Friday, 30 July 2010

Getting better, slowly!

My legs have finally recovered from Sunday’s hills sufficiently to tackle another run this morning. Thought I would try a slight extension to my recent runs through the park. I’m not worrying about times at the moment, apart from time on my feet, as I need to get some stamina and endurance built up. Going into oxygen-debt by running faster than I can currently sustain is pointless, so I just ran the route I intended, staying well within my aerobic capacity.

Things were fairly quiet – it’s strange how so much of the road traffic disappears when the school holidays start, I can only imagine (not having kids) that much of the rush hour congestion is caused by over-protective two-car parents driving their little darlings to the school gates rather than let them burn off any precious calories with a bit of a walk...

The air was cooler than of late, and still, meaning that I quickly began to heat up. The riverbanks were exposing their muddy banks, dark brown dotted with white where seagulls foraged for worms amidst the traffic cones and shopping trollies. Actually, it’s not that bad, the river is pretty clean. It’s very tidal, so when the tide is out just a narrow channel remains, revealing just how shallow the river is, despite its broad expanse. As I ran the Sun began to burn off the cloud cover and I began to heat up some more!

Thankfully, I wasn’t overwhelmed with dogs on the run, just a couple of mongrels more interested in the saliva-soaked balls that their owners were casting around for them to chase. It seems that modern dog-owners have cottoned on to just how gross a dog-spit drenched tennis ball is, so they no longer throw them by hand, but employ some kind of plastic launcher – such are the advancements of modern civilisation…

My legs were rather heavy over the last half mile, but that means that they managed the previous two and a bit without too much distress, which is an improvement as it means I’m gaining a stronger base. I’ve found in the past it takes me about three weeks to get back into being able to run a regular 5-7 miles, although as I’ve got older it does seem to be closer to three weeks rather than two! I’ve wondered about the diabetes too, whether that is having an effect on my endurance and recovery, or if I’m just finding that an easier thing to blame than the fact that I’m not the Spring chicken I used to be!

Levels were 7.9 mmol/l (142 mg/dl) before the run and 7.3 mmol/l (131 mg/dl) afterwards, which I was pleased with. I don’t adjust my insulin before the run, although I know of some people that either take none or at the very least reduce it by a considerable amount. For me, the effect comes afterwards, so that’s when I change my ratios – although it’s a completely subjective, finger-in-the-air adjustment, based largely on instinct and experience. I’ve also taken to injecting about 15 minutes before eating, as I’ve discovered that I often spike early, however GI-conscious I’ve been with my food choices. This morning’s readings indicate that I got it just right. 362 calories burned, but I’m not shifting any weight at all. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment next Thursday to see if my blood pressure has improved – if not, I’m likely to be threatened with more medication, which I’d really rather not have, so hoping staying off the booze for the past couple of weeks, plus the exercise, will have me nice and steady at 130/80e

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

My poem was read out at the No Sugar Added book launch!

About a minute in, a couple of lines from my poem are read out in this short video - I'm presuming they read the whole thing out! Weird to see people I've never met over on the other side of the world reading out my poem publicly! Exciting! Buy the book!

GSR Training update

Well, my poor leg muscles were totally wrecked after Sunday's hilly run! Why oh why did I choose to live in a two-storey house - the steps are pure torture! Interestingly, my left ('good') leg was significantly more sore than my right ('bad') leg. I've noticed this in the past, and can only presume it is because I tend to favour that leg and make it do more than its fair share of the work since breaking the other. So, I had a couple of days off from the running, despite my desire to get out there - it would have been folly, and embarassing! I did, however, go on a recce on Monday, seeking out even more monstrous inclines for future runs. I went on a wider three mile circuit of my home which involved some truly challenging hills that dwarfed those I ran on Sunday - definitely something to attempt in the near future, and something that I know I could extend for 10-15 miles around town now that I know where the new route fits into place. Rather shamefully, some of these local hills, less than half a mile from home, were new to me despite living in the area for nearly 11 years - I guess I've never had any reason to go off in that direction, and maybe been put off by the steepness!

I was hoping to have been recovered sufficiently by today to attempt a gentler run through the park, but the soreness, although diminished, is still there. Instead, I decided to join Gay Gasper (in the picture) on her 15 minute abs workout and followed this up with an 8k exercise bike session - both being low-impact. OK, I know that's not a lot, but it's something, and hopefully it will help keep my blood sugars in line, as they have been improving after last week's climb. Hoping for a run tomorrow!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Up hill, down dale!

