Panic. Real Panic.

Panic. Real Panic. I don’t know what caused it or why it happened when it did. I don’t know what the trigger was – I was simply cleaning the toilet!

Heart racing, thumping even. It won’t slow down. How can I make it slow down?

Nausea. Excruciatingly nauseous. Where has this come from?

Suddenly, everything seemed louder. Too loud. The birds chirping. The TV. The water going down the sink. It was all too loud and too much.

Deep breaths. Take slow, deep breaths. Like the tortoise. My physiotherapist recently told me that their slow breaths is the reason they live so long. I sure wasn’t breathing slowly right now. My breathing was getting faster, if anything.

“I need to lie down for a bit” was all that I could muster up. No reason. No explanation. I wanted to cry and I didn’t know why.

I had no idea why I felt this way, but I felt terrible. Almost as if something terrible was going to happen. I didn’t know what that thing was, but it felt inevitable. Even in the comfort of my bed, in the comfort of someone else’s arms, things didn’t feel right.

A good 20 minutes later, my version of mountain climbers, a set of star jumps and laying down with my legs in the air, my breathing slowly normalised. All I could do was apologise for my ‘drama’.

That was last night. Today? I feel uneasy and anxious, but not half as bad as how I felt last night. At the same time, I can’t help laughing at how irrational my mind is at times. I reckon a psychologist would have a field day if they were to analyse my mind!

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Type 3

I came across an interesting concept, today. One that got me smiling. The term ‘type 3 diabetes’.

We’ve all heard about type 1 and type 2 diabetes, maybe you’ve even heard about MODY or LADA. There might even be a few of you who are familiar with the phrase ‘type 0’. Ultimately, a type zero is a person who doesn’t have diabetes. Within the diabetes online community, it seems to be used to describe people who make unfair judgements or irrational statements about diabetes. You know – don’t let me catch diabetes from you – oh, my cat has diabetes! The things that make us diabetics put our head in our hands and think ‘did you really just say that’.

Having done some research this morning (It’s Monday morning, no one does actual work on a Monday morning!), it appears that type 3 is being used to describe the support networks of people who have diabetes. I absolutely LOVE this idea. You know I love me a reason to talk about support networks…

I’m always thinking about who supports me in my battle against diabetes, who doesn’t, and who doesn’t even know I have diabetes (I have very little enthusiasm to blog about that minority).

I’m eternally grateful for everyone within my circle of support. Every branch of it offers me something different, but it all builds up to me being able to keep on top of my diabetes and feel OK with the fact that I have this condition.

 

Family. My rock and my stepping stones. Maybe I’m just lucky, but my family are so understanding when it comes to how I deal with my diabetes. Granted, I do still get the occasional ‘should you be eating that’, but that is nothing compared to the times they’ve been there to run around looking for something to treat my hypo, or checking my sugar levels if I’m acting super sleepy. I cannot thank my family enough for helping me through the rollercoaster that diabetes has led me through – the physical, the practical, the psychological effects. Diabetes can be overwhelming at times, and it would be very lonely if I didn’t have my family.

 
Non-Diabetic Friends. Otherwise known as type zero’s. Very few of my friends have diabetes. I’ll admit it was difficult for me when I was diagnosed. I often felt angry that people didn’t seem to understand what I was going through, and why I didn’t want to constantly drink alcohol or eat takeaway every night. However, there have been a few people in my life who have been so incredibly understanding. I wrote about one particular person recently. Just the notion that someone wants to try to understand what diabetes is, is enough. I am grateful for these lovely people. 

Diabetic friends. I have met some amazing people through the fact that I have diabetes. Through the doc and volunteering for Diabetes UK, I have laughed, worked, vented, and travelled with incredible people who are all just like me – they have diabetes. If I didn’t have diabetes, I would not have had the opportunity to meet these people.

 

Diabetes Online Community. It took a year and a half for me to discover the DOC. I don’t know how I managed before then. Despite the limits of 140 characters, I met Lizzie on Twitter. I find it funny that not only do we both have diabetes, but we were both diagnosed as having type 1.5. Together, we now meet up regularly, and have both been involved in setting up the Basildon Diabetes UK voluntary group.

Aside from Twitter, I’ve been posting to this blog for 2 years, next month. Through this blog, I’ve gotten talking to people from all around the world, from all walks of life. But there’s always one thing that we have in common. Diabetes. I blog because I want to share my experiences with diabetes, so that others can relate to my experiences. At the same time though, I absolutely love reading about other people’s experiences. It’s so easy to pass hours of time, simply reading other people’s blogs.

