it is for young people. I completely disagree with this. Before I started volunteering I was shy and I would never question anything, but now I'm a lot more confident, I believe in myself and I am able to speak up for myself a lot more. It makes me feel like I'm doing a good thing,

When people ask why you volunteer you say because you want to help other people in the same situation as yourself. I volunteer for a Diabetes UK project based in Scotland called Just DUK 1t, which is a group  of young people with type 1, who have made a website, toolkit training and events for people of the same age, and lots of other amazing projects, which is run for young people by young people. It has opened up so many opportunities for me, and it is wonderful seeing the difference everyone makes, but mostly the social aspect of the volunteering is amazing.

Some of the amazing bunch from Just DUK 1t

When we meet up, we automatically have something in common. Type 1 Diabetes. There is never a dull moment, and when we get started talking it is hard to rein us in. When there is a task to be completed, we get distracted and end up going off topic, just because it is so easy to relate.

My little sister, Iona, asked me once why I volunteer for diabetes UK, and write a blog, because I don't get paid for it. I told her I love it because it allows me to be myself without people judging me. It helps me make a lot of good out of a bad situation, especially as I have met so many amazing people that help me through the hard times.

Me and some of the other volunteers with Dennis Robertson at the Scottish Parliament event

I have been given so many amazing opportunities through volunteering. I have been to the Scottish Parliament with Diabetes UK, I have been flown to Birmingham to speak at a conference, I have helped organise and hosted at Diabetes UK care event called "Type 1 in the City", just to name a few. It's exciting, and I get so much more out of it than if I was working in a normal job and earning.

Birmingham conference speaking about social media

I would say, if you ever get the opportunity to do voluntary work, jump. It may be daunting to start off with but it is so worth it in the end.

It has helped me gain so much confidence.

Me helping to host the event Type 1 in the city

And I've gained lifelong friends!

Some of the volunteers doing the Colour me Rad event

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x

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!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Diabetes Blog Week - The Other Half of Diabetes

People often discuss the physical implications of diabetes. If you don't control your blood sugar you are going to lose your feet. If you don't control your blood sugar you are going to end up blind. There are two sides of diabetes - Physical and Mental, Both sides of diabetes are just as important as each other, and that is a that many people don't realise.

The people around me, especially my family who live with me, see both sides of Type 1 Diabetes. Often I get so upset about living with this condition that I lash out. My mum and sister get upset when I'm upset. They hate seeing me like that, and the mental side of diabetes can be degrading, and it can hurt people around you as well. My Family understand that I just get frustrated when I try so hard all the time, and often it isn't good enough, and my blood sugars go haywire anyway. It is hard when all that hard work was for nothing, and then I have to go and do it again. So if I lash out, or don't say a word, I am probably just upset about how frustrating controlling my blood sugar can be. My family know what not to say when I'm upset, or when not to ask how my diabetes is going that day, and I feel so grateful for that.

When I'm not in a good place with my diabetes, I either go to the gym, which always cheers me up, or I go to bed. This is not the ideal place, because it gives me too much time to think, but it is warm and it gets me away from people around me who may judge me.

Being a teenager, I find it hard to feel normal around my peers. That is the hardest thing for me. I sit my exams separate from everyone else. I end up going hypo in shops and have to stop everyone from their shopping. My blood sugar is high so I constantly have to go to the toilet and interrupt people. It is the little things that upset me, but I have amazing friends who support me and are very accepting when something happens. So if you have friends that don't accept both sides of your diabetes, they aren't people you should surround yourself with.

The physical side of diabetes is important, but so is the mental side. Physiologically speaking, it is very difficult to control something 24/7, have a chronic condition, and not get upset when things go wrong and you end up feeling ill again.

Don't coddle us because of this, however, we just want to feel as if we are normal. Just be aware that it is difficult

Until Next Time,


Monday, 16 May 2016

Diabetes Blog Week - "Message Monday"

This week is Diabetes Blog week, and today's topic is "Why are we here?". Why do we blog about diabetes, how does blogging benefit us, and what message do we want to portray through blogging? The message I want to portray through blogging is how tough living with Type 1 Diabetes is.