OK, I’ve been laid up again with a muscle strain, so getting back into running is coming in fits and starts. When I was younger I would probably have just run through such an injury, but it’s surprising (or maybe not!) how much it focuses your mind on recovering fully when your femur once snapped at mile 23 of a marathon. I think the problem stemmed from the fact that I have a big nail going through my leg from front to back, about three inches above my knee – this has created a lot of internal scar tissue and altered the physiology of the leg somewhat.

Anyway, excuses over! I have been feeling a little jaded with running through the park – beautiful though it is – and fancied tackling something a little different today. A couple of days ago I was walking down one of the steep local hills, of which there are many around where I live, and I saw a girl running up on the other side. I was impressed. I don’t know what the actual gradient is, but it is steep, and it reminded me of my time in the Peak District when I too could run up such a precipitous climb! So, in an attempt to recapture my youth (that’s early-30s!) I decided I would go on a tour of the hills in the neighbourhood.

Starting from home, the first half mile was entirely, and heart-thumpingly, uphill. I had no preconceived notion of how I might cope, just concentrated on managing my breathing and running at the edge of my aerobic capacity. I knew it would be slow, but hey – this was my first such run in a while, and a course I had not previously tackled. I didn’t want to be a heaving, panting wreck after the first five minutes! Surprisingly, I managed to reach the first turn without too much distress, and suddenly I was descending quickly down a road whose steepness on the opposite direction impacted a completely different set of muscles and joints, or so it seemed! A pretty road with trees and large houses, nicely shaded and peaceful.

Eventually emerging at the bottom I took a short turn right, then right again to run upwards again, not quite achieving the ascent of the first climb, but not far off. A left turn down as I broached the brow of the hill, then another left and back down a road running parallel to the one I had just wheezed my way up. I was impressed I was still moving at this point, but decided to finish off the run with a little roundabout run to extend the route a little further and finally reaching home and blessed sanctuary for my bursting lungs and heavy legs.

Slow, and not that far, but not bad for a first attempt, so I’ll definitely be adding (and probably extending) it to my repertoire of routes, with every intention of stepping up the pace in future and smashing my rather embarrassing current personal best! After a shower and a short rest I then repeated the entire route, this time with my camera to record for posterity!

Distance: 2.09 miles (followed by a walk of the same distance!)
Time: 23’ 07”
Weather: warm and cloudy.
BG before: 10.4
BG after: 9.8
Ascent: 429ft
Descent: 386ft

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Who needs a psychic octopus when you've got diabetes?

Recently, I’ve noticed that my blood sugar levels have been higher than I’m normally used to seeing, plus giving myself extra insulin doesn’t quite seem to do the trick. For example, this time last week I had a total daily dose (TDD) of 28 units of insulin – yesterday I had 43 units, but still ran high levels for part of the day. How to explain this? Well, with diabetes (and the ability to measure your blood sugar with a meter) you can see how your body is beginning to fight an infection before you feel any other symptoms. In my non-diabetic days, the first I would have known that I had caught a cold or stomach bug would have been when I started sneezing, sniffling or feeling poorly. Now I can become aware of it at least two or three days earlier, effectively seeing into the future! Of course, my pre-cognition only extends as far as personal illness is concerned, not predicting the outcome of World Cup Finals, so Paul the Octopus still has his niche! But I’m working on a way to get my diabetes to help me predict lottery numbers – perhaps my meter is trying to tell me something…!

Who needs a psychic octopus,
The future to foretell?
A cold Cassandra cephalopod,
When I can do as well?

Who needs a mentalist mollusc,
Who crawls the ocean floor,
To tell us what the future holds,
When my meter tells me more?

For, blessed with diabetes
My predictive powers are strong,
And unlike squid or nautilus,
I’m very rarely wrong!

So when my levels start to climb,
But nothing else seems wrong,
Then be assured that I will be
Quite ill before too long!

Before this foul disease took hold,
I lacked this inbuilt sense,
Consulting eight-limbed oracles
For my fate a few days hence.

But now I plan to make me rich –
My meter holds the key!
And when I get the numbers right,
I’ll win the lottery!

Hurrah for diabetes!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Oh Phoebe, Phoebe!

