Tag: Diabetes

If You’re A Diabetic, Don’t Run Out Of Insulin

(pro frakking tip right there)

I know I touched on this yesterday, but I feel this episode in my life deserves its own bitchy blog post. Very much my Odysseus moment, I ran out of insulin, and had to trek across London in search of a vial of the precious, precious fluid in scenes closely resembling those times where you shine a laser pointer on a wall and a cat with relentlessly and desperately follow it, expect across two Tube lines and with more swearing.

It started yesterday morning, as I hauled ass out of bed for my first exam three hours before the exam started, so I’d have time for my blood sugar to come down to a reasonable level if I was high. Thankfully, I was not, and had breakfast as normal, and went to the exam; but, to my horror, my pump had failed, and I spent the first half of the exam trying to write intelligent things about The Aeneid with a blood sugar so frakked that I’ve struggled to win a match on the excellent sci-fi sports game Frozen Cortex with these numbers. As a result, I had no time for the rigamarole of a pump change, and I gave myself an injection to bring me down for the rest of the exam, as a quick fix.

I then changed the pump when I got out of the exam at about one, and went to the pub with friends where we celebrated the end of exams by getting really rather drunk at two in the afternoon because we’re classy like that; and I watched and have now blogged about said getting drunk because I’m a dick like that. But when I got home, around four, my second pump had failed, and I was insanely high again; I changed the pump again, and had a nap because I’d had eleven hours of sleep in the last three days because I’m a responsible, functioning adult.

Then I got up at seven, in preparation for going out to Nando’s followed by a club night at eight; lo and behold, the third pump of the day had failed, and I was high again. I gave myself another emergency injection, real tired of this pump bullshit by now, and went to change my pump. Except that I couldn’t because I had run out of insulin.

You’ll notice from my anecdote so far that little attention has been paid to my diabetes beyond emergency injections, which is the second year in a row that this has happened around exams; last year I had the seizure because I neglected a series of low blood sugars, this time I was so engrossed in revision that I hadn’t realised I was burning through my insulin at such a rate. Normally, a 10ml vial lasts 15 days; I got through half a vial in eight hours.

Then, I started the Journey For Insulin (the film of which will be directed by Michael Bay and will include a Stan Lee-esq cameo from me in which I seductively repair a motorcycle in a pair of tight denim shorts); I called the NHS’s helpful 111 number, where they asked me a load of questions about my health, before putting me through to my GP, who I’d never met before but sounded like a nice bloke over the phone. They told me he’d call within an hour, so I prepared myself for a 59-minute wait, but he got back to me within five, which was nice; what was nicer was that, on a Friday evening outside of office hours, he had prepared for a me a prescription of insulin vials that I could pick up from a local hospital, not the one I normally go to, but one a mere fifteen minutes away. I thanked him graciously, and headed off with, as will become important later, a water bottle and an Oyster card.

Once I got to this hospital (which was in Camden; I live in Euston). I waited around for the single out-of-hours doctor to call me into the room, and he spent a worrying amount of time cooing over my pump in an impressed, child-like manner, as if he was seeing a koala for the first time, but tested a urine sample of mine (I downed that whole water bottle in the process), gave me the prescription, and even drew a map on a bit of paper to show me the nearest 24 hour Boots where I could get the prescription turned into actual life-saving medication. At this point, I thanked him, scurried over to the Boots and eagerly texted my friends, saying that despite being an hour late for the Nando’s, I should be fine to come out with them later!

Literally eight seconds later it all turned to shit, as the Boots didn’t have the insulin. Neither did the bigger Boots in St. Pancras. Neither did the smaller Boots in St. Pancras. But now I’d spent two hours running around this maze, and I was quite ready to snap someone’s neck if they looked at me the wrong way. I called 111 again, and a rather sarcastic but ultimately helpful woman – I was almost like ‘don’t get pissy with me, you’re being inconvenienced by an idiot calling for insulin, I could literally die’ – who spent about half an hour calling local late-night pharmacies to find one that stocked my apparently expensive and rare vials of insulin. And, the gods be praised, there was one! In Marble frakking Arch!

So with my conveniently-grabbed Oyster card in hand, I got the Victoria and Central Lines from King’s Cross and some other godforsaken station to Marble Arch, where I ran to the pharmacy, handed in the prescription, and had to stop myself giving the clerk there a blowjob on the spot out of sheer gratitude that this ordeal was over. It was now nine, meaning I was two hours late for a thing organised by my friend again (I’d been two hours late for their birthday party back in winter by somehow oversleeping for an event that started at 7pm), but I Tubed and ran home, changed into my one outfit that doesn’t make me look like a hipster ironically imitating the 2011 London Rioters, and buggered off for some predrinks (or watching other people predrink) and the club. Sadly I didn’t stay long, because of the lack of sleep in the last three days and the fact that I had to get up at seven this morning, but I’m glad I got to celebrate with my friends.

