Camp, TWD style 

TWD

Teacher with Diabetes.

There are little things I never thought about when studying to be a teacher, and this is one of them – who knew school camps were such a pain in the ass when they’re not diabetes camps? What do you mean, there’s no hypo bag? I have to remember that I’m no use to anyone if I’m careening around at 2.4! Having diabetes when you’re a teacher is very doable, but by god it requires planning!

I’m off on a 3 day surf camp tomorrow with our gorgeous year 10s, and what with the constant activity and 38 degree forecast, hypos (especially heat hypos – hello darkness my old friend) are most probably on the horizon…so this is my Sunday night (PSA, Starburst are $1 each at Coles, get on it). 

Most other teachers spend the night before a camp getting into bed early and remembering to pack sunscreen, I spend my Sunday night sorting hypo servings into gladbags.

I’m hoping that I don’t hypo badly in the next few days (let’s be real, with my heat hypo record it’s impossible to ask for none!) – here’s to stuffing 5 bags of lollies down my wetsuit and hoping for the best. Nothing like a salt water soaked jelly baby to get your BGLs up. 

Tapping out 

World Diabetes Day has slipped under the radar for me this year. Unlike a lot of my diabetes community friends, I don’t work in healthcare or around diabetes. I work in a high school in suburban Melbourne. The only mention of diabetes today was a Year 8 boy calling the lollies I gave out in Period 5 “diabetes”.
Me: “Comment dit ‘lollies’ en français?

Student: “Diabetes!”

Raucous laughter ensued from one half of the class (who have only had me this year) and the other half of the class (who I’ve taught since year 7) looked around nervously. They know me – too well. Normal Ms. Peters would jump on that immediately.
But I’m tired. I’ve intentionally pushed diabetes awareness month to the back of my mind because I’m always bloody aware of my diabetes. It’s in the fifth trip to the loo, the blood on my desk, the jellybeans in my pencil case and the bags under my eyes. Along with French vocabulary and the plot lines of several Netflix series, it hangs out in my brain, not taking centre stage but always jumping in to whisper “you’re 17.3, get your life together”. Additionally, this year is talking about eye complications – call it denial, but I’m scared of mine, and I don’t like acknowledging it. I’m scared of losing my sight, and continuing to see dialogue about it makes me feel sick. I started off ready to social media the hell out of November, but thanks to reports, final assignments, and a shitty hba1c, I’ve hit a wall.
The social media frenzy during diabetes awareness month also seems to highlight and drive in the impression that everyone is doing better than me with their diabetes. I know this isn’t always the case, but seeing graphs with not a single spike above 8 and raves about particular diets send me spiralling into a vortex of self blame. Why can’t I eat low carb without my brain making me restrict? Why do I find it so hard to keep my BGLs stable? Why can’t I seem to do what everyone else is doing??!?!

This year I’m letting my beautiful D tribe carry diabetes awareness month and diabetes day. This year I want to put my diabetes away and only bring it out when needed. Some may call that selfish, but I call it self care. My diabetes management is challenging due to co-occurring conditions, and my focus this diabetes month is on my diabetes. Let’s be real here – if I’m trying my hardest to focus on turning my management around, am I not doing what diabetes awareness month wants? 
This month I’m gently tapping out – unfortunately I need to get little old me back on top before trying to help others. This November I’m saying no. 

PCD

What’s PCD? Post Camp Depression. After each diabetes camp, I come home, do a solo BIG time (Blood Insulin Glucose), and spontaneously burst into tears. I keep racking my brains as to why I’m so sad after each diabetes camp that I do – why do I love these people so much, and what is so special about them?

The people that go on these camps are incredible. We are all there because we love the work – there’s a reason most of us are nurses, HPs, or teachers. There is such an instant bond on these camps with the kids, for many of them it’s the first time they’ve met someone else with type 1, and to see them grow and develop in just one week is amazing.

The conversations you overhear between the campers, and the things that they achieve is fantastic – it’s like one of those great days at work where there’s a lightbulb moment with a student, but those lightbulbs are flashing constantly, for five days, with each new discovery, achievement, and conversation. That’s the thing I missed this year, as my first year as a coordinator….I wasn’t able to have those conversations with the campers, and instead plonked myself on a table with the campers whenever I was able to, to soak up their awesomeness.

