Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Revisiting Food, Guilt And Diabetes.

For me, there is so much head-spinninng-ness that accompanies the three things in the title of this post (indicated by the length of this ramble!)

At my last appointment with my DSN, I was asked to (once again) keep a food diary for a week, and mail it back to her when I had. I don't often write about food and the like on this blog, but the couple of times I have, the main theme has been fairly consistent: I don't like keeping a log of the food I eat. At all.

For me, the emotional side of diabetes is a bigger problem that the actual "acts of diabetes". (And by "acts of diabetes", I mean the blood sugar testing, carb counting, bolusing insulin etc). I can test my blood sugar, but whether or not I act on the numbers my meter shows me very much depends on where my head's at. Likewise, how precise my carb counting is also depends on head-space, meaning that my insulin doses vary in precision too. 

My biggest battle is often with diabetes-related guilt, normally linked to food. (There's other guilt too, but food is the big one). So it's safe to say that keeping a food log, yet again, didn't put a smile on my face. 

My food diary arrived in the mail. I wrote the dates at the top of each page, ready to begin logging food and blood sugars and insulin doses. Day one came and went, as did day two.

Then there was day three. Oh, day three! Day three was a bad day. Work was busy and stressful, I worked through my lunch break, I drank a lot of coffee, and I grazed throughout the day, not really keeping track of the food (carb-full food too) I was eating. The same thing happened on day four.

Not that I wrote that in the food diary.

Instead, I wrote that I had a salad and a yoghurt, which is what I had taken in to work for lunch on those days. I may have even tweaked my blood sugars a teeny bit to make them look better.

At the end of the week, I skimmed through the log, put in an envelope and went to mail it back to my DSN, knowing that I'd changed quite a significant amount of information.

It was whilst at work that my colleague was telling me about her husband, who happens to have type 2 diabetes. Together, the pair of them had been attending the X-PERT course, and she was talking to me about what they'd learnt at the latest session.

Hanging out with DWED volunteer, and friend, Lucy.
"The GP that diagnosed my husband made out that he wouldn't be able to eat anything...don't eat this, it will cause your blood sugar to rise...but you can eat this as it has a minimal effect...turns out that's not the case at all...the nurse that runs the X-PERT course...she's a specialist...a DSN, and she says that, yes, we do need to keep an eye on what we eat there's nothing stopping us [her use of 'we' and 'us' here made me smile] from having a treat like a cake or a chocolate bar or whatever...there we were thinking there would be all these restrictions..."

It was at some point during this conversation that I really thought about what I'd done. I don't know if it was something specific that was said, or just the subject of diabetes and food, but it kick-started something! I didn't post the fake-food diary I'd kept.

Now, I have the task of phoning my DSN and explaining to her that I can't send her the food diary I kept because I wasn't completely truthful about the food I was eating. It's so easy to type out and "confess to" here, but I know when I call her, it's not going to be as easy (think fast talking, not taking a breath "I-need-a-new-food-diary-because-that-first-one-you-sent-me-well-I-lied-when-filling-it-out" and then holding my breath waiting for her response!)

When I compare now-me to the me of three years ago, now-me is in a much better place food-wise. But, quite clearly, there are still things that need to be addressed. Like why I felt the need to lie in my food diary. I knew it wouldn't have achieved anything. The whole point of doing it was to see what doses I used on my pump for different foods (extended, multiwave and standard). It wasn't even to specifically look at the food I was eating, yet I still felt the need to make my food choices "look better". 

Food, guilt and diabetes: a mind-field of emotions that, recently, have been bubbling closer to the surface. But after reading some blogs, and talking with a couple of friends, I've realised that it's time for me to do something about this. I'm not a big fan of being told what to do, and I think that if I were forced to talk about this sooner, it would have been a disaster. Now, however, I feel ready to talk about this. Both with my DSN and here on this blog, and I want to change this perception I seem to have surrounding food, guilt and diabetes.

In short, (she says after a stupid-long ramble) I don't want to fear food diaries anymore! That may be the stupidest (and worst) conclusion to a blog post ever, but it's as simple as that. My relationship with food changed when I was diagnosed with type one at 17. I omitted my insulin when I was 19/20 years old, and I turned to DWED for support. I'm now 22, and although insulin omission isn't something I'm struggling with right now, going back down that road is something I fear. So, as trivial and "not-a-big-deal" as this may seem, I'm doing something about it. Because I don't want this to be the cause of more issues in the future. I want to be chasing a career, hanging out with family and friends, generally living my life. Stressing over food, food diaries and the diabetes/food-related guilt isn't something I want on the agenda. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014


As a huge comic-book movie fan (Batman, Spiderman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Captain America...honestly couldn't choose a favourite), this, in my eyes, is EFFING AWESOME!

