Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Caring for a career

This blog post is very different from my usual topic, however it is a message that I wanted to get out there, and what better place then here. As many of you will know I am a final year student nurse. I am thoroughly enjoying my training and I feel very lucky to be able to do it. However, had it not been for the NHS Bursary I would not have been able to do my nursing degree as I have a student loan to repay from a previous degree. Today it was announced that student nurses will no longer be supported by the NHS Bursary and will need to take out a loan. This will potentially mean up to £30,000 (or more depending on location) of debt for students who's starting salary is £21,478. Take into consideration that many nurses, like myself, have previous degree loans to repay, and many have families to support, it raises the question; how many will get into so much debt for a nurses salary...?

As a student nurse I have spent the last three years between University lectures and clinical placements, showing my dedication and passion for the nursing profession. I have given up my job, my salary and my financial security to retrain and complete a three year adult nursing degree. I have cared for and supporting my patients in the best way that I possibly can, always putting others before my own needs, whilst maintaining my ongoing education. I have worked long unpaid hours in order to gain experience, knowledge and understanding in my new profession. I have stayed far past the end of my shift when wards were understaffed, I have worked without breaks in order to provide care, I have done everything possible to ensure that I am being the best student nurse that I can be, so that I will one day be the best nurse that I can be. Not only that but as a student nurse my time spent studying is longer than most degree students. When others have gone home for summer holidays and Christmas, my nurse colleagues and I are still diligently attending University and clinical placements.

Being a student nurse is physically and emotionally demanding – we undertake clinical practice for 8-12 weeks at a time alongside studying to further our knowledge, writing essays, undertaking drugs exams, working and caring for our families To me the decision to remove the NHS Bursary shows very little respect for our future nurses and a complete lack of understanding into how it will affect an already damaged NHS. The government has made mistakes and is trying desperately to claw back some money, however student nurses will be paying for those mistakes. It raises many questions such as how many nurses will be able to train without a bursary? Will the government raise the salary of nurses (who when qualified start on £21,478 per year) to enable them to repay student loans? How will student nurses who are undertaking a very emotionally demanding degree cope with the financial burden that a student loan entails? And as mentioned for some, repaying previous loans and/or raising families? And what will be the knock on effect should training places not be filled?

Many student nurses rely on the NHS bursary to support them through their degree. We become highly skilled, professional and committed individuals who bring excellent values and beliefs to the NHS and we do so because we care. Our strict University screening process ensure that students who apply to study nursing are doing so because we want to make a difference, because we have the qualities that will allow us to become caring and compassionate professionals. These qualities are then assessed throughout our degree, allowing us to build upon our skills, transforming us into proud nurses who you would want to care for your nearest and dearest. When we apply to become nurses we do not do so because we want to earn huge salaries at the end of it. We know that is not going to be our reality. We accept that we will be on an average wage, however the NHS bursary helps us to prepare for that. Now that this has been withdrawn how many caring and compassionate people will be able to train to become a nurse? Personally I couldn’t have afforded to train without the financial support that I have received from my NHS bursary and I am very grateful for that. I wish that our future nurses would be given the same opportunity that I have had – the opportunity that allows them to care for a career. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor,

I don’t know if you’ll remember me, we met 13 years ago in your GP surgery. You were the first Health Care Professional that I had spoken to in the UK following my diagnosis in Paris. You had a kind face and you were friendly and welcoming. You introduced me to a nurse who would help you to help me, and together we would try to work out this messy and menacing illness called Type 1 Diabetes. We used to talk, though not for long, about this thing called insulin. I didn’t understand it, even weeks after being taught how to inject, but I didn’t know how to tell you that. I was young and nervous, you were confident and decisive. I was worried that I would sound silly, immature and like I couldn’t cope. You presumed I knew what it all meant, maybe you thought that someone else had told me first, but I was very much in the dark. I wish now that I hadn’t been so fearful, so apprehensive and stubborn; I wish that both of us had asked “do you understand?” but neither did. I assumed that one day I would be informed, you assumed from day one that I was knowledgeable. We were both wrong. Things didn’t work out between us and I moved to a different team, but I wasn’t fearful anymore about not understanding. Lack of knowledge had caused me to become fearless. 

