Diabetes and the City

The common theme for my post intros of late has been “sorry it’s been a wee while…”

It’s obvious that this one, sadly, is no different. But given my general tendency (I prefer ‘ability’) to ramble, I’m happy to predict that you are in for some kind of mighty Iliad. So get ready/comfy/run for your life. You have been warned, dear friends.

My diabetes, or at least talking about the ol’ diabetes, has taken a bit of a back seat of late (I maaayyyy have said that before?!). Things that have been happening to distract me = new home, new city, new social life, new plans, new boys…!

And there’s the continually amazing new-ish job (although I’m already two months into a six month contract – EEK), which has been heating up of late in a rather awesome way. I bloody love it, quite frankly.

I’m working as part of a big team on a big production, but my immediate circle of colleagues that have the misfortune of being around me for the best part of eight hours each day is quite small. Thus, I thankfully haven’t found it too difficult to introduce the whole “excuse me while I jack up, I’m diabetic” thing. I’m fortunate enough to be working with people who a. are rather intelligent (I hope you’re reading this guys!) and b. haven’t lived down the rabbit hole their whole lives, so it’s not an alien concept to be stabbing myself with a needle for medical reasons (as opposed to illegal drug dependency, which I feel may have seen the end to said amazing job approximately one month and 29 days ago).

Added to the fact that they’re a supremely laid-back, unpretentious and just rather hilarious bunch, there have been no dramatic/embarrassing/worrying situations involving quizzical looks, alarmed faces or sheer panic. It helps that I’m yet to forget my injection, forget to eat (like that ever happens), forget my lunch or fail to recognize my sugars dropping at a stage where I can quietly do something about it. There have been MANY occasions when I’ve woken up too late to prepare my lunch, but the inclination to plan ahead is at least there…

What I could have just said a lot more succinctly is that the diabetes part of my new life hasn’t YET fallen victim to a serious episode of blonde behavior. I think, being in the big bad city, and plunging myself into a situation where I’m both living and working with complete strangers, I’ve kind of had to get my act together. And really, pretty much the only thing that HAS stayed constant through the madness that has been 2011 IS the diabetes. Slightly ironic given that most of the time I wish it would just pack up its hypos, injections, carb counts, blood tests – the LOT – and royally do one.

Despite this, it’s fair to say my faithful ‘friend’ has had some adapting to do. My lifestyle since the sleep-commute-work-commute-sleep cycle thankfully got a good kick into SeeYaVille has done a complete 180. It’s ridiculous and amazing in equal measure, and for the first time in about 12 months I feel like I’ve located my mojo. Huzzah! We were all getting worried for a minute (just a minute, mind). I don’t really intend on slowing anytime soon. Actually that’s a lie. My resulting bank balance means I have no choice in the matter…

So there have been cocktails, kisses and chaos (see that? It almost worked!). Pretty much the perfect recipe for a Diabetes Disaster. BUT! Although I’m now dans le Capital – a city that’s driven quite substantially by food, and have entered into a social whirlwind of pre-party nibbles, dining out and the like (the carbs are EVERYWHERE) I have been trying – and to a large extent succeeding – in being careful about what I shove (I’m a shover, I make no excuses) into my gob. And I really think my body is appreciating it. I have by no means been a 100% carb-free zone – there’s been the 3am Burger King, and the shit-I’m-so-hungry-I-could-eat-my-own-arm potato wedges – but on the whole I’ve quietly made good decisions, without anyone really noticing. That’s the beauty of diabetes (BEAUTY OF DIABETES?? Did I actually just construct that sentence?!), if you cooperate with it, generally it’ll stop kicking up a fuss and just let you get on with things.

Inevitably though, there was one moment of note when I was smacked in the face by this gem of an autoimmune disease. Just a teeny weeny twinkling of complacency and, as ever, you soon know about it. There I was, strolling around London town like the big I Am, thinking I’d cracked the beast, and BAM! I was reminded that I will NEVER crack the beast. This little ‘episode’ happened to be the lowest blood sugar reading I’ve ever recorded. 1.7 1 POINT BLOODY 7. Scary shit. Seriously not a pleasant experience, and one that I’ve no intention of repeating.

Allow me to set the scene (I did warn you about the impending Iliad…). I’d been out for a few vinos, and despite knowing full well that red wine has absolutely NO effect on my blood sugar (I don’t get it either, but quite frankly it’s a bloody miracle and I’m not going to question it), I had extra insulin when I got in. I think it’s just a general reaction to drinking now – have a few drinks, have a few units. The days when I’d head out for a big night out without my beloved Novorapid have long gone; I’ve been in all manner of drinking establishments completing my outfit with a sexy little insulin dose accessory. Bang on trend darling.

I’m also acutely aware that when I drink, I’m dead to the world the SECOND my head hits the pillow. Neither love nor money can wake me for a good few hours. Take for instance (my god WHY am I offering this information up) the time I left a night out early to stay at my friends, taking her key so she could carry on partying. When I finally woke up I had 24 missed calls on the phone that was IN MY HAND, and she’d spent the best part of an hour shouting at me through the letterbox. One of my personal highlights. Miraculously, we’re still friends.

