Tag: Diabetes

Prior to 09 Nov 2008 I wrote it all down in a paper log book. This was the start of my spreadsheet.

The “dark times”

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in the summer of 1991, when I was 17.5 years old. I can’t remember exactly when but I moved onto Insulin Pen Therapy at some point which was much better than using syringes and vials. I could grab a pen and take it with me without having to think about the additional nausea of carrying all the paraphernalia round with me. Just dial up the dose, screw on a needle and inject. Easy. I also can’t remember exactly when I stopped doing proper testing but I know I did. I seemed to slip into an easy rhythm of doing the same injections at the same time each day without really thinking what I was doing or eating, and not really testing my blood glucose at all. Looking back now I see this as a “dark time” in my diabetes control, when I was going through the motions without actually properly monitoring how I was doing.

When I would visit the consultant I would just make up some numbers for my blood sugar and put them in an excel spreadsheet. I don’t remember what my HbA1c was like during this period but I do remember not being worried about my visits to the consultant or being “told off” during them. I just sailed through without any problems it seems. I didn’t have any serious hypos, or hypers nor did I develop any other complications. My vision remains fine and I still have feeling in my feet, but I did have these checked each year by the hospital.

The one thing that does surprise me is the amount of exercise that I was doing at the time did not cause me any serious hypos. I would cycle 10 ~ 16 miles a couple of times a week, sometimes when it was really hot and sunny, and I had no problems. I used to take water and a Granaola bar which I often didn’t eat but never my blood meter or Lucozade. I find this scary to think about now, especially as I am far more aware of how my body reacts to exercise and what my blood sugars will do. I am amazed that something serious didn’t happen to me in the quiet lanes of north Cardiff to be honest.

When I moved to Bristol and transferred to a new hospital I had a chat with my new Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN) who asked me why I wasn’t testing and I explained that I had just got out of the habit really. We talked through the benefits of checking my blood sugar, she gave me a shiny new meter and being a sucker for technology I agreed to start checking my blood sugar. I have now tested since August 2008 and moved onto carbohydrate counting and a pump but I have benefitted enormously from the testing I have done since that discussion.

While sometimes it can be a chore to test my blood it is an essential part of my daily life and not doing it would be very difficult for me to do. I have good days, bad days, hypos and hypers, but checking my blood sugar allows to me figure out where I need to make corrections and more importantly it allows me to eat what I want. Which is awesome.

Remember kids, not checking you blood is not big or clever!

My Diabetes Statistics

I record everything related to my diabetes. Everything. I have a spreadsheet that I record it all in which I update every night. My records go right back to 2008 when I started properly testing again after a period of darkness. I was on MDI back then but I have graduated through carb counting to pump therapy today.

Recently I have been updating my spreadsheet to pull out some facts and figures over the last year. I need to use this information to improve my control but it has shown me some surprising numbers from last year. The two that I find most fascinating are that I did 2,683 blood glucose tests and, slightly disturbing, I ate 124,669g of carbs! That’s 125kg. Of Carbs! Wow. To put this into some context I am 2 metres tall and I weigh about approx 94kg. Although when I write this it doesn’t make it seem any better.

I class a hyper as a blood glucose of 12 or over and a hypo as a blood glucose of less than 4. Of the 2,683 bg tests I did 474 were hypers and 114 where hypos. I am pleased with the number of hypos as although this is still high I have improved this since November and I have only had 15 from 01 Nov until today. My hypers are something that I am going to have to work on though.

By posting this I can already see that I need to gather some more stats from my spreadsheet (no of corrections, no of tests in range, standard deviation, a nice pie chart, total insulin dose & total basal & total bolus) but, more importantly, I can also see where I need to focus my efforts to improve my control.

For me this level of data collection works, despite the effort, and I would love to hear how you collect your data and what you do with it.

 

PS. My biggest month was September 2014 when I ate 546g of carbs in one day!

Bruce, my inseparable buddy.

Bruce is my inseparable buddy and we have been together for just over two and a half years. Bruce is my insulin pump which I received after I changed from Multiple Daily Injections (MDI) to pump therapy in August 2012. I had been struggling with MDI for several years to the point that I was on 5 injections a day but still having problems with unexplained hypos and hypers. My Health Care Professional (HCP) had mentioned an insulin pump to me and I had immediately dismissed the idea because I didn’t want to be attached to something all the time.