Dear Doctor,

I don’t know if you’ll remember me but we met 5 years ago in the Emergency Eye Department. You noticed something that your colleague didn’t and for that I am very grateful. You reassured me that I would be taken care of and that I shouldn’t worry. I was alone, it was late and I began to cry. You held my hand as a nurse cannulated me. You told me that I would be admitted to a ward for further investigations and you made a promise that you would visit me once I had settled in. I didn’t expect to see you the next day, on a Saturday, but you stopped by to say hello. A few hours later you came back. You sat on my bed and told me that a scan had showed a shadow. Whatever that shadow was it was pressing on my brain and your team would need to investigate. You saw tears in my eyes and told me to be brave. I took a deep breath and stayed strong for what seemed like the first time in years. I wouldn't have been strong without you there. When we met again you explained the procedure. The thought of it scared me but there was no one else that I would have wanted to operate on me. I was very pleased to have met you.

Dear Doctor,

I don’t know if you’ll remember me but we met 2 years ago in Accident and Emergency. You were the person who was sat at the nurse’s station when I came in with high blood glucose, high ketones and vomiting. It wasn’t until an over hour later that we met, when you pushed yourself away from the desk to my bed on one of those backless seats with wheels. You didn’t even stand up to walk over to me. You had a clipboard in your hand and you put your feet up on the side of my bed, balancing the board on your thighs to write notes. You looked at me and said the words “so you’re my DKA?”. No. I was not your DKA. I was your patient, with a name that was written down in front of you and you didn’t have the decency to call me by it. You didn’t speak to me, but to my mother, as if I wasn’t there. You wheeled yourself back to the desk then stood, picked up your coffee cup and walked away. I was pleased to not see you again after that.

Dear Doctor,

I know you will remember me, I’m still under your care. I’m one of the patients who takes up far too much of your precious time, but you would never tell me that. You always smile, you always ask, you always go the extra mile. You are the kindest, most caring and supportive Doctor I have had the privilege of meeting. You understand what I’m saying when I can’t articulate it myself. You know my diabetes inside out; you know just what I need, what I fear, what I think and feel. I can’t rate you highly enough as you have changed me for the better. I talk about you so highly amongst my peers and with professionals too; the way you always have the right answer, it seems like magic to me, I wish I had that magic too. But often, as you know, diabetes can be tough. It gets too much, it’s unbearable at times, and when that happens I turn and run. I’m not running from you, I’m running from it. You know I’ll come back one day and I know that you’ll be there when I do. But now is not the right time. It’s me, it’s not you. 

Laura x 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

My monthly article for The Diabetes Times is about understanding the reasons behind insulin restriction, omission and diabulimia. Please click this link to read it. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so please comment here or find me on twitter (@ninjabetic1) or on facebook (ninjabetics) to let me know what you think. 


Laura x 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

November 2015 Favourites

Here are some of my favourite diabetes things that I've been using this month. I should really have made this into a video but maybe this will work for now... Please let me know what your favourite diabetes things are! 

First up are these cute pump cases and body straps from Pump Cases. They were sent to me to try out and I'm loving them! Another small blog with more detail will follow soon. The guy who makes them has a whole selection of colours and designs on his website and these 2 caught my eye. The pink paisley is really pretty and eye catching and the black Eiffel Tower case not only looks good but has a handy clip too. Not only are they great designs (I like my pump to be well dressed) but they're a pretty good price too (around the £8-£10 mark)! Check out Pump Cases website and facebook page


A bit of a strange one but I love this bread! I've always been a thick sliced white bread kinda gal and nothing could change my mind. OMG door step bread is simply the best!! However, my blood sugars didn't seem to agree that it was the best kind around, so I thought I'd give this a go instead. It's called Burgen and it has 11 grams of carbs per slice. Compare that to my previous 22 (sometimes more!) grams per slice and there's a pretty decent carb saving there. I've actually been eating this for a few months now and haven't had thick white bread since I made the swap. It tastes good, only costs £1 per loaf (in Asda), my blood sugars love it and I've lost a bit of weight since swapping too. Plus it has seeds which give it a great texture. 

