Saturday, 6 February 2016

What I value the most

Originally this blog post was going to be about my experiences of getting a pump and the huge difference this has made to my life with diabetes - and maybe at some point I will post about that, but not today.

Why? Because, whenever I sat down to think about what I would write, there has always been another thought in my head that seemed more important to share and when I thought about it more and more... I realised it was the most important thing.

A bit of background

Over the past couple of years I've been struggling with my diagnosis.
For some of that time I've not even realised this myself.
Indeed, withdrawing from the running of Our Diabetes (something I do feel bad about) was in part to give me space to resolve the challenges I've been dealing with.

In the days Before Pump (BP) my diabetes regimen was ridiculous. I was seeing the DSN at the hospital every month (sometimes more!) in an attempt to gain insight into how to manage my glucose levels. Yet no matter what tweaks to the ratios were made; no matter what new "rules" were test driven; no matter what basal rate changes where made; or indeed what different insulins were explored, nothing would get me to where I needed to be.

To give you a little example of the regimen I was following I will share the "rules" around having my evening meal:

If eating between before 7pm use a ratio of 1.5 units per 10g of carbs
If eating between 7pm and 8pm use a ratio of 2 units per 10g of carbs
If eating after 8pm then use a ratio of 2.5 units per 10g of carbs
UNLESS the food has a high fat content in which case add 0.5 units to each of the ratios
UNLESS going for a walk after the meal in which case complete the calculation above and reduce by 20%
Correction ratios should remain consistent across all time bands at 1 unit per 3mmol/L UNLESS...

You get the idea. Breakfast and dealing with exercise wasn't much better either! Only lunch was easy to deal with - 1 unit per 10g of carbs. FULL STOP.

All this effort would be made just to get me to a good bg number I could go to sleep on and in the main it did. However, pretty much without fail, I would wake in the 20s (even if I woke in the night to do a correction dose) and I'd spend most of the day chasing my numbers down to something more reasonable.

My bg diary notebooks would resemble the workings out for an A level maths test and sometimes I'd make mistakes - because running so high all day, day after day was extremely tiring.

The arrival of the pump changing things immediately. After Pump (AP) it was like being on a diabetes holiday. All my ratios returned to 1 unit per 10g of carbs and all of a sudden my numbers would spend most of the time under 10mmol/L without any effort required - not where I want to be but a significant improvement on where they had been. The notebooks were ditched and every meal was a simple carbohydrate count.

The "holiday" is now over and I'm looking to get my hba1c back to where it used to be and what's great is I'm enjoying the challenge. When my basal requirements change it's not a feeling of disappointment and despair, it's a feeling of "let's do this!"

You lied! The pump is the thing you value most!

No doubt about it, the pump has changed my life - my numbers are more in target, my ability to exercise has been reclaimed, but it's not the thing I value most.

It's not because I don't value it... far from it! It has been one of the best interventions in my diabetes management to date.

But the fact it's not top of the list really puts into perspective just how much I value this other thing. The thing that knocks the pump from the top pedestal.

So what could it be?

Simple. It's PEOPLE

What's really got me through my diabetes journey isn't technology, it's the people around me!

My wife. She's "put up" with me being miserable, grumpy, tired, irritable, no doubt impossible to live with at times and throughout all this she has been there for me.

My friends on social media and work, some of whom I've shared some of my challenges with. The ones who have just listened, have understood, have offered support and ideas and never judged. You know who you are - thank you.

...and.... as equally important, my healthcare team. A team I know would move heaven and earth for me if required so they could get me the care and results I need. Over this period of time they have been patient, they've listened, they've offered advice, they've never given up, they've invested in me and believed in me and all of that has paid off. The care and compassion shown is truly outstanding. I consider them my extended family and I'm truly blessed to have them by my side. I leave clinic with a smile on my face knowing just how much they want me to succeed.

It might be raining outside whilst I write this blog but inside I'm full of sunshine.

So this post is dedicated to you - my friends, my family, my extended (healthcare) family - it's you I value the most!

To friends and family!