Diabetes and mental health

Living with a ‘chronic condition’ and knowing that, for the foreseeable future it is not going anywhere is a lot to handle. No matter how positive you are as a person it is bound to get too much sometimes. Unfortunately, I am yet to find a way of avoiding becoming down sometimes but I can share what I have done in these situations to make me feel better.

I always feel down when I have had a tough day with my blood sugars. My blood sugars have probably been up and down all day and my emotions will have been out of control. In this situation, it is important to remember that it is okay to have a bad day and it is usually best to try to correct your blood sugars and go to bed and by the morning hope that they are back to “normal”, (obviously not if you’re hypo). Taking every day one day at a time and remembering that it will end is important.

I often find that my control gets worse when I hate my diabetes. During these times I often avoid it and just treat it like it’s an inconvenience. I find talking to people whether they have diabetes or not helps a lot. When I was a teenager my hospital organised diabetic weekends away which were amazing! I honestly think they changed my whole outlook on diabetes and life and I always wish they were organised for adults. I really recommend diabetic groups or holidays, they are amazing and make you realise you’re not alone! Sometimes using the diabetic card to get you free queue jumping at a theme park can help it seem not so bad occasionally too!

Working with diabetes

I have worked numerous jobs being a diabetic from being a shop assistant to a waitress. I have always found my employers very supportive of my diabetes and I have been able to resolve any highs or lows effectively.

In September I started as a full-time teacher. I have always been very worried that my diabetes would prevent me to do things in life, however this is my dream job and I am going to share how I am finding this.

I have always found being a diabetic means it is important to have a routine. It has now been 3 months and I am still finding I don’t have a daily pattern which I can work with. My blood sugars are often different each day, this can be due to exercise, stress and lack of sleep.

Lucky I am hypo aware and I am able to identify and resolve any hypos as quick as possible and all the children in my class are very mature about this.

My biggest struggle is spiking after lunch time. I have always used novorapid insulin and put my insulin in my pump 20 minutes before eating, however I still struggle with large spikes. This week I have started Fiasp insulin. I am really hoping that this is going to resolve some of my spikes which are resulting in daily highs and lows.

When I have a good day I feel on top of the world and I am hoping for more of these.

My top tips for working with diabetes are:

– Tell your employer and employees, they are more than likely going to be very supportive and ask how they can help you whilst at work.

-Make sure colleagues are aware of what to do in an emergency.

-Have hypo treatment available at all times.

-Don’t over do it!

-Get enough sleep

Disguising your pump

For the past 10 years I have pretty much had a wire attached to me 24/7. On a day to day basis I find this quite normal and easy to wear, however as a young girl I have had some occasions where I didn’t want my pump to be on show.

I remember for my year 11 prom I decided to take my pump out for a day and go back onto injections just so I didn’t have it on show in my dress. Looking back now I can understand why my mom and nurse were annoyed with my decision because it caused a lot of unnecessary work for no reason.

On an everyday basis I wear my pump attached to my trousers or the middle of my bra. With tighter tops I find I can hide my pump into my bra cup and this usually disguises it. People often say to me they don’t realise I have a pump because I never have it on show. This is my personal choice, it doesn’t bother me but that’s how I choose to wear it. My Freestyle Libre is always on show and I am happy to tell people about it if they ask.

At situations like prom, I have found that if you want to wear a tight dress which you can’t wear a bra with, your pump can get in the way. I searched the web for a long time to try find some advice from other people who wear pumps to see how they wore it everyday, unfortunately I struggled to find any information. Eventually I came across a company called ‘Hid-in’ which had created a belt like strap which can hold your pump in different ways.

http://www.hid-in.com

In these pictures I am wearing my insulin pump with my hid-in and personally I think nobody would even notice…

(I have to admit it is not easy to put insulin in but that can easily be resolved by going to the toilets.)

I often wear my Hid-in similar to a garter which brides wear on their wedding day. It hides my pump perfectly and I have no worries that it is going to move or become loose. I really wish I had found this company a few years ago and it would have prevented me hating my pump whenever I wanted to wear tighter clothing. I also wear my hid-in sometimes around my stomach if I am wearing baggier clothes because it can be comfier than wearing it on my bra. Personally I couldn’t recommend a product anymore because it is perfect for all ages and genders to wear your pump comfortably.

Moving away to university…

At the age of 18 I took the plunge and decided to move to university. Granted, I only lasted a month but I will share some of my experiences.

The thought of me moving away to university to my family was daunting. I think every family worries about the day their children move out but having diabetes doesn’t help this situation. However, the reason I decided to leave was not necessarily due to having diabetes and my experience was mostly positive in terms of my diabetes. Here are some of my tips for moving away to university:

My top tips:

  • Make friends and tell them about your diabetes – asking someone to check on you, in the morning, after a night out is important.
  • Be organised – this is an essential with having diabetes, if you’re not organised things begin to go wrong. Always stock up on snacks and hypo treatments.
  • Register at the doctors – if you’re not planning on going home often you will need to do this to order prescriptions and the registration could take a few days/weeks.
  • Know your limits – personally for me, going out every night was not good. Knowing when to say no is important.

