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 - www.sturdrinks.eu

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.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

My Dare Devil Diabetes

Recently I was asked to create a model of what diabetes looks like to me; this was to give an insight into diabetes for a medical device company. 

Usually my diabetes monster is green and sits on my shoulder, overseeing what I do and always trying to have a say in the decisions I make! Sadly the company who sent me the clay didn't send any green, so instead I made this little Dare Devil. In my diabetes mind the Dare Devil grows in size depending on what my blood sugars are doing at the time; the higher they get the bigger he grows and the louder he roars! On a good day he will be small, quiet and very easy to manage. On a good day I barely notice he's there. 

Ninjabetic x 

Monday, 27 July 2015

A Pretty Muddy Run with Type 1 Diabetes

As promised, here's my video about taking on the Race For Life Pretty Muddy Run!


Ninjabetic x 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Mud, sun and Type 1

This weekend myself and my friend (and fellow Type 1) Kelly, ran the Race For Life in memory of our friend, Tanwen. Well, I say run... it was really a mixture of jogging, walking, crawling, climbing, sliding, jumping and falling! All in all it was a great day and diabetes wise things seemed to go okay for me during the race. The course wasn't the typical Race For Life course, this year there were muddy obstacles in the way, including some rather questionable pink inflatable tubes which my other half pointed out had an Ann Summers look about them! The obstacles made the race even more fun but also slightly tricky for someone who carries around rather a lot of medical equipment. The biggest risk being that the equipment that keeps me out of hospital and allows me to be healthy may become clogged with mud!

During the race I didn't see anyone else running with bags, only myself and Kelly. Luckily my other half was very kind and offered to run alongside us carrying both of our bags as well as my camera to film throughout the day. As you can imagine I needed to be as prepared as I could be in the heat with Type 1 so I made sure I had everything I needed and more.

I'm not going to go in too much detail about diabetes on the day in this blog as I have a video to put up which shows how our day went, but below are a few pictures which will show you how difficult it would have been to wear an insulin pump, test my blood sugars and eat if I needed to. I could barely stand up for all the slipping and sliding so having diabetes was definitely an extra challenge. 

Keep an eye out for the video on my YouTube channel (and subscribe too!), but in the meantime I hope you enjoy our photos!

If you took part in the Race for Life this year then please comment below and let me know how you got on!

Ninjabetic x 


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hid-In insulin pump panties review

As some of you who follow me on twitter may have seen, I've been tweeting about my pants recently. Not because I've gone slightly mad or have become a fashion blogger (I'm still all about the betes!), but because I was sent a pair of Hid-In insulin pump pants to try out!

The lovely Katie from Hid-In posted on facebook recently that she needed a few ladies to try out her new product in exchange for user feedback, and luckily I saw the post in time. What's also lucky is that my bum is the right size for the pants Katie had to give away :) I've had my pants for a week now and I've been able to wear them twice (I'm wearing them right now!). Before anyone says it, it's never okay to turn them inside out to get an extra day's wear out of them... that's just wrong. 

You may have seen in one of my youtube videos that I've used one of Katie's products before (the Hid-In Multiway Body Band) and I absolutely loved it, which was why I was excited to try this new product. I know it's only a pair of pants, but when you're wearing certain clothes and the only place to hide your portable pancreas is in the side of your bra, it's quite nice to have an extra option. As I've mentioned in the past, insulin pumps aren't very easy to hide inside clothing and it takes a lot of practice and adjusting to master the art of not having a rectangle shaped bulge. Before I got the pants I did wonder if that bulge was now going to be showing in a place where women don't usually bulge, but I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of pant bulge on display. I think I've used the word bulge far too much for one blog... 

So this is the little envelope that popped through my letter box last week and I got far too excited knowing that there was another diabetes tester inside. I love that Katie adds heart stickers to the back of the envelopes - It feels like a treat has just arrived!

Inside was a letter from Katie saying hello and thanks for trying the product. Katie always writes a bit about her experience with diabetes as well and why she makes Hid-In products which is a nice touch. It's good to know that the person who has designed the product has done it because they have had similar problems and and wanted to find the solution. 

