Flu Shot

This morning, I got my flu shot.

Flu shots haven’t traditionally been something that I’ve made the effort to get done. I don’t tend to catch colds all that often. I usually look after myself by regularly washing my hands, which is something I have been doing well before the government began telling us to. Did I mention that I’m slack when it comes to scheduling an appointment when I could be putting up my feet?

However this time last year, I’d only just started my degree. I knew that the last thing I wanted was to catch a cold or worse while I was anxiously studying for my first exams in several years. So, I figured I’d get it done.

Then of course, comes this year. If there ever was a year to get a flu shot, this would probably be it. No, there’s no vaccine against Coronavirus, but there is a vaccine that will help to make it less complicated. And it’s free to people with diabetes.

I asked my GP how he was going amongst all of this, and he equally seemed to be doing it tough right now. With patients reluctant to visit practices, he’s been inundated with phone calls requesting prescriptions and free advice over the phone. He’s also been offering free bulk billing to thank his patients for their support – even though I would have been happy to pay his very small out of pocket fee.

He also noticed the extremely shabby Dexcom on my arm, and couldn’t believe how big it was compared to FreeStyle Libre. He also couldn’t believe that pumps and CGMs don’t talk to each other yet. If only…

Anticipating some spectacular insulin resistance, I put a temp rate of 150% on as soon as I took a seat in the waiting room. Then, I drove down to the beach and walked it down along the coast in this spectacular weather we’ve been having this week. I added another 50% to my lunchtime insulin dose, and surprisingly my graph is looking as spectacular as the weather outside today.

Third Time Lucky?

Yesterday was A DAY.

I had plenty of revision to do, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from my rising Dexcom graph. My blood was boiling. I felt anxious, and somewhat helpless. I couldn’t concentrate, despite my best intentions.

I’d only just replaced a cartridge of spoiled insulin the evening prior, after battling high blood sugars all weekend. Not to mention the insulin resistance that’s been brought on by the cooler weather. So I was still feeling more than a little paranoid, but also assumed that I was more than likely overreacting.

I gave a correction, but I still couldn’t take my eyes away from that graph. Do I set a temp basal rate? How long should I wait until correcting more? Has this insulin cartridge gone bad as well? Could that whole packet of insulin cartridges be bad? Maybe I should have waited until my insulin was at room temp before filling my cartridge last night?

Then, the rational side of my brain started waging an internal war against the irrational.

You’re being stupid. You woke up a bit higher than usual this morning, and that is what normally happens when that is the case. You’re seriously going to throw out a second cartridge of insulin!? That’s so wasteful.

Lunch panned out okay, but only thanks to the wave of active insulin and temp rates I’d used to bring down my breakfast. But after an up arrow following my afternoon coffee and cookie, I knew that my paranoia wasn’t for no good reason.

I opened a brand new box, and pulled out a fresh cartridge, hoping against all hope that this would be my third time lucky.

Things are playing out much nicer today. I’m still playing around with temp rates, but overall I feel that my body is responding properly to insulin again. I now have a box of insulin cartridges in my fridge, from which I’ve drawn two bad vials, that I’m feeling pretty dubious of. I probably won’t throw them out, but I don’t foresee that I’ll be game enough to use them again in the near future.

I hate days like these. Days that are unpredictable, days that take away my valuable time and days that have me doubting myself. I’m not used to having days like these. I like predictable. I like knowing what to expect when it comes to my diabetes.

I know that when I’m paranoid, there’s probably a damn good reason for it.

Resolving to Sleep, Three Months Later

My only resolution this year was to sleep better.

I wasn’t exactly having any trouble sleeping, but I felt that a good quality sleep was sorely lacking from my life. My mornings often looked like silencing my alarm, remaining in bed for another ten minutes as I willed myself to get up and moving, and then begrudgingly getting ready for work but lacking a real sense of refreshment.

Towards the end of last year, I was even noticing a surge in blood sugars as soon as I hit the hay. Stress hormones, perhaps?

I did bring this up with my endo last year, but my blood sugars were in a really good place. I had bloodwork done with my GP last Winter that also painted a picture of good health, but brought me no closer to solving my problem.

Since January, I have been making subtle changes to my behaviour to help better support my sleep.

I’ve been making a dedicated effort to ‘switch off’ at least an hour before bed. I make a conscious effort not to stay up and push through with uni work, reminding myself that it will still be there tomorrow and that excellent organisation of my time will avoid any buildup of work.

I switch off my devices, and turn off my phone’s connection to the internet at 9pm. Admittedly, up until Coronavirus, I was really good at this and spending significantly less time on social media.

I switch off the lights and just rely on my bedside lamp until I go to sleep. I was leaving the verticals in front of my window slightly ajar to allow the early morning light to seep in. But that’s kind of redundant now that it’s still relatively dark at 6am.

In that hour before bed, I’ve been getting back into both TV series and reading – two things that I’ve seemingly lost in the past year. My latest binge recommendation would have to be This Is Us. I’m a slow reader, but so far I’ve gotten through Mark Manson’s Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** (I really don’t get the hype on this one) and the Pursuit of Happiness. Admittedly, ABC’s Coronavirus blog has since filled my reading quota and I haven’t quite managed to pick up another book since those two.

