Saturday, 31 August 2013

Cyberbullying

Today at the Dugdale centre which is a library/museum/theatre/ice cream parlour (seriously ha ha) situated in my local community...there was a seminar on about being aware of cyber bullying and how to prevent it and how parents can monitor their children's activity on-line. I was actually asked by the really lovely lady who organised it, if I would talk about the effects of cyber bullying. It was a really good experience and turns out the local newspapers were there so I had my photo taken quite a few times and was interviewed along with another young girl who spoke about the facts of cyber bullying.

Had a lot of lovely comments from people once I had finished which is always great to hear.

Thankfully I have never been the victim of proper cyber bullying but have had experience with internet trolls earlier this year. A couple of american kids made a twitter account regarding the death of our cat, Smudge and began insulting him and using the account to tweet insults about me- it was a pure example of how internet trolls and cyber bullies will find your vulnerable side and use it to their advantage to try and get to a person. I'm glad that I didn't allow it to get to me and I was aware and I did tell my parents plus I reported the account. It was deleted after countless times reporting the account.

But a lot of young people aren't aware.

So many will try to deal with it on their own- some will keep quiet, many will retaliate and argue with them, but this is what the bullies want, we all know that internet trolls and cyber bullies only want a reaction. I feel like keeping quiet is better, but keep quiet on the internet, don't let yourself deal with it on your own, it's probably the worst thing to do.

Although I fortunately have not experienced serious cyber-bullying; I see it and have experienced internet trolls and I know people who have. Things won't change unless people make some noise- right now this is only something small launched in a small borough in North London, but one day it will be bigger. As someone who uses social media a lot I know just how much it can be used for good; I write my blog, I use twitter to connect with the Diabetes Online Community and I use Facebook to be a part of the group 'Type One Teens'.

There is so much potential for social media and I feel like people need to see that and not blame mobile phones, computers, tablets and social media themselves for cyber-bullying. It is those who use social media who we need to look out for and be educated on and try to avoid.

-Ellie
[Peace&Insulin]

Friday, 30 August 2013

Clinic

It has been a very long time since I have posted something. I really need to get back into the swing of things- I think when my days are a bit more structured once I start sixth form it will be easier to do more posts. Summer has been very hectic with going on holiday to Somerset and my cousins having been over for the last 7 weeks- but they have gone home now back to America (which we are all very sad about) so ordinary life is kicking back in.

I suppose now is the part when I tell you what I've been up to.

Wednesday I had an appointment at the hospital- I thought it was my Hba1c appointment and I was stressing out and very apprehensive about the whole thing, but as it turned out the receptionist had messed up the appointments and so it ended up being an appointment with the nurses instead of with the consultant. Which was annoying but the appointment was very productive anyway, I got my annual review blood test done- I am now down 8 vials of blood...

I cannot tell you how incredibly supportive my diabetes team is- the nurse really made me smile the other day.

It really makes me frustrated when I hear about people being shouted at because of high a Hba1c- I can't stand it because I just think...how can you shout at someone for that? They do not know what it's like to live with diabetes so I honestly don't think they have the right to get angry. Diabetes teams should be a group of people that patients with diabetes feel they can turn to when their blood sugars are high or if they have a problem...they shouldn't feel like anyone will judge them.

Thankfully, my diabetes team really are people I can turn to. Not once have they ever got mad at me for having a high Hba1c, it's all about encouragement and Wednesday really showed me that they do understand how hard it is and I have never felt more understood by a person who doesn't have diabetes. Here is how the conversation went:

Mum: It's not that hard Els! (My parents call me Els)
Nurse: Well actually, it's funny you should say that because we all think it's easy. Because we don't have diabetes all we see is the finger prick and inject side of the story- but we don't see anything else and the rest is what the young person with diabetes has to deal with too.
Mum: Yeah it's true, we don't see the psychological side nor a lot of the physical.
Nurse: We don't know what it is about teenagers but a lot of them have trouble doing what they're supposed to do and if we knew what it was we would pin-point it and obviously we could do a lot more to help and it would make things ten times easier.

That sentence- my brain just screamed YES.
I have said this many times before in times that I have struggled with my diabetes and I always say- if I knew what it was in my head that stops me from doing what I'm supposed to be and testing my blood sugars, things would be a whole lot simpler for me when I hit a wall when it comes to controlling diabetes. My mum and the nurse both managed to understand me on Wednesday and it was just amazing to see.

I literally sat there grinning, thinking "Is this really happening? Am I seriously being understood?" With out evening saying anything to the nurse she knew exactly what I was thinking and my mum agreed too! (not that she wouldn't)

All in all Wednesday was a good appointment- my old doctor is also back so I am seeing him in October- Yay! He left to re-train for a higher position as his contract ended and wasn't sure if he was going to be back, but he is and the nurse said I could just book the next appointment with him which I did.