Another foodie fav are these sugar free Hartley's jelly pots which have 1 gram (ish) of carbs per pot. They're not exactly an autumn/winter dessert but they satisfy my sweet tooth (which is getting out of control) and I don't need to take insulin for them due to the low carb count! Great stuff! I got these in Asda and they were 5 for £2 :) They're great for lunch boxes (even my grown-up lunch box). 

Many of you will know that I have absolutely fallen head over heels in love with my new diabetes gadget, Dee-Dee Dexcom. I know it's not new to many people but it's new to me and I'm in a whole new world of diabetes control. Seriously, in the 13 years that I've had diabetes my control has never been this good. It's easy to use, pain free to insert, has great graphs/charts when uploaded and keeps my attention focused on getting better results. This is a lot more that I can say about this, but do follow me on twitter (@ninjabetic1) and facebook (ninjabetics) for more updates. I would rave about this CGM all day if I could!

My final product to rave about is this first aid tee-tree gel from the Jason range. I was actually sent a bottle of this by a friend 2 years ago and it worked wonders for soothing my angry cannula sites, so I bought another. It's about £2.50 - £3.50 online, so not too pricey, and it lasts absolutely ages as you only need a tiny amount. I find that when I take my insulin pump cannulas out, even after 2 days, I'm left with an angry red lump which can be very sore and itchy! After cleaning the old site I dab a bit of this on it and it instantly feels soothed. I'd definitely recommend trying this if you have angry skin after you take out a pump cannula (or even if this happens when you inject). It smells good too! 

Ninjabetic x 

Friday, 13 November 2015

We are the world in world diabetes day #insulin4all

Everyone with diabetes deserves to live long, healthy and happy lives! Insulin, test strips, blood glucose meters etc should not be a luxury, they should be available to anyone who needs them. We need to support people and advocate for them until they are provided with what they need to manage their diabetes! 

That is why I am supporting T1International's World Diabetes Day campaign, #Insulin4All.

Please upload your selfie to T1Internationsl's tumblr page and show your support too! This campagin brings people with diabetes from around the world together in order to advocate for better access to insulin, test strips and other diabetes supplies. Take a look at their website and see the good work that Elizabeth and her team have been doing for the last few years - They are amazing people and they need your help to raise awareness for the fact that many people around the world are suffering from complications and dying due to lack of access to diabetes supplies. 

Have a great World Diabetes Day everyone and don't forget to support this cause.

Ninjabetic x 

t1international Tumblr
t1international Twitter

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Type 1 Diabetes… A day in the life #DiabetesAwarenessMonth

7:00am – Mr T’s alarm wakes me up. Wait until he gets up then stretch out in bed.

8:00am – Get out of bed as Mr T leaves for work. Test blood sugars (4.1). Drink a little Lucozade.

8:05am - Look over Dexcom history for that night. 

8:10am – Get degus out of cage. Feed overexcited, squeaky degus. Leave degus eating and make a cup of tea.

8:30am – Play with degus whilst doing hair and make-up. Gambit degu eats my mascara.

9:00am – Check blood sugars (on Dexcom) 5.0. Make poached eggs and toast. Count carbs (22 grams) and take insulin (extended bolus 30 minutes).

10:30am – Leave for work training session. Make mental note to get petrol and order more glucose test strips. Test glucose before driving.

11:00am – Arrive at training session. Check glucose (7.5). Regret not bringing a travel mug of tea. Turn off alarms on Dexcom but keep within reach.

11:30am – Really regret not bring tea. Stomach starts to make strange “gastroparesis” noises. Pray that I’m not going to start feeling nauseous.

12:00pm – Test glucose. Drive to Asda. Spend money that I don’t have on beauty products that I don’t need. Debate in head whether or not to buy more salad. Decide not to as stomach can’t digest salad. Realise I forgot carrier bags. 

