Monday, 28 March 2011

Sun sun sun & thankgod for the DOC

One of the positives of having type 1 has been discovering the type 1 community, both online and offline.

Offline, I have made some amazing friends. Friends who have leapt into my life and spun it around, making me very happy! I've become really close with a few of them in particular, and one of the girls and I decided that we should go on holiday this year.

So, at the end of May, my good friend N and I will be heading off to the beautiful coast of Croatia, where we will spend 9 days exploring the local area, spending time on the beach, drinking LOTS of cocktails - all whilst doing this with type 1 :) I'm a tad apprehensive as it's my first holiday since pumping but I know everything will be fine!

The place we are going to stay at is like a little apartment - with our own kitchen and living room. I can't wait! It's supposed to be really warm then and I cannot wait to get a bit of Vitamin D. I burn quickly, so there won't be any sunbathing or anything for us, but a day by the sea is a definite! It also looks like we can take a boat out to some of the islands just off the coast, and maybe even head over the border into Bosnia.

Online, the DOC is a literal lifesaver. I got an email on the insulin pumping emailing list asking if anyone in London could meet a fellow type 1 from America in London on business. Her business trip had been extended by a week without warning and she was running low on insulin. I immediately arranged to drop by some insulin and pump supplies, and we're meeting up on Wednesday for breakfast! DOC goes international :)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

4th April!

On Friday, I received confirmation that I have secured NHS funding for an insulin pump and the associated supplies for that.

I ummed and ahhed over which pump to go with for a long time. Up until October last year, at the Friends for Life conference, I had only ever 'met' Medtronic pumps. There, I got the chance to see the other pumps on the market, and was really taken by the Animas 2020.

I have been using a Medtronic 512 for the past 6 months; I borrow it from my hospital. I like the Medtronic pump. It is so easy to use, and has my favourite button ever: the bolus button! It also has the feature of using the 'up' arrow button to easy bolus.

However, when it boiled down to it, I realised that I had been won over by the Animas. I have been in touch with them over the last few weeks, asking questions about the 2020 and the upgrade system they are offering (if you have a 2020 with a warranty starting AFTER 01/03/11, you are eligible to upgrade, for free, to the new Animas pump when it is on the market). They have been extremely helpful and prompt in responding to all my queries.

I got an email from them this morning, confirming my hospital has ordered a pump and supplies. On Monday April 4th, I will be hooked up to a black Animas 2020, and I just can't wait!

Friday, 18 March 2011

One thing

The one thing you can guarantee that we people living with type 1 have in common with each other?

We hate it. Sure, we'll tell you that it's fine, everything is good, no need for concern. But we hate it. There's nothing more all of us would like than to return it to its sender.

Despite that, we're positive. If we sat there hating all day, we'd never get anywhere. We'd never move on. I think it shows great strength in all of us that we have something that could so easily consume us, yet we find all the positives. We find the stuff that makes life good alongside this stupid condition.

But I really, really hate it.

Itchy cannulas!

I can't work out why, but the past few days, I have woken up and some part of my body has been itching like mad. 2 days ago it was my stomach; the itchiness woke me up! I've also had itchy arms, legs, etc. I would love to say it's something obvious like a new washing powder, but I haven't changed that recently.

The one thing driving me mad though is Silhouettes. I currently use a lovely purple Medtronic 512 with Sils. Sils are designed to go in at an angle of 20 - 45 degrees, rather than the standard 90 - which means they are great for people lacking fat! (I'm not one of those people but I do get along well with Sils).

But wow - the sticky stuff holding it onto my skin?! It's driving me INSANE. I can feel it all the time - not the cannula, just the sticky bit. I keep shifting myself around in a vain attempt to get rid of the itching but nothing is working!

I've also found that Tegaderm - clear, clingfilm like stuff useful for sticking things to your body (I use it sometimes if I'm not sure how well a set is sticking to me) - is beginning to make me itch.

How do I get around this? The semi-obvious answer to the Sil problem is to whack Tegaderm under it - but I can't! Anyone got any suggestions?

