Thursday 18 October 2012

Living Alone with Type 1 Diabetes

I have been asked to take part in a panel this weekend for the Kids 'n' Us Conference (link here).  There will be three of us on the panel and we will be speaking with teenage girls about various topics surrounding living with Type 1 diabetes.  Some of the topics include how to talk to a boyfriend about having diabetes, intimacy, how to tell a prospective employer you have diabetes, looking for jobs that have good health plans, drinking alcohol and living alone, to name a few.  They asked what topics I felt comfortable talking about and while I am comfortable talking about all of them, one that I can talk quite easily about is living alone with Type 1 diabetes.

I have lived alone for the last three years (not counting my two furry friends) and have never worried about being on my own. Things changed when I was diagnosed.  All of a sudden I had a reason to fear being alone, particularly at night.  I was scared of going low in the night and not having someone there to help me or wake me up if I was in trouble.  Pretty much anything negative about being on my own ran through my head.  I have always been a very independent, strong and somewhat stubborn (what? who said that?) women and all of a sudden I felt weak and overwhelmed.  My boyfriend stayed with me for the first little bit while I got used to my new routine.  I still remember the first night I spent alone, I was terrified.  Looking back I do laugh a bit at how paranoid I was.  I set my alarm for every two hours to check my sugars and to make sure all was right.  It was exhausting and I knew that I had to come up with a living alone plan.

Fast forward a year and I have the same routine each evening to ensure that I am safe.  My boyfriend does stay two or three times a week which always put me at ease, but I am well prepared for the evenings I spend alone.  For starters I make sure that I have a phone near me in case I needed to call 911 at anytime.  In my bedside drawer I keep juice boxes, glucose tabs and granola bars.  Each night before bed I check my blood sugar to assess whether I need to have a bedtime snack.  Due to my exercise regime I often find I am lower in the evening so often a banana before bed does the trick.  I no longer set an alarm to wake me in the night, however guaranteed I always wake up to pee at least once so I check then.  I find that having all of this in place makes me feel safe and means I am ready to treat a low at a hands reach during the night.  It has come in handy more than once!  I have only had one occurrence where I went low in the night and had nothing at hand to help.  It scared the bejeezus out of me.  I literally had to crawl downstairs sweating and close to blacking out.  I made it to the kitchen and downed juice and lay on the floor until my sugars came back into range.  Looking back I should have called someone but in that blurred state I was not thinking straight.  Since then I do my best to avoid that situation!

I hope that on Saturday speaking about my experiences of living alone will help reassure these young adults that they don't have to be frightened and can do it!  Just takes a bit more preparation.  I am looking forward to the conference and excited to be involved. I shall report back as to how it went.  I am sure I will learn a lot from these young ladies.

Thursday 11 October 2012


Last week I had to go and have a Gastroscopy in order that they could take a biopsy of my upper intestine to see what damage has been done by having celiac.  Now I will be the first to admit that I am not good with hospitals (who is?) and am terrified of needles (really handy for a diabetic) and particularly IV's!  The night before I tried to sleep but was really nervous.  I had to fast for 10 hours and arrived at the hospital hungry and with a bit of higher than normal fasting blood sugar due to my nerves.  On arrival they had me change into one of those god awful hospital gowns and settled me in a bed.  I was happy when they brought over one of their heated blankets and wrapped me up nice and warm.  The nurse took all my vitals and blood sugar and got me ready to have my IV inserted.  I warned her that I was not very good at this and had been known to pass out while having IV's put in.  She was so gentle and talked to me about miscellaneous things.  A quick pinch and it was done.  I felt so relieved.  I could feel the cool saline solution running down into my bloodstream.

The nurse then proceeded to tell me what the doctor would be doing.  I really wish that they would not have to do this as it makes me even more nervous.  She explained that the surgeon would spray my throat with a numbing spray and warned me that it would taste awful.  They would then put a piece of hollow plastic in my mouth to stop me from biting down. I would be given a strong sedative that would not put me to sleep however I would be pretty out it.  They would then feed a long tube with a camera on it down my throat where they would take a look around and take a biopsy.  It would only take about 15 minutes and they would let me sleep for about 45 minutes afterwards before getting me up.  I kept picturing a tiny little video camera going down my throat into my tummy and it made me giggle.

I lay in bed for awhile watching all of the other folks in for day surgery and I was soon taken into the procedure room.  The surgeon sprayed my throat and I gagged a bit.  They were not kidding when they said it would taste awful!  Next they put a big green hollow piece of plastic in my mouth which was held in place by straps around my head.  It felt so weird!  The surgeon then put some sedative in my IV and it stung once it hit my veins.  The nurse asked if I was sleepy and I kept telling her I was not and then all of a sudden everything was kind of blurry and my body felt numb.  It was lovely.  I felt the tube go down my throat which felt very strange indeed.  I think I totally blanked out after that as the next thing I know the nurse was waking me up back in the recovery room.  She said everything went fine and she made me sit up and drink a glass of water.  She told me I would hear from them in the next four weeks or so and that was it.  I felt very fuzzy and when Ryan came to get me I was feeling very smiley and almost drunk.  I got home and had a nap for about three hours and then relaxed most of the day as instructed.  My stomach felt bloated and my throat was a bit sore, but by the next morning I felt normal.  I guess there really was nothing to get so worked up about after all!