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  1. I haven't been around much - lots of legal shenanigans with Euan going on, and I'm not eager to post on a public forum about that (even if I don't use my own name). Suffice to say... busy times.

    HOWEVER, with all that said, I wanted to quickly write an entry about recent progress as I'm feeling somewhat smug. No... scratch that. No smug, proud.

    I'm not counting carbs anymore. Well, I'm counting a random day, but also counting everything I eat - protein, fat, carbs and calories. A typical day looks pretty good:

    Carbs 69g, Prot 90g, Fat 125g, Calories 2450

    For a while I was peeing on Ketostix every other day because I got into a bit of a flap about the amount of protein I was eating and I was worrying that it was preventing me from becoming fully fat adapted, but I did some research (the good posters here, such as @bulkbiker and @therower ), and also looked up Diet Doctor and Dr Jasun Fung and concluded that I could happily eat 120g protein a day (that's a HUGE amount of meat - almost a kilo of belly pork, eg) and still be both under recommended limit (.8g / kg body weight / day) and under the amount that could threaten ketosis.

    And then, after a week or two, I noticed that the keto breath in the morning was less awful and the sticks were getting a lighter shade of pink. Confident that I had my carb and protein totals under control, I finally felt able to confidently assume I am now fully fat adapted.

    Breakthrough!

    I've also been working on stretching and slowly strengthening my back. It's slow going, but I'm following my own rules and they seem to work. To recap:

    Do as much as I can until it starts to tug, then stop immediately.
    Rest until the ache passes, then rest half an hour more.
    Do not feel guilty, lazy or stupid. Let the house be a mess.
    Pain killers only for when it's really bad (only during periods now) and only when I can continue to do nothing at all.

    Following this, I've not taken a Naproxen or Tramadol since January (outside of managing periods), I've not had a serious bout of pain, and I've not been laid up for any length of time at all.

    Now that I've confidently managed my back (and, therefore, pain and energy) for 3 months, it seemed time to start doing something more structured than just stretching and reaching and standing. My old boss (and wonderful friend) Caroline called last Thursday to see if I fancied swimming on a Friday morning. This was a plan we once had years ago, but we were both too busy running our org to be able to carry it out.

    However, last Friday I went swimming for the first time in 4 years. I went carefully - cautiously, even - into the water and spent an hour floating and getting to know my body once more. I used to be a good swimmer, but my body is a different shape and moves very differently now, so I've got to start right at the beginning and rebuild. But I floated happily about, stretched and twisting and experimenting and it felt good.

    Getting out was horrifying, though I'd had 3 people approach me in the water (they'd watched me get in - 2 sticks and all) and congratulate me for giving it a go, and I felt confident and less self-conscious than I'd expected. When I finally reach the top step and was out of the water (shakily and slowly) I even garnered a little round of applause from my new swimming buddies - all of them swimming to recover from injury and rebuild their health, most of them over 60.

    It wiped me out for a couple of days, but not in the way exhaustion used to hit me. This time my body just needed to regroup, and it didn't help that I was coming down with an ear infection that had closed my right ear by Wednesday morning. Illness + exercise + the above rules = lots of good recuperative time.

    Today's swim went so much better. I was far less cautious and self-conscious and far easier once in the water. Now I'm learning how to move with my body more, it's less of a battle to move through the water and I can feel some of the old muscle memory returning. Very exciting. Better yet, I'm home and awake and writing, instead of laid up in bed sleeping and resting.

    Caro and I are talking about making it a twice-weekly thing. Next week my period is due, so even making it once to the pool will be an act of heroism. But the week after that..?

    In another little act of bravery this week, I even bought some bathroom scales. Now that my ketosis isn't brazenly obvious but discreetly efficient, it's time to start weighing weekly to see if - with diet and exercise - the numbers start to move. And I was shocked when I tried them out: I'm 21kg lighter than I was when I was diagnosed last June. I've lost over 3 stone!

    Shocked, encouraged, empowered and supporting by Caro and my new swimming buddies, things are on the mend. I've been constantly surprised by my body's capacity to heal itself. I'm hoping it can go just a little further and give me a little mobility back now, too.

    Only time will tell.

    Oh, and that pesky BG? Numbers are a little bit shonky because of the exercise and the ear infection, but FBG was 6.5, return from swimming was 5.9 (I had a false hypo after swimming last week). Ideally I'd like these to level out to below 6 over the next month, but I appreciate that my body is doing its first real exercise in 4 years and that's probably going to send it into something of a spin, so as long as I don't hike up over 7, I'm okay with high-ish readings. I'm confident that I'm doing everything right, I've got it all nailed down for the time being - now it just needs consistency and time.

    And I've got loads of those.

    Hope all you who read this can find similar success. Sending you all love.

    Sock xx
  2. Wouldn't it be nice if, from the moment you made a renewed commitment to Doing Things Properly, Life figured it would give you just a few weeks to hit the ground running and get yourself into a new routine without any extra nonsense to think about?

    Some people fantasise about the perfect lover, winning the lottery or that amazing 3-week Caribbean cruise. I fantasise about having just a couple of catastrophe-free weeks of normal life.

    The long and the short of things is that half term, back in Feb, was terrible. Euan was home from his residential placement and we did not get along. He was belligerent, difficult, aggressive. It was a relief when school started back up again. I had to go in with him on that first morning back for a series of meetings at his school, and before the bell had rung, he snapped and attacked me in the school's reception area. "Attacked" is a strong word, but he was trying to take my walking stick from me and beat me with it, so that's really the only word for it.

    Anyway, at that point I seriously started to question who was gaining anything from my insistence that he returns home on holidays and weekends: I wasn't happy, he certainly wasn't happy, and he constantly insisted that he wanted a "52 week timetable" (where he's at school / placement constantly) instead of our current 38 (holidays and weekends at home). So, during the last meeting of the day, completely without having thought it through, I announced - with my heart breaking - that a 52 week timetable was now in consideration.

    Ahead of that decision being finalised, Euan and I agreed (on something!!) to try an experimental 2 weekends where he wouldn't come home but, instead, stay at school and, perhaps, meet up with me for a movie or something on the Saturdays he was away. But - as life tends to at the moment - there were some massive roadblocks to our planning, not least among them being the heaviest snowfall Bristol has seen in decades and Sam.

    When Euan was in mainstream school, he responded with aggression to his environment, demands placed upon him, other children, to everything. This was his over-stimulated senses and lack of control (and therefore feeling of security) triggering him into a fight or flight state. And, unable to flee, he would try to fight his way out. This behaviour was then reinforced by teachers removing him from his environment or situation - technically as a punishment. But, actually, they were just reinforcing the notion that being violent = removal to a quiet, dark room with one-to-one attention and no extra demands.

    By the time he was 10, Euan had learned that, actually, violence always pays off.

    I remember confusing everyone around me at the time by lobbying against my son's behaviour and stating again and again that every child should feel safe at school, and that the other kids in his class shouldn't be submitted to my child's inability to cope on a daily basis. This was, in fact, the main reason I agreed to put Euan into specialised education in an ASD unit instead of continuing to look for ways to keep him in mainstream: he wasn't coping AND the kids in his class weren't safe. I remember one other parent, in particular, treated me very badly one day (though her child was never targeted by Euan's aggression), tutting at me and sneering, "Just you wait until it's your child: you won't be so glib then."

    Funnily enough, I never thought I was being glib when I was advocating for the safety of the other kids in Euan's class.

    Anyway. Sam arrived at the placement after the half-term break. Euan returned from school on the Monday to find Sam in the living room. No-one had prepared him for a new arrival, and no-one was supervising their first meeting. It went predictably poorly, with Euan questioning who Sam was and what he was doing there, and Sam - with a flavour of ASD much like Euan's - responding with aggression.

    Euan has always been the aggressor: when faced with the kind of fight-or-flight violence he himself employs, he was instantly terrified (I can only imagine how mollified Sneering Mother of Yesteryear would have been by this). But Euan has an over-sensitive sense of threat and instantly ran to the kitchen to get a knife so he could defend himself.

    Thus began the ballad of Euan and Sam.

    The last 3 weeks have been filled with horrendous incidents that have been rapidly escalating in their severity. One night Sam persuaded Euan to go on a rampage with him ("Do this with me or I'll cut you" he announced to Euan before smashing car windows in a car park). When they were finally cornered by staff, Euan - by now a hostage to his fear - was informed by Sam that the only thing they could do now was to run away before the police showed up to arrest them.

    The pair were missing for almost 2 hours. It took the placement staff more than 12 hours to tell me about Euan having gone missing at all, and another 24 to fill me in with a complete incident report. In the last week, Euan has run away or found ways to flee the House 3 times. The police have been called twice. Euan has, for the first time in his life, expressed fear (he will scream and run out of the room when he sees a spider, but would NEVER confess to it having frightened him).

    After that, there were further spats and brawls and then, on Monday, Sam caught Euan by the neck and said he was going to kill him. Staff separated them, one male staffer moving Euan to his room and barricading the door behind them. Sam was hot on their heels with a fire extinguisher he'd pulled from the wall, which he then used to try to smash through Euan's door (barricaded by now by a wardrobe and a grown man) before throwing it at another member of staff who was trying to restrain him.

