Posts tagged insulin pump

Crazy Days And Mondays Always Get Me Down.

This is the first time today I have been able to stop and do anything else, other than deal with hyperglycaemia symptoms.

Sigh.

You see, every September, when the air starts to get a little bit sticky, and the sun begins to bite your skin, I KNOW we are going to have three months of pandemonium.

Lance is like me, he has skin of milk, that gets a light blush even from the smallest amount of direct sunlight. Unlike my mum, who wouldn’t have been aware 30 years ago of just how dangerous the Australian sun is, I have always been pedantic with sunblock application, floppy hats, and avoiding the sun during 11am and 3pm. I have suffered from some terrible sunburn as a schoolgirl, and as a result, I have horrible freckles on my forearms. (One of my fave actresses, Julianne Moore, a fellow redhead has them too, which has made me feel less self-conscious of the fact that I have deformed skin pigmentation times two thousand.)

Julianne Moore Made Freckles Look HOT!

Julianne Moore Made Freckles Look HOT!

 I have managed to maintain a good skincare regime since I was 14-ish, and unlike many Aussie redheads, I have escaped the nightmare of a freckled-dotted face.( I happen to think freckles are gorgeous-just not on me.)

Anyway, back to the weather. We have been waking up at 6am lately, our linen dishevelled, and a slimy layer of perspiration covering our bodies. Yep, it’s that time. The time when glucose drinks and jellybabies live beside the bed, and it’s simply too hot to stay asleep.

Which brings us to this morning.

I drifted off into a light trance-like sleep around 4am. I did one final test on Lance; he was 4.2mmol/L.  I slammed my head into my hand, out of sheer rage. I gave Lance a few gentle shakes, and brushed a straw against his lips that would filter a pure glucose mixture into his mouth. Naturally, he was resistant to drink it, he thrashed about the bed for a minute or two, whimpering. I don’t think he was feeling hypo, I think it was the fact that he woke to find it almost impossible to breathe, and that his bedclothes were glued to his skin.

Finally, he drank, and I felt content that he had consumed enough to get him through ’til morning.

I turned up the fan, pointed it in his direction, and he rolled over and went back to sleep.

I woke to my alarm bleeping, and the early morning sun blaring through a space between the window and the wooden slat blinds. I was sticky, annoyed and after listening to Lance’s breathing pattern for about twenty seconds, I was so furious that I knew I would find him hypo.

I rolled over to find him fast asleep, his hair matted to his forehead, and his skin a ghostly white.

I fumbled with the glucometer, waited for the countdown, and felt immediate nausea when I saw a 1.9mmol/L greeting me. I jumped up, grabbed his glucose gel, sat him up, and squeezed myself behind him. His head dangled forward like a sad puppet, and I felt a few seconds of “Help Me”, directed at no one in particular, I just didn’t want to be alone in this situation.

Lance began to groan, which was a good sign, because it meant that I just might be able to get some glucose gel past his lips, and not sprayed back into my face. Fortunately, he was quite compliant, and sucked the sticky, thick paste straight from the tube. He actually had the entire dose, which was quite an achievement.

We haven’t had too many “one-ers” since Lance has been on his pump, and when he is really low, his hypo symptoms have become far less severe. The pump is such a blessing-Lance’s hypos were something that used to really worry me-I used to shudder imagining me holding him down as a 16 year old, copping a fat lip and a black eye-his strength is a force to be reckoned with now, let alone as a strapping young teen!

I would have looked like a victim of Battered Mother’s Syndrome.

His blood sugar had climbed up to 8.6mmol/L. He was crying, unable to get out of bed, due to the blinding headache that always follows an incident such as this. I administered a dose of ibuprofen (much better than panadol for post-hypo pain). He was just nailed to the bed, despite the glucose now surging through his blood, he was flattened, an insidious combination of the humidity and the hypo.

I lay beside him and he put his hand in mine, I could see the beautiful pink roses returning to his cheeks, however, he was beginning to sport some sinister black circles under his eyes. So poetic, really. Everything related to Diabetes seems to have a compromise involved. You can eat this, as long as you have this…You can go here, as long as you test at x o’clock. You can play outside, as long as you have your shoes on. Nothing’s ever simple…easy…okay or without the cause and effect phenomenon.

When Lance finally woke, he looked much better, but he was very flat, the chatter that usually fills my house was absent. He smiled and nodded when asked a question, but he wasn’t himself at all.

BSL: 5.1mmol/L.

I gave him a glass of juice, which he was happy to drink. I then suggested that he would feel better after a cool shower. He said he didn’t feel like he could stand up, so I took in a plastic chair for his to sit on while the water refreshed him.

I had just managed to get the water temperature at a perfect level, when I saw it.

Lance had taken his shirt off, and was just about to continue undressing when I discovered that his site had come unstuck from his tummy. All of that squirming around and moisture in the air had obviously attributed to this-something that I have yet to encounter since Lance began pump therapy.

I calmly ( innardly, I was madly panicking) put Lance into the shower. I only changed his site yesterday. “Oh well,”I thought,”at least we can start the day fresh, with a new site, and move on.”

Lance was rejuvenated after his shower. He felt much better, and even requested some breakfast.

BSL: 5.8mmol/L.

He had two slices of wholemeal toast, a mango and a bowl of yogurt, all washed down with two tumblers of water.

Site change was successful, I put some antibiotic cream on the old site, just-in-case.

Two hours later, Lance commented that he was hungry and needed a rest.

BSL: 18.5mmol/L.

Ha! So, we are going to have a “Nothing Makes Any Sense” Day, are we?

That’s okay, I’m ready for it. Bring it on.

I gave a correction on his pump, made a low carb snack and presented Lance’s filled water bottle to him. He asked if he could do some reading whilst lying down. Naturally, I agreed.

Should I ring the Diabetes Clinic? I should. Better to nip this in the bud, even if they tell me what I already know.

I bought the phone into Lance’s room, and rubbed his aching legs whilst making the phonecall.

Hmm. No answer. I gave it another shot.

I was a nanosecond away from saying, “Hel..” when I realised I was listening to a recorded message. I left my details, a brief description of the problem and hung up.

I smiled at Lance. “You’ll be feeling great soon, honey. The wizard in your pump has given you the perfect amount of insulin to come back down to the healthy range.”

“I hope you’re right, Mum.” he replied.

I wheeled the air cooler in Lance’s room. After hanging out a small amount of washing, I had a wet face cloth wrapped around my own neck. The heat was just frightful.

BSL: 7.7mmol/L.

“You were right, Mum!” Lance called from his room.

“Hey! That’s fantastic news! How do you feel inside of your body?”

“Ergh. My legs really hurt and I have some tummy pains, too.”

“Maybe you are hungry and you could do with some food?”

“Actually, I AM really hungry!” he laughed. He requested some fruit salad and ice cream.

He had two bowls of FS and IC, and then asked if we could make pikelets.

It was the last thing I felt like doing, but I was happy for him to want to eat.

We whipped up a batch in no time, and Lamce demolished four pikelets. He appeared with our trusty carbohydrate book, and asked how much he should bolus for them. The recipe I used already has the carb values worked out per serve, so after completing some quick maths in my head, I gave him the number, doubled checked as he pressed it into his pump, and he pressed ACT.

“Do you feel full now?”

“No, not really.”

“Well. we’ll do a test in an hour, and we’ll see what your bsl is. Maybe I can make some noodles with vegetables or something like that?”

He eagerly nodded his head.

Half an hour later, Lance appeared in front of me.

“Mum, I wasn’t feeling well, and so I did a test.”

24.4mmol/L.

