A Stock Standard Day

Nothing of any T1D interest happened today.

  •  I got out of bed and jabbed my finger to test my blood glucose
  •  I had the first of the two morning injections
  •  A little later I had the second injection
  •  Breakfast. Because I follow the routine taught to me 46 years ago, I have a standard breakfast with a relatively standard amount of carbohydrate
  •  Just before getting off the train for my standard walk, I had a fruit juice box. This gives me the extra carbohydrate I need for the 45 minute walk
  •  After arriving at work, I had another fruit juice box. History tells me that if I don’t I’ll be going low within 30 minutes of getting there
  •  An hour later I had my morning snack. Quaintly this is called “morning tea” in Australia, a hang over from our English past. I was now set up for the coast through to lunch
  •  At midday I tested my BGL again and entered the result in the log book I keep. Then I prepared and ate my lunch. The log book is so I can show my doctor (Endo) my tests since the last time I saw her. From that she gets a snapshot of how I am managing my T1D
  •  Off for my lunch time walk around the river. It was a lovely day for it
  •  At mid afternoon I thought back over the day and thought about my levels this morning, the food I’ve eaten and whether anything differently energetic has happened today. From this I determined how much food I should have for my afternoon snack, cutely referred to as “afternoon tea” in Australia. From this little thought experiment I decided to have an apple
  •  Time to go home, so the standard train trip, arriving home at the standard time just before dinner
  •  Shortly before sitting down to eat I went into the bathroom to test my BGL and record the result in the log, then have the first of my evening injections
  •  The evening meal contained approximately the standard amount of carbohydrate
  •  At 8 o’clock in the evening I had my second evening injection, to prepare myself for the night time. This injection needs to be the right amount so I get through the night without my BGL going low and hopefully so it isn’t too high either when I test again in the morning
  •  At 9:30 I did my final test of BGL, recorded it in the log, then decide from that test what to have for my pre-bed snack, referred to in Australia as “supper”. The decision is primarily based on how much carbohydrate I need, but it needs to be of the long acting type, ie. low GI. So long as all of those considerations are matched properly I will be safe over night and not wake up too high

My stock standard day includes me jabbing myself with a needle or pricker 8 times, 4 of them to purposely make myself bleed. It involves me considering grams of carbohydrate each time I need to eat. Part of that process also requires me to think back over the last 12 hours and reconsider how many grams of carbohydrate I’ve already eaten.

And that’s before I take the first bite.

I’ve done this daily routine 16,790 times, having 67,160 injections. Sometimes people ask me if it annoys me, and my answer is not a simple yes or no. Yes, it gets repetitious and I sometimes would like to be more carefree and flippant. But no, because if I hadn’t followed a tight management regime for these 46 years, it’s very likely I wouldn’t be here today. I certainly wouldn’t be as healthy as I am.

So today was a stock standard day. I hope tomorrow is too.

Marathon des Sables – A Type 1 Diabetes Adventure

T1D – Invisible Illness

One of the frustrating things about living with T1D is that it is invisible.

I know, that is a strange thing to say and difficult to comprehend, but let me try to explain it to you.

Most illness and disease that people live with have some sort of physical indication that the person isn’t well. Now please don’t misunderstand my intention here. I am in no way intending to downplay the awful illness and conditions that so many people live with. I am only mentioning a difference between those illnesses and T1D.

A broken leg is obviously a broken leg.
Arthritis, as it progresses, becomes quite clear. I know; I have early stage arthritis myself.
MS becomes quite clear that the person isn’t well.
Asthma, skin conditions, even epilepsy, can show themselves quite clearly.

But a person living with T1D doesn’t necessarily show any physical sign of the T1. So long as the person, and don’t forget there are 30 million of us around the world, is in reasonably good health and manages their T1 well, nobody would ever be able to tell that they live with this chronic illness.

For example, after 46 years and 55,000 injections, unless you followed me around for 24 hours and watched my every move, you would never know that I lived with this illness.

“But why” I hear you ask “is that a frustrating thing?”

Good question. Let me explain.

When you combine the fact that T1D is invisible with the general public’s confusion about the significant differences with T2D – the “diabetes” that is most often is discussed in the media – and then stretch that to people thinking they are armchair experts in the modern world about all things dietary, we sometimes find ourselves needing to defend what we have to do to stay alive. As I have described in another post, we can be dead in 8 hours if we don’t actively manage our T1.

The modern confusion between T1D and T2D can even lead to sad situations, such as a mother of a child with T1D being accused of causing it by feeding their child “bad food”.

It is situations like these that can make this invisible illness unnecessarily frustrating.

I know; maybe I should wear my arm in a sling. At least then people would be interested and show sympathy for an imaginary condition, rather than be confused and ignore an invisible one.

Marathon des Sables – A Type 1 Diabetes Adventure

Being Invisible

This post is not strictly to do with T1D, but it does have a connection.

I was walking through the city today and was reminded of something as I avoided another person on the footpath.

For anyone under the age of about 50, I have sad news for you. One day you will reach an age when you magically become invisible. For me this happened about 10 years ago. That was when people younger than maybe 30 or 35 stopped recognising that I was even there in a public setting. I mentioned this to an older friend and he said “Oh yes, definitely. I can remember the day that happened.”

So now I am an invisible man living with an invisible illness. Sadly that doesn’t mean I can walk through walls.

Wouldn’t that be great. 🙂

Marathon des Sables – A Type 1 Diabetes Adventure

Just Another Day – 2

It’s Sunday.

