Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Circle D 2nd Anniversary and Forum London Meet

Well, it finally happened on Saturday, April 24th - thirty members of Circle D and Diabetes Support Forum got together in London to celebrate Circle D's 2nd birthday! Weather was gloriously sunny, and actually warm - hot even! I met up with Tom, Tez and Shiv at Victoria and, once Tom had recovered from the hypo he was having (!) we set off, map in hand, to make our way over to Leicester Square. Thankfully, the route was fairly straightforward, or so we thought: up Buckingham Palace Road, onto The Mall, round Trafalgar Square and up Charing Cross Road. Well, it mostly went to plan, except that The Mall and in particular the area in front of Buckingham Palace was packed with crowds of tourists watching the changing of the guard. We decided to walk through St James Park, very pleasant and peaceful and a far better option to travelling underground on such a lovely day!

After a little unplanned detour we finally emerged onto Leicester Square where I managed to spot Yates down in the bottom corner, my brain still just about functioning as the jelly babies kicked in after my en route hypo. Shelley was waving like a woman possesed and difficult to miss! And so the day was set for the next six hours for me, and much, much longer for a few of the others who partied on into the night. Shelley was the perfect hostess, making sure that everyone was welcomed and introduced. There was a real mix, in part due to the fact that Circle D is a group for 18-30 year old diabetics and who therefore provided much of the 'youth', plus one or two old timers (erm, like me!). Becky had travelled furthest on the day, from York at some ungodly hour, and Steff had travelled furthest overall having come all the way from Geordieland.

It was great to renew acquaintances and to put faces to names of the people I hadn't met before. Everyone had a great time, except maybe the poor barman who served Becky a non-diet coke when she'd ordered a diet one - diastix were being used in abundance to test the presence of sugar in 'diet' drinks, a frequent problem for diabetics. Bar staff don't realise the possible impact of a full-sugar drink on a diabetic person's blood sugar levels which can become unexpectedly, and sometimes dangerously, high. I finally got back home at around 9:30 pm after a good coach journey and a fortuitous encounter with a Number 3 bus as I was just passing the bus stop! Well, pictures speak louder than words, especially when they move, so here is Becky's wonderful video of the day's shenanigans:

And a selection of photos - mostly by Shelley, but a few of mine too!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Number of the Beast

I’ve been frequenting an American forum recently, and trying to get used to the different units of measurement they use over there. Here in the UK a blood glucose meter reading is measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/l), but in the US it is measured in milligrams per decalitre (mg/dl). These produce wildly different numbers – a healthy reading of 5.0 mmol/l equates to 90 mg/dl – and it can take a little time to get used to what is seen as acceptable. To convert from UK to US readings, you multiply the US reading by 18, so I was having a play and worked out my level at diagnosis, which was obviously very high. In fact, it was 37 mmol/l which equates to…666 mg/dl! The Number of the Beast!

This got me thinking of what a beast diabetes can be at times, some days dominating your every waking hour, and even disrupting your sleeping hours. Keeping those levels steady and in range can be a tough task at times, and it can get you down when you have to consider every meal, every day, continually testing your blood, injecting insulin, and trying to perform some enormously complex calculations solely by intuition and guesstimation.

It can be a problem if you let it take over. I can’t get rid of it, but I can decide not to fear it. After all, it’s just a lack of insulin in my case. It’s called a disease, but it’s a strange one. In theory, if I could get everything right I could just inject exactly the right amount of insulin at the right time so that it perfectly matches the glucose release of my food and my liver, and there would be no problem – the disease wouldn’t exist. Well, of course, that’s not really true. A fully functioning pancreas is far more subtle than the ham-fisted injection method, and who knows what problems that disparity of finesse might present in the future? But, it’s all I’ve got to work with at the moment, so there’s little point in worrying about it. I’ll be very happy if they find a cure sometime soon though!

I know you Beast, I know your name,
You hide amid the gloom
And darken days that once were bright,
And beckon me to your tomb.

Creeping, cruel and cursed Beast,
Insidious and sly,
You think you scare me, but you don’t –
And here’s the reason why…

I don’t have diabetes,
Just a lack of insulin,
And since I can inject that,
You must see you cannot win!