    Sam is not a bad kid. Sam is a mixed up kid, just like Euan is. Sam is dealing with rejection he doesn't understand, a new environment already filled with the presence of 3 boys and Euan is the youngest, easiest target. Sam is just trying to assert himself and take control; Sam is frightened and lashing out. Sam needs support, patience and sympathy. I don't blame Sam in any way.

    Euan, on the other hand, is terrified and has been in genuine danger several times this week. And I am a long, long way away from him and not being given all (or, indeed, any) information about the incidents that are taking place or how he's doing after them. Or even how the staff are supporting him. I get messages like, "There was an altercation that turned physical with another young person but Euan wasn't hurt and he's fine now." That was their description of Monday night, with the being barricaded in the room until the police showed up.

    Last night I phoned Euan - once again - to see if he was okay. He was out at the time, and the duty manager who answered the phone was out of breath and sounded dazed. Upon calling back later (when Euan had returned to the house) I learned that Sam had, once again, become extremely violent and had been arrested for criminal damage and was now in police custody. My first call had caught the staff immediately after the incident had taken place.

    This is an epic failing and makes me incredibly sad. Just as I lobbied years ago for the rights of other kids to feel safe in their environments, so do I believe that Sam had that same right - and it was never afforded to him. He was never appropriately supported by staff in making the placement feel like home, in building relationships with the 3 boys already there, in getting the 1-to-1 support through a carefully managed transition period to allow him time to adjust and understand what was happening to him. I have struggled to cope with this week; I cannot imagine what Sam's mother has been going through. I wish her love and luck and fortitude from my anonymous distance.

    Euan, on the other hand, asked me whether he could come home this weekend. This is much-needed balm on my bruised heart: he appreciates the quiet stillness of our little bungalow, his ability to shut his bedroom door and be safe in his room, and my efforts to include him in and prepare him for decisions and changes that effect our household. We owe Sam a debt as far as that goes: he has taught Euan a brutal lesson about safety and its value.

    Of course, through all of this, I have been a complete wreck. Sobbing, worrying, writing endless emails, sleeping a huge amount, relying heavily on online friends to carry my mood when I feel too tired to stop myself from growing melancholy. I haven't returned to carbs - eventhough it meant eating roasted chicken breasts (and nothing else) 3 nights in a row last week when the blizzard saw me eating through my meagre food stores and being unable to get anything more delivered.

    I don't believe life should be easy. But, at the same time, I don't believe it should be this hard, either. I'm hoping we sail through this chop and into calmer waters soon.

    Self Kindness and Numbers:
    Well, all things considered, I've not had a BG reading of more than 7 through all this, though my liver dump has been incredibly strong throughout (my body certainly knows how to prepare for stress while sleeping, that's for sure). I've taken to doing a reading upon waking, and then staying in bed, playing cards on the Kindle for half an hour while I breathe and think through my day for a while. Then I'll do another reading and always find my BG has dropped by at least a point.

    On Monday I hit a weird sort of crisis where I had grown sick of drinking nothing but water (ran out of sugar-free cordial and coffee) and eating roasted chicken (there's only so many chicken breasts you can eat in a week, plus all that protein just isn't great) and was about to run out of tobacco. And this situation on top of everything.

    I made a very considered decision to order food from a place that also delivers tobacco - but you have to order pizza, too. I gave this some real thought and realised that I was housebound, with no food, with horrendous stress (re: Euan) and all the supermarkets had, since Thursday the week before, closed all their delivery slots. I was high and dry.

    So I forgave myself and ordered - and then enjoyed - a small pizza, salad and coleslaw on Monday night (easily avoiding the potato wedges, garlic bread, carby sides) while hanging online with my friends. I also ordered a pouch of tobacco and a couple of bottles of diet Coke (seriously, read the labels - you'd think it was imaginary, there's no nutrition in it at all!) and that got me through until life could resume as normal.

    The next morning, my FBG was 6.8, and an hour later it was 5.6 : while I can't say for sure, I'm relatively certain that another day of chicken breasts, water and stress (with new no tobacco) would have seen my numbers rise far higher and me really start to struggle to not order the biggest pizza with all the the trimmings.

    Yeah. I really feel fine about that.
  3. Not relevant to anything else, certainly not T2, but still something I feel is important to note...

    I didn't do my online groceries yesterday, nor did I do them today. This was deliberate, because I knew that I would also order some more tobacco and I felt it was time to run out for a couple of days.

    I just emptied my pouch. It's me and the ePen now. I'm curious to see what will happen, but I'm also completely comfortable with the idea of trundling up the road on the scooter to by some baccy if it all gets a bit much.

    But, still, it's an experiment and worth making a note of: I always admire people who voluntarily give up their tobacco and while I'm still not prepared to say "I'm quitting!", I am curious enough about the notion to see how I'd survive without the baccy for a while.

    Will report back with results. Alternatively, you could keep an eye on the news; if you read a story coming out of central Bristol about a middle-aged woman carrying out a slow-motion rampage on a mobility scooter while ranting incoherently about plus-sized underwear and Vikings... well, you'll probably realise you'll not be hearing from me for a while.

    But at least the results of tomorrow's experiment will be clear!
  4. I'm really torn on how to write about this one: my usual, brusque style will probably land me in trouble when it comes to this delicate subject, but I'm generally not a touchy-feely, super-romantic kind of girl, so I know I'm going to struggle a little with the language. Also, O Beloved Readers, it's going to be about sex and diabetes: we're all adults with diabetes of some kind here, so this is pertinent to all of us. However, if you're a squishy-squeamish type, please look away now. Ta.

    So Tor is arriving in 54 days. And that was cool and groovy (though I spent yesterday evening absolutely panicked about body image and "what is sexy when you're diabetic, disabled and in your 40's?". Well, of course, the rational answer is "Whatever you already are that snagged that lovely fella!" but I'm damned if I can't process that on some emotional level. It's sheer terror, pure and simple. It doesn't help that this is about to become my first physical relationship in 8 years: there have been online relationships, granted, but I've reveled in their lack of physicality and have certainly never had to confront what I look like or get wise to how horrendous my self-image has become.

    There's a fairly cruel vicious circle that I've been on for a couple of weeks. It starts with me doing lots of positive mental imaging of myself, looking at pictures of other large women, looking fabulous and trying to get past my issues with words like "voluptuous" and "bootilicious" and "curves in all the right places" and just see women who are comfortable, happy, at ease and - to my continuing shock - incredibly sexy. When I'm in my "If they can, why can't I?" mindset, I move onto Step 2.

    Step 2 is then to imagine what I would wear if I was in one of those pictures, being all confident and sassy, in my highly-engineered underwear. Flushed with new-found body confidence, I'll start imagining what kind of faaabulous underwear I'll wear underneath my devastatingly awesome outfit that I'll be wearing when I fling open my front door to greet my Viking.

    Step 3 is then to pop along to one of the many UK clothes sites claiming to cater for women who <insert vaguely patronising description here> need more than a size 16 (which is the average UK dress size, fyi, and therefore is only "plus-size" to a minority of women. In and of itself, that's kinda mean). Well, this is looking good - dresses, leggings, blouses... all being modeled by larger girls so I can get a decent notion of what that stuff looks like on someone who isn't 50kg soaking wet. Oh, I'm feeling great now - I'm on a roll! I pick out cute outfit after cute outfit, no longer worrying that they might show my upper arms or cling to my belly or emphasise my cleavage a little too much. Time for the underwear section!

    Step 4. Underwear. It's time! I've not cared about what underwear looks like in years. If it's comfy and easy to wash, it's good enough! But, nooooooo, wearing underwear is about to become a spectator sport, so I have to step up my game a little. I click "Lingerie" and find...

    Granny pants modeled by skinny, skinny girls.

    It's all a farce. "Hey, you have every right to feel sexy and confident as a larger lady but no-one wants to think of you in your underwear so we'll put it all on these stick figures because they're so much prettier to look at and you can, you know... double it? Or something?!"

    Step 5. My logic then goes: "If people who are actively trying to solicit your money aren't prepared to imagine you in your skivvies, what on Earth are you thinking when it comes to a man who is doing this voluntarily?!"

    And then there's the feeling of utter deflation, hopelessness, guilt, regret, shame blah blah blah. It's so much fun, I can't tell you.

    SO. THE THING IS...

    I finally got to telling Tor about this vile, cruel process and how the clothing website are (and how awful the underwear available to me), and then we drift into "What do you think you look like?" and then I find pictures of equivalent women (confirmed by Chris, my Bestie from Chicago who visited here at Christmas and, therefore, met me for the first time) and Tor likes every single image. Not just liked... as in, passive Norwegian grunts of approval, but actual sentences that started with clauses like, "If you have a body like that..." and so on.

    Which I spent the evening and most of this morning pondering. And then I started thinking about sex, because that's, apparently, a totally reasonable expectation given that a Viking is flying across the sea in 54 days to be with his woman who has a body that, according to all responses so far, he's feeling quite excited about. And I'm now thinking about the practicalities of that.

    And then it hits me: what about diabetes and sex? How do I keep us both safe? How do others manage their diabetes when it comes to their relationships? I've had two "false" hypos (I don't know if they were false or not, but everyone tells me T2's can't have hypos), plus I'm all with the keto and the Jardiance, so there's not a lot of fast-release energy floating about in my blood. Is there a chance that a particularly arduous moment could knock my BG off-kilter? And how would Tor recognise this, given false/hypo symptoms are fairly similar to, er, other states that people get into after, you know, something has happened (warned you I lacked the language for this. I could describe what I'm trying to say easily with explicit language, but this gentle, polite approach is absolutely killing me).

