Separate names with a comma.
Well this has been one to forget. It's approaching 2 am and I'm still awake in part because of my diabetes.
It began like any other Wednesday. Did piano practice, some vague stuff in the afternoon, and then had dinner before going to teach a piano lesson and accompany a choir. I had something slightly different for dinner. Saw some mussels and thought I'd have me some of that. Had dinner, walked to pupils as usual. Taught pupils as usual, then went to choir as usual. Sat down and started to play, then felt really sick. Apologised to the conductor and went to the loo where I saw my dinner again. I have to assume that the mussels did not agree with me.
It came on so quick. One minute I'm fine and working along through John Rutter, the next I feel the roughest I have in years. One of the choir then took me home. On the way, I realised that I had no liquid sugary substances in the house. I didn't fancy my chances eating something solid, but some normal Coke might give me a chance. Having a hypo while ill was not on my to do list. My friend jumped out of her car and dashed into a supermarket for me, promptly returning with Pepsi Max. Great in normal circumstances but not when you need to replenish lost glucose.
My friend got the hardcore sugary Coke and we were on our way. I then got overwhelmed with the need to be sick again. I held off just long enough to get the door open and thankfully, there were some bushes that I could use. That done, I just about made it home without more issues.
I live with my wife. Living with someone is good when you are ill, and don't want to have a hypo due to involuntary loss of food. My wife was visiting her parents over the weekend and beginning of the week, coming back today. Only she had not made it back. The train line was flooded and she was staying away an extra night. So I'm home alone, a heavy sleeper, with compromised blood sugars. I called NHS Direct, and they suggested going to A and E just in case. Why wife enthusiastically concurred via phone.
Another friend from choir selflessly drove across town to pick me up and take me to A and E. I got in there, and realised how skilled the staff were. My symptoms as good as bloody vanished. As quick as they had come, they just dissipated. I pondered this for the two hours I spent sitting in the waiting room. I had been mildly hypo before leaving, 3.9. My blood sugars then bounced the other way, shooting up to 8.4. I risked a unit of Lispro while I was waiting to be seen. When the doctor spoke to me two hours later, they were 6.7. After a quick chat and some diagnostics, he said that if I was happy, he could send me home. I agreed as I felt fine (and still do).
My plan is now to test again, go to sleep and then set a complex system of alarms to wake me up at 3.30 when I will test again. I will then take action as necessary and hopefully get some form of sleep.
There's never a good time for random illness, but this seems to be testing me particularly now. I have a concert every weekend for the next three weeks. The one on Saturday is a competition for the choir I am accompanying. I also have a Sunday service at a church to accompany.
Anyway, that is the thrilling tale of what I've been up to tonight! Fingers crossed that the next few hours swing in my favour. Over and out.
Wow, talk about a lapse. I last updated this thing in April last year. No time like the present to correct things, I guess.
Over the last few months, I've been busy! My last post contained some cautious optimism about my eye appointment, and that it turned out that slight maculopothy was not the end of the world for my sight. Well, I've had another appointment since then. Still got a bit of that pesky background retinopathy, but my maculopathy has cleared up. I'm back to 0 on that particular scale, so yay! Good control for the win.
My control's generally good, but it decided to rebel today. 5.4 when I awoke, it kept rising through the morning. Normal omelette for breakfast, yet 8.6 afterwards. I was cautious about a correction dose, as I had to cycle for 90 minutes to go and teach the piano this morning. I got back and I was 11. I don't usually get double figures so boo! I injected my Tresiba further down my leg than usual last night, maybe it didn't absorb properly. Current status: monitoring the situation.
Big news, I had an operation! It was huge, massive amounts of surgery, really dramatic. Ok, that's an exaggeration. I've had a sebaceous cyst on my scalp for the past half decade (It appeared about the time David Cameron first became prime minister, coincidence?), and I decided to get it removed. a whole 15 minute operation and 2 stitches. Gasp and horror. Anyway, it's gone, so maybe the conservative government will go away too now. I'll move on from politics before I open a horrifying debate here.
I realised I've been doing the low carbohydrate diet for more than two years now. So glad I found out about it. With diabetes more or less where I want it, I've found I have more energy for other things. I may have mentioned this before, but I'm writing a fantasy book! I participated in and won NaNoWriMo in 2014 and 2015, now I'm trying to turn my rough drafts into something worth reading. Important note; to win NaNoWriMo, you just have to get to the word count of 50,000 words. If you win, your prize is that you just wrote the first draft of a novel.
I hid from my 2014 effort for a whole year, just filling in some backstory but not actually focusing on the rewrite. That has changed this month. I have finally started writing a second draft in earnest, aiming for 1000 words a day. It's the 16th of February and I have a little over 16,000 words, so I'm on track! I've actually only done about 650 words today, I'm intending to crack on once I've finished this blog post. I'm hoping to have the 2nd draft finished by the end of July. Do 1st third of it this month, 2nd third in April, final third in June, tie up loose ends in July. Then I'll work out what the hell to do with it next. In all honesty this will probably end up as something I do for myself, and it will never grace the eyes of a publisher, but never say never.
I've also had some other small creative writing triumphs in the last few months. I started entering a weekly short story competition on www.hourofwrites.com. So far I've entered 7 times. Of those, one was a runner up, and two were winners . I wrote one about diabetes but it didn't win, boo!
So to sum up: Eyesight currently going well, diabetes in a pretty good place, creative writing happening. Hopefully I'll make another blog post while the year still claims to be 2016. Thanks for reading!
In my last blog entry, I mentioned that after my retinal screening, I had been given an appointment with the hospital opthalmology department. Well, that appointment happened this morning! I shall give the thrilling account of what transpired.
I was apprehensive about this one. I had built it up in my mind over the last few weeks, so I went in bracing myself. The first thing they did was check I could read the chart on the wall, and then they put some more drops in my eyes. Apparently I needed to have more photos taken of my retinas. Well the first thing I can say is, clearly there are different qualities of eye drops. These ones hardly stung at all, and did little to blur my vision. However, they enlarged my pupils enough for the photographs to be taken. I had to wait for about 15 minutes while the drops took effect, and I learned amazing things in this time. There were two old ladies sitting next to me in the waiting room. They were blumming amazing at crosswords! I heard them reading out some of the clues, and I firmly believed that one would need to be Alan Turing to solve them. They just plucked the answers out of the air. 'Figuratively speaking, no horse working. Oh, that'll be a nonagon!' My mind was officially blown. Anyway, I digress as usual.
After all tests were complete, I went in to see the eye doctor. And she had... DUN, DUN DUN... some good news . Apparently my retinopathy was what she described as 'background or less,' and my vision was excellent. My right eye had nothing at all to worry about. However, my retinal scan had picked up something on my left eye, and the retinal scan folks decided it warranted further looking at. Apparently the opthalmology department have more fancy scanning devices, which can do 3D scans and all sorts. The tests revealed that I do have a small amount of maculopathy in my left eye. However, she said at this point it was something that warranted monitoring (She seemed very careful not to say that they would 'keep an eye' on it). Apparently it's something that could just go away on its own, and that there was no treatment necessary at the moment. She told me that I was doing well, and that she wished everyone took the measures that I did in order to keep their diabetes in check. I have to go back and see them in 4 months, but so long as I keep my blood sugar levels stable, hopefully I can make sure that things don't deteriorate. So for now at least, it's all good!
