Diabetes, Like a Boss

“How’s it going? All right? Up or down?”

This was the question posed to me over the weekend, by one of my well meaning great Aunts. Her husband, who is my great uncle, lives with type 2.

“I need to have insulin injections for most of the foods that I eat,” I began to explain. “Every food is different…”

I began to stumble here, thinking of examples that I could use to explain this. Bread? Pasta? Juice? I hate this question, because there’s never an easy answer.


I looked at the empty chocolate wrapper I was folding in my hands, and then over to the spread on the table.

All of a sudden, the words just came to me. They flowed, ever so easily.

“The dried fruit will bring my blood sugars up quite quickly, whereas the chocolate will bring my blood sugars up a lot slower” I said, using some of the famous old Italian hand gestures. “But the nuts won’t have much of an effect on my levels at all.”

“So, with the chocolate I might take an injection after the meal, whereas with the fruit I would have an injection straight away. Over time, I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what different foods that I eat will do to my levels.”

I struggle to explain my diabetes to others. It’s so complicated. There are so many different factors. I often find myself lost for words whenever people ask me.

Yet I surprised myself in that moment, where the words came to me ever so easily. I managed to explain diabetes, like a boss. In that moment, I felt like I owned my diabetes and not the other way round.

And it felt so damn good. Happy hump day!

More Transparency Around Hidden Sugar

I’m pretty disappointed to see all of the praise surrounding the UK’s new tax on sugary beverages, particularly from here in Australia. In response to increasing childhood obesity levels, last week it was announced that companies in the UK will be taxed on beverages containing more than 5g of sugar per 100g.

Personally, I don’t feel that placing any sort of tax on sugar laden items is going to have much of an influence on obesity. Take alcohol, for instance. People love to drink. Drinking has become somewhat of a culture here in Australia. Bars and nightclubs heavily inflate the prices of the alcohol they sell, yet there is no shortage of people pushing their way through the crowds and flashing their cash every weekend.

Every week, we hear news of binge drinking, underage drinking and alcohol related offenses in the news. Similar to obesity, media campaigns drive home the seriousness of irresponsible alcohol consumption each and every week. Yet people still buy it. I have two new bottle shops within walking distance of my house that weren’t there ten years ago. If people love something, they are still going to buy it, regardless of the price. And companies aren’t going to change their attitudes, or their product while the demand is there.

In my opinion, the issue with sugar doesn’t lie in the chocolate bars, the soft drinks, ice cream, lollies, cakes, or even sugar itself. Many people (myself included) enjoy these items alongside a relatively healthy diet. There’s no deception in these items. Everyone is well aware of what these items are. Treat food. But just in case you didn’t, our media does a decent job of raising awareness.

The real issue is all of the sugar hidden in seemingly healthy products on our supermarket shelves. Our foods are actually sweeter than they were a few decades ago. Companies purposely add extra sugar into their products to give them the “bliss” factor, so that their customers will crave it again and again. Many low fat foods substitute the fat for added sugar. Sugar can make anything taste good. Sugar is addictive. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend That Sugar Film.

I used to look for products low in fat when I was first diagnosed with diabetes, completely oblivious to all of the hidden sugar. I know how difficult it is to find a tub of yoghurt, a box of cereal, or even muesli bars, that have less than 10g of sugar per 100g. Sugar is even hidden in things it shouldn’t be, like bread and canned vegetables.

A sugar tax is only going to penalise people for the treat items that they enjoy alongside a healthy diet. Personally, I’d much rather see some pressure being placed at the source of this problem. It’s time that food companies are made to be more transparent about all of the sugar that is hidden in their seemingly “healthy” products.

It shouldn’t be that hard to find a damn muesli bar…

Rage Bolus, Baby, Bolus

I’ve been plagued with absolutely stubborn blood sugar levels since Friday morning. I’ve been taking crazy amounts of insulin. I really have no explanation for it, other than being sick.