    So I decided that Tor needed Part 1 of the Diabetes Awareness Course. Which I delivered immediately by outlining the problem and how I might need him to be aware of it - that's, I think, a sensible precaution for anyone spending time with a diabetic, regardless of relationship status, frankly. But, intimacy, perhaps, brings with it an elevated risk, so I laid the ground work for Tor knowing how to test my BG, how to understand the results and how to treat the situation if my BG has dropped sharply. Of course, that's something he can only really do when here in person, but I need his mind latching onto it now and turning it around until he's comfortable with it.

    To be fair, Euan is fairly hypo-aware and spotted my first false hypo before I did. The second one happened as I was waking up, so was a bit weird and different. AS I said to Tor, if a 12 year old can figure it out... Tor's on board, though. It's a lot to take in, but he'll get there. He's got a strongly protective thing going on and that's where this learning about diabetes lark will end up sitting.

    Further, it's my condition, so it's my responsibility to take appropriate steps, I figure, so now there's some glucose (liquid and tablet) and a spare meter by the bed.

    You know, just in case ;)

    Numbers:
    FBG of 5.4 this morning - would have been delighted but for the crippling headache upon waking again. 2 paracetamol and 45 minutes of lying completely still with the bed covers over my head shifted it in the end. Am appealing for advice here:

    https://www.diabetes.co.uk/forum/threads/horrendous-headaches-upon-waking.136298/

    Think it could be a salt / hydration issue (Keto, GlucoPee... it's easy to forget what a potent combo they are), so am going to drink huge amounts in the run up to going to bed, but munch on something salty just as I'm doing my wind-down routine (Canasta, Cribbage, Backgammon on the Kindle). We'll see.

    Self-Kindness:
    Am arranging an evening with friends on Friday. They've noticed I've been a little absent and haven't been all sunshine and dancing in the rain when it comes to Euan. They're offering support: I should take it.

    Edited by a Mod.
  5. An odd few days - a very tough day yesterday, I'm still trying to arrange and frame my thoughts about what happened in a way that would make sense to anyone else (and myself in a few weeks time). It's still very difficult (after staring at my first sentence there for 20 minutes and realising that I don't have a second yet) to talk about it, so I'll just say: Euan, 52 weeks, Mummy Moment" and come back to it another time, maybe.

    However, after the horrendous meeting at school, our family autism worker, Leise, and I went for a coffee because I wasn't quite ready to go home and be left alone yet. I needed to talk about what just happened, process it, get another person's perspective. Leise's been with Euan and I for years and years, she's seen all our terrible moments, all the epic, rough decisions, poor outcomes, and there's a definite sense of sorority between us (taking it in turns to buy the coffee, eg)

    So while she parked, I headed into Costa. My instinct was to "reward" myself for my ordeal with something sweet, fluffy, egregiously expensive with a very, very long name. I didn't really process this at all in terms of carbs and diabetes: it was pure instinct as I was still somewhat reeling from the meeting just before. However, I looked down at my bag as I looked for my purse and realised I could see the tips of my toes - my belly has reduced. I was surprised, delighted and suddenly - and in a flash of elation - reminded that I can't do the stupid fluffy coffee thing, I don't NEED to do it, I don't WANT to do. And, moreover, I don't want to do that and then return home to this wonderful community and either 'fess up or (worse) lie about it.

    So I had a giant, milky latte with an extra shot and a few more glimpses of my toes. (And, for the record, I did all of this without a walking stick. Didn't walk far, but DID walk unsupported. Leise said it was the furthest she'd seen me walk in 3 years).

    Back home and some "Fake it til you make it" super-cheerful posting on the forum (an old, old coping mechanism of mine) before I realised that, actually, I was wrung-out, exhausted and epically sad (sometimes you just need to feel sad. Embrace, experience, release), so I went to sleep for a quiet weep and a good long nap. Once awake, I fell into Tor's wonderful company and let him take gentle, attentive care of me until I literally couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.

    This morning woke up with a mounmental headache like I've not had in a long time. Hurt to open my eyes, to move my head, to swallow, the whole bit. Took 25 minutes for paracetamol to kick in, but I had a doc's appointment, so I needed to get myself together. FBG, though, 5.6 - it's all rolling along nicely at the moment: keto, stomach shrinking, FBG down a bit.

    Trundled along to the Doc's, found I was 20 minutes early, figured I'd pop along to Tesco for some "Hoorah! Well done me!" treats: cooked thai chilli chicken 5g/100 carbs), mozarella and sundried tomatoes in oil (6.2g/100 carbs), raspberries, blueberries and extra thick double cream and then, because I'm in love and my health is coming back and I'm holding my heart together with two hands today and the sun was out and had some force to it... a bunch of tulips.

    But, of course, the card machine network went down just as I got to the tills, and after a few minutes of cheerfully chatting while I waited for them to sort it out, I had to go for my appointment. I asked the ladies (really lovely staff in this one particular Tesco) to hold my shopping and I'd pay for it upon returning after my appointment.

    Dr P is a really special kind of GP. She's attentive, enthusiastic, yet has some good experience and insight to share. She's excited for me about the journey I'm on - delighted with my results, moreso when I told her this morning's FBG. There's lots of good stuff happening and she tested my resolve and planning and then said she'd be following my progress with some real interest as she'd heard about LCHF but hadn't met a patient who was trying it (and therefore felt she couldn't recommend it to anyone). She also noted my reducing stomach size - and that I was walking without a stick (AGAIN!). And then I Told her about yesterday and the epic, sweeping decision I made and why it's actually the right decision and how I feel about that a day later and how it might affect me in the future.

    We've agreed I'm not depressed: My emotions are an appropriate response to on-going events and I am still motivated, engage and optimistic. However, I've taken on a lot of change recently, and no matter how great and fast the resulting improvements have happened, it's still requiring effort, attention and engagement. So we've agreed that if I start to struggle with my regime, if I find I'm less motivated or less able to attend to myself in this new, super-energised kind of way, I should return to her for a chat and we'll see where things are. A measured, gentle approach that isn't hysterically assuming that a grieving mother will become instantly depressed.

    Oh, well, the cat's out of the bag now. Euan isn't happy at home anymore. Which isn't just difficult to live with but also actually dangerous for me and impossible to parent. But he is happy at the House. Logically, humanely, rationally, the only conclusion to draw is that I let Euan live in the House full-time and start rebuilding our relationship with their support.

    Emotionally, I want to claw their eyes out and burn their bodies because my son picked them over me and my heart is broken because of it.

    So I'm making every effort to remain rational at the moment. I'm focusing on just the good things, and the sobbing hysterically for just a few minutes at a time and only when I stop moving, thinking, writing or am explaining my decision to someone.

    Anyway. The girls in Tesco knew nothing of this when I returned to pay for my groceries. They wouldn't let me pay for my tulips, instead gifting them to me as an apology for the card-machine muck-up (which really wasn't a problem at all). I was really touched by this simple gesture, of course, already feeling somewhat bruised and sensitive (though I NEVER let it show) and so instantly burst into tears and then instantly denied that, even as the big salty drops ran down my cheeks.

    Small acts of kindness = big, big impacts on people.

    Tor's back with me today. He's aware that I'm feeling tender and sorrowful. He understands why and where the decision came from. He told me he bought his birthday present today (his birthday is 3rd April) while I was out: Tor will be arriving in Bristol on 16th April.

    T-55 days, people.

    EDIT: Also worth noting that today my appetite has noticeably diminshed. I returned home from Tesco with my bag of super goodies, but felt completely sated after eating just half of the mozarella, tomatoes and chicken. This, compared to how things have been recently, is an epic change: I've been eating almost constantly for the last week, and it's a relief to know those days could well be over and that my body is no longer craving the old carb-eating habits.

    Huzzah.
  6. Argh. I might have dropped into ketosis like a winner, but my brain is not delighted: I'm waking every morning with a headache, and they're getting increasingly severe. I need an hour, 2 paracetamol and about a litre of water and then they clear up, but it's a miserable way to greet the day, moaning and aching before your eyes have even opened.

    I'm seeing the lovely Doc on Tuesday and shall mention this to her then.

    Otherwise, low-carbing like champ (though need to cut my protein a little, I think) and considering buying some bathroom scales (this is a Big Deal for me).

    Played Minecraft with Chris and Tor last night - died stupidly at their hands AGAIN. Euan calming down and looking forward to returning to school tomorrow. Of course, I'm going in with him as I have a day's worth of super-heavy-duty meetings (EHCP - 'tis the season!) to get through, so am hoping to sleep well and avoid Morning Headache Hour tomorrow.

    I've had more fun, to be honest.
  7. Okay, so it seems the aim of blogging every single day was a bit... unreasonable. Things are different these days, and after 3 consecutive, supremely difficult days with Euan in a row, I had nothing particularly good to report. I'm an old-fashioned girl: "If you've got nothing nice to say, say nothing at all." Aside from compulsively following the traditional adage or two, the truth is I was so brain-tired at the end of each day that there was no way I could have written anything coherent or useful. Thus I amend my plan to "Blogging when I can". Which will be most days, but not all.

    It has been, though, super-lovely to return and, though my feet have barely touched the ground, I've had lots of really wonderful messages and comments from some of my favourite people - bless your wonderful hearts, you all know how to make a girl feel special <3.

