Blood Sugar Trampoline

Irish Blog Awards Long list

Aaaageees ago you may remember that I ask for you to nominate this blog and the Thriveabetes blog for an Irish Blog Award. Well, guess what!!!!

We all made the long list!!! Both Thriveabetes and Blood Sugar Trampoline are in the Best Health & Wellbeing Blog category. And Blood Sugar Trampoline is also in the Best Blog Post category. I’m afraid I could not pick from all the amazing blog posts from all of you to nominate one for Thriveabetes.

So what’s next in this award process.

Well, now I have to wait and see if we make it onto the short list and the judging criteria for this is;

  • Is the blog regularly updated (at least once a month on average)? Yes
  • Does the design support or interfere with the reading experience? Yes & No, I think?
  • Is the blogger passionate about and knowledgeable about the subject? YES! YES!!!! and YES!
  • How easy is the blog to navigate? Uuumm yees?
  • Is the blog responsive to PC, mobile and tablet browsing? Yes

If we make the short list the next stage will be some of the dreaded Public Voting. And I suck at it!!!

“The shortlisted blogs will be opened up to a Public Vote so the more you promote your entry the better.
The Public Vote is worth 20% of the overall mark (the other 80% is decided by our judging panel). To help you out we will send you “vote now” buttons which you can use on your blog and social media.” from the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards webpage.

While awards don’t make the blog it would be nice to create more awareness of diabetes and the support available for people living with diabetes. You can never have enough awareness, and that is for sure.

Download (PDF, 692KB)

Treasures from the Diabetes Online Community

Every now and again the DOC sends you something wonderful in real life, or in this case someone wonderful, who you would never have met otherwise. And I feel lucky that I’ve had a couple of those opportunities already this year.

On Saturday last, I met one such person; Gina Gaudefroy. I don’t know how Gina found me last year but she did and sent me an email. We exchanged some of our stories in a couple more emails. Gina shared that she is originally from Limerick but now lives in California. She is very involved in her diabetes community and in participating in many clinical trials. Her diabetes clinic is one of the few participating in the Bigfoot Biomedical Open APS trial and the ViaCyte transplant trials.

Last week, she messaged me saying she was going to be in Ireland, staying in Co. Offaly and could we meet? Hold up! My first question was what the hell are you doing in Offaly, very close to where I grew up? My Irish nosiness kicked in. It turns out that Gina’s father comes from there.

I waited until she arrived to quiz her more about her ancestors, in true Irish tradition. And gave her some of my family history to return with so that she could determine if anyone in any of our families knew each other. And yes! Not only do we have diabetes in common but her father’s people know my people!

Our paths may never have crossed or a connection made if it had not been for social media in particular the DOC. Our diabetes prompted us to connect personally but now we have lots more reasons to stay in touch. 😀

Gina & Me
Gina & Me

Diabetes gone Wild on Holiday

Diabetes on Holiday

It’s summer, which means for a lot of people it’s holiday time. “They” say that diabetes never takes a holiday but what “they” don’t tell you is that when you take a holiday you should be warned that your diabetes will behave as if it’s gone wild in Ibiza and partying like it’s 1999.

I took a holiday for the last couple of weeks. I didn’t go anywhere though. My brother in law and his family were visiting from America, hubby took ten days off work and the kids are on their summer break, so I decided it was a good idea to take a break too. No emails, no posting, very little facebook and twitter (let’s be honest – zero facebook while FFL was going on in Florida was just out of the question:-)

We did lots of day trips, lots of sightseeing, lots of driving, lots of eating out and almost no downtime. One day there could be lots of walking, the next was lots of time in the car. This is my diabetes worst nightmare!

Diabetes gone Wild on Holiday
Diabetes gone Wild on Holiday

My high and low blood glucose alarms went off a lot! Food that I thought might be low carb turned out not to be. Trying to schedule bathroom breaks around optimal blood glucose checking times was challenging. It was all exhausting. My diabetes broke all of the rules, even the ones that I had it well trained in. It decided that all bets were off.

For the biggest part, the holiday was soo much fun with fun people. But I’m ever so glad to be chillin’ at home with the kids for the rest of the summer.

