Diabetes Consultation

As I mentioned in an earlier post I went along to the Scottish Diabetes Action Plan Consultation organised by Diabetes UK yesterday evening and it was all quite interesting. The meeting was intended to give the Scottish Government feedback on what us pancreatically-challenged ruffians want out of our health service and so, in my view (for what it’s worth) it’s quite important.

The first thing that struck me was the light buffet that was kindly laid on for us. Being a meeting exclusively made up of diabetics it, of course, consisted of ultra high-carb pasta and potato-salad. To rub in this paradoxical smorgasbord all the more, I noticed there were some Diabetes UK “Watch what you Eat” leaflets dotted about, advocating a low GI diet. My sides almost split with the irony of it all, but the soup was nice.

The second thing that struck me was that, not for the first time, I was the one token person-who-wasn’t-retired in attendance. Sorry to point it out – if any of the attendees are reading this – but I have to say I did bring the average age crashing down somewhat. But even saying that, at a positively ancient 32, I’m still not exactly representative of the “juvenile” diabetes community.

I’m pretty sure the east of Scotland has diabetics under the age of thirty and I’m also pretty sure that the lack of young people this is not wildly unusual at these things. So why is this?

To be honest I’ve no idea. Having a say is vitally important in any aspect of life – for example, I think that people who can’t be bothered to vote in elections are contemptible idiots who have no right to complain about any service they receive from government or indeed any action that government takes in their name. It’s the same with healthcare – you have no right to bitch about poor healthcare or lack of NHS funding for pumps or new technologies if you don’t take part in feeding into consultations like these.

After doing all this, you still might not get what you want but, by God, you then have every right to make a nuisance of yourself and bitch, bitch, bitch. And, tell you what, I love bitching!

Wanted: diabetes manager

Living the dream recruitment agency. Now hiring

We are a recruitment agency specialising in hard to fill roles. Our client, Alison, has decided that with a busy job, voluntary work, personal life and the blogging thing, something has to give. Therefore she intends to outsource her day to day diabetes management.

Our client will maintain control of all strategic diabetes decisions including the interesting bits like choosing to get a pump etc. However, the successful applicant will be tasked with looking after the day to day stuff that takes up so much time and energy.

Amongst other things the successful applicant will be expected to:

- Attend all check ups that don’t generally require strategic decisions eg eyes, feet, blood tests. We acknowledge that this may involve some teething difficulties around how to remove our client’s eyeballs and feet so they can be transported to the appointment without her, but a can do attitude is essential for this job and we’re sure the right applicant will find a way of addressing this issue. Our client will be available on the phone if input is required during the consultation.

- Provide basic diabetes training to all clinicians who come in contact with our client. Basic phrases along the lines of “No she doesn’t take tablets for it” and “just because she has a pump doesn’t mean she “has it really bad”” should suffice.

- Talk through our client’s history with relevant clinicians before she enters the appointment. Our client feels that if she has to tell someone her medical history one more time when they have it written down for them she might scream.

- Change infusion sets and sensors without our client having to think about it 5 times before she actually gets round to doing it.

- Collect that prescription that has been awaiting collection from Tesco for 2 days now.

- When a new diabetes prescription arrives, file all drugs and associated junk neatly in the cupboard rather than leaving the infusion sets in the huge box they were delivered in cluttering up the bedroom.

- If our client decides to eat a proper Indian curry which inevitably causes highs that require insulin around 3am, the right applicant will be there to press the pump buttons, rather than the client having to wake up and do it herself, thus resulting in her being tired in the morning.

- Sort out and transport all the diabetes junk  required when travelling so that our client can travel light, like a person with a working pancreas.

- Hover constantly but invisibly nearby with food in case of lows, to save our client having to carry a handbag the size of a planet.

- Remove fruit pastilles from all of our client’s clothes before washing

- Take full responsibiltity  for diabetes management on the odd occassion when our client feels she could really do with a day off from it.

