Type 1 diabetes is a hidden condition for most. You won’t see the affects on their body, the toll it takes both mentally and physically can be really draining.
I am regularly told that I am a “good diabetic”. I’m congratulated on handling it well, taking the diagnosis in my stride and not letting it stop me. My consultant calls me his A+ student.
You’d think I’d be proud of this, but in fact I actually find it a little annoying. Due to my success, it seems to downplay the severity of the condition and the work that I put in to keeping things on track. Being diagnosed was a major life adjustment, and just because I cope it doesn’t mean it’s not hard work.
Much like a swan, I may look graceful on top of the water but underneath I am paddling furiously to keep myself afloat. I thought I would show you what a day of diabetes is like. I’ve documented every thought or action I took to take care of my body in a 24 hour period. I hope it will give you an insight into what goes on day to day, and that you may better appreciate the complexities involved.
20th November 2016 – Sunday
6:37 am – Piglet wakes me. My mouth is dry and my head is pounding. That is a pretty clear sign that my BG (blood glucose level) will be high. I have to leave Piglet to moan for a few minutes while I do a finger prick to check. They are 11.4 (target 4 – 7) so I use my pump to bolus a correction to bring me back into range and get up. Bolus – a term for a single dose of insulin.
7:00 am – Breastfeeding Piglet. Usually I would have to eat as feeding lowers my BG, but since my BG was high I skip it
7:30 am – Breakfast. I check the packet to get the carbohydrate content of the crumpets and input 20g into my pump to get the correct bolus. I wish I had bolused for it when I first got up. Insulin takes a little while to start working. A crumpet is a high GI food so the carbohydrate will be affecting my BG and raising it before the insulin has a chance to start lowering it. That created a BG spike which doesn’t feel very nice and can be detrimental to your body long term.
8:20 am – Disconnect my pump so I can hop in the shower. It is always nice to have a few minutes untethered, but I still have the cannula on my stomach as a reminder.
8:30 am – Reconnect pump, and remind myself I want to order longer tubing next time as my current ones are seeming a bit short.
9:23 am – My pump alarm goes off, alerting me to the fact my insulin reservoir is running low. I silence it as the alarm goes off with 20u to go, and for me this is more than 24 hours of insulin usually. It is a judgement call that only I can make.
9:38 am – Mouth is feeling really dry and I’m wondering if my BG is still high from this morning, or whether it is related to the spike from the crumpet. We are on our way out for breakfast so I decide to wait and check my BG once we arrive as we’re in the car.
9:53 am – Check BG – 9.2 it’s a little out of range but not awful. I don’t correct as I have active insulin still working from earlier which should take care of it. We are out and about so I have to SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) the carbs for this second breakfast. I estimate around 46g and input it into my pump to receive the bolus. SWAG is my least favourite way of getting my carbs counted. It’s inaccurate and leaves so much room for error. I definitely prefer to weigh or measure my meals and get the correct information as much as possible.
11:23 am – Feeling shaky and unstable. I check my BG and find it to be 3.7 – hypoglycemic. I eat a 10g of carbohydrate haribo bag and wait for it to rise. I curse myself for not put a TBR (temporary basal rate) on while we walked around ASDA. Basal is the insulin you need to just exist, regardless of any food or drink intake. Exercise reduces your basal needs – even something as simple as walking around the supermarket
11:41 am – Check BG again and it is up to 4.7 so I can carry on
11:50 am – Catch my pump tubing on a cupboard handle while putting away groceries.
12:26 am – Consider setting a TBR for ironing, but decide against it as Piglet is being a pickle and I’m not sure when he’ll nap. A TBR works best if set an hour in advance.
2:22 pm – Check BG before lunch and it is 9.7 – testing strip pot is empty so I replace it with a new one. Each pot has 50 strips in it so will usually last me around a week. Weigh out the pasta for lunch and bolus for 41g.
3:50 pm – Think about changing my pump site (due to the low reservoir alarm earlier) but Piglet is still mucking around and I need my hands free to do it.
4:19 pm – Finally get around to changing my site. I would likely have had enough insulin to last me through to the next morning, but we are going out for tea so I don’t want to get caught short. I input 87u which is more than enough for 3 days. You need to change your site every 3 days to prevent infection. I insert the cannula into my left hip and it hurts a lot. I wish I’d chosen my stomach, but it is important to rotate site locations to prevent scar tissue building up. My hip stops hurting after about 30 seconds.
5:22 pm – On the way out for dinner I notice that my pump battery is down to one bar. Make a mental note to change it in the coming days.
6:15 pm – Check BG before dinner and it is 8.5 – I bolus a small correction and enough insulin to cover a 52g roast dinner. I do not weigh the meal as we are at my inlaws, but I make estimations to the best of my ability.
8:12 pm – Birthday cake for my sister in law! I SWAG bolus as I’ve no idea what the correct carbohydrate value would be.
10:28 pm – I check my BG before bed and it is 12.2 – pump claims I don’t need a correction as I still have active insulin from dinner, but I know better. I override it and enter a small additional correction bolus.
11:00 pm – Check BG one last time and it is 13.2 – really not what I wanted to see. I bolus another correction and set my alarm for 1am so I can check it again.
That is the end up my day. Aside from telling JHogg I was hypo, as it meant I couldn’t put away the groceries immediately, and him seeing me changing my site, none of that was noticed by anyone. It is all done in my head, quietly and to myself. Using a pump to take my insulin is extremely discrete, but even when I was on injections it was hardly noticed.
If you are interested in what goes into changing an insulin pump site then this little video should give you a quick look at what I do!
I hope this gives you a little insight into a hidden disease like diabetes. If you have any questions please feel free to ask!
Why not join our Facebook Group which is hub for women with all different types of diabetes. It is a safe place to ask questions, share knowledge and be open about how you are coping.
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