1pm – Count carbs in soup (12 grams of carbs). Soup tastes cheap and nasty because it’s cheap and nasty. Take insulin (standard bolus). Drink tea. Make more tea.

2pm – Reply to lots of emails. Drink tea. Realise I didn’t turn Dexcom alerts back on.

4pm – Study, study, facebook, study, twitter, study. Quickly check Dexcom

6:30pm – Tidy bathroom cupboard. Throw away all beauty products that have been covered in sticky goo. Check on degus and feed them. Check glucose is still in range.

7:30pm – Tidy clothes (get all tidying done before starting placement next week). Realise that 46 t-shirts may be excessive. Throw no t-shirts away. Make more tea.

8:00 – Have a hypo before dinner. Eat jelly babies then remember that they don’t work anymore. Drink Lucozade.

8:20pm – Count carbs for dinner (70 grams of carbs). Extend insulin by 1 hour. Watch Archer with Mr T.

9:00pm - Study a bit more. 

9:30 – Get degus out of cage for exercise. Reply to more emails whilst stopping degus from eating the walls.

10:00 – Wake up on degus floor after “shutting my eyes for a minute”. Degus have gone back into cage on their own.

11:00 - Change insulin in pump. Remember that I shouldn’t do that before bed. Test glucose (8.2). Get into bed.

11:10 Have chat with Mr T. Decide to keep alarms on Dexcom during the night after Mr T confirms that they don’t wake him. Check glucose on Dexcom one more time.

11:30 Remember that Lucozade is in kitchen. Go to find it and put it near bed. 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Frio wallet review

This blog is long long long overdue and for that I apologise. I think subconsciously I have taken my time with it as I will be reminded of kicking back and lying on a beach without a care in the world... good times. Now that I am well and truly switched off from holiday mode and have returned to the daily grind of uni, work, uni, revision, uni, uni, uni, work, eating and sleeping, I have slowly (at a snails pace) started to catch up with blogging and trying out all of the diabetes bits and pieces that fall through my letter box. 

So, this blog is about Frio wallets and firstly I have to say that I absolutely love them (as do many people I talk to online it would seem)! In September this year I went to Hurghada (Egypt) for a weeks break; sun, sea, cocktails and all that jazz... oh and scorching heat! This was the first time that I had been on holiday with my insulin pump and if you follow me on facebook then you would probably have seen that I was a little nervous. In the past I hadn't cared much about where or how my insulin was stored on holiday because at the time I was barely injecting any. Now that I am slightly wiser (I use that word very loosely) I know that insulin must be kept cool in order for it to do its job! So, I took to the internet as I usually do for advice from the ever helpful and all knowing #doc (diabetes online community) who gave me a wealth of advice and information, some of which was to try a Frio wallet.

See more images on my instagram 

What's a Frio wallet? 

It's basically a wallet that keeps your insulin cool in hot weather. Pretty simple. I'm sure there's much more to it than that. 

How does it work? 

So I don't know the ins and outs of the technology but I know that the wallets have little inserts which seem to be filled with little magic beans. You soak the magic bean filled insert in cold water (I soaked mine for 20 minutes) and then pat it dry. You then pop the magic back into the wallet along with your insulin, insulin pens or insulin pump, close the flap and you're good to go! 

Does it actually work?

Yes it does! It worked really well and I was very impressed! In the morning I would soak an insert while I was getting ready, then once it was soaked and patted dry I would put the insert in the fridge (where I was keeping my insulin) for 10 minutes or so and put the insert and my insulin in the wallet when I was ready to leave. It lasted all day (even in the scorching 40 degree heat) and evening (which was still very warm). I had 2 wallets - one for my insulin pump (accu-chek spirit combo) and one for my pens/insulin vials. During the day I used both, carrying around my pump and a spare pen. After a day or two I realised that I could also fit my lipbalm into the wallet which made me feel very happy as it was slowly melting away in my beach bag. 