    It seems I'm moving relatively quickly through Keto Flu (thank goodness). I'm being as kind as I can to myself - giving myself free range of the fridge (filled with salami, salad bowls and pots of aioli) and sleeping as and when I feel like it. Sleep is a real bugbear at the moment - I'll feel tired and go to bed around midnight, but I'll just be dozing (and not sleeping) until around 3am, when I suddenly grow frustrated and have to get out of bed to watch iPlayer or Amazon Prime.

    Though I tend to never sleep more than 4 hours in a single go, I've never had this kind of trouble falling asleep before. But I feel restless and unsettled, somewhat uncomfortable in a way that I couldn't begin to describe. The other symptoms are gradually fading (though that miserable headache persists), but my inability to fall asleep prevails and is particularly difficult to cope with. Fingers crossed that's behind me soon.

    The eating's going well, though. No real cravings, at least, none that I've been shakingly aware of and have consciously struggled with. Euan and I went out to Eastgate Shopping Centre (he needed clothes and new shoes) which also features Pizza Hut, Burger King, Ikea, Costa and 2 other stores with cafes in them - I was the spirit of resistance! Though, to be fair, it's easy to resist popping into the cafe for a quick cuppa when everyone puts their cafes upstairs and you're rolling along on a scooter.

    It was shocking, actually, we had to go through my old neighbourhood to get to the store we were headed to. Hardly any dropped curbs, cars parked across many of the ones that actually existed - or just plain across the path - dog mess everywhere, everyone impatient and scowling when I realised I couldn't continue along the path I'd been forced down and had to turn around (at least 3 times). At one point, Euan exclaimed, "We got used to this!" Indeed, we really were used to it, and it's nice to know we expect more from our surroundings (and neighbours) these days.

    Anyway, this morning I decided to pay a little attention to my pee upon waking. FBG was 6.5 (quite pleased with that, to be honest), and my pee was a barely-yellow colour (it's been very dark recently - now I've made my peace with drinking 6+ litres a day) and, yep, ketones were registered, though not in the darkest colour. I'm in ketosis, my kidneys are fine, things haven't gone bonkers.

    Awesome.

    Perhaps a quiet one with Tor today, dunno yet, though it looks like he's flying spaceships (more on this another time) with The Boys (I'm also part of this group - it's how we met, but they haven't collectively dealt well with our pairing up) so I might leave him to it for a while.

    Ketosis. Not crazy FBG. Lightly-coloured pee. Just the sleep and the headache to sort and I can start feeling on top of things again.
  8. I'd forgotten how difficult it is to get rolling on this path - the headache and the "meh"-ness has set in already and, though I feel cleaner already (and feet, coughing, other stuff) is already feeling better, there's a definite sense that my body is being forced into some new - and still not quite familiar - form.

    Food-wise, I've kept it simple and easy, picking lots of simple favourites that I can just grab from the fridge: crustless quiche, salami, salad bowls, cheese. But I'm almost constantly thirsty and feeling restless (yet unable to rest - I've been awake since 3am after heading off to bed at 9pm, but awake until at least midnight). I feel bland; empty; vague. I know this is the start of keto flu, I know I went through this before, I know I've just got to get on with it and it'll improve in a couple of weeks.

    Perhaps I should feel cheered that my body has recognised what's going on so quickly, though it's only been 48 hours, and it otherwise getting down to it?

    Valentine's Day, the first for many years that I've had someone to share it with (though we've not really had any time to plan ahead to what we wanted to do), and Tor and I bummed about in Minecraft for a while. But I felt "off", concentration (and conversation) were a struggle and I felt far less shiny than normal. In the end, I made my apologies and cut the evening short, after a particularly dumb death that annoyed me far more than it really should have.

    Sometimes you just have to accept that you're feeling ****** and go and lie down.

    The vaping is going well. I've (finally!) found a flavour I don't not-like - I wouldn't say I dislike any that I've tried so far, but this one was easily my favourite. I've opted to start with a Vype ePen, with its simple, easy-to-figure-out design and pre-mixed liquids that come in a variety of flavours and strengths. Other people I've talked to about vaping have made it sound so expensive and complicated - not to mention messy, with the mixing of liquids and flavours and all that malarkey. Perhaps some people like farting around, but I just to make it as simple and fuss-free as possible.

    I'm especially pleased because, after trying it for a week or so (at a cost of £10 for the pen which came with 2 liquid caps, and £5 for 3 further caps), I decided to take the plunge and spend another £50 or so on what turned out to be an impressive amount of stuff. 6 differently-flavoured boxes of e-liquids (3 caps in each box), a spare pen (so one can break / charge / get lost / whatever and I'll still be able to "smoke" without reaching for the baccy) and a case.

    There's really just 2 things I'm not keen on when it comes to vaping. Firstly is the word itself: "vaping". It sounds silly. All the language to do with this is a bit silly, as if someone has tried to make it sound hip and cool and awesome, like alco-pops. The truth is, it's nicotine without the **** (Public Health England estimates it's 95% safer than smoking: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-independent-expert-e-cigarettes-evidence-review ) and the words, pretty colours and myriad daft flavours (Pina Colada, anyone?!) that taste nothing like they're meant to are all window dressing.

    The second thing is probably particular to the brand I've started with, but I just dont' like that there's no cap for the pen. That thing is in and out of my mouth all day, and it makes me slightly uncomfortable to think of sticking that in my bag or pocket and the amount of **** that could end up on it. A discreet plastic cap would have easily sorted that out, but my particular pen comes apart so that I can wash the mouth piece as needed.

    Just in case anyone is looking to swap cigs for vape (or gradually move from one to the other, as I am) and is curious about this no-mess, low-cost option that I've adopted...

    https://www.govype.com/uk/e-cig-epen-starter-kit

    https://www.govype.com/uk/e-liquids/epen-caps

    For the record, the "Blended Tobacco" flavour (with a discreet caramel hint) is the one I'm liking a lot, and on top of the discounts I got on the pen (on offer at the mo) and e-caps (6 for 5-ish), I also ended up qualifying for free next-day delivery, so it was all with me quick smart, too.

    I wonder whether I've not bitten off a little more than I can chew: vaping and resumption of LCHF (Or "Low Carb, Medium Fat" as I'm thinking about it) within just a week of each other. But it felt like the right time to start each of them and I'm not yet feeling tied into the vaping (am still smoking about 5 cigs a day). Besides, the truth of it is that my body does feel a little better already, in spite of today's general blandness and lack of spirit.

    Tomorrow is Euan's half-birthday. I plan to leap (heroically!) onto the scooter and head off to Avonmeads where we'll grab a Costa and a movie. And then, hopefully, get him some new shoes.

    Am hoping I'll feel up to it; just need to shift this headache first.

    Numbers for Wednesday 14th February:
    Only did BG twice: 6.0 at 2pm (an hour after eating - I was pleased) and 6.7 when I woke up at 3:30am, which isn't crazy given my sleeping liver dump habits, but I'm still slightly annoyed about.

    Self-Kindness:
    Just accepting that I felt ****** and not forcing myself to carry on. Going to bed at 9:30 and watching Vikings until I fell asleep was the kindest thing I could have done for either me or Tor.


    Edit: After the Fact.
    I'm in the habit of, when I wake up halfway through the night and start thinking / doing / researching / planning, sending Tor a few messages about whatever's on my mind. And then some sappy stuff. And it wakes him up EVERY time. (I have to admit, it bothers me a little - I hate the notion that I'm waking him up, but he refuses to put his phone on silent so I guess it rests with him).

    Having written this entry - and finally understanding my symptoms - I then found a really lovely article (all supportive and fluffy) about Keto Flu, which I shall drop here:

    https://ketosummit.com/what-is-keto-flu-how-to-cure-keto-flu

    When I think about what I ate yesterday, it strikes me that it's a fairly typical VLC day from my food dairy, back when I was happily bouncing along at 50 - 70g carbs / daily. Which, after the consistency and volume of my carb intake recently, is going to be like driving a truck through a glass window, instead of politely entering through the door.

    I've really got a talent for taking the hardest road possible, eh? :)




    Edited by moderator to remove swearing
  9. Well, okay, it's maybe an overly optimistic headline, but certainly I've won a few battles with Dio - and all this in spite of everything outlined in my earlier post. I was expecting a thorough dressing down from the new DN (Allison - more on her later) about the need to take diabetes seriously, adopt and stick to a regimen blah blah. You know, all the stuff I already told myself yesterday.

    None of that. And this was for two main reasons, the first being my HbA1c result. It was down. And not by just a couple of points, but by a whopping great margin: 57 in June last year, down to 50 last week. 48 is the target for the practise - I intend to get there by July (my next review date).

    Further, though, my blood pressure is down. Not hugely, but it was 140/85 and today (add in general excitement at HbA1c result) it measured 134/74. So clearly an improvement.

    "Do you think you've lost weight?" asked Allison after weighing me. I told her that I lost a lot very quickly in the first couple of months and then got too busy to pay attention (the birthday dress, particularly, came to mind). Her scales were reading a weight loss of 20kg compared to my last weigh-in, which I'm taking with a pinch of salt as that really IS a LOT of weight to lose and I was last measured in a different surgery on different scales. But I'm happy to accept that I've lost around 12kg, which has boosted my self-esteem no end.

    So HbA1c, BP and weight all improved. Suck it, Dio.

    I also got my cholesterol profile results, which I'm still trying to understand.

