Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Myths, Misconceptions and Fallacies of Diabetes #GBDoc #doc #diabetes

Sadly, even in a time of easily accessible social media, online resources and innumerable TV programmes to choose from, there still appears to be numerous myths or misconceptions that surround both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. That is if the distinction between the two is even made!

Misgivings can include, but are not exclusive to the following:

  • Diabetes is contagious - sadly I have been asked "Am I going to catch it?" on more than one occasion...
  • All people have diabetes because of what they eat and they must have been obese at some point. Again, I have been asked how obese I was as a child...
  • That there is only one type of diabetes, or the viewpoint that the distinction between the types are that there's one where you have 'too much sugar' and another where you have 'not enough sugar'.
  • Diabetes means we are allergic to sugar and therefore just simply need to avoid it...and all is fixed! If only that one was true eh?!?
Dispelling these myths can be a huge challenge, even if just in our own social circles or through our online presence. Confronting these errors on a national or global scale however is far more difficult, and a continuing and ongoing mission. A task that many people with diabetes are taking-on every day in our own small parts of the world.

So where do these fallacies come from? Well as a person trying to tackle them, the answer is sadly, a whole host of sources. A major one though is the media. By the term media, I mean tv programmes where insulin is given to treat a hypo (this could in fact actually kill someone with diabetes), news reports where the type is unclear or completely inaccurate, social media where posts are published about miraculous treatments or diets that 'cure all diabetes' and newspaper articles that report on 'facts on diabetes' that essentially, are completely fictional. 

I would love to say that this is the only cause of the problem. However, the lack of awareness of diabetes in general, let alone the types, is a HUGE failing. The absence of any appreciation for the causes, symptoms and treatments of diabetes is the norm in most societies, as well as the recognition of the ever-growing prevalence of diabetes among populations in countries throughout the entire world.

So, what can we do about this? I would say that all of us can take different actions to try and tackle this issue and eradicate the distorted and propagandised views of diabetes. 

News reporters – please do your research thoroughly and make sure you state the type of diabetes that you're referring to in your writing. By using the facts, you will avoid causing offence in the masses, as well as those without diabetes to understand our daily lives a bit better. Equally, you may really help those who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes or those with symptoms of diabetes to seek the support of health care professionals if they see themselves in the facts given in news reports.

People without diabetes – please be aware that what you are currently hearing, seeing and reading may not be factually correct about diabetes. Therefore, please don’t assume that people have brought diabetes on themselves or that taking insulin or not eating cakes somehow ‘fixes’ everything. For those of you who believe you may be at risk of diabetes or are symptomatic…please seek support from your GP or hospital as soon as possible. I’m not trying to scaremonger, but hesitating really could put your life at risk!!!

Health care professionals – help to raise awareness without the stigma attached to it. We all appreciate the great and wonderful work that health care professionals do every day, however we (both people with and without diabetes) need support and understanding when it comes to diabetes diagnosis and treatments. All I would ask is that you recognise that the vast majority of us are doing our very best in terms of our health care, despite whether our health is deteriorating or we are struggling with certain aspects.

People with diabetes – spread the word! Despite the rise the in number of people with diabetes, the awareness of the condition and all it entails has not increased. Therefore, we need to be the mouthpiece that spreads the word about the reality of life with diabetes and to help those who have been ill-informed about diabetes to understand the facts. By sharing posts on social media, kindly correcting misconceptions amongst our friends and family and staying up to date on diabetes developments, we are doing our bit to help. Equally, I would say that the peer support is a huge part of diabetes. So, whether you are looking for advice from those living with diabetes, want to help others with a struggle you’ve already been through or simply want to chat and offload to people who understand, then get involved in your local and online diabetes groups.

I hope that with continued collaborative work between patients and health care professionals, local and national diabetes campaigns and news/ media engagement, the general public can become factually informed about diabetes in all its forms.

Thank you once again for taking the time to read my blog post.
Until next time, keep injecting 💉 or pumping 📟 insulin!
Ros x

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Life on an Insulin Pump - the only way for me...

*DISCLAIMER - Please note in this article I am purely referring to Type One Diabetes and my personal views in relation to Insulin Pumps and in particular the Animas Vibe. Remember Your Doses May Vary and all information found in this blog post is my opinion and what works for me ONLY and is not indented as medical advice. Please consult the relevant health care professionals if you feel the need to make a change to your treatment plan after reading this post*

As I've only been on an insulin pump for just over 9 months, in the world of diabetes I would consider myself a 'newbie' when it comes to this area of diabetes treatment. Nonetheless, despite this limited time-frame, I can honestly say that it has been the biggest and most life-changing decision of my diabetes adventure to date and I'm defintely not looking back!! 