The product itself is really nice - I like the detail around the edge, it's not too fussy but is still feminine. The material is very soft but also feels quite strong. I don't know about you ladies but I'm fed up with elastic that loses it's stretch (#womensproblems) but these seem very well made and look like they'll last a decent amount of time. The best bit is that they fit really well - not too big, not too small and they're really comfortable! I have quite big hips but these hug me in all the right places :)

This is the pocket - the main selling point to the product. The pocket is on the inside at the front and is more than wide enough to fit my Accu-Chek Combo insulin pump inside. I've used the Medtronic MiniMed 640G pump recently which is longer and wider than the Combo and I think it would also fit inside quite easily. As a test to see what else I could stash in there I also managed to fit in a lip-gloss and my chunky Channel blusher! I attempted to fit my mobile in as well but I was pushing my luck with that one. Obviously I didn't leave them in there... it was purely for experimenting!

In terms of taking insulin, I'm lucky in that my pump has blue-tooth which means that I can use my blood glucose meter to tell my pump to deliver my insulin. This means that wherever I've stashed my pump, I don't need to get it out in order to take my insulin. I know that not all insulin pumps have this function which would mean having to get the pump out of the pocket but I did manage to discreetly do this (again as an experiment) without anyone noticing! 

In terms of comfort I've had no problems at all. It did feel a little strange at first because I've never worn my pump in that position before but after an hour or so I got used to it. In terms of how visible the pump is, I tried the pants on with a few outfits and I went to Mr T for  some straight-to-the-point male advice (does my pump look big in this) and they passed the test! If I'm honest, when I ask him if any part of me looks big he knows better than to say yes, but I do trust him to tell me if my pump is showing. 

All in all I give this product a big thumbs up and 5 pink stars out of 5! Thank you Katie for making another great diabetes fashion product for us!

Ninjabetic x 

Check out Katie's website: hid-in.com

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Blog lovin'

I'm currently making my way back to Southsea after being in Cardiff delivering a presentation about blogging and diabetes. I presented during a paediatric diabetes study day and I'm really hoping that my experience of blogging will encourage the HCPs (Health Care Professionals) who attended to encourage their patients to give it a try. It seems that understanding social media is becoming more of a priority for diabetes professionals which pleases me a lot as it's a great way to engage patients in their care! In fact, social media seems to be increasingly popular amongst all health conditions and I think it's great that HCPs are taking the time to listen and learn from patients about how and why it helps them. My diabetes blogging story still seems fairly new to me, but three years in and it's growing stronger than I had ever imagined when I published my first blog post. 

You see I didn't really enter the world of diabetes until I started blogging about it, which seems like a strange way to 'get into' a health condition. I do like to be different though! I'd blogged for a while before I started this one, writing for Channel 4 and their comedy channel, e4, after my media degree. I've always enjoyed trying out new things and I've always embraced technology - it's never scared me, only ever intrigued me. I also adore writing and being creative and when I climb inside my own head anything is possible and getting those ideas onto paper is just another step towards making my dreams become my reality. Can you tell I'm a Pisces?

As I said, I didn't really enter the world of diabetes until I started to write about my experiences - that was 9 years into my diagnosis. It's pretty shocking, looking back, to think that I'd ignored my condition for such a long time, but I was in absolute denial about what I was going through. I didn't go through the stage of grief that many people experience when one of their vital organs starts to go a bit haywire, in my head nothing had changed, and I wanted to keep it that way. Out of sight, out of mind.

The turning point, and the stage when I finally accepted that my Islet cells were as useful as a chocolate tea pot, came when one of the consultants at my clinic, Partha (you guys know Partha, right? He has a blog too), found out that I blogged for channel 4 and suggested I started using social media to talk to local patients about diabetes. I'd never considered doing anything with diabetes other than ignoring it, I certainly didn't think that talking about it would make the slightest bit of difference... but I did love to write. I thought about it for a little while and danced around the idea of starting another blog, which eventually I did. I also love Marvel/DC comics/films etc and I'd always wanted to be a strong and powerful hero, someone that in reality I wasn't. I wanted nothing more than to escape the reality that I was living in... That reality, as you can imagine, was exhausting at times, due to me constantly hiding from and battling with my diabetes.