I quickly handed him his water bottle, and got out a blood ketone strip.

Oh fantastic!!! Ketones had decided to join the madness!

The blood test showed 0.3% of ketones were present. Lance, ever the perfect diabetic, also did a urine test, “just for backup.” It showed 3+++ and 4++++ of glucose in his urine.

I picked up the phone and rang the doctor’s surgery.

No appointments. Okay.

I asked if I could speak to my doctor. This is an arrangement that he has given all of his staff permission to follow. If I call in an emergency situation, I am to be transferred through to his phone line. I’ve done it dozens of times.

“Look, I’m sorry Kate, Dr Dutch has gone overseas for two weeks. Therefore, Dr Congo is taking over all his patients. He’s really much too busy to speak to you at the moment. He has a difficult patient with him right now.”

“Well, Carol, I have a difficult problem that I need to speak to Dr about. What do you suggest I do?”

“At this stage, I could only suggest you present him to Emergency at the hospital.”

“That won’t be happening, could you please ask Dr Congo to contact me in between patients? I know he won’t mind.”

“Well, it’s Monday, and he hasn’t had a break, no lunch-nothing. So I beg to differ, he WILL mind.”

Haughty, miserable cow.

Lance corrected himself again. I investigated every part of his tubing, looking for air bubbles, making sure that the site looked as if it had “taken”…that was the only thing that I could think of. Or he had a virus of some description. My inner D voice told me that it was just “one of those horrorshow days” that come to haunt us every now and again, just to keep us on our toes.

5pm passed…Diabetes clinic didn’t call back. GRRRRRR.

At 6pm, BSL was 28.8mmol/L. I suspended the pump, and gave an injection of Novorapid. Lance was making frequent visits to the bathroom and guzzling back water. His legs ached terribly, he placed a pillow between them and rocked backwards and forwards to allieviate the pain. I changed the site. I could smell insulin the moment it was removed from his tummy. The cannula looked perfect-no kinks, no bends…

So, here I had my son, insulin dependent, receiving continuous insulin infusion, but blood sugar skyrocketing.  Temperature:normal. Ketones present. Limited medical help available.

BSL: HI.

I rang his endocrinologist’s mobile number, but another endo answered. We had met before, so he did know a little about Lance and his Hypos.

“Well, Kate, it sounds like you have it all under control. You are doing all the right things-I can’t fault what actions you are taking.”

Thanks a lot, Doc, I appreciate the compliment, but, !!!!!!!!!!!!

“Keep up the Novorapid. Call back if you are worried.”

Did that REALLY just happen??

I hung up the phone and calmly strolled into my bedroom. I buried my head deep into a pillow and screamed to release the fury and frustration I felt.

I packed up a bag of emergency items, and accepted that we were off to the Emergency Ward.

I asked Lance for one more blood test.

“Mum, I’m 13.6!!!!”

I couldn’t help but laugh-we were both so hot,we had been tormented all day by crazy blood sugar numbers, had ridiculous encounters with our trusted medical team, and now-his blood sugar had dropped over 20mmol/L in 40 minutes..it really was quite comical, in a manic, crazed way.

So, now, it is 10.37pm.

Lance is 8.2mmol/L.

No ketones in sight.

Ravenous appetite present.

Leg pain is no longer present.

I have all of this documented, and I have an appointment with Dr Congo tomorrow. I want to show him just how crazy things can get. As much as I adore him,  he has bothered to learn more about Type 1, and has treated Lance very deftly and appropriately in emergencies-I NEED him to see the rollercoaster numbers and just how quickly situations can turn around.

For now, though, Lance is ready to rest his body. Afterall, his entire body went through quite a workout today, yet he barely moved a muscle.

This day has shaken me considerably, but pump or no pump, this is how Lance’s Diabetes responds to the change in season.

We are fortunate enough that we can spend the majority of the summer in air conditioned luxury this year.

 (Thanks, Pat. You’re still looking out for us.)

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Site Change Complete With Pics 101.

Lance And His Insulin Pump.
Lance And His Insulin Pump.

 This post and pictures are dedicated to my dear friend, Kez, who has been so incredible  throughout the past month. Having had Type 1 Diabetes for the best part of his young life, he truly understands the nature of the condition. He barely ever mentions his own nightmares where Diabetes is concerned; he is more worried for Lance. He’s a true gentleman-an original Harry Winston pink diamond glimmering in a bargain bin brimming over of cubic zirconia.

Kez has been enquiring and asking lots of questions about Lance and his insulin pump. As we reside in different states, I thought I would take some pictures of the ENTIRE site change procedure. (There aren’t too many people who actually want to hear about the pump and its workings, so I decided to pay homage to my friend for being so incredibly supportive, and I figured that I may as well do this properly and show you EVERYTHING!)

This post is also dedicated to my Lance, whose patience and even-tempered nature never ceases to amaze me. You are a true inspiration to others, with or without Diabetes.

Meet "The Pump."

Meet "The Pump."

This is Lance’s five week old Medtronic Minimed Paradigm Insulin Pump. It’s a few cm’s shy of  the size of my mobile phone, and weighs slightly less. ( I don’t own a brick, either-it’s a top-of-the-line Sony job.) It’s available in blue, purple, clear or smoke. Lance chose smoke, as he felt that he would tire quickly of the coloured ones.
 “Smoke is classic, Mum..it will be less obvious than a bright purple one, and it will look so
much more classy.”
 (Would you like some caviar and Cristal Champagne with your insulin today, oh Sir Lance-a-lot?) 😉
All jokes aside…On With The Show!!!!
First up…
Cleaning Hands With Antibacterial Gel

Cleaning Hands With Antibacterial Gel

 The first rule of changing a set is to have a clean area to work on, and thoroughly clean hands. As well as using soapy, hot water, I go that one step further and use an anti-bacterial quick drying gel.

What You Need To Change An Infusion Site.

What You Need To Change An Infusion Site.

Before I begin, I ensure that I have EVERYTHING that I will need to complete the set change.
I have Lance’s pump, his used, almost empty insulin reservoir that he has removed from his stomach. (This kid has no fear of pain! He just tears off the tape, which is sticky as..there’s no comparison!!) It makes me shudder at the thought of removing it. The closest thing I can compare it with is an eyebrow wax performed by a apprentice beauty therapist who is ripping the wax off in stages. 
I have two alco-wipes, which throughly clean areas that must be germ-free, a new, sterile reservoir, which simply resembles a fat, short barrel of a syringe. It has a blue, removable needle which draws up the insulin. There is also a new “set”, which consists of thin, clear tubing, with a lockable cap on one end, and that tape one the other, along with a removable needle. We’ll go into that more later. 🙂 There is also a cleaned Medtronic Quik-Serter and a vial of insulin.
A 3mL vial of Novorapid-So Little Insulin For Such A Big Problem!

A 3mL vial of Novorapid-So Little Insulin For Such A Big Problem!

Speak of the Devil! Here is the tiny little tube that will dispense three days worth of insulin to Lance. Even then, there is ALWAYS some left over. It’s difficult to fathom that everything revolves around such a tiny amount of insulin! The vial is shorter than my ring finger!! We use Novorapid, by Novo Nordisk.It sure knows how to punish excess sugar in the blood!!

 

Cleaning The Rubber Plunger Of The Vial-Hygiene Is A Must!
Cleaning The Rubber Plunger Of The Vial-Hygiene Is A Must!

 

Yep, I’m giving the rubber top where the needle is inserted the once-over with an Alco-wipe. I am meticulous about cleanliness, considering everything I touch or breathe on has the possibility of contaminating Lance’s site. OCD much?
Filling The Syringe With Insulin.