My overall experience moving away to university was very positive and I don’t regret it. The reason I moved home was because I decided I wasn’t ready to begin studying again and I wasn’t enjoying where I was living or my living arrangements.

My house mates were really supportive of my diabetes and I often would have a knock on the door to check I was alright after a night out.

Having diabetes didn’t hold me back whilst I was at university, I think this was due to me staying organised and not ignoring it. I did go back to university but commuted the following year and successfully graduated in 2019.

Diabetes and alcohol

Please be aware this is just my personal experience and advice for dealing with diabetes and drinking alcohol, it will not be the same for everyone.

Do’s

– Eat carbs before drinking and before going to bed

Eating a high carb meal before going out, such as pasta, is effective to stop the late night/early morning low blood sugars.

– Make sure your friends know you’re diabetic and what could happen

Alcohol can cause unexpected changes in blood sugars. Often, even with diet mixers, blood sugars rise very high which can result in the feeling to put a correction in. However, after a few hours or the next morning blood sugars often drop very low and this is when things can become dangerous. It is important to try have a snack after drinking and have hypo treatments prepared for the following day. This is also key for friends and family to be aware of, so they know to checkup on you after you’ve been for a night out.

– Have hypo treatments prepared

– Have a medical ID ( a hypo can often be disguised as being drunk)

Don’ts

– Trust they will give you Diet mixers when you ask for them

– Drink alcopops

I wouldn’t recommend drinking wines, alcopops or cocktails often (basically anything sugary), personally I don’t like them but I also hate how rubbish they make you feel! I can’t imagine being able to enjoy time with friends with a really high blood sugar. Drinking sugar free spirits and diet mixers is a safe option.

Living with the FreeStyle Libre

On a good day diabetics are expected to test their blood sugars a minimum of 4 times a day. Usually before meals and bedtime. To do this you need to use a finger pricker and using a small amount of blood and blood sugar meter will tell you your blood sugar after a few seconds. However, that is on a good day, this increases after exercise, any stress or illnesses and before driving. In addition to this you have to test your blood sugars when you feel either high or low throughout the day.

UNTIL…..

The NHS funded the FreeStyle Libre (i.e. life changer)!

The FreeStyle Libre is a circle device that is inserted every fortnight into your arm to check your blood sugars. The device is simple to insert after following the instructions and 99% of the time is comfortable and unnoticeable to the user. I have had a few questions from strangers but personally I don’t mind they’re only intrigued.

To use the device you can either scan it with the meter provided or USE YOUR PHONE!!! (I find that so amazing.)

This is an example of a daily graph using my phone. The green area is my aim between 5 to 10, however you can see at certain times my blood sugar rises above and below the target range.

The aim of this device is to help diabetics spot patterns in their blood sugars and make changes to these. The most useful advice I was given was to make small changes at a time. I have often made the mistake of changing my background insulin and carb ratios at the same time and then I struggle to identify the problem areas. Focus on one problem area at a time and make really small changes each time.

I have had the device for 7 months now and I have genuinely found it life changing.

PROS

~ Quick scanning

I find it very useful when at work. I am a school teacher and it allows me to check my blood sugar using the meter within seconds and then I can either treat my high or low without having to make a big fuss.

~ Healthier fingers

~ Helps identify patterns

~ A large amount of useful data

~ Lasts 2 weeks

CONS

~ Attracts questions

This isn’t always a con but sometimes it is repetitive.

~ Cost (or getting your local hospital to fund it)

As you can see the pros overtake the cons completely! Personally I have found this device life changing and I am proud to tell people about it. I am hoping in 2020 I gain better control using the Libre and I will share my tips along the way.

Are you allowed chocolate?

If only I had a jar for when people ask if I’m allowed to eat chocolate. I would be rich!

I just thought I would share with you my disastrous blood sugars on Christmas Day. My sugars do not agree with any food unless I have put my insulin in 20 minutes before eating. As you can see, this did not happen on Christmas day and as a result I battled all day with my sugars and then ended on a hypo.

However, surprisingly I managed to stay in the Christmas spirit and didn’t let it ruin my dinner which we paid a fortune for.

I have a lot of trouble with after food spikes and then dips so if anyone has any tips, I would be extremely grateful! My doctor has changed my insulin, (which I will be starting soon), to a faster acting insulin which will hopefully help.

2020 is going to be the year of getting myself in target (most of the time). I am very aware that even the smallest of changes can stop this so I try not to get down when I have bad days but my New Years resolution is to stop putting diabetes at the bottom of my list!

