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Stress in the Workplace: Steps to Reduce it

We all get stressed from time to time, but when you have diabetes it’s important that you try to manage it to stop those stress hormones from wreaking havoc with your blood sugar levels. 

We spend most of our days at work and while we can’t eliminate stress altogether we can take a few simple steps to try and minimise it – here are a few top tips. 

  1. Make workplace wellness a priority 

Just because you’re at work it doesn’t mean your wellness should take a back seat, in fact, there are plenty of little things you can do to make your workspace feel a bit more like home. 

  • Add green to your scene 

Plants not only improve air quality, but adding a plant or two to your desk can also have a soothing effect and make your space feel calmer. 

  • Hydrate 

It’s not only your plants that need water! Keep a water bottle on your desk and ensure that you drink throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps you to stay alert and aid concentration. 

  • Natural light 

Make sure you get as much natural light as possible. This will give your energy levels and productivity a boost.  

  1. Organise and prioritise 

When you feel overwhelmed you’re bound to feel stressed, so breaking tasks up into small chunks and writing them down can help things feel more manageable. 

  • List it out 

It sounds so simple and obvious, but even just the act of writing out your tasks can help reduce that panic feeling. Whether you have a to-do list app on your phone or prefer a pen and paper, get those tasks noted down and feel the sense of achievement when you tick them off. 

  • Set deadlines 

Often tasks without a deadline get pushed to the side, so even if you’re just setting a deadline for yourself make a note of that, but most importantly make sure it’s realistic. 

  • Focus on two to three tasks 

Don’t try to do everything at once, take a look at that to-do list and select two or three tasks that are your priorities for that day and tackle them first. 

  1. Get moving  

Exercise is a great mood booster thanks to its endorphin-releasing properties. 

  • Stand up 

Sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for your health, so if you’re fortunate enough to have access to a standing desk make use of it. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes at a time, standing up can stabilise your leg and core muscles while improving circulation. 

  • Walk it out 

Rather than sit at your desk or in the break room for lunch, head out, get some fresh air and go for a walk. Of course, be sure to check your levels before doing so, only you know how long and far to go. 

The above steps may seem simple, but even just acting on a couple of them can really help you to reduce that stress in the workplace now that we’re all back in the office. 

Remember you know your body and your sugar levels, and while that’s your responsibility be sure to reach out to a trusted colleague who might be able to assist you if needed, even if it’s just as a sounding board. 

News Your Stories

Roxy Williams Shares her Diabetes and Pregnancy Story

Thank you to Diabetes Guernsey committee member Roxy for sharing her diabetes story with us, including her pregnancy journey.

When it comes to having diabetes, pregnancy can be a far more daunting experience than normal, and while it does come with risks it's undoubtedly worth it when you hold your little bundle of joy, just ask Roxy.

However, it can be incredibly isolating and lonely especially if you don't know anyone who has been through this. Roxy hopes that this story helps people to realise they aren't alone and she's there to help.

Could you please give us a little background to your diabetes (Type, when and how you were diagnosed and age)?

I'm a Type 1 Diabetic, diagnosed at the age of 12 after showing many symptoms.

What kind of complications has your diabetes caused for you?How do you manage these (do you need regular eye check-ups, medication etc?)

I have had a number of complications and have spent a lot of time in hospital with high blood sugars/ketoacidosis including a stay in intensive care. I've had various haemorrhages in my left eye which resulted in injections, laser treatment and a vitrectomy in Southampton earlier this year. I've since been advised that the same issue has now started in the right eye.

How does your diabetes affect your daily life/lifestyle?

I manage my diabetes using the Libre and Omnipod devices, as well as carb counting.

What about your mental wellbeing?

I try my hardest to manage my diabetes but it can impact my day. I have a stressful job which I think contributes to my high blood sugars. I often feel tired and have no motivation.

Is there anything you need to be particularly careful about/any specific challenges that you face?

I have struggled with my mental wellbeing due to the diabetes. It is a journey I am still fighting as new complications arise.

I have a 3-month-old daughter so I try to be careful not to have any hypos whilst looking after her, thankfully my blood sugar rarely goes low.

What advice would you give to someone who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes?

My advice would be, reach out to other diabetics for support, I never had that growing up and I feel that things would be different if I had. This is one of the reasons why I got involved with the charity, to support others. It can be very lonely sometimes so please, reach out.

Are there any misconceptions about diabetes that you would like to dispel?

I'd like to dispel the misconception that we aren't allowed to eat cake etc. We can, it's all about moderation. Most people carb count so will take this into consideration when taking their medication. Afterall, everybody deserves a treat.

This leads me onto my pregnancy journey:

At 32 years old I had dreamed of being a mother for a long time but I was petrified due to the complications that may arise, and at the time I didn't know anyone with Type 1 Diabetes who had been through a pregnancy (until recently) and there is quite a lot of negative information out there.

From a young age I was led to believe I shouldn't have children.

My journey began in April 2020 when I found out I was pregnant, and although it was planned it happened very quickly, I'd had discussions with the Diabetes Specialist and nurses before the pregnancy.

When I found out I went into total shock and fear and within two hours of finding out I was pregnant I called Alison the Diabetes nurse, because;
1. I had no idea how to manage my diabetes whilst pregnant, and,
2. We were in complete island lockdown.

They were great and reassured me, and from that moment I was very strict with monitoring my blood sugar. It can be dangerous for the baby if blood sugars go too high over a period of time so that was my number one goal. For the first and second trimester I had low blood sugars at least four times a day, then during the third trimester my blood sugars were higher and required a lot of insulin; three times the amount I usually took before being pregnant.