What is Diabetes

Chances are that if you found my website you already know a little something about diabetes. But, you might be like me and always want to learn more. And there’s ALWAYS is more to learn about diabetes. In this page/post I will attempt to give you my interpretation of diabetes. But I will also refer to medical people who can get more technical. I will also talk about the symptoms of diabetes, the risk factors and different types of diabetes.

Diabetes is not easy to explain and it usually requires more than a short sentence, which means people’s eyes glaze over and you lose them before you get to the “good” stuff. But you still have to try right.

It’s important for all of us, people with diabetes, to not only explain our type correctly but when we are asked about other types that we support those people well too.

Let’s start with the basics. Most of the medical definitions I’ve used here came from the Canadian Diabetes Association’s website.diabetes What is-1270346

Diabetes is;

Diabetes is a lifelong, chronic, and sometimes fatal disease about the struggle to manage glucose levels in your bloodstream. The body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces.

What do we need insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that turns the glucose (sugar) in our blood into energy for all of our cells to function. The glucose comes from a couple of sources, mostly from foods known as carbohydrates and a stored supply in our liver. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves – every where our blood goes means that’s an area excess sugar can damage. – See more here.

There are a bunch of different types of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

My (non scientific, non-medical) description; Type 1 diabetes happens when, for some unknown reason, our immune system goes “terminator” on our insulin making cells and wipes them all out. My body now has no way to convert the food I eat, in particular the good stuff that comes in the form of carbohydrates, into fuel for my body to exist. Or the glucose that is constantly being released from my liver to keep energy levels up in between meals.

About five to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes and it can happen at any age. Type 1 diabetes generally develops in childhood or adolescence, but can develop in adulthood. And type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin.”

For the more medical explanation of type 1 diabetes click here. “The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being researched. However, having a family member with type 1 diabetes slightly increases the risk of developing the disease. Environmental factors and exposure to some viral infections have also been linked to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.” Source – International Diabetes Federation (IDF)

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can develop very quickly (over a few days or weeks), particularly in children.

The main symptoms of type 1 diabetes are the 4T’s :

  • Excessive  Thirst
  • Excessive trips to the Toilet
  • Excessive Tiredness
  • Thin; losing an excessive amount of weight

Other symptoms can be vomiting or heavy, deep breathing can also occur at a later stage. This is a dangerous sign and requires immediate admission to hospital for treatment. For more information on the symptoms of type 1 diabetes, click here.

LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults) or Type 1.5

My (non scientific, non-medical) description; LADA is very much like type 1 diabetes but it tends to occur in older adults. It is very often mistaken for type 2 diabetes. It’s a slower destruction of the insulin making cells. Maybe it’s something to do with the “Terminator” being older and slower moving!?! So the symptoms present over a longer period than they would for a person with type 1 diabetes.

LADA is also known as slow-onset type 1 diabetes and type 1.5 diabetes. Like other forms of type 1 diabetes, people with LADA require insulin injections to normalise their blood glucose levels.

For the more medical explanation of LADA click hereSymptoms are very similar to those of type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

My (non scientific, non-medical) description; Type 2 diabetes happens when your insulin has developed a dementia. It’s old and tired and not quite sure what it’s suppose to do. So, sometimes it works and sometimes it has to put twice as much effort in to work. To me, it’s like the insulin has dementia – sometimes it’s sharp and works well and other times it just can’t figure out what to do.

In general, people who develop type 2 diabetes are older but this isn’t always the case. it’s the most common type of diabetes.

The treatment options for type 2 diabetes include managing physical activity and meal planning, or may also require medications and/or insulin to control blood sugar more effectively. It can be a series of trial and error to find the right treatment plan for a person with type 2 diabetes.

For the more medical explanation of type 2 diabetes click here.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes:

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be very slow to present and often you can have type 2 diabetes for a number of years before it is picked up.

The most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • excessive thirst
  • frequent or increased urination, especially at night
  • excessive hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurry vision
  • sores or cuts that won’t heal

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes (from IDF):

There are 10, that’s TEN risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Not just the two/three that we ALWAYS hear about.

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Increasing age
  • High blood pressure
  • Ethnicity
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)*
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy

Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is a category of higher than normal blood glucose, but below the threshold for diagnosing diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

The other description from IDFis a form of diabetes consisting of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It develops in one in 25 pregnancies worldwide and is associated with complications to both mother and baby. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy but women with GDM and their children are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Approximately half of women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.