A Christmas CGM

Christmas is a time for indulging in the things we love most, drinking alcohol and eating treats. Any diabetic could tell you these things are not a good combination at other times in the year but personally I don’t let diabetes stop me at any time.

Ever since I was diagnosed I feel like I have lived life as a ‘normal’ teenager and young adult but with some extra baggage and Christmas is no exception. My advice for diabetics over Christmas is to plan ahead and don’t eat things for the sake of it, it’s not worth going high for something you didn’t even like anyway.

HOWEVER, my biggest piece of advice is not to let it get in the way. Diabetes is something that never goes away and we never get a day off but if we spend our time worrying about it during this period it’s only going to make us hate it even more. At the end of the day it’s coming with us along the way for many more so why not have a little treat at Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Type 1 going out out!

Most parents nightmare is the day their child asks them to go clubbing. I think my mom knew it was coming but secretly hoped I would never be interested and she would get off lightly.

However, much to her disappointment I did decided to join my friends and go out out! For a few years prior to going out, my diabetes team had spoken to me about how to manage diabetes and alcohol so I felt confident enough to go.

Thankfully my experiences of drinking and diabetes have been more positive than anything and I am so glad I didn’t let it stop me!

Going clubbing with friends is something I still really enjoy and being diabetic does not stop that, however there are some things I have to be aware of.

~ lack of sleep

Sleep is something very important to all diabetics and going out for one night and going to bed the early hours of the morning can cause really problems. Not only does it leave you tired but it can cause unexpected blood sugars. Personally, I often find my blood sugars go up and down (even more than normal) on these days but that’s nothing a few hours in bed and a few packets of Haribo’s can’t solve.

~ mixers

I find this in lots of places not only bars and clubs, that people who aren’t aware of diabetes get really annoyed when you ask them to double check if it’s DIET COKE!!!!! They just think that you’re on some stupid diet and wasting their time. However, I have experienced the high blood sugars and sickness that can follow from accidentally drinking normal coke.

Personally after trying different types of alcohol I can’t say I enjoyed it much. After becoming diabetic I didn’t enjoy sweet drinks anymore~ such as cider and wine. So I often choose to stick to either gin or vodka. It’s always best to try by bottle mixers to be safe, or like me, after a few years of asking you get used to the dirty looks and don’t care about checking twice anymore.

Going clubbing and drinking isn’t for everyone, but if it is diabetes shouldn’t stop you. All it takes is organisation and lots of emergency snacks for the morning.

Join 17 other followers

From the beginning

https://www.countryrange.co.uk/products/country-range-frozen-chocolate-eclairs-2/

Right back to being 5 years old my mother and her motherly instinct knew something was wrong. My school teachers were complaining weekly about how much I left the class for the toilet but I was constantly told there was nothing wrong. My pants constantly felt wet and I would change them nearly 5 times before I left the house for school.

Fast forwarding a few years, to the age of 11 and weighing a grand total of 3 stone, it became visible that something was not quite right.

It was June 2008 and I was preparing for my year 6 school trip to France. My mother had paid a large amount of money for the trip, therefore I felt I had to enjoy it! However, the couch journey was hell, I had to ask the driver to stop at every possible place so I could wee and the return journey was even worse. During my time in France, I got bitten from head to toe ~ which I blame my high blood sugars for and I was constantly tired. After a week, as you can imagine I was very glad to go home.

After returning home my health began to deteriorate and caused me to miss a large amount of school time. We laugh about it now but at the time me and my mother were confused as to why a chocolate eclair couldn’t cure this illness. I spent a few weeks lying on the sofa feeling very sick, tired and thirsty but occasionally my mom would get me to eat a chocolate eclair, (I had never eaten much), to try boost my energy and stop me loosing even more weight. At the time we were very confused but as you can imagine this only caused my sugars to rocket sky high again and I was back on the sofa for a few hours/days.

Eventually I saw a doctor who spotted a problem. He asked me whether I was in pain when I went to the toilet, which I answered “yes”. I was then asked to do a wee sample. I think it was about 2 days later that we received a call asking us to return to the doctors for an appointment as soon as we could. With that news I filled my litre bottle of water up for the 3rd time that day and we went to the doctors.

When we arrived I was seen by another doctor and asked if they could take a finger prick of blood. Little did I know that was going to be the first finger prick of thousands. The doctor then explained I had an extremely high blood sugar of above 40 and it meant I had TYPE 1 DIABETES. My mom was asked to take me to the children’s ward in Wolverhampton immediately. Hearing this news made both me and my mother cry but neither of us had any idea about what was going to come…

Subscribe for more…

Sugar Spice Insulin

Perspectives from parenting a (not so little) girl with type 1 diabetes

Our Sweet Life

A Type 1 Diabetes Blog about life, food, and about everything in between!

Life and Times Living With Type 1 Diabetes

I have lived with Type 1 Diabetes for 46 years. Here I try to explain what that means

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started