#WorldDiabetesDay

Happy #WorldDiabetesDay to you! This year’s theme is Family and Diabetes. While the day (and the month) is more aimed at raising awareness of the undiagnosed condition and family members looking out for the signs of diabetes in partners, parents, siblings etc., my day will reflect on my family and how thankful they make me.

I was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of nine (there I am, just post-diagnosis on the right). Since then, diabetes care has come along in leaps and bounds. In those days, you used syringes made of glass, tested your urine and not your blood and relied heavily on your body and not a machine to tell you what was wrong. (Ah, the young yins! Don’t know they’re born…)

As a nine-year-old weeping copiously at the prospect of no sweeties or birthday cake again ever, I wasn’t 100 percent au fait with what was now going on with my body. I scared the living daylights out of my parents several times by fainting first thing in the morning. The most memorable time when I jumped up on the kitchen window ledge to let our pet cat in and fell off it. Onto a stone floor.

Bite me…

As biting my tongue often went along with fainting, my dad would try to stop me by inserting his own hand. I bit that instead.

Still, my parents were a game pair—happy to downplay the condition so I never felt disadvantaged. It took me until my 20s to realise I had a chronic illness. Duh, I know, but diabetes never felt that way to me growing up. My mum’s favourite cry was, “Have you got your Dextrosol?” whenever I left the house. (Again, the young yins. Not having to use Dextrosol for their hypos.) But other than that, they never mentioned it as a limiting factor or felt I could not do anything because of the diabetes. Fair enough, I announced no plans to be an athlete, truck driver or pilot, but they waved me off to a university in another country, a kibbutz, solo living and more without fuss.

Whenever I called home or visited, questions concentrated on my job, my personal life, what I was doing… diabetes never took centre stage.

Then, as I got older they generously funded a pump for me for a few years. When it gave up the ghost, I decided against further funding as I didn’t want to take any more of their money. They would have handed it over gladly. And still would, even though there are no longer two of them…

Ah, the mood swings…

Any family member of someone who has diabetes will raise a wry eyebrow if you talk about the mood swings. Figures, after all, that if you have a chronic illness tiredness is a frequent friend of the not very nice sort. It makes you sullen and snappy. Who better to take that out on than your nearest and dearest?

Then, there are the ‘hypo experts’; mums and partners who can tell you are hypo before it strikes you the excessive yawning is more to do with plunging blood sugar levels than a late night the day before. Grr. Double grr because they are almost always right.

I have my own little circle of mood bearers—once upon a time my mum, dad and sisters. (Still my poor old mum to some extent). Nowadays, my husband. He’s awfully good at spotting hypos. Awfully brilliant at lots of other things too. Running upstairs to bring me supplies when I run out of needles and other equipment. Keeping me in jelly baby supplies. Factoring in blood glucose checking stops whenever we are out and about. Finding me ice-cold water when high blood sugars kick in. Accepting that I am terrifically rubbish at late nights, which means we do not go out that much. (Tip—I organise a lot of things for a Sunday afternoon.) Checking restaurants to see if they offer low-carb options before booking them.

Diabetes does not come alone. Yes, it includes tiredness and a whole slew of other complications you do your best to avoid. But if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes warm, supportive, kind and patient folks to nurture a diabetic.

Here’s to them all—my family. Thank you thank you thank you.

Inventor awarded £2m for diabetes invention

This week’s diabetes-related news includes a story about an inventor finally awarded the compensation he deserved following a 13-year legal battle.

Professor Ian Shanks built the first prototype of the electrochemical capillary fill device (ECFD). The technology* eventually appeared in most blood glucose testing products—a huge boost to those of us with diabetes. Professor Shanks was working for Unilever at the time.

The registration of patents by Unilever earned the company £24 million, though Professor Shanks argued it could have earned royalties for as much as one billion US dollars, had his invention been “fully exploited”.

Patents Act

He told the BBC that when he first applied for compensation, not one employee had benefited from the introduction of the Patents Act introduced 30 years earlier. The Act entitles workers who invent something that gives their employer an “outstanding benefit”, a “fair share” of the benefits.

At the Supreme Court in London, the judges unanimously agreed Professor Shanks was entitled to compensation because he had provided his former employer with an “outstanding benefit”.

Professor Shanks said most of the compensation would be taken up by his legal costs, but that he was happy on behalf of future inventors. If something they make turns out to be significant and really profitable, then it was only right they stood the chance of a reward.

“Disappointed”

Unilever told the BBC they were “disappointed” because the company had already given Professor Shanks the “salary, bonuses and benefits” when he was employed to develop new products for its business.

My t’upporth—gotta love a David Goliath battle, right? Though it seems peculiar to me Professor Shanks needed to take his claim to the highest court in the land when those preceding courts knocked him back… (A comment on the legal expertise Unilever can afford as compared to an individual.) 

I am with Professor Shanks. I want brilliant people out there working on technology and medical care that will change the lives of millions of we diabetics. And those individuals should be rewarded for the outstanding benefits they bring.

Read the full story on the BBC.

*Confession. I can’t work out the exact nature of his invention.

Diabetes and the roller-coaster ride

Just a quickie from me this week… I thought I’d share an interesting info-grab with you. The flash glucose monitoring system collects all sorts of info which is easy to see at a glance, such as your daily graph.

