Know your type – FRESHERS

Whether you’re at school, at University or working professionally there is, and was for me, a long trial and error period of paying tedious attention to blood sugar levels and adjusting you’re insulin doses. Everyone’s insulin dosages are different as, well… everyone is different so need different amounts of sugar balanced with insulin to function.

I thoroughly believe that in the first year or so you should take and pay extreme attention to everything. How you feel in terms of recognising what happens if your blood sugars go Hyperglycemic (High) or more importantly Hypoglycemic (Low). As the perfect blood sugar level is around 5.6, you’ll feel the effects of being low if that drops by 2 units whereas the effects of going high normally happen (for me) around 12-15. Again your symptoms can alter as it’s not a mathematic equation it’s your body which can react quicker or slower depending on ie. what you’ve eaten, how tired you are, if you’re eating well or if you’re running on adrenaline! There are so many factors but ideally you should be aiming for around 5 -7.

I would compare it to the first year of starting well… anything in life and you are the unknowledgeable FRESHER. By the time you get to your 3rd year you could write a dissertation on it… when you get to your 10th year you could write a blog! I always compare getting used to being diabetic as getting used to BRUSHING YOUR TEETH. When you think about it you’re meant to brush your teeth at least for 6 mins EVERYDAY! Just sit for 6 mins and contemplate that… it seems like such a task but it isn’t because you’ve gotten used to it. Telling people that you inject on average 4 times a day for most people I guarantee you will get a sympathetic gasp and they’ll repeat “4 times!”. When for me I associate it with eating (novorapide is the insulin I’m on) and going to sleep (Levemir) in the same way that I brush my teeth when I wake up and before I go to bed… SIMPLES.

So just like anything routine although it may seem like a mammoth task it’ll get easier and faster (don’t brush your teeth faster). It used to take me something like 5 mins to inject and now I’m half way through my meal by then.

Although it’s monotonous and tedious, this stage of understanding how your body now functions is vital. The more you understand, or want to understand the better as the quicker you can fit it around the schedule of your life the quicker you can get on with things and the sooner it’ll be until you don’t realise the difference.

One thing which is difficult to adjust is snacking. Unless you are treating a ‘Hypo’ it complicates your insulin levels if you are having in between meal snacks. The upside to this is that it means you’re forced to have 3 good substantial meals which is actually a very healthy way to live. I’d say I’m in much better shape and healthier because of diabetes because I’ve got a low sugar diet and I’m not skipping meals so in fact, if the meals you’re eating are healthy and balanced, a ‘Diabetic’s Diet’ is the one to go by, but more on this later.

If you are an active person, like me, unfortunately diabetes plays a big part in the first year and for the rest of your life. As insulin controls the blood sugar levels we have in our body and because we as diabetics are artificially controlling this with injections it means that our body has no natural control over creating glucose needed to exercise. Carbohydrates are what our bodies use to create energy which we need in exercise so this means if we are moving we are using our energy stores and for a diabetic this means that the blood sugar lowers. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exercise by fear of going hypo! All it means is that during the first year especially monitor how certain amounts of exercise affects your blood sugars. For example test your blood sugars before and after a football match, or before and after a run. This way you can gage how much carbohydrates you need to have before exercising. Always be prepared however to go low during exercise, I will always bring something sweet with me when doing any form of exercise. That being said the type of exercise I do is usually on a stage which introduces that complicated little thing called nerves and adrenaline. Sometimes I can finish a show and without having eaten anything my sugar levels are through the roof. Therefore, even 10 years since being Diagnosed, I am still trying to figure out the best way to adjust. In other words the fun never stops. Just know that by regular monitoring and by carrying out mini experiments you will always be willing to figure it out and solve the problem. If you are struggling please do not hesitate to contact the Diabetes UK helpline on 0345 123 2399.

Another piece of advice in terms of being active, DON’T BE ASHAMED OF TELLING PEOPLE! I proudly tell every teacher or co-pupil/employee that I’m diabetic from the first time I meet them. Some people see it as a weakness but you must know that from their perspective they’ll see you much weaker if they don’t understand what happens if you’re going Hypo as they’ll think, why didn’t they say something? and by the time that happens it’s too late for them to do anything about it. It’s something I’ve been very happy about is that due to the condition being so common everyone takes it very seriously so whatever you’re doing people will always respect and help you in an instant if you need it- I skipped a lot of food ques at school (just a tip). During a show I always make sure that the stage crew are all aware and I have bottles of Lucozade dotted around for emergencies so that if I come off stage screaming SUGARRRR people know it’s because I’m Diabetic, not because I just fancy a sugary drink.

Know that, as well as your mind, your body is also adjusting to having insulin injected into it and not being sure why sugar levels are fluctuating. So if you’re going low fairly frequently or high for that matter, GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. As long as you’re trying your hardest to stay on top of everything it’s all about finding THE BALANCE and finding what works for you.

For the first year and certainly into the second your body will still be in what’s known as the ‘Honeymoon Period’. It’s like your body think it’s on holiday as you’re injecting the insulin so the body doesn’t have to think. However, although a part of you isn’t working technically you’re still contracted to work. So your body will still make a bit of insulin, very rarely it stops completely and abruptly. However know that because of this your sugar levels might be a bit inconsistent at first, it will eventually level out and become slightly more calculated.

On my next blog I’ll be exploring the new world of Diabetes and all its advancements and technology! We’re stepping the game up so thank you to everyone who’s been reading so far and remember to always find peace with yourself and take it one day at a time.


Jonny Labey

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