Blogging about parenting and family life with horses and a child in tow!
Diabetic Dramas and Delights.
Now, this might be a long post this time around, but I had a thought that I should probably explain my struggle with Diabetes a little bit and about how I’ve dealt with it and still dealing with it while being a mum.
I was diagnosed in the September before my 5th birthday in 1997. I don’t remember it but my Mum told me the story. We were travelling to see my grandparents in Maidenhead, I wasn’t well, I was being sick but screaming for a drink, my mum had given me Calpol (full of sugar!) and ended up taking me to A&E in Slough. I was diagnosed there and then with Type 1 Diabetes. I can’t imagine for a second how my mum felt, at least when BB was diagnosed with CF he wasn’t ill, but it must of been terrifying for my mum.
Mum had a grip on it and everything was going well until I took over my care later on in my teenage years. I hated my Diabetes, I ignored it and wanted it to go away. I was teased at school for being ‘fat’ so I stopped doing my insulin in order to lose weight, quickly! I was never diagnosed for it but it is called Diabulimia and it’s life threatening. Without insulin my blood sugars rose quickly and stayed high which meant that my body couldn’t use the energy I was providing it and it was wash it out through urine or sickness, this meant my body would then start breaking down my fat for energy which resulted in dramatic and fast weight loss. This also in turn caused DKA, Diabetic Ketoacidosis. And this is what ended me up in hospital many times. I rebelled and ate everything I shouldn’t and not doing any insulin with it, this ended me up in hospital most months. My sugars were off the meter high, nine times out of ten I was blue lighted to hospital screaming in agony, paramedics desperately trying to get a cannula into my fast closing veins. I could feel every organ in my body slowly giving up and the first to go was always my lungs and the gas and air had no effect. My blood was becoming acidic and I couldn’t keep anything down. I would normally stay in hospital for at least a week on IV fluids with potassium and a sliding scale for insulin. I would come home, spend a week doing what I should and then start slipping back in to self destruct. It was a vicious circle which only began changing when I turned 16.
At 16 years old I was put forward for an Insulin Pump. This is an absolutely amazing bit of kit. Instead of having to inject every time I ate I would have a small cannula in with a tube to my pump that is no bigger than a small mobile phone. This amazing piece of kit releases insulin 24/7 as my back ground rate, so if I was fasting it would keep my sugars in range. Not only that, but my Blood Test meter can communicate with my pump, I can do my blood sugar and my meter would work out if I needed any insulin to correct my levels, I could then put in how many carbs I was going to eat and it would calculate how much I needed and send it all to my pump for my pump to administer. I LOVE IT! This amazing bit of kit totally changed my life. I no longer ended up in hospital and my levels began to come down. The only small negative with it was if it failed. As with any bit of technology it wasn’t void of getting it’s knickers in a twist and shutting down. The best time this happened to me was on Christmas Day! So I went on to injections for a few days again until my pump was replaced and then back to it, which i cant complain about!
Fast forward to meeting Adam. This is where my care of my Diabetes really changed. He did not stop nagging at me to check sugar levels and to do insulin. He’s learnt to Carb Count for me, he can tell if I’m high or low before I do a blood test and is always on my case to look after myself (much to my disgust some days!) Slowly my average blood sugar, known as my A1C, came down. And I started feeling better, less tired, less thirsty, less snappy.. Then we fell pregnant! I had told myself since I had turned 20 that I had ruined my chances of being a mum by not looking after my Diabetes as a teenager, as infertility is one of many, many complications with bad control of Diabetes. I was convinced I would have to adopt or go through IVF. But then, out of the blue and all of a sudden, I was holding a positive pregnancy test! And with the joy and amazement that I was actually pregnant came the dread that this was my next battle with my Diabetes.