The diabetes online community is a powerful thing. Even the healthcare professionals are getting on board with it. This is great, and I hope it continues to grow. What I do want though, is for social media networking to be recognised as a proper support network, when people are diagnosed with diabetes.

Everyone listed in this post then, could in theory be classed as a type 3. They are involved and support someone who lives with diabetes.Of course, there may be people wh oread this post and ask why I feel the need to label everyone. I don’t. The thing is, I’m just trying to close the bridge between diabetes and non diabetes.

Not. Just. IBS.

It is thought as many as one in five people in the UK live with IBS. A question I’ve been asked numerous times but not been able to answer, is what IBS feels like. The truth is, it isn’t just the ‘stomach ache’ or ‘upset stomach’ that comes with IBS. It’s the way it affects me mentally. The stress it causes. The lethargy it causes. The guilt from having to cancel last minute. The self pity that I feel so terrible without knowing what has caused the flare up. The amount of times I’ve burst into tears because I don’t know what my stomach is doing!

As with many illnesses or conditions, IBS is a condition that portrays different symptoms for different people. I can try to sum up how IBS affects me, but the person next to me might have IBS and they might have completely different symptoms. Regardless, I have complete sympathy for anyone who suffers with IBS. Note, I say suffer because this is my personal opinion. I don’t just live with IBS, as there are times when it stops me from living my busy, ordinary life.

OK, so lets start with the basics. Pain. A lot of it. So much so, that I was taken to A&E shortly before being diagnosed with IBS. I’ve always had a pretty high pain barrier (I pride myself on that!) so I guess when I started to cry from the intense pain, that’s when my mum knew it must be bad. I can’t really describe the pain, but it takes over the whole of my body. The pains I get are sharp and tight. And they won’t go away. They’re always there, darn it. Nothing takes the pain away, just some things ease it a little. Peppermint tea and ginger tea are my go-to, if I’m desperate.

Next up is the naughty nausea. It doesn’t seem to take a lot to make me feel nausea. If you can excuse the graphic details, I’m not one for throwing up. I’ve only ever thrown up maybe twice (disregarding alcohol-infused scenarios) and I don’t think I could ever make myself be physically sick. Sadly, that means the nausea stays with me a long time. A sneaky little remedy to help relieve the nausea is Pepto Bismol. Again, it doesn’t take it away completely, but it makes it a bit more bearable.

Cramp. A woman’s nemesis. Recently, the pain caused by my stomach cramps have been getting worse, I’m not sure why. When the cramps hit, I can do nothing but lie on my side and ride out the pain. Oh, and I can only lie on my left side, the right side leads to a whole other pain!

I’ll tell you now, my bowels are as indecisive as the rest of me! I could be constipated for 4/5 days and then on that day, my bowel movements will be alllll over the place. I like to be locked away in the safety of my own home, on these days. On behalf of my bowels, I am often embarrassed, angry, impatient and frustrated! I steer well clear of any medication to help with this issue, just because my bowels are so sensitive. Nobody wants to be caught out…

Full of burps. Now, you all know that ladies do not burp, and rest assured, anything that sounds like a burp…isn’t a burp. Except maybe that little one about 2 minutes ago…ahem…

Bloating. Goodness, what a bloated stomach you have! When I’m bloated, there’s no hiding it. I’m only little and don’t have much meat on me. When I bloat, I really bloat! Seriously, I look about 5 months pregnant at my peak. Thank goodness for baggy tops and ‘fat pants’.

Lethargy. IBS takes over my brain. It tells me I’m tired and that my body is far too heavy to lug around. They say exercise can help ease the symptoms of IBS. I tried this theory earlier this week, and for me personally, it didn’t work. I spent 20 minutes on the bike, which was bearable. The gas was bubbling on the surface, and I had the occasional cramp. Thinking it would get better, I decided to try out the treadmill. I knew running was out of the question, but I didn’t expect walking to be as bad. I lasted about 5 minutes walking. After 5 minutes, the stomach cramps were unbearable and I honestly couldn’t stand up straight. I must have looked quite the hunchback in the gym!

Pyschological effects. This is a big one for me, yet it is invisible to most. I’m naturally a worrier. Thanks, Mum, for passing those genes to me! I worry about silly little things and I struggle to let those worries go. This doesn’t bode well for my IBS, and stress and anxiety lead to IBS flare up’s. It’s very much a catch 22 – I get stressed, which causes my IBS to flare up. I then stress about my IBS, which prolongs the flare up.