Camp is about the campers, but the leaders on there are my family. My camp family love me for me – I don’t have to be anyone but myself; it’s a place where people aren’t suggesting or complaining that my diabetes is a burden. I don’t have a lot of people in my life who understand diabetes, and to have people like Mel test me at night as she gets up to pee because she ‘felt like it’ is weirdly comforting and normal. I don’t have to explain myself on camp – I’m low, we laugh at how I just dropped a burger on myself, someone throws me a hypo treatment, and we move on with our stupid conversation. I feel so loved and cared for, and so normal with these people. I’ve found my tribe and my family.

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That timing though…

Diabetes is quite particular when it decides to f*ck things up.

I guarantee you I will never go low or high when I am sitting at home napping on a Sunday afternoon. My BGLs will start to go insane right at the point where I really need my mind working – parent/teacher interviews, an oral presentation, networking events, in front of rowdy year 8s, on stage…

ON STAGE.

I had State Champs on Sunday night for calisthenics (it’s a weird Australian sport, I go from looking like this… –>

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to this –> ignore my terrible feet and focus on the fabulous feather)

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ANYWAY

I tested before I went on stage – 6.2 – great! As soon as the music started and I hit my pose behind the curtain, I felt myself start to shake and sweat, and instantly knew that I was low. I mumbled “Shit” as the curtain rose, and willed myself to get through the next three minutes.

Being low on stage is not like being low during ‘normal’ sport – on the court, I can just call time, treat my hypo, and watch someone else fill in for me. It doesn’t work like that with dance – I can’t yell “TIME!” at the judge and stumble off while my friends are halfway through a walkover. Technically, I could walk off, but to get disqualified after all that training…combined with hypo brain, all logical thought goes out the window and all you can think is “Get through this”

Thanks to diabetes, my balance was off as I couldn’t see straight, and thus couldn’t hold myself up in any sort of balance. I fell out of my headstand, right onto my back (it’s still aching, good job diabetes) and crouched into what my sister and I call the “ball of shame” until I could pick up the next movement. Those 4 seconds were so long – I could feel my lip wobble as I looked at the floor and willed myself not to cry. Do you know how hard it is to keep dancing on stage when your brain is starved of sugar? REALLY FUCKING HARD. It’s scary. There is a different move every second, and you have to rely on muscle memory to get you through as you use every last bit of brain power to focus on keeping in time. You can see your hands shake as you go upside down, and your heart beats so hard in your chest it reverberates up into your head and drowns out the music. Everything on stage is an overwhelming, bright, and terrifying blur.

I think what really angered me about this is that I was so frustrated at diabetes. I had practiced so hard for this competition – I had been having trouble with things in that routine, and had been finally nailing them at training. I was ready to smash it on Sunday, and diabetes HAD to interfere at THAT PARTICULAR MOMENT. Not five minutes before, not five minutes after, the THREE MINUTES I was on stage.

I came off stage and instantly cried into my coach’s shoulder (the poor thing still probably has my tears, snot and makeup permanently caked into her top). The combination of a bad hypo (they make me emotional…) plus the frustration of having screwed any chance of a place for our team in that performance, just because of something that was completely out of my control, resulted in me stuffing my face with lollies and crying for a good 15 minutes outside the dressing room.

Sometimes there’s nothing to say about diabetes, other than it SUCKS and has the worst timing in the world. The only reliable thing about it is that it will always choose the most inconvenient time to make things difficult. I can handle being bad at something, and I can handle making a mistake (OK, that’s a lie, but I can accept it…). But when my goals are ruined by diabetes, despite me doing all the right things, that is when I really resent my lazy pancreas. I have been doing everything I’m meant to do, DIABETES GOD, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?! A prayer? A sacrifice?!

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Food shamers? Leave my sight.

I’m proud of myself this week.

I stood up to someone who unintentionally food shamed the hell out of me.*

You know the people I’m talking about – they start a cleanse/paleo/vegan diet and all of a sudden your friend who is an accountant/HR manager/lawyer proclaims that they are the fountain of wisdom on all things ‘healthy’. Never mind that this person has not got a condition where they have to know way too much about food (*cough* diabetes), never mind that this new diet they are on will simply result in the weight being gained back because it’s not sustainable, the fact is that they’ve lost weight NOW and want everyone to know about it.

