As well as being a regular commentator at your soaraway Shoot Up, Dave is a blogger extraordinaire and regularly posts over at http://www.thetangerinediabetic.blogspot.com/
The day was planned perfectly. Twice a week I work in Leeds, which is a leisurely two-hour train ride away from home. Strips for my (current) favourite testing machine ran out on Thursday but I had a plentiful supply of backups for another meter I get along with, so I wasn’t overly stressed about getting to the pharmacy to pick up my repeat prescription that I’d ordered online a few days earlier. Knowing the pharmacy opens at 7am and my train leaves at 07:20 gave me the perfect opportunity to collect them on the walk to the station in the morning. I tested on waking and was higher than I’d have liked (11.7) but breakfast and a correction on a dual-wave would sort that nice and simply. I left the back-up meter at home whilst I set off for my leisurely walk to the station.
Now if you’ve read the title of this piece you may have guessed that my flawless plan had a flaw – and you’d be correct in that assumption. On arrival the bloke behind the counter apologetically explained the pharmacist was running late and wouldn’t be in for another fifteen minutes. No pharmacist, meant no dispensing and thus no strips. For the day. At all. First thoughts were anger and a quickly worded but slightly too rude email to the boss ignored the fact it was my own stupid fault for just assuming my tight timelines wouldn’t cause any problems. Within an hour I got a very apologetic reply and I gracefully accepted that and replied apologising for my bluntness earlier.
So I was now sat with a pump in my pocket and no way of knowing if the day ahead was going to be good, bad or indifferent control-wise with my only real judge of BG levels being my normally half-decent hypo–awareness signs. A quick tweet to anyone reading was met with a mixture of “Oh no, total nightmare!” to “Hey ho, that’s how we used to live wasn’t it?” That last one was very true and quickly reminded me how far I’ve come in the last two years. I’ll admit Dave and ‘good diabetic’ weren’t terms that went together too often in the previous twenty years – before that I had parental guidance so can accept no credit for doing any better.
Back in the day, well two years ago anyway, I’d quite happily go days without testing and without it worrying me at all before a random test at some point in the day on some days just to make sure my BG didn’t start with a 2. There’s a whole other story on how I totally mismanaged my diabetes but that’s for another day. So why am I less able to prevent myself going low today than a few years ago without assistance? Indeed the bolus wizard on Adam the pump should mean I am more able to handle circumstances like this and avoid ketoacidosis and collapsing from being low.
On the train home I was reading the latest Shortlist magazine and there was an article on how we get too attached to technology and whilst this isn’t really similar it does strike up thoughts about how dependent I have become on my tech recently. The link is very tenuous as not tweeting for a few hours is not at all like judging if I’m in danger of a serious medical emergency but I’ll go with it anyway. For those who had ‘the diabetes’ as my Type 1 uncle calls it, for a couple of decades or more you may remember the days when testing involved peeing into a test tube – easier doing it as a boy than a girl I guess – before dropping in a tablet and waiting a few minutes before holding it up to a colour chart to decide whether you were high a couple of hours ago – low was irrelevant and couldn’t be checked without looking for shaking hands. It was an entirely different, much more vague world back then. I’m not saying it was better, as it obviously wasn’t but it does open the debate as to whether having constantly available information always assists.
Well I made it through the day with my usual fast walks from the station and my standard 70ish grams of carbs for lunch and a bag of crisps on the train back. I got home after sheepishly returning to the pharmacy to collect my strips and the closing result for my time without a meter was…………can you feel the tension?…………5.8mmol! That’s the best home arrival test result than I’ve ever achieved! I’d survived but I know I didn’t like the separation of knowledge about what my body was doing. It was certainly an interesting exercise – though one not to be deliberately repeated.
I’ll finish by acknowledging that I’m very lucky not to have complications or any lack of hypo-awareness and I understand how for others (I’m looking at you @Lizz) being without a means to test would cause very real life-critical problems; it’s just for me that a day without testing was inconvenient but not that frightening or stressful. It was also a suggestion by @Tim that maybe I could go to Boots and just buy some. I feel I’ve come to know my online community better than they know me. Buy? Spend money on something I’ve always got free? Are you mad??? Saying that, it would be a good option for those less reckless than myself.
I’d love to hear how others would feel in a similar situation – or maybe I’m the only one stupid enough to live that scenario for real?