Filling The Syringe With Insulin.

Okay, this is the part where you take a deep breath and hope that you don’t get a case of Shaky Hands Syndrome. I turn the vial of insulin upside down, insert the syringe (unable to be seen due to the blue plastic thingy-me-jig) and pull the plunger at the bottom, to fill the reservoir ( a fancy, American name for syringe) with the entire contents of the insulin. Once I have ensured that there are only “champagne”size bubbles present, and no trapped air to be seen, I remove the blue plastic thingy simply with a twist, put the empty insulin vial in my rubbish heap and ever so carefully, twist the plunger anticlock-wise until it comes off, and you are left with something that looks like….
Attaching One End Of The Tubing To The Insulin Resevoir.

Attaching One End Of The Tubing To The Insulin Resevoir.

THIS!
I have also connected the lockable cap to one end of the reservoir. This is usually the stage where people cotton on, and say “Ahhh, I think I’m catching on here…” The tubing is also visable in this shot, and the part that ends up stuck on and in Lance’s tummy.
Where The Insulin Lives.

Where The Insulin Lives.

The Reservoir full of three days worth of insulin has it’s own special home in the pump. You simply push the reservoir into the space, and twist anti-clockwise until it won’t twist anymore. (What’s with all the anti-clockwise twisting, you may ask? I know..Australians are a mob of clockwise turning folk..) I never realised just how much until my associations with Duplo. (OH! The Pump has a name, in case I have forgotten to mention!)
Drumroll please….
Introducing…. Duplo. I think there’s a hidden metaphor in there somewhere, along the lines of Duplo is the easy, user friendly version of the more complicated and high maintenance Lego. Get my drift?
Checking The Insulin Flows Through The Tubing.

Checking The Insulin Flows Through The Tubing.

So, after all that anti-clockwise twisting, the reservoir is safely locked into its home.
The Pump Pushes The Insulin FreelyThrough The Tubing.

The Pump Pushes The Insulin Freely Through The Tubing. At this point, I have to choose an option in the Main Menu called "Prime". This means I have to hold the blue ACT (short for Activate) button down, until I can see insulin flowing through the tubing, and a few droplets emerging at the end. ( I can usually smell it coming before I see it.)Droplets Of Clear, Pungent Insulin Appear! It Worked!

 

Not the best of shots, (HA! A Diabetes joke!) but I assure you, that the priming has been successful.  Two photos down, I am aiming the needle towards the camera, but you can’t see bupkus.
Introducing The Medtronic Quik-Serter.

Introducing The Medtronic Quik-Serter.

This blue plastic device that resembles a modern day egg cup, is actually a brilliant little device called a Quik-serter. (Everytime Lance sees the box in which the Quik-serter lives, he makes the same comment..”The Medtronic people are really smart for making such a great pump, but they can’t even spell “quick” right!!“) It basically does what its name suggests. It inserts everything quickly, with minimal fuss and pain. Definitely worth the $57 price tag!
Taking Off The Shiny Paper To Reveal Super Sticky Tape!

Taking Off The Shiny Paper To Reveal Super Sticky Tape!

I have painstakingly removed the plasic-coated paper without touching a millimetre of the stickiest medical tape known to man.
Almost There!

Almost There!

We’re at the business end of the procedure, now. The quik-serter has the adhesive side up, and is securely pushed in to avoid it falling tape-side-down on the floor, and heaven forbid, contamination and or brain bleed taking place!!
Loading The Quik-Serter.

Loading The Quik-Serter.

I have now pulled down the white part of the Quik-Serter, which in effect, loads it, almost ready to use!
The Needle Is Now Exposed.

The Needle Is Now Exposed.

I have now removed the light blue plastic cap, that protected the needle and captured those insulin droplets at the priming stage. Now, all I need is the child model to demonstrate!
Avoiding The Old Site.

Avoiding The Old Site.

Child model is not very happy. He wants to watch The Simpsons, and he’s slightly on the higher end of things. (14.3mmol/L to be exact.) I expose his tummy to look for a fresh site that is all healed and unmarked. It’s a tough job-but I managed to find one. You’ll notice the reddened round circle with the hole in the middle–that was where I put Lance’s last set. I apply a little anti-biotic cream to the spot where the cannula lived for almost three days. Sometimes, Lance complains that “it’s uncomfortable” after it’s been removed. The antibiotic cream (prescribed by our wonderful family doctor) really dries up the opening and you can literally watch healing taking place. The reddened area is from that dang tape! It will settle down in a few hours.
Cleaning The New Site.

Cleaning The New Site.

I’m cleaning the whole area with an Alco-Wipe. Lance has to hold his shirt up until it dries. A lot of people blow on it to encourage it to dry quickly-this is a huge NO-NO. You could be breathing any type of bacterial infection into an area that has to be completely germ free!!
The alcohol takes only 30 seconds or so to dry. Finally, we get to see some action!
This is the part where you move quikly (hehe)&have chocolate ready..

This is the part where you move quikly (hehe)&have chocolate ready to distract yelping child....

A teensy amount of anxiety builds at this stage; sometimes I can get a spot that causes no discomfort at all, yet others, poor Lance is hollering, jumping on one foot and clutching his stomach like he’s just been the recipient of a bullet or four. I position the quik-serter onto the new site, and press two white buttons at the same time…you will here a “click” plus…  “Ow, ow, ow, ow, get the needle out, get the needle out!!!” When the white buttons are pressed, it forces the quik-serter to punch the cannula underneath Lance’s skin by a thin, long needle. I then press the top, round part of the quik-serter, which releases it from the area. Then you are left with something looking like this….
OUCH! (Just For A Teensy Second..)

OUCH! (Just For A Teensy Second..)

Fabulous! A successful site change!! I press down the tape to ensure that it is completely stuck down. (I was unable to get a shot of the removal of the needle. As it was, I hit a tender spot, and Lance was not a happy chappy.) Luckily,once the needle is removed, the initial sting only lasts for a couple of minutes. Lance’s tummy is a bit of a battleground, to put it mildly, after thousands of shots. However, he has “performance anxiety” about using his legs or the “upper outer quadrant of his glutimus maximus.” At this stage, I’m happy to let his tummy heal up but continue to choose suitable areas, rather than have him distressed every two days about having a site change. It’s important that most of Lance’s site change experiences are positive, because I know that as much as he admits he feels better with the pump, he would happily recommence multiple daily injections if I suggested it. It’s just because it’s all he ever knew, before Duplo emptied the bank!
Pumped And Ready To GO!

Pumped And Ready To GO!

Duplo is now ready to be attached to Lance’s pants, and is about to start dispensing his basal rate of insulin. I have to enter 0.3ml of insulin to be primed again, so that it’s right at the entry point of the cannula, ready to start pumping away the  insulin inside of him again.
Lance definitely chose appropriate PJ's this evening-he is quite the Superman.

Lance definitely chose appropriate PJs-He definitely is a Superman. 🙂

“Me? An Insulin Pump? I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”
Only the sharpest eye could possibly make out that Lance is wearing an insulin pump. The best part is that the average person has no idea about the delicate procedure Lance just went through.  
And that’s the end of the story…I’ve got this procedure down to 7 minutes without referring to reference books or watching the step-by-step DVD. Lance is usually so incredible and accepting of his pump; he’s slowly realising that living each day without being attacked by his Mum with a needle each hour or so wasn’t the quality of life he deserved.
  He has learnt to count carbohydrates, and bolus for however many he eats.
And  yet, from time to time, I forget that my son is only seven years old. When it actually sinks in, I cannot believe that he is already his own person, with his own opinions and beliefs.
He is happy, loving, intelligent, empathetic towards others’ and has lived almost all his life with Diabetes.
He considers his problems to be secondary to that of kids’ in hospital, or if our neighbour arrives home with a headache. Or if I have had no sleep.

