Thursday, 26 February 2009

Nursing 101

Diabetes UK stirred up quite a controversy when they published a letter in their magazine ‘Balance’ from a nurse who said that the sight of diabetics injecting in public places was ‘disgusting’. It’s not the greatest thing in the world to have to inject insulin every time you want to eat, but it’s certainly not made any easier when we read of such intolerance and lack of understanding – particularly from a member of the ‘caring’ profession. Injecting is done discreetly, usually with tiny needles on pen devices, and should draw censure no more than an asthmatic using an inhaler, or a person blowing their nose into a handkerchief. To be sure, there are people who are scared of the sight of needles, but these aren’t huge hypodermics, they are barely discernible – particularly across a crowded restaurant. Here’s what I imagined about our ‘nurse’…

Nursing 101

‘You’ve been a nurse for some time now,
So, let’s put you to the test.
We’ll give you some scenarios,
And you say which one’s best.’

‘You’re in a busy restaurant
And see across the way
A person injecting insulin.
What do you think you’d say?’

‘Would you, (a) Think it’s disgusting,
And should be out of sight?
Or (b) Think ‘What’s the problem?
I think that that’s alright.’?’

‘My goodness! You are seething!
Your face and neck’s gone red!
I think you’d better lie down!
Can someone find a bed?!!’

‘And now you’re spitting feathers!
And you can hardly speak!
You’re going apoplectic!
You’re staring like a freak!’

‘What was that you just spluttered?
They should be in a cage?
Don’t think a nurse has ever shown
Such incandescent rage!’

‘Now, calm down dear, and listen.
I think this test is done,
And you have failed, without a doubt,
Your Nursing 101!’

Monday, 23 February 2009

The Tale of Milly Mole

Ever wondered what goes on inside those blood-testing meters that diabetics use to find out what’s happening with their blood sugar levels? All is revealed…

People with diabetes generally know that testing meters measure blood glucose in mmol/l (millimoles per litre), except in the US, where they use different units – but then this poem wouldn’t really work with milligrams per decalitre! For those that are unfamiliar with diabetes, insulin works as a kind of key that ‘unlocks’ receptors in cells to allow energy to be stored. Type 2 diabetics may produce their own insulin but their cells are resistant to it. Type 1 diabetics produce no insulin of their own, so must inject it or use an insulin pump…

The Tale of Milly Mole

Once upon a time
In a little earthen hole,
Lived a tiny little creature
Whose name was Milly Mole.

She had a thousand cousins who,
If laid limb to limb,
Could fill a litre measuring jug
Right up to the brim!

Their life was one of tedium
Within the mole-filled lands,
Until one day they chanced upon
A scientist wringing his hands.

He said, ‘My goodness, look at you!
You’re just the perfect size
For me to measure sugar voles –
I can’t believe my eyes!’

‘What do you mean?’ said Milly Mole
And all her cousins too,
‘We’d never even heard of sugar voles
Till we met you!’

‘Let me explain’, the scientist said,
‘And all will soon be clear.
The sugar voles live in the blood
And are a source of fear.’

‘They like to live in people’s cells
But sometimes can’t get in
Because they need to wear a coat
Of shiny insulin.’

‘There are some people who produce
Some droplets of this stuff
But as their cells have sticky doors
It’s never quite enough’

‘For some, their poor old Pancreas
Has given up the ghost,
And they produce no insulin
For when they need it most.’

‘The sugar voles remain outside
And there their numbers grow,
But if they cannot count them all,
The people never know.’

‘There used to be a way if they
Could pee upon a stick –
But it wasn’t very sociable,
And it wasn’t very quick!’

‘And so I’ve made a meter which,
With just a drop of blood,
Can count up all the sugar voles,
Or, at least it could…’

‘I need something to live inside
And, when the blood comes in,
To count how many sugar voles
Can balance on a pin!’

‘And when you know, dear Milly Mole,
How many voles you’ve seen,
Why, then you’d type the number up
And show it on a screen!’

‘The people then would know the truth,
And they could make a start
To save their kidneys, eyes and limbs,
And hopefully, their heart!’

Well, Milly and her family
Said they could hardly wait
To help the humans count their voles –
They thought it would be great!

So, when you take that drop of blood
And place it on the meter,
Remember please, the Milly Moles –
A thousand to the litre!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Ode to a Perfect Pancreas

I hadn’t realised just how much my pancreas did for me until it stopped working properly and I became a Type 1 diabetic. What a thing of beauty a fully-functioning pancreas is!

Ode to a Perfect Pancreas

Oh Pancreas, perfect Pancreas,
Oh will you please be mine?
And let me feel the touch of your
Secretions endocrine?

My own dear pancreas failed me
And has left me in the lurch
What can I do to make you mine
And end my ceaseless search?

I love your Islets of Langerhans,
Suffused with treasured stores
Of beta cells, all working well,
A credit to their cause!

The insulin that you put forth,
Oh! If it only could
Restrict the upper limits of
The sweetness in my blood!

You’d be the organ of my dreams,
I’d always treat you well,
And if I could I’d lavish love
On each and every cell!

Oh please, O perfect pancreas,
Your functioning’s divine,
So let me be the one for you –
Your Type 1 Valentine!