Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I'm Catching up with the Decade...slowly

Last November, I got a smartphone, finally. I love technology but I hate change, which is a bit of an oxymoron. So, I fought with myself over and over about upgrading:-D

Now that I had a smartphone I thought I would look into all those amazing diabetes apps to see if I could find one that made life with D a little easier.

I did find one that I had previously tried to use on my tablet but I didn't carry my tablet to all places at all times and this made the data entry annoying.

So I completed step 2 by finding an app I really like. It's the MySugr app. But now, I have my glucose meter, my iPhone, a calculator (yes I know the phone has one but IMO multitasking is juggling 2 or 3 devices not 4!) and my pump. Did I also mention that I still keep a paper record? I know, there’s no hope for me. I’m afraid that with all of these devices I'm actually going to forget to bolus.

Well, I'm finding it hard to juggle all of these devices and it prompted me to looking into a meter that would sync to my phone. Or even better, a meter that was part of my phone! I had remembered a couple of years ago seeing a meter that attached to a smartphone

Google is my friend! And yes, the iBGStar was not a figment of my imagination but it was not available in Ireland. It’s in the UK but not Ireland.

There are a number of glucose meters that could be quite “nifty”, such as the Verio Sync (only available in the US), the iBGStar or the Dario meter, for people with diabetes. Some of these fancy meters are available on the NHS in the UK, some you can buy but none of the ones I was interested in are available on the Long Term Illness scheme (which is the equivalent of the NHS in the UK) in Ireland

It was extremely difficult to find out what meters are available through the long term illness scheme in Ireland.

I got really frustrated with the fact that all the meters I was interested in were not available to me under the Irish Health service’s Long Term Illness scheme. The NHS in the UK seems to have a lot more options for people with diabetes.

I suppose it’s one of the disadvantages of being a small percentage of a small country where pharmaceutical companies don’t consider the cost of setting up in Ireland and getting approved outweighs the potential for making money.

This quest prompted me to ask some questions about what companies have to do to have their products accepted into the Long Term Illness programme. I got some answers and I'm putting together that post for next week….

Don't forget to spread the word about our crowd funding campaign to make "Thrive-abetes" happen!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Thrive-abetes; Thrive with Type 1 Diabetes Conference

I was lounging on my couch beside my hubby one Saturday afternoon looking at my registration for Friends for Life UK (FFL) and thinking to myself "Why do I have to go to London to avail of an inspirational and motivational conference like FFL?"

My ever-supportive and crazy-ideas husband said "Sure you could pull off something like that, NO PROBLEM!" Sometimes I wonder about him?

Well that's where the idea for Thrive-abetes; Thrive with Type 1 Diabetes came from.

Well, what is Thrive-abetes?

Thrive-abetes is an abbreviation of “Thrive with Type 1 Diabetes”. It’s a one day conference for parents of children with diabetes and adults living with type 1 diabetes, taking place in Ireland on Saturday the 3rd October 2015. The event is supported by Diabetes Ireland, the national association for people with diabetes in Ireland (Registered Charity No. CHY 6906).

Why do I need this event to take place?
I want to meet more people with type 1 diabetes; I want to hear their stories and draw support from them. I also want to learn more about ways to cope with my type 1 diabetes every day.
I am fortunate enough to meet some people with type 1 diabetes face to face but others are not. Through the amazingness of FaceBook, I've learned that others want what I want. We have done the research to prove it!
This conference is needed because one of the best sources of support and information to families with Type 1 Diabetes is other people with Type 1 Diabetes. We would like a non-virtual place to meet, share and support each other.

This type of event does not exist in Ireland.....until now!

What is Thrive-betes going to offer?
Our Type 1 Diabetes conference is going to focus on the psychological impact of living with a chronic, lifelong illness. We aim to provide “Inspiration, Motivation and Information”  to people living with type 1 diabetes, both parents of children with diabetes and adults at our conference.
We have invited  speakers who are internationally renowned in the diabetes community and we are confident we can attract a minimum of 200 delegates. We are also being supported by Diabetes Ireland, the national association for people with diabetes in Ireland.
You can find out more about Thrive-abetes here.

