6 May 2012

It's a Diabetes Thing...

To any type one diabetic, there are certain things that just become a part of your life, but would seem completely bizarre to a person having never entered the 'diabetes bubble'. For example, I could tell you that there are exactly 8g carb in one portion of petit pois...! Or I could instead waffle on about basal and bolus rates, underlying insulin to a completely unsuspecting and innocent friend who will nod her head, all the while thinking: "what on earth is she talking about?!" (This did happen the other day!) Diabetes is just another thing in my life, and I've never really considered it from an 'outsider's' point of view. So, with that in mind, I've compiled a list of some of the common events that occur in a T1 life, that I don't think happens anywhere else!

1) "Sophie, are you High?" A regular phrase for my mum and dad to utter, but which would make the average person in the street probably quite concerned, especially after I reply "yes", the despairing comment is: "oh, not again!" The perception probably isn't helped either my the glazed expression and the slightly Bambi-like walk. So, to certain members of the general public, I'm some troubled, rebellious teenager, not a type 1 diabetic!

2) There are some very well-meaning friends, who see me test my blood sugar and go: "is it OK?"  Although I often do the generic "yes", so as not to 'make a scene', sometimes if I'm really irritated with Mr diabetes and his seriously bad sense of timing, I'll answer, "not really - it's 12.3 (220)". This is then often followed by the wrinkled brow and confused expression, and then the question: "so that's low, right?" ... let's just hope I'm always conscious when I ever am too low or high! However, luckily my closest friends  have it pretty much sorted, so if I was severely ill I wouldn't be worried about being given a massive shot of insulin at a BG of 2-3 (36-54)!  

3) Yes, I sometimes talk to my insulin pump as if it is a person, and at times appear to be having a row with an ipod from the 70s (Mr BG meter - could you possibly be any smaller?! This is the 21st Century!) I'm not going crazy, but sometimes it does seem like my blood sugar meter has some twisted sense of humour, or is being pulled by an invisible yo-yo string. I can't count the number of times it has been thrown on the floor, or how often I use my finger to cover the first number of the reading. The other day at school, I was convinced it was high, so prepared myself for the inevitable: the last number was 7, and I could just see the end of the first number which told me it was a 7. 'Great!' I thought, 17.7 (320) 'and I have a timed essay in ten minutes...!'  When my finger unveiled the reading, as I was pleading 'please, please, please be nice for once!' and it turned out to be 7.7 (140), I literally started grinning like the Cheshire cat, probably only adding to the  perception in no.1 on the list...!

4) Your bedroom can start to look like a chemists, with gluco-tabs standing neatly in a row and the inside of your BG kit a refuge for used testing strips and lancets. I cannot tell you how many times I get nagged: "Sophie, you can't go to University if you won't throw away your testing strips"; however, personally I think I have more important things too worry about! I know it is as simple as tossing it all in the sharps box, but it's hard enough for me to remember to switch lancets after every test. Priorities please!

5) Carb counting. People can really think I'm a complete weirdo and obsessive health freak, coming in with my packets of dried fruit and chicken Caesar salad (who doesn't love that, complete with croutons and pizza express dressing?!) and refuse the offer of cakes and cookies etc... At the end of the day, there is a part of me which thinks, 'oh, forget Mr D, I'm getting a chocolate muffin!' But then I know that 2 hours later, when my BG levels have shot up and I'm lying in my bed drinking water by the galleon, I'm going to regret it so much. At the end of the day, I'm happiest when my BGs are stable, and to me being rebellious is eating the chocolate raisins out of my sister's cinema pick-n-mix (I have one scoop mint-choc-chip ice cream!) or sampling leftover cake mix! I'm not weird, I'm just a T1 diabetic and sadly that means I can't eat whatever I want. Many times I've had to foregoe dessert because my blood sugar has shot up after dinner, but that doesn't mean I NEVER treat myself. Desserts are my favourite (frozen youghurt is the new obsession!). But at restaurants chocolate cake is always a no-no, as I don't know what's in it - I'll always try a bit of my sister's instead!. Chocolate Log at Christmas though - literally a diabetic heaven - only around 15-20g per piece!

6) Maths skills become quite good! Before the insulin pump came along, and the wizard helped out our brains (that by this point were drowning in a sea of endless numbers), every part of a meal became a number - one portion of potatoes, on two tablespoons of peas. I never actually did carb-counting completely by-the-book, (simply because I had a life!), but it does add up. Roast dinner, for example, you need to count stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread sauce (yes, I have both!) and then potatoes and veg. Also, some meats such as sausages can have quite a high carb content, so need to be included. So Diabetes turned be into a walking carb encyclopedia/calculater - happy days!

That is all I can think of so far, but if you want to add to the list do just reply to this blog post - this could just be completely personal to me after all! I'm also convinced I've missed a lot out!


oh, and last one just came to me!

7) BG mood swings. My mum just came into my room demanding to know if my BG was normal again; it was low this morning, resulting in a less than sunshine mood. Well, it wasn't so much that I said anything - exactly that really, I just didn't speak. I must have done something though (knowing me, I did!), as when I just replied in (what I thought!) was a polite voice, she gave this huge sigh - lunchtime could be sufficiently awkward! I probably do owe her an apology to be fair, but it's not as if I do it deliberately! When my BG's low, what I tend to do is just stay silent, as to me that seems much better than biting everybody's head off when I speak. I do sometimes, however, just want to say: "look, it's the diabetes talking here, not me!" I never use it as an excuse, but as I'm sure many of you can relate to, trying to 'snap' into a normal mood when your blood sugar is high or low is next to impossible. All rational thoughts go out the window and, as much as I would like to just 'be normal', I can't be... end of! And yes, I feel guilty that my parents have to deal with this, and I so wish it were different, but it isn't.

Blood sugars really do suck - I hate it. So am I not already being 'punished' enough by having them high/low, without feeling guilty afterwards over my mood? As selfish as this may sound, and I know the mood swings aren't good, it does feel like an impossible situation at times. I've turned to writing poetry a lot in the last couple of years, to try and express my feelings/frustration over diabetes, because I find it very hard to get others, even my family, to understand how it feels (it's 'a diabetes thing', but unlike others on my list, only one which a diabetic could relate to). At school I just stay silent when my BG's going crazy on its yo-yo, and for some reason it's not as bad. I don't know, maybe part of me feels I can relax more at home, as no one will judge me? At school I couldn't get away with the mood swings I have at home, and I tend to just keep my mouth shut! My BG's 6.7 now, thank goodness, but I just know there will be the inevitable lunchtime conversation when I'm 'normal' again, along the lines of: "you were so moody this morning..." Can't wait!

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