I am not alone

The battle has been worth it! There is still a long way to go, however after using an insulin pump for 14 days I can see what it can do and will do for my health, wellbeing and quality of life (not just for me, but my family too).

I recently spent two days at the Hutt hospital learning how to use an insulin pump. I was initially full of nerves, not helped by a flat car battery, of all days meaning I was late. The nerves quickly vanished as I took a seat and met the team. Their sole purpose for the next two days was to support and encourage me to master using an insulin pump. How could I go wrong? I was fortunate enough to share this experience with Neville, another type 1 diabetic, his wife Judy, diabetic nurses Hazel and Lyn and Kevin the insulin pump rep and tutor.

We explored insulin pump jargon, how to refill cartridges, change cannulas and batteries, correct high blood sugars, hypos, ketones and how to troubleshoot when things went wrong. It was no wonder I slept well both nights. During the workshop we had time to practice using and programming the pump and test the effects it was having on our blood sugars.

At one stage I tested and was 18.6mmol/L! I’d only had a sandwich and a coffee for lunch, I’d carb counted and taken insulin to cover this? What went wrong? I’d followed the rules exactly and failed…

Then Neville tested his… 17.6mmol/L!

What? This is normal? You mean to tell me the highs and lows I’ve been battling for 16 years aren’t a reflection of bad choices or lack of determination, but simply part of diabetes? I’m not the only one fighting hard to achieve the somewhat mystical illusion of consistent blood sugar levels between 4-8mmol/L. What an absolute revelation to discover I was not alone.

Neville has been a diabetic for 30+ years. He was diagnosed as he trained for a marathon, of all things. His wife Judy describes diabetes as a disease that affects not just the individual but the whole family. Together, as a family they embarked on a healthy lifestyle (there was no other choice), including regular exercise, low carb food choices and regular monitoring, testing and injections. This next part of the journey is going to be no different. Together they; Neville, Judy, their children and grandchildren will get through this.

We’ve been warned that the next couple of months will be the hardest. It will be full of high blood sugars, low blood sugars, trial and error as we programme the insulin pump correctly. Unfortunately there is no one size fits all with diabetes. In fact there’s not even a one size fits one person. There are so many variables to consider such as food, exercise, time of day, sickness, stress, I even find the weather affects my blood sugars and medication requirements.

Like Neville, I know I will get through this next part supported by my family and friends. Together we’ll meticulously read the back of food labels, choose sugar-free alternatives wherever possible, make time to exercise, recharge, rest, laugh and learn. They will ‘lift me up’ during the tough times and celebrate each and every success, no matter how small. As I finish this blog, my blood sugars are 8.2mmol/L – certainly worth celebrating!