Friday, 22 April 2011

Welcome to hypo city........

There is no doubt about it, this April has been fantastic weather wise. The sun has been shining for the whole school holidays, (well here in Essex it has) and this Easter weekend is set to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest on record. But what this glorious weather brings with it is nightmare blood glucose levels. Welcome to hypo city !!!!
Hypo city is where Samuel is currently residing and by looking at the comments from the online diabetic community I know that he is not alone. Its a place that is full of plummeting sugar levels, hypo gels, reducing ratios and families struggling to regain at the very least a little bit of control over the dreaded diabetes.
This is what has happened to Samuel today. He woke on a 6.8, now as numbers go, this was a good starting block for the day. However, it wasn't going to stay this way for long. We didn't quite make it to lunch time. Granted it was close, it was only half an hour away, I don't know why he came to test, because he said he was feeling ok. That's the thing with Samuel at the moment, he wants to test ALL the time. I think he wills it to be low, that way he 'can have something', those are his exact words. Anyway, he came in from the garden to test and it was 2.2!!!!! He had signs, he said that he was feeling ok, and if he had had his way he would have been in the garden still running around. So we treated with his orange juice, like we always do and because it was close to lunch time I made all of the children their lunch. I waited until about half an hour after he had eaten before I gave him his injection as he was still charging around the garden like a loon.
Half past three saw Samuel come in from the garden saying that he didn't feel very well. So we tested.....3.4, once again we reached for the orange juice. Hopefully we will make it through the night with decent levels, but like always, with diabetes, you can never be too sure.
Today's levels are not uncommon and whilst the weather remains warm they will continue. We all love the sunshine, and enjoy the warm days, but whilst you are sitting in the garden watching your children run around without a care in the world, think of those families stuck in hypo city. Those families struggling to keep those levels above 4, wishing, not for the first time that OUR children could play, could run around without feeling rubbish because their levels have crashed, having to come in, stop what they were doing, and having to wait for the levels to rise. Wishing that they could play without a care in the world, like ALL children deserve.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

All carbs are NOT created equal!!!

This statement reminds me of the George Orwell book, 'Animal Farm', when the animals are making their rules....'All animals are equal' but by the end of the book the statement has changed to 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others'.
Carbohydrates, carbs, complex carbs, simple carbs, whatever term you use to describe them are basically the ideal source of energy for the body. This is because they can be converted more easily into glucose, the form of sugar thats transported and used by the body, than proteins or fats can.
We have been counting carbohydrates for about a year now , and the concept is straight forward. For every 10g of CHO (carbohydrate) that Samuel eats he requires 1 unit of insulin for breakfast, and 0.5 units for lunch and dinner. Simple, most foods have the nutritional information on the labels, or if not the information can be found in my carbs & cals book, or I can check online. Its just a matter of weighing out Samuels food, calculating the amount of carbohydrates in the meal and working out how many units of insulin he needs. He will then have perfect blood glucose levels 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! In theory it sounds perfect, and simple, and the answer to our prayers.
However, back in the real world and for those of us who live alongside diabetes know that it is not that simple. It SHOULD be simple though, but as the title says 'all carbs are NOT created equal'.
For example, breakfast..... a bowl of rice krispies (45 g), or two weetabix. Both have a total carb value of 30. So for Samuel 30g CHO requires 3 units of novo rapid insulin, asy. But, what we also have to take into consideration is the GI (glycaemic index) value. The GI is a measure of the effects of the carbohydrate on the blood suger levels. Carbohydrates that break down and realise glucose into the bloodsream quickly have a HIGH GI, thand those that breakdown slowly have a LOW GI.
Rice krispies have a high GI value, so the glucose is realeased quickly, this can result in a rapid spike in blood glucose level, and an equally as rapid drop, so hypos can occur mid morning. Weetabix on the other hand has a low GI so the process is much slower, and the rapid spikes don't occur.
So know we understand the effect of the GI value we have it sussed, but no, what about the effect of the fat content of the food. White bread, and a jacket potato both have a high GI value, however put butter, or sunflower spread etc on them, and the release of glucose is slowed down, as the body works on digesting the fat first.
In all honesty I have to say, that a year ago, before we started I thought that carb counting would be easy, it's just maths, and I am quite good at maths. It's just a numbers game, and let's face it everything to do with diabetes is numbers. What quickly becomes apparent though is that the body is an amazing machine, especially when it is working correctly. We can eat what we like, it's digested, and the blood glucose levels remain level as the pancreas steps in and releases that all important hormone insulin. Maintaining that balance artificially is hard! It's complicated, and the most important thing I have realised is that diabetes plays by, and changes it's own set of rules.
It would be so much easier if 'all carbs were created equal' but it's just not meant to be. So we plod along, doing our maths, doing the best we can, hoping that it is good enough.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Samuels second anniversary

