As part of our superlative ongoing series, type one mum-to-be Sam Clifford describes her diabetic day:
The first thing I thought when Tim asked me to write about a day in the life of diabetes was how on earth to chose one out of the many fabulous days I have experienced not only in the four years of being a Type 1 diabetic but especially in the last four months when I am very excitedly growing my first child in my tummy!
So should I chose the day this week when I spent 5½ hours at diabetic ante-natal clinic moaning along with other diabetic mums-to-be about the long, lengthy, boring and stuffy wait? Or the day a few weeks ago when I woke from a horrendous nightmare about drowning with a hypo of 1.8 and engaged in a fist fight with my husband as the poor man tried to get some kind (any kind!) of sugar into my mouth? Or the day when I was told my Hba1c has gone from an amazing 5.7% to 5.4% during the first trimester meaning I am giving the baby as good a start as possible?
Probably an amalgamation will do best! As I am Jewish and we traditionally count our days from sun down to sun down, I thought I would give you my day that way. So one hour after a very nice supper of spag bol my sugar is an un-pregnancy friendly 11.3. Having a slight panic about the impact of this sugar on poor little baby, I instruct my trusty Animas 2020 to bring those naughty sugars down and correct. An hour later – still high, correct again and then go to bed. My vibrating pump wakes me up shortly in time for another test – thankfully its 5.8 and I can happily sleep through until the morning… or until 3am when I wake up knowing I am having a hypo! Joy of joys – uttering the call to action “Marc – Hypo!” my lovely husband jumps from bed and brings a delightful selection of juice, sweets and dextrose for a lovely middle of the night snack. Eventually we settle down and return to sleep.
Alarm goes off at 7am, stretch out an arm, turn off the alarm clock (well, actually, phone but alarm clock sounds better) and reach for the good old blood glucose meter. First reading of the day is a very satisfactory 5.0 which I figure will mean I can get to work and have breakfast there. Hubby and I get in the car together (I know – so sweet that we travel together!) and embark on our usual morning argument about which radio station to listen to – Marc always wins, I am now an expert on 5 Live morning discussions.
Arrive at work at 8.30am – make the momentous decision between porridge and Weetabix, decide on Weetabix and let the pump know what to do. Get on with work only to be interrupted by the gentle vibration of my pump reminding me to test my sugar. Test is good – 6.5 so carry on with the day. A few hours later in conversation with my manager, I realise that I am not making any sense – we stop and I test my sugar – 2.5 – great! My trusty colleague next to me offers me a selection of sugary treats from her desk especially for me and after about 15 minutes life returns to normal. My eyes can again focus on a computer screen and I can open my mouth without fear of sounding like an idiot.
Lunch time – having spent the last few hours planning where we will go we decide to go to the local cafe. Eating out is always fun, especially as I keep my pump in a really appropriate place – my bra!! I have often been caught out with my hand down my top reaching for my pump, I wonder what people think I am doing!
Lunch and the following hours go well diabetic-wise and therefore work-wise which is always a bonus. I leave work early as we are going to the hospital (practically my home away from home now as I go every two weeks!) to see how the little one is getting on. The ante-natal clinic is great, long but great and it’s fascinating to see how the teams involved work (or don’t work) together.
First of all we check in and do the obligatory urine test which we all then furtively hold in our hands, trying to look like respectable members of society while carrying test tubes of our wee! We settle down, compare bumps, work out who the newbies are and occasionally tut at other expectant mothers who have dared to bring their other children with them and are doing what children normally do – i.e. making noise. Some even go so far as to rub their bellies and look knowingly as if to say “no child of mine would ever act like that.”
First call of the afternoon is for observations – blood pressure (tick) weight (tick) urine test (tick) then back out to the waiting room to wait for the next appointment. After about an hour (if you are lucky) the first call comes from the obstetrician. Each time you see someone different, this week I have the luck of having the obstetrician who has had his personality surgically removed.
He asks me the same questions I get asked every week (how many times can they write down that I am on an insulin pump) before listening to the baby’s heart beat. Usually this is the part of the clinic that I look forward to the most, a chance to hear the baby’s very quick little heartbeat. However, Dr No Personality doesn’t think this is so important and finds the heartbeat in 0.0001 of a second and generously allows me an additional 0.0002 of a second to enjoy the moment before he whips the ultra sound away. He then informs me that I don’t need to come back for 5 weeks. 5 weeks!! Wait till I tell the diabetic team, how they will laugh – as if they would let me out of their grasp for that long!
Anyway, its back to the waiting room for an incredibly long 1½ hour wait, thank God for some tangerines I found in the bottom of my bag! Then we get called by the diabetic team. This appointment is like a cross between appearing on Mastermind, being forced to recall your worst test in school and having to have a memory that recalls every single thing you have eaten in the last two weeks. Although having said all that – they really are the most lovely people and all this effort means that my hospital has the lowest mortality rate for diabetic pregnancies so I’m not going to moan (well, not that much anyway). After my interrogation which I pass (phew!) it’s off to the blood room for some test before I book in for two weeks time.
Absolutely exhausted from the whole day – Marc and I decide unanimously it’s time for take away and then spend the rest of the journey home trying to decide between Indian, Chinese or Greek. It’s been a tough day . . .
Sam lives in London with her wonderful husband Marc and is 4 months pregnant with her first baby. She has been Type 1 since a certain fateful day (9th March 2006 – but who’s counting!) and has been in a committed relationship with her Animas 2020 Insulin pump since December 2008.