Forum member Phoebe had a strange experience the other night. She had a dream where she was sat up in bed and there were paramedics at the foot of the bed and her husband was trying to get her to eat something sweet – but why should she? And who were these people? She just wanted to sleep! Happily, the story ended well!

I think I’d like this dream to end,
Why are these people here?
I don’t remember who they are,
Did you invite them dear?

Oh Phoebe, eat your glucotab,
You know they taste so good!
You need to eat them so there’ll be
More sugar in your blood!

Oh no, I won’t! You can’t make me!
I’ll keep my mouth tight shut!
So bobble off, be on your way!
Ah, that was nicely put!

Oh Phoebe, drink your lucozade,
You know you love the taste!
It’s open and it will go flat,
Don’t let it go to waste!

I won’t! I won’t! Just leave me be!
I’d rather go to sleep!
So let me lay my head back down
On my pillow, soft and deep…

I’ll let you sleep, but only when
I see you eat these sweets!
OK, OK! For peace and quiet,
Then I’ll admit defeat!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Diabetic Days of Yore

I was only diagnosed a couple of years ago and have been able to take advantage of all the wonderful advances that have been made in diabetes management, with the pace increasing all the time. Insulin pumps are becoming more widespread, often these days linked to continuous monitoring systems to establish even better blood sugar control than was possible before. Many people on the forum, diagnosed decades ago, remember how things used to be. I have even read the story of one person, Richard, who has been living with diabetes for over six decades and he recalls the early days of boiling syringes and chemical urine tests to determine sugar levels. Now the talk is of stem cell and islet transplantation, smart insulin and artificial pancreases – a long way from those difficult early days…!

I won’t forget those wise old words my Daddy said to me
As he sat down in his chair one night and perched me on his knee.
He said, ‘Son, diabetes wasn’t always so much fun,
So let me tell you how it was in 1931!’

Twice a day we’d drive to town, down to the abattoir,
Pick out a bovine pancreas and stow it in the car,
And when we got home Mum and Dad would mash that organ up,
And strain it through a muslin bag into a paper cup…

Then Dad would get some chemicals and boil them in a pan,
Adding bits of this and that with flourish and élan!
And meanwhile I would drink and drink until I had to pee,
And Mum would take a jar away, as swiftly as could be!

She’d add it to the chemicals, and if it turned bright red
Then I would have no supper and be sent off straight to bed.
But if it just turned yellowish, I’d have something to eat
Like carrots mashed in gravy, with sweet pickles for a treat!

I didn’t like the needles though, at least six inches long!
So Mum would jig around the room, distracting me with song!
And when he’d scraped the rust off, Dad would stick it in my butt,
I’d bite down on a leather strap to keep my mouth tight shut!

So, should you whinge and moan about how finger pricking’s bad,
Then pause to contemplate about the progress we have had.
We’ve gone from times when prospects for our future might seem poor,
To looking forward to the day that they announce the cure!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Wooohoo! Published!

Just found out that Diabetes Hands Foundation (the people behind Tudiabetes) have released their poetry anthology 'No-sugar Added Poetry' - my poem 'Ode to a Perfect Pancreas' is one of the 39 poems featured in the book! Fame at last!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Diabetic Desiderata

With thanks to the original author, Max Ehrmann, Desiderata (things to be desired) modified a little for diabetic sensitivities...

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
And remember that stress and cortisol may raise your levels.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with health care professionals of all types.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
except to the diet and diabetes police;
they just don’t get it.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to good glycaemic control.

If you compare your HbA1c with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser numbers than your own.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own blood sugar diary, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in following fads and online cures,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is in GI and GL diets;
many persons strive for perfect control,
and everywhere life is full of Joslin medalists.
Be yourself. Especially do not forget your insulin.
Neither be cynical about the bond between fellow sufferers,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the old timers,
remaining optimistic about the future for the young.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you should your retinopathy scan not be perfect.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of looking at the wrong sites on the internet.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
treat yourself from time to time.
You are a person with diabetes
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with your endocrinologist,
however lacking in knowledge you perceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
make sure you have enough test strips.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Looking diabetic

People often say ‘you don’t look diabetic’. What do they expect? A tattoo on the forehead? An extra limb, horns and a tail? Well, of course they usually mean ‘you’re not fat, how can you be diabetic?’ The public are continuously being misled into believing that diabetes is somehow a lifestyle choice – that if only we’d looked after our health better and maybe not eaten so many pies and sugar, then we could have avoided it. Not so. Although there is clear evidence that obesity can precipitate diagnosis of diabetes, particularly Type 2, it is not always the case – there are many, many obese people in the world who do not develop diabetes, and around 20% of those diagnosed with Type 2 are not overweight at diagnosis. Indeed, there is the possibility that the extra weight may be gained because of diabetes, and not the other way round, since abnormal insulin production to try and overcome insulin resistance can cause weight gain.