But we reached the end of the line with what we could do on MDI and my HCP said to me the only course of action was to stick with my current MDI regime and wait for a new insulin to be developed that might help. She said there was something on the horizon but it was at least a year away, so I asked for some more info about an insulin pump.

The decision

I had not quickly changed my mind and decided to try to get a pump but I wanted to see if and how it could help me improve my control. I was given some brochures for Animas, Medtronic and Accu-Chek to take away with me. I studied them intently during my holiday, talked it through with my wife as it would impact on her too, and decided to take the plunge. I would like to say that I weighed up the pros and cons and listed them out, considered the long-term benefits and improvements it could deliver in my blood sugar control, thought about the effort I would need to put in to get that improvement in my control, discussed it at length with my wife to ensure we both understood the implications of a pump on our relationship, but I didn’t.

I did discuss it with my wife and thought about the pros and cons but I didn’t spend a long time deliberating over it. I think partly because there was nothing else to do on MDI and also I think I was wowed by the technology factor, as I am a geek. Ultimately I chose the Accu-Chek Combo, partly because I was already using an Accu-Chek Expert meter but mainly because I would be able to control the pump entirely from the meter. I wouldn’t have to use the meter then separately use the pump to administer the insulin. I would be able to leave it entirely under my clothes and not touch it all day long. This was the biggest selling point for me as I really dislike the idea of having to access the pump after using the meter to give myself my bolus.

So I had decided, I was going to get an insulin pump.

I will blog about moving onto my pump in my next post but I would be really interested in hearing your pump decision stories.

The Type 1 Astronomer.

The Highs and Lows of a professional Type 1 Diabetic

This is a quick post to show some information I have gathered from the data that I have recorded for my diabetes control. It shows how many hypos (less than 4.0) and hypers (more than 12.0) for the months this year.

Highs and Lows
Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Hypos 7 15 8 6 12 3 4
Hypers 40 27 32 37 30 26 65

There is clearly still some work for me to do to address the large number of highs I am getting. This concerns me more than the lows as reducing the highs will bring my HbA1c down, which can only be a good thing. I have not done this before and not shared this with anyone else so I am interested to hear if you think these figures are good, about right, or bad compared to you.

Updated on 15/03/15.

I have added in the remaining years figures following final updating of the master spreadsheet.

What would you do in the Zombie Apocalypse?

When I watch films like Zombieland and 28 days later my mind wanders, after the film obviously, to what I would do should the zombies rise up and take over the world. This thought is also inspired by the freedom of information question that asked if Leicester City Council had a zombie readiness plan. You can see a follow up question to Leicester City Council here. To be honest I haven’t come up with an action plan (yet) but I suspect that I would be pretty useless really. After a little bit of zombie hacking (with an axe of course) or running away I would have huge hypo and need to sit down for a bit to recover. This is where they will get me! Either that or the stress and adrenaline would give me a huge hyper and I’d need to keep stopping to wee. This is also where they would get me!

I intended this post to have a bit of humour in it but there are some serious issues that arise from this situation. My wife and I are pretty good at hording toilet rolls and crisps in the event of a zombie apocalypse but I don’t have a stash of diabetic supplies that would keep me going for a long time. In the worst case scenario here the zombies could take out the power grid and that would be the end of my insulin, unless it was mid winter and I could store it outside somewhere, and it would be the end of me.

But back to the lighter side of the zombie apocalypse. I would hope that my diabetes behaves like the zombie curse and they become infected with type 1 diabetes. At least I will have caused them some trouble in return. Diabetic Zombies.

How do you identify yourself as having Type 1 Diabetes?

Over the last 12 to 18 months I have become much more overt in showing that I have type 1 diabetes. I have never been ashamed or embarrassed but I had no outward identification that I was. I have always had a card in my wallet and a medi-tag necklace but unless I showed you or you looked you would not have known. About 18 months ago the latest copy of balance came through and I looked through the shop catalogue and saw these:

In previous years I have worn a Movember wristband so I thought why not wear one to show that I have type 1 diabetes? It didn’t take me long before I had order several of each and after a few days they arrived through the post. Initially I was a bit nervous about wearing them; would people ask me about them? about being a type 1 diabetic? or any of the silly questions that come from not knowing anything about the condition? It turns out that only one person asked me about them and that was how long had I been wearing them! I needn’t have worried at all. I wear them in a specific way on my right wrist with the words readable to someone who shakes my right hand. I like to think it is a subtle indication that if I start pulling out my blood meter or eating randomly in meetings or when out and about the person will know that it is somehow related to my diabetes.

