Thursday, 18 February 2016

A day in my life with diabetes - a good day!

Saturday 10th January
The alam went off at 8:28am, I feel well rested but still want another snooze. My husbands alarm went off at 8:30am and I was afraid that I would actually fall back to sleep so I rolled out of bed. I use the term rolled because that is actually what I do.

Into the shower. Out of the showe, dry off, get dressed.

I went downstairs, said good morning to my already fed and dressed daughter on the laptop. I filled the kettle to make tea. Tea is made and I pop two slices of Brennan's wholemeal slice pan into the toaster.

While waiting for the toast I did my first blood glucose test of the day. 7.3mmol/l, what a nice way to start the day. I give myself 3 units of insulin to cover the toast and 3 mugs of tea with skimmed milk.

After breakfast, it's time to drop the family of to Coder Dojo and for me to get the weeks grocery shopping done.

What seemed like a short time later I felt my insulin pump vibrate to remind me that it's been 2 hours since I took my breakfast bolus and that its time to check my blood sugars again. I felt fine and so I waited until I got to the car to do this. 4.4 mmol/l, a bit on the low side because there is still active insulin in my body so I ate half a Nature Valley granola bar to keep my levels up until lunch.

Then it was time to collect the family from Coder Dojo and go home. After all the groceries have
been put away and both children have been fed, it was time for my own lunch. I decided to have a two egg omelette with smoked salmon and cheese, one slice of Brennan's wholemeal slice pan again and two perfectly ripe kiwis. I worked out that this all amounts to 35grams of carbohydrate. While my omelette was cooking I tested my blood glucose and it was 5.2 mmols/l (I'm having such a good day). It feels so nice to have good numbers, warm fuzzies. I took 2.65 units of insulin to cover my lunch.

I enjoyed my lunch! Now I have cleaned up the kitchen a little after lunch, swept the floor of all the crumbs, transferred some laundry, put some other laundry away and emptied the dishwasher. I sat down to sort through some household budgeting. I shouldn't have done that-no, not for the obvious reason. I suddenly realised I'm so tired and it's not surprising because it was the end of the week where the children went back to school after the two week Christmas holidays but my body forgot how to fall asleep before 11:30pm.

I decided that all major household tasks were done for the day and I was going to have about three cups of coffee, read the newspaper and some internet articles. My insulin pump had perfect timing; it vibrated to remind me to test again before I made it to the comfy chair. My blood glucose test revealed 6.0 mmols/l. You should have seen my happy face!

Roll on the coffee and two small McVities chocolate biscuits. I know I should have them but they're left over from Christmas, someone needs to eat them and I'm too tired to resist. So I've estimated that they work out to be 15 grams and I bolus 1.15 units of insulin. I wonder to myself if the biscuits are more like 20 grams but I decide that the next blood glucose test will reveal it.

Dinner at 7pm and my blood glucose is 7.8 mmols/l, it's sooooo nice to the things right for a change. Enjoyed my dinner of ///////// and of course dessert after cleaning up.

The two hour post meal check revealed a 5.8 mmols - this is a normal reading for someone without diabetes but for me it's a bit too low for an after meal and with active insulin still in my body I give it a snack to work on. What can I have for a snack? Ohh I haven't had a packet of crisps in months, double ohhh Salt and vinegar. Sold! So 14 grams of carbs and a lot of fat later my blood glucose dream comes back to reality with a 11.2 mmols result.

I tempted the good vibes too often today.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

What good is an insulin pump?

I met two people recently that I've known for a while, but I didn't know they have connections to type 1 diabetes. One person is a PwD and one is married to a PwD.

As always, the fact that I have an insulin pump comes up in conversation. And, as always, they ask "how I find the pump?" (that's an Irish person's equivalent of "Tell me exactly how you benefit from having it").

They don't really know what an insulin pump is or how it works. This doesn't surprise me because unless you are very interested in getting one you really don't do the research into it and in most of our diabetes clinics it's not really explained. (No need to promote what long waiting lists and lack of resources prevent you from providing).

Both people made the exact same comment of "but you still have to do the finger prick tests"! I wasn't expecting this comment so my response was insufficient. I had said something to the effect of "Well, yeah but I don't have to be messing around with two different types of insulin."

COMPLETELY, forgetting one of the best advantages of an insulin pump!

And I'm so kicking myself that I didn't think of this at the time but the point is you don't have to stab yourself with a needle 5-6 times per day, you only have to stab yourself once every three days. How could I forget that?

Next time I'll be ready! I hope.