On returning from my holiday I had an email from Frio asking if I wouldn't mind trying a few of their products in exchange for some feedback - I was tempted to suggest that, in order to be able to fully test the products, they should send me back to Egypt. I didn't though. Free stuff is good enough! 

I was sent an insulin cooling wallet, 2x drinks coolers and a make-up cooler wrap. I was slightly gutted that I hadn't noticed that Frio sold make-up coolers before I went away but now I know this I will definitely be using it next time. All of these products work very well, they look good and they aren't badly priced either (always a bonus!). The pump wallet was a good size for my combo and the insulin pen wallet had loads of room in it. All of the products are very easy to use, not at all messy and work well all day. Most people that I have spoken to online about Frio wallets in particular have used the same ones for years, so they seem like a good investment. I can't find any faults with these products so I'm not going to write any more for the sake of writing. If you're going away or even if you're staying in the UK and we have one of those rare warm summer days then I'd recommend trying a Frio wallet to keep your pens/pumps cool.  

Twitter - @FrioUKLtd
Facebook - Frio UK Ltd
Website - 

Ninjabetic x 

Kaleido - Insulin pump patch

Disclaimer: I was asked to meet 2 of the Kaleido team to view their new insulin patch pump. I have not been paid or asked to write this blog. I was bought a diet coke during the meeting though – I was thirsty. I am not currently using a Kaleido insulin patch pump. These pumps are not currently being used by people with diabetes to deliver insulin (I'm told). I did however receive a cool demo pump which doesn’t deliver insulin. If you’d like to know more about my thoughts then please read on. If you have any questions about the product then please contact the Kaleido team who will be able to help you. I'm a sucker for being distracted by bright shiny objects so I'm bound to have forgotten to ask some questions!

My demo Kaleido pump (minus the infusion set) - see more on my instagram

I eagerly eyed up the bright pink and turquoise boxes that had been placed in front of me, feeling excited as I knew what was inside. “Open the pink one first” Alex (one of the Kaleido team said). As I picked up the box I asked if there was anything inside it… It felt so light it could have been completely empty. As I opened it up I didn’t see just one insulin pump but 10! I couldn’t believe how light 10 insulin pumps were! “They’re so small” I exclaimed, genuinely surprised at the size. “Can I touch them?” I asked, not realising that I had already jumped straight in and was pulling out a beautiful metallic pink pump. “It’s incredibly light” I said to Alex and Amy who had come from the Netherlands to show me the new Kaleido insulin patch pumps. I quickly pulled my current pump (Accu-chek Spirit Combo) out of my pocket to compare sizes. There was a huge difference in size, being that my current pump was much bigger (see pic below). I imagined how heavy the Kaleido would feel with insulin inside it and I imagine it wouldn’t be much heavier. The width, height, length and finish of the Kaleido pumps were all very impressive. I could imagine myself wearing one of these I thought to myself. I’m a sucker for anything bright and colourful and this pump lived up to Kaleido’s tagline “let’s inject some colour”.

I was incredibly lucky to have been the first patient in the UK to have a look and feel session with these new insulin patch pumps. When I was told that I prayed that my clumsy self wouldn’t mess it up and accidently break or set fire one of them! You’ll all be pleased to know that I got through the meeting damage free! I first heard about these insulin pumps in September when Kaleido launched the product at EASD. I quickly had a look on the website and was very impressed with what I saw and read. The aim (from what I could see) was to provide a simple insulin pump that is easy to use whilst still providing people with what they need to control their diabetes.