Another branch of the psychological effects is the guilt that IBS passes on to me. I feel like such a let down when I have to cancel plans. Of course, when I do have a flare up, I find that the best place is my bed. I worry that people think I’m just lazy and can’t be bothered. I know this is probably my silly mind running away, but it’s enough to make me feel like a bad person. And yet, there is nothing I can do about my IBS flare up’s…

…which leads to the whole part where I wallow in self pity. I hate being confined to my bed. I hate not being able to keep to my plans. I especially hate feeling ill.

So what causes it?

Stress – something I’m not very good at avoiding. The more stressed I am, the worse the IBS flare up. What’s more, I get stressed when my IBS flare up, which just prolongs the symptoms…

Gluten and Lactose – these are two things that I have almost proved cause an IBS flare up. I try to steer clear from things like bread, pasta, milk, cream, but it’s not always possible. Especially difficult, is when I’m at a restaurant or at a friend’s house. Having said that, I think my body can handle a little amount of some things – I somehow ate a huge pizza and had no discomfort after eating it!

Being a woman – As if IBS isn’t difficult enough to deal with, manage and predict, that old chestnut called the menstrual cycle, is known to make my IBS symptoms flare up.

Not eating. If I don’t eat for a period of time, my stomach will inflate. Bloatedness makes it hard to eat, which then makes my IBS even worse. Catch 22 all around!

Who knows! I can eat something one day and be fine. I can have the same thing a few days later, and it can cause a flare up. I’ve kept a food diary in the past, which I’ll admit, have only left me wanting to cry in frustration.

I know I’m not the only one who gets annoyed when they hear something along the lines of “just IBS”. Here’s the thing. It. Isn’t. Just. IBS. In fact, #notjustibs has been trending on Twitter lately. Perhaps this is a slight indication of the extent to how many people feel this way. Anyway, I thought I’d try to give you a bit of an insight of what IBS is and how it affects me as an individual. There is no cure for IBS at the moment, so all I can do is try to avoid eating foods that my body cannot tolerate, and avoid getting stressed. Easier said than done…

Prejudice in the non-diabetes world

It takes a lot to wind me up. It takes a lot for me to get visibly angry. Hence why you will rarely come across me with a face of thunder. Today, I got angry. I wished I was like the little girl in Roald Dahl’s ‘The Magic Finger’ – every time the little girl in the story gets angry, her finger blasts this angry energy across to the person she is upset at and somehow disfigures them. I wish I had that magic finger, right now.

Coming back from my lunch break, there was an ambulance in the company car park. I had no idea who it could have been called for. The ambulance, it turns out, was for someone who is doing a training course here today. The reason for the ambulance? The guy was having a severe hypo. Thankfully, he was conscious. I’ve just watched the paramedics take him to hospital, as a precaution.

So, here comes my problem. After telling me why the ambulance had been called, my colleague used the words “it’s obviously his own fault”. It is his own fault. Yup, he definitely said that. And now, I’m going to bang my head against the wall. And again. And again. And again.

Sure, if the guy had intentionally not eaten for a long period of time, this would have led to a hypo, and I probably would have suggested he get some sugar in him. However, I’d seen him eat his lunch an hour prior, so that blame can’t be placed upon him. And yet, he has been blamed. Blamed by people who have insinuated in the past that they’re not interested in learning about the condition. How is that fair?

What’s annoyed me even more about this is that another person stayed with the guy, whilst waiting for the paramedic to arrive. The reaction to this? The other people in the office making fun of the one person who decided to show concern.

In the (nearly) 4 years that I’ve had diabetes, I’ve never had much faith in the people I work with. Upon diagnosis, I told them that a) if they find me unconscious, call an ambulance and b) if they see me drinking a bottle of Lucozade, that probable means my sugars are low and could they please keep an eye on me. Luckily, I’ve never required an ambulance. However, not once have I ever been asked if I’m ok, when I’m low and drinking my Lucozade.

This incident today has therefore made me even more anxious about my diabetes at work. Say I pass out in the toilets. No one would think to come and find me if I’m out of the office for a long time. Judging by today, if ever I did need an ambulance, I wouldn’t get much, if any support from my colleagues.

I’m ever so grateful for the support I have from my family, friends, healthcare team and DOC, but I wish some of this support would transpire into where I spend the majority of my week…