Tuesday, 8 June 2010

You discover who your real friends are

A bit disappointed today.
I'm doing my bit for diabetes uk, I've organised an 11 mile walk to raise money to donate to DUK.

However, it's times like these that you realise who your real friends actually are!

Origionally there were 9 of us taking part in this walk, all had agreed and seemed excited a few months back. Everyone said once I had received the sponsor forms etc from Diabetes Uk that they would meet me and start raising. We all agreed to buy a DUK t-shirt to wear on the day.. was all very exciting.

Drop out one!
A few weeks back one of my friends dropped out because "Diabetes Uk doesn't mean enough to her".. Great. Thanks!... But I guess at least she was the honest one!

Drop out two + three!
Only TODAY a set of twins dropped out. The two initial people to ask to join me as one of them had a diabetes scare. Their excuse is that the walk would mean them missing out on revision time etc. Neither have seemed to care a deal since one of them got the all clear anyway..

Drop out four + five!
Again, TODAY they dropped out..Less than a month to go! They were eager to join in this morning, well right up until about 4pm they were still coming. But their excuses just didnt match up. One had just been told that she was going away that weekend and the other just got told they have an operation that day. And then the one going away suddenly couldnt come along when the other was in hospital.. I thought she was going away? And why would you agree to do a 11 mile walk when youre expecting an operation?

I feel disappointment a worse feeling that anger. I'd rather they just say they don't want to do it!

Oh well eh, proves who my real friends are. The ones who are sticking by me!.. And the one who's jumped in this late on and filled a space just tonight!

I'd still do my but even if I were to go alone. Just feeling really really let down!

Monday, 7 June 2010

What is diabetes and how is it controlled?..In my own words

So, a few friends have asked me to explain what type one diabetes is and how i control it. A few have also mentioned looking at the internet and don't understand all the scientific terms. Thats what has given me the motivation to write this post and explain what diabetes is and how I control it in my own words. Warning: This post is quite long as I tried to fit everything in!!

So what is type one diabetes?
Basically it is an auto-immune condition. The three main causes of type one diabetes are environment, genetics and viral infection. In my case, my diabetes was caused from an absess which falls into the viral infection category. When my body tried to fight off the infection from the absess it was mistaking the infection cells with the insulin producing cells in my pancreas (these are the cells named islet cells or beta cells in the complicated descriptions) this is why it is an auto-immune condition. This resulted in me never making my own insulin again.

What is insulin then?
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas of a "normal" person. When you eat things containing glucose (that's sugar) the glucose is absorbed into your blood stream and then your pancreas realeases insulin which breaks down the sugar and turns it into energy for your body cells (such as muscle). You could think about insulin being a key which opens the doors to your cells to allow the sugar in. However, people with diabetes don't produce the insulin and therefore the doors to the cells arent open. This means that the sugar we eat just sits in our blood which can cause many problems as it causes your blood to become acidic. This is why diabetics have to inject insulin.

So why injections? Why not tablets?
This is quite a simple one. The acid in your stomache would destroy the insulin and an injection would take the insulin straight into your blood so it can work on the sugar straight away.

So can I eat sugar?
Simple answer, yes. I can eat sweets, chocolate, cake, biscuits etc as long as I inject my insulin for them. It may mean more injections to have a snack, but if i'm willing to inject extra, I can have the treat. Although it's advised not to eat too many hard boiled sweets or lollipops as the really high content of sugar means not all artificial insulin can cope with how quickly the glucose is absorbed into your blood. The same applies with sugary drinks as these are absorbed into the blood stream even quicker.

Hypos and Hypers?
These terms relate to high and low blood glucose levels. (This means the amount of sugar in the blood). Being Hyper (or hyperglycemic) means having too much sugar in your blood. There's not really any significant short term effects of Hypers other than a niggly headache, feeling lathargic and thirst. But the long term effects can be fatal. DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis), Kidney problems, Nerve problems, Heart problems and Eye problems. DKA is the process when your blood sugar is too high and your blood begins to turn acidic, this produces a by-product called Ketones, which are very harmful to the body. Being Hypo means having too little sugar in the blood. The short term effects of being hypo usually involve being dizzy, moody, sweating, shaking, feeling confused..however, these symptoms vary within each person. If a hypo is detected fairly quickly it can be sorted fairly easy with fast acting sugar such as full sugar cola/lucozade/glucose tablets and followed up a few minutes later with a slow acting carbohydrate to keep the level raised such as 2 biscuits. If the blood sugar drops too low and isn't increased it can cause a coma or even death.