Now I will admit to being sucked in by the beautiful rainbow website and shiny shells of the pumps, however I also wanted to find out about the ‘stuff’ the pumps could do. There’s much more to technology than just looking good! At the meeting the guys had bought all of the necessary bits n bobs that go with the pump – infusion sets, cannulas, needles for drawing up insulin, sticky pads to keep the pump in place etc, and also the handset that works with the pump. The handset was also very easy on the eye – an impressive looking bit of kit which looks very similar to a smart phone. It too was lightweight and sleek looking and has a number of options in the menu including:

  • Basal - basal profile (x7), temp basal, create basal, change basal, modify basal
  • Bolus - quick bolus, extended bolus (and soon to be added bolus calculator) 
  • BG - there is an option manually enter BG reading in line with your testing
  • Settings - including personal info, button lock, medical message, volume etc
  • Status - stop and pause pumping

Blood glucose wise the meter is not a BG meter. I asked why and the guys said this is because patients they spoke to had their own favourite meters and they didn’t want to force anyone to use a certain type. Also, some test strips are hard to come by in certain areas and they wanted to make sure people could use a meter that will have strips available.  I guess that’s up to individuals to decide whether or not they like that idea.

Now, one of the key features that stood out for me what that although this was a patch pump (the pump itself sticks to your body), it could be moved around the body without having to completely replace the pump or change the cannula. Let me explain that a bit better… The current (and main) patch pump on the market does not have tubing attached, this means that if you wanted to move it to a different position on the body you would need to take the whole thing off and start again. Kaleido does have an infusion set (tubing and cannula) which enables the user to move the pump around without having to start a new one. Basically, the way they have done this is by having a small piece of velcro attached to the back of the pump, this is attached to an adhesive which you stick on your arm, abdomen or leg (I tried it and it's very sticky). If you want to move the pump from say your arm to your bra or pocket then all you need to do is peel it away from the velcro and move it! This very simple aspect of the design really impressed me (I’m often impressed with simple solutions!). In the past I’ve been put off using a patch pump purely due to not having the freedom to move the pump around as and when I want to.

Here are some other pieces of info that I took away from my Q&A session with the team:

  • It holds 200 units of insulin
  • The pump itself is very durable – It’s been hit with a hammer and even shot with a gun!
  • The pumps and handset need to be charged on average every 3 days
  • Recommended change time for the cannulas is every 3 days
  • There is currently no cannula inserter
  • The handset “talks” to the insulin pump via Bluetooh
  • The charge time for the pump and meter is about 1.5 hours
  • The starter kit includes 2 insulin pumps (2 different colours), 1 handset and a load of infusion sets, sticky stickers to stick the pump to yourself and needles etc for drawing up insulin
  • Kaleido are looking into having an option of using steel cannulas but at the moment a normal cannula is used
  • When charging your pump the team recommend you switch over to the other pump that you have been given in order to not miss any insulin during the charging period
  • The pump is waterproof up to 1 metre
  • Data download that Kaledio are looking at using is the Diasend system (for now)
  • It currently is not compatible with CGM (continuous glucose monitoring)
  • The pump is charged via a dock which can be plugged into a USB port of a normal plug socket
  • The handset will soon have a ‘bolus wizard’ in order to calculate your insulin:carb ratio
  • The tubing comes in different lengths (5cm and 30cm)
  • You can see your current basal profile on the handset in a graph form rather than just numbers/units per hour (I like this!)
  • Temporary basal rates from 10-200% (increase or decrease) can be set
  • Customer service wise the team hope to have a 24 hour phone line and email support (but do get in touch with them if you have any more Qs on this) and if a pump or handset needs replacing they hope to be able to do this within 4 hours
  • If you took the Kaleido off there is a pause option which means the handset will tell you how much insulin you've missed when you go back to using it
  • If you require more than 200 units of insulin you just need to refill the pump

My experience of using insulin pumps only lies with the Accu-chek combo (2.5 years) and the Medtronic 640G (which I trialled for 8 weeks). As pump users know, every pump has different features and benefits and everyone wants something different from their portable pancreas. Although this pump isn’t all singing all dancing and jiggling around with bells on it, I like the simplicity and I think it could potentially be a great 1st pump! As I said to the team yesterday, sometimes when people try to do too much they don’t always get it right and the whole product can suffer as a result. If a few key features are concentrated on and done really well then you can have a great end product.