I probably eat the fewest carbs, and take the least amount of insulin at breakfast time. On Friday, it was a slice of Burgen Low GI toast topped with a boiled egg and a milky coffee. 18g of carbs in total. 4 units of insulin should have been more than enough to cover it. Yet, when I went to check my blood sugar levels 2 hours after breakfast, I was 14.6. I corrected with a very conservative 2 units, which should have brought me back down to the 8-10 mark. An hour and a half later, I was still 14.0, and ready for a rage bolus of 5 units.

This trend continued throughout much of the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, I was injecting around double my normal rapid acting insulin dose for a meal. I would test 2 hours later, with results typically hovering between 14 and 19. I’d rage bolus another 5ish units, which would eventually bring me back down to earth. I was feeling a lot like Basil here…


I wasn’t staying stable through the night either, so I upped my Lantus dose from my usual 9 units. I started conservatively with a 1 unit increase on Friday night, and 2 units on Saturday.

This was a phenomenon I don’t experience too often. Mind you, I don’t get sick too often. I really had no explanation for it. I could only presume that stress hormones from being unwell were affecting my insulin sensitivity. Thinking about it now, I probably should have checked for ketones and drank more fluids as well.

The scariest part in all of this was the unknown. Normally, I have a good idea of where an insulin dose will take me after a meal. I know how much insulin will correct a high blood sugar. I know how many carbs will correct a hypo. I have a good intuition of where my blood sugar is headed when I test 2 or 3 hours after a meal. But through all of this, I was flying blind.

I was borderline hypo when I was ready for bed on Saturday night. I had no idea whether my blood sugar levels were going to fall further, or whether they were going to start rising again. I had no idea whether my normal hypo fix would be enough, or if it would send my levels skyrocketing. I was dead drowsy from the flu tablets I’d been taking, yet I had no choice but to sit up, test, test, test and wait this sticky situation out.

I’m proudest of the caution I exercised through this situation. I can’t say that I was following a textbook, but I didn’t go too crazy with my corrections either. One of the things on my mind was the fact that I didn’t have the energy to deal with a hypo. The last thing I felt like doing was shoving skittles down my already sore throat and going through the exhaustion and frustration that would inevitably follow. 

I’m not really sure what today holds in store for me, but I am feeling better. I’m heading back to work where I’ll be on my feet, rather than on the couch all day. I’m going to try to go easy on my blood sugar levels, and stick to small simple meals.

One of the hardest things about diabetes is that it’s always changing. Why can’t it just sit quietly on the couch and take the day off with me?

Sick Day

Today, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and take a much needed sick day at home.

I’ve worked through a sore throat and a cough for the last few days, aided by plenty of water and losenges. Mind you, the medicated losenges I’ve been taking are especially conspicuous. The ingredient list is made up of items that don’t make any sense to me. Sugar, or no sugar? Carb count? Your guess is as good as mine.

Today, however, a full blown cold has set in. My nose is running like a tap. Working is extremely uncomfortable when I need tissues every 5 minutes, and I always feel guilty to spread my germs to those around me. As bad as I feel for letting down my team at work, I have to accept that it’s not my problem to worry about for today. I know that I’ll be in a shitty mood if I go to work sick, which reminds me of this post that I don’t particularly want to relive either.

Generally speaking, I don’t find diabetes any more demanding than usual when I’m sick. My blood sugar levels don’t tend to run higher than normal, so I don’t feel the need to test for ketones. Maybe this is more of an issue for pumpers? Although I am being way more cautious with my insulin doses, because I really can’t deal with a hypo at the moment.

Yesterday afternoon, I was reminded of why I hate flu tablets so much. I felt so cloudy, drowsy and almost like my brain was not in sync with the rest of my body. Vicks, however, works wonders on congestion. A small dollop under each nostril helps me sleep so much easier.

On a note completely unrelated to diabetes, check out this hilarious movie trailer about talking food! I hope that your weekend is off to a better start than mine.