 I guess I have Diabetes to thank for his incredible character traits.

Hope you enjoyed sharing a smidgen of our day, Kez!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Mum,Will There Really Be A Cure?”

Lance is watching an episode of Ben 10 Alien Force at the moment. (Thanks so much for the recommendation, Brendon!!-We’re a bit behind the times Down Under, but thanks to handy services such as EBay and credit cards, I managed to get the series for Lance as a post-pump gift.)

I had to sneak away into my room and position myself on my bed (very Carrie Bradshaw like), and release  some pent up tears. I have had a lump in my throat and a quivery voice all day, and if there is one thing in my house that stops everything in its tracks, it’s the sound of my sobs. It distresses Lance so greatly.. Even our dog will plant his front paws on me and cock his head to the side. Therefore, I go to painstaking efforts to swallow back tears and dispense of them after bedtime.

Exhaustion and stress have been big issues lately. I have also had to come to terms with the fact that Lance can now express his feelings and emotions with such clarity and honesty, which is something that I am so thankful he has the ability to do. He will talk about his future, his birthday, schoolwork, family, and on the odd occasion, he will knock me into next week with a comment about his Diabetes.

This was today’s installment.

“Mum, I think my pump is so great. But, can you understand what it feels like to have a mechanical device attached to you ALL the time? It’s does get a little annoying.”

“Oh, I can completely understand that it’s gets a bit frustrating sometimes, because it’s so new and different to your old D Life. However, I’m really glad that you think it’s great. I can’t begin to tell you the difference it’s going to make to your health, and you already know that you don’t have barely any hypos anymore…”

“Yeah, but, what I want to know is WHEN are they going to give me my cure?”

(Silence for a few agonising moments..)

“Or, is it all a big trick? Like one of those things adults tell kids to make them believe everythings ok? I don’t know if I want to be a Youth Ambassador anymore, because I think I have realised that I am going to have diabetes forever, and I don’t think we should talk about the “C” word anymore. It’s a very unfunny joke. The Cure is a big joke.”

His azure blue eyes penetrated mine, searching for answers.

Firstly, I gave him a playful punch in the arm, accompanied with a dramatic gasp for effect.

He was only able to muster up a forced half-smile.

I leaned over and hugged him tight, and said quietly into his ear, ” ‘It’s’ so close, I know ‘it’s’ there, the scientists know what to do, we just have to be patient.”

He squeezed me tightly. He then pulled his head away, wiping his eyes on his shirt.

I had to use all my might to stop myself from breaking down at this point. This was probably the first time I have seen Lance shed tears about living with Diabetes, and maybe facing his future without The Cure.

 Hmm. Tears.

 I decided to do a fingerprick, just in case this was a hypo talking.

Nope, it was the real deal. He was perched on a highly desirable 7.8mmol/L. I looked down at his tubing. The insulin was steadily travelling into his site. I wanted to tell him the how lucky he was that his pump was going to change the way his life would pan out. However, the words, “lucky” and “diabetes” didn’t seem appropriate to use in the same sentence..not at the moment anyway.

I pulled out my laptop, and googled Lance’s full name. He has over a full page devoted to his JDRF Youth Ambassador work, his unwavering devotion to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and his fundraising achievements from the age of five.

It just didn’t cut it.

“The ads on TV, about Type 2 Diabetes, People think it’s me.. It’s true, they don’t understand. “

“WELL, that’s why we HAVE to keep creating awareness about Type 1 Diabetes, sweetheart. You are the most powerful asset to organisations like JDRF. You can tell people what it’s like to live with Type 1 Diabetes for most of your life…”

“Yes, but they forget. They pretend to understand, but they don’t. It’s really good that I don’t have to have needles anymore, but people are always going to be afraid of me.”

At that moment, my already bludgeoned heart shattered into a million pieces.

Lance wasn’t crying, he was mad. He had hot tears bleeding down his cheeks. For two seconds, I hated Scott for leaving me to deal with situations like these by myself. (These feelings quickly dissipated. However, I felt so alone, and for one of the rare times of my life, I was totally speechless.)

We managed to cheer each other up by looking at some really funny “Funniest Home Video” style You Tube. We sat on the bed with a bowl of popcorn, howling with laughter at the antics of puppies and kittens. Good clean fun without a vial of insulin or a carb counter in sight.

Later this afternoon, I almost had a very nasty accident whilst grating cheese.

“Chris (an almost-7-year-old who lives two doors down from us) reckons that people will call the police now I have my pump.”

“Huh?”

“Well, he said it looks like I have a bomb strapped to me.”

I had to turn my head momentarily as I silently mouthed a selection of expletives. I looked at the clock, and decided that inappropriate or not, it was crucial to address this matter immediately. 

The Shirt Says It All. (Generally, I am very friendly and loving. Just don't mess with my kid!)

The Shirt Says It All.

 

So, we put on out uggs and our jackets, and marched two houses down the street. I politely knocked, even though the adrenalin pounding through my body would have easily allowed me to bash the door down like a carload of Feds.

Chris’s Mum and Chris answered the door.

I made it short and sweet. I let Chris know that I knew about his little revelation, and his mother gasped in shock when she found out the entire story. She sent him to his room, disgust and embarrassment evident in her tone. She got down to Lance’s level and gave him a big hug. He put his arms around her, too. Chris’s Mum apologised again, and I sent Lance home to open the door. I apologised for being a dobber, and for getting her kid into trouble.

However if my child has to suffer for just being himself, then I will do anything to amend his pain.

PEOPLE WITH TYPE 1 DIABETES HAVE NO SAY IN WHETHER THEY ARE GOING TO CONTRACT THE CONDITION OR NOT. THERE IS NOTHING THEY COULD HAVE DONE TO STOP THE AUTO-IMMUNE REVOLT.

When I got home, Lance was sitting on the floor, in Lego mode. I smiled apprehensively, as I was aware that I could have caused him to feel even more humiliated by my actions.

He beamed at me.

“You go, girl.”

Phew. He didn’t think I was tragic.

“Thanks Mum. It’s great to have a Mum who isn’t scared of people.. Anyway, my pump is great. Just in secret, I do feel really cool in public, knowing that I have a $7000 pocket, and that I have a pretend organ clipped onto my pants.”

And that was that.

 

***Later on***- We received a knock on the door just after dinner. Chris stood on the doorstep, with a Wiggles umbrella protecting him from the rain. His Dad introduced himself, and said that Chris had decided that it would be in his best interest to get the apology over and done with. He did apologise, and quite sincerely too. I couldn’t help but smile. Lance grabbed his hand and shook it, and told him that it was “all cool.”  They smiled awkwardly at each other.  I encouraged them to go home quickly, as the rain was getting louder and heavier. Two figures scurried out of our front gate. I quickly shut the door behind me, and sighed loudly, at nothing in particular.

Note: Lance has had a permament smile on his dial for the rest of the evening. 😉

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The Hunger.

“When it is good, it is very very good…”

We are entering Week Four of pumping.

Things are progressing incredibly! Site changes are a breeze, with no infections to be seen and readings that are almost too good to be true. Hypos are nowhere near as savage and insidious as they once were.

Despite some initial hiccups, it feels like a lifetime ago when flexpens were responsible for dispensing Lance’s insulin. Today it’s all about five buttons and a Main Menu. It’s just so fantastic to have some of the worry taken out of diabetes.