So why are there different types of insulin?
There are two main types of insuling; fast acting and slow acting. (As well as mixed insulins which are usually used short-term to get used to having diabetes) A slow acting insulin is usually injected once a day (or twice in some cases) and releases a slow trickled over a 24 hour period (or 12). This acts as a baseline insulin to keep you quite level through-out the day. However, this baseline is not substantial enough to deal with the sugar you eat. This is where fast acting insulin comes in. This insulin is usually taken immediatly before or after eating and has a peak of around 3 hours to cope with the sugar that is being eaten. The amount of fast acting insulin depends on the amount of carbohydrates eaten. The ratio varies from person to person. I take 1 unit of insulin for every 10grams of carbohydrate I eat.

I think i've covered most things, however, if there's anything I have missed don't be afraid to ask and i'll write a new post :)

Lets widen the understanding and raise awareness!!!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The beginning, the middle and now..

I was once a Normal child, i'd go to school as normal, play out with my friends as normal, eat and drink as normal even test my parents patience as normal. I use the word normal because I never really had a problem, I took simple things for granted because I had very little to worry about.
Then on May 15th 2007 everything changed. I was diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic, aged 15.

My diagnosis wasn't the most pleasent. I'd been ill for a while, all the usual symptoms but sempt to find my own personal reasoning for each. I blamed the thirst on the fact that I never really drank a lot as a child and therefore blamed the increased trips to the toilet on this. I blamed the tiredness and grumpyness on just starting my GCSEs and all the hormonal changed in my body. I blamed the weight loss on part of growing up. My doctor wasn't much help either. I was told that my symptoms were likely to be exactly what i'd put them down to, he told me i may be slightly aneamic so gave me an iron tablet and sent me home. It wasn't untill I was really ill and developed a 5-6month continuous ear infection that any of the clues were linked together. I was really sick of being deaf and suffering with earache so I tried the doctor again. I went after school one day, just throwing on some old clothes to get out of my uniform, expecting to be in the doctors for 10 minutes tops. I saw a different doctor this time and he took one look at me and sent me to the toilet with a tube for a urine sample. As i sat there I was confused as to why my urine would solve my earache. When I went back into the doctors room he put a beige ketone strip into my sample and it turned instantly Black. He took a finger prick sample of blood and his machine read HI. He told me I would have to go to the hospital right away. I was confused, he hadn't really said a deal but spoke to my dad when I left the room for the car. On the way to the hospital, still confused, I just complained that I wasn't wearing great clothes, clutching onto the letter the doc had given. We went straight upto the children's ward. I sat on a bed I was assigned to and my dad went to give the letter to the nurse on duty. I looked around and saw all these sick children, still confused because other than earache, i felt ok. I was then taken for a blood test and told my blood sugar readings were 42mmol/l and that I had type 1 diabetes. My dad went to ring my mum and the nurse tried to explain what this meant to me. It was later discovered that my diabetes is likely to have been triggered by an infection I had a while before as it is an auto-immune condition.

After a few days in hospital I had spoken to specialist diabetes nurses, proved I could do my own injections and was let home. It  felt so good to be home and most of my family came to see me. I'll never forget the witty comment my granddad made when he walked through the door "alright sugar?".

I went back to school the next week, quite nervous. But all my teachers had already been informed. Some understood more than others, one even asked if i wanted the windows open and the lights dimmed?! I was on 2 injections a day of Novomix30 so had to stick to set meal times and specific foods. I felt embarressed as I had to quickly eat snacks on the move between lessons. Within 4 weeks of diagnosis I was back at the hospital learning the basics of carb counting so that I could go onto the more flexible 4 injections per day regime. I would inject a long acting insulin in the evening, and a fast acting insulin with meals. This felt much better.

I've struggled with highs and lows, blood testing, injections etc but i'm coping. My control isn't great at all and I hope for an insulin pump in the future. But i'm managing more now. I don't test my bloods as often as I should, I don't always inject as quick as I should after eating and I don't always do my 9.30pm injection of levemir at 9.30. But diabetes isn't easy, people don't understand the work that's put into keeping your sugar levels controlled. Every meal is like a maths question, counting the carbohydrates before eating..and then remembering to inject! There's a huge lack of understanding which often causes ignorance. Diabetes isn't a black and white condition, there are a lot of grey areas as we're all so different and require different techniques, amounts and even types of insulin. No type 1 diabetic caused themselves to be diabetic, none of us ate too much sugar and "became a diabetic", and all of us can still eat moderate amounts of sugar.

We need to raise awareness, and soon!
I take part in a 11 mile walk for Diabetes Uk on July 4th 2010 to help raise awareness and funds for a cure!