For me personally, I blog about diabetes because it helps me express my feelings towards diabetes, which I find difficult to do in real life. Blogging gives me an outlet in which I can pour all of my feelings and knowledge into, and share with the rest of the diabetes online community, and my friends and family. A lot of people don't understand how hard it is to live with Type 1 Diabetes, and I like letting people know that it does put me under a lot of stress. You know what they say, 
"You don't know what it's like unless you've lived it", and I am trying to let those who are not living it know what it's like.

The most important diabetes awareness message I would like to put out there is how hard living with type 1 diabetes is, and how much having it affects my everyday life. I often appear as if I am getting along perfectly fine, as that is the front I put on around others. Inside, my mind is always thinking about my Type 1, and how my next move will affect it. My family and friends don't understand how much having high blood sugar affects me, or how long after a hypo I feel the effects of it. I try to let my readers know that it does affect me a lot, but treat me as normal as possible, because there is nothing worse than getting opportunities denied because of diabetes.

I blog because I hope that the misconceptions about Type 1 Diabetes can be overturned, and people will understand Type 1 Diabetes better. I blog because I want people to read about diabetes, and be genuinely interested, so that if they meet a diabetic in the future, they will understand them as well. 

I want people to be more educated about the implications of Type 1 Diabetes.

That's why I blog, and that is the message I wish to portray through blogging.

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x

Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Bad Days with Diabetes

With Type 1 Diabetes, there are a lot of bad days and not as many good days. As it is such an unpredictable condition, the slightest factor can set me off, the heat, the cold, stress, hormones, and the list goes on.

People around me often get frustrated that I don't check my blood sugar as often as I should, or don't change my pump set every 3 days, or that I turn the alarms off on my pump. The truth is that I get overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to put into being alive. My mum tells me that I have to keep checking my pump and make micro-corrections on my pump to control my blood sugar, but most of the time I find it an extra effort to simply make a bolus for my meal, and even then I almost always guess the amount of carbohydrates in food.

Today I had to change my CGM, and then my pump set got pulled out. The utter lack of motivation I felt to do anything about it was draining. Having to think about the stress of exams, and then having another small obstacle thrown at me is utterly tiresome. It took me about 40 minutes to finally get my stuff together to change my set (You're only aloud to have a pump off the maximum of 1 hour). My CGM had to be changed, because I have an exam tomorrow, and I need to be able to see my blood sugar during, but my I knew my blood sugar was high, so I didn't want to have to see that on my pump screen.

Today wasn't a good day. To those around me, I was fine and even happy. Inside though, I was really struggling with everything. Type 1 Diabetes is constant, and a lot of the time it utterly overwhelms me. I just want to be like a normal teenager, but sometimes the realisation that I can't do everything makes me upset.

Basically, all I'm saying is that because my blood sugar isn't perfect at all times, don't judge. Having a chronic condition is hard, and I do my best, but sometimes it is so hard to keep up with both my blood sugar and the things I want to do simultaneously.

My blood sugar will go lower and my blood sugar will go higher, but it is all part of the process, and I'm trying my best.

Until next time,

Alyssa x

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

3 year diaversary

I remember when I was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I was really naive. I never understood the severity of the situation, and I never understood why my mum was in tears. I never understood that I would be controlling and self-dosing a potentially lethal drug. I never understood the implications that it would have on exercise, eating and on future jobs.

Now I'm 3 years in, and I fully understand everything having Type 1 Diabetes entails. Although I have only had diabetes for 3 years, I feel like I have had it for much longer. I can barely remember what it is like to not have to calculate a dose of insulin before my meal, to not have to plan every move I make. I don't remember being able to be spontaneous. I now understand the stress my body is put under, but also the mental effects having a long term condition can have.

There have been many downs along the way. My first hypo. My first HI (blood sugar too high to register on a meter). My first hypo seizure. The first time I ripped out my cannula on a door handle. Having to cancel my expedition to Morocco due to diabetes. Having to rethink my plans to study nursing because of diabetes. There will be many more downs to come, I'm sure.

Blood glucose reading too high for meter to read
Type 1 Diabetes has also given me a lot of opportunities. I have met some of my best friends because of the common factor of diabetes. I have got to volunteer with diabetes Scotland and been nominated for awards because I have diabetes. I am so thankful that I have been lucky enough to be given these opportunities. Diabetes UK have done a lot for me.