Other Types.

There are other, much rarer forms of diabetes that are monogenic, meaning a change in only one gene is responsible for the condition. There are two types of conditions in this category: Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young  (MODY) and Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus (NDM).

For these types of diabetes I have to call on the words of experts because I’m not very familiar with them and don’t feel comfortable giving a description of something I don’t know much about.

MODY Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young

I would love to take credit for this explanation of MODY but I couldn’t do any better than Morag (Twitter: @SparklyRedShoes) on GBDOC MODY happens when there is a mutation of a gene and is most often hereditary. It very often is confused as type 2 diabetes in a young person.

“MODY is diagnosed by genetic testing. It may be worth testing for MODY when a person with diabetes doesn’t fit the profile of the more usual types. For example, somebody who actually has MODY may not require as much insulin as most people with Type 1 (and will have measurable C-peptide), even long after the honeymoon period, but they will generally not be of the age and weight you might expect to see for Type 2. In fact, at diagnosis, people with MODY are often young, slim and active. ”

Being genetic, it runs strongly in families; if one parent has it, then the chances of a child inheriting the gene are 50/50. People with a MODY gene generally develop diabetes as young adults, and most are diagnosed by age 45.

For the more medical explanation of type 2 diabetes click here.

The key features of MODY are;

  • Being diagnosed with diabetes under the age of 25.
  • Having a parent with diabetes, with diabetes in two or more generations.
  • Not necessarily needing insulin.

NDM Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus

baby1-499976_1920From Diabetes UK; Neonatal diabetes is a form of diabetes that is diagnosed under the age of nine months. It’s a different type of diabetes than the more common Type 1 diabetes as it’s not an autoimmune condition (where the body has destroyed its insulin producing cells). Like MODY it’s a genetic mutation.

 The key features of neonatal diabetes are:

  • Neonatal diabetes is caused by a change in a gene which affects insulin production. This means that levels of blood glucose (sugar) in the body rise very high.
  • The main feature of neonatal diabetes is being diagnosed with diabetes under the age of 6 months, and this is where it’s different from Type 1, as Type 1 doesn’t affect anyone under 6 months.
  • As well as this, about 20 per cent of people with neonatal diabetes also have some developmental delay (eg muscle weakness, learning difficulties) and epilepsy.
  • Neonatal diabetes is very rare, currently there are less than 100 people diagnosed with it in the UK.
  • There are two types of neonatal diabetes – transient and permanent. As the name suggests, transient neonatal diabetes doesn’t last forever and usually resolves before the age of 12 months. But it usually recurs later on in life, generally during the teenage years.  It accounts for 50-60 per cent of all cases. Permanent neonatal diabetes as you might expect, lasts forever and accounts for 40-50 per cent of all cases.
  • Around 50 % of people with neonatal diabetes don’t need insulin and can be treated with a tablet called Glibenclamide instead. These people have a change in the KCNJ11 or ABCC8 gene and need higher doses of Glibenclamide than would be used to treat type 2 diabetes. As well as controlling blood glucose levels, Glibenclamide can also improve the symptoms of developmental delay. It’s important to know if you have/your child has neonatal diabetes to make sure you’re/they’re getting the right treatment and advice (eg stopping insulin).
  • Genetic testing for neonatal diabetes is offered free of charge for all people diagnosed with diabetes before 9 months of age. Confirming the diagnosis by molecular genetic testing is essential before considering any change to treatment.
  • More information about neonatal diabetes can be found here.

So if you were/your child was diagnosed with diabetes before you/they were 6 months old, ask your diabetes team for a test for neonatal diabetes. Your team can take a blood sample and send it to the Peninsula Medical School based at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for analysis. The test is free. Go to www.diabetesgenes.org. This site will also tell your doctor how to take your blood and send it to the team at Exeter.

Diabetes 1 Now Study

Diabetes Educators?

Last week was completely mental for me. Definitely not the life of a stay at home parent and way too  exciting.

Wednesday, a bunch of us diabetes advocates went to Leinster House to meet with our TD’s and Senators. This is the equivalent of meeting with congress in the US, kindof. I won’t go into detail here but if you’re interested in what happened I posted about it here on Thriveabetes last Tuesday.

