Friends as Health Care Professionals

Writing a massive post to compensate for three months of nothing. Sorry team, life is crazy.

I’m at that age now where most of my friends have graduated university/are in their final year.

More than half of my friends have gone into healthcare – nursing mostly, but there are some physios, dietitians, doctors, and paramedics sprinkled throughout there as well. I like to bluff my way through conversations with their uni friends and see how long it takes them to figure out that I’m not a nurse or dietitian #diabetesperks.

In the past four years, it’s been really interesting to watch how people that I have been friends with for years have gradually reacted to my diabetes. When I was diagnosed, it was the last year of high school and we were all too focused on getting into uni. It fell into the background, thank god.

But I can always tell now when they’ve had a lecture on something that involves diabetes, or had a patient with diabetes, because the next time they see me their eyes will widen, they’ll grab my hand, and say something like “Please look after yourself, we saw a diabetic foot infection and I nearly spewed”.

There are fantastic parts to this – a friend I’ve known since I was 4 years old is finishing up her nursing degree, and she’ll blurt out things like “I saw someone with kidney failure today, I love you, please keep plugging away at those BGLs” then give me a massive hug. One of my best friends is a physio – she keeps Diet Coke/Coke Zero in her fridge at all times for me, texts me when yet another blood test strip turns up under her sofa cushion, and will expertly steer a conversation with other HCP friends away from the ‘exciting’ topic of t1d and pregnancy if I am in the room (it scares me). My friends know about the basics* – I don’t have to try and explain why I’m acting weird if my blood sugar is low, they’ll just throw me a juice box and continue chatting, which is 100% perfect!

I feel like I’m in a really fortunate position, because I can influence how my friends interact with their patients as healthcare professionals – they KNOW me, I am a person to them, and so when they walk into a room and their patient has type 1 diabetes, I’d like to think they have that little bit of extra empathy. My friends have seen me hypo, they’ve seen the pump and injection bruises on my stomach, and they know that it’s a disease that’s not to be joked about. They call their other HCP friends out for me, they’re amazing. What’s more, they always want to learn – they ask me about my diabetes in general, about my carb counting,  how temp basals work. and I love it. To my knowledge, they’ve always aced the questions on exams about diabetes! 

However, there are crap parts to this as well. It’s not my friends, it’s their friends. Remember what I said about bluffing my way through nursing talks? Yeah, having HCP friends gives you an insight into how other nurses, doctors etc. talk about patients. I totally understand they need to blow off steam – hell, the shit they have to put up with (figuratively AND literally) is insane, they do an incredible job. But hearing nurses make fat diabetes jokes is only fun when I pull my meter out and watch them squirm uncomfortably and say “But we didn’t mean YOU”.

I find med students are the worst though – not so much joking about the patients, but thinking that they know everything. I was sitting with some friends at uni in first year, and there were some of their friends there who I didn’t know. I pulled my meter out to test, and without even asking, one of them leaned over, looked at my BGL and went “That’s pretty high, you should really be taking care of yourself better”… my BGL was in the 9s… WTF BUDDY YOU HAVE BEEN IN MED SCHOOL FOR THE GRAND TOTAL OF 8 WEEKS STFU.

Saying that though, I am so lucky to be in the position where I can influence future healthcare professionals just by being their friend and happening to have type 1 diabetes. I am lucky to have friends like I do, that are fantastic healthcare professionals but also fantastic friends. If you live in Australia and end up in hospital, where a nurse doesn’t tell you off for a 8.5, or stands up to the doctor when they insist you disconnect and go onto a sliding scale of insulin even though you’re only in to get your wisdom teeth out, they’re probably one of my friends.


*not just my HCP friends, I have some other non HCP friends who are fantastic, shout out to Dais, Corks, and all the girls I lived with in the UK. x

Diabetes Blog Week – Poetry Tuesday

This year, Diabetes Blog Week and TuDiabetes are teaming up to bring out the poet in you! Write a poem, rhyme, ballad, haiku, or any other form of poetry about diabetes. After you’ve posted it on your blog, share it on the No Sugar Added® Poetry page on TuDiabetes, and read what others have shared there as well!

Poetry Tuesday? I’m no poet – but I am a massive Disney fan. Technically a Disney song counts as a ballad right? Definitely. Frozen is my current obsession, so I’ve decided to take one of my favourite songs, that I may or may not know completely by heart, (“For the FIrst Time in Forever” – video is here) and change it up a bit. This is super lame, I apologise in advance – it’s about the time I discovered the best lancet in the world (Accu-Chek Softclix, you all need it) and the FreeStyle Lite strips that only take a tiny sample. It’s the little things that count when you test up to 8 times a day, it really is.