For a while I blogged anonymously, not here but on another site, talking to myself about diabetes and everything that came with it at the time. I didn't get a huge amount out of that but I soon created this blog which helped me to reach other people. That's when things really started to turn around and I didn't want to be anonymous any more. The biggest part of blogging, for me, is talking to others and hearing someone say "me too". That moment when someone relates to what you're saying and you realise you aren't alone in what you do and how you feel is an incredibly powerful feeling, almost as if I can finally accept that what I'm thinking/feeling is normal. Almost as if I'm finally giving myself permission to think/feel and not hide any more.

Blogging has also been incredibly therapeutic for me. After 9 long years of keeping all of my fears, worries and experiences bottled up inside, I finally realised there was a place to make sense of them... this blog. I soon found that spilling my thoughts on to a blank canvas and arranging them in a way that helps me to make sense and understand them has helped me to become much more in tune with the emotional side that comes with diabetes. I'm able to manage certain situations much better than before by spending time arranging my thoughts, reflecting on them and viewing them from different angles. I could never do that before I started blogging.

I have to say though, it's not all bright and shiny... Let's be realistic here. Blogging or putting yourself out there on any public platform does come with a few negatives. I've come up against internet 'trolls' who just love to criticise me in any way they can, people who go out of their way to try to upset me or try bring me down. It's just one of those things though. But turning a negative into a positive, this just builds me up even more. Haters gonna hate ;) The thing to do is not rise to it. I'm incredibly happy whilst I'm blogging and using any of my social media platforms... and that's all at to matters to me. The way I see it is it's called social media for a reason... Trolling isn't sociable. Simples. 

Back to the awesome side though,,, Blogging has also had perks that I never imagined could happen. I've somehow managed to rack up a lot of hits on my blog (though I think a large number of those are from my mum!) and from being noticed online I've been lucky enough to travel around the world, meeting people that I would never have met if I hadn't blogged. I've been given amazing opportunities that I'm very grateful for and some experience that I will never forget! I've made some incredible friends who keep me and others around them motivated and I also feel that I have quite a good relationship with my diabetes team because I have no secrets from them. I'm completely honest online and I'm aware that what I say in public can easily be seen by any of them, and that's cool with me. 

So that's my little blog about blogging, I guess I wrote it because the presentation made me realise just how powerful it can be and just how much it has helped me to turn my diabetes around. I know that I don't blog as much as I used to, but I'm working on it. I like to think of twitter as micro-blogging so follow my mine blogs at @ninjabetic1 - If you're considering giving it a go then I'd definitely recommend it! Start anonymously if that's what works for you, but see how it goes. It could be one of the best thing you've tried for your diabetes!

Ninjabetic x 

(Photos taken at the Abbott diabetes bloggers conference, Berlin - May 2015)

Monday, 8 June 2015

Blogging in Berlin

I had been eagerly awaiting the weekend just gone for what seems like forever and I'm sad to say that it has now finished (until next year I hope!). It was the perfect way to end my nursing placement... being flown to Berlin by the generous peeps at Abbott in order to spend a few days with fellow diabetes bloggers from across Europe. Our common goal for the weekend was to connect, to share our skills, to inspire and motivate one another to do more, to reach more people and to create a wider space in the world of the diabetes online community. 

The weekend started with a good old shopping trip! Sofia (from Sweden) and I arrived to Berlin quite early and we decided to do some sight-seeing which turned into us hitting the shops almost straight away and being very impressed with the fashion in Berlin. Sofia and I had only met an hour before-hand and I loved the way that we instantly connected due to having diabetes in common. 

One thing I love about being around other people with diabetes is that no matter who the person is of which language they speak, we can all understand each other as we speak the language of diabetes! This has never happened in any other aspect of my life and this is one of the things that I enjoy about having diabetes. It's like a secret code that only certain people understand. I love it when I can tell someone that I'm high without them thinking the worst! I love that people know what I mean when I talk about a bolus wizard or DKA. Having these people in my life makes me feel less alone. 

Next I went to my hotel to relax before the meet and greet that evening. I arrived in my hotel room to find that Abbott had created a goodie bag for us, containing food/drink from each of the countries that were attending. I loved this little touch! Then a knock on the door revealed the Hotel had supplied us with a delicious box of chocolates! The weekend was off to an amazing start! 