“but when it is bad, it is horrid!”

As I am responsible for Lance’s blood sugar control and insulin administration, I’m the first to say that there have been some days (and very long nights) where I feel so desperately alone. When the pump beeps at me, and flashes messages indicating a problem, my heart jumps into my throat and I experience such overwhelming nausea, that, just for a nanosecond, I want to pack the whole thing up and hide it in my highest cupboard.

It’s about a week until our checkup with the paediatric endocrinologist. As we are still sorting out basal rates and a few other issues, we are fingerpricking up a storm. I want to be able to give the Doc the best representation of how life has been since we last saw each other a month ago, so I have carefully compiled all of Lance’s readings in his record book.

I’m yearning for unbroken sleep..At the moment, I’m averaging about four hours a night in total, and it’s nowhere NEAR enough.

Meanwhile, there is another issue that has me tearing my hair out.

Now, that Lance is receiving only Novorapid via his pump, he is stupendously hungry, all the time. I can NEVER satiate his hunger, no matter how much low GI, carb laden food I put in front of him. I can spend two hours in the kitchen preparing an evening meal, and upon completing every last morsel, he is STILL looking for something else.

I have tried halving his bolus amounts, thinking that perhaps I am being too heavy-handed with how many units of insulin I am permitting the pump to administer. It’s not that, as an hour later, he is sucking back water, and squirming around like he has several ant colonies scurrying all over his body.

We have a dog, and a cat. They have been wormed, but with the pump hoopla, I had forgotten to worm Lance. That was taken care of two weeks ago. So, no dearest Elder, he doesn’t have worms from our pets. Still, he craves carbohydrates only half an hour to an hour after a huge main meal. His blood sugar levels are hovering around the 5.5mmol/L-7mmol/L area about 80% of the time, (oh and believe me, for this, there is no adjective grandiose enough to explain how it feels to say “good riddance” to those horrid dips and spikes..) but I simply cannot keep his mind off what he can eat next!!!

(I have spoken to the Diabetes Educator about it, and she has suggested that it is possibly just the last part of his growth spurt, and to feed him what he wants, simply accounting for the extra carbohydrates he consumes by bolusing. )

A month ago, the first words Lance would utter were, “Good Morning, did you have lovely dreams?”

Now, he is plotting and planning what he can have for breakfast, and exclaiming how ravenous he is.

I am spending more time preparing food, then I am sleeping!

This is the only place where I can publically vent, as I can NEVER show Lance that I am privately frustrated with preparing feasts that would feed a small African village. It is starting to frustrate him also, as he is tired of brushing his teeth everytime he has to snack, and I can tell he feels remorseful that he has to continously ask me to find suitable snacks for him. As all food consumed has to be accounted for, he has to report to me so that I can administer the correct dosage. Sleep deprivation isn’t helping one single bit.

I have found myself having to bite my tongue when bedtime rolls along.

“Mum, if I brush my teeth again, can I please have a box of sultanas?”

Sigh.

The opportunity to actually speak to the endocrinologist and outline these concerns will be a such a relief. I know that the extra Novorapid and the out-of-whack basal levels are causing the hinge of my fridge to develop a squeak, but it will be SUCH a comfort to drive away from his office, knowing that the corrections he makes will reduce an appetite equivilent to the winner of Survivor.

Other than The Hunger, all things Diabetes are really looking up!

 

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Pump Up The Jam..And The Cake..And the Doughnuts…

To all of our family, (biological and extended,) friends, fellow D Bloggers who sent their best and even complete strangers who heard about Lance’s “story”, I’m very pleased to report that Lance is home, happy, and has his insulin pump fitted!

Being such a momentous reason to celebrate, Lance and I trekked into Brisbane City, where we chowed down on a fresh doughnut, with pink glaze icing. When we were served, Lance looked at me with panic stricken eyes. It was the most joyous feeling to reassure him that he could have doughnuts occasionally, and that the press of a few buttons would take care of the insulin required to keep his blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

 

A delicious reality...

A delicious reality...

So far, his readings have been super, and I haven’t felt “that” internal sensation of butterflies on amphetamines due to a deathly low or ridiculous high reading for almost a week now!  Lance has had only 2 hypos this week! Both were treatable, and I didn’t feel like I needed a session with Dr Phil after he had recovered!

 His endocrinologist would like him to eventually strive for readings between 4mmol/L and 8 mmol/L. I am elated to say that he isn’t far off these levels, and is achieving amazing readings without a great deal of effort! Fantastic basals, Doc. Thanks a bunch.

Lance chose a uber cool, steel grey Medtronic Paradigm pump which he has adjusted to wearing without any issues whatsoever. His initial fears of “What will it feel like to sleep with it?” are thoughts of the past. Despite the Pump Education being very swift, I have emerged feeling very confident with site changes, and bolusing for meals and snacks.

My “Bible,” Fats and Figures, by Karen Daly, is never far from sight; it has proven to be a fantastic reference book for counting carbs.

In the past hour I have spied used test strips in the bed, on the floor, in the car,and even in the washing machine! Never has there been so many fingerpricks performed! The house is untidy, but not dirty. For once, I don’t care in the least. My son is calmer, more stable, less vulnerable, and radiating pure happiness, without a mention of a headache or aching legs. No more guzzling water or lying listlessly on the sofa…

Finally, he’s just Lance.

Here’s to the life you were meant to have, sweetheart. This is how seven-and-a-half year old boys are supposed to behave and feel.

Our sincere thanks must go to Louise from Medtronic, Dr C and the Staff at the Mater Children’s Hospital.

 You all played intergral roles in getting Lance off the syringe diet, and pumping his way to carefree, less chaotic days.

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Recovery From Assault, Self Loathing, Diabulimia, Self Mutilation And Rehabilitation-One Man’s Pain Infected Decade.

Imagine being 8 years old and diagnosed with Type 1 DIabetes.

Imagine being admitted to hospital with DKA time after time because insulin therapy and living with Diabetes were the least of your worries.

Imagine living in a town with a population of 100, hardly a dot on a map, and innocently revealing your sexuality to your family, and therefore the entire community.

Imagine, at 13 years of age, being viciously attacked and assaulted in broad daylight, leaving you hospitalised and in sheer agony?

Imagine being taunted and stripped of your dignity too many times to count when your weight began fluctuating through puberty?

Imagine if you became estranged from your family,especially when you need them the most?

Imagine moving with four hours notice to a capital city to commence boarding school, struggling with your sexuality,not to mention out-of-control blood sugar levels, and feeling abandoned and stranded by your family?

Imagine, developing and defeating a four year battle with self-mutilation and bulimia nervosa, or in this instance, diabulimia.

Imagine if you had to spend six months recovering in rehab.

Imagine if you were already suffering from diabetic complications.

Imagine if all of the above were true?

Here is the true story of a 26 year old man, whom I have had the pleasure to speak with over the past few weeks. Despite his many devastating life experiences, he is a remarkable human being who has become a credit to a society that gave him little in return. 

Leith has agreed to share his story with us, hoping that it will help others who are suffering from issues that he has lived through and survived. Some parts of his story are difficult to read, or even comprehend. However, he is alive, well and looking forward to the future.

His bravery, courage and frank discussion of his many challenges made for outstanding conversation. 

Here is his heartbreaking yet incredible story. 

Leith! Thank you so much for agreeing to share your life story! I feel so privileged that you have chosen to share such personal events with me! 

My pleasure, Kate. I only hope that someone who is googling “Diabetes and bulimia,” “Diabetes and gay support.”  or “Diabetes and complications at an early age” finds your website and reads your blog from cover to cover as I did.