The meetings, camps and conferences that are diabetes related have been amazing. I have met so many wonderful and inspirational  people. The people with diabetes conference was amazing because it introduced me to so many different types of people. The Diabetes UK care events were amazing because everything was relatable. It's these things that makes having Type 1 Diabetes tolerable.

Lydia, Grant, Ellie and I at the people with diabetes conference
Me and the girls at Diabetes UK care event in Centre Parcs
A diaversary is a diabetes anniversary. 3 years to this day I was in the doctors getting told I had to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. 3 years ago today, my whole life changed and I never knew it. I would tell people about my diagnosis and they wouldn't believe me at first. Everyone believes me now.

I have had a rough 3 years. Here's hoping things get easier from here!

Until next time

Alyssa x

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Why I'm not Studying Nursing at University

Over the last few years, I have been in contact with a lot of nurses, and have mainly had positive experiences surrounding them. That is why I wanted to pursue a career in nursing, so I could help people the way they helped me. When I first thought of the idea of doing nursing as a career, I mainly thought the bursary student nurses get would be beneficial, but the more I thought about it, I really wanted to do this. I was starting to get excited about the prospect of studying nursing, and my future, and I really thought I would be a working nurse after university.

I had 4 interviews at Scottish University's, including Stirling, University, Edinburgh Napier University, University of Glasgow and Edinburgh University. There was a range of group interviews, individual interviews and multiple mini interviews. The interviewers must have thought I would make a good nurse, as at the end of the process I had two conditional offers and 2 unconditional offers. I am extremely proud of myself for achieving that, and was humbled that all the universities saw something in me.

At my interview at Edinburgh Napier University, they carried out a occupational health check, which hadn't been done at any of the other universities. After handing in my form, I was called out because the nurse wanted to review my case. I told her that I had had a seizure from going hypo as few weeks before, she looked doubtful that I would pass. Regardless, she asked a lot of questions about the rest of my health, and then I got on with my interview. I knew that in nursing an occupational health check would have to be done, but I know some diabetic nurses who don't have problems with it, so I thought it would be fine. It wasn't until that moment that it dawned on me that I may have issues.

After this, me and my mum thought we would do some research. I asked around on twitter and Facebook, however not many other diabetics have had issues with this. My mum called the office for occupational health at the University of Glasgow, and they said that because I have periods of "Uncontrolled Unconsciousness", that I would have a slim chance of passing the occupational health.

Basically, I never officially failed the occupational health, but I decided to go down another route before I actually did. It was just too much hassle, and I would rather have a job that has more job security, and that I would be able to do despite of my health issues. I am so upset about this, but that's life, and sometimes things don't work out. So now to figure out what the other route I am following is...

Until Next Time..

Alyssa xx

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Type 1 Diabetes isn't easier than Type 2, it's just different!

Type 1 Diabetics don't have working Islet cells in their pancreas, meaning they will need to give themselves insulin for the rest of their live in order to LIVE. Type 2 Diabetics have fully functioning pancreases, however their body isn't responding to the insulin the way it should. Type 1 and Type 2 are different conditions. There are even some petitions to get the name of Type 1 Diabetes changed after so many misconceptions regarding the two conditions, especially in the media.

Recently, I was told by a Type 2 Diabetic that having Type 2 is harder than having Type 1. The first feeling I had was outrage. The premise he used to support his opinion was that type 1's can eat whatever they want, and type 2's can't. I reject this. Eating a chippy, for instance, is unhealthy for a type 1 as well as a type 2. In fact, its unhealthy for everybody. My second feeling was indecision. I had never thought about it from a type 2's angle, but I know it must not be easy, and just because I'm not living it and experiencing it doesn't mean that type 2 diabetics don't face challenges everyday just the same as type 1 diabetics. Type 2 diabetes isn't easier than Type 1, it is just different.

Presently there are 4 million individuals living in the UK living with Diabetes, however there are only 400,000 living with Type 1 Diabetes. That means that Type 1 Diabetes makes up 10% of the diabetic population in the UK. This is why some type 1 diabetics feel like they are being judged by everyone, because they are often put in a category with those with type 2, as they have the majority in the UK. As frustrating as it is, Type 2 diabetics are what people think about when you think of diabetes, and when I tell people I have diabetes, they say "But you're not fat!?" Or "Did you eat too much as a child?" Or "Do you have the bad kind?". They lump us together, but the truth is that not all type 2 diabetics get their condition because the ate too much sugar. Both conditions are the bad kind. They should be given separate names because, although they both involve the hormone insulin, they are very different!