I had never really considered myself to have any major issues when it came to injecting insulin, but after 16 years of Multiple Daily Injections (MDI), this was no longer the best, nor the right treatment method for me.

I will never forget the moment in July last year when I was handed my Animas Vibe Insulin Pump in a box. It was a huge moment for me. Due to the urgency of me needing to start on a pump, I didn't get to choose the colour of my Animas Vibe. Although I would naturally have chosen the blue one as I don't consider myself to be much of a pink person, the baby pink colour of the Animas Vibe I was given has really grown on me.

During my training sessions with the pump, and seeing the functions available to me in terms of Temporary Basal Rates (TBR) and the tiny increments of insulin I could select, it was clear to me that the Animas Vibe was the answer for the 'insulin-sensitive-erratic-bloods' person that I had become over the last few years. The Animas Representative was great in answering my many, many questions and continued to check in on me throughout my initial six months and still does in clinic appointments. Equally, I must say that the Animas Helpline have also been fantastic for those 'out-of-the-blue' queries that I've had too.

So what is the Animas Vibe like? Well aside from having the many wonderful and essential functions that other insulin pumps share, such as varying basal profiles throughout the day, extended bolus waves and TBR, one thing I certainly didn't expect to be doing a month after starting it was swimming while my pump was still attached to me! I had thought that all pumps needed to be removed for things such as swimming so was very pleasantly surprised to find out the Animas Vibe didn't need to be. Personally I felt strangely liberated by this in terms of reducing my basal while I was in the pool and then increasing it again after swimming. The whole unit is waterproof so I don't need to be concerned about it when changing my doses in the water.

I also love the cannula sets and how everything is ready to go and easy to carry around. Unlike many insertion kits, namely the manual ones, I found the Inset II sets to be the easiest to use and to transport around with me. The cannula adhesives are also really strong and despite having got occasionally acquainted with door handles where your tubing gets caught, I have found that the cannula has stayed put completely with only two accidental removals to date where it was completely my fault! the adhesive also comes off easliy after removal and has not caused any unsightly marks or irritations either which is great.

The other great function of the Animas Vibe is the ability to use the in-built CGM function with a Dexcom sensor. This allows you to monitor your blood sugar levels at a click of a button on your pump, to review the graphs of your levels during downloads and on the pump itself and to use the alarm functions to try and prevent hyper and hypo blood levels. For many people, this is the reason that they choose the Animas Vibe, due to the seamless connectivity between the the Dexcom and the pump. I have only trialled the Dexcom a few times and have seen the benefit of the alarms and the ease of accessing the readings all in one place on the pump. However, I have not had a full and successful trial with the sensor as yet and so do not feel that I could personally comment on this function beyond what I have. That does not mean though that I am not eager to use this great feature of the Animas Vibe without the need of an additional handset.

So is there anything I would change? Well yes, like most things there are elements that you would like to see developed in the future, and for me the main one would be the introduction of a handset. I don't find wearing the pump at all uncomfortable and I can hide it away discretely under most clothing, however the fact that you need to access it to input into the pump means that this can sometimes be a bit more tricky! Thankfully, I have discovered the wide variety of waist and thigh belts out there that have helped make this less of an issue. Nonetheless, a handset that could be kept in a handbag would make life a bit easier.

The only other thing I would mention would be the screen. Despite having an easily accessible option to dim and brighten the screen, during sunny days the screen can be a little difficult to see and so you might see me trying to block out the light to get a proper view of the screen...

Overall though, I think the two areas that I've raised as 'future developments' are for me, pretty insignificant compared to the diabetes control and improved daily life that the Animas Vibe has given me. I am sure that many other pumps could have done this or similar, but the ability to increase my insulin rates by increments of 0.025 on the Animas Vibe mean that I can radically reduce my insulin intake per hour whenever I need to. It has also given me the confidence in falling asleep comfortably and without the fear of waking up on a drip and in a hospital bed after a severe hypo as had happened so many times before I started on an insulin pump.

As you can probably tell from my smiles and enthusiasm about the Animas Vibe in this blog, I am really happy to be on this insulin pump and the features and freedom that it gives me. To sum it up, I'd say that you would have to wrestle it off me in order to get me to give it up as it really has been the answer to my diabetes-control prayers...

Thank you once again for taking the time to read my blog post.
Until next time, keep injecting 💉 or pumping 📟 insulin!
Ros x

For further information about the Animas Vibe, please visit