Saturday, 26 March 2016

Diabetes in Pictures

There are some diabetic myths and pet peeves that really annoy me!

So exciting! There should be a code-word to tell someone your diabetic as well!
There is no other answer to this question.
They don't really want to know the ins and outs of your crappy day!

This is my biggest pet peeve! So annoying.....

They are everywhere! In my socks, under my pillow, at the bottom of my handbag...
Because who sticks to the 15g carb rule!
The hypo hunger is unbearable!!
Everyone I talk to  about my diabetes tries to relate it to their own life. Please tell me your experiences of diabetes management from your mother's friend's girlfriend's dog's diabetes!

I get this all the time at school. I get so many judgmental looks when we order pizza.
It is not just taking an injection with diabetes!
Until next time,

Alyssa x

Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Experience of a Diabetic Seizure

Every diabetic is scared of the possibility of going hypo in public and something happening. It's a feeling that is always in the subconscious of our mind, whether they are in an important job interview or simply walking home, we are always worried that a hypo will ruin our day. My fear is much worse than that. My hypos seizures tend to happen at the most important time possible, in the middle of higher exams, on a holiday, and last week, a day before a University interview that I really wanted to ace.

It started like any other hypo. I was walking home myself and I felt a bit wobbly, so I checked my pump and it had a low predicted alarm, 7.1 with 2 arrows down, meaning my blood sugar was dropping fast. I tried to quickly test my blood sugar because my vision was starting to go spotty. With difficulty, I tested it and it said I was 2.2, an all time low for the whole of 2016. When I reached the bus stop, I sat down and drank some Lucozade. Unfortunately, in my glucose-deprived state, I decided to keep walking home, slowly, because I only lived about 5 minutes away. I don't, however, recall how far I got. I only remember waking up in an ambulance on its way to the hospital. I don't remember if they told me what happened, if they called my mum, if they even gave me a Glucogon injection. It's a horrible experience, walking up in an ambulance, surrounded by strangers.

I knew immediately that I was still going to go to my interview the next day. I try my best to never let having diabetes get in the way, when in reality, it does. I got let out of the hospital about an hour after I got brought in, because the doctors knew that I could handle everything myself, and I hadn't hit my head hard enough to do any damage. I was planning on preparing for my interview that night (a bit last minute, I know!), but I was so tired and I went straight to bed when I got home, after my dinner of course! So I never got to prepare, and I could've been going into that interview blind.

I was planning on going to the interview in Edinburgh on my own, I had even booked my ticket, but after what happened, my mum decided to come with me. I was scared ,I was finding it really difficult to talk because I bit my tongue, and my legs felt like lead. Even with all this, I don't think the interview went too bad. It was a group interview and we had to work as a team to solve a scenario question, and there were no arguments, which is always a good start!

The moral of the story is that having type 1 diabetes does hold me back. This time it meant I couldn't prepare for an interview, next time it could mean that I might not be able to attend an interview. Type 1 diabetes has given me opportunities that have changed my life, but most of the time it sucks.

Friday, 4 March 2016

My CGM Experience

Those who know me know that I have been struggling with my diabetes. I have been struggling with the usual burnout symptoms, but unlike a lot of people, when I go hypo I usually end up having a seizure as well. Because of this I struggle to feel safe at a lower levels, such as 6. As I was on a Medtronic pump when I started having these seizures, my hospital thought it would be beneficial for me to have the accompanying CGM, so they put in a business case for me to get funding for the Enlite sensors because the low suspend feature would help me when I'm out and about myself. And I got funding!

The main factor for them funding my CGM was my seizure on a flume where I nearly drowned  (as detailed in my last post). I find it difficult to fathom why I had to nearly die for them to even consider me for a CGM, but at least they have been funded. I am funded full time for it, but one of the conditions of me being funded it is that I do where it all the time (even if I want a break!). I really have found it beneficial though, and am so grateful that I have been funded it instead of having to shell out money myself for one.

When I first got the CGM, it was a bit temperamental. I wasn't sure where to place the sensor or when to calibrate. I inserted my first sensor in my stomach, as I believe this is the recommended area, and I calibrated every time I tested my blood sugar (which was a lot at the start because the CGM was really far out from my BG). I got calibration error twice before I got asked to change sensor, and I was so frustrated because it was supposed to be helping me but it was just making me become disheartened!