So how are the public to recognise diabetics if they are slim, active and otherwise healthy? A new government initiative reveals how…

It’s confirmed – you’re diabetic, so please join the queue,
The surgeon should be on his way,
It shouldn’t take long, there’s only a few…
What’s that? Do you have something to say?

Oh, didn’t they tell you? It’s really no good!
We must make you stand out in the street!
Some try to disguise it by wearing a hood,
But you can still pick them out by their feet!

Here is the leaflet, I’m sure it’ll explain,
And there’s a picture of what they attach.
It’s free for the ‘standard’, but if you are vain,
You can pay extra for attachments that match!

A moment if you please, you must sign this release
To donate them back when you’re dead…
Now hurry along, you’re next on the list,
Would you like to have green ones or red?

Oh dear! Does it hurt? That’ll soon go away,
And you’ll learn how to sleep on your back.
You’ll be able to walk, but not quite the same way –
I’m sure that you’ll pick up the knack!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Running convergence!

I managed another run this morning. My head wants to get back that feeling of running fast and freely o’er hill and dale, although my legs are protesting that that was probably twenty years ago now. One of my favourite runs used to be down the Rivelin Valley, out of Sheffield and into the Peak District, up a steep forest trail bordering the reservoirs and then up on the top of the world for a fast, gravity-assisted descent. About six miles for that one, a lot of it at six minutes a mile. I used to relish the huge hills – flat is boring and doesn’t test your range sufficiently. There’s nothing like the sense of achievement of racing past a group of fully kitted out, lycra-clad cyclists on their expensive bikes with hundreds of gears, and seeing their faces grimace and eyes grow wide with astonishment. Broaching the brow of the hill and beginning the descent such a sweet relief after those last few oxygen-sapping yards and feeling the power return to muscles, heart and lungs!

OK, just a memory at the moment. Despite my head wanting all that, my legs are still a little bit heavy and sore from my previous run, although I have been able to negotiate stairs without any involuntary groaning, so there’s hope! It was nice and cool when I got up at 6:30 am, but the air temperature rapidly rose and became increasingly humid. Despite opening every window and door in the house, there was little air movement, and it draped around me like a moist, heavy blanket. Outside there was a slight breeze, but as I started out this seemed to disappear. I can only surmise that the breeze was blowing in the same direction I was running, and at the same rate – around six miles an hour.

Initially, the Sun was hidden by cloud, but a few minutes in began to shine bright and strong, so I braced myself for the accompanying heat which duly obliged. Quite a few dog walkers this morning, but tame animals more interested in the thrown balls and smells not discernible to my impressively large olfactory organ. That was until I remembered one of the most feared aspects of running through this park on a hot and humid day. Remembered is not the right word – rudely reminded is better. About a half mile into the park the rich, pungent stench of the sewage treatment works based on the opposite bank of the river filled the air around me. Bad enough trying to breath in this hot, humid soup of a summer’s day, but when the air is permeated with that fruity, sickly, gut-wrenching aroma it becomes a challenge of Herculean proportions. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it did smell bad!

The smell did spur me on though, in an effort to escape its influence, although it did entail a mental battle between trying to breathe deeply whilst at the same time suppressing the urge to seal my mouth and nostrils. At that point a girl I had seen running the other way ran past me on her return. A girl!!! OK, I know it may sound a bit sexist but I don’t like being passed by a girl when running, especially when it appears that she is actually running quite slowly. If she looks slow, how slow do I look?!! She does look rather young and athletic though, so I am a little more accepting of my failure to keep pace. If telepathy were possible I’d want to say ‘OK, you passed me, but I bet you don’t have a broken femur, heart attack and diabetes to think of as you skip along the path!’ Well, I didn’t really have a heart attack, and my femur broke six years ago, but I still think she should consider these factors before smirking about her triumph!