"Iron Man is one busy superhero. After teaming last month with pint-sized heroes Blue Ear and Sapheara to educate about hearing loss and cochlear implants, the armoured Avenger is now turning his attention to childhood diabetes." (Source)

Saturday, 22 November 2014


November 14th marked World Diabetes Day. Last year, Diabetes Awareness Month was something I was all over. I took part in the Postcard Exchange, I blogged, I took part in the Big Blue Test with the help of the mySugr app. I made the decision to get involved, and I enjoyed it. 

This year, however, I've felt blue (unintentional pun, but one I am keeping there).

Diabetes hasn't been smooth-sailing recently. I've had highs I can't explain. I've made adjustments, and been rewarded with lows. Cannulas have been coming loose before their three days is up. I've caught my pump tubing and ripped out the site, more times than I'd like to count. These things happen, yes, but just recently it seems constant. 

As a result, there's been digital tumbleweed here. I've not been as happy in my personal life (direct correlation between my blood sugars/diabetes management in general and my mood). Finding the motivation to self-care has been hard to come by. And no motivation to self-care makes my life very messy, very quickly.

It's not burnout. At least, it doesn't feel like burnout. And it's not a pity party. It's just stuff. Diabetes stuff that, for the last week and a bit, I've wished I could erase from my life. 

But no can do.

So I'm writing, hoping that by talking out my frustrations here, my head will feel clearer, and I can start finding that get-up-and-go to take better care of myself.

Tomorrow's a new day. And Monday is a new week. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Wicked-Smart Insulin.

I've lived with type one diabetes for the last four, almost five, years now, and in that short space of time, I have witnessed a number of developments in the way in which diabetes can be managed. The use of CGMs, insulin pumps, the new Flash Glucose Monitoring system from Abbott...the list is constantly growing. The latest buzz is all about smart insulin, which is what I'm talking about over on the JDRF blog site today.
"Over these last five years, I’ve seen many new options to manage my condition – from multiple daily injections to insulin pump therapy and from simple blood glucose meters to smart meters. These transitions and developments have physically made my life with type 1 diabetes easier. An insulin pump has allowed me to make more precise changes in my insulin doses, and the introduction of a smart meter before I went on my year abroad has made calculating these so much easier (because the meter does most of the work for me!) 
But diabetes is still the first thing I think about when I wake up – and the last thing I think about before I go to bed. I am seeing the benefits of starting on an insulin pump in terms of day-to-day blood sugars, my HbA1c, and how I feel. Using it is easy. But owning it and integrating it into my everyday life was, and sometimes still is, difficult."

To read more, please head over to the JDRF Blog Site. Have a good weekend! 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

#WalkWithD And Donate.

It's beautifully simple: Between November 1st and November 30th, LifeScan (part of Johnson & Johnson) will donate 100 blood glucose monitoring testing strips to the International Diabetes Federation's Life for a Child for every posting connected to the social media campaign #WalkWithD. (Source).

I told you. Beautifully simple. 

If you don't know, Life for a Child works to help children with diabetes in developing countries. The programme aims to provide:
  • Sufficient insulin and syringes.
  • Blood glucose monitoring equipment.
  • Appropriate clinical care.
  • HbA1c testing.
  • Diabetes education.
  • Technical support for health care professionals.
I'm lucky enough to have access to all of the above, and I know that my health care professionals have access to technical support too. But there are still far too many people in this world that don't have access to insulin, let alone blood glucose monitoring equipment and clinical care.
So this November, hashtag away! #WalkWithD. And help those that aren't lucky enough to have the access we do to the tools that help us manage our diabetes.    

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Putting The "World" Back into "World Diabetes Day".

This year, for World Diabetes Day, T1 International and The Pendsey Trust have joined together to form The Access Alliance and have create a new initiative: #InsulinForAll

Taken directly from the website

"Many people living with Type 1 diabetes struggle to survive because they cannot afford their insulin or keep it cool, for example. Others do not have access to blood glucose test strips or other essential diabetes management tools.

Although World Diabetes Day began in 1991 in order to 'draw attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world' we feel the spirit of the day has been somewhat lost. We believe World Diabetes Day should be used to raise awareness of the most pressing diabetes issues. We want to inspire action within the diabetes and global community to find sustainable solutions to these life and death issues for people living with diabetes worldwide."

This is my advocacy itch. My mobile is a luxury. As is the laptop I'm using to write this post. And my iPod. And my insulin pump. But the insulin that I put into my pump, that's not something I consider to be a luxury. It's something that I consider necessary. Not wanting to sound too dramatic, but put quite simply: without insulin, I die. And no one should die from a lack of insulin.

So, to kick off Diabetes Awareness Month (a few days late, I know!) I'm joining the campaign

Because insulin isn't a luxury, it's necessary to live.