Giving my honest opinion on this product I am impressed but I wouldn’t give a final judgement until I had tried it for at least a few weeks with insulin. In terms of features and benefits it has everything that I currently use with on Combo pump, however this aesthetics of this pump and handset definitely appeal to me much more. As mentioned in the disclaimer, the Kaleido pumps have not been trailed with insulin yet with people (though the pump itself has been tested with insulin), and when I asked about this I was told by the team that pilot studies will hopefully be commencing in January next year. They plan to launch in the UK after trials have been completed. When it comes down to it, an insulin pump can look amazing and appeal to a large group of people but ultimately it needs to be able to help us manage our diabetes well. With regards to insulin delivery options, functionality of the pump etc it seems promising; also the cost, I’ve been told, is much lower than the current pumps on the market.

The Kaleido pumps are something I will be keeping an eye on and I look forward to hearing about developments! It certainly does appeal to me and I will be watching with interest to see what the future holds for Kaleido. If I haven’t answered any of your questions then do please get in touch with the guys at Kelido who are really friendly and will be able to help you more. I only had an hour with them and they know a hell of a lot more that I do about the product :) 

Twitter - @HeyKaleido #letsinjectsomecolour 
Website - 

Ninjabetic x 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Gastroparesis: From The Top

It has been over 7 months since I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis, so I thought it’s probably about time that I started attempting to get my confused, fuzzy brain around it. For me this means getting all of my thoughts out onto paper (ahh fresh internet paper) in order to make some sense of something that is utterly confusing and something that I’d much rather ignore. Unfortunately Gastroparesis doesn’t like to be ignored though!

I should probably warn you now, Gastroparesis isn’t sexy (but what illness is?). What I mean by not sexy is it involves vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating, pain, dehydration, mushed up food and a hell of a lot of tears! It’s all part and parcel of this shitty complication (no pun intended!) and sadly it comes with some pretty gross stuff. So to all of my readers… I’m sorry.

This blog is called from the top because it has taken over 6 years for my Gastroparesis to be diagnosed and, since I’ve started talking about it online, I’ve realised that lots of other people with diabetes have similar issues and haven’t been able to resolve them. So in a way I’m hoping that the blogs I write will help to raise some awareness about this condition. It still amazes me that this is a complication of diabetes yet Dr Google (other Drs are available) and myself are the only ones who spotted it. Sadly Dr Google can’t offer me diagnostics or treatment, hence why I’m writing this 6 years later than I should have. However, now the answers are officially on paper, stamped, signed and in my ever expanding hospital notes, I can finally start getting some help.

I'm not invincible

My past, as many of you know, included me being an incredibly stubborn teenager and adult and neglecting my diabetes management for a very long time. This resulted in consistently high glucose levels, ketones and admission after admission due to DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis). At the time I was unable to see the damage that I was doing, thinking that I was invincible (as you do when you’re younger) and setting myself up for a nasty fall in the form of a complication.

Here’s a bit about Gastroparesis that I stole from the internet:

“Gastroparesis is a disorder affecting people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents (delayed gastric emptying). The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the digestive tract. If the vagus nerve is damaged or stops working, the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally, and the movement of food is slowed or stopped.”

Symptoms include; Heartburn, nausea, vomiting of undigested food, early feeling of fullness when eating, weight loss, abdominal bloating, erratic blood glucose (sugar) levels, lack of appetite, gastroesophageal reflux, spasms of the stomach wall. (American Diabetes Association).

I’ve highlighted my symptoms in blue but what isn’t often spoken about is D&V caused by constipation, then followed by constipation, followed by D&V, leading to dehydration, causing ketones etc etc. Sexy, right?! As well as the symptoms highlighted above I also had very bad stomach cramps, sleepless nights, time off work and Uni, had to cancel plans with friends and avoided leaving the house when things were very bad. As you can see, Gastroparesis isn’t just physical, it affects a person’s whole quality of life.