I got my blood drawn by a moody woman- actually I'm not sure if she was just moody or if she was bored of doing the same thing over and over again (I know I would be) she just about addressed the fact that my mum and I were even in the room. Anyway eight vials of blood later it was over. I'm glad I'm not afraid of blood tests otherwise that lady would have really made me uneasy...but I'm not fearful of blood tests so I just let her get on with it.

Yay for understanding!




Monday, 19 August 2013

Reality

Yesterday my parents, sister and I watched Broken- a film about an 11 year old girl called Skunk who's life changes after she witnesses a brutal attack on her neighbour- she also happens to have Type one diabetes and in the end, her diabetes becomes the very thing that nearly kills her after she's held hostage. The film is actually very touching by the end and a bit of a tear jerker- although I have never heard the F-bomb dropped more times in one sentence!

During the film as her dad is frantically looking for her he takes to the police for their help and in doing so he shouts "my daughter has Type one diabetes, and if she isn't monitored- she could die" This sentence actually sent chills down my spine because as much as it is scary to admit it, it's true. Sometimes, I find it strange how as a diabetic you can go from nearing a hospital admission one minute and then perfectly fine the next. It's literally like walking on a tight rope sometimes.

That's what I told my diabetic friend, Laura. This morning she was struggling to get her ketones down- this afternoon she is off enjoying a day out at Go Ape! and riding electric scooters. Just like that, everything changes. With diabetes it's like, you blink once and suddenly your blood sugars have gone up and down more times you can count and you've nearly fainted. It is just so delicate- the balance is so delicate that it's frustrating.

And the reality is, is that nothing you can do will fully control blood sugars. There are so many other factors that come into it and sometimes the odds are definitely not in your favour.

I see little adverts on the side of websites for diabetic shoes or, medicines to help neuropathy in diabetics etc. but I see it, and I move on. The thought doesn't linger, I don't think "what if" because, now is now. I try and control my diabetes in the moment and I like to live in the moment. It's like, the other day when I was sticking my head out of the window on a steam train, that was a moment and I was enjoying it. The future wasn't even a thought that slipped into my mind.

Although I am obviously afraid of what may lie ahead when it comes to diabetes, I try not to fear too much because for now,  I am young and my diabetes is okay- I'm okay, and that's all that matters right now, right here.

When the film ended my parents said "Well that was good, not really the type of film to show parents of a diabetic child though!" We all laughed and I said "she was okay though!" and as I was saying earlier about seeing things and brushing them off- that's exactly what you do. It sinks in, the film sinks in and the reality of how much type one can bring you to the edge of death is scary. But afterwards, you move on. I feel like just because I have type one diabetes and the girl in the film does, it doesn't mean we shouldn't watch it. I like seeing it portrayed in films (and Broken actually does it right!)

It's like saying that we shouldn't watch a film with a cancer patient in it because my mum had cancer. But we do watch films like that and they're sad but not watching them is almost like shying away from any form of reality. I mean sure the girl in the film was kidnapped and of course we're not all going to get kidnapped (I hope! Oh dear, what if I jinxed myself, oh well guys it was nice knowing you...no i'm kidding) ha ha but on a serious note- she was still in DKA, a very real threat to all of us with type one diabetes and it is our reality.

I liked the film and it was very touching, and it was cool seeing her test her blood sugars- I must admit I got pretty excited when I saw her test her blood sugars.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is sometimes, you just have to face the things that you probably don't like to watch or hear- my parents were on edge towards the end and I know my mum had tears in her eyes. I suppose it's awfully scary for them to watch something like that when they have a type one diabetic daughter sitting right over on the other sofa. But, they liked the film so that's good.

All the things that we fear in our lives as diabetics are our reality- but just because it is reality it doesn't mean it will happen. The reality is the very thing that we face, but then do our very best to lock it away in a cupboard as we triumph in controlling our type one- sometimes we fail and it slaps us in the face but it's fine- just get back up again and dust your shoulders off.

This post probably doesn't make much sense and I'm really rambling on here, sometimes I just like to write down my thoughts in whatever order they choose to present themselves.

-Ellie
[Peace&Insulin]


Friday, 16 August 2013

1 year old- the #GBDOC

First of all, let me say Happy Birthday to the GB diabetes online community. I know I'm a bit late so I suppose I should have said Happy belated birthday as it was actually yesterday, August 14th that was the official day.

I can't actually remember how long I've been a part of the GB diabetes online community; but what I do know is that it's been long enough to know that it is a community full of very wonderful people- who all share the same condition, diabetes.