And after a day of being high and scrambling around London, I got home and did a blood test before going to bed; and, of course, I was now low.

Things I Do When I’m High

(I was gonna go to work, then I wrote this blog post…)

First off, that’s ‘blood sugar’ high, not ‘4/20 blaze it’ high – I don’t take drugs because of the whole Straight Edge thing, and of course if there’s a slightly pathetic, not-particularly-debilitating-but-still-a-bit-annoying medical condition, you know that I’m gonna suffer from it, and suffer from it a lot. Essentially, when I have too much sugar in my bloodstream, I can be said to be ‘high’ (as in ‘I have a high blood sugar), which can be caused by anything from miscalculating weights of carbohydrates, a pump failing (because insulin pumps fail with an alarming regularity), to a natural post-food progression from an okay blood sugar, to a high, before a gentle decline back to being okay. Being high leaves me unable to concentrate on things, and debilitatingly restless, creating an interesting dilemma where I’ve this great urge to do everything, but can’t do much at all: revision is totally out of the question, mentally-intensive games like Football Manager and Fire Emblem are too complex for me to figure out, and even multi-tasking is a bit of a stretch. I also end up getting painfully thirsty as my body tries to dilute the amount of sugar in my bloodstream by overloading on water, so I can’t even nap and wait for my blood sugar to return to normal. All in all, being high’s a bitch that forces an impatient, easily bored person like me to be patient and do boring things. And some of them are as follows:

1) Rewatching old Runaway Guys series on YouTube: the Runaway Guys are a group of Let’s Players that I’ve honestly grown out of in the last year and a half, but were genuinely the most fun thing I watched for a good few years when I was fifteen or so. Going through their old series, especially the competitive ones like Fortune Street or Mario Party is equally nostalgic and exciting without needing too much thought.

2) Playing Tetris: this requires a bit more brain power, but is genuinely great fun, and a good way to while away an hour (the amount of time I must wait before rechecking my blood sugar to see if I’ve come down). I can also continue my ongoing goal of listening to the entire Rise Against discography (including the Transistor Revolt stuff, the Nightmare Before Christmas song and the Long Forgotten Songs b-side album) in a single sitting while I play.

3) Going for a walk: perhaps my favourite on the list, but an impracticality at the moment as I’ve imposed a limit on all physical activity on myself for about two weeks. I was burned out after juggling three sports all year, and my Ireland trip (which contained about 200% more hiking than I imagined) didn’t help much last week – my legs need a break, inconveniently.

4) Trying in vain to complete the House Of Hell Fighting Fantasy book: If you don’t know Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone’s peerless Fighting Fantasy series, I pity you – it’s a fifty-something strong series of gamebooks, in which the player makes decisions at the end of each paragraph about what to do or where to go next, meaning each story progresses interactively, instead of in the traditional, linear fashion all books not named Tristram Shandy or Use Of Weapons do. And I maintain that beating House Of Hell, a story in which you must escape from a mansion of Devil-worshippers, is the hardest thing a human being is capable of achieving; I’ve played and replayed the app version for like two days now and I’m not even on the final boss.

5) Doing laundry: most menial tasks are a non-starter because being high generates physical fatigue as well as restlessness, but laundry is the right combination of bag-hauling, button-pressing and waiting to be a viable time-killer.

6) Writing blog posts about not being able to write blog posts when you’re high: yup, this post was written while I was high. That’s honestly where the inspiration came from, and might be a bit of a hole in the theory that I can’t focus on things like work when I’m high; that being said, it’s taken me three times as long as usual to write this post, it was originally full of spelling mistakes, that first paragraph is abominably long, and I think this whole thing is devoid of any attempts at humour, let alone successful ones. Oh well, I tried.

My Sweet Tooth

(or, indeed, teeth)

This is a tough one for me to admit, so apologies if this post degenerates into self-loathing and textual crying over my inability to eat healthily on a regular basis; but I have a pretty bad sweet tooth.

You may not expect this from me, considering I’ve had a medical condition for eleven years now actively making it difficult to eat sweet things between meals, and I abstain from everything everything from alcohol to drugs to fun because I apparently want to be a Puritan, but it’s true – I got through two packets of custard creams today. Two! And while that might not be a lot of crap – volume-wise or sugar-wise – for most people, it’s worryingly lax of me when doctors have spent over a decade drumming ‘don’t eat snacks’ into my squishy, ever-attentive head.

I go through phases of binge-eating; there’ve been the biscuits today, but I’ve not indulged in anything like that for months. But the last time, I ploughed my way through my own body weight in milk chocolate digestives, and when the NFL season is on, I’ll get through one of those sharing-sized bags of Doritos and a couple packs of Monster Munch per weekly game, for about four solid months, before inadvertently starving myself for the days in between.

