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  1. Diabetes Blessings Week - Day 4

    Thursday, 25 November 2010

    Just a very short one today. I've just finished having my first ever Thanksgiving dinner, with my adopted american friends. This was a wonderful evening with good food and good company. 

    So with that in mind, I want to say thank you to my 'real life' friends and family. You are all terrific people who have helped me, encouraged me, badgered me when necessary, and much, much more.

    You've learned things for me, you've carried glucose tabs in your pockets for me. You've fundraised with me. You've listened to me moan when I've needed to, and gone far and above the call of duty, and I'm so grateful for you. 

    You are amazing, and one of the greatest blessings in my life. I love you all.

  2. Diabetes Blessings Week - Day 3

    Wednesday, 24 November 2010

    It's 4:30am this morning, and the alarm on my mobile phone is going off. I know exactly why, because I was doing exactly the same thing two hours ago. It's testing time.

    On with the light, fumble for the meter, open the test strip bottle, and....

    Ah man. Test strips all over the bed. Fantastic. That's going to be fun to get back together. 

    Why am I testing at 4:30am? Same reason that I'm testing every two hours for the next fortnight. Yesterday, I started on my pump, and my team have asked me to do this in order to get my basal rates sorted. So it's not going to be a whole lot of fun, because there's not a lot of sleep going on there. However, I would rather do this now, and get it right, rather than having to be chasing my tail a few weeks down the line. 

    But it's only day two of fourteen, and I'll be honest. I'm already tired. Like I said the other day, I've not been having great sleep recently, and my tank is running more towards empty. But it's time to power through, and hit the ground running. 

    Because for any complaining and griping I might do within the next fortnight, I know that I am extremely fortunate. To have access to pump therapy is an amazing opportunity. But even if I didn't have access to it, I would still consider myself fortunate. 

    If ever I feel down about the state of things, I think about the amazing work done by Dream Trust, and how so many people with diabetes are in situations like those of people the trust works with. How it could just as easily be me. 

    I think about life before the 1920's. Before the discovery of insulin. How a diagnosis of diabetes was tantamount to a death sentence. How incredibly blessed we are to have access to insulin at all.  

    So, just let me clean up all these test strips off the bed, then... 

  3. Diabetes Blessings Week - Day 2

    Tuesday, 23 November 2010

    It's day two, and when I started thinking about a couple of conversations I had yesterday, it became very obvious what I wanted to talk about today. Well, I say what, but I really mean who. 

    I'm all about the people. I take my friendships very seriously, and once you've got me, you've got me for life. I'm like a bad penny. Or possibly something more flattering, if I'm feeling a little nicer about myself! You do lose contact with people along the way in life, which I always find deeply saddening. The thing with really good friendships, though, is that you can usually step right back into the rhythm.

    Over the past year and a half, I've been so blessed to meet a whole range of wonderful people. Today though, I want to think about how amazing it has been to know two in particular. 

    First up is someone that a lot of you out there in the DOC will know quite well. If not, then my question is why not?!

    I've come to count the wonderful, charming, and lovely Ginger Vieira as one of my best D-friends. And do you know, I have absolutely no idea how we 'met' in the first place!

    Ginger is one of those amazing people who makes me feel like I can do absolutely anything. She's funny and encouraging, and extremely talented, in many different areas. Did you know she used to do improv comedy, for instance? If you've seen her 'duct tape' vlog, that's a prime example of how hilarious and funny she is.I can't wait to read her book!

    Skype is a wonderful thing, and we've had some lovely talks over the old interwebs. Every one though makes me wish we were that bit closer to the wonderful transporter device we've been planning to create. 

    Closer to home, I've also been fortunate enough to meet another fabulous person, who makes me laugh so hard that last night my laughter actually disconnected our phone call. Strange story, but a true one!

    Shelley is the mastermind behind the UK Diabetes Support network Circle D, which helps 18-30's with diabetes meet, socialise and support each other. 

    The woman is mad as a box of frogs, but an absolute genius. She has so many balls in the air that I genuinely have no idea how she juggles them all and still manages to keep her sense of humour. When she takes over the universe, I want a place in her cabinet. 

    And of course, I never would have met either of these wonderful ladies if it hadn't been for diabetes. Tell me that that doesn't make me blessed?

  4. Diabetes Blessings Week - Day 1

    Monday, 22 November 2010

    So I went quiet again for a while there. It's been turning into a bit of a problem lately. I think it's due to feeling a bit swamped with both work and work for my Masters'. 

    I'll be honest, I've also not been sleeping particularly well. I've had a string of high levels lately, and coupled with the cold, it's been playing havoc with my sleep. So obviously, I've not been at my most chipper. So with that in mind, I want to say thank you. 

    The wonderful and lovely Mike from My Diabetic Heart has declared this week to be Diabetes Blessings Week. So my first thank you is to him for what I think is a fabulous idea. Counting our blessings is something that it never hurts to take time over. So with that in mind, I want to cast my mind back a bit.
    Every now and then, I like to think about how far I've come. I remember a time, not so long ago, when I didn't know the language of basal, bolus, and A1c. I didn't know how to order prescriptions. The thought of injecting myself was utterly terrifying. 