So I declare you dead and gone,
You never did exist!
No monster lies beneath my bed –
Dear Beast you won’t be missed!

You don’t hide in my cupboard,
Nor lurk behind the door,
And if I turn my back on you,
Then I’ll see you no more!

I’d like you, please, to stick your head
Inside a dead bear’s bum,
And let that be a taster of
The things you’ve got to come!

Beast? Pah!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Icelandic volcano? No – my blood pressure!

A couple of weeks ago I went for a routine check up at the doctors and had my blood pressure taken. The doctor could hardly believe how high it was, and checked several times to make sure the equipment was working correctly! She told me to double the dose of my BP medication and book another appointment, which I attended yesterday. This time, it was still far too high, although an improvement on the previous visit, so I am to double my medication again (although this is still a relatively small dose).

Blood pressure, or rather the high or low varieties, are something unseen and largely unfelt. Low blood pressure can sometimes cause dizziness or fainting, but high blood pressure can often not show any symptoms at all. If high BP is allowed to continue for any length of time, however it can do major damage to the arteries, kidneys and eyes, os it’s something I have to tackle quickly. Hopefully, the new dose of medicine will make an appropriate contribution, but I am also staying well away from alcohol and being especially careful of things like salt content of food. I’m also back to running again, now that I have recovered from the bad cold that I suffered with last week, so hopefully this will bring more improvement. I have to report back in about a month’s time and am expecting to hear the words ‘130/80, that’s perfect!’

Blood pressure setting is on overload,
My arteries will burst, my head will explode!
My kidneys will leak, my eyesight will fail!
My systolic pressure is right off the scale!

I could pump enough blood to sustain a blue whale!
I must change the ending of this sorry tale,
My diastolic pressure is over the ton,
Like the cold hard metal of a loaded gun!

How could I have got to this stage of distress?
I must be a wreck, a physical mess!
But no, I don’t feel it, what hypertension?
No symptoms to speak of, or not worth a mention…

But I’m not too dismayed, though the figures are bad,
For to fret and to worry, why I’d drive myself mad!
So I’m working on ways to bring it right down,
And try to keep smiling, and never to frown.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Spring has sprung -finally!

First true Spring day today! I'm basing this on the fact that this is the first day this year I have been able to hang my laundry out to dry in the Sun and gentle breezes - and everything was dry in less than an hour! At last the Spring flowers are blooming - yellow and pink are the predominant colours at this time of the year. If only I didn't have this wretched cold I would be feeling marvellous, grrr! The week started well, with runs on Monday and Tuesday, but then the sneezing started and scuppered my plans for getting back to fitness. Interestingly, despite all that I have ever read about being ill when you are diabetic, my blood sugar levels have been practically faultless, staying well within range throughout. I'm very grateful for that - I wonder what it is about my body that means it can cope with illness when others can't? The common result is that levels climb high, despite extra insulin, and ketones (and consequently the threat of ketoacidosis) appear. None of that for me, so far - touch wood! Anyway, here are some of the lovely plants in their Spring glory!

Kerria Japonica


Flowering currant



Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Oh Weeping Nostrils!

I have a cold. Typical, just when I was getting back into my running now that the better weather and brighter days have arrived. I shouldn’t really run when I’m ill as it puts extra strain on my system when it’s already trying to fight the infection. The last time I had a proper cold I didn’t have diabetes to go along with it. Now I’m having to keep a close eye on my blood sugar levels to make sure they don’t climb too high, and it’s quite possible that, if they do I’ll have to start peeing on sticks to see if I have any ketones (they’re the nasties that turn your blood into acid and put you in hospital). Oh, woe is me! Actually, I seem to have got off quite lightly since diagnosis, illness-wise, so I can’t really complain. I’m just hoping this cold goes soon so I can start clearing the backlog on my 1000 mile/1000 km challenge that I’ve got significantly behind on due to the awful winter. If only Kate Bush would pop round and take a few hours out of her busy schedule to minister to my needs…

Oh Nostrils, why do you weep so?
And Throat, why feel so sore?
And Eyes, who filled you full of sand?
And Head, could you hurt more?

