A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing… By Victoria Bartlett




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GIFT blue logo copy 2 Life and Disorder – Living with Gastroparesis by Victoria Bartlett

I am stuck in a waiting room, not in the literal sense, although I have been lately on a couple of appointments. No I am counting down to my first operation on 1st August this is a surgical Jejunostomy and is basically a feeding tube that bypasses the top of my bowel and means I can be fed through my stomach without throwing up hopefully. I pray for two things, one that the operation goes ahead and second I get put in one of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital numerous side rooms on my own, as I once ended up sleeping one night in the relatives room, drip stand and all but that’s another story.

I have had a good patch lately, so it enabled me and his Lordship (husband) to go down to Edgbaston, to watch some cricket – Warwickshire Bears playing in the Nat West 20/20 Blast. I was touched that Ms H, who works for the club, had done some search into Gasroparesis (GP) to see if there was anything they could do to make my visit more comfortable. It was interesting hear what information the Internet had thrown up.

When I was diagnosed with Diabetes, I came across Diabetes UK, I found all the information I needed, including the wonderful telephone help line. With GP it was a totally different experience, there were brief mentions on health pages but no major resource. The biggest resource was Facebook where I found over 12 forums promising to help: “Laugh with GP”; “Cope with GP”; Survive with GP. Most of these appeared to be closed forums, so you have to apply for membership, which means only other members of the forum can see your posts.
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Diabetes Ambassador By Helen May


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I have already mentioned that I have a new job. Before starting, I wanted to take a break, get away from normality and enjoy some fresh air. Unfortunately, my boyfriend was unable to join me so I decided to go on one of the group walking holidays that I used to join when I was single. I booked late so there was not too much to choose from once I restricted the dates and applied my “only places where I did not know anyone else to have visited” filter. So, at the end of last month, I found myself on a minibus with 16 strangers heading for the Rodopi Mountains in Bulgaria bouncing around narrow, windy roads to a hotel in a small village where every house owned a cow.

After being assigned a room mate (a lovely farmer’s wife who I had never met before and hadn’t spotted on the minibus), it was time to experience Bulgarian food. But more importantly, it was time to meet my fellow intrepid hikers. The conversations started as they usually did on these trips, discussing where we’d been before. I guess it was all we knew we had in common. For some this became an opportunity (not necessarily, intentionally) to boast so I was glad when our leader interrupted to introduce herself to the group. This was followed by a round table introduction.
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Speed boats and oil tankers

My ups and downs have been a little more up and down of late (read for most of this year, it’s still early Spring, right?). Not exactly disastrous, but I’ve not really managed to ever get anything into any kind of groove for more than a week at a time. A bit wearying to say the least.

Part of me knows the best way to improve things is to go back to basics and do some fasting basal tests and tweak my basal profiles based on actual information rather than the (un)educated guesswork I’ve been relying on for a while. Another part of me is having enormous difficulty summoning up any enthusiasm, since I know that the summer holidays are coming and I’m likely to stop going to the gym for a couple of months which will have a knock-on effect in itself.

So I’m spending my time grumbling and hurrumphing instead (my family are so lucky!).

On the plus side it does give me a chance to jot down this analogy that I’ve been meaning to for some time. It’s something that usually strikes me when my BG levels are a bit errant, and insulin and food are just not playing nicely.

When it comes to trying to balance the effects of food and insulin on blood glucose levels (well and everything else.. but specifically food and insulin), one thing that makes it very tricky is the difference in the speed of action of carbohydrate and insulin. It’s not enough to accurately match the dose of insulin to the amount of carbohydrate you are eating – you have to try to ensure that the two act more or less together to reduce BG wobbliness (technical term).