    Total 6.6
    LDL (BAD!) 3.9 (aiming for less than 2)
    HDL (GOOD) 1.2 (aiming for more than 2)

    I sorta gave a shrug at this, understanding how wonky the science and, therefore, NHS guidance is on this and having read many, many accounts of people getting their lipid profiles under control while eating dairy and red meat aplenty. If things are still looking like this in July, I'll get concerned, but as I don't have a baseline from last year, I have to treat this as a starting point and see what happens next.

    So, what kind of practitioner is Allison. Well, she's very friendly and smiley, and was quick to praise and offer encouragement when it came to my positive results. Yay!

    But...

    Well, all I need to say is she LOVES the Eatwell Plate. She even printed one out for me. "You need carbs in your diet. You need to eat a variety of food." I was about to haggle and negotiate my position when I remembered @therower 's sage advice: "Nod, smile, agree, walk out, forget everything." (Paraphrased). So I let her words wash gently over me - including the notion that a T2 testing 3 times a day was "obsessive" behaviour and that I should go on a Diabetes Education Course asap ("Oh, it's really difficult for me to get out of the house and I have loads of online support. I genuinely think it'll be a struggle to maintain attendance.") and that if I was still testing my BG regularly at my next review, she'd suggest some psych support to help me "get over it".

    Several minutes of prime NHS / NICE guidance later and I was finished. In spite of the mistakes and return of last year's bad habits, I'm still restarting in a far better place than I was in when I was diagnosed. So here's my new plan:

    - Testing 3x daily: Fasting in AM when I wake up, mid afternoon and before I go to sleep. I'm aiming for a fasting BG of less than 7 (in time) but I'm aware that last year I had a fairly strong morning phenomenon which often spiked my fasting BG sometimes as far as 8.0 - two hours after waking, and it would be coming back down to 6. something and from there would continue to slowly drop through the day. I'm in new surroundings with new circumstances, far less stress and a different routine: I need to understand what my body is doing (if only to know when I'm going to function best, should be most active etc).

    - Back to low-carbing, but with a slightly more relaxed attitude. To start with, cutting out bread, pasta, rice, sugar and spuds and seeing how that goes. Will take it more gently this time and (hopefully) avoid the Keto Flu this time around. Will still keep a food dairy but probabnly won't resume counting calories and carbs down to .1 of a gram. Instead, will record what I ate and whether I enjoyed it(!!)

    - Taking my medicine regularly and properly. I need to get into a routine for that again, whether it's morning, noon or night. Oreviously, I'd wake up in pain and be reminded to take the GlucoPee while I reached for my painkillers. I don't have such a prompt now. Instead, I think I'll keep them by my bed and get into the routine of testing and taking meds before I even get out of bed.

    - Not worrying about weight loss. Clearly it can happen, but if I make that the focus of this exercise, I'm never going to feel like I've ever achieved anything. I need to focus on how I feel in my skin, not how I look in it, and I need to forgive myself and be a little bit kinder to myself, too.

    - Daily blogging again. It just helps. Clears my mind, makes me accountable, but it's a nice thing to read back on, too and I'm sorry I stopped it. If anyone else gets a kick or a smile out of it, that's awesome, but I'm going to be selfishly writing for me this time (sorry, loves <3!)

    - Within that... maintaining the "self-kindness" habit. It's important. But letting the "Euan Moment" habit slide as I need to be moving forward and not thinking about how I don't have a Euan moment 4 nights a week. I guess there could be a Tor moment or something but... nah. The numbers and the self-kindness will be enough for now. Perhaps a new habit will come along later.

    - Regularly read (if not also join in) posts on the forums here. They're important because they reinforce that I'm not the only one with these struggles and this way of approaching what's going on. But, also, because there's SO MUCH support available here and I really want to tap into that (and return it when I can).

    - Next HbA1c in July. If result is down again, consider cutting my GlucoPee dose from 25mg to 12.5 and seeing how I get on with that until Xmas. I refuse to plan anything more than 6 months in advance, though - part of the problem with the last plan is that I was trying to peer vaguely into a murky future (Christmas!) and it's just not reasonable to put yourself under that much pressure. So I'll peer forward just 6 months at a time.

    I'm feeling positive. I'm feeling empowered. I'm feeling like this isn't a hard thing to accomplish.

    Moreover, I'm finally feeling confident that I can square up to the fellow I'm falling in love with and be able to stand my ground without trying to hide from his sight. That can only be a good thing.
  10. (It's been a while since I wrote. To any potential new readers: Hello! Thanks for stopping by. Be warned: my language is occasionally salty and often quite candid. Sock xx)

    I don't know that it was diabetic burn out, per se, my loss of control and - therefore - management really had nothing to do with diabetes and everything to do with the last 6 months being intense and difficult and entirely dominated by Euan's needs while settling into a new house.

    But getting back on top of my diabetes (and health generally) is something that's been on my mind since October, and I realised after Xmas that it's just time. Time to stop messing around. Time to stop wasting time. Time to start living again. Time to re-engage my brain. Time to start thinking about me - what are my needs, wants and priorities. What the hell is my life about anyway?



    To some, these questions might seem obvious, but to someone used to living with someone who needs them constantly, endlessly, intensely, they're harder to ask because you never have the time to consider the answers. But, 6 months (almost) after moving to the "Fungalow" (as Euan calls it) and some things have become clear in my mind:

    1. Last year I was very ill, and had been for a very long time.
    2. My back is messed up.
    3. I need more than a house-move to sort my **** out.
    4. Euan and his life can no longer be micro-managed.
    5. I have diabetes. And it's really time to stop screwing around with that.
    6. If I don't start making decisions for myself again, those 5 points are going to really ruin my life - way beyond the point of awfulness I reached last year.

    Good things have happened, too: the disability scooter is a real gift and I'm no longer housebound. Hoorah! I've also learned to take better care of my spine, to not push it so much and to manage my pain (or completely minimise it all together) to the point that I realised a couple of days ago that I didn't take a single rest / recovery day (or Tramadol) in the whole of January.

    Awesome.

    More significantly yet, I'm in love. It's a relatively new thing and I'm still settling down into it, but he's the most wonderful fellow (it's not Andy - PLOT TWIST) and I'll be sure to write more about him soon. In short, his name is Tor, he's Norwegian, it's an online thing but we're looking to change that soon, and he accepts - even embraces - all my complications and complexities and corners. I'm still falling in love with him, I'm still learning to open up and trust and have faith - all things important when you're with someone online - but he's stalwart and stoic and patient and I know I can take all the time I need to get over my issues and be okay with it all.

    So. Dio. That old cad.

    It's taken me a while to get around to finding a new (and more accessible) doctor's surgery and then registering and making an appointment. I kept putting it off and just renewing prescriptions online, but in the New Year I figured it was time. I'd stopped low-carbing, my medicine regime was sporadic (to be generous about it) and I was neither regularly testing my BG nor keeping a food diary nor blogging and looking after my mental state...

    I recognise - I think I always recognised - how good for me those habits were and how in control of my life I felt for the months I was last here, writing, testing, being part of this wonderful community. But I just couldn't find the space for it all for a while and I think I needed to feel ill(-ish) again in order to decide to start feeling better.

    But meeting Tor has kicked up some interesting issues (I have some kind of extreme body image issue going on - I have struggled and struggled to send him any pictures at all. Now he knows what my face looks like, but I still cannot bring myself to send him a picture of my body. Especially ridiculous as he's planning to get his arse over here ASAP) that I need to really deal with and move past: they are very much barriers to happiness.

    Realising that I'm out of kilter with myself, I took a couple of weeks to do a kind of checks and balances process when it came to my life. I appreciate I'm sliding towards the ill-health that dogged me last year. I realise that the situation with Euan and his school isn't doing me many favours (in short, not ready to lose him yet, though he's ready to go) and I accept that I've not spent really any time thinking of myself as a woman / potential object of attraction and affection for far, far too long. I need an identity and a sense of control again: Euan moving into residential (and my wonderful voluntary org thanking me for my service and giving me flowers, cards and gifts at the last AGM) sort of took my identity's legs out from under me: no longer feeling like either a parent or a vice-chair / voluntary sector worker left me wondering "Well what the hell am I?"

    Well. The way to manage an existential crisis is to move with small steps, so I broke that question down into parts:

    1. What do I want?
    2. What do I need?
    3. Do any of those things co-incide?
    4. What's the easiest way to start to get them?

    I want to be healthy. I do not want to be in constant pain. I do not want to have my life dominated by not having Euan at home for 5 days of the week. I do not want to wander around in the empty rooms of my mind (Okay, actually, I'm fine doing that, but I understand that I often get lost and it's not terribly good for me to be so isolated).

    "Healthy" is a funny word, too. According to some, I'll never be "healthy" again, so I'm using it to mean as good as I can reasonably get under my own steam, with my own will-power and faculties driving the train. So... diabetes management back on the menu (the feet, the tiredness, the pain, the breathing... all the horrors I suffered with last year came back when I went off-meds after Xmas). I've been slowly rebuilding my core strength and stamina (can't walk any further than before, but can now stand for 10 minutes without pain!), I'm working on keeping my mind busy - which is the single most effective way to keep myself "happy". The scooter gets me out in the world, and frankly it's a waste of money if I don't use the bloody thing at least once a week. And then there's Tor.

