Diabetes UK: The Big Event

This should have been written at the start of the week, but it’s been near impossible for me to stay awake long enough to even turn my laptop on. My anaemia has come back, this time with a vengeance. My haemoglobin is 10 (should be 35) and my ferritin is 2(should be 20), so I’ve been feeling pretty lousy. After breaking down in tears at work on Tuesday, I decided to listen to my body (for once) and as a result, I’ve spent the rest of the week in bed. I’ve slept a LOT. I feel like I’ve been making up for all the nights I’ve spent tossing and turning, and generally been missing out on decent sleep. I’ve yet to feel a difference, though. Boo.

Well, that’s the moaning and grumbling out of the way. Now, to the best day I’ve had in months; the Diabetes UK Big Event. The day was set in the Novotel Hotel in Hammersmith, which obviously meant Paul and I had to arrive early, grab a Starbucks and walk around the streets of London, while the city was still asleep.

I think this was a really good day for me. Aside from all the useful information I took away with me, I met some amazing people. It was so nice to be in the majority, in a room full of people, for a change. Everyone at the event, either lives with diabetes, or knows someone with the condition. This was very comforting for me, as so often I’ve felt alone, in my world of coping with diabetes. Meeting people, face to face, and hearing their experiences, made me realise that I am not alone. In fact, 3.8million people in the UK have diabetes. This number is growing every day. With this figure, I am definitely not alone.

The day itself consisted of a variety of topics and workshops, covering all aspects of diabetes, both type 1 and type 2. Paul and I attended 4 very useful workshops:

Type 1 Diabetes: what care to expect

This has armed me with the knowledge that I can now go back to my diabetes centre and GP, to make sure I’m getting all the checks that I need, as a person living with diabetes. I do generally get all the checks, such as HBA1C, retinal screening, blood pressure, cholesterol. However, there were 2 aspects that I realised I’m not being checked out for – feet and annual review.

A few people, since the event, have told me that the annual review is carried out by my GP. In that case, I’ve never had an annual review. The thing that puts me off going to the GP, is that I feel like I’m always down the surgery, with something wrong. I’m either there for my stomach pains, or migraines etc. I don’t want to go there if I’m not ill. I know this sounds silly, but I would be happy to go, if an appointment had been made for me. But I cannot stand the doctors a my surgery. I hate the way they think the have a monopoly of my health. They refuse to listen to me. I know when something’s not right, whether or not you can spot anything!

I think I remember having my feet checked, once, probably when I was first diagnosed. In the back of my mind, I remember a nurse tickling my foot with a feather. Is that the whole check?! I certainly don’t remember anything else…

Anyway, the discussion on Saturday reassured me that I have the power, as a patient, to obtain the information I want. For example, in the past, my doctor has told me that I’m anaemic, and that I should take iron tablets. This time round, I asked for me levels. Thus, I know just how low my haemoglobin and ferritin are, and how much I need to push them up…

Introduction to Pump therapy

For a long time, I’ve really like the thought of the insulin pump. My cousin is on it, a sister of a woman at work has it, and I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about it. Even my Diabetes Consultant claims there have only been improvements to those on the pump. My big reason for wanting the pump, is my hypo unawareness. It scares me, not knowing when I’m ‘low’. I’m not silly, I do test before I drive, before I exercise, or go out. I like to know where I’m at with my diabetes!

The only negative about the pump, is the indication that people are more likely to get DKA. This is as a result of being disconnected from the pump for a period of time, forgetting to refill insulin cartridges, things like that. For me though, I am so desperate to having hypos, especially hypos I can’t feel…

Everything about this workshop, made me feel ‘yes I want an insulin pump’. I have so much going wrong with my body, that if I could get just one thing under control, my quality of life would hopefully be improved, even just a little! The mention of Continuous Glucose Monitors was also interesting, as if I were to have one, I could spot patterns when I’m getting my lows, for example. At the moment, my bg levels feel completely unpredictable, so this would help me out. Shame they’re so expensive, though!

Research into Diabetes

I’m slightly ashamed to say I’ve never really looked into the history and development of treatment for diabetes. It’s something I will look into and cover in a future blog post. What I did learn in this presentation however, was eye opening. Did you know, insulin was discovered in 1922?

Did you also know, that the first insulin pump looked a bit like the below?

insulin pump

Neither did I…I thought it was one of the speakers, having a joke! This guy seriously looks like he’s part of the Ghostbusters’ crew!

Coping with emotional issues

I’ve been struggling a lot, lately, with my state of mind. Recurring anxiety that kicks in without any notice. One minute I’m bursting with happiness, the next I’m wanting to hibernate, in a corner on my own. I won’t lie, diabetes really does get me down, sometimes.

This workshop helped, in the sense that it gave a few suggestions as to coping with these difficult periods. They’re good ideas, so I’ll share them with you…

1) Right before going to sleep at night, think of 3 good things that have happened today. No matter how big or small, think of it, and think of it for 8 seconds. Things like, a nice cup of tea, finding a car park space, someone holding the door open. I like this theory, as I am the first person to admit that I go to bed, going over everything bad that has happened today.

2) Take up a hobby that makes you lose track of time. You may mock me, but this is exactly why I love knitting! I say I’ll knit for just half an hour, but when I check, its been an hour and a half! With the nights drawing in, I’m going to get back on track with my knitting. My sister Emma has asked me to teach her to knit. We’ll see how that goes…

All in all, Saturday was the best day I’ve had in a long time. It’s given me a new found confidence to deal with my diabetes, something I’ve been lacking for the past 2 years. Oh, and I’ve also made some lovely friends!

duk event

EDIT: I should just mention how keen my dad is to attend the Big Event, so I will certainly be attending next year. Hurrah!


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