Thursday, 15 January 2015

How Full is Your Glass?


or Type 1 Diabetes in 2015.....

I tend to spend a little bit of each day flying around Facebook, Twitter and too many blogs to name having a look at how people are feeling and looking for the killer tip to enable me to live a stress-free diabetes life. That tip will arrive I’m sure, next week. Hopefully. Until then I’m left with the rest of you and I’m happy with that.

But I sometimes have a problem that messes with my head a little. Admittedly it doesn’t take much to confuse me so you shouldn’t be too surprised I’m frowning again.

I’ve touched on this before but for me diabetes is part of my life but it’s not my focus. I realise I’ve got a 24/7 condition for the next ten years* but I also know in the tombola of medical conditions if I had to pick a ticket out of the bag I’ve not done too badly. We all know the negatives about dangerous hypos, long-term complications, etc etc but I can live a relatively normal active life and because I’ve been ‘fortunate’ enough to have it from a very young age it’s my ‘normal’. For others diagnosed much later I can understand the grief about memories of behaviour lost but for me it’s more about that’s just how it is.

Nearly two years ago I wrote about how useful and special the Diabetes Online Community is to me and I’m still there with that mindset. It’s a bottomless pit of resource that is there for you 24/7, just like your diabetes, to share and understand your 2am hypo that needs correcting before you can go back to sleep.

But within that community I sometimes feel a little bit down about how people are feeling and struggle to understand how people get so angry about stuff that’s, yes important at the time, but if thought about in the longer term,  will just fade away like the rest of life’s ‘big’ stresses.

So here’s my attempt to remind people how lucky we are to be a person (or parent of a person) with diabetes in 2015 instead of 1915 or even 1979.
  • Insulin - In my insulin delivery device I've got the magical clear liquid that if delivered under my skin enables my body to keep on living. The lab work of thousands of scientists enables me to take this medicine in tiny, tiny volumes help balance against the glucose in my blood to occasionally give me a magical 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dl) reading on my....
  • Modern blood glucose machine - back in the early years after diagnosis my parents had to keep my glucose control in balance using urine sugar testing. The test tubes enabled me to pretend I was a scientist by dropping fizzing tablets into my wee and waiting for a decent amount of time to see what colour the liquid turned. From memory blue was good (i.e. not high) but anything darker meant there was too much sugar in my urine. But it wasn't telling me I had too much sugar in my blood then, it was giving a measure of how I was doing two hours earlier. The progression from this were the urine test strips which were the same measure but slightly more refined and negotiating with parents as to where on the colour-coded scale the shade of green was had begun. The further left on the top line the better! After this, for me, came the first Reflolux blue meter using BM test strips that needed a huge amount of blood and a full two minutes to get a result. Again this was a huge progress and a massive step forward to make 1987 the best time ever to be a person with diabetes; up to the next development! Fast forward another 18 years and my sexy Contour Link XT needs a tiny amount of blood and 5 seconds to give me accurate up to the minute reading which it then bluetooths to my ....
  • Insulin delivery device - Yes I'm a pumper but the same rules apply for the MDI. The modern insulin delivery technology is just fantastic. I can deliver ridiculously small amounts of insulin after a few presses of a button (see photo below - that dot in the middle is 0.1 units). And using modern algorithms devices such as the Aviva Expert meter or my Medtronic pump's bolus wizard, after a suggest to me how much insulin to take. I don't even have to do the math! I just tell it how many carbs I'm eating and it calculates my dose. That's bonkers. Marty McFly can keep his hoverboard, I'm happy with my D-Tech! But if it does go wrong I get to have one of my favourite... 
                                               It's there!


  • Hypo treatments - Thankfully the days of white plain Dextrosol in blue packets have disappeared and now 3 grams of carbs comes in the nice circular form of a Rowntrees Fruit Pastille. Four of these and I'm away back up to where I should be. Occasionally my local supermarket has special offers on my 'medicine' and I' then able to share this news with other ... 
  • People With Diabetes - Do you remember going to the hospital before the Internet arrived? For me that mostly involved sitting in waiting rooms, with people of varying disability and a book full of recently hand-written numbers that would be found out by the blood test I'd taken two weeks earlier. There then followed the promises of blindness, amputation and kidney failure with the very large hint that everyone else could do it so why couldn't I? So in my head there were two camps; the failures with parts dropping off, and everyone else who never had a HI or LO reading on their meter. Nowadays I'm meeting new people every day online and face-to-face who 'get' what it's like and don't judge but understand. This is absolutely fantastic and again I feel lucky to be alive now. Just like any community there are a few nutters out there but that's like anywhere and a quick unfollow and move on solves that easy enough; that's not a hint by the way. Don't leave me behind! And like insulin and test strips for Type 1s in the UK discussion doesn't....
  • Cost - Living where I do I'm fortunate that healthcare is free at the point of use. Yes, it's paid for out of taxation but if I use more insulin than my mate down the road it doesn't cost me any more than him. New tech is arriving and it would be great to get this on the NHS too but, going back to an old article, would that be appropriate? Still not sure on this one over a year later and after I've spent a decent amount already on various continuous/flashy glucose monitors. I know I'm very lucky as in other countries the choice between buying insulin or food is a daily worry. Have a look at great work the Pendsey Trust do for more information on that here. Hopefully things will improve and they can also have a great ....
  • Future - The next few years look to be fantastically exciting with new tech being launched yearly and each step being a step closer to either a fully functioning artificial pancreas or even maybe that magical cure or vaccination. I'm still in the '10 years' school of thinking but for the first time in over thirty years it looks genuinely possible that 10 years may at some point start to reduce.
So there I have it. In summary I feel very lucky to be around now and yes there are challenges every day but these are small in the big scheme of things. In the words of Pumbaa - Hakuna Matata.

Remember that every day you go to bed, you can pat yourself on the back safe in the knowledge that you've won your diabetes battle today by still being here and you should be very proud of that!

Thanks for reading and now give yourself a pat on the back to celebrate getting to the end! :) 


Dave

* The cure is always going to be there in ten years:

4 comments:

  1. Well said, Dave! I sometimes get stuck in my own head when I'm having a crappy d-day (or just a crappy day in general), but you're right - thinking back to how things used to be puts a lot into perspective.

    Love the shirt. :-)

    Thanks for the reminder to keep our chins up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Scott. Always a positive side I reckon. :)

      Delete
  2. I love this post! Just the uplift I needed after being up for night checks with my type 1 son. I always tell him he's 'lucky' to have type 1 as there's so many worse things in the world. I love all the advancements there have been in type 1 treatment and understanding and there seem to be a lot more recently, so there's always hope! ☺ Stevie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Stevie.

      I imagine your son doesn't agree with the feeling of being lucky. Growing up with D can be hard and the being grateful bit might come later. Save that little gem for yourself for now ;)

      Treatments are improving at such a fantastic pace at the moment. The mystical (mechanical) cure is getting closer than it has before. Ten years still, maybe, but hopefully that ten years will drop soon!

      Delete