Thanks for counting yourselves as readers, and stay tuned for my next entry. Honestly, I have no idea when that will be or what it will discuss, but when the situation warrants I shall divulge further intriguing details about myself.
I held off posting this blog entry for a couple of weeks, whilst I played around with my Tresiba dose and saw what it was doing to my blood sugars. I am now ready to cautiously report success with the switch. For the first few days my blood sugars got some hay and some wire, and put them together. At the risk of digressing, where does the term 'haywire' come from? I'll probably Google it later but I'm too lazy right now. Anyway, my blood sugars started rising to much higher levels. I was staying around the 8-11s for a lot of the time. My wife urged me to be cautious with increasing my dose, asking me to do it incrementally. I agreed to this, and it turned out that in the end I did not need a massive hike in dose. I started off at 12 units, and over a few days increases this to 14. This is the dose I am now on, and my fasting blood sugars are staying in the 5-6 range.
Do me, the most exciting effect Tresiba is having is on my dawn phenomenon. Previously, my Lantus would be unpredictable. On the same breakfast (cheese and pepper omelette) I could rise into the 8s and 9s, or sometimes drop into the 3s. Now, my blood sugars seem to constantly rise, but only by a small amount. Since things settled down, 6.7 is about the highest they have gone after breakfast. I am also finding that my blood sugars are staying pretty much constant throughout the night, which is nice! It's still early days, so I am keeping my finger very much on the Tresiba pulse for now.
Despite my breakthroughs with Tresiba, I have not had an excellent couple of weeks. I went for my annual retinal scan a few weeks back. Usually, after this I get a letter through which says that I have a but of background retinopathy. This time though, I got a letter from the ophthalmology department of the hospital. It informed me that an appointment had been made for me at the end of April. For an hour or two, the bottom dropped out of my world. I assumed that this meant that my retinopathy was progressing in spite of my efforts to control my diabetes. The next day, I got the letter from the retinal screening people. Sure enough, it said that my scan indicated further attention was needed and that an appointment had been made for me. It would have been nicer if these letters had arrived the other way round, but there it is. I phoned the hospital to get more information. They couldn't give me any information over the phone, but the nurse I spoke to did reassure me. She said that it was likely that my scan had been graded, and had just tipped into the band of 'needs further assessment.'
As usual, I had a chat with my wife, who did a lot to help me. She pointed out that my eyesight is good, so if I do need treatment, it will be preventative at this stage. Also, the best way to avoid further complications is to control blood sugars. I am already doing this. In all likelihood I will retain my sight throughout my life providing I maintain my current course.
Now, it's Easter! This will be my second one on a low carbohydrate diet. I will be having chocolate, Yorkshire puddings and other goodies. All with a low carbohydrate twist of course . Thanks to this forum, I found out about 100% chocolate bars from Hotel Chocolat. I will be enjoying one of these over the course of the day. I will also be making Yorkshire puddings using ground almonds, coconut milk and eggs. Tasty!
That's all for now dear readers. I hope you have a pleasant Easter, and don't eat too much chocolate! (It's tempting I I know, but you can be good ).
I am pleased to report that I have started my 'probationary period' with Tresiba. I saw the DSN last Wednesday. She downloaded my blood test results, and was very worried by the frequency of hypos I was having. According to the data, 20% of all my results over the last 3 months have been under 4. She was strongly of the opinion that she wanted to torpedo my low carbohydrate diet. However, my health team has gradually learned that it's far easier to work with me than against me. I have a robust stubbornness when I believe im in the right, which I inherited from my dad's side of the family. Therefore, my DSN had a chat with my consultant, and they agreed to prescribe Tresiba for 6 months. If the hypos had not stopped, I was informed that I would be put back onto Lantus. In my view, that's fair enough. The NHS is stretched thin for resources, and they need to see they are getting bang for their buck. Tresiba is more expensive than Lantus, and if it does me no favours then there's no point me using it.
So far, I have taken three doses of Tresiba. My DSN told me to lower my dose initially. I was on 15.5 units of Lantus, she told me to use 10 units of Tresiba. I reckoned that was too low, so I started on 12 units. So far, this has strongly suggested I need to increase my dose. My levels have been higher than usual, including peaking at 12.2 yesterday evening. I took 3 units of Lispro and brought them down to the mid 4s by this morning, but am now staying at around 8.4. My knee jerk reaction is to correct with short acting, but my wife has councilled me to show restraint. She said that a few days of higher blood sugars will not matter in the grand scheme of things. I have agreed that I will not give short acting insulin to correct blood sugars up to 9, and will only use 1 unit for anything over that level. That way, I can gradually increase my dose of Tresiba, and make sure that it's keeping my blood sugars stable. The first two doses I took 12 units. Yesterday, I increased that to 13. This evening, I will go to 14 units, keeping track of how this is affecting me.
I'm making a concerted effort to keep my meals regular, and not have the odd snack. Since I have been having a lot of hypos, I was allowing myself the luxury of a bit of extra mayonnaise here, an extra low carb hot chocolate there. I have stopped that, as I believe I have the solution to blood sugar irregularity in injection form. It would be pointless to try this experiment if I'm pulling the results around with unnecessary variables.
So in conclusion, at this stage it's too early to say whether Tresiba will work for me in the long run. I reckon once my body has settled down with the change, and I have got the dose right, I will see good results. I will post again when I have more information. Thanks for reading!
Just a quick recount of some brute stupidity today. Yesterday afternoon, I went for a coffee with my wife. My blood sugars were 5.2 when I had lunch, so I figured all was good. However, I didn't realise I had done the classic stupid thing; given myself my short acting insulin twice. Instead of five units, I had ten of the buggers running round my system. We were walking into town, and I started feeling odd. Again, another stupid thing coming up. I told myself 'Oh it feels like a hypo, but there's no way it could be. You have things nailed at this time of day. You're just tired!' When my wife said I looked hypo, I assured her I was not. She persisted, and I got irritated. I said fine I'll do a test but it's a waste of time and a stick. Unfortunately, for the first time in months I was getting severe hypo induced lack of cognitive thought. I had come to the conclusion I was not hypo, and in my impaired state I clung to that belief. So imagine my surprise when up came 1.9. That hit me like a ton of bricks. So I managed to blurt out an apology and tried to get the dextrose. This took a while, as usually my pockets are crammed full of stuff. (After yesterday my wife has resumed her habit of also carrying dextrose in her purse in case of a future hypo). However, I got there and stuffed some dextrose tablets into my mouth.
Now, anyone who has had hypos knows how difficult it can be to walk during one. My wife said we should just stay where we were until I was feeling better. I was back into co-operative mode now, so I agreed, still apologising for my previous stubbornness. However, life had other plans. About 50 yards behind us, there was a pub. We suddenly noticed a lot of shouting coming from said pub. A very violent drunk man had just been evicted from it. He was stumbling around, and then decided to start walking in our general direction. He was taking swipes at random passers by while he unleashed a barrage of profanity. We decided that it was time to see just how quickly dextrose tablets kicked in. I started stumbling away,my wife helping me to just about manage to stay on my feet. However, I was not very fast, and this drunk guy's yelling was getting closer and closer behind. He was not specifically chasing us, but he was in the mood to take out his rage on anything or anyone at hand. Very fortunately, a number of people had called the police by now. They arrived and apprehended him before he caught up with us.