    A lot of these things are both wants and needs, so will inherently overlap when it comes to achieving (and maintaining) them. And, for most of them, I already know how to get them as I either started on the path last year or it's a simple case of logicking it out and adopting some slightly better, more disciplined habits:

    1. Blogging every day clears my mind.
    2. BG testing and keeping a food diary keeps me focused and personally accountable.
    3. Ignoring the "God you're so <insert whatever pejorative is currently on the tip of my tongue here>, why even bother <insert whatever activity I'm hoping to do, from leaving the house to talking smutty to Tor here>?" voice that, for YEARS, has been undercutting my confidence.
    4. Accepting that I'm not and never will be perfect.
    5. Trusting that the pursuit of all of the above will distract me from Premature Empty House Syndrome (if that's not a thing, it **** well should be).

    I know, small steps. But I feel it's time to start over; to embrace a whole new Day One and to cut myself some slack. So? I screwed the diabetes up for 6 months. So? I resumed the old, bad eating habits. It's fine, I'm okay with it because I get to start over tomorrow and can still learn and grow.

    So what's going on tomorrow?

    Well, I meet my new diabetic nurse. Have already met the new Doc (she's also baffled by society's reliance on carbs - we had a fab, fab convo about it when I went in to see her, complete with my rejuvenated plan, all of which she instantly agreed to), have had my HbA1c (with full bloods as well as lipids) and tomorrow I meet my new DN and get my results. Typically I'd be a bit anxious about this, but, sod it, the whole point of giving yourself is a free pass to start over is to accept that you screwed up. Tomorrow I know what my new baseline looks like, that's all. From there onwards, it's entirely within my grasp to make it - and myself - better.

    Final thing that I've changed, that doesn't otherwise fit into this narrative flow, and I'm not making a Big Deal about it because that's how you put yourself under pressure, and if you're under pressure then you can Fail... I started using an ePen to replace the occasional cigarette. It's not a big deal, but it's going okay. Today I invested in a back-up pen and some more vape liquids. Am still smoking, too, but less and less often. Am planning to just gradually phase cigarettes out, but still reserve specific moments as Ideal Smoking Times so that, once I've technically "quit", I'll still have some wriggle room and, therefore, won't be sloping off in secret to commit some heinous crime when I quietly light one up after sex, arguing or eating a huge meal.

    Oh yes, and sex. Not to go into too much detail but, golly, I'd forgotten how good for you that is.

    Self Kindness
    Deciding to write this entry. Honestly, it's really that simple.

    Numbers for Monday 12th February

    None really - spent the day eating all remaining carbs in the house and doing a load of carb-free shopping to refill it with oodles of tasty food that isn't going to kill me. Did a quick BG some 3 hours after eating and was pleased to see 6.7, but I know I can - and will - do better.



    *Edited to remove swear words by a moderator.
  11. Phew, it's been a while since I last posted anything, eh?

    To be honest, it's a little strange trying to write in the new place. I'm not a writer who has a "process" per se - and you hear about some crazy ones; I've met writers who have a full 2-hour routine to get their heads into Output Mode, which I always felt tremendous sympathy for. For me, I'd be cooking whatever I was due to write next in the back of my mind for a few hours and then - ding! like a cake - it would somehow be "ready" and I'd sit down and let it out.

    The new place is taking some adjustment. For a start, the move really took it out of me. I've been resting for 3 weeks now (between all those tedious phone calls and change of address notifications you have to make), but I've also had lots of time to just think about things. But Contemplative Mode is the almost exact opposite of Writing Mode and I've just not felt ready to start writing again until this evening (morning).

    Several things have become clear over the last 3 weeks, and I've started to work of them already:

    - Though the bungalow is wonderful and already having a seriously positive impact upon my health, I'm still trapped in it. I'm still housebound. A place you can't leave by choice is a prison, no matter how cute and clean and charming it might be.

    - I've made a terrible mistake in having Euan go to residential. It was never my choice, and it's just not working for me. Too much is broken, The House treat me as an inconvenience, I miss Euan too much and he's already disengaging from family life. It's not working at all, it's too stressful and I feel huge guilt in having let him go. It doesn't feel like we're a family anymore and I'm quite furious that I let myself be railroaded into letting him go in the first place.

    - Coming to terms with disability sucks. But it's what I need to do if I'm to remain able to live independently in this house. However, facing up to things I can't - and haven't - done in a long time is profoundly distressing. The first question on the PIP form is "Are you able to safely and reliably cook a simple 1 course meal from fresh incgredients?" Well of course! I exclaim before I realise that everything I eat and buy is pre-prepared, raw, pre-portioned salad and that the last time I turned the oven on, I forgot it was on until 8am the next morning.

    - My friends are incredible and I have missed them. I have been so isolated and cut off for such a long time. Now I live in a house that people come round to visit, where we drink tea and shoot the breeze, where kids and run and play safely, where we have space and time to enjoy each others' company. It's a revelation - I had no idea how damaging to my mental and physical health the last house was until I moved out.

    - I am (and have been for a while) utterly exhausted. Now the new orthopaedic mattress has arrived (allowing me to sleep safely and comfortably) I am clocking up around 16 hours of sleep a day. I had been warned that the last x-many years would take their toll on me as soon as I was ale to start unwinding and it's surprising how quickly my body has fallen into recovery mode. It's a good thing, though, and I'm not fighting it at all.

    The final realisation is, possibly, the most obvious yet most surprising of all, because I'd not considered it, so pressed into Current Catastrophe Mode was I: I still have a future. Once I get mobility, pain and Euan sorted, once I've rested and put the last 2 years behind me, I can start working on what comes next. The horizon is clear and I've got enough room in my mind to start seriously asking myself "What do you want to do next?"

    That's pretty cool, really.
  12. IN!

    There was a moment yesterday when I genuinely thought I was going to die.

    Now there's an opening statement, eh?

    I'd packed more or less through the night, Caroline and Oonah arrived at 9am and helped me with the rest of... everything. It turns out that "Done" is never actually done - I could have spent another few days there, sorting, cleaning, tidying. Instead, though, the Big Strong Men arrived at 10:30 and so the real craziness began.

    I hate seeing my friends working themselves to the bone on my behalf and being unable to help them. So I did exactly what Dr Jenny said not to (and I did it mindfully), took two Tramadol and a Naproxen, rolled my sleeves up and got stuck in. This, of course, was a mistake - but one that I had to make. My friends have worked far, far too hard for me - there was no way I was able to sit queitly on the settee and watch them carry on with it. At least until I started shaking, got very tearful, sweaty and stopped making sense. Caroline knows me very, very well - we often worked past the point of exhaustion, and she instantly recognised that I had his my threshold. Particularly when I struggle to find obvious words like "cat" and "box", it's a clear sign that something's not right. I was diplomatically sat down and given something simple and unchallenging to do while she and Oonah cracked on with it. And this was the moment when I genuinely thought I was going to die - but only because I was as stressed, in pain, confused, upset... just mixed up as I think I've ever been.

    Two hours later the van was packed, the neighbours were hugged, the door was locked and we were off. The cat was howling, I was completely lost and following Caroline's lead, Caroline was in Get **** Done mode.

    And yet, somehow, everything was unpacked within my target time (remember I booked the guys for 7 hours but was aiming for 4 - we took 4 1/4 hours to pack, move and unload) and, suddenly, I was out of that ******, dank, dark cave of a house and into my light, pretty bungalow. It was over. It didn't hit me - and I don't think has yet hit me - for the rest of the day.

    Caroline left and Oonah returned (having taken a break for a while to, you know, live her life!) and started on a wild cleaning binge. I did what I could but I was mostly finished by this point. Oonah left at 4pm, I fell on the bed and slept until 10pm. And then got up and carried on. By 1am I was mostly unpacked - just Euan's stuff to go. I'm not a fan of having lots of boxes lying around - I wanted to feel like I was In.

    Sleep was tricky - I'm too used to being on the settee, and my back needs to adjust to lying flat on a bed again. It'll take time but be so much better for me in the long run, but I woke every couple of hours (confused every single time) and then gave up and returned to the couch for a while. Then it was time to get up and let the workmen in for the phone and broadband installation, to let Caro in (who put in another amazing day of work, cleaning, sorting, making beds, while I whizzed about on my kitchen chair and sorted the kitchen), and all kinds of other phone calls and visitors and goings on.

    A particularly fun visitor was the old landlady who came to collect the keys. I'll recount that conversation tomorrow - too tired to recall it in much detail now, but, ****, I giggled for a good half an hour after. Essentially, though, I'm finished. No more court case, no court costs to pay, no repercussions, and the clean-up isn't my problem either. She seemed to accept with good grace and almost seemed poised to apologise at one point - but never actually did. The closest she came was to look around the bungalow and exclaim, "Oh, this is MUCH nicer than where you were" as if she'd forgotten that was her property and had been run into the ground by her for the last 12 years.

    Euan returned home around 7pm and was just delighted with how everything looks. We've got his room to do together tomorrow, about 4 more boxes and his computer to build. He said it already felt like home and instantly relaxed. He even apologised for how mean he'd been over the last few weeks, which was nice.

    The one casualty of the move has been the fridge freezer, which is fully insured so it'll get repaired for free, but not until next Wednesday. So tonight I welcomed Euan into his new home with a beer and (small) pizza night, and we say in the garden happily chatting away until 10pm. He was born into the last house, but he'll reach adulthood in this one. I figured if I expect him to behave like and adult and manage himself here as an adult, I might as well treat him like and adult. Turns out he quite likes beer and was surprised and delighted to see his usually fairly strict mum break the rules with booze and carbs.