One of the biggest questions that someone with type 1 diabetes may ask is, “what are the major differences between going on an insulin pump vs staying on injections???” well this is a very good question to ask. There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages between the two methods so let’s take a look at some of the more apparent ones to see which method is best for you.
  • Insulin injections require a lot less training than pump therapy. Using a pump requires professional training and scrutinizing blood glucose management as opposed to insulin injections
  • Insulin pumps mimic the function of the pancreas a lot better than insulin shots do making insulin distribution a lot more precise than insulin shots which helps reduce the peaks in blood glucose
  • There is also a higher chance of developing DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) while using a pump than when using injections (this can be caused when the tube is not correctly inserted under the skin and the user doesn’t notice)
  • Insulin injections require multiple shots a week where insulin pumps only require one every three days or so (frequent injections can cause some resistance to insulin absorption).
  • Insulin shots are more affordable than insulin pumps
  • Insulin pumps require the use of only one type of insulin whereas insulin injections use at least two different types (a fast acting and a long acting insulin).
So whether you are looking for a more flexible method or if you just like to stick with your sliding scale at every meal, knowing the differences in the end will help you make the right decision regarding how you manage your diabetes.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

I have moved to Blood Sugar Trampoline!

I've been playing around with a new name and a new look for my blog. And new focus. For more than a couple of months now.

Today I'm making the leap. I hope you'll come bounce with me and keep me company on the Blood Sugar Trampoline?

I will focus a bit more on my personal experiences living with type 1 diabetes and come out of the closet a bit more. I also think that you will find the diabetes information I've gathered over the years easier to find over at

Here it goes!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Spare a Rose, Save a Child with diabetes

Imagine living in a country where you could not afford to buy insulin for your child with type 1 diabetes? 

I'm so lucky that I was born and live in Ireland. I can go to a chemist at any time and walk out with a month's supply of insulin, test strips and whatever else I need to live. Without paying a cent!

If I was born elsewhere that would not be the case. I would not be able to afford my insulin and I would not be here today.

Yesterday, I donated money that I had set aside to Spare A Rose and give a child with diabetes a chance at life for a year.

Spare a Rose, Save a Child is the brainchild of the Diabetes Online Community in North America. The idea being to take the typical “dozen roses,” so popular on Valentine’s Day, and just buy 11, save just one rose and donate to spare the life of a child. 

The Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign is directed at raising awareness and funds for the Life for a Child program, which is an International Diabetes Federation program aiming to take “contributions from donors go to established diabetes centres enabling them to provide the ongoing clinical care and diabetes education these children need to stay alive.” 

The idea was to take the typical “dozen roses,” so popular on Valentine’s Day, and save just one rose to spare the life of a child. “Spare a Rose, Save a Child” is simple: buy one less rose this Valentine’s Day and share the value of that flower with a child with diabetes in the developing world. Your loved one at home still gets flowers and you both show some love to someone across the world who needs it. From Kerri Sparling, Sixuntilme

Thursday, 28 January 2016


Some of you may have come across the Hashtag #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes..... on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, over the last year. This hashtag is the brainchild of Diabetesaliciouness blogger, Kelly Kunik.

I met the superwoman herself last July at the MasterLab Diabetes Advocates conference. On that first morning, as I took a deep breath and joined a table of strangers. I know, I'm a very grown-up woman but I still have to force strongly encourage myself to do these things. I know I'll regret it if I don't.

Anyway, I did not recognise anyone but as soon as the ladies started conversing and using their first names, I started to connect the "who" to the "blog" and figured out that the girl sitting right beside me was Kelly.

Kelly has lived with type 1 since she was 8 years old (that's 38 years), and comes from a long line of direct relatives with type 1 diabetes, including her sister who in 1991 died from complications at the age of 33. Kelly gave an indepth interview in August to Diabetes Mine in which you can read lots more about her and why she does what she does.

The #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes hashtag and the #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes Day, (22nd April 2015), were inspired by 3rd grade teacher, Kyle Schwartz and her #Iwishmyteacherknewthat hashtag, which was heartbreaking.

Photo courtesy of
Kelly says that "This day is about people living with diabetes taking to twitter and using the hashtag in unison for a 24 hours period to express the good, the bad and the diabetesalicious of it all."

The #hashtag and day took on a life of their own with over 16 countries participating and generating over 17 million twitter impressions to date.

The IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes hashtag has now become an initiative, a movement and a call to action where people can express themselves past the 140 character limit and in various multimedia formats. Kelly launched the "" website last November. She (and I) encourages everybody to visit the website and submit your own "what you wished people knew about diabetes". You can also read some guest posts from rock stars in the Diabetes Community and some totally-not-a-rock-star-or-even-close people's guest posts (i.e. yours truly. I was so honoured that she asked!!!) is well worth a visit.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Operation Transformation - A National Movement

The tv show Operations Transformation is more than just a fluffy piece of entertainment. It's a national movement. And, for me, it's the most uplifting programme on telly today.

No, I swear I'm not crazy... or easily entertained!!!