I went to my GP a number of times and told him about my symptoms, however he dismissed them and suggested that I was suffering from stress. “I don’t feel stressed” I told him, but as the years went by I grew tired of being told the same thing over and over again until eventually I stopped telling anyone. I coped quite well by using various strategies; over the counter medications to cure my nausea and bloating, thinking of excuses which people would believe in order to escape a night out… I was the master of disguising my symptoms until a few years ago when the nausea became uncontrollable. I was admitted to hospital two years ago, again in DKA; I was unable to eat or drink a thing and I vomited for 4 days non-stop. It was decided that I had food poisoning because I had eaten chicken the night before, however when I said that it has happened on and off for years, nothing was done. When I think back now I wonder if it was assumed by my HCPs that I had slipped back into my old ways and was omitting my insulin again. I was told that investigations were too expensive, but perhaps their thinking behind it was that there wasn’t really a gastric issue, more that I was omitting. However I wasn’t. Thinking back, this is one of those times when listening to the patient and their family is so important.

After that admission I started to speak to my HCPs again about my symptoms. I had been “back on track” with my self-management for 2 years prior to that admission and I was enthusiastic about my diabetes and confident in openly discussing my problems. It took a further 2 years of discussions, symptoms and more hospital admissions, but I've finally been given the test and treatment that I needed.

More about that in my next unsexy instalment! 

Ninjabetic x 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Stur water enhancer

A few weeks ago the peeps from Stur contacted me asking if I'd like to try their water enhancer. As I was about to say "thank you, that's very kind but I don't drink water", I thought back to the one and only new years resolution that I make every year and every year I break - To drink more water! My problem is that water is boring, there's no denying that. My other problem is that I drink around 8 cups of tea a day, so I don't find that I'm thirsty often. 

So I agreed to try Stur and initially I wasn't hopeful that it would entice me to break my 8 a day habit in favour of water, however I was wrong. I chose to try the coconut and pineapple Stur (I love love love pineapple) and as it's summer time I thought this would make a nice refreshing change to my tea addiction. It WAS a nice change and not only was it good to try something different, but it also had zero calories and zero carbs. The fact that it has zero carbs is obviously good for my diabetes control as it means I don't need to take insulin for it, plus having zero calories is also good for my waistline! I have to be honest, I do get a little bored with drinking the same sugar free drinks all the time, so having a variety of flavoured Stur enhancers to choose from did make my drinks menu seem a little bit brighter. 

It's all natural and is jam packed with vitamin C and there is a big selection of flavours to choose from. I must admit that the coconut flavour did slightly overpower the pineapple but that didn't put me off. 

It comes in a handy little bottle that would easily fit into my handbag or pocket if I wanted to take it to work or Uni with me, and I found that I only needed a few drops to get the strength that I wanted (though I do like it very very weak!). It lasted me just under 2 weeks and I was using it about 2x a day, so for the price (£2.99 - other flavours vary in price) I thought it was good value. 

You can check out more of the Stur products on their website -

Ninjabetic x 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Passionate frustration

One day I changed, I was stronger than before,
I had accepted the hand dealt, no longer would I ignore.
I was encouraged, I was pushed, supported in my ambition,
I was a part of the force, I was a welcome addition.

What remains shared and equal, the desire to improve,
but the words, the actions, the will, is often misconstrued
So many understand what seems to be a fixation,
there's a brightly burning desire, a passionate translation

My peers, they live the same life that I know,
so similar in our thoughts, our actions and our woe.
One day I see those words, another life has been taken,
a feeling grows inside me, not passion but frustration.

As I think of those lost, my thoughts turn to fear,
becoming inwardly selfish, I hide to shed a tear.
That desire within flickers, threatening surrender,
but the bravado returns, perhaps a desperate defender.

I think to myself, what more can be done,
to protect my peers, a family losing a loved one.
I write out loud, words catching my eye,
I reach for support, once vowed to be at my side.

My words are written clearly, but interpreted not as I see,
the passion, the reality, the sadness within me.
It comes from exhausted living, the years with this condition,
it comes from trying to tell you, whilst continuing on this mission.

You see why I feel stormy, why I sometimes can’t back down,
you see why I come out fighting, staying afloat so as not to drown.
I’m scared of the fight that’s in me, but I have faith in my dedication,
what I need is that vowed support at my side, to soften my passionate frustration.