I guess the lesson here is, don't be arrogant. I convinced myself that because I take measures to control my diabetes I am above it. Yesterday was a reminder that if it looks, feels and quacks like a hypo, I am probably having a hypo. Also, it was yet another reminder that my wife tends to be right whenever she makes a suggestion. After eight years with her I really should have learned that by now.
I have had a busy couple of weeks, and have quite frankly been rubbish with keeping up my blog posts. Well, at this precise moment, I am rectifying that! To be honest I have not had much to report that would interest the diabetes community until today.
I had my latest diabetic clinic this afternoon. This forum is filled to the brim with negative experiences of the NHS? I therefore feel very blessed that my healthcare team are actually giving me the help I need. My appointment was overwhelmingly positive. I have lost 5kg since my last appointment, now weighing in at 73kg (I'm 5'11" so I wasn't overweight before, but I'm happy at the weight I'm now at). At my last appointment, my main target was to reduce my ldl cholesterol. Last time it was 3.5. Now it's 2.7, so yay! My HBA1C has gone from 34 to 33. My consultant said I was a whisker away from entirely non diabetic levels. A lot of doctors would slam this and say it was too low. Instead, she congratulated me on my efforts. My kidney function was also good (I was expecting this as I have never had kidney problems thus far). Readers of previous entries might notice I usually follow positivity with a 'however.' Today is no different.
HOWEVER, I had to admit that I have been having a lot of hypos in the past couple of months. I showed my results, and how they had become more erratic, despite very rigorous efforts. I said I thought my Lantus was to blame, and she said she could support that theory. I said I wanted to try Tresiba. Members of this forum recommended it to me, as its reportedly a much more stable basal insulin. It's main drawback is that it's very expensive to the NHS compared to Lantus and Levemir. However, my consultant said that she felt I satisfied the criteria for trying it. I need to discuss it with my DSN next week, but she said that she would be happy to give it the green light for me. She did say though that its effects on me would need to be monitored. Due to its cost, there would need to be evidence that it was having a positive effect on my control. As I note down all my results anyway I said that would be no problem at all. Despite the hypos, my consultant said that she was impressed with the efforts I was making, and continued to support my low carbohydrate diet. All in all, I was extremely happy with the appointment.
Once I have seen my DSN and hopefully got out onto using tresiba, I will make another blog post, with early reactions to the latest destination in my journey with diabetes! That will likely be in about a weeks time. Thanks for reading!
As the title suggests, my cold is still here. I think it's starting to lose, but I'm still not enjoying it! My sense of smell is starting to return ( I have been seeing if I can smell the contents of my coffee jar for the last few days, this morning was the first success all week). Now, however, I have a headache. Boo! I have too much to do to be ill right now.
My blood sugars have been more erratic during this cold, but not as bad as I had feared. I have seen a couple of 8s and 9s, but have been careful not to up my insulin too much. I don't want to overshoot and have a massive hypo, so I'm just testing more, and keeping myself informed. More often than not I'm running in the 6s and low 7s, rather than the comfortable 4s and 5s, but I have decided to accept that for the time being. Particularly as my wife has just gone to visit her parents for a few days, so I'm home alone! I would have liked to go with her, but my work schedule won't allow it right now. She's given me strict instructions not to worry if I'm drifting a bit higher than usual, particularly as my Lantus is still playing up. News on that in the next paragraph.
I mentioned before that Lantus seems to be a poor fit for me these days. Sometimes I need insulin to stop a high through the night, sometimes dextrose to avoid a hypo. This is after similar days and meals. Having this cold is making things more unpredictable, so I'm focussing on getting better first, and then I'll look more at readjusting my insulin levels. I have my next diabetic clinic with the consultant on the 13th of March, and then I'll be seeing the diabetic specialist nurse on the 18th. I'm going to discuss my insulin with them, and hopefully put forward the case to be moved onto Tresiba. It's more expensive than Lantus, but it gets good press on its results. If I can't persuade them, I'll give Levemir a go!
While I'm on the subject of health appointments, I have my next retinal screening on the 17th of March. I will admit to being apprehensive about this. For the past couple, I have showed the early stages of retinopathy. I feel I have taken all the appropriate steps to avoid further problems, but I can't help worrying nonetheless. My sight is fine, but I'm quite the hyperchondriac. This is what I love about diabetes; the free health checkups! In all honesty I'm expecting no change from before, but it will be good to get through the appointment anyway. I'll definitely remember to bring sunglasses this time. Last time it was a sunny day, and I had to look at my feet the whole walk home, it was so bright.
In other news, I have plenty other than diabetes to keep me occupied. The conductor of the choirs I accompany is on a drive to do new music, so that means lots of time at the piano for me. Thankfully, I'm in the process of obsessively loving a lot of the new music. Are you in a bad mood? Go to YouTube and look up 'The Sky And The Dawn And The Sun' by Celtic Woman. Amazing singers, a brilliant (if slightly manic) violinist, and other amazing talent. I'm still working away on my novel, slowly but surely. I have been looking at City building recently! After writing my first draft, I realised I would get lost if I ended up in the fictional city most of my book is set in. So I'm working at making it a bit more set in stone (literally and figuratively).
That's it for today! You have my thanks for reading, as always. Please imagine that I signed off with something splendiferously witty and insightful.
I still have a cold. This one has been a bit of a stealth cold. It looked like it wasn't going to do anything much, but now the dreaded sore throat has reared its head. So I was really, really decadent and slept in until 9 this morning. I took some anadin, and that made the symptoms reduce by the time I had my omelette this morning. My wife had fended for herself breakfast wise and gone to work, which meant that I could make a few changes to my recipe! I like adding things to omelettes, something she doesn't enjoy much. So usually, I avoid spices and the like at breakfast. Not this morning, dear readers! I had the height of luxury. I had some... wait for it... smoked paprika! My goodness that stuff is nice. Anyone that says low carb must be a boring way to eat, go and have something with smoked paprika. Omelette, frittata, celeriac, it doesn't matter. Your day will be better for it.
Also, while we're on the subject of nice, I would like to big up another amazing food. I will be going and purchasing some of this to have with lunch once I am done with this blog entry. This really is the holy grail of nice food. Halloumi. If someone cast a spell that meant the human body could only digest halloumi, I would not have a problem with that. Squeaky cheese is the best. THE BEST. I don't care in what context either. The best cheese? Halloumi. The best at not melting in a frying pan? Halloumi. The best at saving you when you're falling from a great height, whilst being chased by killer bees and mutated land sharks?... ok maybe not. But even in that situation, having a mouth full of halloumi could only improve things!
In spite of my cold, I have been quite productive today, regarding writing. I finished inventing a currency for my novel. Also, my blood sugars have been ok. They decided to skyrocket to 9.8 after my breakfast omelette yesterday (thank you stupid cold) so I had a bit more insulin than usual throughout the rest of yesterday. Probably why I was 3.8 on waking, but meh. Managed to get a nice 5.4 two hours after breakfast today, which I'm pleased with. I'm planning to have a weird lunch today, made of left over stuff that won't keep much longer. i have three low carbohydrate homemade yorkshire puddings left. Those are made from ground almonds, coconut milk and egg. I'll add some halloumi to that (yum yum yum yum yum and so on and so forth). Maybe some bell pepper, and/or some lettuce too. I will have to go and do some nutritional sums! I'm aiming for 12g of carbohydrate, and about 40-45g of protein. Still an hour or two before I'm ready to eat, but it's good to plan.
