Diabetic Days – a rollercoaster ride

By | 12 March, 2010

As part of our wonderful ongoing series, type one Shelley Bennett describes her average day:


Shelley's diabetes, yesterday

Shelley’s diabetes, yesterday

I describe diabetes as a roller-coaster ride with many highs and lows and ups and downs. It is 24 hours a day and never far from my thoughts! Here’s my typical day:

My alarm goes off at 7am and I open my eyes just enough to hit the SNOOZE button, I hate mornings and more so since having diabetes. I start the day swearing that its time to get up and then my thoughts turn to my morning sugar level.

So a prick of the finger later and this usually leads to my second swear word (my blood glucose is usually in the teens). It’s not so bad nowadays since the arrival of my pump but for a good six-and-a-bit years I would wake up feeling as though I had been hit by a train. Dry mouth, banging head, poor concentration and lethargy would be how I’d start my day and this would last until lunchtime on most occasions. I wouldn’t mind if I was an alcoholic and this was the daily result of a hangover! It turned out to be dawn phenomena which my pump (thank the Lord!) has put an end to.

So then it’s onto breakfast, I count the carbs (hard work first thing) and tell my pump how much insulin I need. In my injection days the maths was even harder but at least my pump calculates my ratio to add to my carbs!

Then it’s on with work. I am blessed to work from home, so on sugar related headache days at least I don’t have to dress and face people!

I soon realise it’s cannula change day (oh joy!) so I remove the cannula on my stomach (it bleeds, ouch!) and insert a new one with my device that looks like a stapler. I then pop to the chemist to collect my ‘shopping trolley’ of supplies needed for my diabetes (I ordered it the week before). Diabetes is all about being prepared and planning!

Turns out the chemist have ‘forgotten’ to order my insulin…GREAT! I wouldn’t mind but insulin does kinda keep me alive. I am just about to lose my temper when my pump starts beeping at me. Ironically it’s beeping at me to tell me I have less than 20 units left! Even my pump is angry!

I manage to calm down and dash home to do some more work in the office. Then it’s lunch time, I check my sugar levels and they are 3.0…HYPO ALERT! Just what I need, must have been all the stress at the chemist. I let myself forget about my diabetes for 5 minutes and this is how it repays me! How rude!

So more carb counting for my lunch (with a chocolate bar thrown in for the chemist rage!) and I’m back to work.

Two hours later and I’m staring at the computer screen and my vision is a little ‘off’, a blood check later and surprise surprise am 2.5, an even worse hypo than before. I proceed to the fridge where I have Lucozade for starters (half a bottle), a large twix for my main course and half a tube of Pringles for dessert. WAY TOO MUCH! Hypos are the devil, I’ve decided. I become possessed and would literally kill anyone who stands in the way of me getting more sugar when I am hypo! I turn into a monster! Eventually the shaking and sweating and disorientation settle and I attempt to calculate the amount of ‘extra food’ I have eaten and give myself the insulin to compensate…what a great day so far…NOT!

A banging headache follows the hypo and I feel knackered like I’ve not slept for a month. I go back to work but only manage half-an-hour because I feel so rubbish. It’s then that I remember that it’s Friday and that tonight I am out with friends for a Chinese, great, I JUST WANT TO GO TO SLEEP!

So I start getting ready, dose up on paracetamol for my headache and off I go to meet my girly friends.

I spend the next couple of hours eating LOTS of all-you-can eat Chinese (lets face it, it’s rude not to). HEAVEN for taste buds…but not really for diabetes. It’s a nightmare counting the carbs in the cuisine that has a gazillion different dishes all with different carb values. NIGHTMARE!

So I guess at my insulin as best I can and, sure enough, just two hours later my bloods have dropped to 4.0. Panicking I am going to have another hypo I drink half a bottle of Lucozade and eat a cereal bar.

After the meal we hit a club and I start to feel ‘heady’ and really thirsty. A finger prick later and my bloods are 25! I give myself insulin to counter act this and try to enjoy my night. My head is ‘whooshing’ for the next hour or so as my levels plummet back to within normal range.

I crawl home to bed in the early hours, I try to work out how much to eat to make sure the dancing/ alcohol  doesn’t make me hypo in my sleep…I guess and fall asleep…another day living my life with diabetes over.

This is a particularly bad diabetes day I’ve described, and I feel I could write a whole year’s worth of possible days that have happened to me and still have loads to write. Diabetes is a challenge, it’s constant and affects sooo much but I have to be positive and learn to live with it or there’s a chance I would lose the plot! Big shout out and thank you to all my friends with diabetes who are there for me on ‘rant’ days!

Shelley is 26 and lives Kent, she is an Office Manager for Successful Diabetes. She was diagnosed with Type One seven years ago this July. Shelley runs a social group for 18-30’s with diabetes called Circle D which has been running for two years. This July Shelley will be running 10k for Diabetes UK – you can sponsor her if you fancy!

18 thoughts on “Diabetic Days – a rollercoaster ride

  1. Tim

    Thanks for the article Shelley – would you say you find life easier after going onto a pump? Or does it not make much difference?

  2. Clare

    Shelly, it’s obviously not good to hear that you have such bad days…but it makes me feel so much better that I am not alone! I too am on a pump, which has also sorted out my night time hypos and made things generally speaking quite a bit better, but I think there are just different issues to deal with now. My main problems seem similar of some of yours…the no extra snacking after hypo treatment is a big issue…I mean how are you supposed to work out how many extra carbs you just ate if you were hypo’d out your nut?!! Also having to change cannula when it’s not even cannula change day…I hate it!
    All just a day in the life of a diabetic, I think I would actually be bored without all the drama!