I was running the Sleep Cycle app on my iPad beside my bed while I slept. Sleep Cycle is a great app which tracks my sleep using my device’s microphone. It wakes me up in a 30 minute window, at a time when I’m in the lightest phase of my sleep and theoretically able to wake up easier. I have since weaned myself off it, as it was getting tiring having to having to constantly charge another device.

The other night, my sister walked past my MacBook and commented on how ‘orange’ the screen looked. I explained that I’m using an app called flux, which warms the colours on my display in the evenings and helps reduce strain on my eyes. Admittedly, I was breaking my rule that evening and pushed through until 10pm. Historically, this would be enough to worsen my sleep in a heavier/groggier sort of way. While flux isn’t an excuse to make a habit of working late, it did made a world of difference that night.

Admittedly, those stricter habits I was religiously doing every night in January have loosened. I sometimes leave my WiFi on until bed, and I do engross myself in my phone as soon as I wake up. I’m blaming Coronavirus for that one.

But overall, I do feel a lot better than what I did towards the end of last year. I’m sleeping a lot better, and I’m waking up a lot easier. If anything, I think my blood sugars are also more predictable overnight and those surges has subsided.

Quite honestly, sleep is just as important as the food that I eat, the activity that I do and the insulin that I take.

Its been a worthwhile investment.

Diabetes Turns

I’m exhausted. I’m very much looking forward to having some time off work next week, as I’m definitely in need of a break. But, on the bright side, things are looking very promising here in Australia right now and I’m definitely feeling a lot more settled with this new normal.

I just wrapped up an extremely time consuming assignment which wasn’t exactly difficult, but did entail analysing a great deal of numbers from published financial statements. Super happy to have finished, with one more to tackle over the coming weeks.

I’m also really conscious of how neglected my blog is looking of late, hence this post.

The biggest theme to my diabetes right now would be that it is starting to turn. My diabetes is starting to turn in exactly the same way that the days are getting shorter and the weather is starting to change and I’m wearing trackies and jeans more often. After micromanaging blood sugars for the past couple of years, I’ve begun to pick up on these twice yearly occurrences where things suddenly don’t work as well as they were yesterday.

If I could change one thing about my diabetes, this would be it. It is extremely frustrating having to adapt my diabetes to every single change that comes with life. It’s hard not to feel like the well built foundations of my diabetes (well tuned bolus and basal rates) are crumbling. It does feel hard, having to rebuild those foundations and in some aspects relive the hard work that went into them.

My strategy isn’t perfect. This is only my second year where I am approaching autumn and Winter with some kind of strategy. With the days getting shorter and the weather finally starting to match, I’ve been noticing two very different things.

For starters, I’m waking up to lows during the night. Or rather, my rebatteried Dexcom is doing a mighty fine job of waking me. I run an elevated basal rate from around 1am until I wake up in the morning, and as the nights and the mornings get noticeably darker I’m needing less insulin.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m finding myself feeling more insulin resistant during the day. After upping my basal rate by around 10% last week, my blood sugars are finally starting to stay where I want them to be and I’m not correcting highs as often.

I like to make adjustments to my basal rates in percentages. It’s just so much easier to reduce my basal rate by 10% at a time when I’m noticing lows, rather than having to obsess over 0.25s and 0.1s and 0.05s. Given that the pattern I had in place before this worked fine, this blanket trick normally works.

I would like to do some proper basal testing next week, but the prospect of going without any coffee or food in the morning is extremely daunting. But I’m writing it down, and I’ll suck it up.

Finally, my world may be pretty small. But the one place I’m most looking forward to visiting once this is all over is sunny Sydney (only because it’s within close proximity of excellent Cannoli…)

‘I Suppose You Don’t Eat Chocolate’

‘There’ll be some really good bargains tomorrow,’ my boss said to me, referring to our Easter sale. (Also, one of the best things to come out of Coronavirus.) ‘Oh, I suppose you don’t eat chocolate,’ he replied.

‘I love chocolate,’ I said, desperately trying to pretend I didn’t know exactly where this was going.

‘Really.’ He seemed surprised. ‘I didn’t think you could eat chocolate, being a diabetic,’ he replied, in an inquisitive sort of a fashion.

Then, without even having to rack my brain for a witty/educational/de-stigmatising comeback, an utterly brilliant response just came out of my mouth.

‘I eat chocolate. I’m not too sure what other people with diabetes out there choose to eat, but I choose to eat chocolate.’

I have had this conversation hundreds of times. I’m sure I’ve written this blog post more times than I can count on my fingers. I am absolutely tired of writing it, just as I’m sure you are tired of reading it. But I’ll keep documenting the stigma, until the world finally gets it.

I want chocolate for Easter. Small eggs, hunting eggs, Dream bunnies, Lindt bunnies, Old Gold and Malteaster bunnies.

What I do or don’t choose to put into my mouth is nobody else’s business but my own. Contrary to what you might think, you are not being helpful by commenting on the food choices of any human being.

I live with diabetes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year (366 days in a leap year). Believe it or not, Easter really is no different. I really don’t need you to show even the slightest bit of concern about how I will manage my diabetes around it. I’ll be just fine.

The biggest problem that this diabetic faces this Easter is that he can’t seem to find any Cherry Ripe or speckled eggs on store shelves this year. They’re a favourite in our house, so if you do know of any tips, please be sure to send them my way.

Have a happy, safe and self isolated Easter.