Diabetic lottery numbers

There’s something about having a broken pancreas that makes you see numbers in a different light. For a non diabetic type watching the national lottery draw is all about waiting for those 6 winning numbers to come out. For a diabetic, it’s far more exciting. Every number comes with a message attached:

  • 49 – Oo, you’ve come out of your coma, that’s good. Did you realise you’re diabetic?
  • 28 – WTF? Dodgy infusion set? Forgot to bolus for lunch? Are those my kidneys I can smell frying?
  • 19 –  Not feeling too good. I could drink a reservoir dry and still have space for a slurp from the pond.
  • 17 – My standard example of a high number, because on ye olde test strip bottles, the high colour was always rated against 17
  • 14 – Is it me or is it hot in here? Does anyone else feel a bit queasy?
  • 11 – Not bad considering I had a pizza for lunch/How the hell can I be that high after an apple?
  • 8 – Cruising along quite nicely thank you, nothing much to worry about, perhaps a little squirt of insulin.
  • 6 – Nothing to see here, I’m masquerading as someone with a working pancreas.
  • 5 – I am a diabetic genius, bow in my presence and bring me chocolate, I deserve it.
  • 3 – My head feels funny, but it’s vitally important I finish doing this completely pointless task before I stop and get some food.
  • 2 – Can anyone else see those flying elephants or is it just me?
  • 1.5  – How low can you go? Despite the fact I can barely walk or speak, I’m strangely proud of still being conscious!

What numbers are significant for you?

Why are insulin pens so ugly?

Urgh. Ugly
Urgh. Ugly

One of the many wonderful features of diabetes is the sheer, damned boredom of it all. Diabetes is generally about the day to day uneventful plod of checking our blood glucose and balancing carbohydrate and insulin intake. While there are sometimes the exciting peaks and troughs of extreme hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia – which do, admittedly, add a certain frisson of excitement to the daily toil – generally not much of any interest happens.

The one glimmer of interest that appears briefly through the fog of general boredom is the gadgets. In my limited experience, it’s common among diabetics, especially of those within a certain demographic (I’m essentially talking men in their 20-30s here), to have an ongoing obsession in the latest shiny stuff marketed to the pancreatically-challenged hoards by our favourite friendly pharmaceutical conglomerates.

A great example of this is the hype concerning the new Bayer Contour USB glucose meter within the blogosphere (I really hate that word – it creates an air of an important, unified community of useful social commentators; which, of course, we all know doesn’t actually exist; most blogs – especially this one – are made up of an ill-informed, soupy conglomeration of poorly written rants and miss-enlightened opinions that no sane person cares about. But I digress).

Anyway, lots of people have been burbling on about how they’re looking forward to Bayer’s new funky colour screened wondrousness arriving on the market for our joyous consumption. All this goes to prove my point – us diabetics love our gadgets and shiny things.

So, with this in mind, why are the insulin pens us pump-challenged people depend on so damned ugly?

For example, I was idly examining my lantus-enabled AutoPen 24 earlier today and noted its vile, tacky cheap plastic feel. It really is a horrible pen – like something you would win in a disappointing set of Christmas crackers. Similarly, my Lilly HumaPen “Luxura” which I use on a daily basis to squirt humalog into my stomach is hardly as luxurious as the name implies. If, to use an tenuous analogy here, luxury is defined as the Presidential Suite of the five star Balmoral hotel in the heart of Edinburgh then the so-called “Luxura” pen is a threadbare, slightly sticky carpeted, one star Travel Tavern situated near a busy junction on the Norwich bypass. Not so good.

Over the next ten years I’ll stick in just under 15,000 injections (unless I finally get my pump, but that’s another story). So please, beloved pharmaceutical companies, please can you come up with a pen which looks great, works well and helps to stave away the horrendous boredom of diabetes!

Beta cells aren’t as innocent as they first appear

A picture of some beta cells, apparantly
A picture of some beta cells, apparantly

For years beta cells have been portrayed as the innocent victims in the diabetes field. Nasty immune systems picked on them and destroyed them, leaving the owner with a lifetime of making up for their ineffectiveness.

Now it seems those beta cells mightn’t be as blameless as they first appear. Researchers in Belgium, funded by JDRF are now saying: “Based on our research, our understanding now is that type 1 diabetes in its early stages, is characterized by a dialog between beta cells and the immune system, instead of the previous view of beta cells as purely passive victims of the immune attack.

If your beta cells are dead, it isn’t particularly life changing to know whether it was suicide, premeditated attack or a good old fashioned two way punch up that killed them. But this dog was quite interested to see the victim status of beta cells being challenged. Shoot Up has always taken a sympathetic stance towards beta cells, this news could change the face of diabetes blogging forever.

Respect

I’m just recovering from spending a day with our 2 year old godson. We had such a lovely time and as usual, we came home exhausted, covered in unidentifiable bits of half eaten food and with buzzing ears from all the noise.

We don’t have any kids so spending a day with a toddler is quite an experience. You spend the whole time trying to stop them harming themselves in some way – darling, please don’t take a kamikaze leap off the sofa. Do you really prefer eating soil rather than your dinner? Please take your head out of the toilet etc. His mother – who I’ve know since our school days and who won’t mind me saying wasn’t renowned for her athleticism at school – has turned into an Olympic hopeful. She can sprint the length of the living room in 3 seconds flat and has reflexes faster than a champion squash player.

Thankfully our godson doesn’t have diabetes, but I can only imagine how hard it would be if he did.

As it is getting a toddler to eat what you put in front of them or sit still long enough to put his shoes on is a bit of an endeavour. Add to that the challenge of getting the right number of carbs into him and wrestling him to the ground for blood tests and injections and it just becomes too exhausting to think about. It took an amateur like me ten minutes to figure out the godson wanted a drink, how would I cope with trying to work out if he was hypo?

I’ve always thought that being a parent of a diabetic is harder than having diabetes yourself. You have all the usual hassle with even more guess work than normal – is he hypo or just absorbed in Postman Pat, is he high or just tired, did he eat that banana or is it down the back of the sofa? Having spent a full day with a toddler, my admiration for parents of kids with diabetes has grown exponentially. And it was pretty high to begin with. Respect.

Comatose and rotting toes – the lighter side of insulin dependency

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