Bit of a random blog post today, but there you have it. It was brought to you by the number eighteen and three quarters, and the colour blue. Somehow. Actually, scratch that. It was brought to you by a collaboration between my mind and my fingers.
I'm going to have a productive day today dagnammit. I have planned to have a productive day. So waking up with a sore throat is less than ideal. But it shall not be an excuse! Anadin consumed, brain in gear.
So, pancake day just happened. Shrove Tuesday. An ex housemate once asked me if it happened on a Friday. But I digress. One might suggest that pancake day is fraught with difficulty for a follower of a low carbohydrate diet. Not the case, dear readers, not at all! I actually have pancakes all the time. Weekend breakfast usually involves pancakes. But I make them with eggs and cream cheese, and sweeten them with stevia.
We didn't actually fancy sweet pancakes yesterday, so we had savoury ones instead. My goodness they were tasty. They were made out of eggs, almond flour and coconut milk. We had them with green beans and sausages. Afterwards, my blood sugars peaked at 7.2, and had gone to 5.6 by bed time. A far superior result to the ye olde pancake days of bygone years. The ones where I would consume roughly my weight in sugar.
Now for a hopefully productive day. More work on my novel will thus ensue. This making stuff up can be tricky! My novel is set in a fictional world. That means geography, religion, government, currency and indeed everything else need some good old coming up with. Believe it or not, I managed to write an entire first draft without much idea about the majority of these. Unsurprisingly, I am hoping my next attempt will be a lot less vague. So far, I've got the whole religion thing pretty nicely together, the geography is coming along, my characters are a bit more fleshed out and I still have loads to do. Today's task: currency! When writing the first draft, people just handed coins over. Next time, those coins are going to have names. Hopefully, I am about to go and decided those names as soon as I have changed the status of my teeth from 'unbrushed' to 'brushed'. Talking of teeth, they have now overtaken spider silk as the strongest biological substance known to man. More specifically, limpet teeth. According to the news anyway. If you want more details, Chris Evans will probably be happy to tell you all about it. He's discussing it in excited terms on Radio 2 as I type this.
Right, I have rambled enough for now! As ever, thanks for reading, and feel free to let me know your thoughts on my blog content. This is after all a diabetes forum, so if it's better that I only mention my diabetes rather than the rest of my life, I am happy to do so. Smiley face incoming in 3, 2, 1, .
I'm skiving off piano practice today. The conductor of the choirs I accompany cancels rehearsals during half term, as a lot of the singers have children/grandchildren to look after. That means I get a couple more evenings in with my wife this week, woo! And I can focus on writing instead of piano. Don't get me wrong, my work as a musician is brilliant. But once in a while, it's nice to have a break.
So, we left off in about October of 2014 last time. Let me update you on what happened afterwards! As mentioned before, my blood sugars had improved dramatically. However, I had put on weight and gained some ldl cholesterol. I was 12 stone 5, which is fine at 5'11", but I was happier when I was a bit lighter. So I made a few changes. Nothing so dramatic as before, but significant nonetheless.
I was actually getting a fair amount of exercise in just from my weekly demands on my time. The choirs I play for, and the piano students I travel to are all up big hills. It takes me about 45 minutes to cycle to my students, and an hour to walk to choir. I was also getting a few press ups in when I found the time. So I looked less at my exercise regime, and more at my food intake. The first change I made was reducing my cheesecake consumption. My low carb cheesecake was very nice, but I was getting through lots and lots of Philadelphia and double cream. I started having almond and stevia muffins for both lunch and dinner. This may sound dull to some, but I'm generally happy eating the same thing day in day out. Before I switched to low carb, I would have peanut butter sandwiches every day. I had done this since the age of about five, and was in no way bored of it. I also limited the amount of double cream I was putting in my coffee. I was not using milk because of the lactose content (lactose is a sugar, and it spiked my blood sugars).
So what did this do to my weight and cholesterol? Well that, my friends, is a work in progress! My weight is currently 11 stone 7, which I'm pleased with. However, I won't find out how my cholesterol is doing until March. I have my next diabetic clinic on Friday the 13th of March (Dun dun dun, Friday the 13th!), and will get to see how my levels are then.
November and December were a really busy and stressful time for me, but not in a bad way. I will always remember the horror of working in a shop in the christmas period. For the past couple of years I have been thrilled just not having to do that. However, I probably filled my time up a bit more than I should have done. You see, I had an ambition. Something I had wanted to do for most of my life. I had never found the energy to do it before. But now, my blood sugars were not bouncing up and down like crazy. I decided it was time. In November, I wrote the first draft of a novel.
Every year, there is an event called NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month). Between the 1st and 30th of November, participants try and write a novel of at least 50,000 words. If you get over the word count, you win. The grand prize is the fact that you have written a novel. I had thought about giving it a go before, but had always faltered before I begun. This year though, I decided it was time. The point of getting my diabetes under control was so that I could live life, and get the most out of it that I possibly could. And you know what? I managed it. On the 30th of November I uploaded my word count to the NaNoWriMo site. I had reached 53,268.
So now, I have two goals! Hammer my first draft into a decent second draft, and get my diabetes as close to perfection as I possibly can. You see, there's still a way to go. This is nearly the part of maximum excitement. This is almost the part where we get up to the present day regarding my journey with diabetes. But first, Christmas!
Usually, Christmas had been the time where I dropped the facade of caring about my diabetes, and just ate and drank what I pleased. Not this time. Eating a low carbohydrate diet had become a normal part of my routine, and I saw no reason to change that for the sake of a festival I had no religious reason to observe (firmly an atheist). I was going to visit my parents for the holiday season, and they asked what I was able to eat. I told them I would have a christmas meal, of course! Turkey, Brussels sprouts, some thick cut chips, and of course, Yorkshire puddings. However, I was being cunning. To quote a Mr E. Blackadder, My plan was so cunning, you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel. I made the Yorkshire puddings myself. I found a recipe calling for eggs, milk and flour. Eggs were no problem. Instead of milk, I used coconut milk. Instead of flour, I used ground almonds. Job done, lovely and tasty. My thick cut chips were made from celeriac. I do love me a good celeriac chip. For dessert I had my almond flour muffins. It really was a lovely christmas meal. And my parents introduced me to almond milk as well. It really is great. Next to no carbohydrate at all, and packed with calcium. I replaced the cream in my coffee with almond milk, and am still doing that now.
Now, in a lot of posts I have said that things were going well, but that there was a fly in the ointment. This entry is no different! I came back to Bath after Christmas, but it seemed that something else was returning too; my hypos. I found that I was eating the same meals in the same quantities, but suddenly I was in the 3s a lot. I found that things were getting a bit manic again. I would sometimes be in the 8s and 9s, and sometimes in the 3s, even dropping to the mid 2s on occasion. I think that my weight loss probably played a part in this. I started meticulously noting everything down again (I had stopped keeping such a comprehensive diary), and quickly came to see that there was not much of a pattern to things. Sometimes I would get dawn phenomenon, sometimes I wouldn't. And often, I was hypoing during the night. This hadn't happened for ages. Before christmas, I had to take insulin about 2am or I would wake up high. Now, I had to take dextrose tablets to be in the 4s.
