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.


Hi. How are you?

I’m still here. In the midst of everything going on at the moment, blogging and popping my head into the DOC now and then hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of my mind.

My need for news has definitely increased in recent weeks. Most of my phone activity of late has shifted toward the ABC’s excellent coverage, especially their live blog covering all of the key developments of the day in one place as they happen. Diabetes Australia’s updates also continue to do a fantastic job at keeping me both informed and reassured, even though social media has been on the back burner.

My need for connection and peer support has never been more important. My family helps me to make sense of this through many conversations over coffees and mealtimes. I’m checking in with friends, particularly thinking about some of my older ones whom I no longer work with. Going into work and being able to talk with my team mates and laugh over customer antics of the day is also extremely helpful in this department.

Most importantly, I need to keep myself aware of the current and ever changing health guidelines in order to keep myself safe during this time of crisis, just like any other person.

Diabetes has felt pretty insignificant in the context of what’s unfolding in the world right now. Quite honestly, I don’t feel any more concerned than I would if I didn’t have diabetes.

However, I am finding it difficult when people are asking me if I am worried, or if I am being ‘careful.’ I work really hard to take good care of myself each day, and now is no different. Even though I don’t need to prove this to anyone other than myself, it’s kind of disheartening that this is so unbelievable to the outside world.

I am also finding it difficult seeing so much content trying to editorialise diabetes and the coronavirus. I’m not even remotely interested in reading, hearing or giving into speculation of what a combination of diabetes and coronavirus might look like. All I will be paying attention to is the general health advice that everyone should be following right now.

I’m also finding it difficult hearing everyone making such a fuss about their safety away from home, when I don’t have much of a choice but to go to work each day to a job I’m extremely lucky to have. So, a massive shout out to all of the front line workers right now who are out there working under extremely difficult conditions, and rarely complain about doing so. Thank you.

I’m also busy chipping away at uni. It’s been a year since I embarked on this journey, and I’m grateful at how ‘settled’ I am with this routine compared to a year ago.

I’m getting outside as much as I can, and am very much looking forward to some cooler weather.

I’m also looking forward to a much needed Easter long weekend, and some much needed chocolate.

I’ll try to check in a bit more often, as time allows.

Stay safe, stay healthy and keep talking to each other.

Practicing Vigilance.

It’s hard not to feel anxious at the situation that’s unfolding here in Australia in the wake of Coronavirus, and the rest of the world. I don’t think I need to recap that for you here…

I am pleased to see the social distancing measures that have been put in place, particularly because at least the rest of Australia will see that this is something that we all have a responsibility to take seriously. I’m hardly capable of leading the country, so I’ll just trust that the measures we have in place are enough – and will evolve as needed. And that the Australian public will take this issue seriously to prevent transmission.

The one place I don’t particularly feel any heightened level of concern around is my diabetes. I don’t particularly feel the need to go shouting to the world that I am a high risk person, but I won’t judge you if that’s what makes you feel a little more at ease. At the dinner table last night, I was explaining to my family that my understanding is that the risks for PWD are not much different to anyone else. As with any other infection, diabetes may make dealing with an illness a little more difficult than not (See this piece from the International Diabetes Federation).

My diabetes back up plan is no different than normal. I filled my insulin prescription a month ago, and have more than enough there to see me through a good five or six months. I also have a backup script there in case of an emergency, which I know I won’t be needing anytime soon.

I keep three months worth of pump consumables in my wardrobe as per usual, and don’t intend on stockpiling any more. I place all of my orders directly through Diabetes WA’s online store, which saves me from being at the mercy of unreliable pharmacy wholesalers. (And yay for them finally stocking Choc-marshmallow glucose tabs!).

I also have some good friends in the Young Adult Diabetes Committee, and the broader diabetes community, who I know I can turn to for help in the unlikely event that I need it. Those diabetes people, as my Mum calls them, are some of the nicest people around. Use your community.

I don’t see the need to selfishly stockpile groceries. I must have at least a dozen supermarkets around me, something I frequently think is unnecessary, but is providing a lot of reassurance right now. I don’t anticipate any difficulty being able to access items, outside of people’s panic buying.

I guess I’m a little more anxious around going to work. I work in retail, but thankfully not a supermarket. But I do think supermarket workers are absolute heroes, and deserve your respect. So I guess I’m just being a little more vigilant than usual.

My hand hygiene is no different to what it usually is. I’ve been in a good routine of washing my hands for a long time, particularly before handling food and after activities involving contact with people and objects. I really credit that to not being sick all too often.

Yesterday, I trimmed my fingernails. I’m taking my water bottle home to wash every day, rather than once a week. From tomorrow, I’ve also decided that I won’t be using anything from the staff room kitchen.

Outside of that, I’ve been sticking to my New Year’s resolution of sleeping really well. More on that in another post. Keeping on top of my uni work. I’ve actually been reading. A lot (although I don’t see the hype in Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***). I’m also super excited to FINALLY see people making moves on Survivor instead of following Dave like sheep.

The outdoors, as always, provides a great boost to my mindset. As does keeping peer support wrapped around me from friends with diabetes and the DOC. I’m also logging out of social media as and when I need to for my mental health during this time, too. And ignoring all sensationalist media, as always.

So, hi. How are you doing at the moment?

Talk to me, talk to your friends, talk to your fellow PWD. Take care of YOU.

I know that we’ll get through this. Stay safe.