What part of Australia are you living in, Leith?

 I live in Mt Gambier, located in South Australia. It’s a gorgeous little place, ideal for “starting afresh.”

I really don’t know where to begin, as there are so many issues to address!

“Tell me about it! Know any Oscar -winning screenplay writers?”

Can you describe what happened in the period of time surrounding your diagnosis?

I was attending a state school in South Australia, and I was always the loudest in the class, and I always had the other kids in hysterics. Life was wonderful then… I always had an eye for fashion and dressing the girls’ up and tizzying their hair. Looking back on it, even though I had a girly voice, looked like a girl, laughed like a girl, I thought that when “the change” came, (that being puberty,) that some miracle would  occur and make me “a man”, just like my Dad. 

Then, one day, I realised that I had the most unbearable itchy private parts. It got to the point that I didn’t care if people saw me scratching furiously. I would race home from school and dive into a freezing cold bathtub. That was the first telltale sign. Then, I would go to bed as soon as I’d have dinner, and sleep right through the night, and I often awoke lying in a sticky, cold puddle. I couldn’t work out why I had started wetting the bed again. Mum was sure that it was something to do with hormones, but she took me to the doctor anyway. He was just as hopeless as Mum. He said that I was suffering from symptoms of stress, as I had lost almost 8 kilograms very quickly. Yet I was chugging back coke and water, litre after litre. It was all so mysterious to me at the time. Then one day, Dad wanted my help to pick up leaves. I said that I couldn’t get out of bed. He yelled again, and then came storming into the bedroom.  I must have looked crook, because as soon as he laid his eyes upon me, he yelled out to Mum that we needed to get me to the doctor straight away. I  had some blood tests done, and the hospital staff soon had me in Intensive Care, Mum and Dad were looking on anxiously and my siblings were outside, crying their little hearts out. They were scared that they were going to catch “it” too. A paediatrician came and sat on the bed and told me that I had Juvenile Diabetes, as it was known in the day. I didn’t cry, but I was saddened at how distraught my family were. As soon as I had insulin, I felt better within an hour.

I have seen children develop diabetes at the last stages of childhood. Were you angry that you had no say or choice anymore in regards to this new, regimented lifestyle?

I was actually. I was horrid to my parents and my family. I used to lie to my parents and tell them that I had had my insulin, and then get up in the middle of the night and stuff my face with food. I ended up in a coma when I was 13 as I had led my folks to bellieve that I had everything under control. I just didn’t wake up one morning, simple as that. I was dealing with other feelings at that stage, I knew that I was attracted to other boys, and I also knew that there was nothing that I could do to stop it. Believe me, I tried everything to make myself straight! It was so easy to not care about my diabetes at that stage, ot wotty about how sick I felt, because I felt so horrible within myself that I didn’t care about diabetes or the repercussions of not taking insulin or gorging on midnight feasts!

You revealed your sexuality at a very young age to your parents! How did they react?

After Mass one Sunday, I told Mum and Dad and the kids that I needed to announce something. They all sat around the kitchen table, their eyes fixed upon me. I remember saying, “I’m not normal.” Mum came fussing over and looked me in the eye and said “Diabetes does not mean that you are not normal, Leith!!” I said, “Yeah, I know Mum, you didn’t let me finish…I have a crush on Mr Taylor at school, and I dream about spending my life with a man.” My brothers and sisters all laughed themselves silly, Mum clutched her quivering chin, and Dad had his arms folded across his chest, like he was trying to keep his heart from jumping out of his ribcage. He looked distantly out the window, and said nothing. Mum said, ” I think we better check your level..” I let her do it, just to prove that my blood sugar was ok. Dad whacked his fist down on the table, and demanded that the others’ stop laughing. He sent them all outside, and he said to me, ” How can you possibly say such a thing? You’re only 13 years old!!!” I told him that I had always known that I was “different” than other boys my age, that I always had little crushes on soccer coaches and teachers and priests. He got up off his chair and said “Well ,no bloody wonder Satan punished you by giving you this wretched disease. Do you know what it has done to your Mother and me? And now you go and do this to us? Get outside. I can’t stand to look at you. You ungrateful little bastard!”  I walked over to the door, Mum was on her hands and knees, crying, trying to stop me. She kept on saying, “It’s just a stage…it’s just a stage….”I  broke free of her grip and went and climbed a tree and watched how they all reacted. From then on, it was like my parents had three children, not four. I was the “oh..and Leith.” 

You were severely bashed and assaulted a few weeks after you came out to your family. Do you remember what provoked the attack and what happened after?

I had 6 broken ribs, a broken coxyx, internal bleeding, and a perferated spleen, as well as horrendous facial injuries. All I remember is walking home from school, and some young apprentices (16-17 years old) who worked at a garage in town called out “Poofter..go home!” to me. I ignored them but their tone was serious enough that I quickened my pace. They kept yelling out, and trying their hardest to get me to turn around and react. Next thing I could hear approaching footsteps running towards me. I felt a blow to the back of my knees, which made me fall to the ground instantly. Then I was helpless. I couldn’t protect or defend myself. I lay on the ground and prayed to the God who everyone said now despised me. I waited until it was over, and the brutes had skulked away, and I went into immense shock. It took 30 minutes for somebody to bother to call the ambulance, despite the attack occurring in the main street. My blood sugar had dropped so low, that I fell unconscious on the ride to the hospital. Firstly, the community knew me as “The Boy With Sugar,” and now I was known as “The Devil’s Spawn.” Fortunately, somebody recognised or remembered that I was diabetic, and I was rushed to emergency and put on a drip, and then underwent surgery as my spleen had ruptured. My parents were called, and told that I had been in a “scuff”, and that I had a few broken ribs. Mum came to the hospital and was told that she couldn’t see me as I had just came out of theatre. She had no idea about the seriousness of my injuries. Charges were never pressed.

I am struggling with anger and tears, Leith. You were 13! Only 6 years older than Lance!! How was your recovery?

When I was first released from hospital, I was given my medications and my mother formally discharged me. She drove me home and I was welcomed home by my siblings, (all who were forbidden to see me, despite being in hospital for 3 weeks,) and I saw my father look up from his paper as I clambered out of the car. I was very weak and was in agony from the pain of broken bones that could not be plastered. I had internal bruising also, so it was only for my mother that I could force a smile. She nursed me back to health, a Christmas passed, and then my 14th birthday. I didn’t leave the house except for specialist appointments. One day when I was feeling like I just might be on the road to recovery, Mum came into my room with a pile of suitcases.

Is this is when your parents organised your immediate departure from your home town, and your enrollment in an All Boys Catholic Boarding School in Adelaide- approximately six hours away?

Yep. Mum had name tags sewn into all of my clothes, and had a suitcase dedicated entirely to my new school uniforms, still encased in plastic. She told me that I wasn’t to make a fuss, and that it was for the best for everyone. She packed a notebook, pens and stamps and told me to write to her when I could, and “that it would be for the best if I left my name off the back of the envelope.” I tearfully nodded, and was given four hours to pack any things that had significant importance to me. I took a photo that was taken before I “destroyed ” the family . Despite their feelings of revulsion, they were always so very important to me.

Day 1-Boarding School. Did “they” know everything about your hospital stay?

