Laura - Living with diabetes - The Ninjabetic Way
After living with type 1 diabetes for 11 years, I've come to realise that I'm quite proud of my condition. Diabetes doesn't control me or my life, but it has definitely helped shape me and make me the person I am today.
When people ask me why I'm testing my blood sugars or why the small box I have in my pocket has suddenly started beeping and vibrating, I happily tell them "I have Type 1 diabetes" and secretly hope that they will probe me for further information. I can be a massive show off at times, and I love to enlighten people if they ask me questions.
I get that warm fuzzy feeling in my tummy when I share some diabetes information and the response is "Oh I see... I didn't know that." It's a very satisfying feeling to impart diabetes knowledge onto someone. I feel that I have a little role to play in educating others about the way people with type 1 really live with diabetes, by dispelling the myths that are portrayed by the media and setting the record straight. In fact my friends are now so clued up on diabetes that they tell others about it!
Saying: "Yes I can eat this," is a personal favourite of mine, occasionally followed by a long and detailed explanation of carbohydrate counting (strangely people don't tend to ask again after that).
The way I see it is that I'm stuck with diabetes, there's nothing that I can do about it, so why not make the most of it.
Yes, diabetes has its disadvantages. Waking up at 3am dripping with sweat, feeling dizzy and wondering how long it would take to make a roast dinner followed by apple crumble, just to satisfy my hypo cravings. However diabetes also has advantages. I can't think of any other illness that requires jelly babies or haribo as life saving treatment! Saying: "Get me some jelly babies. STAT!" is possibly my favourite thing about having diabetes.
I think it's very important to have fun with diabetes. If your rabbit happens to chew through your pump tubing (as I heard happened to someone recently), it isn't the end of the world. I once dropped my lancet down the toilet twice in the same day and, after much shouting and running around with a toilet brush, I realised that I had to once again take the plunge and laugh it off.
I understand that diabetes is a serious condition and it can come with some serious complications if we don't take care of it, but no one is perfect 100% of the time... I've learnt that over the years. I've made mistakes... some huge life changing mistakes... but I've learnt from each and every one of them.
That for me is the biggest part of living with diabetes... accepting that I won't get it right every time, but knowing that I will get it right eventually.
Laura tweets as @ninjabetic1
David Adams - Feeling the benefit of regular exercise
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1993 when I was 35 years old, I was aware of the condition as my father has lived with it for 32 years. However it was still a shock as I was a relatively fit guy who had played rugby in my 20s and 30s.
Looking back I now know I wasn't as fit and healthy as I thought I was and I basically ignored the condition as I didn't think it was particularly serious.
I have always tried to eat a balanced diet but can be prone to a little over indulgence at times and over the next few years I moved from tablets to Novorapid and Levamir insulin injections.
In 2008 a friend suggested taking on the London to Paris rowing challenge, I hadn't done any competitive rowing since my university days, however I was keen to be part of the team and started to build up my fitness. I started to see some immediate effects on my diabetes, I was eating a very low calorie diet and lots of steamed fish and vegetables and as I lost weight I was able to reduce my insulin.
The rowing has led to a renewed interest in cycling and I have taken on a variety of cycling challenges including a 1000 mile ride to Poland to celebrate a wedding and a 700 mile ride to the South of France.
I now visit the gym at least 4 times a week and do spinning classes, rowing and swimming and I can confirm my diabetes is better controlled and I feel much healthier as a result.
I feel regular exercise if possible is very important for a diabetic.
Neil Nutburn - Life with a type 1 Diabetic
I was diagnosed back in 1966 when just 18 months old, I used to hide the fact I was living with type 1 diabetes and only told an employer once I had the job … how things have changed and now, with a broadened understanding, this is no longer the case.
I believe physical exercise has made a huge difference to my life and to the control of my type 1 diabetes. Karate is a TRULY physical sport and I used to train three or four times a week from 7.20pm through to 10.00pm. I won numerous competitions and always came away exhausted, so when people say that living with diabetes should prevent someone from doing manual work or physical exercise, I would beg to differ.
I closely monitor my blood levels before I eat and every time I get into the car to drive. This is also something that some people may not realise, I have to go through a medical check-up every three years to make sure I’m fit to drive. The DVLA will not issue a continuation of my licence if I am unfit.
My insulin regime consists of one injection taken at the same time every day as a base to work from. Throughout the day I then inject the required amount of fast acting insulin based on a calculation of what my sugar levels are, what the carbohydrate content of the food I’m about to eat is, and/or the exercise I’m planning to do. I take all these factors into consideration, do the maths and hopefully not get it wrong as my old school nurses once did! So many things to consider and that’s without even taking on-board how hot sunny days or freezing winter ones can also have an effect on sugar levels.
Having had this condition all my life, by now, I should really have a strict regime of what to do and when to do it without failing … this would be okay if I stuck to the really old way of eating roughly the same food, taking the same dosage and doing (or not) the same exercise but I’m not prepared to have my life ruled in such a manner. When out and about or engrossed in a project or work, I can get caught up in the moment as can anyone else and this is where I find technology helps immensely.
At 4pm every day, my phone reminds me to test my blood. Why then? I happen to know that my blood levels enjoy creeping up sometime between lunch and dinner so this is a good time for me just to check it, if it’s a little lower than I would like I can deal with it, if it’s higher, I can easily calculate how much insulin I need to take to ensure by dinner time, my levels will be back in line.
The other alarm is set for 7pm, again, if out and about or just distracted with what life throws me, this alarm is a reminder to take my long term (the base one) insulin, once again, technology helps me to gain further control.
Having been diagnosed with diabetes at such an early age, it has meant that I missed out on some things such as eating sweet foods when I felt like it. I did once eat the best part of two candy flosses at a fair and then spent three days in hospital, oops!
Nowadays I tell people that a little of something naughty is actually good for you and the way diabetes is managed, generally means we can have those occasional treats that we savour and enjoy it far more than if eaten regularly.
Diabetes … Yeah, my life has had its ups and downs as a result of having this condition but with reasonably good management, a continued education on how to handle it (after all, our metabolism changes constantly so there’s another factor to consider) and a real urge to grab a hold onto life to enjoy it to its full, it hasn’t been a detriment to the way I live but rather an attribute to having a better and healthier lifestyle.