Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The 20 Year Anniversary Posts - 20 Essentials for a Diabetic - Part One

Thought I'd try and stick with the 'twenty' theme for a few of my anniversary posts so here's the first list of 20 'D-related' things - Essentials for a Diabetic or a for Parent of a Child with Diabetes - some of the medication related ones are really obvious but others are more about some of the qualities that I think you need to cope on a daily basis!!!

 1.  Insulin - like I said, it's a really obvious one but this has got to be top of the list of essentials for a Type 1 Diabetic.....for those that don't know, Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because your pancreas does not produce any insulin.  Type 1 Diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.

Diabetes UK's website describes the way insulin works as follows: Insulin is the key that unlocks the door to the body’s cells. Once the door is unlocked glucose can enter the cells where it is used as fuel. In Type 1 diabetes the body is unable to produce any insulin so there is no key to unlock the door and the glucose builds up in the blood.
Nobody knows for sure why these insulin-producing cells have been destroyed but the most likely cause is the body having an abnormal reaction to the cells. This may be triggered by a virus or other infection. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but usually appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood.
R.I.P Pancreas

2.  Support - A Person with Diabetes (PWD) cannot possibly get through all the trials and tribulations that this life-long disease brings without a great deal of support from various sources. 

3.  Patience - Diabetes is challenging to put it mildly - You don't always get it right and things don't always go the way you expect them to blood sugar wise so having patience is essential in order to keep you sane!!! Basal testing can seem tedious and frustrating, sitting in hospital and doctors waiting rooms is boring, waiting to hear about insulin pump funding, hearing the media report things that are incorrect or that don't give the full picture, being confronted with discrimination in the workplace/school/life in general, having people say things like "It could be worse" or "You can't eat that can you?" ......these are just a few other D-related situations where you may require plenty of patience!!!

4.  Family and Friends - I guess this comes under the heading of 'support' but I truly believe that without fantastic family I wouldn't get through the 24/7 of it all.  Family and friends certainly have to put up with a lot, especially close family who see you go through it all every single day and have to put up with the tears, tantrums, frustrations, attend appointments, see scary hypos and hypers etc. etc. but they are also there to share the good HbA1c results and the happiness when things are going right!!!

5. The Medical Profession - Diabetes Specialist Nurses (DSN), consultants, dieticians and all the other members of the medical profession that we come into contact with over the years are essential cogs in the machine!!!  I have the support of a great team but I realise that this is not always the case so I know I am very lucky.

6. Sense of Humour - Diabetes is a constant roller coaster ride and a good sense of humour is essential for dealing with the ups and downs.  You have to laugh and try and see the positives otherwise you'd end up in tears all the time!!!  There are a great deal of negative things about Diabetes so its important to smile about all the small triumphs and grin every time you win the tiniest of battles against it.

7.  Blood Testing Kit - These little gadgets enable a Diabetic to see exactly whats going on with their blood sugar levels at any given time.  There are numerous types of test meter and I'm sure most PWD's have tried lots of different ones and probably even have a few spares at the back of a cupboard!! It would be very difficult to guess at how many times a Diabetic has to prick their finger, squeeze out a drop of the red stuff and transfer it onto a test strip during their lifetime but its a hell of a lot.  My blood testing meter (along with my pump) is now my best friend and is always with me.  I went through a long period of time when I left my kit in a draw and only took it out occasionally to write a few fake results in my monitoring diary.  That time in my life seems so long ago now and I cant believe I was so irresponsible.  Now I do at least 4 tests every day and the information helps me to keep things on an even keel and provides data on what certain foods and activities do to my sugar levels.

8.  Glucose Tablets - Not nice (I can only describe it as similar to eating chalk) but essential for treating hypos quickly and effectively!!! I currently use raspberry flavoured Glucotabs which are not great but are certainly the best of a bad bunch!!! I'll bet if you look round the houses of people with Diabetes you will find plenty of tubs / packets of glucose tablets!!! I have them in the kitchen, in the draw of my bedside table, in almost every bag that I own, in our car and in my desk at work!!!

9.  Strength - This is something that I bet most Diabetics / parents of Diabetics don't even think about because we all just 'get on with it' but if you do sit down and have a proper think about it all and what we put up with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year then it will soon dawn on you that we are all incredibly strong.  This strength comes from inside us but also we draw on the strength of those around us to get us through it all.  When we are having a bad day or feeling down we can always rely on other Diabetics or family and friends to bring us back up to full strength again!!!

10.  Diabetic Online Community (DOC) - As most of you will know, I spent a long period of time throughout my teens in denial and trying to ignore my condition.  Since I saw the light and decided to pull myself together I have discovered the DOC.  I have already referred to family and friends and the strength we can draw from them when we are feeling down but the DOC is an invaluable source of support, advice and friendship.  I have made lots of friends in the DOC since starting my blog and since deciding to pay attention to my Diabetes.  No question is too silly, no moan is too much for people in the DOC and no matter how you feel you can always rely on someone to know exactly how you are feeling and there is always someone there to bring you back on track and put a smile on your face!!! I can honestly say I would be lost without the DOC and only wish I'd found it sooner!!!

Essentials 11 to 20 to follow.......  :o)

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