    Tomorrow we'll get the rest of the unpacking finished and the barbeque. As luck would have it, the fridge freezer was where I stored all the meat (the chest freezer is for everything else), so it needs to be either cooked or thrown tomorrow. We'll have piles and piles of meat that should last until Euan returns to school on Monday.

    The cat, bless her, has also been a trooper. She was deeply shell-shocked at first and walked around the place jumping at every shadow and making these tiny, very upset chirping sounds for about 3 hours. Eventually, though, she started to gain her confidence a bit more and spent the night galloping around and doing her "I'm looking for trouble" sounds. She's going to be just fine.

    So we're in and already settling. How is it that it took a month to pack it all up and just 24 hours to more or less finish unpacking it all? Well, an army of incredible friends for one thing, But I guess I planned fairly obsessively, too, which has also helped.

    I'm definitely never doing this again.
  13. I have decided that I will die in the bungalow. No idea when, but I am at this point absolutely certain that I will never move house again*. Ever.

    Caro and Oonah arrive for the Final Push in 6 hours. The movers arrive in just over 7. Everything should be out of my house in 9 hours and in the bungalow in 11. In 13 hours I will have had a shower (shower stool and a wet room - genuine excitement!), made my bed and hung the remaining net curtains in the living room and kitchen.

    Thus in 13 hours the "move" will be over and the settling in will begin. There were moments over the last two weeks when I never thought I'd be ready in time. Now all I have left is packing up Euan and my computers, washing up and packing the last few things in the kitchen, taking the meter readings, sorting out the cat and locating those long-lost things that fall behind things that you never find again until the furniture gets moved. 13 hours and it's done.

    I can't wait.




    *Excepting a lottery win when I pay a lot of people well to do all this **** for me.
  14. So I was banned from the Bungalow this morning, after getting just a single hour of sleep and calling Kath in floods of tears at 8am this morning. Friday was a disaster that left me in more pain than I've ever been in, and that pain persisted through the night, preventing me from sleeping, which then started me worrying because Saturday was meant to be the day we all got cracking on building the new beds, the desk, hanging curtains and nets, putting up pictures... turning an empty bungalow into a home.

    But that's jumping ahead. Here. Let's start at the beginning...


    I've been looking forward to The Tick for months. And yes, that's Peter Serafinowicz dressed as a giant blue insect. It had completely slipped my mind that it was airing yesterday on Amazon, which generously decided to release the first 6 episodes all in one bug splurge. I forgot because I was trying to figure out whether all the pain was a signal that I'd done something very serious to my back or not.

    It all started with a phone call (I wrote about it last week) I received from the people supplying the washing machine. They said that they would deliver it "sometime on Friday". I explained that I hadn't yet moved into the property and wouldn't be able to get there until 10am, so they gave me a number to call in the morning so that I could check where I was in the delivery order.

    As instructed, I called the number at 9am, confirming I would be at the bungalow at 10am... except it was a mobile number that went straight to answerphone. So I called the shop that was supplying it... the same thing. Oh well, having left two messages, I gathered Euan and his stuff up and off we went.

    I'd planned a whole thing for Friday, knowing we could be there for a while - Amazon deliveries of unbuilt furniture, the cooker also being delivered and installed, neighbours alerted and invited round, some money saved so Euan could pop up the shop for some lunch, a giant pile of paperwork I needed to work through as a distraction.

    But I hadn't (and am still learning to consider) thought about the actual practicalities of spending time in a place that I literally can't sit down in - typically, pre-injury, I would be quite happy on a step or the floor. I've always sat on the floor, legs tidily folded beneath me in a half-lotus. I used to sleep on trains and in stations and airports in that position; legs in half-lotus, leaning forward with my elbows resting on my luggage. There was no delay I couldn't sleep through in that position, it was perfect.

    Can't do that any more, though - for a start, the weirdly twisting extension exposes a nerve that makes my leg go numb, and then I can't get up off the floor without some serious planning and effort. Plus there's the bruised coccyx to take into account, and if you've ever bruised yours, you'll appreciate that standing and sitting (taking your weight off it or putting your weight back onto it) are just the most horrendously painful things.

    So I unpacked the box of pillows and sat on a few of those on the window seat in the living room, perpetually at a half-twist, but what are you going to do? At times I'd get up and sit on the steps in either the front or the back garden, chatting with the neighbours or hanging out with Euan, but always aware that standing up was going to be an exercise in misery.

    By 12pm, I could no longer sit, and instead used the pillows to cushion myself best as I could while I laid down on the bare floor to take the pressure off my back - I could, by this time, neither sit nor stand without serious discomfort and I had maxed on the painkillers, with only Tramadol as an option (which I didn't want to take because of about 8 reasons, including Dr Jenny's stern advice, which rings in my ears: "Take it when you've finished being busy, not because you're still busy. Pain tells you when to stop")


    By 12:30pm, the three big items from Amazon had arrived, and the cooker had been delivered and installed (by the loveliest men ever), our lovely neighbour, Dee, had offered to take in any further deliveries (nets and curtains and bits in a final parcel from Amazon), but, I explained, I still had to wait to sign for the delivery and installation of the washing machine. Dee expressed concern that I was looking "shaky", but accepted that when someone is offering you a free washing machine, you should at least stick around to receive it.

    It's worth noting, at this point, that throughout the day, I had been calling that mobile number I had been given - I'd written the arrangements and the number on my Google calendar and read them back to the woman who had called to arrange the washing machine's delivery. This is a habit I follow obsessively, because it's otherwise impossible to remember who to call and on what day. Particularly when you have 900 people, organisations, companies and things to do when you're moving house.

    By 2pm, my legs were constantly numb, my back constantly on fire and my coccyx constantly sending waves of pain out.

    By 4pm I was literally shaking and could only manage to lie on the floor.

    By 5pm Kath called to see how things with the deliveries were going and was horrified at the state I was in. She urged me to call both the mobile and the shop one last time and then to go home. In the end, we were in a car by 6pm; it took me 15 minutes to walk 20 yards, and the car journey was so painful I cried all the way home.

    No-one returned my calls. No-one had attempted to cancel the delivery, and they have both my phone numbers and my email address. I could have left the bungalow at 12:30pm and avoided agony and further injury. I was too shocked and tired to be angry, but Kath and Caroline were furious on my behalf.

    When Euan and I got home, we ate peperami and babybels as we waited for the cauliflower cheese (Tesco special - I throw on some bacon lardons and another handful of grated cheese) to cook in the oven. That coming out is literally the last thing I remember about yesterday. Valiantly, I still didn't take any Tramadol - I was trying to avoid that spaced-out hangover you get the day after.

    You see, I had decided that on Saturday, to thank my friends for coming round and helping me out so much, I would manage the kids and cook a barbeque for everyone. So, while at the bungalow, I placed a Tesco order to be delivered at the bungalow on Saturday morning, and shopped for a little charcoal grill, some BBQ tools and a folding table. While I criticise my mother for demonstrating her love with food, the fact is that it's a lesson I learned well, and when people are working hard so you don't have to, the least you can do is occupy the kids and keep everyone fed.

    But I couldn't sleep. Restless and stressed, and, for the first time, with pains shooting down my legs whenever I laid down, I would be falling asleep when sitting at my desk (the most comfortable place to sit, with a special lumbar support cushion with a cut-out to take the pressure off my stupid tailbone), and I'd move to the settee just 4 steps away, and find myself wide awake half an hour later.

    I finally dropped off at around 8am. I mean, I remember 8am because the alarm on my meter went off. After that I remember waking up - horrified - at 9:30am. Horrified because Kath and Chris would be arriving in less than half an hour to collect Euan and I and a bunch of kitchen stuff that I still yet had to pack. So I called Kath and promptly burst into tears.

    And she promptly banned me from the bungalow. "You've got nothing left in the tank. And yesterday was horrendous. If you come today, you won't just sit and do nothing, you'll be trying to help, running after the kids, moving around. You need to rest. You're exhausted."

    "But I've ordered all this food - I was going to cook a barbeque for you all."

    "And you will. Another day. Today we'll take Euan and you will sleep."

    I sobbed all the way through that conversation, overwhelmed by love and adamant instruction and Kath breaking through my denial shield (and then calling Caroline for back-up, knowing that I'd call Caro next). So I mustered Euan (my reluctant trooper) and we boxed up the rest of the kitchen stuff in time for Kath and Lara arriving. At that point, I felt that I had to do something to contribute.

    By 11am I was alone, crying at how wonderful my friends are - and yes, THAT cheesy song is coming up - and taking two Tramadol so that I could, finally, get some sleep.


    And that's when there was a knock at the door. And my shopping arrived.

    "Why are you here?" I asked a bewildered Tesco delivery guy.

    "I have your shopping."

    "Yes, but you're meant to be at Plummers Hill."

    "No..."

    "I changed my address when I placed the order."

    "Oh. Did you delete the old address?"

    "No..?"

    "Well, that'll be it, then. The website doesn't like you changing addresses. You have to literally delete the old one if you want the new one to stick."

    Well that's useful to know, eh?

    Tuns out, though, that it was more of a help than a hindrance as the BBQ had been vetoed and there is no way of storing fresh meat and salads in the bungalow yet. So I threw it all in the fridge, sent a text to Caro and Kath explaining that there was no grocery shop to receive, and settled down to sleep.