“Oh I couldn’t possibly have that cheese, so fatty, do you know what it does to you?”

I DON’T GIVE A FUCK IT’S DELICIOUS, HAND OVER THE BRIE OR SUFFER.

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I have no time for someone commenting about the food I am eating, unless it is one of two questions.

  1. “Oh my god, that looks so good, could I have the recipe?” Of course!
  2. “Oh my god, that looks so good, could I have some?” No. Especially if I’m eating Rondelé, bitch this cheese is mine.

Seriously, even if it comes from a well intentioned place and you honestly think you are doing the person a favour, say the sentence inside your head, swallow it (just like your herbalife smoothie) and move on. You have no idea about the mindset of the person who you are talking to – a ‘harmless’ comment about the fat content of their yoghurt could send them into a tailspin (I definitely did not cry in my car after someone told me that my yoghurt was fatty, definitely not).

I am ALL for healthy eating, some of my closest friends are dietitians and you should see the spreads we put on (OK, what THEY put on, I eat it and wash up). But healthy eating does not mean denial, or staying away from anything substantial until you whittle yourself down into society’s version of ‘health’. NO. Healthy eating means that you mindfully consider what you are eating, you eat a balanced diet, and sometimes you go out with friends and have fish and chips. You can eat LCHF/vegan/gluten-free without pushing it onto others – I have plenty of diabetes friends who do just that! Nobody wants to be ‘that guy’ at the BBQ that can only talk about his zucchini noodles – like c’mon, there are SO many more interesting topics, have you heard of a series called The Bachelor?

If you have found a way of eating that works for you, that is awesome, and I am happy for you, because goodness knows we all need some stability in this crazy, food-obsessed world of ours. What I do ask you to do, is consider others before talking about your food. I don’t know what it is about these last five years, but food talk seems to have slipped into small talk and it’s making me supremely uncomfortable. Frankly, I’ve had enough.

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Last week I scooted over to my workmate to ask her if she had anything to eat – it was 4.30pm after a long meeting, and I still had 2 hours of marking to do.

“Oh, I have a lollipop!”

“Perfect!”

As I turn around I hear “Oh but they’re so bad for you! No, don’t it eat Georgie”

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She was well intentioned, meant no harm, but after a weekend of family commenting on my dietary choices (let me eat the goddamn sandwich, carbs are not the devil) I had had enough.

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t food shame me, [Name]. My food is my business, I’m an adult, and I’d rather you not comment on it unless it’s something like ‘Yum’!”

It doesn’t sound like much, but I was shaking. I am SICK of people thinking they have a right to tell me what I should eat, and work is my ‘safe place’. Do not invade this last bubble, please.

This person spent the next five minutes saying things like “I’d never heard of food shaming before you…I didn’t mean anything by it…I’m just trying to help’ which is completely understandable. I explained why it affects me, and why it would affect other people. I explained that so many people have issues with food, that it’s safer to only comment if you are asked or invited. I hope some of it got through – they may have left just thinking that I’m some precious, indulgent, easily-offended Gen Y, but at least I know that I won’t have any more comments on my lasagna or salad in the staff room.

Food is more than fuel. Fuel is culture, enjoyment, family, and memories. Food can bring back thoughts, experiences, and people. Every time I dip buttered toast into soup, I can hear my French host grandparents indulgently laughing at “l’australienne” who dipped baguette into her brouillon. “C’est comme ça en Australie? C’est bizarre!”

Our relationship with food is intensely personal – you wouldn’t walk up to my partner and say “Oh, that’s a terrible way to kiss!” – so why comment on something that’s equally as close? Unless you’re invited, keep away from my plate. 

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*Food shaming is linked to body shaming, which I will examine in another blog post further down the line, when I have a fresh story to relate it to (don’t worry, it won’t be long, the d*ckheads of Melbourne love a body shaming insult or two).

Insulin

I’ve been focusing on including poetry in my classroom this term, as a different way of approaching texts and understanding concepts, themes, and issues. It’s been working well for my students, so I thought why not give it a try? They’ll write poems about the issues stemming from Hamlet, I’ll write one about the issues stemming from the syringe in my handbag.
If you’re up for an angst-laden poem, read on my friend.

