A day in the life of a type 1

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3.am. As a lot of type 1’s would agree, my day regularly starts in the middle of the night. If I wake up to turn over, use the toilet, check on my son, I will also usually test my blood sugars. Today is no exception. Lucky I have checked, as it’s gone down to 2.8 – scarily this is happening more often – since I’ve got my Hba1c down, I’ve lost my hypo awareness. I make a mental note to ask (aka beg) my diabetes nurse for a CGM next time I see her. I eat my sweets and 5 minutes later and it’s hit me. Shaking, sweating and dizziness. Lovely. Nothing to do but lie down and wait for it to pass.

3.30am. Back to sleep, woop! I will be woken up by a very cute, very loud 3 year old in a few hours and need my sleep!

6.45 am. Mummy!! Can we go downstairs and have some Freddies (he means Shreddies) please!! I stumble down the stairs and make my son his breakfast, whilst testing my sugars again. Oops – 9.2, as per usual my low blood sugar has been followed by a high. Not too bad though, definitely had worse. I give myself a little correction of insulin, via my new Omnipod (loving it) My husband cleans Shreddies off my son, the table, the floor, whilst I make myself my eggs. Super jealous of the boys having cereal, but it sends my blood sugar a bit mental and I find no carbs is the best breakfast for me.

8am. Today is Saturday, woo! My son has Rugby Tots in a bit, so we have a bit of pyjama time in front of CBeebies, then get ready.

9am. I test my blood sugar again – Rugby Tots calls for parent participation (the only way to get a bunch of pre schoolers to cooperate) so I set myself a temporary basal for half an hour.

9.30am. Yay! my son got ‘Man of the match’ Celebratory high fives all round.

10am. A bit of shopping. This is a bit of a nightmare for a lot of type 1’s. It still amazes me how low blood sugars can go just from having a wander and trying on some clothes! I set another temporary basal and buy a top that I really shouldn’t, but it’s oh so pretty and I don’t care, I’m having it.

11am. We take my son to the play area in the shopping outlet. He runs himself silly, whilst we have a break. I test my blood sugar again – on track at 6.8 and give myself a little bolus for my latte. This is a new thing, but after a while I realised that with all the milk in a latte I really needed a little boost of insulin.

12. Lunchtime. Bloody starving. Off we go to a child friendly restaurant. “No, son we are NOT going to McDonalds” Hey, nothing against it, but he would eat there everyday if he had his way. Can’t blame him really, a free toy with lunch is pretty cool.

Now I’m on the Omnipod eating out is sooo much easier – no injecting in public (in my injection pen days) and no rummaging in my bra for my Medtronic (in my Medtronic pump days) I use my handy little remote control to administer my insulin, which looks a bit like an OAP’s mobile phone, but hey, just call me retro.

2pm. I test my post meal/post shopping blood sugars (I know, I test a lot. 8 times a day usually. It’s the only way I can maintain good control and stay healthy – it’s worth it) looks like the combination of a fairly high fat/high carb lunch and the shopping has been a good combo – 7.2. Marvellous.

4pm. I do a bit of cooking and baking, whilst darting across the living room to keep my son entertained. My husband’s doing the same – gardening and in and out to play. When did we turn in to a couple who cooked and gardened??!! Anyway, that question is for another day. My son ‘helps’ me decorate cupcakes and I try to stop myself and my son from eating the entire lot. Just a taste, or I’ll get high blood sugar and he’ll turn in to a crazed wild beast.

7pm. The boy is in bed. I love him more than is fathomable, but I do a little dance, as now I can have a glass of wine. It’s a night in with the husband and some friends tonight. Eating a lot, later in the night is always a tricky one for us type 1’s. I know, it does my head in sometimes, but you learn to live with it!

I test my sugars and calculate the amount of carbs in my food, as best I can and set myself an extended bolus. This really helps when you’re eating a lot and you have different courses of food.

11pm. I have bit too much wine (obvs) and test my blood sugar again. 8.1. Not too bad, considering. plus if it was any lower I’d prob set a lower basal for the night, as alcohol lowers your blood sugar. This way I leave it as it is and it should be ok in the morning. Then I’ll do it all again!

Injections versus insulin pumps – my verdict (hint, pumps rule)

Omnipod 2

I used insulin injections for around 13 years. I can’t be too hard on them, they kept me alive for a start! I’d obviously heard about insulin pumps and wasn’t keen at first. The idea of having to wear one 24/7 was really off putting. In the end the biggest motivator for me was being told it could help me have even better control whilst trying to conceive and for carrying a baby. Being a pregnant type 1 is very daunting and knowing that you are solely responsible for the health of your unborn child is petrifying.

Pregnant type 1’s are much more likely to experience miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects and many more. The best way to minismise these happening is through excellent blood sugar control, so without hesitation I signed up to pump.

I’ve been using a pump for almost three years now and I would never, ever, (one extra so you get my point) EVER go back to injections. A lot of type 1’s are put off by having to wear a fairly cumbersome pump and I agree, it’s not ideal, but the benefits, in my experience are amazing.

When talking through your options with your HCP, they don’t always explain some of the best benefits of the pump. This is through no fault of their own, it’s because – guess what? They’re not actually diabetic and couldn’t possibly understand the immense sense of freedom it gives to us (in my experience anyway)

On injections I got so fed up of having to eat carbs all day every day. For me, it was the only way injections worked. Also, with hypos you have to not only have sugar, but complex carbs to back it up. On the pump you can do away with the stodgy carbs and just have the sugar. A nice added bonus of this was me losing roughly a stone in weight. Pass me those jeans from 10 years ago, please!

I find eating so much more enjoyable now. Yes I still have to count carbs, but that’s second nature now anyway. I can finally, successfully have carb free snacks and meals and because my bolus is custom set to my body and lifestyle, it doesn’t affect my blood sugars and I have less hypos.

Freedom – seriously, this is the best part. If I want to go for a long walk, run around with my son like a nutter, or go on a night out, I can do it with the drop of a hat and I don’t have to eat extra food because of it. I just set a temporary reduced basal rate and off I go on my merry way. This also goes for hot weather, stress, illness, time of the month (ladies, you know your blood sugars have a mind of their own at this time) tiredness and everything else that blood sugars are affected by.

There are some downsides. If your cannula insertion goes wrong, or stops working, then your blood sugar can rise very high, very quickly. Early on I did have one unfortunate experience that involved my husband calling an ambulance and two very nice paramedics coming to my rescue. This is because your body doesn’t have that constant background insulin that you’d have on injections, unless the pump is working properly. This is the only major issue I’ve had in three years and I was very new to it, so as long as you test your blood sugars and try not to change your cannula before bed you should be fine.

It is also a bit complicated to fill the syringe and change your insertion site every three days, but after a few goes it is easy enough.

I have recently changed from a medtronic pump to an omnipod. The medtronic was great, but the tubing was a pain and the pump is quite big – meaning you need to have big pockets, or a big bra to hide it in (ladies, or men, I don’t judge) The omnipod is much smaller and has no tubing. I’m loving it. It’s also water proof, so no clock watching in the pool anymore (you can only be without the medtronic for an hour and it’s not water proof) and you can leave it on in the shower, etc. Awesome.

Medtronic Omnipod 1

(Above: the Medtronic with tubing. Above the omnipod)

These are obviously just my experiences and everyone is different, but I find in the busy life I lead I am freer and my BG control is better. Win win.

I’ll post a separate blog about type 1 diabetes and pregnancy, but spoiler alert I now have a healthy, happy 3 year old (yay, me!)

If you have any questions please comment below, or contact me on Twitter: @SarahSmjordan