Retention of drivers license

I was always confident this would be fine given a relatively stable hba1c and recent eye examination that came up with no issues. But it is always good to get the confirmation in the mail given the recent changes to the Fitness to Drive interpretations for people with diabetes that have attracted so much attention over the past 12-18 months. I’m glad not only for the purposes of actually getting around but particularly given I actually quite enjoy driving.

But gee, they are a bit blunt and robotic with the confirmation letter, aren’t they?

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Changing lancets…

Yesterday I received an email newsletter from a diabetes product company stating “Changing the lancet every time you take a blood sample is important”, with a summary of the hygienic reasons behind why this is the case.

Now I’m not disputing the science behind this, as that is well beyond my jurisdiction, but as a person living with type 1, this email annoyed me.

I’m happy to concede that I certainly do not change my lancet as much as I perhaps “should”. The email from the product company included a quick poll, with the option of “How many times do you use a single lancet?” Let’s just say I chose “more than 10 times”. But at the same time I’m pretty sure that I’ve never met a person with diabetes that changes their lancet every damn time.

Let’s do some quick maths.

I check my blood sugar about 10-12 times a day. Sometimes more. I like to know where my BGL is at. Knowledge is power and all that jazz.

If I was to change a lancet every time I did one of these checks, that is:

  • 10 – 12 lancets a day.
  • 70 – 84 lancets a week.
  • 280 – 336 lancets a month.
  • 3,640 – 4,368 lancets a year.
  • Hm. Yeah. No.

    Not only is this a lot of lancets, it’s damn expensive.

    It’s simply not practical or realistic to expect people with diabetes to use thousands and thousands and thousands of lancets a year. In fact, I think setting such a lofty standard shows a lack of understanding of the day-to-day experience with diabetes, and the practicalities of incorporating blood sugar checks into already busy lives amongst counting carbs, exercise, health professional appointments, treating hypos, correcting highs and everything else.

    So what’s the answer? Like most things, I think it requires a balance.

    A bit of realism and empathy from product companies would help. There is a lot involved in managing diabetes and to be honest, the issue of re-using a lancet is not on my radar, at least until my fingers start to hurt. Keeping a lancet for a period of time might not be ideal as per scientific guidelines, but it doesn’t make anyone a “bad diabetic” and it’s important to avoid this perception in language. We need to make BGL checks as easy as possible, to encourage regular checks. That said, I need to realise my fingertips are not made of steel, and do the small, albeit tedious task of changing a lancet more regularly.

    Coffee time.

    Note: I haven’t mentioned the product company because I don’t think that’s the issue. I use the companies lancing device and have used many of their meters in the past. The issue is more about the understanding the embeds to be continually developed between people with diabetes and the product companies that for the most part, do a good job in supporting us.

    Things that are not fun: Over-treating hypos.

    One of my favourite diabetes bloggers/authors is Wil Dubois. He’s honest, funny and creative.

    As Will so succinctly points out, “our brain runs on sugar and it doesn’t run very well in the absence of sugar”. Well, mine works pretty terrible when I’m low.

    I’ve been relatively fortunate with my diabetes. I’ve had a few close calls, but I’ve never had a low or high that has resulted in an ambulance call-out or hospital visit (touch wood). But I really hate hypos, and those hypos where I feel the need to eat and eat and eat to bring that hypo up, and the consequences don’t even pass my mind. Wil has called these these “Caveman Lows”, where your IQ has dropped dramatically thanks to the hypo and you are running on pure instinct – that is; food for survival!

    I often over-treat hypos. First it’s 6 jelly babies. Then 12. Then 20. Then… 625…. and whatever is in the fridge/cupboard/kitchen table.

    Last night was a shocker:

    • 10.30pm. Went to sleep with BG of 6.3. Perfect!
    • 11.40pm.  I woke up at 3.2, but felt much lower. My hypos during the middle of the night are often worse than day hypos.
    • 11.41pm. I always keep jelly babies next to my bed, so promptly scoffed a handful of those. Upon checking twitter, I learnt that my good Adelaideian (Is that a word? I hope so.) friend Simon was low too. Spooky.
    • 11.45pm. I ate all the jelly babies in close proximity, so in my fuzzy state of mind, I decided to go downstairs to get some more. Another handful or two downstairs, plus a bite of some home made rum-balls. That should bring me back above 4.0…
    • Midnight: Back upstairs and I was 6.0 at midnight and went back to sleep.
    • 4.59am: Wake up. Urgh. Thirsty. Headache. Thirsty. Headache. Thirsty. Headache. Rummage for Verio IQ. 19.0. Shit – I didn’t eat that much did I? It felt like waking up with a hangover wondering where all those drinks had magically snuck into the night before. A bit like Homer’s Night Out.
    • 5.00am. Mega correction bolus.
    • 6.47am. Normality is resumed. 5.9. But I felt like death warmed up for most of the day!

    I like to look on the lighter side of diabetes, but diabetes is shit sometimes.

    After over-treating a low I often feel guilty about overreacting and bringing my BG way, way, way higher than intended, especially when I know that 6 or 7 jelly babies will normally do it for me. Wil’s post on Caveman Lows and recognition that over-treating hypos can be an unfortunate reality of life with diabetes, and the other posts out there in the Diabetes Online Community help lighten the load.

    And to conclude, here is a caveman comic. About golf. Because I’m bad at golf.

    Courtesy of John Hart Studios.

    Courtesy of John Hart Studios.