 

Insulin

Insulin

Clinical, Cold

Stinging, Dripping, Living

Safe, secure; unpredictable, dangerous

Diving, Rising,  Guessing

Well, whole,

Life

 

Insulin

Intrusive, Foreign

This liquid gold turns to golden fat

A lifesaver turned to a life not worth living

A life lived in the mould of ‘perfection’

There’s only so much perfection that fits before

You start to slice off the parts that you can’t hide.

 

Guilt permeates me to the core.

I am lucky. I am blessed. I am insulin.

 

“Think of those less fortunate”

A faceless peer kilometres away does not take away the fear of

Living in a body too big to accept.

 

There is no one type of Type 1

I am my type.

My type is vulnerable.

Vulnerable to the whims of my blood

Vulnerable to the judgements of others

 

My type is fragile

My type slowly builds a wall

Of fat to keep out the looks and flood

Of concern – “It’s not about fat, you’ll feel better”

 

Better? What is better?

Does my mind not rate a mention

While my thighs rub red and raw?

Does my smile go unnoticed

If my belly dares to escape?

Does laughter seem irrelevant

When my arms wobble as I grab my sides in joy?

 

Insulin

 

Three syllables

Two pens

Too much.

 

 

Brain fog

I’ve been absent for a little while, in more ways than one.

My head feels foggy – I can just see where I’m heading, but it takes all my effort to push past it. Diabetes has taken a back seat in the past month or two as I try to use my brain for university assignments, professional development plans, and getting to places on time and with pants on. I’ve started to forget to bolus, because my brain is going one million miles an hour. Is this what getting older is like? I need quiet, I need rest, and I need space to be able to make decisions without diabetes butting in with an incessant hypo.

This  brain fog means my management has been as up and down as my moods. As my educator pored over my upload this morning, she furrowed her brow in confusion. Sunday? Perfect numbers, great ratios, model student. Monday? Manual boluses, no tests.

“What’s going on honey?”
I shrugged, and mumbled “When I have bad days, so does my diabetes”.

I was hoping the new pump I got this morning would help to melt away some of the fog, and give me a bit of a jump start into focusing on my diabetes. But it didn’t, and I shouldn’t expect it to. At the end of the day, a pump is a fancy and expensive syringe. A pump cannot clear the fog from my head, or the confusion from my brain. A pump cannot count carbs, or take away responsibility for me.

I have to focus on my head first, and leave room for diabetes in there. There’s no point burying myself in uni readings and trying to create interventions when my blood sugar is 25 and I’m studying on the toilet. Why bother focusing on a literacy-centred lesson when the likelihood is that I’ll struggle to teach it anyway, having forgotten to  bolus again?

To get rid of the fog, I need to slacken the reins, and bring diabetes back into the running. The fanciest meter or pump won’t do it for me – I’m the only one that can.

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Libre – yes or no?

A few months ago I was in a big diabetes burnout funk, with Masters work plus being in my second year of teaching and trying to not turn into a studying, exam-marking hermit putting diabetes at the very bottom of my ‘can I be bothered’ list.

However, about a month ago, I was able to try the FreeStyle Libre at DX2 Sydney*. I spent two days at this event, meeting people from Abbott Diabetes as well as finally putting names to faces of other Australian diabetes bloggers. Essentially we were there to learn about the FreeStyle Libre – and we were lucky enough to get to try it for free. There’s been a lot written about this in the Aussie diabetes blogosphere lately, but I blame writing reports and Masters assignments for my tardiness. Once you’ve written “Student X demonstrates sound grammatical knowledge” seventy-five times, any non-compulsory writing makes you want to cry.

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What is it?

This little glucose sensor is about the size of a 20 cent coin, and is inserted into the back of your arm. To check your levels, all you have to do is scan the sensor with the accompanying meter (you literally just hold it near the sensor) and the number will appear almost instantly. We had very knowledgable scientists talk to us about the science behind it (which went right over my head), but rest assured that the research and testing of this tiny little device is amazing. Essentially, the Libre measures the glucose in your interstitial fluid. Do you know what that is? Me neither. Do I know now? No, I can’t even pronounce it, but I do know that after giving it around 12 hours to settle in, my readings were nearly the same as my blood sugar meter. If my blood sugar meter was 6.5, my Libre was 6.7 or vice-versa. It lasts for a fortnight (and no, you can’t trick it into continuing – more on that later).