Hours: 24/7, no holidays.

Pay: If you could do all of that, the pay budget would be unlimited!

Contributing to footpath erosion

"The Beast" - classily posed against my bins
“The Beast” – classily posed against my bins

“You’re lazy, fat and ugly!” are just some of the insults I’ve never had thrown at me. But, despite their non-existence as Tim-directed abuse, it’s certainly true that I’m quite lazy, especially when it comes to exercise.

I know that jogging or going to the gym is good for you. Exercise seems to cure, or at least help with, pretty much ill you can suffer from. Exercise can help reduce insulin resistance, help prevent depression, release endorphins and so on, but can I be arsed getting off my sofa and doing something healthy? Nah, of course not.

But all that recently changed. After burbling on about my old pre-diagnosis cycling exploits during the summer, my wife Katie suggested that I buy myself a mountain bike. Given that we live a few hundred meters from the Pentland Hills and the vast range of muddy cycling that it offers, this actually sounded like quite a good idea.

So a few weeks later I found myself sitting atop my new Specialized Hardrock Disc ’12 which I’ve nicknamed “The Beast”. It’s called “The Beast” as for many years I’ve ridden a proper road bike, which weighs about 3 grams and has tiny thin wheels. The new bike is huge, chunky and has manic gear ratios that allow you to climb vertical cliffs. It’s world apart from the old road bike, which has sadly been collecting dust for some time. Call me a cowardy-custard but busy Edinburgh roads just scare the Bejesus out of me. At least with the new bike I can use footpaths, avoid roads and annoy pedestrians and dog-walkers by recklessly speeding past.

Anyway, decked out in more lycra than an 80′s heavy metal band, I’ve spent the last few weekends contributing to path erosion and generally having a blast careering around the hills. By the end of a ten mile trip the bike and I have doubled our combined weight with mud. And I’ve only fallen off painfully twice – bonus!

The things that have made it diabetically-possible (or at least easier) are a frame bag filled with emergency sweeties, low temporary basals on the pump and an Android app for my phone (Endomondo – others are available) which tracks where I go and cleverly shows me how fast I’ve gone, how many calories I’ve consumed and so on (Check out my latest trip here:¬†http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/108175865). This app seems to make a good ride hugely satisfying – knowing where you’ve been fast / slow / lazy / hyper-fit is, to me at least, really interesting.

As a result I’ve had great fun, felt a lot better and feel fitter already. So, I guess, it’s just all about finding the right exercise for you rather than slogging away miserably in a gym. So there!

Have you been to a diabetes event?

Great people of the diabetes online community, I’m pleading with you to share your wisdom with me (if you don’t think you can manage wisdom, don’t panic, general thoughts would be much appreciated). I’m preparing a presentation on the wonders of events for people with diabetes. Why they’re so important and why they make such a difference to people.Please help! The aim is to secure extra funding for them.

As a child I went on several holidays for children with diabetes organised by Diabetes UK. They were brilliant, I loved them. Lots of sports and adventures along with some diabetes education. And that amazing feeling when you realise that you’re not the only person in the world who does injections. And that slightly strange feeling when you first see someone else have a hypo – do I really look like that?!

As an adult I’ve spoken at several events for parents of newly diagnosed children about what it’s like to grow up with diabetes. They seem reassured to see a normal person enjoying life to the full with all limbs still attached and major organs still functioning perfectly.

And then there are the events for people who are diagnosed as adults where the education is important but the really valuable advice seems to be traded in the bar in the evening. For me the most powerful moment at any of these events is when I listen to people with diabetes discovering that they’re not alone, that someone else is going through the exact same thing as them.

Personally I think these events make a difference but that’s just me. I’d love to know about your experiences.

Have you been to events like this as an adult or as a child? What did you get out of them? Would you recommend them? What difference did they make to you?

Thank you!

Comatose and rotting toes – the lighter side of insulin dependency