Thursday was the complete opposite, live moving from a developing country to a developed one. One day, I was asking government to approve the funding needed to improve our diabetes services, the next, I was in the world of research and science. Not a world I’m very comfortable in but I learned a lot about peer support and specifically this research project that Prof Sean Dinneen is leading on how to create a programme for young adults living with type 1 diabetes called D1 Now Study.

“This event was to provide a forum, lead by a diverse group of keynote speakers including Young Adult with T1D, for sharing experiences and developing ideas around the management of t1d during the challenging years of young adulthood.”

It was a jam-packed day with lots of international studies talked about from around the world about type 1 diabetes and their findings.

From The Role of Family in Supporting the Young Adult with Diabetes by Clea DeBrun Johansen from Denmark Diabetes Academy.

Among this study’s findings were that “The influence of the family continues to be very prominent during emerging adulthood, especially the college years.”
Her study also concluded that;
– Parents play an important, yet complex, role for emerging adults with type 1 diabetes.
– Parents can contribute positively to diabetes self-care and psychological well being.
– Parents can also negatively influence life with diabetes for emerging adults (absence, disinterest in diabetes, acting in a controlling manner).Interview Findings
Emerging adults do not want to be too dependent on their parents – they want parents to be available when needed.

Clea ended with this quote but I would argue that you can do diabetes alone but nobody wants to.

You can't do diabetes alone
You can’t do diabetes alone

Next up was Barbara Johnson who discussed WICKED, a new diabetes education programme in Sheffield. This has to be the coolest name for diabetes education. EVER!

Workin with Insulin, Carbs, Ketones and Exercise to manage Diabetes.

Prior to developing WICKED, Sheffield realised that young adults were taking responsibility for their diabetes often when changes are happening – starting work, moving away to uni, drinking alcohol, having sex and that they may not have received education targeted at them before.
They asked for education that was relevant to them.

Will Hadfield from King’s College Hospital, London, told us about their Transition Clinics for adolescents with diabetes.

His description sounded very much like an afterschool club with peer activities organised by the patients. He also mentioned that a large number of young adults don’t want to received anything diabetes related in their social media feeds. I can understand that they want to keep at least one zone or area of their lives free of diabetes. I have some of those too.

Sarah Simkin from Jigsaw Galway gave a very enlightening talk about how their

A Service Designed by Service Users.

From the design and layout of the building to how the service would be delivered. They really adopted the “Nothing about us, without us” motto that has been circulating for a couple of years and they owned it.

Young Adults with Diabetes Panel (YAP)

Then we heard from the first of two young adults with diabetes who are involved in the D1 Now study. Monica Mullins, a student in Galway, told of how she became a member of the Young Adult Panel (YAP) and the training they received to become researchers. There was a lot of training and it does make them more effective in the research but now I feel that they have altered their typical YA with diabetes demographic, making them not so typical now. Maybe an an additional YAP is needed so that they research team learn to communicate with them.

Our second voice of diabetes, Liam McMorrow designed a survey on “Understanding Young Adults preferences for Diabetes Clinic care”. It was really interesting and I had a couple of questions about his fantastic questionnaire but there wasn’t enough time to answer many questions.

CHOICE

Last but not least was David Chaney who is the National Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland and the only other Irish person I met at the Friend for Life Diabetes Conference in America last summer.
David, with diabetes teams across Northern Ireland, developed CHOICE, (carbohydrate and insulin collaborative education). CHOICE is a structured education programme for children and young people with diabetes (aged 0-19 years) and their parents / carers.

I don’t think there is a parent of a child with diabetes in Ireland who does not know about CHOICE. David took us on the journey of how CHOICE came to be and how it has developed and adapted to meet the needs of children and young people with diabetes.

He told us that when a child is diagnosed with diabetes all the education is directed towards the parents, so when a child transitions into the adolescent and young adult service we expect them to have absorbed all that information by osmosis. Barbara Johnson earlier reinforced this point. David believes, as many of us do, that diabetes education is the cornerstone to good diabetes management.

We are kind of putting our young adults with diabetes into the driving seat of their diabetes without giving them a few lessons and a bit of theory. But, you wouldn’t put a person in the driving seat without giving them a few lessons and a bit of theory first. Then as their confidence grows the diabetes team backs away but if there whenever they are needed. CHOICE is teaching adolescents and young adults to drive their own diabetes.
David also provide The Best Slide of the conference in my opinion. “If HCPs don’t provide diabetes education, others will” Diabetes Educators?