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One hour into using the sensor – PSA, taking a selfie with the Libre is REALLY HARD.

 

What I loved about it

  • The accuracy – after the settling in period (I would recommend inserting it before you go to bed) it was bang on.
  • The trends – when it reads your blood sugar, it will give you a glucose trend arrow, saying whether you’re trending up, down, or steady. You also get an eight-hour trend history with the meter, so for the visual learners amongst us you can get a fantastic image of what your blood sugar has been doing. The only thing I really liked about the CGM was that ability to see what your sugars are doing, and a trend graph, and the Libre does that without sticking out like a weird growth or alarming at me constantly.
  • The convenience – I can test anywhere. At a red light in my car, during a sport game, at work…it was AMAZING for work – being able to check in 3 seconds and continue teaching was invaluable. I felt safer at work, as I’m developing hypo unawareness and I could check every 5 minutes without interrupting the flow of the lesson. Additionally, I had a wild night a few days after inserting the Libre, and people around me were able to check my BGLs and force feed me sugar while I hypo-yelled at them to stop. Convenience for everyone!
  • The low-maintenance – insert it, and forget about it. I’ve been in burnout and being able to give my fingers a break for two weeks was exactly what I needed to get back on the diabetes wagon. I’ve noticed since coming off the Libre that I’m testing more often, which can only be a good thing. I was testing up to 30 times a day on the Libre, and now I’m up to around 6 times a day back on my old finger pricker. Progress!!
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I tested six times during a netball game and prevented a hypo. Success! (We still lost though)

Considerations

  • the cost – I know it can’t be avoided, and it is amazing technology which comes at a price, but at this point in my life on a para-professional wage I can’t afford to have it full time. In a few years when my pay rise comes, I’ll be a regular customer, but for now I’ll be using it as a “get Georgie out of burnout” tool
  • not a CGM – this is really important to remember. The Libre is not a CGM. It is a different system, with different positives and negatives, and what may work for one person with the Libre may not work for another. It’s Flash Glucose Monitoring, so it’s intended to replace finger pricks. It doesn’t have the inbuilt alarms or communication to your pump that a CGM does, because it’s not a CGM. If you’re someone that loves the CGM alarms and integration (I don’t), the Libre may not be worth your time.
  • reliability – there were a few times that I’d go to test and it wouldn’t work. After talking to a few others, it seems as though this happens when you’re super hot or you’ve had a big change in body temperature. It would only be grumpy for a minute or so though, so not a big factor for me.
  • stickiness – Are you like me and sweat like a middle-aged marathon runner every time you engage in any physical activity? If so, and you like the sound of the Libre, invest in some Rockadex, or at least physio tape. I sweat A LOT, and after ten days my Libre started to peel off and I had to ask my housemate to stick it down with tape for me. I went around for the next four days looking like I’d sustained a perfectly circular upper arm injury.
  • non-hackiness – You can’t trick the Libre into continuing past the 14 days expiry like you can with the CGM (my DNE always covers her ears when any PWD talks about this!). Trust me, I’ve tried. Once the fortnight is up, that’s it.

Top tips!

Placement – only the upper arm has been approved, and when I insert my second Libre I will go much more towards the underside of my arm. There’s less risk of you bumping it when it’s tucked securely under your arm. It hasn’t been approved for anywhere else, but if you were hypothetically going to try another place, I have hypothetically heard that it works well there too. Hypothetically. 

Insertion – it doesn’t hurt at all!! I’m a sook with pump site insertions and I was nervous, but I felt nothing. I would advise inserting it before bed, so it has time to warm up and you can start your day with accurate BGLs!

Verdict?

I love it. For someone like me whose main barrier to management is testing, the Libre makes it so easy. Again, for my lifestyle, which involves a lot of exercise and activity, the trends are invaluable. I love that it’s small, I love that it’s easy – I just don’t love that the price is a barrier for me and many others. Hopefully future Georgie will be able to afford it, and for now I’ll dig into my savings every few months when I need some bionic blood test help.