I only began watching the programme a number of years ago, when the creators partnered with Diabetes Ireland to create more awareness about type 2 diabetes. It was only then that I realised this show is about so much more than getting five people to lose weight.

And I got hooked! Unlike any reality TV show that I have seen, it's not about putting people down or pitting them against each other.

Operations Transformation is advertised as a health and fitness programme. It airs on RTÉ One in Ireland. The show is a cross-media event broadcast via radio, web and television and it's been running (ha, ha, pun) for nine years.

The show motivates and inspires people and communities to come together to become healthier. They are partnered with Sports Ireland who help organise nationwide walks in over fifty locations all around Ireland.

It encourages everyone to take back control of their lives, no matter what your demons are.

How does it work?

Five leaders are selected and are supported and guided by a panel of experts in the fields of fitness, nutrition and psychology in order to reach their individual goals. The show broadcasts over a period of seven weeks but most leaders continue on their journey sucessfully.

The leaders are chosen on the basis that there is someone for everyone to relate to. The meal and exercise plans which have been created for each leader are published online so that viewers can follow the plans also.

The first two programmes of the series introduces all the leaders, who they are, what they do and why they want to do Operation Transformation. Let me warn you, it's a cry-fest. Well, no it isn't I'm just a big SAP!

You find out that these people are not just battling their weight; they have darker demons buried inside that are holding them back. Being overweight is just a symptom of what ails them.

This programme also gives you an insight into just how difficult it is to decide to lose weight and that you're crazy if you think there is a quick fix and that support is key. Why do it by yourself.

Why am I writing about this programme?

I think this programme is an Irish phenomenon and could be replicated elsewhere.

And this programme is educational; I was happy with my weight but the truth is that when I go clothes shopping I am definately not. 

As a person with type 1 diabetes I feel that the food I eat is healthy most of the time! I did pare it down a number of years back to drop some baby weight and it worked. And I get my 30 minute walk into my day 4 times a week so I couldn't be bothered trying to add more exercise. 

But when the show introduced me to leader, Noeleen who is 5" 3" in height and 75 kgs and officially obese - I woke up! I'm 5" 4" and 72 kgs!!! Yikes! Too close for comfort.

So while I really don't want to change the way I eat - I starting to think I need to move more to officially be healthy. Let's face it who doesn't!

All the leaders are inspirational this year and along with Noeleen, I'm especially interested in cheering for Chef John Conmy who has type 2 diabetes. During his fitness test during the programme he was discovered to have heart disease. He wasn't aware he had it and this programme may have saved his life. 

And then there's Clare Scanlan, who's has not been able to move past her grief after losing her 15 year old son to sudden adult death syndrome two years ago. 

The show has teams up with Sport Ireland, who organise nationwide walks in over fifty locations all around Ireland. The highest number to date who took part is over 19,000 people. Every year this numbers climbs and climbs.

People are doing it! Taking back control of their lives!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Diabetes Complications are Not a Sign of Failure

The complications of diabetes are real and people are living with them. People are also living in fear of them. Myself included. I am actively trying to overcome this fear because if I do end up with complications I don't want to feel like it is the end of my life. Or that I failed to manage my diabetes well enough. And I certainly don't want to be made to feel that it's my fault.

I don't believe just because I am doing everything in my power to manage my diabetes that I will be spared. I believe that if I have type 1 diabetes I still have the risk of developing complications. I strive to keep that percentage of risk low but it will never be zero.

I will not stop trying!
Image from

So, when a friend of mine, who has lived more than 50 years with type 1 diabetes and who lives with a number of the complications of diabetes, comes to our T1D meet ups and people imply she didn't take of herself, I get a little "upset"!

My friend has survived taking care of her diabetes when there was no such thing as a glucose meter! Imagine never know what your blood sugar was?!?

She has survived during a time when the phrase "carb counting" might as well have been a foreign language in Ireland. It didn't exist!

We also did not have Rapid Acting Insulins until the late 1990's. So, even if we did practice carb counting, it wouldn't have been much good to us. Sure, we could do a certain amount of carb counting on the insulins we took only twice a day but we couldn't fine tune it like we can today.

We also did not know that the tighter your diabetes control, the less likely you were to be at risk of getting diabetes complications. This research was only published in 1993 as the DCCT Trials.

93 years ago we died! Today, we have so many tools, technology and instant access to research that people with type 1 diabetes, who have been told for decades what they can't do are breaking all of those barriers.

So I ask you? Is surviving 50 years with type 1 diabetes and living with complications really not taking care of yourself?

My friends who live with diabetes complications may even say themselves, that they didn't do as much as they should have to take care of their diabetes. And I say you did the very best that you, and everybody else, knew how.

I am so lucky and proud to have friends like Deniabetic, who are helping me overcome my fears.