I’d like to blame this on the diabetes side of things, that my current method of managing the damn thing – a pump, controlled by a button-press instead of injections that have to be, you know, injected – makes it easy to slip into a snacking, junk food-eating habit, largely because there isn’t the physical hassle and pain of an injection waiting for you if you let your diet slide. It’d be like getting an electric shock whenever you ate chocolate – you’d pretty quickly associate eating unhealthily with that pain. And sure, this pain isn’t there any more, but I think this reflects a wider breakdown in the structure of my life; at Sixth Form I was basically the epitome of upsettingly effective organisation and motivation, and now I can sleep for two hours a day, or sixteen, and honestly spend the wee hours of the morning writing poetry in alleys around central London like a kind of literary version of Jack the Ripper, about to spring out at you with iambic hexameter and the sustained metaphor of a shadow for transient, human existence.

But I don’t feel like a lazy, disorganised frakker, and I don’t think I am one – I still write regularly, keep up with work and essays, etc., etc. – I think the difference is that now the few fixed points in my life, e.g. I have to be at dodgeball at this time, are just that, ‘points’ to anchor my days, nights and activities around, instead of bits of rigidity and structure that feed into a wider structuring of my life. Essentially, if I need to be in Camden at five every Friday, that doesn’t mean I have to be up at nine that morning, and it’s taken me about eighteen years to realise this.

Equally, I’m eating more crap between regular, fixed meals, but those fixed dietary points are still a thing; to use a naff metaphor, I’m not falling off the rails so much as the rails now have loops and bends in them to make life a bit less like a depressingly efficient playthrough of The Sims 4, where all your Sims’ dreams come true and they master all their skills like well-behaved little shits. And to avoid becoming such a shit myself, I’ve decided to binge on custard creams occasionally, which is totally worth it.

Arseholes In Hospital Waiting Rooms

(I was going to title this post ‘those two people’, but then I remembered this old thing)

Today I had an appointment at my local hospital, a routine diabetes checkup with an unusually helpful nurse, in which we discussed basal rates, insulin-carbohydrate ratios, and proper p[ump-applying technique, among other useful things; in general, it was a productive, painless afternoon.

Apart from the fact that there were two arseholes sitting across from me in the waiting room, whose anguished yelps that someone had the audacity to keep them waiting for more than a second longer than they anticipated managed to sound more pained and hopeless than a person being stabbed with a bargepole, a Jordanian pilot being burned alive by IS, and the cries of the panderers and seducers in the eight circle of Dante’s Hell all put together.

I’m not adverse to moaning about things – I’m both British, and have a misplaced sense of the importance of my own opinions because I have a blog, so really I’m an example of pointless bitching – but I’m not a fan of publicly wailing about minutia; this blog, for instance, is read by the people who are interested in it, I don’t wander up and down streets declaring to strangers that ‘printers are the scum of the earth!’ Also, the pair of them made it seem like this was a personal injustice, wrongly committed against those two obvious examples of magnanimosity and dignified virtue, instead of the results of a logistical system in which a bunch of under-paid, overworked doctors and nurses have to care for the wellbeing of sixty million whiny bastards with a budget consisting largely of what they can find stuffed down the backs of their sofas, or tucked away in the glove compartments of their cars.

I suppose what’s really getting to me is their sense of entitlement, that just because we have a ‘free’ health service, it means that service must be perfectly-operated, and every individual working in it must have the same relentless altruism that doctors in TV shows have, instead of the reality that people go into medicine because they’re good at science, and have the audacity to want a stable job upon graduating university. Don’t get me wrong, I love the NHS – as an idea, universal healthcare is awesome, and I’d personally be either dead, or having to fork out ten grand every four years for diabetes treatment otherwise – but I accept that the system is imperfect in theory, because it’s unreasonable to expect all healthcare workers all the time to be genuinely devoted to helping others, and in practice, because of the costs and logistical issues with operating a single health service on this scale. I’m hardly a paragon of virtue and patience, but I had to wait an hour for my appointment, and spent the time writing some poetry; they waited forty minutes, and spent the time bitching about the torture they’d had to endure.

The way I see it, there are two responses to a a flawed, but necessary, system like the NHS: you can either adapt your own behaviour to reduce the impact of those flaws (bring paper and a pen to pass the time in the waiting room) and maximise the benefits (I try to be prepared for my appointments, so I can have intelligent and constructive discussions about my health with a doctor, instead of blanking sitting there as they blindly grope for answers), or you can do something wider, and try to change that system for the better. Obviously, the latter is the better option, both long-term and in terms of creating a benefit for other people, but a waiting room isn’t the place to single-handedly reform the NHS, and the lament that ‘he’s been waiting for much less time than me, why is he getting seen?’ won’t make the awesome work of the doctors and nurses around you any better.