I did get a little frustrated and “irked” about half way through the conference because it was starting to feel like I was being talked about while in the room but not being included in the conversation. Maybe I needed some YAP training to fully participate? Again, it’s not a world I’m very familiar with so maybe that was it? I also wasn’t able to attend the Hackathon that followed the Conference. And I am looking forward to seeing where the research goes and how it develops.

On a personal note the stress of travelling across the country, plus trying to find “volunteers” to look after my children had left the building, along with the high blood glucose numbers:-)

Things I’ve Learned about My Diabetes with a CGM

I have been using a Continuous Glucose Monitoring device (CGM) for six months and I feel that I have enough information now to share what I have learned about my diabetes management in those short months.

A couple of weeks ago I shared how I came to get my hands on this little golden nugget and you can read about that here.

So here it goes, in no particular order, what I have learned.

Rapid acting insulin is not that rapid at all!

If my blood sugar levels dare to go ⇑ and beyond, it could take up to 4 – 6 hours for the insulin to bring them back to normal. It is a major exercise in patience!!! And can lead to rage bolusing (i.e. getting extremely frustrated and bolusing more that reason dictates).

Before CGM, I would take a correction dose of insulin, go to bed, only to wake up in the morning to realise that it hadn’t lowered my levels as much as I had hoped and I had spent at least 8 hours with elevated blood glucoses levels.

Breakfast Blood Glucose

Hypo treatments don’t work fast either.

Glucose, even in its purest, most rapid form doesn’t work fast enough. This can lead to over treating but thankfully the CGM can help curb the overtreatment.

Angle of Arrow Interpretation ⇑⇒⇓⇖⇗⇘⇙

Interpreting what the angle of the arrow next to my blood glucose reading, means in terms of where my blood sugar levels are heading is not that easy but after a bit of trial and error can be achieved.

The alarms can be annoying.

The alarms! The alarms, in the beginning, were, can be annoying and did interrupt many nights of sleep. But they are there for a reason. And very good reasons at that.

The alarms are very useful learning tools.

I tried not to get frustrated with the alarms, especially the low glucose one, which I have set at 4.4mmols. This give me enough time to prevent an actual hypo and I’m still rational enough to decide how to deal with the impending train wreck.

Mostly I use the alarm as learning tool on how to adjust my insulin dose to avoid them. And it’s worked. Six months ago my high blood glucose alarm was set at 16.6 and now I’ve gradually brought that down to 13.3, it only very occasionally goes off (touch wood). They are especially helpful for dealing with days out of my routine and for food that I don’t have very often.

I’m self conscious about my gadgets and gizmos.

Since the weather warmed up I’ve been wearing short sleeves and my sensor, which is placed on my upper arm, attracts a bit of attention. This does make me think about wardrobe choices a bit more and if I really want to talk diabetes.

I sleep less.

This is both good and bad. Bad because I might be woken several times a night because of the alarms and good because I know that I will never have a hypo again without being aware of it. Sleeping through hypos was a huge concern of mine and the reassurance that my CGM gives me is invaluable.

Sometimes my CGM is not reliable.

Just like any other piece of technology I have noticed that there are times where I should double check my CGM reading with a finger prick check. The times this most often happens is usually the first day of a new sensor and when my blood glucose levels are rising quickly or falling quickly. So I still do 7 finger prick tests a day.

My blood glucose levels are within their targets 65% of the time.

Finger prick blood glucose tests give you a snapshot of where your levels are at that point. The CGM tells you where your blood glucose levels are ALL of the time. It’s the difference between having a photo or seeing the whole movie/book. Now that I have a starting point I can try to increase that percentage and spend more time within a healthier blood glucose range. I also appreciate knowing that number is over 50%.

My CGM does influence my behaviour.

That little graph display does influence my behaviour around food and it also helps me stem the spike in my post meal blood glucose levels. It influences decisions about my treats, such as helping me determine should I choose a full bar of chocolate, just 2 squares of the good dark stuff or on warm sunny days the ice cream. My cgm really helps me spend more time within my blood glucose target range.

It has helped reduce my HbA1c!!!

