Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Read the Labels- they've changed!

The health conscious people of this country have been calling for unhealthy products especially those in the category of junk food to be reduced for years so when I watched “The Consumer Show” on RTE 1 on May 10th I really didn’t get upset about how the manufacturers were not giving me the value for money that I was used to.

The show featured a segment on called “Shrinking Products” and highlighted the fact that food manufacturers were reducing the size of their products but not the price. Instead I’m thinking “OMG, how is this affecting my carbohydrate intake?”

I tend to just read the label one time especially if it’s one of those little fun size treats. I have a little notebook where make note of what the label says and how much carbohydrate is in my normal portion. This way I don’t have to do the “sums” every time I have it. I know I’m still a paper gal and don’t have an iphone or similar gadget.

Now I have to recheck all my figures. So far, I’ve come across the funsize snickers bar which has reduced in size from 20grams to 18grams. I know that this only amounts to a 1 gram different in the carbohydrate content per bar. But what are the changes to the regular size bars? I assume that they don’t tell you on the pack how much they have reduced that bar by.

I don’t mind that the manufacturers did this where junk food is concerned I just wish I’d known about it sooner and that I didn’t have to do all the “sums” again.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Diabetes – Be Type Specific! Type 1 or Type 2

Now that I’m a certain age (i.e. approaching @%), when I tell people I have diabetes they sometimes do a double take. Everything they hear about diabetes places emphasis on obesity and lack of physical activity as being two of the contributing factors for getting Type 2 Diabetes. In other words, Type 2 Diabetes happens to people who are fat and lazy and therefore deserve it.

I don’t believe this to be true because I know some Type 2’s who are healthy & slim individuals. But, the more and more I meet Type 2’s the more I do see the pattern (which makes me sad).

I know I should be shouting out that people who are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes need our help and support and encouragement to avoid it, not our judgement. But instead I’m trying to distance myself from this group.

I want to ask all people who discuss diabetes, who work in diabetes awareness and prevention, to be Type specific. Don’t just say “Diabetes”, say “Type 2 Diabetes”. It will be less confusing for all of us (including the few people out there who think that because they are put on insulin they have changed from being T2’s to T1’s).

Type 1 and Type 2 are very different illnesses and should be treated in that way, especially by people who work in health promotion. Treating Type 1 and Type 2 as two sides of the same coin is confusing to the general population.

P.S. I know there are many more types of diabetes than just T1 and T2 but for the purpose of this piece I’m focusing on these two.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Hypos! Bite me!

I couldn't find a Little Miss Grumble
So let's pretent I'm Mr. Grumble.
Hypos, short for hypoglycaemia, happen when your blood sugar levels drop below a certain number and your body and brain have difficulty functioning because of the lack of fuel (sugar). My symptoms usually start with a racing heart and the “shakes”. They are the bane of live for people with type 1 diabetes.

I have 18 years of experience in hypos and I have found that the ones that happen shortly after a meal, where I have overestimated how much insulin to take, are the most difficult ones to deal with. These are the ones that force you to stop in your tracks.

I had one of these hypos the other day. I was going about my afternoon chores; folding laundry. I know very mundane. I felt it coming on so I got up and had a little something. I went back to my laundry because it’s not very taxing physically and usually I can continue whatever I’m doing with my hypos. But on this occasion, there was no sign of my symptoms going away, so I decided to test and see what exactly I was dealing with. My blood sugar level was 3.1mmols; this was after a double treatment and my symptoms were getting worse; the sweating kicked in. When the sweats kicks in its time to stop what you’re doing and tackle.

I had injected insulin with my lunch less than two hours before, so the insulin was just peaking.

So I sat in the big comfy armchair surrounded by laundry with a cup of coffee and a little something-something (not the correct treatment for a hypo but did the job just the same;-) but thinking how much nicer this treat….ment would be if I could have finished the laundry first.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Children with Diabetes Deserve a Better Service.

Last year, I became a Diabetes Advocate with Diabetes Action. Huh!

OK, I’ll back track a little.

Diabetes Action is a group who is lobbying both the government and the HSE to improve health services for people with diabetes. They work by enlisting the support of people like me, who have diabetes, to log onto their website; www.diabetesaction.ie and with a few clicks send a prepared email to our local TD’s and Senators.

When the TD’s receive multiple copies of these letters they are prompted to raise the issue in the Dail. In the meantime, Diabetes Action sends letters to all of the national and regional newspapers in the hope that they will publish our stories and bring diabetes into the mind of the general population. As a local advocate I would contact the local media providing them with local statistics and fact relating to the campaign and encourage people to support the campaign locally.

The combination of the efforts of people with diabetes, Diabetes Action and the TD’s, strongly encourages the policy makers to implement the proposals put forward by Diabetes Action and improve the Diabetes Health service.

“If the correct policies are implemented, we can dramatically improve the health of people with diabetes and save hundreds of millions of Euros in funding over the next 10 years”

So now you know how it works let me tell you a little about the current campaign which targets the services for Children & Teens with Diabetes.

The following is the press statement from Diabetes Action 4th May 2011

Children & adolescents unable to access diabetes innovations.

Diabetes Action, an advocacy group for improved diabetes health services, says that hundreds of children and adolescents with diabetes can’t access advances in care such as insulin pumps because local paediatric diabetes teams in hospitals around Ireland are under resourced.

“New treatments that control blood sugar and insulin levels are available, but patients need to work with a specialist diabetes nurse and dietician to access this care and paediatric diabetes teams outside of Dublin rarely have the resources to offer these new treatments” she says.

This often leads families to seek a referral to one of the three Dublin hospitals offering intensive treatments like insulin pumps, requiring time off school, off work and causing a separation from the care provided by the local diabetes service team.

“Dublin hospitals are inundated with referrals of children and adolescents with diabetes from the rest of Ireland, our services are under constant pressure. There is need for national reorganisation to provide the latest treatments in more hospitals” says Dr. Colm Costigan, Clinical Director for the 3 Dublin paediatric hospitals and former chairperson of the Expert Advisory Group on diabetes.

To tackle this, Diabetes Action is seeking the reorganisation of existing paediatric diabetes services into 8 regional networks, with the Dublin network acting as a tertiary hub of excellence.

“Services would continue to be delivered at existing hospitals” according to Prof. Hoey “but we’re asking for each network outside Dublin to be staffed by just one additional diabetes nurse specialist and one dietician to support future access to new treatments for diabetes across Ireland”.

The cost of this reorganisation is €750,000 (for 7 nurses and 7 dieticians) but international studies have shown that improved control of diabetes in children and adolescents can lessen the development of costly complications in adulthood by as much as 76%.

“At present 50% of children and adolescents with diabetes develop some form of long term diabetes complication by the time they reach adulthood; these complications are extremely costly to manage. We can dramatically improve health outcomes and quality of life with a very modest investment and a reorganisation of services” says Prof. Hoey

How do you give your support?

Diabetes Action could not have made this simpler.

Log onto the website , follow the prompts that bring you to a prepared email with local information. Add your name, address and email to the document and click “preview” if you would like to add your own comments, and then click “send”.

If you want to do more you can spread the word to as many people who are affected by diabetes as possible encouraging them to support the campaign. This means Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Friends, etc.

These families with diabetes need your support!