And the convergence? One thing that always amazes me is when you can go out on a run in different circumstances, varying the route to keep things interesting, and feeling differently about your perceived speed and relative tiredness – and post exactly the same distance and virtually the same time! Not remarkable if you run the same route, but this morning’s run was quite a bit different at the halfway stage and finishing portion, but it was exactly the same distance, run 14 seconds faster (possibly due to slightly different terrain) and expending exactly the same number of calories (332 – surely at least another pound lost?). Blood sugar behaved – 8.9 mmol/l (160 mg/dl) at the start and 8.3 mmol/l (149 mg/dl) at the finish. If I didn’t use hardly any energy, why do I feel so exhausted?!!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Back on Track

Starting back very much at square one with the running. It’s been a difficult year, starting off with very cold and treacherously icy weather, through a decent early spring, then injurt and the heat of summer. OK, that’s the excuses out of the way! I suppose I can blame the diabetes to some extent as well for removing the spontaneity from my running, but really it’s been largely a lack of motivation. My New Year challenge of 1000 miles and 1000 kilometres looks totally unfeasible at the moment, so I’m just going to do what I can and see where I stand at the end of the year.

So, despite the warnings of a very hot day, off I went this morning for my first real run in a couple of months! I wasn’t expecting to break any land speed records or astonish the watching crowds of park-goers with the brilliance of my athleticism, but just hoped that no-one would really pay much attention to the shambling, fat 50 year-old wheezing along the path…

Although the air temperature was warm, the Sun remained hidden, only starting to shine through the cloud cover as I neared the end of the run. That helped, as bright sunshine does sometimes make me feel a little nauseous which can affect my breathing. I felt slow much of the way round, but was pleasantly surprised to see my average pace at the end – bordering on jog/run pace, rather than amble/jog as I had expected. Just 2.5 miles in total in a little over 25 minutes, but it is early days yet and I need to build up some strength and stamina in my legs again. Not forgetting, of course, that I am currently carrying more weight than I am used to, and it’s not in a rucksack on my back so I can’t just leave it at home!

The park was quiet, generally, which was good as it made me feel less self-conscious which I always do when I’m not at peak fitness. There weren’t too many dogs, most of them were small, and all of them well-behaved, so no quick adrenaline bursts to set my heart racing beyond its limits! I was aware that, the further I ran out through the park, the further I would have to come back, but I pushed on, deciding to bear the consequences by perhaps doing a little walk/run on my return. As it turned out, I managed to keep going, although it did rather feel as though my legs were buckling from under me during the last half mile! The good thing was that my breathing was good, suggesting a good background cardiovascular fitness.

I recovered quite quickly, considering the heat, although thankful that I didn’t have to talk to anyone for five minutes or so whilst I stopped panting! I might try and get a battery for my heart rate monitor that goes with my Garmin Forerunner today, so I can see what’s happening to that. I used to have a resting heart rate of around 40 bpm at my fittest – it’s currently around 60 bpm, so it will be interesting to see if that comes down over the coming weeks.

Blood sugar was an unusually high 11.0 mmol/l (200 mg/dl) before the run, which was around 2 hours after breakfast – I’d normally expect around 8 mmol/l. On returning from the run it had come down to 7.5 mmol/l (135 mg/dl), so maybe it was good I started so high or I might have hypoed on the way back. Goodness knows what adjustments I might have to make to my meal bolus, and possibly basal insulin over the coming days and weeks! 332 calories expended, which must be at least a pound in weight – surely?!!!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Feeling the Pressure

I went to the doctors yesterday to find out the results of some blood tests I had done earlier in the week. I was feeling a little nervous as I haven’t been particularly active over the past couple of months due to the hot weather and my knee injury – try as I might, running is the only form of exercise that I enjoy, and anything else is a poor substitute that bores me to tears!

First up was the HbA1c, the 6-12 week average of my blood sugar levels. Last October it was at a very comfortable 5.6%, but I expected an increase this time. Happily not! I was 5.6% again! Hurrah! Next, liver and kidneys – both fine, inner sigh of relief. Being less active and trying to stay cool in the hot weather had led me to imbibe rather more of the amber nectar than health authorities might recommend, so pleased I had escaped admonition. Then – cholesterol. I stopped taking the statins I had been prescribed eight months ago because I was suspicious about the effect they were having on me. Thankfully, my cholesterol was also fine at 4.5!