    And now? Well, I'm not the world expert on any one thing, but I like to think that I know my way around. I've been extremely blessed to have access to a lot of really good education, and supportive medical professionals. I know what I'm doing. I've managed to get solid HbA1cs since my initial high ones post diagnosis. Judging by the fact that I'm still here, I've learned how to inject, and managed to do it.

    In this situation which I never wanted, I've managed to come out ok. This happened at a time in my life where I was in an area with a well managed NHS budget, when I personally was able to absorb the important information and use it to make positive changes, in terms of diet, exercise, and life. If this had happened a year earlier, I'd probably have seen things go very differently.

    And please don't get me wrong. This isn't me saying that things have been easy. That would be a huge monster of a lie. They haven't. They've been VERY difficult, and I've put a lot of hard work in. This also isn't me going 'Haha, look how easy I've had it compared to you!', because that's not true either. I'm not bragging, or rubbing it anyone's face. I know how hard you all work, too. 

    The truth is, I've been blessed. And I count myself to be very, very lucky indeed.

  5. I know where I was

    Thursday, 4 November 2010

    I know a lot of people today will probably be thinking about where they were and what they were doing two years ago. It was a historic day, and one of those 'where were you?' moments. As for me, I know exactly where I was. But as thrilled as I was by the results of that night, this isn't about politics. 

    I was at my parents' house, having literally jumped on a train to come back home. I would have gone to extremely long lengths to get there, and it almost led to me quitting my job at the time. It was the day I said goodbye to my oldest friend.

    I was on my own the night I found out that she had died. My phone had broken, and it took me buying a new one, and picking up a voicemail from her sister to find that she wanted me to call her. Though I couldn't get straight through, I knew in my heart of hearts what had happened. It was freezing cold, when I got through to her, and I very nearly sank to my knees outside the bank when I actually heard the words.
    Pam met me first when I was maybe six years old. A good number of years older than me, she was my brother's guitar teacher. After he gave it up, she was my guitar teacher, then my singing teacher. She understood me and encouraged me in a very different way to everyone else in my life. She believed in me, and I never knew her once to doubt me, or raise her voice at me, despite my being a very frustrating student. We were more than student and teacher. All the while, she was one of my closest friends, and we loved each other. We clicked. We had loads of the same interests, and she had every faith that I could do whatever I put my mind to. She helped guide me through the early stages of my walk with God, and a thousand other things that I will forever be thankful for. 

    On 4th November, 2008, after running full sprint through York city centre to jump on a train, and change out of my work uniform in a still moving train's toilet, I was among the many others who gathered to say goodbye to her.

    Monday was the 1st November, which marked my 1 year and six month mark of living with Type 1. And unlike last year, all I found that I could think about was how much I missed Pam. Possibly because of the whole media circus surrounding the US midterm elections, I don't know why, but all I could think about was how much I wanted to talk to her.

    I remember our last conversation, which was on my mobile phone, whilst I was sat in an otherwise abandoned car with a completely empty petrol tank. I was on tour with a small scale touring children's theatre company, and whilst we were en route to our afternoon show, our fuel had totally run out. My touring partner (and really good friend) had gone to try and hitch-hike to the nearest petrol station, and left me locked in the car (I don't advocate this strategy to anyone else, for the record). The high winds from up in the hills were rocking the car back and forth, and I was nervous. So I called Pam for a chat. She was in bed, ill, but we talked for a good half an hour until he got back with a can of petrol.

    If I had known that the last time we talked would have been the last time we'd talk, I would have said so many things that I didn't. How I would forever be thankful to her for how she had taught me how to be a better artist, a better Christian, and a better human being. That I loved her, and felt privileged to even know her, let alone consider her one of my best and closest friends. Of course, I didn't know it would be the last time we talked, and of course, I didn't say those things. I like to think that she knew, though.

    Pam had serious chronic health problems, and had her whole life. She was born with spina bifida, and had many complications because of it. She had an amazing life, and accomplished so many things that it makes me feel lazy. Even in her worst periods of health, she was gracious and loving, and full of life and humour. To me, she was the epitome of a Chronic Babe.

    When I was diagnosed in May last year, she was the one that I wanted to talk to. The one I knew would understand, and that I could say absolutely anything to. But of course, I couldn't. I've wanted to talk to her about things at least once every week, but usually more. But of course, I can't. And of course, I still want to. I wish I could talk things out with her. I've wanted to bend her ear over the whole pump issue, for instance. I've got to console myself with what I think she'd probably tell me. 

    I wonder sometimes what she would think of me and the way that I've handled things. I like to think that she'd be pleased with my transition from total newbie to knowing my way around things. I know she'd be pleased in my keeping this blog. She was a wonderful example of a pre-internet advocate for all sorts of health issues. If she'd been online, she would have been one of the movers and shakers - that I know without a doubt. It's a shame she never owned a computer, really. 

    I'll never know the answers to those questions, though. Not in my lifetime. All I know is that I loved her, and that right now, I really miss my friend.