Yeah. I had a housefather come and sit me down on the bed for a chat. He told me that I could go to the sick bay whenever I needed for pain relief. I was astounded that my parents’ had neglected to tell them that I had been a Type 1 Diabetic for six years. The staff had no idea. Luckily, I looked after myself when it came to my blood sugar, but since the attack, I didn’t test nearly as much as I used to. I had grown used to feeling hyperglycaemic, and landed myself in hospital after my first week at boarding school with DKA. I just stopped giving myself injections. I was in a daze. I was used to being in a school with Grades 5, 6 and 7 intergrated, and I had been thrown headfirst into this new world, with kids’ that seemed like they came from another planet. Diabetes became the last thing I thought of. I was still in a reasonable amount of pain, and adjusting to the fact that I had to shower with the people in my dormitory-it was totally acceptable to be naked in front of my housebrothers, something that my parents were totally against. I was in hospital for 4 days, when an endo came and spoke with me. He told me that my Diabetes was in very bad shape. I had a HBA1C of 12%, and I hadn’t adjusted my insulin dosages since I was diagnosed. He was appalled that I was under the impression that I thought it was ok to give myself insulin when I felt like it. He was the first person who made me realise that I had to take care of myself, otherwise I could face serious consequences in the future, or die from lack of insulin as a 14 year old. It was a very big realisation for me.

Did you keep your diabetes on the down side?

My House father used to keep a bottle of jelly snakes besides his bed in case I ‘went funny’ in the night. Not one other person in the school had Type 1 Diabetes. I was the only one-so I decided that I would keep it to myself, along with the school Nurse and the boarding staff. They did make a conscious effort to look out for me. When I was in hospital with DKA, I was put on a different insulin, and a new dosage. I was constantly ravenous. I couldn’t stop thinking about food…my pockets were lined with lollies, and I dreamed of cream buns and stodgy boarding school meals; at least they filled me up! I now knew the horror of frequent hypoglycaemia, it was an experience that I wasn’t used to. I used to wake in the night with the linen soaked, and my hair matted to my forehead. I could never work out where I was, or what to say, so I just used to open my mouth until I heard a sound loud enough to wake people up. The brain is useless during a severe hypo! My House Father would sit with me and give me cordial and lollies until I would collapse with exhaustion and a pounding headache.

Did you enjoy any part of boarding school?

I wasn’t popular by any means. I was always the last to be chosen on teams, and I seemed invisible in my classes. I actually had an aptitude for cooking, and the Home Economics teacher boosted my confidence considerably by praising my Devil’s Food Cakes and my Beef Stroganoff. However, my blood sugar was constantly plaguing me, everytime I felt like I was maybe enjoying myself, I would feel myself starting to slip into hypoglycaemia. The school nurse knew NOTHING. She didn’t know how to help me in the least. She did do something useful one day and got me an appointment with a GP. I told him about what was happening, and he told me that I wasn’t eating enough. At this point, I was a normal, healthy weight for my age. Three months later, I had gained 15 kgs. That doctor really knew what he was talking about. The hypos had stopped, and the cooking that I was reknowned for and that I would once share with my fellow dorm mates, I would sit in the Home Economics room and devour a meal for 12 by myself. I spent any money that my Mother sent me on chocolate or treats. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t do up my school trousers. I couldn’t button up my shirts. I had more chins than a Chinese phonebook. I had love handles, and back fat. My House Father kindly contacted my parents and told them that I had just gone through a massive “growth spurt” and that the school would be sending them an account for new uniforms. I was a walking butterball. I wasn’t ignored anymore either. I was the brunt of fat jokes. I would be exhausted from walking from class to class. Again, I ended up in hospital with DKA, as my blood sugar was so high. This time, I was in a coma for 4 days. My parents were called, but they didn’t make the trip. My House Father would sit with me whenever he had a chance. The entire school prayed for my recovery. Thanks to the DKA, and 4 days of fluids, I managed to shift a lot of weight. I had just turned 15, and suddenly, I realised that I liked the way I looked without my Sara Lee rolls. However, my love of food had me constantly in battle with myself. I wanted to look thin, but I wanted every crumb of a family sized Caramel Tart. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have it both ways…My weight and blood sugar fluctuated, as did my moods, my grades and my energy levels. That’s when I discovered the cheats’ way out.

This is when you began binge eating/purging?

Yes..I had no one whispering in my ear telling me sly little tips either. I managed to keep “my secret” for four years. I acknowledge now that I went through periods where I starved myself too. So you could probably include anorexic tendencies in that list also. Even after my diagnosis, the assault, getting kicked out of home, and accepting my sexuality, I could still have people in fits of laughter with one sentence. I felt like I was a survivor, and that I was mentally strong. However, after I had the mammoth weight gain, and I began coming up with any excuse to rush to the bathroom to cleanse myself of food, I felt like I was an empty, worthless person. I felt like I was a failure to my parents, to the people who had invested time into my wellbeing, and mostly to myself. I remember enthusiastically volunteering to help the Baker unload his truck every second day. Besides hundeds of loaves, he had iced finger buns, meat pies, sausage rolls…I was truly happy as long as I had my mouth wrapped around something disgustingly unhealthy. It numbed the inner turmoil. However, as soon as the last bite was injested, I was overcome with repulsion and disgust. I learnt to purge on command, I didn’t need to use my fingers anymore. I always carried breath mints with me, and I had perfected the art of avoiding vomit splatter. I was a fantastic bulimic. I never felt suicidal, but I felt tremendous relief by cutting myself with a razor blade. I used to use to flesh on my thigh, so as not to be exposed. It is impossible to explain to someone why I did it, it just seemed symbolic..like I was ‘releasing’ all of the pain I carried around with me. The problem was, I started to want to do it more, and more.

When did you hit rock bottom?

It became evident to the School and to me that my family had slowly phased me out..even Mum had stopped writing now. The school fees were always paid, but I always spent the school holidays with one of the the priests. Everyone at school had worked out for themselves that I was gay. I looked gay, I walked gay, everything about me screamed gay. It wasn’t such a big issue as their was other boys that I knew were “in the closet” that I had grown to form friendships with, however the boys from rich families in the city would empty my locker and hide my books, hide my sports clothes and replace them with girls’ clothes, and mouth degrading, filthy words whenever no one was watching. At that point, I didn’t care. I had bigger secrets to keep. I remember after a huge bakery binge, I walked into class late. I apologised to the teacher and took my place. One boy said , “Awww, GEEZ man, you have the most disgusting stench coming off you..” The class laughed, the teacher gave me a concerned look and I hurriedly got my books open and pens ready. Throughout the class, people would sniff loudly, and pull their jumpers up over their heads. Cracks were beginning to show. My teeth were also discoloured from all of the gastric acid that had corroded them over the years. I had perfected the art of smiling so that my affected teeth weren’t so visible. I actually had buckets of vomit hidden in my closet, that I would dispose of when everyone was asleep. I went to such extreme lengths to protect my dirty little secret. Being gay and diabetic was child’s play compared with this… One morning I was told that I had an appointment with the endo. A taxi was waiting for me, so I hurriedly rushed off without checking that everything was “just so” before I left. I had blood tests done, and a chat to the endo, who asked me if I was experiencing any stress, as he commented on my weight loss and poor colour. I quickly shook my head and pushed the blame onto exam pressure. He looked suspicious, but didn’t say anything more. I returned to school, and attended my classes. As I took my seat during my last class, my House Father appeared at the door and asked if I could be excused from the lesson. We walked silently to my dormitory. I knew I had been exposed. He had found my stash of lolly wrappers, empty soft drink bottles, piles of stained clothes in garbage bags, food diaries that I wrote how much input/output I had for each day…and an unemptied bucket. I was so ashamed. He made me stand on the scales-I was 60 kg and 5 ft 11 inches tall. I was positively skeletal. I had that covered too, by wearing layers of bulky clothing. I was numb. Tears ran down my House Father’s face, and he began to pray. I wondered what was going to happen to me. He told me that my parents had been called, and that I would be spending time in a “hospital” for a “rest.”  I saw my family for the first time in almost 4 years, they looked at me like I was a stranger. Even Mum seemed icy towards me. I took my place in the “family” station wagon and was driven to a Psychiatric and Rehabilitation Hospital. My father carried my luggage in and filled in the paperwork. He walked away, and turned back. His last words to me were “Well. You’ve ruined our family again. The shame you have cast upon us…the shame.” I sat on the floor and cried four years worth of tears.