The Xceed strip wants more blood, more more more
I didn’t know they did that anymore
Who knew my strips drank blood like I drink tea?
For years I’ve squeezed my fingers dry
Once I squirted myself in the eye
Finally FreeStyle is listening to me

These new ones only take a drop
Just one squeeze is totally strange
But wow, am I so ready for this change!

‘Cause for the first time in forever
My fingers don’t feel numb
For the first time in forever
I don’t have to use my thumb

Don’t know if I’m elated or gassy
But I’m somewhere in that zone
‘Cause for the first time in forever
My lancet won’t hit the bone


Tonight imagine me gowned and all
Fetchingly draped against the wall
The picture of sophisticated grace
Ooh! I suddenly feel faint, I hit the floor
Turns out my level is 1.4
I wanna stuff some chocolate in my face

But my fingers aren’t still bleeding
Which is totally bizarre
Nothing like the life I’ve led so far

For the first time in forever
Testing my levels doesn’t sting
For the first time in forever
There’s not blood on everything

And I know it is totally crazy
To not hate testing my bloods
But for the first time in forever
My blood test strips aren’t duds

[Freestyle InsuLinx meter:]
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Your levels are crap, they’re just for you and me
Conceal, don’t feel, put on a show
If you scull water like that everyone will know

 But it’s only for today

[Me:] It’s only for today

[Meter:] Just eat the damn sponge cake
[Me:] Eat the damn sponge cake

[Meter] Diabetes doesn’t exist when it is your birthday
[Me:] BIRTHDAYYYYYY

[Me:] For the first time in forever
[Meter:] Don’t let them in, don’t let them see

[Me:] I’m getting what I’m dreaming of
[Meter:] Be the good diabetic you always have to be

[Me:] A chance to heal my sore fingers
[Meter:] Conceal

[Me:] A chance to feel normal
[Meter:] Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

[Me:]
I know this feeling won’t last forever,
So it has to be today
‘Cause for the first time in forever
For the first time in forever
This meter’s here to stay!

 

Image

me looking at my destroyed fingers after being assaulted by a hospital style disposable lancet

 

 

What I miss

(Post idea taken from Renza)

I’ve only had diabetes for four years. If my diabetes was a child, I wouldn’t be able to read, tie my shoelaces or plait my hair. I’m a diabetes baby, and as weird as it may seem to me now, I’ve lived the majority of my life without this stupid disease. I never really sit back and reflect on my pre-diabetes life, as it hurts too much and feels like I’m purposely putting myself in pain, but I thought it was a good idea to delve into that part of myself that I always push down and try to ignore.

What do I miss?

  • I miss my emotions being JUST emotions, not something that will affect my blood sugars and result in more guilt, on top of the stress/worry/sadness I’m already feeling.
  • I miss being able to exercise without doing a 12 step equation in my head to figure out basal rates.
  • I miss not being connected to a machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • I miss my old stomach, thighs and hips. They weren’t full of bruises, scars and insulin lumps – I could rock a bikini without people asking me if I had been in a fight.
  • I miss walking around completely naked ;) #pumpersgetit
  • I miss being able to eat with strangers and not having to deal with people freaking out whenever they see the blood on my finger or the syringe I’m using.
  • I miss sick days just being sick days – no ketones, no high BGLs.
  • I miss the easy assumption that having kids will be straightforward.
  • I miss being able to eat when I want to, not when my blood says I can or can’t.
  • I miss feeling safe in a hospital. I know more than the nurses and most of the doctors about my diabetes, and that is a terrifying feeling. I had a nurse nearly give me 30u of NovoRapid because she thought it was long acting… (RAPID!! HOW DOES RAPID IMPLY LONG ACTING?!) I have to stand up for myself the entire time and that sucks.
  • I miss going out with a tiny bag.
  • I miss not basing my self esteem on my diabetes control (I’m working on this)
  • I miss my life not revolving around numbers – weight, food, bgls, bloods, averages…
  • I miss the lack of guilt – guilty because of the money I cost my parents. Guilt for future kids if they ever get diabetes. Guilt over my numbers.
  • I miss going to bed and knowing 100% that there is no risk of dying in my sleep.
  • Most of all? I miss the freedom. Diabetes is always there. It’s there when I’m doing an important uni presentation and my sugars shoot up to 23 (thanks stress). It will be there on my wedding day, the day I have a child, at the funerals of my parents – it never leaves, and I can never have a break. What did I think about before diabetes…what was in my head?!

Diabetes has brought a lot of amazing people and experiences into my life, but if you could wave a magic wand and take it away from me forever, I would be first in line. I HATE it, like I’ve never hated anything before. My life is great, but I can clearly remember life before it, and it sucks to have tasted that life. This may seem like a pity party post, but I think I’m allowed to mourn my old life sometimes. I’m a realist – diabetes sucks, it doesn’t matter how pretty they make the pump covers or blood test meters, it sucks. Don’t pity us, but understand that it’s not easy. 

