You have changed my life.
It doesn't matter if this is the first blog post you've read or the thousandth. Whether you comment on diabetes forums the world over or lurk in the background of just one. The Diabetic Online Community is so much greater than the sum of its parts, and by reading this, whether you are diabetic yourself or just know someone who is (and frankly these days that is pretty much certain) you can now count yourself an official member of the D-OC. I'll pop a badge in the post to you. Get yourself a 'Blunt Lancet *' tee and wear it with pride.
As Jane wrote on Friday, this weekend is the anniversary of the unfortunate incident that triggered the birth of this blog and my discovery of the support, wisdom and hilarity to be found among online diabetics.
You have helped me to turn a corner with my diabetes. And I didn't even know I needed to turn it.
If you have lived with diabetes for some time and have just got used to 'the way things are', knowing really that this or that is not quite right, but unable to find any way forward. If your doctor seems happy enough with what you are doing, though suggests you should probably 'improve your control a bit', without ever seeming to be able to suggest any practical way to go about that (or at least none that you believe would have any effect). If this is you, as it was me, then take a look around. There are thousands of diabetic lives out there and someone will be going through what you are. Someone will have tried something that might work for you. Someone will post and answer to your forum question that will get you thinking. Someone will be there simply to offer support and understanding for the unfairness and frustration of it all.
In some sense the changes I have made are tiny. The improvements only marginal and fractional. But they have made all the difference to the way I feel about diabetes. Here are my top 5 discoveries from 2010:
1. Get your basal right
You can test this systematically, and until your basal is right everything else will be all over the shop. Your basal profile is not as flat as you have been told, and there are a number of timings and splits of dose that will work for different people. For pumpers, basal profiles are almost infinitely tweakable.
2. Count your carbs
Not something I learned this year, but something I was horrified to discover that others were not being taught. Utter madness.
3. Love your pancreas but watch out for your liver
Don't be too hard on your pancreas for rather letting you down on the whole insulin production front. It's still doing all sort of useful things digestion-wise. Your liver on the other hand probably needs a good talking to. Mine has a habit of gleefully dumping glucose into my bloodstream at the most in-opportune moments (dawn phenomenon or Somogyi effect anyone?). This can make test results seem chaotic and confusing.
4. Don't believe the hype
You might have been told which carbs release slowly by a dietician. You might be eating high fibre and low fat with 'heart-healthy' starchy carbs. Unfortunately though there is no way to tell what will happen to your blood glucose levels after eating something without testing on a BG meter. And there is nothing heart-healthy about constant post-meal BG spikes. The difficulty is that everyone is different. What is fine for one person will be a BG diaster for another. There are a lot of things I had believed to be 'safe' which I have dropped from my menu this year following 1 hour and 2 hour post-meal tests. Additionally diets high in carbs seem to lead to high cholesterol levels whether they are low fat or not. Moderation, as with so many things in life, seems to be the key.
5. One test at a time
Jane tells me I'm still learning this one. If you get a rubbish day/week/month of BG levels try not to beat yourself up about it. Write everything down, look for patterns, ask questions. Look online for others who have had a similar experience. Don't make changes too quickly, take your time and see if results are repeatable before you decide what you think is causing what. This is the hardest lesson of all. But I'll keep working at it.
I have an annual review coming up in a few months time. I'll be very interested to see if the improvement I feel in my day-to-day diabetic experience is shown in my HbA1c level.
Here's to the next 12 months of D-OC discovery.
* Blunt Lancet, 90's diabetic rock supremos created by US blogger Kim. Despite being more than a bit 'made up' you really can get a t-shirt (profits in support of the Diabetes Hands Foundation): www.cafepress.com/BluntLancetMerch