Keeping in mind, that you had been through so much and yet you were only 17 years old, it seems like diabetes always came last in your list of priorities. What eventuated when you finally received proper medical attention for the first time in nine years?

I was in a room that was beside the nurses’ station. It had a window with a venetian blind. I would see a different set of eyes peek through every thirty minutes. I had blood taken, and was introduced to my psychiatrist, and an endocrinologist from a hospital in Adelaide. I was put on medication that kept me planted in bed. All I did was eat my meals (carefully prepared by a dietician), shower, and sleep. I could sleep for almost 36 hours. It was like my body was catching up on all the stressful situations I had put it under. When I came off the medication, I had a visit from the endo. He was kind, and empathetic. He told me that I had caused a lot of damage to my digestive tract from years of stomach acid eroding it away. He told me that despite my low body weight, I had horrendously high blood pressure. He handed me a mirror, and showed me my teeth, and pointed out the gingivitis that left my gums scarlet and swollen. I had to have 6 teeth extracted as they were rotten to the core. He said that they had to come out, as I had absesses on them, and that any infection was potentially dangerous being a diabetic. He told me that I was severely anaemic. He told me that my cholesterol levels were also abnormal. He showed me the scars on my leg, now healed and clean, but still a reminder of painful times.The biggest kick was that I was excreting protein in my urine. From years of blatant neglect, one kidney was larger than the other, and was only working 75% of its capacity. I was monitored closely, and had nursing staff administer my insulin for me, morning and night. I had staff watch me eat my meals, morning, noon and night. I underwent counselling about my sexuality, and the torture that I had put my body through, 3 times a week. After 6 months, I was 78 kilograms. I felt spritely and full of energy. I had no urge to harm myself. My gums were a natural, fleshy pink colour. My iron levels were normal. I felt assured about who I was. I knew that I was a gay man. I accepted that I was estranged from my family. I went to live with a retired priest and finished my last 6 months of Grade 11 by correspondence. Finally, there were no more dirty little secrets. I had made a commitment to myself to look after my diabetes, too. Being in hopsital made me realise just how much I had endangered my health.

So, who are you now, Leith? Are you happy?

Yes, I am very happy! I am 26 years old, and still have my battle scars from those days. They remind me of how far I have come. I finished Grade 12 eventually, and entered the hospitality industry. I now own a successful Bed and Breakfast with my partner, Davon. I have made contact with my siblings-we see each other frequently. Sadly, Mum passed away, and Dad lives alone, full of anger and hatred, and ironically enough, was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 3 years ago. He recently started on insulin. I send him a card for his birthday and Father’s Day, but they are returned to me unopened. It doesn’t stop me doing it though. It seems like a lifetime ago since I was at boarding school…I still see a therapist, and I am well aware that I can still relapse at any time. I try to keep things as consistent as possible in my life. I still have dreadful blood pressure, and I started on an insulin pump last year, which has taken so much of the hard work out of Diabetes. For today, I am happy and grateful that I made it through some awful times. I think it is really important to realise that just because you have Diabetes, it doesn’t make you immune to having issues with your body. I encourage all parents to speak openly and frankly with their children when puberty arises. Diabetes can be very difficult to tolerate when there is so much else going on in your body. The desire to be perfect equates to being “thin” these days. Thin means popular, successful and beautiful to impressionable teenagers. A few extra kilos renders you in the “loser” category. I am starting Uni next year and I plan to become a social worker. If  I can help one person escape years of self loathing like the ones I threw away, then I’ll feel like I’m finally at peace.

~~~~~~~~~~ 

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Sugar Overload.

Diabetes and I have been at loggerheads ALL week.

This is the first time I have had a chance to write anything for days. Lance has had one of his worst weeks in his diabetes history. I simply don’t know where to begin.

I actually meant that, I don’t know where to start.

Okay..well. He has 70 new holes in his fingers since I last wrote. He looks like he has had two small teething puppies chewing on his fingers for hours on end. For the first time ever, he is baulking at having tests. Because it hurts, and there is nowhere left on his fingers left to test. I have to move to the base of his thumb (the fleshy part on his palm) to test, which has gone down as well as a bunch of lead balloons.

 

Instead of being “Hypo-boy”, he has turned into a walking toffee apple.

All week long, Lance has been been living in the 20mmol/L vicinity.  That’s the roughneck part of Diabetes town. Really hard to escape unscathed. I have thrown insulin pens in the bin, and replaced them with brand new ones directly from the fridge. Nup..the insulin wasn’t losing its potency. The due date isn’t until September 09. It’s NOT the insulin.

So it must be Lance. Something has gone beserk inside his body. He is well, fit, and shows no signs of infection or sickness. Growth spurt I hear you say? Maybe, although the last one has only recently died down.

I made a long appointment with our GP to discuss what to do. I can usually titrate and tinker around with a little bit of Novorapid here and there, however this week, he has been having 8 units extra, on top of his daily dosage. He has 16 units of Novorapid in total everyday, and it usually works like Pacman, gobbling up any tiny globule of sugar in his blood. It’s so good, it’s dangerous. Usually. This week, I could swear that I’m on Candid Camera..hey, have you guys done the ol’ switcheroo on us? Put water into his insulin pens?

No. Sigh. DAMMIT. It couldn’t possibly be something so simple.

Then there’s the never ending threat of DKA sneaking up and tapping us on the shoulder. I mean, Lance has spent so much time in the toilet this week, his body desperately trying to flush away this overload of sugar that has left him so weak, achy, restless and responsible for his washed out, puffy appearance.

Ketone strips line the inside of the bathroom bin.

I decided that I would introduce an extra injection at lunchtime. By crikey, I cracked the code.

The whole of yesterday and today have been just perfect. 7mmol/L or thereabouts all day through.

Only this afternoon have the rosy apples returned to Lance’s cheeks, He doesn’t look like a clammy, sickly addict from the ghettos of Diabetestown anymore.

Lance’s new pump is going to kick all of this seesawing to the kerb.

It’s just a matter of patiently waiting..waiting..waiting…

In the meantime, I am struggling with the many thoughts of what a week of constant hyperglycaemia has done to his organs, his arteries…I try to push these thoughts away, despite the toment and fear they instill in me…

It’s not like it’s raining cats and endocrinoligists here, either.

It’s not like I can get an appointment for tomorrow and plant the evidence of the past week in front of an endo and get some reassurance and explanations. I’d even settle for an understanding nod-of-the-head at the moment.

Our next appointment is over 2 weeks away, and I can’t do a thing to change it.

Despite my fears and mournful revalations, I am so grateful that the hurri(sugar)cane has passed.

The voracious consumption of water has died down.

I don’t have to cringe when the toilet flushes…Lance can actually celebrate the return of carbohydrates tonight, as they were enemy this week.

So now, we are up to 6 set injections a day.

7 new holes a week.

I don’t think I could bring myself to complain about a lil ol’ hypo for a while after this…

However, as usual, my boy smiles broadly at me, he hardly seems aware of the nightmare that was the past week. Despite the fact that he suffered, and had headaches, and legaches, and cried in sheer frustration, he is now at peace within his body.

Exhale.

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