All well and good so far, but then came the deflating blow – my blood pressure is still high. This, despite increasing my medication. Very disappointing, although I still think there’s a big element of white coat syndrome that makes it high simply because I’m anxious and fearing the result! After discussion with the doctor we agreed that it may be due to the fact that my weight has increased quite a lot over the past few months, and reducing this (though I’m not actually overweight) should help lower the blood pressure. So it’s time to get serious and get out running regularly again! Strange for me – I’ve never had to think about losing weight before in my life, so I can only blame the diabetes…well, why not!

I need to lose nine kilograms,
That’s twenty pounds or so.
I lost an ounce, or twenty eight grams –
There’s hundreds more to go!

So thank you diabetes,
I’ve never been this way,
I’ve always been light, and that was despite
Eating four thousand calories a day!

A horse between two bread vans
Would constitute a delicate snack,
I’d eat at least two on my way out to work,
And another two on the way back!

It’s not because I am lazy,
Or fill up my belly with junk!
It’s you that I blame diabetes
For the fact that my gravy boat’s sunk!

So I’ll say farewell to you biscuits,
And go put my running shoes on,
I’ll be lighter than air and they’ll all wonder where
That nine kilos of lard can have gone!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Quantum Diabetes and Schroedinger’s Hypo

I’ve always taken a layman’s interest in physics, from cosmology all the way down to particle physics and the quantum world. Sometimes, if I’m feeling a little down about my diabetes, I can take solace from the knowledge that the many worlds theory suggests that somewhere, in another universe, there is a ‘me’ who does not have diabetes. In fact, he’s probably a world-class marathon runner and polymath, admired and adored by all who hear his name, and happily married to Kate Bush.

The other day I was testing my blood, chiefly to see what my levels were before I partook of a tasty snack, and not for any reason of feeling that my levels might be low and in need of attention. I was therefore shocked and surprised to see a figure of 2.7 mmol/l (49 mg/dl), well below the point at which my world should have been swimming before me in a jittering, blurry haze! So, I was 2.7! Therefore I should be feeling quite pronounced symptoms, right? The instant I recognised this, the symptoms immediately set in and I was scrabbling for the jelly babies!

What can I conclude from this? That there is yet another type of hypo I can add to my ever growing list of experiences: the quantum, or Schroedinger’s hypo – one which only manifests itself when it is observed! If you don’t know who Schroedinger was, he was a physicist who proposed a thought experiment in the mid-1930s in response to the Copenhagen interpretation. Basically, the experiment went like this: place a cat in a sealed container which also contains a poisonous substance and a small amount of a radioactive element. The poison will be triggered by the particle decay of an atom, which may or may not happen, and therefore may or may not kill the cat. It is only by opening the container though, that the true state of the cat can be discovered. The act of observation fixes the quantum state – prior to that the state was in quantum flux and undefinable. (the experiment can be read in greater detail here)

Thus, a hypo which only generates symptoms when the blood sugar level is observed clearly operates on the same principle! I need to refine my theories a bit, but there might be a Nobel prize in this somewhere…

We’re all subject to the laws of physics,
I don’t think you’d argue with that!
So it follows that our dear diabetes
Might behave just like Schroedinger’s cat!

For a cat that is sealed in a container
May be subject to quantum events –
It will either survive and remain quite alive,
Or poof! In a flash, heaven sent!

It’s only upon observation
That we can learn of the poor moggie’s fate,
As we lift up the lid, did it die? Yes it did!
For we just fixed the true quantum state!

Likewise, with the strange quantum hypo,
That a random blood test may produce -
From out of nowhere, the hypo is there,
For reasons bizarre and obtuse!

Then once you have glanced at the number,
All at once your defences will slip,
And reality swirls as your neurons unfurl,
And the universe loses its grip!

To restore such a quantum imbalance
Take sugar as soon as you can!
For its fine crystalline carbon structure
Is the best antidote known to Man!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Why so glum?

Lately, I’ve been reading the most appalling stories about the way people are getting diagnosed – or misdiagnosed – and the dreadful lack of proper advice, support and care they are receiving from their health care teams. How some of these medics can remain in practice and not be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, I do not know. People are being told they have diabetes and then simply being left to their own devices, or given poor and useless advice.

Of course, one of the topics that always crops up is that newly-diagnosed people are being refused test strips so that they can monitor the effects of diet and exercise modifications and determine what works best for them. This is terribly short-sighted, as establishing good habits early on is the best way for someone to remain healthy and capable of managing their diabetes well. Instead, people are either being forced to self-finance or wait until things deteriorate to a point where medication may be needed and possibly damage already done.