Three Meals Yay!

(I do believe the phrase is ‘boo-yah’)

Last Thursday I had three meals. In one day.

Three meals. One day.

Frak yeah I’m healthy!

Now I know that tea consisted of half-burned, half-raw chicken because I can’t work a grill, and the only vegetables I had all day were Sainsbury’s boiled potatoes, hardly the most nutritious of things, but considering I’ve been working off one meal a day for a few days these last few weeks, this is big news for me.

It’s not that I’m incapable of cooking (I’m hardly good, but I can do it), nor that I don’t have the time, I just can’t be bothered to spend an hour preparing food, cooking it, burning it, forcing it down my throat to validate my insulin dosage, and washing up again. It takes like an hour in total, and this is time I could be working (read: sleeping).

This has been frakking with my blood sugars recently though, as I’ve been having systematic lows at the same time every day because I keep skipping tea, and constantly reducing the amount of insulin I’m getting isn’t a sustainable solution, as I’ll end up with no food, and no insulin which, although a balanced state of affairs, is very bad for my long-term health.

I don’t know how sustainable this system is, however; I only had time to make tea because it was midnight and I was staying up to watch the NFL after a four-hour nap. Most days I’m in bed by eleven or ten, having not had a nap, or having had a nap followed by a Karate session or something, and after blistering your feet to Hell for the sake of some well-placed punches, you really don’t want to be thawing chicken fillets in a microwave at one in the morning.

But at least I know I can do three meals a day if necessary, so there’s that. And even if I stop eating and get hospitalised again, I can always go home and guilt my parents into cooking for me. Yay living 20 minutes from home!

Pod Fail!

(that title doesn’t refer to an apocalyptic-style explosion or collapse of one of the pods at the London Eye, which would have been far more dramatic)

I have an insulin pump on my body (that I refer to as the ‘pod’ due to its poddish shape) that releases insulin in small doses throughout the day; insulin moves sugar from my bloodstream to my muscles, keeping my blood nice and unsweetened (a bad thing) and my muscles nice and energetic (a good thing).

However, today the pod came off, while I was playing football in weather best described as ‘eyeball-meltingly hot’ (or at least ‘adhesive backing-meltingly hot’), so I wasn’t receiving insulin; in theory, my blood sugar level shouldn’t have risen, as I was running around so I;d be using up that sugar in my blood anyway, and the theory was correct – I was a healthy 5.7 at the end of the game. However, it’s likely that my muscles weren’t getting the energy they needed to function, which could explain my rather lacklustre performance in the second half, as well as my lack of fitness and general inability to kick a football five years to a target.

And this is all a bit of a mouthful to explain to people who don’t know anything about diabetes, after playing football for two hours, and who are seriously contemplating impaling me with a railing for dropping out of their balanced game to make it four-on-five. Coupled with my heart pain, back strain and cut across a big toenail that I suffered during the game, all of which I will invariably brag about either on this blog, or to my grandchildren that such injuries were sustained in a World Cup final, it was a bit of a rough afternoon.

And now I’m going to have a lie down and play Madden 15, which just arrived today; I’m not ready for such stress yet.

I Have Poor Priorities

(like prioritising watching Naruto over writing this post at a reasonable time)

Sometimes, this blog reflects on things that have happened in my life; the fact that I write a post a day means there’s an even spread of interesting activities across the weeks and months, so I can give you updates sometimes, and other things other times. But sometimes two cool things happen in one day and, because two posts a day is like so much work, I’ll blog about one of them; today, I was going to write about my shiny new iPhone 5c, when I realised the topic I was discarding was the fact that I NOW HAVE A FULLY-OPERATIONAL INSULIN PUMP.

Honestly, this pump will change the way I live, literally forever; this new phone will let me look at CollegeHumor articles in a slightly wider range of places over my old iPod touch.

I often bitch about how people annoy me here as well, with the sort of sneering demeanour of a prick on the highest of horses, who can’t be criticised themselves because they’re aware of their more shallow flaws in an obnoxious, ultimately self-important sort of way; but today, I attached greater importance to a technological trinket than a life-saving piece of medical equipment, which is exactly the sort of thing I mock others for doing.

I suppose I should learn from this harrowing experience – next time on the James Patrick Casey blog, a roast of James by himself! – but instead of toning down my irrational hatred of my fellow human beings, because we all share the same flaws, I’m simply going to resolve to be a less obnoxious and narrow-minded person, a conclusion that isn’t made noble or just by the fact that I’m doing it to laugh at the rest of you with a bit more validity.

And that probably makes me a bad person, or at least a rigid and self-interested person, but that’s people; sometimes we suck, sometimes we’re awesome, and sometimes we blow each other to smithereens for no apparent reason – but I think we can all do these things with a little less hypocrisy.