A Good Listener

In my day job, people talk to me. People talk to me a lot.

I guess you could call me the middle man between the people in my workplace and our Union. People often come to me with their issues, questions or concerns. It could be anything from working hours, to classification of duties and pay, or to general conduct in the workplace. I can provide some guidance, go and find additional information, or connect them to someone within the Union.

It’s not exactly a paid job. There are a few perks. Like free lunches. Coffees. Conferences held in fancy venues. Goodie bags, and the occasional freebies. However for the most part, I’m simply an employee taking an active interest in the welfare of my workplace.

All the time, I am asked what exactly it is that I do in this role. And most of the time, my answer is simple.

I’m a good listener.

It’s about being able to listen to someone in the staff room who needs to get something off their chest. It’s about going up to someone and asking them if they are all right. It’s about being knowledgeable and helpful for the inquisitive people (myself included) who like to ask a lot of questions.

Sometimes the concerns are genuine ones, and I will be able to help them out. Other times, I can simply offer them my time. I can offer them my undivided attention. I can try to be as helpful as possible. I can keep these matters in the strictest of confidence. I can also respect that every concern being raised is important to the person asking.

Some healthcare professionals could certainly take a leaf out of my book.

Sometimes I’ve been made to feel like a worry-wort when bringing up issues that might seem insignificant. Sometimes I feel like an absolute idiot when a big concern that I’ve worked up in my head is absolutely nothing. Sometimes those feelings of relief are overshadowed by feelings of guilt for wasting a busy professional’s time. Other times I simply don’t feel that anything helpful has come from a consultation.

However, I don’t know any better. I am simply the patient, with the best of intentions towards my health at heart. It often takes a great deal of courage to raise an issue with one of my healthcare professionals. As a person with diabetes, this could mean accepting that I am ill. This could mean sharing sensitive information about my diabetes management. This could mean confirming a devastating diabetes complication. This could mean setting off a wave of guilty feelings and what-ifs.

I need undivided attention from my healthcare professionals. I need to be treated like the most important person in the room. I need to be shown empathy when I am talking. I need support and helpfulness during consultations. I need to be commended for coming in, and for taking my health as seriously as I possibly can.

I need motivation from my healthcare professionals to keep taking my health seriously, because my diabetes isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

Being a good listener is a good start.

Diabetes Online Community Down Under

I have very little Australian spirit. You need only watch me shouting at the overhyped Aussies in the Australian Open. Don’t even get me started on Nick Kyrgios…

However, in the spirit of Australia Day tomorrow, I would like to acknowledge some awesome people in our Australian Diabetes Online Community. Also because I’m going from memory here, I apologise in advance if I’ve gotten any of my facts wrong!

Melinda, one half of Twice Diabetes, always brings a great deal of knowledge, experience and helpful advice to conversations in the DOC. She’s also not afraid to call it like it is where diabetes organisations are concerned.

When I first connected with Maureen at Mum of Type 1, she was concerned about a future for her teenage son with type 1 diabetes. She’s since joined the ranks of the Twitterverse, written to politicians, fundraised, and continues to blog as her secret therapy!

Renza at Diabetogenic is very honest and relatable, and she’s not afraid to tell us that diabetes is plain crap to live with. Working for a diabetes organisation in Australia, her writing also gives us the insider’s view on her advocacy work.

I feel like I have a lot in common with Georgie at Lazy Pancreas. We were both diagnosed with type 1 in 2010 at roughly the same age. A diagnosis with type 1 presents unique challenges at every age, and Georgie articulates in her writing what I often feel myself.

As the title of her blog suggests, Rachel at Yoga For Diabetes lives and breathes yoga. When Rachel was diagnosed as a LADA a few years ago, she wanted to show others how yoga could benefit people with diabetes. She now has dedicated social media channels, and a book in the works.

Kyle at Training T1D displays admirable determination in not letting diabetes get in the way of his cycling. He impressively navigated his blood sugar levels through the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in South Australia this month, and raised over $4,000 in doing so.

Ashley at Bittersweet Diagnosis was initially diagnosed as a LADA before becoming insulin dependent. Ashley is a dietician, and recently travelled to Vancouver where she was elected as President of the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leaders in Diabetes program.

I’ve always wondered what life would be like if I was diagnosed a few years earlier while I was still at school, and everyone ‘knew.’ Bec at A Diabetic’s Rollercoaster handles it with a lot of enthusiasm and humour, and I enjoy reading about how she navigates diabetes among her friends as a young adult today.

Then, of course, there’s the awesome Oz Diabetes Online Community who hangs out on Twitter every Tuesday night. I appreciate this group so much. I can’t say how awesome it is just to casually chat, bounce ideas and thoughts about, and laugh with a group of people who just get it.

