Wednesday, 26 October 2011

World Diabetes Day in Ireland

November 14th is World Diabetes Day. All around the world the diabetes community will mark the occasion in some way or another as we remember those who have passed from this life because of diabetes and  those who are struggling to stay ahead of their complications. We will also be thankful for every day that those who are living well with diabetes continue to do so.

It’s the one day I know I’m not alone in the world of diabetes.

This year the diabetes community in Ireland seems to be mobilising and making sure that the occasion doesn’t go unnoticed.

In doing so, I’m happy to spread the word that the following buildings will be going blue for World Diabetes Day; PricewaterhouseCoopers, Dublin, The Convention Centre, Dublin, The Round Room and Fire Restaurant Business & Events Centre@ The Mansion House, Dublin

On the Sunday the 13th of November, Diabetes Ireland will hold a “Diabetes Health and Awareness Expo” in the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork. Diabetes Ireland is also looking for people to come forward and “Go Blue” for World Diabetes Day.

It’s my hope that this year World Diabetes Day make the 6 o’clock news in Ireland, so that everyone living in Ireland hears about it.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The cost of Diabetes in Ireland

People with diabetes are very fortunate when it comes to the cost of living with diabetes in Ireland.

Under the Long Term Illness Scheme, diabetes medications and supplies, such as test strips, needles, insulin, etc., are free to all people with diabetes. This scheme was set up in 1971, specifically to help people with diabetes manage the astronomical cost of medicine and subsequently covers another 14 illnesses.

The cost of a box of 50 test strips for my One Touch Ultra Glucose meter is $61 (€46). I use approximately 7 strips per day which means that it I were to buy a one month supply it would cost me €188 (ouch!!!). That’s just for the test strips for my glucose meter! I’m not going to give anyone a heart attack by telling you what my insulin, needles and the glucagon kit would cost! Believe me you don’t want to know!

I’m just thankful that this fortune doesn’t come directly out of my pocket because I could not afford it. I know that my taxes goes towards this cost but I don’t think I pay enough taxes to cover all the free things that most of us get but that’s not an offer to pay more!!!

We are not the only country who provides people with diabetes this benefit. I came across a discussion thread on  about how many glucose meter test strips GP’s in the UK allow their patients.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, does provide test strips for free to people with diabetes but because of cost cutting measures some GP’s are placing restrictions on how many test strips a person with diabetes can get, regardless of using insulin or not. Some GP’s feel that 4 test strips per day is sufficient but if you are a person with type 1 diabetes (like me) on an insulin pump the pump manufacturers insist you test 6-8 times a day. Plus, if you are an active person or you drive a lot this is just not safe or practical.

I would hate for someone to tell me that I’m not allowed to test my blood sugar levels as many times as I feel necessary. After all, I’m not doing it for fun – it’s not fun at all, believe me!!

I use the information from my blood sugar readings to correct high & low blood glucose levels, to calculate my insulin to carbohydrate ratio for meals and food types. I thing that my having a decent HbA1c is because I can test as many times as I do.

I really am very fortunate to have this scheme and I will never forget it.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Beta Cell Syndrome a.k.a. Type 1 Diabetes

Back in May 2011 I blogged about encouraging the media to be Type Specific when it comes to diabetes and over the course of the Diabetes Action’s paediatric diabetes campaign I thought there was some progress in this area.

I have to say that both Diabetes Action and the Diabetes Federation have been really considerate and careful to be type specific since that campaign’s launch. Well done to them.
However with the launch of safe food’s “Stop the Spread” campaign this progress has taken a huge fall backwards.  This campaign has really maximised its exposure, its broadcast on local and national radio as well as national television.
The ad states, “It is well known that carrying excess weight around the tummy is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases such diabetes and heart disease and more recently cancer. By measuring our waist, we can each get an early warning about our weight and begin to take steps to address it”, Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood.
The campaign’s message is everywhere and because they overlooked one minor detail stating “diabetes” instead of “Type 2 Diabetes” we are back to square one to educate the general public about the differences between the types of diabetes.
I’m just wondering if it would be more beneficial to rename Type 1 Diabetes altogether – we would avoid this confusion and it’s been done before when the name was changed from Juvenile Diabetes.

We could call it “Beta Cell Syndrome” or something similar that does not have any affiliation to sugar or obesity.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Slave to my insulin!

I needed to clean my house, so, I jumped right in to the hovering. Low (pun intended) and behold about 15 minutes into the project I’m sweating and I’ve got the shakes. I’m annoyed because I have to get the job done before the school collection run and now I have to take time out to treat a hypo.

I have never let my diabetes stop me from doing anything; I’ve travelled, worked, got married, had children. I did not climb any mountains but I didn’t want to. But when it comes to the blasted house cleaning, diabetes gets in the way every time!

In the end I would try to synchronise the vigorous house cleaning with blood glucose testing time, which would also coincide with two hours after a meal and thus lessen the risk of a hypo. But, that just resulted in needing to sit down and have a snack before I started.

Now I don’t know about others but if my mind is geared up for a bit of cleaning I would just as soon get into it than to sit around thinking about it (cos then I run the risk of putting it off altogether).

I felt I would never have the upper hand in blood glucose control.

However, that all changed when I got an insulin pump. An insulin pump is kind of like the intravenous drip you see hospital patients with. The pump is programmed to deliver insulin at different speeds throughout the day (known as a basal programme) and the speed can be as little as .025 of a unit per hour.  And if you need to have more insulin you can dial up the required dose and make the pump give you that insulin all at once, for example like with a shot to cover the carbohydrate in a meal.

 I feel I have more of the control. I know I will never be able to predict what stress and hormones do to my blood sugars but the problem of how the insulin is behaving in my body has been simplified.

So now when it’s time for a bit of cleaning I have the option to either suspend my pump (stop insulin delivery temporarily) or reduce my basal rate by a percentage. No need for snacks unless I’m in the mood for one.

Sometimes, I still feel like I’m a slave to my insulin especially when I get the estimates wrong but it’s not as often and not as frustrating because I use that information to make the next estimate more accurate J