It’s flu, I say! Despite my jab
That should save me from harm,
My sugar levels are creeping up,
I may have bought the farm!

Oh where is Kate, with her soft hands
To mop my fevered brow?
No doubt gone Wuthering on the Moor…
Oh what shall I do now?

OK, it’s man-flu, I confess,
It’s sympathy I seek,
Or else, I swear, it’s certain I’ll
Be dead within a week!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Ode to Oily Fish

Oh oily fish! Dear oily fish!
By far and away my favourite dish!
Infuse me with your Omega 3,
Please oily fish, come dine with me!

Oh, take away my chicken bhuna!
Replace it with a slab of tuna!
And though I love the taste of gammon,
I'd much prefer some Scottish salmon!

Imagine eating with every course
Some pilchards in tomato sauce!
If every herring could be mine,
Then life on Earth would be divine!

So, fill me up with oily fish!
Believe me, it’s my dearest wish!
My heart’s desire, where have you been?
Embrace me now, oh plump sardine!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

New website for Diabotics!

All the diabotics now have their own dedicated website at Diabotics are creatures crafted from the sundry detritus of the treatment of diabetes mellitus, and making them is great fun for young and old alike!

Guildford Forum Meet

Yesterday was the Guildford meeting of  UK Diabetes Support Forum. We had about a dozen attendees and everyone had a terrific time! Next meeting is in London - only two weeks away!


Lots more pictures here at Shelley's Facebook page and Hannah's Facebook page!

Friday, 9 April 2010

We’re all going on a sugar holiday…

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a week or two off from diabetes? Most people regard holidays as a time to relax and recuperate, to regenerate and come back revived and refreshed, but there is no holiday from diabetes, as yet. Let’s go back to a more innocent era, and climb aboard that big red double decker bus with Cliff Richard and the Shadows…

We’re all going on a sugar holiday,
No injections for a week or two,
Beer and chocolate on our sugar holiday.
No diabetes for me or you,
For a week or two…

We’re going where our pancreas works correctly,
We’re going where each beta cell’s new!
We’ve seen it on a website,
Now let’s see if it’s true!

Everybody needs a sugar holiday,
Eating things they always wanted to,
Cured and happy on our sugar holiday,
For Type 1 or Type 2.

We’re going to eat pizza twice nightly,
We’re going to drink a tipple or two!
And it won’t affect our levels,
The non-diabetic crew!

I hope one day we get a sugar holiday,
No more testing for me or you,
Come back cured from our sugar holiday,
If only it could be true..
Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm…

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

And finally for today...

I received an email from Diabetes Daily explaining the action they have taken - thanks David.

Hi Alan,

I have removed the RSS feed that the website was using to steal the blog content. This will prevent anyone from easily stealing blog posts from the headlines.

Although that will solve this problem, any website with an RSS feed such as yours will have its content stolen. There are people that use automated programs to create thousands of fake websites every day. Over the past 5 years, I've come across literally hundreds of websites that steal content from Diabetes Daily. Luckily, every one has been an obvious junk website and those don't impact us in any way. I've pursued having them shut down, but it's like playing whack-a-mole with a thousand moles and one hammer. It's typically not worth it.

Regardless, thanks for pointing this out. It's nice to post an RSS feed, but I certainly don't want to make it easier for people to steal the diabetes blogs.

Kind Regards,


Now a lesson on how to protect your blog...

...from the Blog thief! As has been commented, there is now an accompanying lesson on how to prevent your blog from being lifted by making amendments to the RSS feed settings. I wonder if he got the clue from the fact that I'd just done that before posting my last blog?

When I checked last night there were about 2,500 diabetes-related blogs on the site. All were presented as though they had been posted to the site intentionally, but without attribution of any kind. Incidentally, the site also had many other sections, not diabetes related, that had been populated in the same manner, so the quantity of copyrighted material was huge. It may be that the site was host to lots of individual member sites and the diabetes was just one member out of many. However you don't steal that much creative effort and think that no-one will care. Be vigilant!

From what I can gather the site owner is of Indian origin.