Why do we need to raise money?
Some of the cost of this conference will be raised through delegate registration and exhibitor fees but we still need to raise €6,000 to ensure that this event takes place.

We have launched a crowdfunding campaign with an Irish company to try and secure as much of this amount as possible. All donations will be directed to Diabetes Ireland (registered charity no. CHY 6906) and would be greatly appreciated.

How can you help?
The success of a crowd-funding campaign depends HUGELY on making as many people as possible aware that the campaign is happening. 
The first thing that people can do to help this conference happen is to post this link; on your social media page with your reasons why you want this conference to happen.

The next thing I would ask people with type 1 diabetes in Ireland to do is to consider asking your employer to donate to the campaign.

Then, if you can think of any other businesses or employers that would give generously to this campaign, contact them or ask me to contact them on your behalf.
Maybe you don't know of any businesses off-hand but you can also help us by posting on all social media. You can copy my post on Facebook or share it.

Please help us make this happen!!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

My world doesn't fall apart at 2.8 mmols

It might be hot and sweaty, but also calm and rational.

Sometimes, you can function very well when you're having a hypo and other times not. That's why whenever I wonder, I check.

On this occasion, I checked my blood glucose levels because I felt hot and sweaty and a little bit "off"! But mostly, I checked because it was two hours after my breakfast bolus of insulin and so it was my post-meal check.

Low and behold, the glucose meter registered a 2.8 mmols/l (50 mg/dl). What I wouldn't give for a CGM to give me a little warning! I quickly gobbled 5 glucose sweets and continued with my trolley of groceries to my car.

No, I'm not joking! I was able to take my weekly shopping through the checkout, pay and pack them AND I'm fairly confident that I did it without arousing suspicion. I say "fairly confident" because I didn't have any witnesses to consult after the event. 

Sometimes, my 4.0's mmols/l (72 mg/dl) feel like a 2.8 mmol/l. And sometimes my 2.8 mmol/l feels like a 5 mmol/l (110 mg/dl).

One of the frustrations of life with type 1 diabetes and one of the reasons you can NEVER relax! 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The National Diabetic RetinaScreen service.

Diabetic RetinaScreen was launched in 2013 and is an Irish government-funded screening programme that should ensure all people with diabetes over the age of 12 years will be offered a free annual diabetic retinopathy screening. The Diabetic RetinaScreen programme uses specialised digital photography to examine the eye.

Diabetes Ireland recommend that everyone with diabetes should have an eye screening once a year to prevent diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic eye complications.

So why did we need something new?
This service came about because not everybody with diabetes was getting an annual eye exam at all and because diabetic eye disease is still one of the most common causes of blindness in Ireland.

Another benefit of this system is that it provides a photograph of the retina, which means that your images can be viewed side by side, year on year, to check for changes.

Diabetic retinopathy can be treated if caught in time.

If you have diabetes, it is important to have the back of your eyes effectively screened every year.

How does it work?
This is my experience with this new service and I have understood that it works this way for most people. Although, I have read and heard about some issues that people have had getting on the register but I think most of these teething problems have been ironed out.

When the service was launched the public was encouraged to check that they were on the RetinaScreen register. The register was created from the information provided by healthcare professionals (GP's, diabetes clinics and endocrinologists).

I called the number on the website and the lady who took my call said that I was on the register but she would check that all the details were correct. We discovered that they had a very old address for me which meant that if I hadn't checked I would not have received my letter. I was glad I checked.

It's important to note that Diabetic RetinaScreen only accept referrals from healthcare professionals. If you're not on the register you need to request that your GP, diabetes clinic or endocrinologist puts you on it.

In October, I received a letter asking for my consent to be invited for a screening. This required me to call a number and agree verbally. This was easy too.

