Type 1 Cycling

Type 1 Cycling

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Do not get frustrated

Having diabetes is frustrating. It just is. While other people are tucking into their food I am sat fiddling with testing equipment, needles and pens. Even worse when I am keeping my logs, I have to type into my phone what I am eating.  Worse still when out with friends it looks rude to be sat there typing on my phone while at dinner, I am not on twitter this is a medical necessity ... mostly.  When we go out to restaurants for dinner I have to ask the waiter what carbohydrates come on the plate.  When we go to friends I look impatient because 5 minutes before the meal starts I am asking them whats for dinner, so that I can get my calculation correct.  And that's just the day to day management.

Then there are the highs the lows and the swings between the two. They are both horrible in different ways. Highs make me feel terrible in a lethargic and fuzzy headed way.  They are not so scary in themselves but I know what long term bad control does to people.  I have seen a lot of complications of diabetes and it is not pretty.  Blindness, kidney dysfunction and worst of all loss of limbs is a horrible prospect.  Especially when I wake up high and I know I have been high all night, that is when I start to remember what I have seen.  It is scary.  The hypos are more scary at the time, they can also have a prolonged effect even after I have recovered my blood glucose levels I am still affected by it later.  The worst is early morning or in the middle of the night.  I wake up, a neat reaction to low blood sugar, so I can deal with it before it gets too bad.  But the interrupted sleep usually messes up my next day.  The additional problem with hypos is other people, some know what to do, some don't, some panic some don't.  My wife knows what to do, she will get up in the middle of the night and get something from the kitchen if need be.  She will also stop me from doing something stupid.  I had a hypo while were out the other day and she stopped me from carrying on and made me sit down and drink a coke.  It must be frustrating for her too.

This reminds me of something that happened to me a few months ago. We were returning from London on a British Airways flight. It was towards the end of the flight and people were being told to return to their seats to prepare for landing.  I started to get that feeling.  Slightly fuzzy head, and tingling in my lips and tongue.  "Uh oh" I said to my wife as I started fiddling around with my BG monitor.  The reading was in the 40s (mg/dl - thats around 2.5mmol/L).  I stumbled my way to the back of the plane.  I said apologetically that I was diabetic and I needed to sort myself out. They were really quick on their feet, water, coke, something to nibble on.  I waited while I recovered and chatted to these two wonderful women.  They said they had had training in how to handle this situation and one of them had been a nurse earlier in her career so was familiar with my condition.  They handed me some more water and coke to take back to my seat just in case.  I was stunned, I mean it was so well handled, no panic, no calling doctors.  Just understanding the situation and handling it perfectly.

So I do what I can to get it right, I am frustrated by what I have to do, and more frustrated when I get it wrong.  I am sure I calculate my insulin correctly then I check a few hours later and find I am really high, or low.  Then I have my recent Hba1c result 7.4%, not terrible but after the training that I had been doing and the loss of weight I thought maybe it would be and improvement.  This is the biggest frustration.  With all the other frustrations one would hope that it would lead to better results.  But when it doesn't it gets super frustrating.  The natural reaction is to say to yourself, its not worth it.  Why bother trying so hard when it makes no difference.  Why test? why exercise so much? why bother trying to calculate how much insulin, take less and just avoid the hypos.  Why not? because its worth it in the long run.  This disease takes practice and a lot of work.  You cannot expect to get it right every time, but you can learn to listen to your body, you can work at every aspect of what you do, and you can get better results.  Getting frustrated and giving up is the worst thing you can do.  If you want to scare yourself into getting it right ask your doctor to tell you about diabetic complications.

It may seem like it isn't but this is a simple problem.  It is.  It is a closed loop, you are closed loop.  Your results can be calculated, what goes in will come out in the result.  It is not as simple as the equation of insulin exercise and food.  That's the starting point, know how your body reacts to these 3 main components.  What changes that reaction; time of day; illness; stress.  You can understand how you end up with the results you do by keeping a log, keep as many details as you can, test often.  Get in tune with your body, accept that you will have bad days and bad results, but don't let it get you down.  Keep going, keep striving to get it right.  Live a long and healthy life.


  1. Question is why we're you not carrying your own Carbs in anticipation of a hypo ? And do you now carry Carbs or hypostop with you ?

    1. I carry energy gel and granola bars with me all the time now. Until I started training again I suffered very few hypos, and though I occasionally didn't replace my hypo carbs mostly I had something with me in my bag. Having said that if I am out and about in a city, its usually just as easy to go into a shop and buy a coke. I often favour that instead of using my emergency supplies.

      Hypos during the day are not a huge problem for me, I feel them early and have plenty of time to deal with them. I always have stuff with me on a plane, and when this particular episode happened I favoured getting some coke as that is the fastest acting hypostop I know.

      Hypos during the night are more of a problem. I do wake up and know immediately why I am awake, sometimes I am very low, mid 40s mg/dl (2.something mmol/L). For this reason I have a wife who is wonderful and fetches me something from the kitchen. Also I have energy gel and or cookies on my bedside table.