  3. Teloz

    Reading this I realise how lucky I am to be a T2! At least I know I’m unlikely to suffer a hypo, and that pumping in ridiculous amounts of insulin will keep the hypers down to a minimum. To tell the truth, I’m in the blissful state at the moment when anything over 9 mmol/L is hyper for me. Where you T1s seem to be continually walking a knife-edge, I swan blissfully along on the flat of the blade.

    This is not to say that I can let go of the rigid control needed to keep my BGL within reasonable bounds, but my fight is slightly different and my mantra has to be, “If you want to eat, shoot up; if you don’t want to shoot up, don’t eat!”

    Respect, guy’s and girls, you have my greatest respect!

  4. Charlie

    Hey Shelley – sorry about your tough days – sounds familiar! Just getting used to treating hypos on a pump, and haven’t done very well so far… but just had my first HbA1C since going on the pump just before Christmas, and I’m down to 7.7%!!! So despite tough days and over guzzerling after hypos, I’m very proud of myself – well, someone has to be impressed..? Lets hope everyone has more good days 🙂

  5. Dominic


    Brilliant article! Must say I have days like that. I call them my yoyo days. Up and down, up and down, until it stops. It’s tiring that’s for sure and it’s reassuring (in a kind of bizzare way) that I’m not the only person suffering from days like that. My question to all you ‘pumpers’ is does it have a positive inpact, not only on your sugars (short and long-term), but also on your well-being?

  6. Shelley

    Hi all, author of the article here 🙂 sorry for the delay in response, have been really poorly grrr!!

    Firstly wow! I thought I was just having a good ole rant, but ace to know it’s helped some ppl :0)

    I love love love my pump and it deffo makes things easier (once you adjust to it), I could talk about pumps all day but dont wanna bore ppl, I don’t mind writing another article at somepoint re pumps if you like Tim? Not sure what my quota is, but I think you may have given me the blogging bug…ooopppssss!!! Let me know :0)

    haha know what you mean Clare about it being a drama, we could start our own diabetic soap..what do you say haha!Have you had ure pump long???

    Thanks for the respect Teloz, I feel pretty ignorant re type 2 so feel free to educate me, sure its not a walk in the park either!

    Wow Charlie…you rule!!!!! thats amazing, I came down a whole % with my pump…cant wait for the next one…have some cake to celebrate ;0)

    Hi Dominic…haha I like yo yo…thats a good one!!! My pump has steadied my bloods out really well and I have more energy and just more good moods in general I guess??

    Everyone else???

    :0) S x

  7. Tim

    Shelley :
    I could talk about pumps all day but dont wanna bore ppl, I don’t mind writing another article at somepoint re pumps if you like Tim? Not sure what my quota is, but I think you may have given me the blogging bug…ooopppssss!!

    I write reams of stuff which bores people, so that’s not a problem Shelley 😉 I think another article about pumps would be more than welcome!

  8. sandra duncan

    thanks for your blog shelly found it really interesting,i’m on the verge of being started on the pump,i’ve yet to choose one so any useful tips would be very helpful and appreciated.

  9. Shelley

    Hi Sandra,

    Good for you getting as pump 🙂 I love mine, she’s called Poppy hehe…I was given an accu chek combo, didn’t realise at the time that I had a choice, annoying huh!? Which pumps have you had a look at?

    S x

  10. Aileen

    Great post, thanks Shelley : )

    You sound just like Marc my 17 year old son right up till the 1st March this year. “Dry mouth, banging head, poor concentration and lethargy would be how I’d start my day and this would last until lunchtime on most occasions”

    After a 2 year battle Marc got his pump 19 days ago and OMG what a difference! He’s hardly had a reading over 10 since, he’s got so much more energy and feels soooo much better! It has way exceeded our expectations so far!

    Unfortunately due to the headaches and lethargy he missed lots of school over the last year and although we have won one battle by getting the pump we now have another battle with the school who won’t let him repeat the year : (

    One days life will have less stress, but for anyone considering a pump, all I can say is it’s not perfect but OMG it is a million times better than MDI!

    1. Shelley

      Ah wow Aileen! That’s amazing what the pump has done for your son…it does make you feel sooo much better….shame about his education but at least he will be on the right track from now 🙂 x

      Bless you Sandra, I love my Accu chek combo, its the nuts hehe, have fun choosing, am here if you ever wanna talk pump, its a big change but sooo worth it!

      Just a quick blatant plug, Circle D are having a celebration in London next month for all ages with diabetes. Sat 24th April from 12pm, Yates Leicester square….gonna be a good ole p**s up….!!!

  11. sandra duncan

    Hi Shelly, I haven’t actually chosen a pump yet,my DSN is in the process of arranging a showcase with all the different reps rather than see them individually,as there are a few of us waiting for a pump.
    I agree that it must be a bit annoying when we now have a choice of makes rather than given a certain one automatically.
    All my diabetes equipment is with accu-chek so ideally i’d like to stick with them but as long as it does what it’s suppose to do and not too big then that will do me.
    Thanks for your help and advice it’s much appreciated as i feel like i’m a beginner again. x

  12. Ira

    I must be tired, but I couldn’t stop laughing at the picture. I wanted to cry as it is so, so, so true.
    I’m a mother of a four-year old boy with T1 and the last two weeks have been like the (less-traditional) rollercoaster in the photo. Nothing we do makes a blind bit of difference and I’m about to flip and build him a DIY pump if the doctor still thinks it’s not needed.
    Thanks for the blog 🙂

    1. Tim

      Building a home-made pump, eh? Now that sounds like an interesting DIY project! 🙂

      Hope things are less roller-coastery for your son – it must be bloody hard work with a four year old.

  13. Scott K. Johnson

    Thanks for the guest post Shelly! That day could have been a day for any of us – diabetes sure does not always play fair!


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