I am working on solutions to this, but I think that there is one main culprit; My Lantus. I have been on Lantus for around 12-14 years. I never questioned it, but I do wonder now if it's the right fit for me. Looking at my recent results, I seem to be going low randomly, and randomly high at other times. Over the past few days I have been gradually reducing my dose. So far I have brought it down from 18 units to 15.5. I like to do things incrementally. But I feel that ultimately, it's time to try a different basal insulin. I'm going to be pushing my case to try out Tresiba, when I go to my diabetic clinic. Thanks to members of this forum, I have learned about it, and the reported good results that have been shown thus far.
So there you have it! The details of my journey thus far with diabetes. From here on in, I intend to keep posting entries to my blog. It will probably be a bit more in the style of my opening paragraphs though. Random thoughts about my day, along with any relevant diabetes information. Thanks for reading, and I hope to share more (hopefully) fascinating revelations with you soon!
Our bodies are designed to do certain things at certain times. Every now and then, these things don't happen when they should, leading to problems. See where I'm going with this? Really? Are you sure? Because you don't see at all. So let me shed some light. This morning I sneezed. This caused my teeth to clamp together. Now usually, my tongue has the sense to think 'ooh, I shouldn't be in the way when that happens!'. Not this morning dear readers. It was not as painful as treading bare foot on a plug. But it still doesn't come recommended. Current tongue status almost three hours after the event; slightly painful in an irritating way. Not unlike a mouth ulcer. So now you know! On with the story.
I had embarked upon the low carbohydrate journey that I am still on today. At this point I had one goal; Get those blood sugars under control. My doctor at the diabetic clinic had arranged for me to see the dietician, and I was also booked in with the diabetic specialist nurse, both in March. To begin with, I was ready to go to war. I figured that there was no way they were going to support me, especially considering the poor advice I had received from healthcare professionals thus far. However, I started thinking in the lead up to my appointment. I was going against the done thing here. No one in their right minds would support something without evidence. And when you are inclined to be skeptical of something, the last thing that will change your mind is someone coming in brandishing a metaphorical axe. (Ironically, brandishing a real axe may help much more to make people agree with you, but there's bound to be a downside to that plan somewhere. Possibly involving a trip to prison). So I calmed down a bit. I compiled evidence by writing down my blood sugars, and I planned what I would say.
The appointment with the dietician came. She was very honest in her assessment of my situation. She told me that she had misgivings about a low carbohydrate diet, referring to difficulty in getting enough nutrients. However, and this was the important part, she said she wanted to work with me on this. She admitted she did not know enough about the specifics to bless or shoot it down. I recommended Dr Bernstein's book, and she said she would get a copy of it, have a read, and then see me again in a couple of months. Meanwhile, she discussed what I might find myself deficient in, and we discussed measures to combat this. The solution was to eat a lot of green leafy vegetables, as well as other low carb delights (bell peppers and the like). Thankfully, I love a good salad, so this was no problem. Broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, these were all very much on the menu.
At the end of March 2014, I saw my diabetic specialist at the clinic. Her message was clear; we needed more data to assess things. A lot of her job is seeing poorly controlled diabetes, leading to fear that most of us get night time hypos. Therefore, she asked if I would be willing to have a continuous glucose monitor attached to me for a week. I would wear it constantly, and would need to keep a comprehensive diary of all the food, insulin and exercise I did. I would also need to test my blood sugars as normal, and note down the results. This was because the monitor would not give me any information while it was attached to me. The data would be downloaded once I had returned the device at the hospital. Also, noting down my own test results meant that results could be verified. I agreed that this was an excellent idea. I had the device attached, and off I went. I decided that as good as I had been, I would be a paragon of diabetic virtue here. I needed to prove that things were working, and that this was a sure fire way to solve diabetic problems.
Things were far more difficult than I first thought. To start with, as soon as i had been to see the specialist, my insulin requirements changed. I had got into bad habits over the years. Chief among these were failing to rotate my injection sites. I tended to go for the same area of my stomach because it was easy to access. I started changing to other areas and boom! Insulin absorbed much more effectively, blood sugars shooting down. Even so, I didn't do badly. I completed the week as a low carb cyborg, and returned the sensor. I had an appointment a month later, while the specialist disseminated the data. It turned out that I was between 4 and 7.8 for over 90% of the time that the sensor was attached. And every hypo I had, had a clear an easy explanation of why it had happened. I was thrilled. Finally, I felt like I was back in the driver's seat.
My control continued to improve month by month. I was still getting highs and lows, but they were less frequent. However, there was one fly in the ointment. While my blood sugars were much better, my ldl cholesterol was creeping up. In october 2014, my HBA1C was 34, but my Ldl had more than doubled. When I started on low carb, it was 1.5. Now it was 3.4. My weight had also increased from 11 and a half stone, up to 12 and a half stone. To be honest, I don't think that low carb was to blame for all of this. I realised that it was the way I was approaching it.
About the time that I started low carbing, business started to pick up for me. I got more piano students, and the choirs I accompanied started expanding their repertoire. I also got the chance to play the piano for a couple of musicals. Also, the low carb side effects sapped me of energy to begin with. I didn't have time to go on 40 mile bike rides any more. i started needing to spend upwards of two hours a day at the piano, to make sure I was up to scratch. My exercise was put on hold for a few months while I got into more of a routine. I was also getting through a lot of cream cheese. I learned to make a low carb cheese cake using philadelphia, double cream and stevia. It's important to realise that you can have too much of anything. So when October came round, I knew I had a new challenge on my hands. There was no point having fantastic blood sugars if my health was going to suffer in other ways. I felt better than I had in years and years, so I reckoned I was up to the challenge.
Next time, find out how the journey lead up to where I am today! Discover my latest adventures, both in my journey with diabetes, and in other parts of my life!
Ok, let me answer one burning question straight off. At the end of my last post, I hinted that I may have been eaten by a bear whilst trying out low carb. This in fact, did not happen. Maybe I should have saved that revelation until the end. That's why you readers of previous posts came back, right? In case you want more info about my journey with diabetes instead, I shall provide such things below!
So, February 2014. One year ago. we're talking seriously recent history now people. I was sold on trying out a low carbohydrate diet. I came on this forum, asked questions, and got plenty of reasons why it was and was not a good idea. What a lot of people said was 'It's great, but reduce your carbs gradually.' Now, as I mentioned, I'm an all or nothing guy when it comes to doing something. So I disregarded that and dived in head first! This is why this entry is entitled 'the rocky road' (Also, I thought the play on words was clever, bordering on delightful, so there).
