Finding Independence from Continuous Glucose Data

In my latest column over at Diabetes Daily, I’m talking about how I’ve arrived at a place where I don’t feel dependent on continuous glucose data to manage my diabetes.

“The FreeStyle Libre was my first foray into the world of continuous glucose data. After knowing nothing other than pricking my finger up to 15 times per day for six years, it was amazing to be able to check my blood sugar levels so conveniently. The small round sensor that sat on my upper arm provided me with a blood glucose reading, a trend arrow, and an 8-hour history graph each time I swiped my reader over it.

However, the data was addictive. Within the space of a few months, I felt heavily reliant on this device. When the life of my sensor came to an end, I really missed it. I felt lost, and even a little anxious about how I would cope without it. I had lost a great deal of confidence in my diabetes decision making.”

Check out the full column over at Diabetes Daily here.

Vacation’s End.

When my Lantus pen finally neared empty after my evening dose on Wednesday, I knew that I was just about ready to reconnect to my insulin pump.

Its been almost a month since I started this pump break, and it’s been just what I’ve needed to clear my head and feel a little more ‘free’ from my diabetes.

But I’m also beginning to feel a little over the effort required to physically inject my insulin, moreso at this time of the year.

When I was in the comfort of my own home with all the time in the world to spare, injecting wasn’t really a big deal. But when I was on the go and short of time, i was really starting to miss the convenience that wearing an insulin pump allowed me.

I really had to make a big point of injecting before I could go and have my morning tea or lunch. Which meant finding a place where I wouldn’t be disturbed, pulling out my iPhone, opening up the RapidCalc app, calculating my insulin dose and then concentrating on actually injecting it.

Concentrating?

Yep, concentrating.

If I didn’t put all of my focus towards the task of actual injecting, I ended up with those annoying little drops that manifested on the end of my insulin pen. I was left wondering how much insulin actually went in, shooting out half a unit to compare while deliberating over whether or not I should top up.

In case you’re wondering, there is a technique to avoid this. Gently lift the skin beneath your injection site (don’t pinch), inject your insulin, hold the pen in for 15 seconds after the injection, release the skin and then pull the needle out. I’m not sure I’ve quite mastered it yet, but I have successfully revealed a few clean needles by using this technique.

Then there was the effort required to swap out blunt needles. Because they sure did hurt when I forgot to change them.

Injecting is a lot of effort to put in during my break when I really want to be savouring my coffee and Walkers Shortbread. Or when I’m in the car, trying to give a quick correction inbetween traffic light changes. Also in the middle of the night, when I actually have to switch on my lamp and physically get up out of bed to make sure I properly administer my correction dose.

I fully get that these are all first world problems, and I’m super grateful that I have the luxury and choice to choose the style of management that suits my needs.

On Wednesday evening before bed, I inserted a fresh pump site on my left side and loaded a fresh insulin cartridge. When I woke up on Thursday morning, I skipped my morning dose of Lantus and clipped my pump line into the clean infusion site on my hip. I rode out the day as the rest of my Lantus tapered off. By 3.30pm I thought I could safely switch my basal rate back on, and I was pumping insulin once again.

Why We Need to Stop Asking People If Their Diabetes Is Controlled

In my latest column for Diabetes Daily, I’m talking about why I think this question is setting people with diabetes up for failure.

I absolutely hate being asked how controlled my diabetes is. How on earth can such a complex condition be explained in a yes or no question? If a healthcare professional expects me to evaluate my diabetes management with a one-word answer, then they are setting me up for failure. It’s like asking me if I completed the marathon last week, without showing any interest in the journey or preparation that I undertook to get myself past the finish line.

When I think about control in the context of managing diabetes, I interpret it as keeping my blood sugar levels between 4 and 8 mmol/L all of the time. That’s simply far too rigid of a goal for me.”

You can check out the full column at Diabetes Daily here.

Farewell, #OzDOC.

When I first dipped my toes into Twitter three years ago, the Oz Diabetes Online Community was one of the first places where I found peer support online.

I very much looked forward to Tuesday night Twitter chats, where participants would come together and answer structured questions about diabetes in a very supportive and engaging environment.

Inbetween chats, it was not uncommon to put a random diabetes question out there with the hashtag OzDOC and have it answered. OzDOC gave me the opportunity to network with other people with diabetes here in Australia, something I did not have in my own life at the time.

Over the past five and a half years, OzDOC has been largely led by co-founder and operator Kim. She has been the one responsible for making sure the moderator’s throne is occupied each week, and that there is a topic and questions ready to go.

Kim does a stellar job in welcoming participants to the chat, steering the conversation, and most importantly supporting and encouraging participants as they share candid insights about living with diabetes. To this day, chats just don’t feel the same when she is not in the moderator’s seat!

More recently, I stepped up and formed part of a moderator’s group of seven. Together we brainstormed topic ideas and took turns in moderating weekly chats. We’ve also seen healthcare professionals engage in our weekly chats, valuing the insights that I can only imagine would be difficult to gain in a clinic setting.

Another highlight from OzDOC would surely be having the opportunity to meet some of these amazing individuals at Abbott’s Diabetes Exchange in Sydney last year.

When Kim recently announced to the group her intention to step away from OzDOC co-ordination duties, it was a decision I totally understood. Running a support group like OzDOC in one’s own time is a big commitment each week. Even with a team of moderators, Kim still shoulders a great deal of responsibility in making sure chat slots are covered, questions are suitable, social media reminder posts are scheduled, and all of the other behind the scenes administration.

Members of the moderators group were offered the opportunity to take over Kim’s co-ordination duties, however nobody felt they were in a position or capacity to lead. I felt that realistically, this was not a commitment that I would be able to make next year and that the time was right for me to move on.

The final OzDOC chat will take place Tonight at 8.30pm AEDT. Be sure to also check out the Oz Diabetes Online Community Facebook page, where Kim has been sharing a bit of a retrospective over the past couple of days.

After tonight’s final chat, the @OzDiabetesOC Twitter account will cease. Does this mark the end for OzDOC? Who knows. If members of the community would really like for it to continue, then I’m sure that they’ll find a way.

To Kim and to everyone else involved in the OzDOC community in some way or another, I just wanted to say a massive thank you. You have all made my world just that little bit smaller.