I know some Type 2 Diabetics have to go on insulin because the treatment they are receiving isn't working as it should be, but the majority of type 2 diabetics need either Diet and Exercise or Meformin to control their condition (not the only ways). Type 1 Diabetics NEED to replace the insulin that their body is no longer making. Type 1 Diabetics need to constantly test their blood sugar, and most of the time Type 2 diabetics don't.

So before you judge anyone based on their condition, remember that TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2 DIABETES ARE DIFFERENT! One is not harder than the other necessarily. Both are hard, and both require control.

Please consider this the next time you tell me that you have it easier than me, because you don't know what I'm going through, and I don't know what you're going through.

Type 1 Diabetes isn't easier than Type 2, it's just different

Until Next Time,
Alyssa x

P.s. I am aware there are other types of diabetes. I don't know that much about them and didn't want to include false information. Don't want to offend anyone!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Embarrassing Diabetes!

Often when I'm in public, ill quickly check my blood sugar on my pump by taking it off my waistband.... then forgetting to put it back. I stand up forgetting that it's there, then end up with my insulin pump dangling from a wire, still attached to the cannula on my body, following by a loud curse word and me tugging on the wire to get to back. Type 1 Diabetes is not glamorous by any means!

Embarrassed pump dangling moment!
I'm not shy about having Type 1 Diabetes. I'm always straight up about it, normally make a joke if people ask questions, and always explain the facts. There are some situations, however, that embarrass me!

When wearing some clothing, I have to stash my pump deep underneath my clothes. If I wear a dress, I normally clip my pump to my underwear, and secure it underneath my tights so it is less visible (this is if my bra isn't an option). I have to access my pump to bolus, so I go to the bathroom, but often I leave myself untucked! Talk about embarrassing! It's not a big deal, but if it is a black tie event, for instance, I end up looking scruffy with my skirt tucked into my tights!

One situation that is very embarrassing is when I wear a dress, and have to stash my insulin pump in my bra. This means that every time I have an alarm on my pump (nearly every 30 minutes due to my CGM!) I have to fish around under my top, try and unhook my clip from my bra, and pull out my pump without anyone noticing! It's so embarrassing if your at a family dinner, surrounded by uncles and male relatives, and then I start fishing around in my bra, and they all get surprised and uncomfortable looks on their faces. Talk about awkward and embarrassing!
Embarrassing fishing in bra moment!
Although most people around me know that I have diabetes, I still get very embarrassed testing and checking my pump in public. I try to act as "normal" as possible, so when I have to stop to test my blood sugar, or quickly check my CGM readings on my pump, while everyone has to wait on me, I find it humiliating. I often don't check before meals because of this (but of course I bolus!) unless it is someone I know really well. Some people are okay with this, but this is a problem I struggle with and find very embarrassing!

I get embarrassed when I  can't carry out the activities that I would like to because I don't feel well enough. Having to cancel a fitness class or put off writing an essay because I just don't have the energy to make the effort to do anything.

I get embarrassed when people say to me "I'd rather die than do that".

I get embarrassed having to show my belly to check my cannula is fine.

I get embarrassed wearing a top with no sleeves so everyone can see my CGM on my arm. I often get asked, "What happened?!?"

But most of all I get embarrassed when my blood sugar is high, and I make fun of someone, or make a snide remark, or have a go at someone, which is totally unnecessary, but because I have high blood sugars, and I can't help it. My brain no longer has a filter, and I seem to say the most heartless thing I can think of. When my blood sugar returns to normal, I always have to apologise, but I always worry that one day I will say something that I can't take back.

SO If I say something to you that doesn't sound like me, it's probably because I'm high, so just ignore it and move on! And people who don't know about Type 1 Diabetes, if you don't know what something is, PLEASE KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS! Even if sometimes I get embarrassed, I'd rather people know the right facts than keep being ignorant towards the facts!

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x