Given the huge effort being put into trying to alert people to the dangers of diabetes, why is it that so many are then being treated as though it’s no big deal after diagnosis? I personally received excellent care, and continue to do so, so I know that healthcare professionals are capable of delivering it. A person should leave their doctor’s surgery with a sound plan for their future care, a good basic understanding (and direction to where they can find out more) and hope for the future – that things don’t have to get worse before they are considered worthy of attention. The following may sound a little extreme, but it is frighteningly close to the truth for many people – shame on doctors who think like this!

OK, so you have diabetes,
But you don’t seem to have it too bad!
So just lose some weight, and I’m sure you’ll do great –
I don’t know why you’re looking so sad?

Why would you test your blood sugar?
It’s really not worth it for you…
It’ll make you depressed – believe me, I know best!
It’s a waste of good money in my view!

So make an appointment for next summer,
Then you should be sufficiently worse
For me to give you medication,
And a five minute chat with a nurse!

In the meantime, don’t eat any chocolate,
And be careful if you develop a cough,
For there’s every chance if you cough while you dance,
That one of your feet might fall off!

If you find that your eyesight gets blurry,
Or if you wake up and can’t see at all,
Take that as a clue it’s the right time for you
To give our receptionist a call…

Well, goodbye then, and see you next summer!
Please close the door as you go,
And don’t darken my doorstep until then –
I’ve told you all you need to know!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Rest Home for Retired Diseases

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take a day off from looking after your diabetes – or whatever other chronic disease you may have? The thing about chronic diseases is that there is no end in sight – no day you can mark down in your calendar when you can look forward to spending time without it and doing as you please without fear of repercussions. Wouldn’t if be great if, like our dogs and our cats, we could just pay someone to take care of them for a little while? I’m sure we’d all come back for them, wouldn’t we? Better not answer that!

I’m looking forward to a time when, like smallpox in the ‘70s, we can ‘retire’ our diseases. The last few examples can live out their old age in laboratory test tubes and the like, muttering away to themselves about the good old days when they could shoot someone up to double figures just for eating a slice of toast and butter!

Go away! Take a break! Go on holiday!
I’m sure you’d like time on your own!
And I wouldn’t mind if you left for a while –
So go on! Just leave me alone!

For it seems you’ve become too dependent,
And it’s putting me in a bad mood!
I’d just like a day with you out of the way,
I hope you don't think that I'm rude!

There ought to be somewhere to send you,
Like the kennels where you might send a pet…
Yes, a kennel for chronic diseases!
But I don’t think there are any yet…

I’m sure if there were they’d make money,
For I know many others would pay
To leave you in the care of another,
Though we might not return straight away…!

I imagine, in the future it will happen
When diseases will all be retired,
They’ll live out their days sat on petri dish trays
Till the very last one has expired!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Brighton Forum Meet, July 3rd 2010

I had a really great day out yesterday meeting people from the forum, Circle D and elsewhere on a fantastic day out in Brighton. The weather was perfect, not too hot and with a pleasant sea breeze that escalated into a minor hurricane just inside the door of the Varsity pub! I think most of us got a touch (or more) of sunburn, despite lashings of suncream! Great people, some who I had met before (and were still willing to talk to me!) and some new faces too, which was nice too. I was sorry I had to leave at 7, as clearly from Shelley's pictures the party went on until lights out! The day was so good, I think we may have to make this an annual outing (good idea Shiv!).

As they say, pictures speak louder than words, so here is a selection of mine and Shelley's pictures:

Saturday, 3 July 2010


Spent a wonderful day in sunny Brighton with many lovely fellow diabetics! Levels predictably high - why do I only go into double figures in the company of fellow feeders of the insulin? Pictures to follow tomorrow! And no, we didn't destroy the pier - it was like that when we got there!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Supermarkets of the Future…

It would appear, after a short period of very unscientific study (anecdotal evidence from several members of the forum) that supermarkets are the most likely places for diabetics to experience problems of either high, or more probably, low blood sugars. Several members cited the supermarket as the scene of their worst hypo. Clearly there is a marketing opportunity presenting itself here for the enlightened supermarkets of the future – special Diabetics Days, when the whole store is geared up to receiving and catering for the pancreatically-challenged members of society. Given the exponential increase in the number of diabetics diagnosed every minute (or so we are told!), this could be a huge source of revenue for those chains willing to go the extra mile to win the loyalty of this specialised group of shoppers.