I soon figured out, after help from Facebook, online blogs and personal experience, that I shouldn't calibrate every time I test my blood sugar because it tends to confuse it. I also learned that it is best placed on the arm. Nearly every sensor I've worn on my arm has been accurate and it also doesn't get in the way of waistbands or seat-belts as well!

I've had 2 seizures on the bus, so going on the bus myself is always scary for me, but because I've been refused my driving license, I have no choice. The first seizure I had, I was on my way to meeting an employee from Diabetes Scotland about volunteering for them, and I ended up in the hospital instead of in Costa. The second seizure was on my second Diabetes UK camp, a year exactly from the seizure where I nearly drowned. The CGM has helped immensely with traveling myself, meaning I don't have to rely on my family as much and also meaning that my mum doesn't        constantly worry and pester me!

My CGM has been really good in helping controlling my blood sugar in events like exams and sport. During my exam period, I was so grateful that I had my CGM, and I honestly don't think I could've coped with the stress without it. It has also given me more confidence in doing sport, because the low predict feature helps me catch hypos and makes me less afraid of having hypos.

My Hba1c is by no means perfect, but the CGM has given me a better handle on things, and allowed me to go about things with more confidence. I do get conscience about having it on show on my arm, but I am so happy that I have this technology.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Diabetes UK Care Event

When I was diagnosed I knew no-one with diabetes apart from a few people I occasionally passed in the corridor at school. I quickly turned to Facebook groups for support, which helped a lot and I got a lot of new knowledge from them. I learned what an insulin pump was, how to deal with exercise, and someone also shared a post about Diabetes UK Care Events. When I researched these events, I instantly wanted to go, so when I got a place on the 16-18 care event in Cumbria, I was ecstatic!

Before I went, I posted on a Facebook group asking if anyone was going, and a few people replied, among those was Lydia. About 4 weeks before the Care event was due to begin, Lydia asked if anyone lived near Largs, which is a town really nearby to where I live in Ayrshire.

We met up before the event, so when we both arrived we at least knew someone that was there, which made the first steps a lot less daunting!

On arrival, everyone was showed their villa which was to be shared with 3 other campers and 2 volunteers. Then there was an induction where the volunteers told us how everything was going to work. This was a good chance to meet everyone as we were all together at the same time, but me being shy sat in a corner and didn't say anything unless I was asked an outright question! Meeting everyone made things a lot less scary though, and everyone was more at ease after comparing their diabetes stories.

Throughout the week there was a range of activities, ranging from bowling (which I lost by a long shot!) to Ghyll scrambling (which was very cold but sooo fun!). One of the nights each villa had to plan a roast dinner. This meant we had to buy all the ingredients from the shop and compete against each other for house points (they had a competition the whole week where we competed for house points). This was fun because it taught us how to budget, my roommate Steph taught me how to cook, and even though I messed up my only job, MY VILLA WON! 

During the night we had free time where we would all congregate in someone's villa and play games like "never have I ever" (without the alcohol!) and "truth or dare". The social aspect of the camp was, in my opinion, the best part of the holiday. You get to act like a normal teenager, but everyone has the same thing in common, so while we were there having diabetes was the norm.

On the second last day, the whole group went swimming together. It was just another swimming session. We all checked our blood sugar before we went in, left our pumps in the lockers and headed straight for the biggest, highest flume in the whole swimming pool. When I was in the queue for the flume, I felt slightly hypo, but I stayed in the queue because my hypo treatment was closer to the bottom of the flume so it would've taken longer to go back down the stairs. My camp mates decided to have a race down the slide, so I went down, feeling awful. Unfortunately half way down the slide I had a seizure and had to get pulled from the water by a lifeguard - he saw that I never came back to the surface at the bottom of a slide. All I remember is waking up groggy surrounded by people. They even called an air ambulance for me!

Everyone around me told me afterwards that they were all really upset for me. I was in the right place though! There were diabetes specialist nurses, doctors and other people with diabetes; so I knew I was in good hands. I was coddled a little bit when I got back, everyone was worried but I knew everyone cared.

For me, this was a big part of the holiday, but I got so much more from the holiday! I got lifelong friends, bonded by diabetes. I've recently met up with my best friends from the camp, Grant and Lydia. I have also met up with Hanna (who came across from Sweden for the camp) when she was visiting Scotland. I honestly cannot recommend the care events enough, and I enjoyed it that much that I even went a second time!