Our online community here in Australia may be relatively small (to my knowledge, at least), but know that I really appreciate each and every one of your voices.

Happy Australia Day!

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

My entire workplace is pretty lousy where the staff room kitchen is concerned.

If you were to come down for morning tea, you’ll often find styrofoam cups, paper towels and clean cutlery in short supply. The microwave is often splattered with food stains, and the sink is frequently piled with dirty dishes. The fridge smells of food that people have a tendency to leave in there. There was a leftover Pavlova still sitting there last week from Christmas Lunch, for heaven’s sake!

Over time, I’ve learned to gather my own stash of things. I have paper plates to save me from washing up. I keep my own plastic cutlery, because our kitchen seems to have more knives than it does forks and spoons. I was furious last time we ran out of styrofoam cups and I couldn’t have my morning coffee. So I now have my own stash of those as well.

Last Friday, I went to prepare my coffee at morning tea time. I noticed that the sugar container was empty. I began opening the cupboards, rummaging around for the big packet that’s normally kept there. But there was nothing to be found.

I never used to be much of a coffee drinker before I had diabetes. Yet these days, it’s one of the first things that I look forward to when I wake up in the morning. No, I’m not talking about the crappy stuff out of the tin. I mean a proper shot of Italian Espresso from the capsule machine, topped generously with heated milk. I’ve become a bit of a snob…

Coffee helps me to recover after a rough night of dealing with diabetes. It gets me through my early starts. I look forward to it at morning tea time at work. It accompanies me outside in the afternoons after work. I also appreciate that coffee is a relatively low carb beverage to enjoy in lieu of a snack. But I’ve never been able to drink it without two sugars, or in my case, equal tablets. 

Over the past year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to cut back. First I cut back to one and a half sugars, and got used to the taste. Then to one. Then to half a teaspoon. I left it there, because hey, half a teaspoon wasn’t much. That was, until we ran out of sugar in the kitchen last Friday at work.

Deciding that a coffee without sugar was better than no coffee, I made myself one. And there actually wasn’t much of a difference in the taste. 

 Today, I’m proud to say that I am able to drink my coffee with no sugar.

All because of diabetes, nonetheless.

(And one very messy kitchen). 

Defining Healthy In My Own Way

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Have you ever felt a little uncomfortable around sports growing up? That they are too much about winning, rather than having fun? You’re not alone.

Not a big fitness person? Well, neither am I…

Throw a diabetes diagnosis into the mix, and there’s a decent story to tell.

Today’s blog post is over at Beyond Type 1. Just follow the link here, and let me know what you think.

http://beyondtype1.org/defining-healthy-in-my-own-way/

Happy Monday!

Wake Up Call

Last week, the confirmation letter for my upcoming endo appointment arrived in the mail.

All of a sudden, I’m no longer eating junk food in the afternoons. I’m turning down offers of lollies and chips at the tennis. I’ve pulled my Insulinx meter out of it’s drawer, and I’m suddenly counting carbs more meticulously, logging my insulin doses and downloading my blood glucose reports on my laptop. I’m thinking more carefully about what I’m eating, and the insulin doses I’m giving. I’m working furiously hard towards getting those overnight levels stable once again.

As usual, it’s that wake up call to get my blood sugar levels back into the best possible position ahead of my hba1c result in 6 weeks time.

So why, oh why, does it take a confirmation letter for me to better manage my diabetes?

If I’m being honest here, my diabetes has been lacking that dedicated effort since my last endo appointment in August. My last appointment went very well and I pulled out a good hba1c result. As soon as I came home, it was very easy to breathe a sigh of relief and take my foot off the pedal. It was easy to justify this to myself, with my next appointment being 6 months away. The longer I kept coasting along, the easier it was to keep coasting.

This sentiment probably echoes true for the better part of the last five years with diabetes.

While I wouldn’t say that my management is terrible, I simply lack that dedicated effort that will give me the results that I would like to see. I still test regularly, but I don’t think carefully enough about the choices I make and the insulin doses I give. I know that I struggle to sustain my hba1c results after endo appointments. I’ve been avoiding every opportunity for a hba1c test in the last few months for this very reason. I know that if I went for one today, it would likely be half a point higher.

I’m resolving to make more of a consistent effort in 2016. I’ve set myself a more specific goal of stable overnight numbers, rather than all round improvement that never works. I’m striving to bring my mysteriously unknown hba1c result down by half a point. I’m going to have my hba1c level tested more than twice a year. I’m going to review my progress throughout the year here at Type 1 Writes.

I’m also going to see how well I can manage with Multiple Daily Injections before coming to a final decision on the pump next month (which will be left until the very last minute, in usual Frank fashion).