Imagine, therefore, specially trained staff on hand at every aisle, jelly baby bins at five metre intervals, free testing equipment using loyalty point strips, cushioned surfaces in case of sudden collapse, and a huge array of diabetic chocolate, jams and cakes to tempt the cash from a diabetic’s deep pockets…

Right, is everyone ready? Five minutes to go!
Maureen- what happens if someone goes low?
Er, they start talking nonsense and staring ahead?
That’s right, but not always, so don’t be misled!
And Phoebe, have you filled up the jelly baby bins?
Yes Mr Worsnip, they’re filled to the brim!

OK, now it’s time that we open the shop –
Kevin, are the mats out should any of them drop?
Does that really happen sir? They just fall on the floor?
I’m afraid so, quite often…now let’s open the door…
Remember, it’s hot so they’ll be dropping like flies –
If you spot one, and catch them, you’ll be up for a prize!

Ah! Ladies and Gents, will you please step this way?
Let me welcome you to shop on our Diabetics Day!
Over there you’ll find trollies that have meters built-in,
Ask a member of staff if you need insulin.
We’ve all kinds in stock, and it won’t cost a thing,
Just one word of caution – the Lantus might sting!

Mr Worsnip! Mr Worsnip! One’s just gone down!
She was reaching for sauce – I think it was brown!
OK – John, go to condiments, let’s just hope they’re fine,
That’s the third one so far by a quarter past nine!
Oh dear, I can see, if things go on this way,
Our Diabetics Special will be a very long day!

Well done everybody! That’s the last of them gone!
The prize for most ‘catches’ has gone to young John!
I’m happy to say that they all left alive,
And the three in the hospital, it is thought they’ll survive!
We’ve sold out of oily fish, porridge and ham,
But we didn’t shift a jar of diabetic jam!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Diabetes – Stealer of Sleep!

Sometimes, being diabetic is not conducive to getting a good night’s sleep. Apart from the Sword of Damocles that hangs over your head with every morsel you eat and every mile you run – how will that affect my levels? – I’ve noticed a couple of things that diabetes has brought to the nightly ritual. The first is not exclusive to diabetes, of course – the need to get up during the night to go to the bathroom. But diabetes can make that more likely, since higher than normal blood sugar levels cause the body to try and flush out the excess via the bladder. There is therefore a quandary, especially if you are treated with insulin, and at greater risk of suffering low blood sugar levels whilst you sleep – do you eat sufficient carbohydrate before bed to keep your levels high? If you do, then of course your kidneys will kick in to try and expel that extra sugar, wakening you when the pressure becomes too uncomfortable to bear!

There is another reason you might find sleep difficult, however, and this is something I have only experienced as a diabetic. Sometimes, as I fall asleep, I get a similar sensation to the early stages of a hypo. What to do? I find that I can’t ignore it, so I have to get my meter and test, which involves switching on the light and, of course, waking me up again! This doesn’t happen every night, thankfully, but when it does happen it is extremely annoying! Usually, my levels are fine and I was just falling asleep! I find it happens mostly when I have recently experienced a night time low, so the sensation and fear is fresh in my mind. A couple of nights ago, I experienced it and actually was low. Once I had treated the low, however, I was unable to get back to sleep for fear of it happening again. So, come on Mr Sandman! What did Diabetes promise you, eh? Eh????

Diabetes can deprive you of sleep,
An alarming, but little known fact.
It’s as if the disease and the Sandman
Have colluded in some unholy pact!

For, imagine a poor diabetic,
Perpetually aware of his plight,
Nervous and frightened to lay down his head
In case he goes low in the night!

He’ll take careful note of his levels
And, should they not be high enough,
Before he lies down then he might go to town
On bread, jam and chocolate and stuff!

Now, convinced that he won’t have a hypo,
He may think he’s cracked it at first,
But then find that he wakes in an hour
With a bladder that seems fit to burst!

But what if his levels looked perfect,
And he feels himself drift off to sleep?
Could that really mean he’s having a hypo,
And not due to counting those sheep?

So what did it promise you Sandman?
What devious, perfidious lies?
For what ever it was, it must have been good
To prevent you from gritting our eyes!