 

*Disclosure (taken straight from Renza’s blog as I’m too lazy to write my own and it sums it up perfectly).

DX2Sydney was being coordinated and run by Abbott Diabetes Care. The costs for me to attend the two day event (travel, accommodation, meals and transfers) were covered by Abbott. All attendees received Freestyle Libre products (one scanner and two sensors) so we could trial the new device. 

There was no expectation that I would write about the event or my thoughts of the device. Abbott may have paid for me to attend, but they did not pay for my words on this blog, social media activity or anywhere else. I like to share, so that’s why I decided to write about my experience. 

Tips and Tricks

Let’s round out the week by sharing our best diabetes tips and diabetes tricks. From how you organise supplies to how you manage gear on the go/vacation (beach, or skiing, or whatever). From how you keep track of prescription numbers to how you remember to get your orders refilled. How about any “unconventional” diabetes practices, or ways to make diabetes work for YOU (not necessarily how the doctors say to do it!). There’s always something we can learn from each other. (Remember though, please no medical advice or dangerous suggestions.)

The tricks and tips you learn from people with diabetes are always going to be different to the ones you learn from HCPs. Ours are usually a little bit more…unorthodox.

If you want to learn things like how to keep on track with your prescriptions or remember if you’ve already taken insulin, I am the wrong person to ask. RUN. RUN AWAY NOW. MY FORGETFULNESS IS CONTAGIOUS. Seriously, my life regarding that aspect of my diabetes looks a little like this.

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STOP IT. TOO MANY THINGS TO REMEMBER. Thank god for the history function on my pump and Post-It notes. I’ll be reading every post on this topic to pick up some tips from everybody else!

However, there are a few things that I’ve picked up over the years, and they’re things that you’re not told at diagnosis, and wouldn’t expect to be. Best bras for pump wearing? The educators rightly have more important things on their mind! They’re little things, but there’s room for shallow advice in this space too. Sometimes it’s the little things that can really make a big difference. Disclaimer – everything I say here is advice from a 20 something type 1, and is intended as something to consider, not medical advice. Don’t take it as gospel and don’t be stupid about it, always be safe!

Tip #1: If you’re pumping, choose your bras carefully.
If you wear a bra and use an insulin pump, chances are your pump will end up in there 98% of the time, especially if you’re blessed (or cursed…) with a large chest like me. It’s so convenient, it just sits there so neatly…EXCEPT IT RUINS YOUR BRAS. I didn’t know this for years – I was told by diabetes friends only last year that the reason my underwire would always break through at the bridge/centre panel so quickly was because I clipped my pump there every single day. I just thought I was putting them on too enthusiastically…if you’re pumping, the best bra to buy is a well made one with a high bridge, so there is room to clip your pump and less chance of it a) breaking through and b) dangling down and giving you a weird shaped beeping growth in the middle of your chest. Buy the sexy low-bridge bras too, we all need some gorgeous lingerie,  just don’t expect to clip your pump there (but if you’re buying a sexy bra, the pump won’t be there for long anyway, am I right ladies?)

Tip #2: Don’t match your cartridge buying with your inset buying.
This tip also took me wayyyyyy too long to figure out! For those playing at home with a healthy pancreas, a cartridge is what the insulin is in inside your pump, and an inset is that cannula-y thing with the tube I insert into myself every three or four days. When I started pumping, I would fill up my insulin, insert my set, then once I was due for a set change I would throw away both of them. WHY?! Pump supplies cost a lot, I was throwing away money! When you finish your cartridge, keep it! Re-use it, fill it up again, chuck that sucker in, use, take out, and repeat. As a diabetes friend once said to me, “Keep going until it won’t!”. Re-using this cartridge means you can order multiple boxes of insets and only 1 box of cartridges, saving you a massive amount of money. Don’t think you need one box of cartridges to one box of sets! Obviously keep it sanitary though, don’t do a me and have a cartridge needle and cap rolling around at the bottom of your bag for weeks…

Tip #3: Be friends with a Physio – they have the best tape
I once texted a physio friend of mine to “Please bring tape! My site is falling out and cbf doing a site change!” before a night out, and she brought the wonder-tape. The tape to end all tapes. This tape is easy to rip and sticky as hell, and it’s always in my handbag in case my temperamental set thinks I’m getting too sweaty and tries to fall off. I have no idea what it’s called, but they use it on the wards and the best thing I’ve ever encountered. That’s another tip – tip #3.5: have tape with you. There is nothing worse than having to go home because your site peeled off. Stick that sucker down and don’t let it interrupt living your life!