I have been lucky enough to meet a handful of the bloggers on my first social media trip in which I took part in a bloggers summit, again in Berlin. This time round I met so many new faces and people behind the twitter accounts that I speak with so often. It's always very strange to meet with people that you've spoken with countless times online, but it really helps to bring the diabetes online community to life!

With Kris (@diabeticbanana)

The weekend included some creative and engaging talks from various speakers. The aim, from what I saw/heard was to get us thinking about how we could enhance our social media presence/skills in order to connect with more people with diabetes. From experience, I know that amazing movements can arise from connecting with others in the diabetes online community, and after this weekend I have come away with plenty of ideas about how to keep connecting people in the world of diabetes. Not only patients but diabetes professionals too!

The venue that we were taken to for our meeting helped me to think outside the box. From the outside it looked like a run-down building that perhaps needed a wrecking ball taking to it. Inside however, was the most stunning and creative space which was soon filled with creative minds.

Our meeting venue - Frbrik 23

The sessions were different to any other diabetes/social media/blogger meeting that I have been, to in that they weren't all focused on diabetes, and as well as that they weren't all presented by people with diabetes. It was very refreshing to be able to think about social media and its possibilities without narrowing it down to a specific topic. That in itself helped me to form ideas about how diabetes care and support can be shaped in terms of social media use, in a way that everyone can relate too. 

We were invited to listen to sessions which included; building online communities, fashion with diabetes, turning a passion for social media into a profession and an instagram workshop, to name a few. 

Micro blogging/tweeting

I have to admit that I was sceptical about a few of the worshops. I thought that I knew what worked for me. what I liked and what people wanted. It turns out that I was wrong and after a few sessions I have been convinced to look at social media and its possibilities in different ways. Having co-founded the popular diabetes tweet chat, @OurDiabetes, as well as recently starting a local diabetes peer support group, @sweet_meets, I've been able to look at peer support in a fresh way and hopefully in a way that will benefit other patients, their families and health care professionals. There is much to do in the world of social media and diabetes!

Something that I did not expect to happen, and that I am grateful to Abbott for, is a new found love of food! In recent years, since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and more recently with gastroparesis, my diet and the way that I look at food has gone downhill. I have recently started to loathe food due to the highs and lows it causes to my glucose levels. My average day in terms of food consists of the same food and drink, resulting in me rarely enjoying a meal. Food has become a part of a mind-numbingly boring routine. Thankfully though, Abbott didn't provide us with toast and cereal (which my usual diet consists of) but a delicious spread filled with fresh fruit, veg and meat which for the first time in years, I enjoyed! It has helped me to see my gastroparesis in a different way - before I felt I was doomed to a diet of blended fruit & veg but now I feel excited to experiment with new foods! So thank you to Abbott for that inadvertent little nudge in the right direction that I needed. 

So the weekend has come to an end and I'm sitting at home in sunny England wondering which direction I should go in next with regards diabetes and social media/blogging. One issue I have is time - I need to study and to support that I need to work which means I have even less time to get to where I would like to be in terms of social media and reaching more people. But this weekend has certainly shown me that when a group of people come together they can take on their common goal as a team, rather than individually taking all the strain. Hopefully this is only the start of a European bloggers movement!

And finally... I'll be giving away this unisex t-shirt (medium) is worth 67 euros on June 20th! All you need to do to enter my random proze draw is:

  • Follow me on twitter (@ninjabetic1) and RT the t-shirt picture OR
  • 'Like' my page on facebook (ninjabetics) and share the picture OR
  • Follow me on instagram (laura_ninjabetic) and favouried the picture

The wonderful creator at Anna PS designs clothing for people with diabetes to store their equipment in the clever side pockets (cgm reader, pump, glucose meter etc). 

Ninjabetic x 

Fellow European tweeters/bloggers/facebookers to look out for include;

Jen, Mel, Kris, Sue, GemmaAndrea, Sofia, Bastian, Oscar, Daniela, Matthijs, Francessca, Sarah, Linda, Hein, Patricia, Antje, Guillaume, Marcel, Sascha, Lisa, Maunela, Ilka and Finn

Disclosure: I have been sponsored by Abbott to attend the bloggers programme. Abbott has not asked me to tweet/post/blog about the programme. Views and opinions expressed are my own and not those of Abbotts.