Thursday, 17 March 2011


When I was young, the first hypo symptom I always got was wobbly legs.

"Mum, I have wobbly legs."

My parents quickly realised this was my way of expressing I was hypo, and would go running for the hypo treatment of choice in those days:

HypoStop! Oh god, I can remember it now. That thick, disgusting gel that taste of pure chemicals. It was absolutely vile (but of course - it did the trick). It's now been rebranded as GlucoGel, and this is the bottle I remember it being in:

I remember the way the top of it used to bash off my gums as my mum spread it around my's making me shudder just thinking about it!

How have your hypo treatments changed over the years?

[disclaimer: I haven't been asked or paid to write about GlugoGel by anyone - it was a flashback moment!]

Monday, 14 March 2011

One of those moments

The thing that people with type 1 are really good at doing is just getting on with it. Is pretending that everything's fine, even when you're 25.5 and feel like you're about to implode. Or you're 2.9 and look fine, but feel like death. We're pretty good at hiding those things. If we stopped every time we went high or low, we'd never move anywhere!

Which is why I think sometimes it's hard to convey to people, especially people who have never met someone with type 1 before, just how rubbish it can be. This evening, for me, has been a perfect example.

I started getting the sweats on the tube. I didn't think much of it (why do I never think too much of it!!) and just assumed that it, or something? Anyway. Tube and bus ride later, I'm walking through my front door thinking "something is not right, but I shouldn't be hypo!" Answer? 2.9. An hour before I had been 7.7!



I was still boiling hot and sweaty, so the obvious answer? Take your clothes off! Which is how I found myself sat in my underwear, clutching my apple lucozade, in the middle of my bedroom floor.

It reminded me that hypos make us weak and vulnerable. That even though they are generally short, they are terrifying. That they strip us of our very basic function: the fuel we need to think and move and be!

I've been asked to give a speech at the North East Diabetes Symposium in May, focusing on the transition from paediatric to adult care. I think this is something that really needs to be addressed: yes, we may be adults, we may be grown up with jobs and cars and houses and children of our own, but hypos do not 'grow up'. They do not make us less vulnerable. We don't have a parent to come and sort us out; we have to deal with it ourselves. Thankfully, lots of us have partners, husbands, wives, friends, etc that we can rely on in an emergency - but when you find yourself hypo on the tube, there's noone but yourself to rely on.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

"It would be okay."

Last weekend, I decided at the last minute to get a train back to where I grew up, and spend a night back at my mum's house. I got a train (well, there were engineering works, so I ended up on a train to a small town, a coach from there to another small town, and another train to my home city!) there, so my mum met me in town.

We had lunch at Nando's, which provided a good chance to catch up and share all our news. We had plenty to tell each other! My mum and I get along so, so well now - since I've moved out of home, our relationship has totally transformed, and I can't begin to explain how brilliant I think she is. Maybe it's having responsibilities of my own (ie paying rent, bills, working full time) and appreciating how hard she has worked for me and my sister all those years. Whatever the reason, we are like two peas in a pod (throw my sister in the pot, and we're 3 peas in a pod) and I just love it.

Anyway - the best news, which I found out the day it happened, is that my mum is engaged! She has been with her partner for over 10 years, and we'd all given up any hope he would propose. I'm so excited for her! My sister and I will be bridesmaids, which is ridiculously exciting!

"Siobhan, what ARE you doing, and why
does it involve poking me in the face?!"
Amongst all the chatter we had that day, we spoke a little about my sister and type 1 diabetes. How we obviously hope she never ever develops it, how she has agreed to be part of a research study (looking at siblings and genes etc), the fact she never complained as a child when I had to take up the attention of my parents because of diabetes. I was diagnosed when she was 3 months old, so she has literally never known a world in which I'm not diabetic (just the same as I don't remember being non-diabetic).

My sister recently told my mum that if she were to ever be diagnosed with type 1, "it would be okay - I would just get on and deal with it, like Siobhan does". That actually made me catch my breath; I feel so amazed that I have been able to give her that positive way of thinking.

God forbid it ever happened...but I know she would be okay.