So basically too much insulin + 3 glasses of wine (Small! 3 SMALL glasses of wine!) induced coma meant that I didn’t wake at the safe stage of hypo that I normally do. Thankfully I’m general up and blood-testing by the time I hit 3.4ish, still coherent enough to get myself out of bed and to the biscuit tin. But this hypo was INSANE – my breathing was shockingly shallow, my heart was pounding in my ears and I could barely pull myself up to reach for the Lucozade that I’d thankfully stored by the bed. It was then – and only then – that Miss Independent here suddenly felt more than a tad vulnerable. Until two weeks ago I was living with my dad, who’s had 15 years of this shit, and prior to that I was living with a boy, who was all but obliged to go down and get the biscuit tin for me (and rather enjoyed sharing in the midnight feast). But here I was in the pitch black, in a flat with two girls that were sound asleep (and definitely not accustomed to the drill) and not even my own thoughts were making sense in my head. Which for me, you’re probably aware by now, is saying a lot.

Me and my poor, poor new housemates

In the haze I had a moment of terrifying clarity akin to that scene in Bridget Jones where she gets drunk on her tod in the world’s most unsexy pyjamas and belts out ‘All By Myself’ in a way that is only acceptable when you are, in fact, all by yourself. She fears she’s going to die ‘fat and alone, and be found three weeks later, half-eaten by wild dogs’. Quite. Now of course, I know that such a notion is ridiculous. I blame the lack of oxygen to the brain.

Back to the blood sugar Reading of Doom. The emergency Lucozade didn’t quite solve the problem, but it did give me enough of a boost to crawl to the kitchen and raid the cupboards. Of course, given my general ‘I don’t eat carbs’ outlook, I had purchased everything BUT anything that was going to do me any good. Cue me wolfing down my new housemates’ biscuits, which made for a slightly awkward conversation the following morning in which I insisted I wasn’t a crazy food-addicted midnight snacker, and that there was no need to put a chain on the fridge.

I feel I need to wrap this up pretty sharp – a few of you must have passed a birthday milestone since you started reading this post – but safe to say I’ve since expanded the bedside store of sugar-laden goodies, and the housemates have had a rather animated lesson in Hypo 101. The vulnerable moment has very much passed, and I’m back to thinking I’m the best thing that’s happened to this city since Big Ben (that’s a lie by the way. I’m really not THAT girl). Mrs G would have a fit if she was reading this; nothing pleases her more than a little Jen&Diabetes related panic. But if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s not to dwell on the shit that gets thrown your way (wholly self-inflicted shit included!), but to learn from it and appreciate the good stuff even more. That 1.7’s got another thing coming if it thinks it’s going to pee on my London parade. I mean, what would Bridget say?!


8 comments on “Diabetes and the City

  1. Eek! Sounds very familiar – I’ve had 2 really horrible night time hypos since I moved home 2 months ago. Having only been diagnosed 2 years ago, I’ve not really been living at home since diagnosis. The night time ones are giving my Mum a real fright (with the last one, I managed to get enough strength to wake her. She was so disorientated at 3am, she pulled a picture off the wall looking for the light-switch. The cracked skirting board is a nice momento!).

    Glad to hear your new job/house/life is going well, despite the trials & tribulations of The Big D x

  2. Love the post Jen 🙂 Personally, I would never have insulin after drinking and definitely not before bed, given that alcohol tends to drive levels lower – I’d be more likely to go for cheese on toast!

  3. Mmm, cheese on toast…
    So many diabetics I know are always hypo after drinking – that never happens to me, I normally sky rocket the next morning. Would be handier if I was the norm, then cheese on toast would be my friend! Glad you liked 🙂

  4. Hey Miss Lauren!
    It’s so scary isn’t it – don’t think I’ve ever had a wake up call like it. I literally rolled out of the bed. Your poor Mum! My mum always used to complain that I didn’t wake her, but thankfully I (normally) wake up at a point where I can sort it. Does your body wake you when you’re hypo? I find that quite amazing! Hope you’re well! x

  5. I Really love your blog! It’s like reading my own thoughts (only with a few more Bridget Jones quotes).
    I moved to London without diabetes and was diagnosed very recently, it’s a hard city to do it in especially with working hours and the social scene only comprising of restaurants/ bars or the gym (which I actually find the worst, my body definitely does not appreciate working out now my sugar levels aren’t in the 20s haha).

    Keep up the good work!

    Jade 🙂

  6. Hey Jade!
    Aw thanks so much for your comment! Yes the Bridget quotes tend to slip in… oops.
    When were you diagnosed? What a confusing time, how are you getting on? I read your blog it’s really good – much more succinct than my waffling offerings! Hope you keep going with it, looking forward to more 🙂 x

  7. Thanks a lot! I was diagnosed after new years eve. It’s been a rollercoaster so far but I’m starting to feel like its been the last 40years and it’s a lot easier now I’m getting into a bit of a routine. Its the lifestyle I’m finding harder to change ha. looking forward to your next post, thanks for following! X

  8. I really like your blog!! I’ve been type 1 for the past 13 years (I’m 23 now) and I completely relate to the drinking and diabetes. I’ve been on the pump for about a year and a half, and I found that having the pump makes drinking a little easier.


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