Christmas Quiz – by Helen May


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It’s that time of year where the newspapers are full of puzzles and quizzes. So why can’t we have our own quiz? Although, of course, this one is different: I don’t know the answers.

There’s lots of information available about diabetes: how to handle diabetes; what treatment we should expect; what’s the difference between type and type 2 diabetes; how to prepare for holidays, child birth, exercise, … But I still keep coming up with questions that I have no answers to. To be honest, I don’t need the answers; it’s just I have never grown out of the childish habit of asking “why?” all the time.

So for this post, I thought I’d form these questions into the Diabetes Christmas Quiz. I may get some answers, they may resonate with the readers of this blog, or I may just get them off my chest…

1. When my blood glucose readings are high, I need to reduce the sugar in my blood with insulin. So why do I have a craving for sugary biscuits when I’m hyper?

2. I always use a new needle when I inject, I always pinch when I inject, I always inject straight into my flesh (never through fabric) and I usually inject around my waist (occasionally in my leg if I am wearing a dress). So why do I sometimes bleed and sometimes get a huge bruise (a bruise about 1 inch round is huge compared to the size of the needle) but most of the time I don’t have any reaction? More importantly, how can I avoid the bruises?

3. I know Santa’s red coat was invited by Coca Cola. But who decided Rudolph should have a red nose?

4. I usually wake when I have a hypo at night. But why do I sometimes not wake? What is different about the nights when I sleep through?

5. When I have high blood glucose, as well as feeling hungry, I also feel tired, lethargic, lacking in energy. So why do I find it so difficult to get to sleep with a reading higher than 8 mmol/l?

6. Knowing I’m not likely to have a break during a meeting with a customer, I take a blood glucose measurement before the meeting starts. Why do I splatter blood over my clothes only when I’m about to meet important customers and I’m wearing a white shirt?

7. If Santa has diabetes, how much insulin would he need to take to account for all the mince pies left out beside the chimneys as he delivers presents?

8. When I asked my mother if there is any history of diabetes I my family, the closest relation she could come up with is a great aunt who is not a blood relative. So why did I contract Type 1 diabetes? More importantly, what made me (and others like me) at risk and how could we avoid diabetes?

9. In the cold weather, my extremities get very cold so it’s difficult to extract any blood from my fingers. What’s the best way to get blood flowing through my fingers when I need to test after building a snowman?

10. Some people have needle phobias and avoid being near me when I inject. But why are some people drawn to the needle and can’t stop themselves watching?

11. Reading about other people’s experience with diabetes, I realise how lucky I am with my awareness: not only do I get the dizzy, headache, lack of focus feeling when I have a hypo. I can also feel when I have a hyper. What is it that makes a hyper exaggerate any aches, pains, sniffs, sore throat, …?

12. There has been a lot of publicity recently about the new EU regulations affecting driving licenses and diabetes. Are there similar limitations for people suffering from other conditions?

13. When I am ill, my blood glucose is often higher than usual. When my blood glucose is high, I feel ill. Is becoming a pin cushion, the only way to work out whether I feel rubbish because I am ill rather than because my blood glucose is too high?

14. Diabetes UK always has some great Christmas cards. However, apart from the logo on the back, it is not obvious the card supports the charity. What sort of picture could we have on a Diabetes UK Christmas card that represents diabetes and Christmas? Finger pricking with holly?

15. I calculate how much insulin to take based on carb counting. I love sushi. Apart from memorising every plate I’ve eaten, is there any easy rule of thumb to use for counting carbs per plate when eating sushi?

16. Turkey is traditional for Christmas dinner with Christmas pudding and mince pies for dessert. Why is there no obvious traditional British Christmas starter?

17. If I sleep through I hypo, I wake up feeling like I have the worst hangover ever. Is it possible to reclaim any of the” evening before a hangover” fun, when I have a night time hypo?

18. I have red hair. I remember the other Helen mentioning in one of her blogs she also has red hair. Is there a strong correlation between diabetes and any hair colour?

19. Pantomimes are a very traditional part of the British Christmas. Why do pantomimes always feature a man dressed as a woman and a woman dressed as a man?

20. Most people contract Type 1 diabetes when a child. Some like me, contract diabetes in their adulthood. Does the age at which diagnosed affect their life span after diagnosis?

21. Am I the only person with all these questions?

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Question 1:
the cells which give you the sugar craving don’t have access to the high glucose as it is locked in your blood until the insulin comes along. Since your brain doesnt need insulin to get to the glucose, the cells that create the craving will be somewhere other than your brain… such as your gut…!!!

Question 2: if it’s rare, then it’s probably because you happened to hit a tiny blood vessel bang on! If it becomes more often, then see your doctor to have your blood checked for possible clotting disorders.

Question 3: he forgot to buy Beachams that week

Question 4: Good question…

Question 5: The brain doesn’t need insulin to get to the glucose, so although your body is weak (as it needs insulin to get access to the sugar in your blood), your brain is swimming in sugar, like a kid at a party!!!

Question 6: commonly known as “sod’s law!”

Question 7: ho ho hondreds of units!

Question 8: The tendency can run in families, but theory suggests that a bout of viral illness may play a part in kick-starting the process. It is your own immune system which attacks the insulin-producing cells. The hows and whys are in the minds of all the scientists – let’s hope they get to the bottom of it.

Question 9: Try running your hands under warm water, or throwing warm mince pies, instead of snow balls!!! Battery-operated heating gloves are always a possibility!

Question 10: It’s fascinating – probably more interesting when you don’t have to suffer the pain of it, though!

Question 11: The nervous system doesn’t need insulin to get access to the glucose in your blood – maybe that’s why your nervous system seems a bit wired!

Question 12: There are restrictions for people with epilepsy, sleep disturbances, visual impairments… and many more

Question 13: What a pain! Being unwell decreases your responsiveness to insulin (makes you more insulin resistant) – so your usual dose might still result in high blood sugars. Difficult to tell if you are only ill for a short time, which one came first! What about taking your temp to give you more clues?

Question 20: good question! I suppose “life span” in diabetes is more related to how well controlled it is, rather than how long you have it for. Although, the longer you have it, the more time you have to be exposed to poorly controlled diabetes… hmmm

Question 21: I think your questions are great!!!!

Great blog! Lets hope your questions about how type 1 diabetes is contracted, and life span after diagnosis can be answered and soon by new research. In the meantime I thought I’d help out with your less serious questions.

Q 9 – This will warm up your fingers in a jiffy; sneak behind your spouse/friend/sibling, stick your hands up their jumper and apply to skin.

Q 14 – perhaps some reference to your point in Q 7 might liven up the Christmas cards?

Q 16 – copious amounts of sweets seem to be my family’s traditional starter.

Hope this helps – merry Christmas!