Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A day in the life of a Type 1 Diabetic - my raised voice

Most readers here know just what it's like to be a type 1 diabetic. But in the spirit of Raise Your Voice day, I'm doing 'A day in the life of M'

3am: wake up desperate for the toilet, which always means I'm low. Test when I return: 2.4mmol (43 mg/dl). Icky. Eat a couple of Mentos in bed and fall asleep feeling totally trashed. Mentos are great for lows - they work really fast so I always use them if I'm under 3mmol or any time I need a fast BG rise.

8am: wake up again, with fuzzy teeth. I gave up brushing my teeth after overnight munchies a long time ago, but it always feels gross in the morning! No wonder diabetics are known to have tooth problems :p BG steady at 8mmol now - a little high but that's what late night lolly munching does to ya. Take a little insulin, fall back to sleep coz I'm still trashed from last night's low.

9.30: wake up yet again! This time, properly. Test: 4.7mmol (perfect!). Take Lantus (my background insulin, it has nothing to do with what I eat or drink). Take my morning Novorapid (fast acting insulin to cover meals), enough to cover the fact that my blood sugar rises in the morning until I eat, and enough to cover breakfast too. Stumble around the house feeling half asleep for a while.

10am: Having finished my first cup of tea for the day I start making eggs on toast. For some reason I always make something like eggs on days when I eat late... maybe it makes me feel better to call it brunch so I don't feel like such a lazy-arse :p Breakfast goes down the hatch and I'm still struggling to wake up. Late night plus overnight low = rough morning.

noon: Test: 4.1, just a little too low to be going on with, so I have a little bite of chocolate cake to avoid the impending low. Yummmmm.

1pm: Don't really feel like lunch, so just keeping an eye on my blood sugar to make sure I'm not dropping any lower. Turns out I get another bite of cake (just a teeny bit!) which takes the place of lunch, which is just fine with me today :)

3pm: Going out so need to test before driving. 5.7 - perfect. Will be wandering around the supermarket later which always drops me a little, so I make a mental note to sneak a lolly from my handbag while I'm there.

5.30: Arrive home with groceries, test: 3.9 guess who forgot to munch that lolly in the shop. I pinch the tiniest bit of icing from that cake (3.9 isn't even really low, just don't want to get lower) and start making tea. Wont do my usual trick of injecting 10 or more minutes early tonight, because I'll end up low before I even get to start eating.

6.10: Tucker time. Being around food when I have a lowish blood sugar tends to make me make bad decisions, so we have a huge pile of chips with our fried chicken (Baked, actually, with a yummy gluten free coating that I made up on the spot) and salad. Hmmm. A gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do ;) Chips are normally one of the foods I have to limit, they're too high in carb so they're hard to match with insulin. But tonight, I don't care :)

8.30: Test at 7.2, surprised it's not higher. Have to watch closely though because of the faster action of chips. (Oven baked chips, so they don't even have the high fat content to slow down digestion & BG spikes). Mental note to test again in 30 - 60 minutes to make sure I don't drop too far or end up going UP again!

9.15 test at 6mmol. Can't complain. Shouldn't drop much lower than that, if at all. Take my 2nd injection of Lantus. It's a 24 hour insulin but I take it twice a day with a 12 hour gap, it just provides a smoother background level and never leaves me without. Also means that I still have half a dose to help out if I forget my Lantus or take it a bit late.

10pm: Watching a movie, and a gal needs her movie munchies. I get through a small bowl of munchos (tomato flavoured chip sort of things). More high carb munching, tut tut. Matched with insulin of course but it's so hard to find the correct dose for stuff like that.

Midnight... Consider going to bed but I'm addicted to reading other diabetics blogs, so I'll just stay up a few more minutes... lol Test: 12.2mmol. Dammit. Chippies are never good. Take another couple of units but not too much as there's still some active insulin from the last injection.

1am: test & BED

So now you know just how disorganised my day can be lol. This was an easy day too... no exercise to speak of which would always lower my blood sugar. And apart from the evening munchies I had really good numbers - If only it could be like that every day! However it was also a high carb day, and I wasn't paying as much attention to my meals as I would normally do.

Diabetes is a full time job. However it really only takes a few minutes of my day to inject & test. It's what's goes on behind the scenes that makes it a full time job... In my mind I'm doing an almost constant blood sugar check. Any time the idea of food comes up I need to mentally weigh it and figure out how many carbs are in there as well as reading packets and sorting it out as properly as I can. I've lost some spontaneity in my life because I have to test before I go out, test while I'm out, and test before I leave. I may have to put off going out if I'm low or high. I may have to eat salad while everyone else is having a pig out. Or I may need sweets when no one else is eating.

The thing that worries me the most is other people's opinions about diabetes. (stupid eh - why should I care? but I do...), I suspect that most of the time it's not them at all, but my own idea of what they're thinking. Often I get paranoid that people think I brought my diabetes on myself. I think sometimes they see me eating sugary foods and think I'm such a bad diabetic. They might see that I'm a bit overweight and wonder if I can cure myself by losing some weight.

I am my own manual pancreas, and it's a bitch - so if you see me eating sweets, I'm just doing my job as a pancreas, trying to balance that blood sugar. Same again if you see me taking an extra injection or avoiding all the foods that you're trying to offer me. It's not easy being an important organ and personally I'd prefer it if my pancreas woke up and took its job back. Mr Pancreas did it so much better than I ever could!

I proudly stand behind T1 diabetes awareness, and Raise Your Voice - we type 1s need to spread the word a little, so we can hopefully find some understanding the world. The message I most want out there: Type 1 is an auto-immune disease. Years ago, something triggered an attack on my insulin producing cells, and now I just don't produce insulin. My diet did not cause it. It's not curable with weight loss or pills or anything else. I did not bring it on myself.

I wish the truth was out there for type 2s too - but today is type 1 day, and my main aim is to separate the types and help educate a few people.

[note... it's actually the day after T1 awareness day here in NZ, but because it's still the 14th in the U.S I can get away with this... right? Dammit I have to stop using this excuse lol)

I can talk about it in forums, I can natter away with strangers, I've even educated my great-aunt. But the tricky part is still to come - dinner with my family, all arranged as a Type 1 awareness dinner. I have to educate the people closest to me about my diabetes. Eeeeek!


Luis said...


I am Luis Fernandez, a eHealth researcher at Tromsø Telemedicine Laboratory (Norway), www.telemed.no/ttl . We are doing a research (survey) about patients generating web content, as you. Would you like to participate? If you want to participate or more info, please send me an email and I will send you an invitation.

Best regards,

Luis (luis.luque-at-norut.no)

Bernard said...


Great post. Whew, it's tiring just to read it!