During pregnancy the hormones sends a Diabetics sugars all over the place and in the first trimester I suffered horrendously with Hypoglycemia. These are low sugars. My blood sugars would just drop, very quickly with no warning and no reason. I was having these 3 times a day on average so had to constantly be on it, checking and correcting. I would suddenly feel weak and shaky and my vision starts deteriorating, I couldn’t focus or concentrate and my vision would be blurry. If I’m on my own and I don’t notice quickly enough I could then fit and either have an Ambulance called to get me to hospital if Adam had noticed I hadn’t recently replied to a message or couldn’t get hold of me or worse. If no one knew I could die. By the second trimester my sugars had began levelling out and although I had the odd high or low blood sugar, all in all it became easier. I had fortnightly appointments to check my blood pressure, my sugar levels and insulin intake and my weight, luckily I had a fantastic Consultant who worked with me and trusted that I knew how to deal with my sugar levels and insulin rates. This Consultant also pushed for me to be allowed a FGM (Flash Glucose Monitor) called the Freestyle Libre. This is a small sensor that is applied to my arm that collects the data of where my sugars are at every second, I then had a special handset that i would use to scan the sensor to give me all the data. This amazing technology meant I could change my insulin at different hours of the day and also predict where my levels were about to go so I could prevent a high or low blood sugar. We breezed through the 2nd trimester and then came the dreaded 3rd trimester. This is where Diabetics can hit Insulin Resistance, three particular hormones that are released in the third trimester can block the insulin which means the glucose can’t get in to the cells which then causes high sugars, meaning more insulin is needed. So everything I ate needed twice as much insulin and like in the first trimester with my low sugars, the highs came with no rhyme or reason, they just happened. Due to the extra sugar I was carrying my little monkey was growing a little too fast. We went to our 36 week check up and scan and they estimated he weighed 7lbs5oz! After seeing my Midwife it was decided that I would be induced early the week after to reduce any risks, which, although we knew I would be induced early, came as a bit of a shock!
On Friday 26th September we made our way to the John Radcliffe for 8am to be induced. We were settled in a bed and the nurses did all the observations on me and baba, ensuring everything was okay ready for induction. At 9.45am I was given a gel to induce labour, I was allowed to walk around and explore but I had to come back every hour for them to check in on baby. 6 hours passed and nothing had happened, I was feeling very slight pulls but nothing mega to me so they decided not to give me the next lot of hormones. So we stayed in overnight and nothing happened. My blood sugars were perfect and at 9am Saturday morning I was given another gel, off we went, walking around the hospital to try and help get things moving, I began feeling tighter contractions and they were being registered on the monitor. I was taken down to the delivery suite at 2.30pm and they kept a close eye on baby’s heart rate, every time I had a contraction his heart rate would rise quickly and plummet down, so the decision was made to have a Caesarian Section. Now normally a Diabetic would go on to a drip for this so that the team could control my sugar levels, but with speaking to the Anaesthetist he was happy that Adam could monitor me and I could stay on my Pump and FGM throughout, all went well and Albert was born at 3.27pm weighing 9lb1oz. Now the next battle was dealing with my sugars while all my hormones returned back to normal.
After having Albert my insulin needs changed AGAIN. Which meant I had to get back to watching what was going on and adjusting insulin where I needed too. This also bought more unwanted random high and low blood sugars to deal with on top of having a newborn. Adam took a week off to help out while I was recovering from the C-Section and help me with my sugars. For the first few weeks my sugars behaved but after that they were unpredictable, I was tired constantly and had got fed up of watching my sugars every minute and I just wanted to ignore it for a while. But Adam kept nagging at me and I kept a half hearted check on how my sugars were. By 6 weeks after delivery I began to take an interest in my sugars more and take more control, but tighter control came with a few more severe drops and rises in my levels. One of which happened while I was trying to sort out a grumpy and unwell Albert while Adam was at work. He was screaming and nothing was comforting him and I started feeling odd, I felt shaky and slightly short tempered, I couldn’t focus and felt clammy, I checked my sugar and I was 2.6 and dropping quickly! My levels are meant to be between 4-6, so 2.6 was fairly low as it was let alone that I was still dropping. So with a crying baby in my arms I raid my handbag for my special Glucogel and Dextrose Tablets (sugar in a pure palatable form) and ate them as quickly as I could. Now, another symptom of a low sugar is you want to eat EVERYTHING in sight, I suppose it’s my bodies survival instinct kicking in. So with that in mind cue me eating a whole box of chocolate cornflake bites and half a bar of chocolate on top of the Glucogel and Dextrose Tablets. Even with all of that my sugars only came up to 5, so I was clearly dropping extremely quickly! Luckily since then I haven’t had anymore as bad and hopefully I won’t for a while, but juggling a baby and my Diabetic care is tough work, and my Diabetes will always want attending too when I’m changing or feeding or comforting Albert. But I have to remind myself to look after me first, because if I don’t look after me first I can’t look after my little monkey! It’s a struggle but worth every second.