The medical ID wristband is available in several colours and wear the purple one above when in the UK along with the dark blue supporter wristband. When I went to the US last year I didn’t wear the supporter wristband and I changed the medical ID wristband to a red one, which I thought was far more overt. The people I was visiting already knew that I had diabetes as I had to let them know I had a pump so again, no questions were asked.

With the introduction of iOS8 by apple they are making a push in the Health market with the introduction of their Health App, but I think more importantly they have introduced a Medical ID button to the Emergency dealing keypad available on a locked phone. Information is populated from within the Health App and available to anyone. Obviously I have filled mine with the relevant information relating to having diabetes and coeliac diseases. It is not the most straight forward button to find on the iPhone having to go through several screens to get there but as far as I can see it can only help me should something happen.

Medical ID on Apple iOS8.
Medical ID on Apple iOS8.

Recently though I have bought more gadgets and technology to help having seen an advert for Tap2Tag wristbands that use NFC technology. Having done a very quick internet search I decided to buy a few items and this is what arrived through the post yesterday:

By scanning the items with an NFC capable phone you will be taken to a website where you can enter the unique ID code on each item (I have blanked out my code in the red box on the medical ID card). This will then show you a general message available to anyone who enters your code. The person scanning can then log in through several social media applications (Facebook, Google etc) and see a more detailed medical profile for you along with more information. This login is also recorded on your account so that you can see who looked at your information should you wish to check afterwards. If you don’t have and NFC capable phone then you can go to the website detailed on both items and enter the code manually taking into the same process as above. I hope I never find myself in a situation where this is necessary but I provides me with a level of confidence that people will be able to take appropriate action should I be in a state where I am unable to communicate with them. The medical ID card is now in my wallet and I will wear the wristband on my left wrist, again with the words readable for someone stood in front of me.

My last form of ID is the medi-tag necklace which has a telephone number with UK dealing code, my unique ID number and the statement that I am an insulin dependant diabetic on it. The telephone number is monitored 24/7 and run in conjunction with an NHS trust so my information is safe and secure and that the person on the phone will know what to do in the case of an emergency. It requires a yearly subscription, but for me this brings peace of mind that the is a real person on the end of a phone who could help and give direction should some one need to call them.

As you can see, I have quite a few ways of identifying myself as having Type 1 Diabetes and I have become much more confident and overt in my sharing that I have Type 1 Diabetes. It may seem like overkill but one day it could be one of these items that stops me getting into a life threatening situation. I have shown you how I identify myself, how do you identify yourself?

 

PS. I am not in any way being paid or benefitting at all from any of the companies that I have mentioned above by writing this post. I am also not providing them any endorsement as a result of this post.

The Type 1 Astronomer

My name is Chris and I have Type 1 Diabetes. I have created this blog to share some of my experiences living with this condition and the challenges I have faced and overcome. I was diagnosed when I was 17, on a Friday and I have been on injections up until I moved onto a pump in August 2012. I will post my diagnosis story on a separate page but suffice to say I was not too young when I was diagnosed and I have challenged and beaten my Type 1 Diabetes many times over the years. 18 months ago I was also diagnosed with Coeliac disease but I was fortunate not to have any severe symptoms.

I am an amateur astronomer and I am studying for a BSc (Hons) Astronomy in my spare time. I blog about astronomy here but I didn’t like the thought of blogging about Type 1 Diabetes in the same place so I created this blog instead. I have recently discovered the Diabetes Online Community (#doc) via Twitter which has inspired me to start blogging about my Type 1 Diabetes. I hope to become a small part of the Great Britain Diabetes Online Community (#GBdoc) and inspire other Type 1 Diabetics to challenge their condition and never let it stop them from doing what they want to in life.

I plan to blog weekly about my experience of managing the various aspects of Type 1 Diabetes as well as some of the things that I have achieved despite it. I look forward hearing from you and I hope you are inspired to challenge your Type 1 Diabetes too.

The Type 1 Astronomer.