Tip #4: Invest in a proper diabetes ‘clutch’ 

Before I bought my ‘Combi Clutch’,  I would be that person who went everywhere with a massive handbag. Honestly, it looked like I was a mother of five with a bag full of baby wipes and spare clothes. Buy a purse that you can take out with you and pretend that you’re one of those people who just has their keys and phone. Is your mind ready to be blown?

You have a purse like this…

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Nice right? Super cute! Wait, let me just get my card…

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BOOM! This baby carries your diabetes stuff, but also has places to put your cards, cash, and sneak in two hypo serves. This baby will change your life, you can just pop your purse on the table like a normal person and not worry about waiters tripping over your gigantic ‘Mum bag’. Mum bag no more. I’m not being paid by this company, I just really like their clutches (If you’d like to hire me to spruik your products, I’m your gal!)

Tip #5: If you’re getting burnt out, go back to basics
My DNE taught me this one, and it has served me well. If you’re sick of diabetes and want it go away, the next best thing to completely ignoring it (not recommended…) is to go back to basics. Set injections, set meals, and let it fade into the background as you piece yourself together again. This may not be for everyone, but this really helped me last year when I was completely burnt out. For a week, I just injected set doses, ate the same thing, and tested the minimal amount. It gave me time to get myself back in the right headspace – my eating habits were boring, sure, but by the end of that week I was rested enough to attempt to get back on the diabetes horse.

 

 

 

The Healthcare Experience

Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!

I’m not going to focus on healthcare professionals in this post – you guys do an incredible job, which I could never do. What I think really needs to be talked about is the accessibility of healthcare. Who can access it, and who cannot?

The word ‘accessibility’ covers a lot of ground – how do I travel to my healthcare provider? How do I get my meds? What treatment options are open to me? How do I get the best care? However, the most pertinent aspect for me (and the only one that I really know anything about, due to earning fuck all) is the financial question of accessibility.

Good healthcare should not revolve around your ability to pay. We are so lucky in Australia to have a public healthcare system, however this system is overstretched and under resourced, and I have a terrible feeling that it’s going to remain like that unless people start seeing the gift that is universal healthcare. People wait months to be seen, while those who can afford it skip the queue. This applies to diabetes as well, many people don’t see an educator or endo due to the fact that we can’t spare a couple of hundred dollars! We’re already stretched with paying a couple of hundred per month for diabetes supplies, add on healthcare costs and you’re stuck eating rice and frozen vegies for the next fortnight. I’m lucky enough to still be young enough to count as a ‘dependent’ on my parents private health insurance, even though I haven’t lived at home for years and pay them every month for that insurance. The pump works for me, and I shudder to think of the situation I’d be in if I had no PHI and couldn’t afford to treat my diabetes the way I need to.

I am SO blessed in my healthcare professionals – I see them though a clinic at The Alfred, and it is all bulk billed. My educator is an absolute treasure and I’m hoping to follow her until she retires, but when I want to have kids, I’ll need to see her privately. With the extra BGL supplies needed during a type 1 pregnancy, as well as all the extra scans and checks, will I have the money there and waiting for her?

It blows my mind that governments around the world are trying to rip up universal healthcare systems (I’m looking at you, conservative British and Australian governments!), when we already have a lovely dystopian preview of what a society that dictates care through ability to pay may look like (hi USA!). Healthcare needs to be accessible to EVERYONE, not just those who have the funds.

If I could choose one way to improve healthcare, it would be to mimic the best version of universal healthcare, worldwide. There shouldn’t be a need for organisations that send insulin to people that can’t afford it,and it’s an absolute tragedy that this even exists. However the sad fact is that there are still people living with a lower quality of life, or even dying, simply due to the fact that they can’t afford to manage their diabetes. We need to find a solution, and fast – because every time someone can’t access healthcare, humanity itself becomes a little less human.