To anyone reading this, who is considering trying out low carb, there are some things you should know first. Carbohydrate is addictive. Very addictive. It probably causes more deaths each year than drugs and alcohol combined. So your body isn't going to give them up without withdrawal symptoms. They are temporary, but that doesn't make them fun. On the whole, my blood sugars improved dramatically. For the first time in many, many years, I was avoiding blood sugars in the double figures. Being high started to mean being in the 9s, which in itself was happening less regularly. However, I suffered early on. Perhaps my timing wasn't amazing. At the same time as I started low carbing, I was also in the process of moving flats. There was lots of heaving boxes around, going between the two properties to sort various things out, and generally being even more active than usual. At the same time, I was finding that I was getting carb cravings. Cadbury's Dairy Milk bars and Snickers bars called out to me from shops. I was not a saint, and a couple of times I did cave in. Generally, this was when I was making the millionth trip to the tip, to get rid of all the rubbish I had accumulated from 5 years of not having a proper clear out. I don't drive (not as a precaution to do with diabetes, I just can't afford to. Generally, you don't become a musician to sleep on a bed of gold).
At the same time as I was heaving things around, I was tired. Very, very tired. My body was getting used to the fact that it was going to have to source its energy from protein and fat. To begin with, it thought it was starving. Therefore, my glycogen stores were being released. This led to one of the least fun side effects; dehydration. Apparently, glycogen carries a lot of water with it. Your body loses this when the liver releases its glycogen. Now, if you are aware of that, there is an easy solution. It involves drinking lots more water than usual. Only I didn't think about that. I remember walking along, and realising that I ached. A lot. Particularly my stomach and my groin. I went to use a public toilet. I was horrified to see that my urine was an awful orange colour. It looked like it was water pouring from a rusty vehicle. I panicked, thinking I had murdered my kidneys with my new diet. Then I realised, I had not had anything to drink that morning. I nipped across to boots, and bought a bottle of water. I drank it, and it was like someone had flicked a switch. The pain evaporated, and I felt much better. And my urine returned to its normal colour the next time I went to use the loo.
I also got cramps. Lots and lots of leg cramps. Again, this was easily solved. It is fairly amazing just how much salt there is in a high carbohydrate diet. I was used to eating pizzas and ready meals. Salt has been demonised in the press. The thing is, too little is just as bad as too much. I started adding some salt to my breakfast, and voila! Cramps gone. I also found that for about a month, my sex drive pretty much switched off. I still had the ability, I just didn't have the desire. It seems that a low carbohydrate diet can affect people very differently on this count. Some people have reported a massive rise in libido, but for me it was completely the opposite. However, by mid March to the end of April, everything was very much back to normal.
So, I have covered the problems I faced; Exhaustion, Cramps, Dehydration, loss of libido. Some might ask, how/why did I put myself through that? Simple; the results on my blood sugars were amazing. They just kept getting better with each week. Highs getting lower, and lows getting higher. I was still adjusting, and I still had a fair few hypos to begin with. But now I was noting down my results, and I found that I could explain what caused them when they happened. My insulin requirements went through the floor. And I have found a strange unexpected benefit regarding hypos. Most people that have had a hypo know all about the dreaded brain fog. You can't think straight, and often everything collapses around you. Once I started low carbing, the brain fog went away. My hypo awareness was usually pretty good, but now it was excellent. I could tell when my blood sugars dropped, but now I was in control. And I was spending much, much less on food to stop my hypos too. As previously mentioned, I was getting through a ten pack of fruit pastilles in 2 days. When I started low carbing, I had about 4 packs left. I only used them when I forgot to buy dextrose (which I used small amounts of during exercise as well as for hypo treatment). The Fruit pastilles lasted me about 9 months.
And finally, after a lifetime avoiding the kitchen, I learned to cook. In January 2014, if you asked me to make you a hard boiled egg, I would need to look up how that was achieved. However, once I started low carbing, I found that just buying a ready meal was no longer an option. So I started experimenting. Once again, my wife's help was a godsend in this regard. She is not a bad cook at all. I started small, fried/scrambled eggs, frying bacon etc. Then I moved onto making omelettes. I missed sweet desserts, so I looked up if there were any low carb versions of things. I found out about a carb free sweetener called Stevia. I got some from Holland and Barrett's and started experimenting. Not all of these were successful. I made some truly appalling creations, which were completely inedible. But I had successes as well. I found a recipe for muffins, using Stevia instead of sugar, and ground almonds instead of flour. I learned to make them, and I still eat them today. I became amazed at how much I wasn't missing out. I even learned to make a low carbohydrate bread out of ground linseed. Linseed, also known as flaxseed, is brilliant. I have also found a way to make pizza out of it. The entire thing, toppings and all, has less carbohydrate than a single slice of normal pizza.
I was also discussing everything with my wife. I no longer hid when I was testing my blood sugars. If she asked me to test, I would without hesitation, rather than shutting her down with an annoyed 'I'm fine.' She told me what a relief it was. Finally, she could talk to me again. She said that before, that was what had worried her the most. I would never tell her what was going on, but now, she was happy to be in the middle of it all.
After a few weeks, the carb cravings reduced. Eventually, they all but disappeared. When I walked by a sweet shelf, I was not even tempted. I found that my meals were satisfying me now. I could eat breakfast, and not need to eat again until lunch. All in all, this new way of eating was setting me free. I wished I had come across it much, much sooner.
Next time, discover what happened in appointments with my healthcare team! Find out more about my many successes, and a few failures along the way in 2014. And see how I learned to live life, thus justifying the decision not to get eaten by a bear.
I'm going to try and write a coherent blog entry, but I have competition for my concentration right now. My wife is a few feet away, playing the Lego Movie video game. It's rather distracting (I've looked over three times while writing this sentence so far) but I'll give it my best shot!
So I left off last time saying I was ready to change my bad habits. I was under the impression that I could eat what I wanted, but I had to match my insulin to my meals. However, my wife and I decided that we both had to start eating more healthily. We had got into some habits which were bad for our finances as well as our health in general. We were succumbing to the dreaded Domino's pizza ordering. The weird thing was, it was not sating my hunger at all. I would get a medium pepperoni pizza, some potato wedges and a pot of Ben and Jerry's Ice cream. I would have the pizza, and we would split the wedges and ice cream (We got these as part of the deal Domino's were offering, it would be stupid to let them go to waste...right?). Afterwards, I would still be ravenous. Well, the first thing I needed to do was look at what was in my meals. I downloaded a MyFitnessPal app. I decided to input my details, and try and follow the recommendations for daily calorie intake. I also looked on the websites of my favourite foods, and I was horrifically shocked by the nutrition information of a lot of them. Even going down from a medium dominos pizza to a small, on its own that was about 100g of carbohydrate. Never mind the ice cream. So we stopped ordering from Domino's. First big step in the right direction.
I also started noting down my blood sugars. I needed to see what was happening. I noticed that my results were really not good. Peaks and valleys all the time. If my blood sugars were normal, they were just travelling through on their way to a high or low. I also noticed that my morning bowl of cheerios was spiking me massively. I tried limiting myself to their suggested serving (A really unsatisfying portion) but I was still going high. So I switched my breakfast. I started having Greek yoghurt, with blueberries and banana. I enjoyed the taste, but was not getting satisfied by it. I told myself I was being greedy, and that my hunger levels would settle down eventually. The frustrating thing was, I was still finding my blood sugars were suboptimal at best.