Diabetes NINJA

(Sorry for the lack of posts, I’ve been overseas on an intense study placement and didn’t have time to breathe!)

So I’ve recently started cheerleading! I thought it was time to stop watching “Bring It On” on repeat and try it out before I get too old.

It was my second training tonight, and I’ve been wearing my pump clipped to my sports bra like I do in dance and calisthenics. I thought that would be ok…IT WAS NOT OK.

So we’re doing jumps, and we’re doing a “herkie”, which looks like this.

Image

We’re on a spring floor, and I got really excited because I’ve spent the best part 18 years on hard floorboards! The coach shouts “and 1,2,3,4″, I jump ridiculously enthusiastically and MY PUMP GOES FLYING.

OUT OF MY BRA, HITS ME ON THE FACE, THEN OUT TOWARDS THE FLOOR.

For about a millisecond it dangled there, somewhere near my crotch (shout out to Animas Inset IIs for staying stuck to my belly even when it was dangling completely unsupported). As I came down, I grabbed it with the hand that wasn’t up near my head and stuffed it back into my bra, cleanly snapping back to “8!”, with no-one the wiser.

I don’t want to brag, but I felt as cool as this dude. 

ImageNinja diabetic, at your service.

Moral of the story, pump is coming OFF for cheerleading! 

Body image issues for people with diabetes can’t be ignored

Body image issues for people with diabetes can’t be ignored.

This is the article I wrote for Diabetes Australia Vic. I think you’ve all seen it anyway, but I wanted a record of it on my blog too :)

Thank you so much for all your kind comments on Facebook, so many people have said they had no idea about these kinds of issues for people with diabetes, so I think the aim of increasing awareness of this issue is slowly being achieved!

Weighty matters

GeorgieP:

Renza has said this better than I ever could.

Originally posted on Diabetogenic:

Yesterday as I skimmed a few news sites and social media sites, I came across endless diets, weight loss fads and a downright disturbing article about ‘bikini bridges’ which, it appears, is the latest in ‘thinspiration’ trends (we’ve moved on from the thigh gap, apparently).  I caught up on a piece about ‘diabulemia’ and thought about how diabetes adds an extra degree of difficulty to all things – even eating disorders.

The relationship between weight, food and diabetes is so complex and confusing. We’re told to maintain our weight to remain healthy (or prevent developing type 2 diabetes in the first place); we’re told to manage our cholesterol for heart health; we’re told that certain foods are taboo; we’re told we need to eat at certain times to prevent lows; we’re told we should eat a lot of carbs/not too many carbs (depending on who you listen to today); we’re…

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Resolutions…sort of.

I’m a Bridget Jones when it comes New Years Resolutions. I firmly believe they should start on the second of January, and I usually break them on the third, with excuses like “it’s still 2013 somewhere. v. good effort.”

So, learning from my past experiences, this year I have decided to set little (a.k.a. achievable) diabetes related goals. No huge ones, like GET YOUR A1C DOWN TO 5.5. Just ones that I’ll be able to tackle slowly.

Resolution One: Stop making up your numbers.
I’m a shocker. I will test before breakfast, then usually not test again, or maybe test once, until dinner. I’m always on the go in the middle of the day, my tester is always buried at the bottom of my massive bag, so I usually have a thought process like “Well I was 8 this morning and I had vegemite toast but it was white bread so I’m probs like 12.” I need to respect my health enough to take 20 seconds to test. The world will not end.

Resolution Two: Remove yourself from food talk and do what is best for you
Low carb, no carb, schmo carb. I’ve spent the past 3 years walking through an environment which is constantly triggering, and to tell the truth I don’t particularly care. I eat like a normal person, and I will continue to just carry on eating a balanced diet. I will not weigh my food, cut out fruit ‘because of all that sugar’ (FFS! Biggest pet peeve right there!) or stay below 50g of carbs a day, because that shit is triggering, and I would rather be healthily rolling through life than end up sick.

Resolution Three: Don’t push yourself through hypos.
This year, I’m not going to say “I’m fine!” while trying to keep it together at 2.7. People know I’m diabetic, it’s not like a low blood sugar is a surprise. Hey, it might even be educational for them to see me not looking 100%…sit down, treat, and just accept that you can’t control your body all the time.

I’m looking forward to this year – I’ve found a great group of people to start up an organisation for diabetics with eating disorders in Australia and New Zealand, I’m in my last year of my undergraduate degree, and I’m much more confident in telling people to f*** right off if they feel the need to comment on my diabetes. Here’s to 2014.