Thief apologises again and deletes all plagiarised material

Now just the apology remains on the site - all other material (a considerable amount) has been removed. It seems the Diabetes Daily feed was the place he was getting everything from, maybe Tudiabetes as well. I don't think I'll resubmit my blog to DD until I can find a way of protecting my material. It's not block-busting, best-selling stuff, but it's my stuff and I should be acknowledged as its author. I write it to hopefully make people smile and have a lighter look at diabetes and its ups and downs, and it does take effort (believe it or not!).

Just a further test of blog thief!

GL Diet Recipe Book and Health Plan – Maggie Pannell

This is a fairly newly-published large format book containing an explanation of GI (Glycaemic Index) and GL (Glycaemic Load) principles, plus a large selection of recipes, lavishly illustrated with full colour photographs.

Note if you see this post anywhere other than diabetespoetry then it has been stolen.

The book begins with an excellent introduction explaining the concepts of GI and GL, and the ways in which this approach can improve health, weight control and blood sugar levels. It’s not aimed specifically at diabetics, but explains clearly how high GI/GL foods can cause difficulties maintaining stable blood sugar control, in addition to numerous health benefits of low GL. This is followed by very accessible and informative sections on the categorisation of food, which foods to choose and their recommended proportions in your diet, how to adapt your current diet according to your lifestyle and tips on shopping and cooking.

There is a two week suggested meal planner, and finally sections for the recipes themselves – soups and light meals, vegetarian dishes, fish and shellfish main dishes, poultry and meat mains, salads, and desserts. The recipes are not complicated and the ingredients should be easily sourced from a good supermarket or (if you are lucky to have them!) local independent shops.

On the whole, a very impressive and comprehensive book for those seeking to understand the principles of GI/GL with a good set of recipes clearly explained – and it’s quite cheap too, currently £8.99 on amazon!

Why are you still thieving people's work ?

So much for the 'apology' still ripping blogs.

Stop Thief!

Yesterday I discovered that my blog post 'The Goldilocks Dose', a poem about diabetes and getting the insulin dose 'just right', had been stolen in its entirety and reproduced without any attribution to me and without my permission. The post appeared on a site called . Today the post has been removed, with an 'apology' from that website's owner, and a promise not to steal anything else. I'm just wondering if this will show up there, as the site still appears to be harvesting blogs after the apology has been posted. I don't believe that any of these posts are from people who have willingly agreed to have their work published there without any reference or attribution. I would probably not have minded an excerpt, with link to my blog that would bring me some more readers.

I will see if this 'apology' and 'promise' are upheld.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Goldilocks Dose

The most common approach for people taking insulin these days is to use ‘carb-counting’ to try and determine just how much insulin you need to inject in order to match precisely the food you are about to eat. If only it were so easy! Having ‘counted’ the amount, in grams, of carbohydrate in your meal, you then have to know how many grams equate to one unit of insulin. Easy! Except that this ratio will most likely change throughout the day, with many people experiencing ‘insulin resistance’ early in the day when more insulin will be needed than, for example, in the evening.

Now you have to consider other things, like exercise or activity undertaken, the nature and duration of the activity, when you actually did it – or maybe when you intend to do it! Then, there’s the weather, the season, your weight, do you feel ill or not, what is your starting level on your meter, what is your suggested range and are you above or below the midpoint – anything I might have forgotten? Oh yes, make sure that you use the fast-acting insulin for your meals and slow-acting for your ‘background’ or it’ll go completely to pot!
If you’re taking insulin, everyone knows
You have to determine the Goldilocks Dose.
That’s the dose that’s just right for that moment in time,
So your levels are perfect and life is sublime.

Too little – you get hot, too much – you get cold,
You can’t be too timid, nor neither too bold!
And choosing the right insulin is a good place to start,
Or you might find they carry you off in a cart!

Count up the carbs for the food that you choose,
Some packets are helpful, some seek to confuse,
It’s not just the sugar, but all carbs that matter,
So don’t be misled by not choosing the latter!

Now, when did you exercise? How much did you do?
For it makes quite a difference – believe me, it’s true!
How much of a difference? Well, that’s quite hard to say,
It depends on the type and the time of the day!

Having taken all the variables into account,
Then fire up your pen with the perfect amount.
If your levels should spike, or you get one of those ‘lows’,
You’ll know you messed up with your Goldilocks Dose!