Almost all carbohydrate is very much in the speedboat class. Fans of glycaemic index tables (GI) might agonise over whether something is high GI, medium GI or low GI, but in my experience the differences equate to something being ‘almost instantaneous’, ‘really very fast indeed’ or only ‘very fast’. Not a great deal of protection against the ravages of a post-meal spike, either physiologically, or that emotional kick in the guts of seeing your levels rise from a decent pre-meal number well into double figures an hour or so later. From the very first mouthful those big outboards start roaring and the carbs go zipping and zooming about, gleefully spraying glucose in their wake.

Insulin, on the other hand – even the fancy schmancy ‘rapid acting’ analogues can seem painfully slow to get going. More like one of those behemothic oil tankers or container ships. With a great groaning and clanking, the thrum of the plunger on an insulin pen or pump delivers the dose and then… Nothing. Watch and wait. Is it an illusion? Is it actually moving yet? Nope. Still can’t see anything happening.

Vooooom! Swish! The carbs go tearing past again. Running rings around the slumbering giant.

This is particularly the case for me when I am waiting for a correction dose to kick in. I’ve had to stop myself from checking post-correction BGs before an hour has elapsed. Any less than that and the chances are my BG will be almost unchanged. An hour! Thanks Novo Turgid – not exactly breakneck.

Of course… one of the things about an oil tanker is that once it is moving, there’s not a lot you can do about it. All those stories about them needing however many hundred nautical miles to slow down or turn a corner. And so it can feel with rapid insulins.

Nothing… nothing… nothing… Ah good, movement! Good… All good, back into range. Right that’s enough now thanks… STOOOOOOOOOP!

But on and on, the dose lumbers forward – an unstoppable force. All-ahead full. The tanker has now run straight over those speedboats crushing them to matchwood and we could very well be steering directly toward Port Hypo.

Corrections can be a tricky course to navigate. Artoo (my pump) tries to help by offering a suggestion of ‘Active insulin’ – how much dose is still working away, but there are *many* variables to factor into that equation. Sadly I find Artoo’s attempts to be the vaguest of indications at best, and often wildly inappropriate to the particular circumstances of the moment.

Patience is the skill I have to master. I am always trying to remind myself that while the spike in my blood glucose levels may have happened in only 45 minutes or so, the insulin correction will only have stopped after something like 4 or 5 hours. If I get impatient and overcorrect in the meantime I am likely to cause myself another problem (and more wobbles) by overdoing it.

Aye aye, Cap’n.

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Swimming Uphill By Andy Broomhead




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Whilst on holiday recently, we decided to take my daughter to an waterpark.  There were three entry options: pay for two hours, pay for 4 hours or pay for a full day.  Now a full day was out of the question anyway so I was psyching myself up for a 2 hour slog with a load of screaming kids when the heavens opened outside.  “Let’s do 4 hours instead” suggested my wife “we can’t go to the beach in this rain”.

As you might have seen from some of my other posts, I’ve got a big soapbox I like to stand on sometimes and extol the virtues of how much easier it’s been to control my diabetes since I switched to a pump.  (A pump which I have to return before Christmas as my clinical trial ends *sob*).  But for all those amazing benefits, there is one thing that remains my nemesis – swimming!

Being disconnected from the pump for a little while makes me anxious. Continue reading

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What matters to me? – By Helen Nurse




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What matters to me is that my daughter lives a full, healthy and happy life and is not limited by her Diabetes.

What matters to me is that within the confines of this unpredictable disease I have an element of control. That I am able to educate myself and my family to make the best decisions for Daisy.

What matters to me is to be able to say to her when she is older that I did everything I could to best look after her and to ensure she got the medical support she needed.

And what matters to me is to be able to say to others that I not only care and speak for my child but for each and every one of the 26,000 children in the UK with type 1. Including those children with parents who cannot stand up, speak out, ask for better, or question their care. They should get the same quality of care that my daughter gets, not just because I can ask questions and challenge practises, but because they are offered this.

You see as parents and families of children with type 1 we are unified. And I think we each have an equal right to the same high quality care and treatment regardless of where we live.

So that’s what matters to me and many, many other parents in our position. So what would help? Let’s start with the medical support…..
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