Logging the tempestuous seas of diabetes

Diabetics, unnerved by the prospects of logging their results, yesterday

Diabetics, unnerved by the prospects of logging their results, yesterday

Recently I started helping with the beta testing for a diabetes logging Android app – MySugr. I’ll burble on about the app in a future article – *spoiler* it’s quite good – but it’s been the first time I’ve properly logged my diabetes for ages.

Many years ago I went on a sailing holiday in the Mediterranean (yes, I am hopelessly middle-class) and I took charge of writing our boat’s log book. Having the attention span of a brain-damaged gnat, I quickly bored of noting down the wind-speed, the water depth and where we had anchored, so I made up an entirely fictitious account of our journey.

According to my log book, our 32-foot yacht was beset by raging storms, we were visited by mermaids (who made us salami sandwiches for lunch, as I recall) and inevitably we were attacked by pirates in the exhilaratingly-named Blind Man’s Gizzard cove.

Our various adventures continued in the log throughout the week and culminated with us being menacingly followed by a Coleridge-style black galleon, whose storm-tattered sails hung limply from its forbidding masts. As the days wore on the macabre galleon closed in on us and on the final day it drew aside our yacht and on the deck we could see the grim, shrouded figure of…

And there the log ended.

It turns out – stick with me here – that my diabetes logging is much like my ship’s log. Making a note of every blood glucose test and bolus is extremely boring. Despite MySugr’s best efforts it’s still tedious.

Similarly there’s also the massive temptation to make stuff up. While it’s difficult (but not impossible) to add a narrative about pirates to one’s diabetes log, it’s an appealing prospect to leave out the mega-highs and mega-lows. Recording that embarrassing 17.5 screw-up or series of avoidable hypos is emotionally difficult – none of us like admitting to messing up.

However, I’ve tried my best to be strong and have dutifully recorded all the ups and downs accurately and without resorting to fiction. It’s difficult in many multi-faceted ways but through precise recording I hope I can use my accurate data, look for patterns and iron out some of those pesky highs and lows.

Now, in the meantime, I wonder whatever did happen to that grim, shrouded figure?

Got a kid with diabetes? DUK care events registration open now


Diabetes UK logoThe deepest, darkest days of January are the perfect time to be planning holidays. And by sheer coincidence Diabetes UK have just launched their 2014 programme of care events for families and young people.

I gushed endlessly about the marvellousness of these events a few years ago, so if you need any convincing that meeting up with other diabetic types does wonders for families and kids, take a read

And if you’re already sold on the idea, head straight over to Diabetes UK to book your place.

No, not that type of junk

Additional diabetes junk trauma

No, not that type of junk

No, not that type of junk

I’ve always hated diabetes junk. Never mind limbs rotting off and kidneys drowning in a sea of glucose. Oh no, my number one diabetes whinge, out of all proportion to the gravity of the problem, is diabetes junk.

And when I thought I was coping well with the multitude of boxes of infusion sets, test strips, sensors, insulin, spare syringes, reservoirs and dust balls living under my bed we’ve hit a problem. The child is starting to move!

At 8 months Eva no longer stays where I left her. Which is inconvenient at best. And general concensus is that I should be encouraging this rather than putting her on a short lead attached to a stake in the ground (it was only an idea, we haven’t actually done it, no need to despatch social services…yet).

So the junk needs to go up in the world. Because who wants to see a toddler inserting an infusion set into her leg whilst drinking insulin out of a syringe?

Stand by Ikea, we’re on our way for high level diabetes junk storage solutions. Or we will be once I’ve stopped the child eating shampoo.

Learnings of a diabetic mum


Eva and I are now three months into life and motherhood, and so far so good. Eva has learned to smile, recognise people, chatter away and be generally adorable. Mummy has also learned a lot… 

  • Abandon any hope of pre-bolusing for meals. Just because the baby is asleep when the plate hits the table, doesn’t guarantee you’re going to get to eat the food.
  • When breastfeeding during a heatwave replace the majority of insulin with ice cream.
  • Don’t attempt to do any fancy adjustments to basal rates to compensate for breastfeeding – it is impossible to predict whether the baby will feed for 5 mins or 45 mins. Just reduce basals by 20% across the board and eat more to deal with any lows.
  • No baby bag is complete without at least 2 cartons of apple juice and a pack of fruit pastilles for any post breastfeeding lows whilst out and about.
  • Likewise no house is complete without strategically placed apple juice cartons at every spot where you might feed the baby.
  • Baby junk outweighs diabetes junk by a good few kilos. But carting it all around means you barely notice the diabetes junk any more
  • Meters that beep when you apply blood are not helpful in the middle of the night when they wake the baby you’ve just spent an hour getting off to sleep.
  • I was wrong when I thought waking up to treat a hypo constituted a bad nights sleep.
  • Insulin pumps and CGMs are programmed to alarm approximately 5 minutes into any feed. And the pump will always be on the side of your body you can’t reach without disturbing the baby.
  • Infusion sets worn in the stomach will be kicked and wriggled upon by the baby, stick to thighs and back to keep them out of harms way.
  • Baby poo does not stain insulin pumps.
  • Baby vomit doesn’t seem to do them much harm either.