Yes! I had my lab work done at the end of May and I have had the lowest HbA1c that I have had in four years and the time before that I maintained close to this level while I was pregnant with my first child 12 years ago. I have not been able to stabilize this level at any other time. I have been using an insulin pump for 6 years and hadn’t achieved a lower number. Insulin pumps should be available to those who want them and it should be very much about a personal choice. But CGM’s, in my opinion, are way more valuable a tool for managing diabetes and should be strongly encouraged. Even if it’s just for a couple of months. I know they are expensive but in the long run they would reduce the number of hospital admissions for both hyper and hypoglycemia.

 

All in all, I am never giving this device up! Knowing where my blood sugars are at any given time has been so reassuring and relieved so much anxiety.

On a promotional note, I attended a presentation by Thriveabetes 2016 keynote speaker, Gary Scheiner on “Making the Most of Your CGM” where I learned lots of useful information and he has published a book on it, “Practical CGM“. You can register for Thriveabetes 2016 here.

Diabetes Summit Review

I had so much to write about from the Future Health Summit on Friday 27th May last that I had to divide it into two post.

Disclaimer: The organisers of this conference reimbursed me for my travel expenses to attend as a patient speaker. But all opinions are my own.

Here is my review of the Diabetes Summit Event which was chaired by Dr. Ronan Canavan, co-chaired by Anna Clarke from Diabetes Ireland with our panel being chaired by Dr. Eva Orsmond. This was the event that I spoke at. I was last up on the agenda. I have to tell ye, I think I have the bug. Even though, I seriously thought I would need medical assistance because my heart was pounding so hard while I was waiting to go up, once I got up there – I had a ball!

The summit began with Dr. Ronan Canavan, outgoing Clinical lead of the National Clinical Programme for Diabetes and Consultant Endocrinologist, and an overview of what the Diabetes National Clinical Programme has accomplished under his leadership. This included the National Diabetes Podiatry Programme, the establishment of The Diabetic Retina Screening Service, the Type 2 Diabetes Cycle of Care, which we are seeing happening now, the publication of the Paediatric Model of Care for all Children with diabetes and the forthcoming Model of Care document for Adults with diabetes.

Professor Gerald Tomkin gave a wonderful presentation about something very medical but did not fail to be extremely amusing. Actually I giggled a lot! I should add that this conference was primarily attended by healthcare professionals and patients were in the minority.

Dr Neil Black, talked about the reforms that his team have made in Diabetes West, which is not Ireland West but Northern Ireland west.  They have made some very seemingly small but significant changes. They’re approach is to identify the problems in the diabetes service from the patient’s perspective. Some changes were easy, such as changing the name of the diabetes clinic to diabetes support service – it sounds so much more caring. They have also streamlined the pathway to receiving care so that the people who need more support have more access and the people who are in a good place can step back until they need a check in.

2016-05-27 14.53.45

Prof Philip Home-Professor of Diabetes Medicine, Newcastle University. Former Chairman of the International Diabetes Federation (Europe). In 2009 he was Programme Chair for the IDF World Diabetes Congress in Montreal spoke about medications for lowering blood glucose. Again, another well seasoned presenter and charming gentleman but well above my head. 

Dr Richard Lee Kin-Specialist Periodontist and founder of the Mint Clinic in Adelaide Rd., Dublin 2, pointed out why dental hygiene is so important for people with diabetes. He also inform us that people with diabetes can get two dental exams for free every year. I’m hoping to have more information on this about where you can download the form to apply in advance, if you are a PAYE contributor. It’s more straightforward if you have a medical card, see more information from Citizen’s Information.

Then there was me and my scenic journey to becoming an empowered patient, or as I would rather put it “my own best advocate”.

Once everyone has presented, we concluded the summit with a panel discussion where Dr. Eva Orsmond and members of the audience had to opportunity to question us. Things got a little tense for a moment or two during this questioning, but thanks to Anna Clarke the tension was alleviated.

All in all it was not your average day in the office. It was lively, informative and I’m very glad I had the opportunity to participate and attend.

How I got a CGM

The end of May marked six months since I got CGM’d. WOW! It just flew by. 

Bouncing on the Blood Sugar Trampoline

After two years of persistence, I finally got my CGM on November 27th 2015. When I announced this on social media I has a number of queries about how I managed to get approved and how difficult others were finding their quest.

