Diabetes UK launches new on-line fundraising system

logo_diabetesGenerous readers who a) like fundraising for Diabetes UK; b) don’t like rattling a tin; c) like Intermaweb-based systems, will be thrilled to hear that Diabetes UK have launched a new on-line fundraising system (or you would have been, if I had not stolen my own thunder in the headline…)

The new site can be found at www.diabeteschallenge.org.uk and aims to allow people to set themselves fund-raising challenges – abseiling from a bridge, scaling the south west face of Everest, sponsored lion taming, etc., etc. Friends, family and other hangers-on can contribute to the target by using their well-worn plastic credit cards via the new site.

So far, so thrilling. However, using Diabetes UK’s effort does mean that 100% of the cashola does actually go to Diabetes UK. Unbeknownst to me (prior to writing this article, of course) certain well known on-line charity sites are in fact for-profit organisations who take a slice of the cash to fund the running of their site, salaries and, of course, line shareholder’s pockets. Which is great (if you’re a shareholder).

Said well-know sites do, of course, let you know about their fees in advance and there’s nothing wrong with for-profit companies doing this. However, I have to confess I do prefer the idea of all the cash people raise going to everyone’s (well, nearly everyone’s) favourite UK-based diabetes charity – so this can only be a good thing. Now to find my wooden chair and whip – I’ve got lion taming to do.

My first musical HbA1c is in

Six months ago I started learning to play the baritone and at the time it made me realise quite how terrifying it is to be launched into a whole new world. Learning about music seemed about as complex as working out how to carb count, adjust basal rates and identify hypos.

Alison producing unusually musical hot air with Maghull Wind Orchestra

The one advantage music has over diabetes is that the consequences of giving up on it don’t involve harming any important limbs or organs. Despite not having the potential expiration of my kidneys as a motivator, I have indeed managed to keep up the practice and am still playing the baritone in Maghull Wind Orchestra.  And this weekend saw the first big test. The first musical HbA1c to see whether the good notes and the terrible notes are balancing out to give a musical performance that is in some way suitable for human consumption.

And it seems it is. We got a great review in the local press for a concert we performed last weekend and no one seemed to notice the beginner in the midst. Full credit must go to the husband who decided that having a diabetic wife wasn’t enough of a challenge for his patience, so he also took on the mammoth task of teaching me to play.

I’ve learned that basal rates need reducing by about 20% for rehearsals, to offset all the huffing and puffing involved in creating a note. But the stress of a concert is enough for me to keep basal rates at normal levels and remain pretty steady. Just like diabetes there have been some very bad days where I can’t play the right note at the right time for love nor money. Then the next day, I can do a full rehersal with no excursions out of musical target range. But the overall result is positive. And there the diabetes/music analogy must end, before it is stretched so far it becomes completely tuneless.

Weeks 15-17: it’s oh so quiet

Week 15: Shhh, I’m almost afraid to say this for fear it might break the spell, but things seem to have quietened down a bit. Insulin requirements are still dropping ever so slightly, but are the nearest they’ve been to stable for months.

Week 16:  Captain, we’ve got this under control. Things are stable. I haven’t adjusted my basal rates in over a week – the longest they’ve gone unchanged since the start of pregnancy. I’m still monitoring like a demon, but it’s nice to have a bit of a quieter period on the diabetes front, it gives me time to enjoy the pregnancy side of things.

The bump is growing at pace so I’ve moved into maternity jeans. These are the most comfortable clothing known to womankind, I’m hooked. The only problem is where to stick the pump. In my naivety I initially bought a pair of jeans that sit below the bump, but they’ve gone back to the shop because I felt like I had a constant draft on my stomach and a slight sense of being a teenager with my jeans hovering a bit too far below my waist. But at least there was a waistband to clip my pump to. My new, super comfy, over the bump jeans are great. But because the stretchy bit goes over the bump, they don’t have a waistband, so now I have to run the tube up and over the top of the jeans and back down into my pocket, or my bra. A minor unexpected irritation.

Week 17: more antenatal appointments this week. Amusingly the diabetes Dr remembered me as “the one with 6 basal rates”. I haven’t yet worked out why she’s so amazed by my having 6 basal rates or why it makes me quite such an oddity in her mind. HbA1c is 5.3% (34mmols), which is apparently “much better” than the previous 5.7% (39mmols). I tend to disagree, I think they’re both fine, and if anything the 5.3 is too low, caused by the spectacular drop in insulin requirements around week 14.

It’s interesting to see the approach to diabetes results change. During pregnancy, the only thing that matters is keeping blood sugars low without falling over hypo. No one really cares how you do it. You can overdose on insulin and maintain blood sugars by eating every 15 minutes if that works for you, just make sure you deliver the results. I know I get best results in an afternoon by having a snack around 3.30pm. If I don’t, I go low, but if I take less insulin, I run a bit too high, so food is the best answer. In the non pregnant world I wouldn’t stand for that – it seems unnatural to have to eat when I have a pump, I should be able to manage the insulin so I don’t have to. But for the next few months, if it works, I’m doing it.

The hypo portfolio

Impractical for treating hypos, but oh so delicious
Impractical for treating hypos, but oh so delicious

A hypo is a hypo is a hypo. Low blood sugar, sweaty, fuzzy head, confused, weak, dizzy, argumentative (yes, even more so than usual) etc etc. But even with all those similarities I think there is a virtual smorgasbord of hypo types.

  • The nice hypo – you feel yourself going low, you eat, you rise. Job done, move along please people, there’s nothing to see here.
  • The thieving hypo – you’re in a shop, you’re low, and you have no food. Theft by eating produce before paying for it is the only option. A mid hypo altercation with an overzealous security guard can turn this into a full on criminal hypo.
  • The embarrassing hypo – any low that involves crying, arguing, falling over, spouting rubbish or generally humiliating yourself in public fits into this category.
  • The “why now?” hypo – you’re in a rush, you need to drive, you’re in an important meeting where gobbling fruit pastilles like a secret sugar addict isn’t really an option and a hypo comes along. Perfect timing.
  • The sporting hypo – your swim times have slipped from near Olympic standard to something a toddler would be ashamed off. You’ve missed 7 out of the last 10 shots in a game of tennis. Your sporting prowess has evaporated along with all the sugar in your body. Something a little stronger than half time oranges is required here.
  • The middle of the night hypo – this species normally turns up on nights when you’re sound asleep with a full day ahead of you. Bonus points are awarded for treating the low without getting juice or glucogel all over the sheets.
  • The “I knew it was coming but was hoping for a miracle” hypo – you’re sitting watching TV, you’ve been feeling a bit low for a while but going to get some food seems like such an effort, so you give it another 20 minutes in the hope that your body is going to discover a bit of sugar down the back of its virtual sofa and you won’t have to bother moving.
  • The “I’m cured!” hypo – you’ve been chasing lows all day and three juice boxes and a tube of glucogel have just raised you to the blistering heights of 4.1. The only logical explanation for this is that your body must have started making its own insulin again – you’re cured! Of course there could be a more boring answer, like your basal rate is too high or you over bolused for breakfast, but where’s the fun in that?

There must be more, which hypos have I missed?

Comatose and rotting toes – the lighter side of insulin dependency