Within 3 weeks I received my letter of appointment for the 27th November 2014 at my local Specsavers shop.

I did have to call RetinaScreen to rearrange my appointment because I did not have someone to drive me on the date. This was painless to do also and the new appointment was within two weeks of the original date.

The day of my appointment, I arrived promptly and did not have to wait more that a couple of minutes from someone to check me in. We filled in the short form and then I was taken into the back area for the pressure tests. This involved me placing my face into a chin rest and the Specsaver employee operated a machine that shot a quick blast of air into my eye. This might sound harmless and it was, but I found it extremely difficult to keep my eyes open long enough to complete this test. He told me they only needed one good one but that they do it a couple of times just to be sure they have what they need. OK.

This eye pressure test, is known as a tonometry is a part of every routine eye exam, it measures the fluid pressure inside the eye. Increased pressure within the eye can be a sign of glaucoma.

Once we had done this, I returned to a waiting area outside of this room. Within another couple of minutes I was taken into the sight test room by the optician. She did a brief sight test, took notes and then administered the "dreaded" eye dilation drops. 

She was so lovely, she kept apologising for doing what she needed to do. I assured her that I'd had the drops done more that a few times and there was no easier way to do it. I would be happy once I did not have to go through having to drops redone because she missed or they didn't take.

With the drops accurately administered I went back to the waiting area to wait for them to take effect. This took about 15 minutes. The optician, then, brought me into the same room that I had the tonometry test done.  She performed a couple more tonometry tests and took the photo of my retina and I was done!

The whole process took 30 minutes.

I had a letter in a couple of weeks with my results. The letter stated that I had background retinopathy in the back of my left eye. This was a bit of a shock as all previous eye exams were reported clear. I suppose having a digital image that the reader can zoom in on is hugely beneficial in this case.

My level of retinopathy doesn't require any treatment yet but at least I know to make sure I don't miss any eye appointments.

If you have diabetes and would like to check you are on our register, please ring Freephone 1800 45 45 55 and choose option 1.

  • Having a retina photo taken that can be used to compare the following years.
  • Not having to supply a useless urine sample (my local public diabetic eye clinic required this and it became a pet peeve that will cause me to go into a rant and I am stopping that right now, another time, another place).
  • Getting an annual eye screen, em annually and not every 2 or 4 years.
  • Because I am a low-medium risk patient I'm not taking time away from someone who needs treatment from a specialist right now.
  • People who are in the high risk category are fast tracked to an ophthalmic specialist.


  • There are a lot of actions required to get to the point where you get a letter with an appointment.
  • That's the only one I can think of right now.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Oh My Gosh! I really don't want to see another mince pie for a looooonnnnnng time!

It's a new year! Some feel that it's a new beginning, a reset button, or a fresh start. For me, the day my children go back to school is the I stop using the phrase "because it's Christmas!" It's when I get back into my everyday routine and stop with the extra sugary treats and back to tighening up those wobbly bits by getting outside for my walk.

The New Year also brings the bombardment of new ways to adapt a healthier lifestyle, new "fad" diets, anyone see the Lidl and Aldi circulars with all the exercise gear?

Almost every website, social media page, newspaper or magazine has an ad for a new, fast way to lose those Christmas pounds. Really,

My favourite of these terrible ads was the Sunday Independent's claim that some people are genetically designed not to benefit from exercise!!! Who doesn't get any benefit from exercise???

Even if all you gain is the "happy" from the endorphins released through exercise, isn't that beneficial? Yes, a lot of people will not loose weight if the exercise, because they need to cut back on calories too but losing weight is not the only reason to exercise.

I exercise because it pulls all the wobbly bits in a bit, I can clear my head and shake off the cobwebs from my ever creaking joints. I also find it social as I was a bit with a friend. It's makes me feel like I've earned the right to sit for 30 minutes with a cup of coffee afterwards while I recover:-)

Exercise makes me feel good and, well, really, I don't care about any of the other benefits. That's good enough reason for me to get outside.