The graph shows you how often you have been in or out your target blood sugar range. The Monday one here (right) is me on holiday. Happy days, eh? Let’s loosen the reins on low-carb eating as boy, do the Cretans know how to do miraculous things with potatoes. While over there, I tasted what must count as the BEST CHIPS IN THE WORLD. A bold claim, I know.

And Wednesday is me back from holiday, determined to jump back on the low-carb wagon*. Goodness me, those graphs tell their own story, hmm? From wild jumps—the roller-coaster ride, to a far more sedate and steady line. A week’s potato bingeing is fun, but long-term I prefer to stick with the graph that doesn’t soar and plummet all over the place.

 

*Sorry for all the mixed metaphors.

Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace 3rd July 2019

I was thrilled to be invited to the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace Edinburgh on 3rd July.

The Queen, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were in attendance as were 8,000 other people.

Invitations came out a month in advance. Most guests are invited due to having a role in public services, the armed forces, youth work or for humanitarian work.  I saw two dogs who were both Labradors wearing service uniform.  I was invited due to my General Practice work which I have been doing in Mauchline Scotland for the last 32 years. I am retiring from this aspect of my career in January next year.

The weather was great. Sunny, a little cloud and not too hot. Despite floods the week before and rain a couple of days later, we managed to hit a sweet spot. The grass had dried out too so was good underfoot. The ground didn’t turn into a quagmire in other words.

Organisation was very slick and the large group of guests were ushered in via three entrances well staffed by police to allow security checks.  Tea and food pavilions were well laid out with about 15 stations in each of two rectangular open marquees.

The toilet facilities were portaloos of a very good standard and most importantly there was about four times the number of cabins for women as men. This meant that the queues were always similar for each gender. Someone has done the maths!  Theatres and other public venues take note! Additionally they had guest wranglers who made sure that everyone came in and out of the cabins in the most efficient manner possible.

Music was provided by two different military  bands. One male and one female. The Queen’s bodyguard were in attendance. These old gentlemen had long arrows with them and each had a golden eagle feather in their caps. They were very helpful and interesting to talk to.

There was a good choice of snacks and drinks. Tea, cold coffee, water, and apple juice.  Cucumber sandwiches, salmon on oatcake, chocolate cake, Victoria sponge and macaroons for example. Unfortunately all were wheaty and carby so I didn’t have anything to eat. Surprisingly I only saw one seagull the whole time.

People were dressed as if they were going to a wedding. Fascinators dominated the women’s heads compared to the hats by about 7 to one. The gardeners must have been delighted to get the lawns aerated by about 8,000 high heels.  By 5 pm many women were nursing their sore feet and walking about in their stocking soles.

There were many uniforms in evidence and some top hats from the men in morning suits. It was evident that a lot of people knew each other.  This didn’t work out for myself and my husband. Although we knew of three other couples who were going, we never managed to see them.

The day started at 3pm. The Queen came down the steps from the palace at 4pm and the national anthem was played.  We left at around 5.10pm. I understand that the Queen leaves at 6pm and the national anthem is played again.

Our vantage point for the Queen’s entrance was at a higher point in the garden. Thus we had a good view of her and the group, but we were so far away that we couldn’t have identified anyone except for the colour of clothes they had on.  The Queen wore pink. Anne wore Aquamarine, Nicola wore white. Andrew and Edward wore morning suits. They all had umbrellas.  No doubt they had been  caught out before.

This was an interesting and memorable day.

 

American Diabetes Association Endorses Low-Carb for Type 2s

eggs and asparagus

eggs and asparagusA landmark decision this week—the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has decided to back low-carb diets for type 2 diabetics.

Diabetes.co.uk reported the announcement this week. The charity has produced a report, ‘Nutrition Therapy for Adults with Diabetes or Prediabetes: A Consensus Report (Consensus Report)‘, published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Last year, the ADA acknowledged the low-carb approached as beneficial for treating type 2 diabetes. The new report goes further, stating that diabetes-focused nutrition therapy is a crucial part of overall diabetes management.

Previous high-carb recommendations

Previous dietary guidelines have focused on high-carb diets for people with or without diabetes.

The report says: “Reducing overall carbohydrate intake for individuals with diabetes has demonstrated the most evidence for improving glycemia and may be applied In a variety of eating patterns that meet individual needs and requirements.

“For select adults with type 2 diabetes not meeting glycemic targets or where reducing antiglycemic mediations is a priority, reducing overall carbohydrate intake with low- or very low-carbohydrate eating plans is a viable approach.”

Non-starchy vegetables

The report also says it is important to eat non-starchy vegetables, minimise the intake of added sugars and refined grains, and choosing whole foods instead of highly-processed foods.

As one of the authors of the paper, Dr Laura Saslow from the University of Michigan was also the author of a research paper published last year which revealed that 26 percent of users of Diabetes Digital Media’s Low Carb Programme put their type 2 diabetes into remission after a year. Remission was defined as reducing HbA1c to normal levels while taking no glucose-lowering medications or just metformin.

If you’re a low-carb enthusiast (type 2 diabetes or not), you’ll find lots of recipe ideas on this website and you can also buy our book, The Diabetes Diet as a paperback or e-book on Amazon. The book has recipes, meal plans and suggestions for how to adjust insulin when starting on a low-carb eating plan.