It is a place where everyone interacts, be it diabetes advice, support, or just plain old conversations about everything and anything. The Wednesday tweet chats and games of BG bingo make it a place for fun, it encourages us all to be open about diabetes- it's no good bottling everything up. Everyone can rant and rave about whatever it is about diabetes that bugs them, or they can tweet the good blood sugars and praise the good days.

The GB diabetes online community is so diverse; so many of so many different ages. Some of those don't have diabetes, they are parents tweeting on behalf of their children- giving other parents with diabetic kids advice and support- then there are those of us with diabetes and we joke around and everyone is one big happy community despite all that we deal with.

These hands that I sit here and type this blog post with, or tweet about my blood sugar, or tweet anything for that matter; have been pricked and poked more times than they should have been in my entire life. So when I press 'tweet' and support comes flooding back I try not to dwell on the pain my hands have felt, or that my stomach has felt because I know there are millions of others out there who go through the exact same that I do and are all there for support at the end of a tweet or a blog post.

We all have so much to learn from one another and through twitter we can embrace the opportunities we have.

It's not even just the Great Britain online diabetes community, it is all of them. It is every diabetic community around the world, all such massive support systems. Together we make a phenomenal diabetes online community. It isn't even just twitter either- the support extends to Facebook, instagram, tumblr etc. I belong to and am administrator for along with another wonderful girl called Georgia a fabulous group called Type One Teens. I have met some brilliant people from this group and I couldn't thank Georgia enough for founding the group over a year ago- I joined when the group was relatively small, now there are over 300 of us.

Social media has so much potential when you use it in the correct way, it is amazing when it's not used for cyber bullying or for being horrible to people just for the sake of it because you're sitting behind a computer screen. Another brilliant thing has been the Google+ hangouts held by Diabetes UK on Tuesday evenings; there is a different topic for each week and it's really cool being able to put voices to faces.

I almost feel as though I owe the GBDOC a thankyou; simply because along with my family they have all been one of the main driving forces into my determination to get the word about diabetes out there. If I hadn't seen everyone on twitter with their blogs I don't think I would have ever been inspired into starting this blog, if I hadn't seen the outpour of outrage from some when they see a diabetes "fact" completely off then I don't think I would be so strong-willed in my quest to raise diabetes awareness and most of all, with all of the support and witnessing so many great achievers on the GBDOC- I don't think I would have had half of the courage that I did to stand up in front of so many people at the House of Commons and do the speech for Diabetes UK.

And that was one of the proudest days of my life so far.

So, thank you.

Thank you for being founded and thank you for being there for me, and for everyone with diabetes.

It's the best feeling in the world knowing you're not alone, we're all in this together.

-Ellie
[Peace&Insulin]

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Facing my fears

So I'm Type one diabetic, I deal with needles every single day of my life and I don't flinch, I face the risk of complications, I do my best to avoid hospital stays, I prick my finger multiple times, I wear a cannula in my stomach, I visit the hospital every three months- to a lot of people, that probably looks like I'm the girl with no fear, that I'm incredibly brave and if I can do all that I do every single day of my life, then nothing could phase me, right?

The truth is, I have fears. I have quite a few fears actually, I'm afraid of heights, I'm afraid of lifts, Spiders, any sort of reptile, and most of all wasps and bees. I'm telling you now, I will literally run away if a wasp is within 10 feet of me- I honestly can't stand them.

Looking back on the past few weeks of my summer holidays, I have realised that for a lot of them, I have found myself in situations in which I actually confronted my fears. For example, I chose to get in the lift at the train station just to save myself the torture of running up and down all of the steps at Covent Garden. I climbed all 52 metres of the O2 and willingly stood on top of it. Plus, while on holiday with my family in Somerset- I found myself conquering a few more fears...the first which I am incredibly proud of, is holding a tarantula and three snakes. It was an amazing experience and one I will never forget.




 I also climbed up a cliff in Ilfracombe, North Devon. Not to mention pushing through the mounds of flowers and obscene amount of wasps on the way up- actually, to be honest, Somerset appears to have loads more wasps than we do in London, it's horrifying. So maybe my fear of wasps isn't quite conquered- but if there is a fear that I feel i've conquered the most, it's my fear of heights.

My heart starts pounding and I feel the nausea setting in just looking up at a tall building, so actually managing to get to the top of the cliff and how I managed to climb the o2 amazes me even now. Climbing a tall building would be a lot of people's option over having to inject themselves five times a day and prick their finger even more than that.

What I'm saying is, we all have our own fears- I am not afraid of needles, many people pass out at being pricked by a needle as I probably would if I was stung by a wasp. It's the same concept. Some would rather scale the side of a building than prick their finger, everyone has a phobia, be it big or small we are all different and we all fear things. Some share certain phobias, others frown at those who fear something seemingly ridiculous like flies.