As always, the one thing that the diabetes community is brilliant at, is sharing knowledge through our personal experiences for the benefit of others. So, here is the story of how I came to have a CGM.

How did this quest begin? Well, it began with an insulin pump (and that was another long drawn out “quest”) in June 2010. I wrote about that journey here on 29th March 2011.

I use the Animas Insulin Pump and as soon as Animas announced that they were rolling out the Animas Vibe with CGM integration in the UK and Ireland, I was on it like sticky on a toddler.

My pump was due for an upgrade in 2014 as the warranty runs out at 4 years and because the pump software would not continue past January 2016. I called my Animas rep to find out how, or if there was a chance that I would get a Vibe as part of this upgrade and she said yes! Great! But wait!

Hiccup no. 1. However, between hearing this information and my next appointment at my endo’s office, my Animas rep, the only Animas employee in Ireland at that time,  took a 12 month sabbatical. That combined with having only 3 visits per year to my endo doesn’t give me much of a chance to get things done. I did get my Vibe in June 2014 and immediately started chasing down how to get the CGM component.

Hiccup no. 2. My Animas rep returned from her sabbatical the following August BUT then my fabulous endocrinologist left her position at the hospital I attend! I decided to use this opportunity to migrate back into public health care for my diabetes. My children were both in primary school and it was doable to fit clinic visits during school hours. I had also heard of a clinic that was only a one hour drive away that had an insulin pump clinic and DAFNE

CGM 9.1

Hiccup no. 3. Fifteen month waiting list!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not kidding! By the time I got my referral sorted out to my new clinic and waited I had been without medical care for 11 months. I was doing fine but I was starting to get a wee bit unsettled. Thankfully, when I called to chase up my referral they squeezed me into the Type 2 diabetes clinic in April 2015 but at least I was in and on the books.

June 2015 – I set up a trial before purchase with a Dexcom CGM for two weeks and I was hooked. And now I had data, with the help of my mathematical husband, to strengthen my case for getting one permanently.

October 2015 – I presented my case and there were a couple of breakdowns in communication but the paperwork was put through to apply for funding approval from the HSE and on the 27th November I was live on a CGM permanently.

It took 17 months to complete this quest, that in the end when I had convinced my diabetes team why I wanted one took 6 weeks. Unlike an insulin pump, the training and education required before a patient goes live on a CGM is minimum. 

In February 2016, an additional piece of this quest was completed and that was the reimbursement of the monthly supply of sensors which comes not from the Core List F of diabetes supplies and medications included in the Long Term Illness Scheme but on the Special Product List. See here for more information.

And that is the complicated story of how I got a CGM. My next post will focus on what I have learn about managing my diabetes by using it and how I will be taking it to the grave with me.

If you want to find out more about what is a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) device is, watch here. There are two available in Ireland at the moment; the aforementioned Dexcom (with or without the Vibe insulin pump) and the Medtronic RealTime Guardian CGM. The newer Medtronic pumps all come with CGM compatibility but you can get the CGM component without getting an insulin pump.

Future Health Summit Review

I have so much to share from the Future Health Summit last Friday I really don’t know where to start. So. Much. To. Write. It was very much an honour to have the opportunity to attend and to get a glimpse into the health care professionals’ world and to have access to a diverse range of AM-azing speakers from all areas of health.

Friday morning, I arrived in, what I thought, was plenty of time to browse the exhibits but due to a minor mix up in the timetable I lost forty five minutes of that time. I met some really interesting people though, who do some very important work and some very interesting delegates.

The first part of my day was spent attending the Diabetes Ireland workshop, which was consolidated with the ARCH workshop.

I have to say that I feel a new & engaging phase of diabetes patient conferences evolving. The diabetes conferences that I had been going to in Ireland were stale for me. They were very much medically driven and about getting to know the basics. They were not at all engaging, or very seldom and I wasn’t learning anything new at them so I stopped going.

Future Health Summit Logo

In 2014, I had my first experience of what a patient conference could be when I went to my first diabetes conference where the speakers really, I mean really, engaged with their audience. It was almost like we were at a Baptist church service and I just wanted to stand up and sing “Halleluia”! I called these guys and gals Diabetes Rock Stars. And these guys blog, have websites, run organisations and are well known in the diabetes world. You know who I’m talking about because we are bringing a small number of them to Thriveabetes.