We had a reasonably quiet day planned for today. Nothing special and nothing overly taxing. Even my BGL was “normal” this morning.

Off we go to do the grocery shopping. It doesn’t get more suburban normal than that in The Magical Land of Oz.

As we progress stutteringly up and down the aisles I started to feel a little odd. I did a quick mental check – Am I shaking? No. Am I confused? No. Am I starting to feel removed from the moment? No. Well then it’s not likely to be low sugar …… but …..

The feeling just got more pronounced as we progressed, then by the time we got to the checkout I was convinced that “my sugar” wasn’t good. And because of how this had snuck up on me I knew from history that this was one of those sudden drop ones. I now knew that I had at most 20 minutes before I’d need help from someone else.

After finishing the shopping then going home, I hurried to get the fruit juice box from the fridge, followed by a few emergency jelly beans. After following up with a standard lunch, all is again right with the world.

Everything was normal but I had what is in reality a small medical crisis. Out of the blue and totally unexpected.

Just another day living with T1D.

Marathon des Sables – A Type 1 Diabetes Adventure

Just Another Day – 1

I got home from work last night, all terribly normal. The day had been normal and my routine had been normal.

When I was standing in the kitchen I realised that something wasn’t entirely right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but just knew something wasn’t right.

46 years of experience kicked in so I went straight off to “check my sugar”. And sure enough, I was at 3.2 (58 in the USA). Out came the fruit juice box and the emergency sweets.

The rest of the evening progressed as normal, with my level a little high. Then interestingly this morning it was back down in the 3’s.

The points of interest from this episode are, in no particular order –

  1.  Because my day yesterday was “normal”, why did my level drop?
  2.  Because everything appeared back to normal before bed, why was my level so low this morning?
  3.  From the perspective of a non-T1D person, so what?

Points #1 and #2 are rhetorical questions. One of the frustrating things about T1D is that there are so many things that affect the BGL (Blood Glucose Level) and so many things that can change it. The best way I can describe it for non T1D people is that it is like juggling 3 balls every minute of every day. The 3 balls are food, insulin and activity.

The food is the source of carbohydrate. The insulin enables the carbohydrate to do it’s work and the activity determines how much carbohydrate your body needs. The food and insulin can be accurately controlled, but the activity is much more difficult. Did you have to run to catch the bus? Did you have to stand in line to buy that sandwich? Did you get a stressful phone call at work today?

The things that can change the BGL include the weather, your mood, your physical activity, your level of rest, your current state of health, your stress level at work or school …. and that’s only the easy ones.

But how did I even know “something wasn’t right”? Well, that’s very difficult to explain, but I’ll try.

Have you ever had that slightly out-of-body feeling, where it’s almost as if you are watching what’s going on from outside? Or that slightly unco-ordinated feeling where things just aren’t where they are meant to be, or the kitchen bench is a tiny bit higher or lower than it should be? Have you ever turned your head to look at the person speaking to you and your eyes just want to keep swinging around and you feel you have to tell them to stop? And what about that word you’re looking for? It’s a really easy word and you use it all the time, but right now it’s just out of reach. I wonder why these things are happening?

Hang on …………. I wonder if I might be low.

But if I caught the low last night, why was it low again this morning? Good question and I’m glad I asked.

Firstly, we still don’t know why I went low last night, so maybe the root cause is still there. Secondly, some of the food I had to bring myself back up last night was of the HIGH GI variety. This means fast acting carbohydrate that has the unfortunate down side of not lasting in the system very long. When you hear the diet people rabbiting on about low GI and high GI, this is what they are talking about. In very simple words, high GI is processed sugar while low GI is whole grains and vegetables.

So why couldn’t I get things back in balance properly? Firstly, I thought I had. Secondly, have you ever been juggling the 3 balls and then somebody gives you a new one to replace one of the ones you have? I doubt it, but try to imagine they have. You must not drop any balls and mustn’t change the rhythm of your juggling, but you also must swap the correct ball for the new one.

DON’T STOP JUGGLING AND DON’T DROP A BALL.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to smile and keep showing the world that everything is OK.

It can be quite tiring, to be honest. Oh, that’s another one of those variables that are out of your control. 🙂

Marathon des Sables – A Type 1 Diabetes Adventure

Daily Happenings with T1D

I am not a seasoned blogger. I am not even a typical blogger. I am more than 60yo and approaching retirement, so I’m not the sort of person who’s going to be hanging off a cliff for a selfie and then telling the world how wonderful it is to be alive and to live life to the fullest.

What I am is a person who has lived a long time with Type 1 Diabetes.

In that time I have experienced almost everything that T1D can throw at someone. Luckily for me that does NOT include blindness, failed kidneys or amputations. But it DOES include eye damage, creeping peripheral neuropathy (loss of feeling in the toes) and brain damage.

With that combination, I’m trying to work out what sort of “daily happenings” would be most interesting and useful for people to read about. Have no hesitation in leaving a comment to tell me what you would like to know more about. Your help in giving me some direction will be most appreciated.

Maybe you know nothing about “diabetes” and are slightly curious enough to learn more. Or maybe someone in your family has been recently diagnosed and you are worried and looking for information. I am certainly not a doctor and will never give medical advice; but what I will do is give a real-life perspective to almost any subject that could have any connection at all to T1D.

And sadly, that means many things that happen every day in normal life.

So in the next post I’ll start rambling on about T1D and day-to-day life. But I hope to get some direction from people out there in The Real World to help guide my words in a more useful direction.

Marathon des Sables – A Type 1 Diabetes Adventure