I found my resolve wavering a lot, so I decided I needed extra incentive. I started looking on www.diabetes.co.uk, both for success stories and for scare tactics. I looked in the complications section a lot. I already had the early signs of retinopathy. I scared myself witless. I started trying to go in the other way, so I looked for evidence of people who had dealt with their problems. And that's how I finally came across the writing of a Dr Richard Bernstein. I found a section of a book he had written, about looking after your feet, even if you already had neuropathy. I didn't have this (and to my knowledge I still don't), but I'm a hypochondriac. The information he was giving seemed to make a lot of sense. I looked into his book further. It was called 'Dr Bernstein's Diabetes Solution. A Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars'. That sounded like a bold claim. However, the book was not expensive as a Kindle download. I thought that I really didn't have anything to lose by checking it out. So I downloaded it, and I started to read.
In hindsight, I am really, really glad that the book contained testimonials from Dr Bernstein's patients. Because his methods were a difficult pill to swallow. He claimed that any result over 140mg/dl was unacceptable if one wanted to avoid diabetic complications. He also said that normal blood sugars were 83mg/dl. Now, these were american measurements. I was used to measuring in mmol/ls. I looked up the conversion, and I was both shocked and appalled. 83 translated to 4.8, and 140 to 7.8. I had always believed that up to 10 was fine, and even going to 11 or 12 was 'ok' if it didn't happen too often. I didn't think his claims were possible or credible. But I gritted my teeth and started to read on. How could he manage these numbers? I thought the man must just starve himself all the time. And then I came across his secret: A low carbohydrate diet.
I was distraught. It seemed that my choices were to either cut out every single food I loved, or continue down my path and die slowly. I closed down the kindle app on my iPad. it was stupid. It was ridiculous. Then I remembered, I had decided I would try anything to get good control. This promise could not just be lip service. I started to research low carbohydrate as a way of eating. I found out that this website had a section dedicated to it. I asked questions, and was reassured by the response. One overriding reply came through; It's great, but don't expect your health team to agree. Gradually, I came to grudgingly accept that this may be the only way for me to live. I decided I would try it. I was due my next diabetic clinic at the beginning of February 2014. That was two weeks away. Knowing what the community had said, I thought I needed some data to backup what I was going to try. For a week, I ate my high carbohydrate diet, and I meticulously noted everything down. And then I made the switch. I am not one to do anything by halves. I knew that if I was going to manage, It had to be completely or not at all. I talked about my plan with my wife. She was apprehensive, but cautiously gave her blessing to at least trying it. The last day before I started, I ceremoniously said goodbye to eating high carb. I finished that lifestyle with the last of our wedding cake, which we had frozen for the last few months.
Then I switched. I replaced my breakfast with bacon and eggs. I reduced my insulin and started to look at the results. I was astounded. My blood sugars started to be better. Much better. I missed my sandwiches and pizzas so, so much but I persevered. I stocked up on dextrose tablets in case I had a hypo. I decided that even if this didn't work, my love affair with fruit pastilles was at an end. They were just too nice to use as a way to treat a hypo. On the other hand, I didn't enjoy dextrose tablets. When I was a very young child, my rare bad hypos were treated with dextrose. I came round with their sickly sweet taste in my mouth. i would feel really unwell, with a headache and a clammy feeling. The taste of dextrose was tied in with that in my mind. This meant that they would be eaten only as a necessity, not a treat.
My diabetic appointment came round. My numbers were not great, but there was a really, really significant improvement. But, sure enough my doctor at diabetic clinic was skeptical. He told me I would have too many hypos on this new way of eating. I pointed out that I was having huge amounts of hypos on a high carbohydrate diet. I will never forget what he told me. He said that a low carbohydrate diet was completely unnecessary. He went on to say that I would be fine eating high carb, and that I would not get any complications in the next ten years. At the time of my appointment, I was 26. Now, I have a hope. This is going to sound ridiculous. You're all going to laugh at this, but here it is. I would quite like to get past 36 without complications. I know! Laughable, isn't it? Well, it seemed that it was in my doctor's eyes. The fact that I already had mild diabetic changes to my eyes, and that I was getting the hypos he was so worried about, that didn't matter. However, I pressed my case. For 45 minutes we went round and round. The light in his listening box switched off about 10 minutes into that. Finally, he grudgingly agreed to support my diet if I was not getting hypos. I said I wanted to see a dietician to discuss what foods to eat. He said 'Well I was going to suggest that, but I didn't think you would be concerned enough about your control to bother going.' Face palm face palm face palm face palm copy paste to infinity. I was finally making an effort, and he couldn't care less.
After all my appointments at diabetic clinic, the diabetes team sends a letter to my doctor's appointment, summarising what was discussed. I get sent a copy of this as well. Here is what my doctor had to say after my appointment:
'I reviewed my patient today in the diabetes clinic. He had made quite significant changes to his lifestyle generally since we last saw him; he has got married, changed his job now and is a bit more erratic in terms of his lifestyle and hours etc. but has also spent a lot of time concentrating on his diabetes. He had a letter through from the retinal screeners suggesting he had some background changes and has taken this on board and tackled his diabetes fairly aggressively. This has brought his HBA1C down to 37 and unfortunately he is doing this at the expense of regular hypos, at least one a day. He is also beginning to lose his awareness slightly of these hypoglycaemias though he is doing an awful lot of testing.
We talked about the pros and cons of this method of treating his diabetes is that there isn't any awful lot of benefit having an HBA1C of 37 opposed to the previous level of 50. I have said to him there is plenty of room to increase things up. He is noticing that he is tending to dip low and then have a rebound high again and it is the highs that worry him. Conversely it is the lows that worry me and I have asked him to try and concentrate on cutting these out so intake less and less insulin until these hypos stop.
He has also adopted a very low carbohydrate diet in the last week or so as he has got a book from America that rationalises this form of treatment. I am happy that he goes ahead with this as he is fairly insistent that he wants to try this diet as he feels a lot better on it. I just want him to do it in a balanced fashion if possible. I will therefore ask him to see on of our dieticians to see if we can help him through this; either way hypos are the key and if he needs to reduce his insulin down to very low levels then so be it.
I will see him again in four months' time to see how things are going.'
Reading in between the lines, he expected me to fail. The part about the book from America rationalising the treatment really made my blood boil. I decided that I would follow this low carbohydrate way of eating, just to throw it in his face if nothing else.
Next time, read about my new journey on a low carbohydrate diet! Did it work? Was I eaten by a bear at any point? All will be revealed!
Not a bad morning so far. I've done some piano practice, and then moved on for some writing. All background material for my attempt at writing a coherent second draft of a novel. Still a way to go before I have all the material I need, but one step at a time! That goes for diabetes as well. I'm making some adjustments with that at the moment, but I'll discuss that once I get through the rest of my history with the condition. We're into more recent history now. Moving through 2012 and onwards. Exciting stuff!