But in recent months, as I do more and more blogging and advocating and learning and meeting new diabetes people I’m beginning to realise that we are growing our own crop of Diabetes Rock Stars right here in Ireland. I can see it happening and it’s so exciting. The two I will mention today are Diabetes Ireland’s very own, Anna Clarke and Kate Gajewska (no she’s not Irish born but we are keeping her:-)

Kate’s “Top 10 Tips for living with Diabetes

Kate presented her “Top 10 Tips for living with Diabetes”. But they weren’t what you might have assumed they were. She told us not to forget to live and play, that diabetes is part of our lives – don’t let it become our whole lives. Become an expert in diabetes – find out what it is, how insulin works, how carbohydrate is absorbed – there is nothing as empowering as knowledge. They are just a couple of the gems she shared. And she told us her diabetes story of growing up in Poland and how her parents bought her first blood glucose meter when they first came out and then they bought her first pump. How expensive they were but that her parents know how much a difference they would make in her life. I hope to have more information about Kate in the coming months on the Thriveabetes blog.

Anna’s ” What to expect from you annual diabetes clinic appointment”

Anna Clarke gave us her version of what to expect from you annual diabetes clinic appointment. It was clear that Anna knew most of the people with diabetes in the room had type 1 and I think she also knew some of us personally. She delivered a talk that was specific to us. Us, who have been around the diabetes block for a while and do our homework for our appointments. So, she told us that we should not be afraid to speak up at our appointments, especially if we don’t feel listened to. That, even if our doctors and nurses don’t see us as equals, we should still see them as ours. And to focus on getting more time with our Diabetes Nurse Specialists rather than our Endocrinologists.

Shane O’Donnell & The ARCH Workshop

Next up was the ARCH workshop which was extremely interesting and gave me a little introductions to sociology presented by Dr. Shane O’Donnell was presenting it with his colleague, Dr Maria Quinlan.

ARCH is the Applied Research for Connected Health, and “is at the centre of an unparalleled connected health education and research infrastructure that spans a range of activities from gathering, analysing and interpreting data, through the development of new knowledge and care models to implementing and evaluating change.”

Shane, you might remember from a previous post, is Ireland’s representative on the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leader in Diabetes Programme. And even though he had written a piece for Thriveabetes, which you can have a read of here – we had yet to meet. Cool Bananas! Box ticked!

 

I know that I’ve come across a couple more Irish people in diabetes who qualify as “Rock Stars” – but I thought I would just give you a little flava.

We had a quick break for lunch. And then my afternoon was spent attending the Diabetes Summit, where I was presenting. I have to tell ye, I think I have the bug. TBC This post is long enough:-)

Apologies for the lack of photo, I really need to upgrade my phone:-(

The Blood Sugar Train Wreck

This train wreck started with a decision to skip the spud at dinner, in my opinion. We were having Chicken Maryland and so there was enough carb on the breading to double my usual dinner carb count and I decided to forego the mash potato.new doc 86_1

This middle/2nd dip below the blue line in my photo opposite shows the low blood sugar after dinner.

I, mostly, eat low to moderate carbs to help maintain good blood glucose management. It’s a decision that I made for myself and I would never try to make it for anyone else.

Having said that, the real, real reason I skipped the spud was to have an ice cream. :-S It was a Saturday and I like to have a special treat on the weekends. Being a stay at home mum, it kind of lets me know there is something different between weekdays and the weekends.

I feel like I’m digging a bigger hole for myself here!

Anyway, here comes the second questionable decision. My blood sugars plummeted after dinner and I was so SICK TO DEATH of eating glucose tablets that I opted for chocolate and jellies instead. I know! I know! Not the smartest idea. (Another big hole) I can’t even use the fact that my hypo was affecting rational decision making because it didn’t.

Lots of jellies!

Ok, now the predictable happen. ↑↑ Yep, blood sugars doing the opposite of plummeting, which eventually lead to rage bolusing because insulin does NOT work as fast as I would like it too.

Next up, the rocket train down again. At this point, I took 5 glucose tablets, I usually only take 2-3, to make sure it was well and truly taken care of and that I would not wake up again before I was suppose to.

There is no lesson in this post. I’m just frustrated!!!

But I survived! I learned! And I shall not beat myself up over it:-)

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