    At 5pm my phone rang and woke me up. My friends, my wonderful friends, had worked all day at the house - Kath and Chris (and Lara), Caro and her ex Trevor (overcoming his social anxiety and joining in) and her son - and Euan's buddy - Nathan. The catflap was installed, the beds built, the curtains and Euan's blind hung, my new desk put together, the kids fed, everything done. They'd even unpacked the kitchen boxes and some of Euan's stuff.

    I could hear Nathan laughing hysterically in the background and asked what was going on. Apparently Lara had tried to climb the tree in the back garden and gotten herself half-stuck. Except, fearless as she is, she was refusing to be rescued and everyone was laughing hysterically at her dilemma of wanting to get down but not wanting Chris to help her.

    Apparently this was but one moment of many hysterical laughing fits - most of them involving Euan and Lara, who shut themselves in one of the built-in cupboards, who chased each other around the house, who included Nathan in all their play and games.

    Kath was calling to ask whether I'd managed to get the nets for the kitchen and living room (I hadn't - my budget ran out) and to update me. She said, "It looks like your home, now. It's coming together nicely. I can't wait to see you in here."

    An old adage of the community I used to move around in when I was a kid was that a new house wasn't a home until you'd laid down some memories (which explained all the moving-in drunken parties that marked much of my childhood). It's funny that my first true memory of my bungalow is one where I'm not even in it. But what a gift, what a remarkable thing to be able to say: my friends did it all for me today.

    So, instead, after I talked to Kath, I watched The Tick. And it was excellent. And Euan came home at 8pm, happy and exhausted and excited about next weekend when he comes home to the bungalow, and we ate burgers for dinner. I was asleep again by 10pm, and woke up another blissful 5 hours of sleep later to write this entry - I shall be sleeping again soon!

    I might be in denial about disability and limitations, but my friends are not. They have accepted this new version of me - far less robust and active and physically present than before - and have adjusted accordingly. They have build me a home, a bed, a desk, and provided for my son when I couldn't.

    I can't type more because I can barely see through the tears that have started up again. I am so grateful. I am so loved.
  15. I hate that I'm not writing my blog so much - it's really good for me and I've noticed these part 3 days that I've really struggled to clear my mind ahead of sleeping. In fact, these last 3 nights, I've really struggled to sleep which isn't like me at all.

    However, no-one wants to hear the ins and outs of moving house, the drudgery of cleaning and packing and sorting, of planning and stressing and whatever. So I'll pick the high notes and leave the rest. Though a quick word first about my wrist, as it finally started hurting.

    Now that I have a place I can specifically point at and go "It hurts here" I've been able to start looking up what it might be (and how soon, therefore, I should go get an X-ray and submit to a cast). The interesting (and, I guess to some people, slightly nauseating thing is that I have a bit of bone in my left wrist that I can move with my finger (just gently pressing) that is not movable on my right wrist.

    This, I think, is not a good sign.

    Also, though, it turns out I've got something going on with my ulnar nerve, as this diagram perfectly sums up where and how my fingers are numb:

    [​IMG]
    The very specific numbness pattern, the wobbly bone bit, the way pain increases but numbness decreases with the splint all point to a distal ulnar fracture, specifically a "Smith's Inward Fracture", which all, in I'm Not A Doctor speak means I think I've chipped the bony bit that sticks out a little at the outside bottom of my palm (below my little finger). As it happens, the nerve runs very close to the surface there, so there's probably some pressure on it, which is causing my numbness.

    The conclusion... I should probably go and get it X-rayed and then get a cast put on it. Because if it heals wonky there's some pretty brutal-looking surgery involving pliers and metal plates which I'm not hugely enthused about. But... at the same time... how can I conceivably move house, manage Euan, unpack, do anything with my wrist (and potentially whole arm because the boney bit is mobile) in a stupid cast for 6 weeks.


    (This is not representative of any skill set I possess)

    When I was 9, I broke my arm in 3 places. I told everyone that I did it horse riding, but really I was pretending I was a gymnast on some washing line poles, trying to copy what they did on the A-Symmetric Bars. Of course, being 9 and gangly and many inches taller and not a gymnast (or given of any grace at all), I fell heavily onto this very wrist and broke my arm in 3 places. I heard it snap, and the sound upset me, but that was about the worst of it. Much ice-cream because I was "terrible brave" (haha, the amount of ice cream I've scammed people for because of my bravery when, actually, I don't feel pain! And now I'm surprised I wound up with diabetes...)

    The annoying part of this was that two of the breaks were sheared (or "green stick") fractures, where instead of snapping cleanly, my bone had somewhat splintered messily. This left a 3-inch length of my radius unattached to anything in my arm, and the ulnar - also broken, though in a much cleaner injury - was valiantly trying to support the weight of my arm and hand. It couldn't be mended by manipulation alone, it needed to be done under an x-ray, and for that I needed to be put to sleep.

    The cast ran from my fingers right the way up to my shoulder. And it was heavy. The first one was on far too tight - they hadn't accounted for how my arm would swell after the operation, and my fingers turned blue. So, another dose of Sleepy Hospital Magic and another cast. Joy.

    The cast was to stay on for 8 weeks, except (oh, the patterns life weaves into our lives) we were moving house in about 7 weeks, so the doctors all decided that I should keep that awful, hot, bloody thing on until almost 12 weeks had passed - the entire summer.

    Miserable. Utterly miserable. Three months of not being able to swim, ride, bathe, cut my own food... ugh. It was grim.

    So we fast forward thirty-*coughs*-some years and here I am again, my right arm, another house move, another summer. I'm weighing up my options carefully and have concluded that the only way to get through the next week is to have 2 functioning hands. And then, a week on Thursday, I shall rise, bright and early, and get to A&E for an X-ray.


    Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

    Kath came over today, like a true super-hero, and made a serious dent in the kitchen with me. I say "with me", I mean she stood and washed up and I wrapped things in paper and put them in a box. We sorted the food cupboards out - I've finally repaid the generosity and kindness of our local foodbank (another tale, another time) by passing along all manner of carby goodies from my cupboard.

    Someone, somewhere, is going to hit their lowest point, go along to a food bank feeling utterly miserable, and return home with candied ginger, chocolate chips and a cake-in-a-box mix. As well as other good stuff. I love the notion that someone will cheer themselves up making cookies with their kids. That makes me smile. I hope that whoever donated the food that got me through a very rough patch are still smiling, too.

    Kath also got a bunch of lovely food - bags of lentils, packets of jelly for Lara, bottles of white wine - stuff I just won't ever eat again.

    Now the kitchen is about 75% finished and it's beginning to feel a lot like I'm moving house.

    Yesterday the flooring went in and Caroline and Oonah came round to help with all manner of things. Caroline, in her brilliantly intellectual way, had drawn a map of my local area, complete with a coded legend for shops, where friends lived, pedestrian crossings, hair dressers, the nearest vets, everything. Then she measured up for curtains and nets and blinds (oh my!) and dropped me home.

    Tomorrow is emphatically a rest day, but when I say "rest" I mean physically only - my mind is racing and I'm finding it very hard to contain it. I'm poring over Amazon pages, thinking about furnishings, planning delivery dates and budgets. Physically, I'm in quite bad shape, really - the back is very stiff and sore, even standing is a challenge at the moment and climbing the stairs to get to the loo leaves me out of breath.

    Euan is also home tomorrow evening, and he's not going to be pleased at the stern words I need to share with him about his perpetual inability to use a rubbish bin. It's infuriating. I think it's time to raise the stakes: he throws his rubbish away and puts his clothes in the laundry or I turn off his internet. We're getting a shiny, lovely new place to live, and I won't see it trashed.

    Friday we're at the bungalow again, this time waiting for the new cooker and the new washing machine to arrive and be fitted. I'm hoping to be able to order some stuff on Amazon tomorrow, too, and I'll get all that delivered directly to the bungalow.

    Saturday (hopefully) will be beds, desk and curtains up day, with Caroline, Kath and Chris (and various children) mucking in to get things sorted out. That's assuming I've managed to get everything ordered in time - it's a Bank Holiday weekend which means my money gets a bit screwy, but I'm confident I can order just the basics tomorrow and get them delivered to the bungalow in time for the weekend.

    Sunday... taking advantage of Euan to get the last of the books and kitchen packed before he leaves for the House again on Monday, and then Monday will be another rest day as Tuesday and Wednesday will be bat **** crazy. And then Thursday... X-Ray.

    It's a lot. It's a plan. It's... man. Kath giggled today when she saw my notebook - every thought I've had about this move is written down in there, from furniture floor plans to the people I'm hiring to change of addresses to lists of lists that I need to write:

    My List of Lists

    Shopping list - food cupboard
    Shopping list - Amazon
    Shopping list - Immediate, Saturday stuff
    Change of Address - Money and bills
    C of A - Social and friends
    C of A - Memberships, local stuff
    Saturday To-Do
    Sunday To-Do
    Tuesday To-Do
    Wednesday - Who is where?
    Wednesday - What goes where?
    Wednesday - labels

    To be clear, each of these is a list of further things, and it's all written down in my notebook. Kath was amused, "It's your brain! On paper!" and then we mused over my garden ideas for a bit.

    It's happening. This time next week it'll be done.

    (Not unpacked, of course...)

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