So 2012 was a big year for me. In March I had my five year anniversary with my girlfriend. We went to Venice. When we got back, we had to go to the trouble of updating our relationship status on Facebook from 'In a relationship' to 'engaged'. (Did I really just suggest that an engagement is not official until Facebook knows about it? Dear god, there's really no hope for my generation, is there?). I was still in denial about my diabetes, but I was having trouble staying there. I started looking to the future as we started planning our wedding. When I was in my second year at university, my bike had broken and I had never bothered to replace or fix it. I decided to put my problems with my control down to lack of exercise. I thought about trying to reduce my food intake, but I was always starving. I figured that if I got out and exercised, I could still eat the same diet, but reduce my insulin requirements and maybe have a few less hypos. I was not overweight, but I was unfit. I am 5'11" and at the time I weighed just under 13 stone. I was towards the top of my 'healthy' weight range. So over a few months I saved up some money and got a bike. It was a nice bike. It still is for that matter. Hydraulic disk brakes, an awesome set of panniers, and plenty in the way of bike locks. (Not so many you couldn't shake a stick at them. I believe that no matter the number of something, if you have a stick at hand, you can shake it at them). I remember buying it on the morning of the opening ceremony of the olympics. I had to wait a few days while the bike shop got it delivered and all set up, but finally I got to go and pick it up. (A quick plug, if you want amazing service and a brilliant bike, go to Cadence Bike shop in Bath. They're just fantastic there).
I was still working full time in retail at this point. 90-5.30 five days a week. This meant I could not get out and cycle during the day most of the time. Therefore, I decided I would be super dedicated. There are some great cycle paths around Bath, you can get to Bristol down a 15 mile cycle path, or go down along the Canal towpath. Go far enough that way and you'd eventually reach Reading. The first day I had my bike, I got up at 6am and went for a ride. I learned two things. Firstly, the world is a beautiful place on an early summer morning. Secondly, I was really unfit! I was amazed how much I ached after that first ride. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. I decided I would make 6am rides my thing, at least 4 days a week. And I stuck to that. The weird thing was, I found that my energy levels soared. I was happier and more active than I had been in years. Over about 8 months I went down to around 11.5 stone, which I was pleased with.
Of course, there was a fly in the ointment. You guessed it; my diabetes. I thought it was amazing that I didn't hypo during my rides. At this point I had never heard of the dawn phenomenon. I would get up and test my blood sugars, have a bowl of cheerios, take my insulin and go for a ride. Occasionally I would test when I got back. My blood sugars would tend to be in the 12-14 range. I thought 'That's great! you're down from the 20's nowadays, and the exercise will bring things down in due course.' On some level, I thought that doing the exercise was making me invincible. I felt fantastic, and I could eat whatever I wanted. Fruit pastilles disappeared faster than ever, my blood sugars continued to be all over the place. I reckoned they would settle down in due course.
Then 2013 came along. I was so excited. I was fit and in my opinion, healthy. I was due to get married in May. I absolutely hated my retail job, and I was trying to take measures to escape it. I took on my first piano pupil in January 2013. I reckoned if I could build up a decent client base, I could leave my job, and work on being purely self employed. I knew how to do my self assessment tax return, as I had been filling them out since I started accompanying a choir in 2010. Then, my world was turned on its head. I went for my annual diabetic retinal scan. It had always come back completely clear. This was one of the things that allowed me to think I was doing just fine. This time the results came back, and the wording was different. It said that 'mild diabetic changes' had been discovered. I remember standing in the living room, reading those words over and over. I knew what they meant; retinopathy had found me. I tried to reassure myself that everything was fine. I went onto the internet and looked around. It was then that I came across this forum. I read about people in similar situations, and tried to calm down. But the message was clear. Even though my sight was fine, even though plenty of people never progress beyond background retinopathy, my control was nowhere near good enough.
I didn't see that I had been walking this path all along. I told myself that I was trying to change, and that this was all unfair. The sensible thing would have been to discuss all of this with my wife. Instead, I walked around with crushing guilt. I thought 'i won't tell her anything yet, we can have the wedding first.' And I pushed it to the back of my mind, quite successfully. Despite my worry, we had the most wonderful wedding day. I will always remember that with nothing but joy. We went on honeymoon to Dublin, and then spent a few days in Torquay. I was still having a lot of hypos, but my god I was trying now. The letter after my eye scan made me take note. I was testing religiously, and had plenty of glucose on hand to make sure I didn't ruin our time away. I started reading nutrition information on packets, and tried to match my insulin to my carbohydrate intake. The thing was, i wasn't very successful at this.
After we got back from honeymoon, a lot of things changed. In August 2013, I left my retail job at last. I started accompanying a second choir, and gradually started building up my students. However, I had a lot of free time on my hands. When I was unemployed, I lost all sense of routine. This happened again. I would go to bed at 5am, get up at 11am, or sometimes be in bed by 9.30 pm, and get up at 5am. I tried to run from my diabetes. Well, cycle away from it. Without a routine, and with sporadic exercise, I lost anything resembling control. The hypos came thick and fast. So did the highs. What was frustrating was I felt I was genuinely trying now, and getting nowhere. I did the worst thing that I could possibly do; I took this frustration out on my wife. She was so worried about me. Whenever I went low, she had to pick up the pieces. She was working a full time admin job, and in effect she was supporting me financially. I was only bringing in small amounts while I established my business. On top of that, she had to worry about all of the hypos. And I would. not. talk about them. In my view, I was an expert in diabetes. I had been diabetic for over 20 years, I knew everything by then! Who was she, to come in and tell me that my control wasn't good enough. A word about my wife; She doesn't lose her temper. She is the single sweetest and most kindhearted person I have ever met. What I was doing to her was awful. She knew there was a serious problem. I knew it too. But I wouldn't discuss it. I decided I was being kind. I was not a violent person, and I was shielding her from everything I was going through. In reality, I was just hiding my problems in plain sight, and she could see them in all their glory. I still hadn't mentioned my worries about my eyes. I was a coward.
Finally, something happened which changed my attitude. I woke up around 3am in November 2013, with sweat pouring off of me. I stumbled to kitchen and with sustained effort, managed to remember how to test. I was 1.8. I just managed to get a few fruit pastilles in my mouth before i collapsed. I remember knowing I was on the floor in the kitchen, and not being able to move. My eyes clouded over and I couldn't see. My heart pounded in my chest at a rate that I had not felt before. I was probably lucky not to have a heart attack. Gradually, the sugar I had consumed kicked in, and i regained control over my body. I ate some more, and then I went to the living room. I sat down, and I sobbed. I cried uncontrollably, and at the same time I laughed inwardly at myself. I finally realised. I was a joke. I hid from my diabetes, and it found me every time. It was in the driving seat, and I had handed it the keys. I made a firm promise then. I would talk to my wife. I would tell her everything, about my terror, and I would apologise. I would get up right then, wake her up, and say sorry for everything I had done to her. i went into the bedroom and turned on the light. Looking down at her, she was still asleep. She looked so peaceful, so serene. I couldn't bring myself to wake her, and shatter her world right then. I left the room again. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I stared into my own eyes and said out loud 'Tomorrow, you will talk to the love of your life. You will let her in, or you are nothing.' I clenched my teeth. 'Don't be a coward, you're a pathetic mess. Let her in. Let her help you. You've proved you don't give a damn about yourself. Do it for her instead.'
And I did. The next day, for the first time, I admitted to my wife that I had a problem. I told her I hadn't been at all fair to her, and that I wanted to change. In truth, I had put her through hell. She should have spat in my face and screamed at me for all I had done. Instead, she embraced me. She told me not to worry, and that we'd find a way through this. That was the start of a new chapter in my life. Now I wasn't struggling alone.
Well, hopefully that's the end of the grim part of my blog! Thanks to anyone that has waded through it. Hopefully the next entry will reward you with some positivity. Read about the measures we took to improve my diabetes, and the events that finally caused me to be in control of my condition.