A Close Second

Yesterday afternoon I laced up my white Nike trainers, stashed my FreeStyle Libre and Orange glucose tabs into my pockets and sat my headphones into my ears. I stepped outside into a breezy December afternoon, and started walking in the direction of the park down the road from me.

After a short stroll through the grass and the trees, I checked into my local Pharmacy, picked up the box of heavily subsidised supplies I’d ordered through the NDSS a few days earlier, and went on my merry way.

As I backtracked through the park, with the box on my side supported by my right arm, I couldn’t stop thinking about how attractive it all looked in there. The fresh boxes of supplies, all packaged neatly in a bigger box that was originally home to Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid. (Lemon scented, in case you were wondering…)

The comfort infusion sets with their manual insertion, that have helped to relieve my feelings of anxiety over every site change. The angled nature of those sets, that have helped to relieve the constant bruising and bleeding that the 90 degree ones would cause. The simplicity of their packaging, which minimises waste and makes travelling a hell of a lot easier.

The 2ml cartridges that hold my rapid acting insulin, the precious substance that fuels my existence each and every day. The magical liquid that enables my body to convert carbohydrates into energy every time that I eat. The special fluid that trickles into my body every three minutes to keep my blood glucose level, at a custom rate that’s only possible thanks to an insulin pump. The precious stuff that is only a doctor’s script, 36 dollars and a short walk down the road away.

The test strips that pair with my Accu Chek Guide blood glucose meter, and allow me to check in on my blood sugar level. Its Bluetooth abilities that seamlessly transfer blood glucose results to my smartphone with ease. Its sister smartphone app that allows me to review my stats without the hassle of cables and USB ports. The accompanying Lancing device that isn’t exactly ‘painless,’ but the one I’d want to be using if I absolutely have to be stabbing my fingers 15 times per day.

As I casually carried home this box of dishwashing liquid containing another two months of my life, I realised just how lucky I am to be able to trial and choose the products and devices that best suit my needs. How lucky I am that these expensive supplies are relatively cheap and accessible to me here in Australia.

If I can’t have a working pancreas for Christmas, then this sure does come a close second.

And if you’re thinking about those less fortunate this Christmas, consider a donation to T1 International, Spare a Rose or Insulin for Life

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.