Otherwise known as Samuels diabetic birthday. Samuel is like the queen, he has two birthdays. One is in October, which celebrates e day of his birth, and the other, the one you could live without is 15th March. This is the day, two years ago that diabetes decided to knock on our door, and enter our lives, the most unwelcome houseguest to ever arrive. For once diabetes has come through the door, it lays down it's roots and never leaves.
I remember the day he was diagnosed as if it were yesterday. It was a Sunday, and in the afternoon Samuel had been hounding me for a drink. This was more apparent after we had had our Sunday roast, he hadn't even finished his drink and he was asking for another one. As my husband (Scott) has type 1 diabetes I knew that excessive thirst was a symptom, so I mentioned it to Scott and he said that he hadn't really noticed.
As the evening went on I became more bothered by it so Scott said to check, we had the urine sticks and it would put my mind at rest. So the next time Samuel went to the toilet I got him to wee on a stick. The result was instant, and I knew straight away. I showed it to Scott, the reading was in the 20s. We then got out the blood glucose monitor and tested Samuels blood, the machine was flashing HI, this meant that it was in the 30s and was too high for the machine to read. We both knew what this meant, our four year old son was diabetic.
As we have three other children and at this time the youngest was only seven months old, we needed to find a babysitter whilst we took Samuel to the hospital. That was a mission in itself. We had no house phone so had to use our mobiles but the orange network was down. So I was running round the neighbours to try and find someone who was in, with a phone that I could borrow.
I called my dad, and he came over and took charge. Scott and I were initially going to drive Samuel to the hospital ourselves, but my dad called an ambulance. The first response car came out, and once again tested Samuels blood, by this time though, Samuel was having none of it!! He was screaming and crying, it was heartbreaking. Again, the machine was reading HI so an ambulance was called.
Scott went with Samuel whilst I followed in the car with the baby. Throughout the drive all I could think of was my poor boy, I felt physically sick and thought why did my boy have to get it. Anyway, we arrived, and the time we were there (6 hours) went SLOWLY. We went up to a ward, and they ran some blood tests. We were eventually told to go home, and return at 8:00 am so that they could see what his levels were on waking, before eating breakfast.
On the Monday morning that's what we did. I arranged for my friend to take the children to school, and my mum was going to collect them. We spent another 4 hours at the hospital, and after we were again sent home. This time we were given a monitor and told to test before each meal, two hours after each meal and before bed. We were told to return on Wednesday. I remember feeling quite upset at the hospital, as once they knew that Scott was diabetic they ignored me and only talked to him. One nurse said to me that it must be reassuring to already have a diabetic in the house. I remember looking at her straight in the eyes and informing her that Scott was the worst diabetic you would ever meet, as he doesn't look after himself at all!!
Wednesday arrived and we were back at the hospital and we finally found out what insulin samuel was going to be on.
We went back on the Thursday for our training, and the diabetic nurse came out to the house on the Friday. By the end of the day my head was spinning with all the information, and I already had an understanding of the condition.

In the early days it was all to easy to feel sad and upset. Scott, I know blames himself for Samuels diabetes, that it is his fault, that he somehow gave it to him.
However, we celebrate Samuels diabetic birthday. This year Samuel told his teacher, the dinner ladies, actually anyone that would listen. He wanted to take sweets in for his class, so he did. Well it was his birthday!!! We went to McDonalds for tea, Samuels choice, and the children had ice cream with chocolate I. It!

The way I see it, and I know that not everyone thinks like me, I won't allow diabetes to beat us, or to bring us down. I won't let it consume my every waking hour, for one I have three other children to look after, and two, it takes up too much energy and negative emotion to dwell on it.
Obviously I have bad days, and so does Samuel. There are days when he asks why he has to be diabetic, and if I could take it away from him, I would, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I can't, and so embrace diabetes and all that it brings, and we accept that this is what our life is now. However, along with the acceptance there is a warning.......
Diabetes..... You will NEVER win, you are NOT a welcome visitor, which actually is the wrong word, visitors leave! We WILL tolerate you, and we CAN live side by side. You will NOT take him from me. All I ask is that you please play nice, and play by the rules, at least MOST of the time, as I know it will never play nice ALL of the time.