I'm proud of myself for confronting a few of my fears these past few weeks- although I deal with diabetes on a daily basis, I most certainly wouldn't call myself fearless.

-Ellie
[Peace&Insulin]


Thursday, 1 August 2013

Up at the O2

Yesterday Maurice the pump and I managed to make it to the summit of the o2! Considering I'm afraid of heights, climbing up to the top of the 52 metre high structure is an achievement that I'm pretty proud of to say the least. Just looking up at a tall building makes my stomach knot.

I climbed the O2 along with my sister, uncle, cousins and their uncle. Our climb was at 20:15 pm, it was supposed to be the sunset climb but, we live in England so there was no sun to look at really- it was trapped behind all of the clouds. Anyway, we ended up climbing at around 20:45 maybe? or earlier? I'm not too sure but it was starting to get dark. It was light when we began our ascent but it was pitch black and the city lights were beaming by the time we finished. It took about 45 minutes to get right over the top, this includes the time that you have at the summit which is about 15 minutes and you can take photos and take in the absolutely amazing view.

You can choose whether or not you want to wear a suit, so obviously we chose to wear the suit just because it's funny and adds to the effect. Then you have to strap yourself into a harness and attach the climbing cord onto the harness- it literally felt like I was wearing an oversized baby grow- "The smallest size we have in the suits is probably about 6ft" sorry what? I'm tall but I'm not 6ft, I'm 5ft11. Okay nearly 6ft but still. Anyway the suit had the longest torso ever and it basically stretched down to my thighs but the harness hoisted it up slightly so I didn't look too much like a penguin- although the suit made me walk like one. We also got given these really trendy (not) shoes to wear as they had more grip than our converse. After a few safety lectures and having given my glucose tablets to the instructor to hold we were ready to walk up the stairs ready to start.

Once we got to the top we had a group photo taken, in which I look absolutely hideous but I'll post the photo here anyway so you can see how hilarious we all looked in our climbing gear.

I'm on the right, looking like a troll. I hate having my hair up. Anyway behind us is the first ramp to climb up, you think that's it but actually there are a lot more after that. It takes about 10 minutes of climbing to reach the summit. 

When you're climbing you have to attach the metal cord that you can see dangling down from our harnesses to the wire in the middle of the ramp and just pull it along. You can see that the cord is in a sort of triangle shape, right? So if you push up the pointy bit of the "triangle" it makes the hole that you can see if you look through the yellow ball bigger and that makes it move along the wire- so when you climb you just have to hold it as you pull. Releasing the "triangle" makes the cord lock so you can't go anywhere- this saved my cousin Francesca from sliding down the ramp as she somehow managed to fall over which was pretty funny. 

After some negotiating with the wire on the way up we finally reached the top and the view was absolutely amazing. I had never even been to the O2 before let alone climbed over it- you could literally see the whole of London. The olympic park was up ahead, to one side was canary wharf, the gherkin, the leadenhall building, otherwise known as "the cheese grater" to the other side were the cable cars...and so many more iconic buildings that make up the London skyline. Standing at the top made me feel like I was on top of the word and it just felt so exhilarating and I didn't even mind that we were so high up because it was so beautiful. 

The wind was blowing quite a bit but it was okay...it was funny though because before we went up the instructor said "there is just a slight breeze" and everyone was thinking- "a slight breeze?" It was a bit more than a "breeze". At one point it got pretty strong and the platform we were on began to vibrate- it made me feel a bit uneasy and I said "are these vibrations safe?" Haha it was pretty unnerving but the wind settled down. I loved looking at all the beautiful lights, it sort of made me feel proud and I just thought "wow, this is the city that I live in" and it was so breathtaking because I had never once seen London in the way that I saw it yesterday. 


Seeing and doing things like that just makes you realise how amazing the world truly is and being able to climb the O2 was a massive experience and I will never forget it. I feel like I could probably do better with heights now because I managed to climb it. Plus my blood sugars stayed perfect and diabetes didn't come into my head at all- apart from when I was at the top and I was looking at the buildings with an immense sense of pride and I thought about how far i've come in dealing with my diabetes and it didn't stop me from climbing the O2 and it can't and won't stop me from ever doing anything in my life. 

I felt like screaming at the top of my lungs "In your face diabetes!" because it doesn't need to stop you from doing anything. You can do anything that you want despite living with diabetes- as long as you have your blood sugars under control and you're prepared for whatever it is you want to do it then all is fabulous and I enjoyed that climb as much as anybody else did. 

Life is too short to waste time sitting around, go out and experience life and look at the world around you. Just because you have diabetes it doesn't mean that you can't. Use diabetes as your drive, use it as a drive to get up and do all that you want to do and show diabetes who's in charge because it definitely isn't diabetes.

-Ellie
[Peace&Insulin]