Having diabetes increases the risk of being diagnosed with preeclampsia so I was prescribed Aspirin to reduce the risk.

Before I was pregnant I'd been receiving treatment for a haemorrhage in my eye due to diabetic retinopathy, which we thought were under control but unfortunately the bleeds continued and got worse due to being pregnant. At around 34-weeks pregnant I was referred to Southampton to receive eye surgery however, as I was unable to fly at that stage in my pregnancy so, this had to be put on hold.

Due to the bleeds in my eye I was then advised to stop taking the aspirin, so I was seen on the Loveridge ward every two weeks. However, at around 32 weeks I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and over time this worsened.

I was admitted to hospital at around 35 weeks to have steroids to help the baby's lungs develop, as there were concerns I may have to deliver early. Steroids can affect blood sugar levels so I was monitored and kept on an insulin drip known as a slide and scale.

After a three day stay I was discharged but, as the preeclampsia had progressed I had to go to the ward daily to be checked and was advised I could deliver the baby any day soon.
Being type 1 Diabetic you will deliver at 38 weeks for the safety of the baby.
I continued to work (even from the hospital bed) up to 37 weeks.

I was booked in for a c-section due to my daughter being breech, but, on Sunday 22nd November I went for my daily check up and due to the severity of the preeclampsia and hypertension I was advised I would require an emergency c-section.

From that point things became emergent, my blood sugars were continuously low and doctors struggled to raise them so, I was taken in for surgery where my blood pressure went extremely high and there were concerns for both myself and baby.

It was an extremely scary and difficult day. My daughter was delivered at 37 weeks and taken straight to NICU and finally after four long hours I got to meet her.

Due to me being diabetic her blood sugars were checked regularly as there was a risk of hers being low, so we stayed in hospital for six days. Following the birth I developed an infection around my wound area due to being diabetic which meant I was a regular on the ward for another two months and was consistently prescribed antibiotics, in time it healed.

Fast forward to three months post-pregnancy and I've also received the eye surgery due to it being urgent as I could have potentially lost my eyesight.

This is the short version of my pregnancy journey, as I sit here writing this with my baby daughter Olivia, it was all worth it.

I wanted to share my journey to raise awareness for anyone who is considering pregnancy. I was taken care of by a wonderful midwife throughout my pregnancy. The Diabetes team was also fantastic and visited me every single time I was on the ward.

I don't want my story to scare anyone, it's to share the knowledge that if you do face complications you will be supported and you will get through it. It is amazing how well you handle the tight control on your blood sugar levels knowing it is for you and your baby, I never thought I could do it but I did and so can you.

I am on the committee for Diabetes Guernsey so if you do feel alone or scared/anxious I am happy to support you through your journey so, please get in touch.

Becoming a mother is the best thing I have ever done and I am extremely proud of dealing with the many issues I faced.

News

Huge Success for Go Karting Event

Last month's Diabetes Youth Go-Karting event was a huge success!

The charity flew over Billy from Alderney for the event, as he is the only child on the island with diabetes.

These events are crucial for relationship building and peer support for the youngsters who face their own challenges when it comes to living with the condition.

We also want to say a big thank you to Andy and Seb Priaulx who came down to speak to the kids, it really made their day.

We hope to hold more Youth events throughout the year, be sure to keep an eye on our website.

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News

Us and Diabetes

When it comes to diabetes, we don’t let it define us, but there is no denying that it does affect several aspects of our lives and the lives of those closest to us.  

So, we spoke to Dean, Sally’s husband who has shared some of his insights into Sally’s diabetes and advice that you’ll hopefully find useful. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Sally? What sort of lifestyle do you have/ what sort of things do you enjoy doing? 

Sally and I have been together for 12 years. We met through work and got married in 2017.  

Before I met Sally, I didn’t know anything about diabetes, and just thought it was a condition where someone couldn’t eat sugar and that they had to have injections.  

Sally and I have a very social calendar and love nothing more than to meet with friends and family at the weekend for dinners and socials. We also have two little dogs which we adore, and we spend our days out walking them.  

Prior to Covid-19 we were also keen travellers and looked forward to some fantastic holiday experiences every year!  

What worries you most about Sally’s diabetes?  

Sally manages her diabetes very well, however, there was a period last year where she struggled with her control and experienced some very serious hypos.  

At that time, I came home to find Sally passed out in the kitchen and one night I had to call an ambulance as I could not bring her round. This was really scary.  

Like I say, with the help of our excellent diabetes team Sally is back under control, but it is always in the back of my mind and I wonder throughout the day (and night) if she is ok.  

When she was having the bad patch, she would hypo in her sleep and profusely sweat. So, I would assist and bring her round, and when she was well enough, strip and make the bed in the middle of the night and try to get back to sleep, therefore I would be tired for work the next day.  

I often struggle still with my sleep because of Sally’s diabetes. Even now, I often wake up and touch her arm whilst she is asleep to see if she is sweating! Fortunately, now that she has the Libre device, I can scan her whilst she is asleep which is brilliant although I always need to make a note which arm, she has the sensor on!  

How do you support Sally with her diabetes?  

That is a really hard question to answer! Sally would probably say I give her loads of support around her diabetes. Obviously, I am here if she needs me, and I often reach for a hypo stop if needed.  

I try to support her emotionally. Sally will often say to me ‘I wish I could just have a day off from diabetes’, but diabetes is a part of Sally’s life and she is part of my life so the two go together.  

In the early days, I took time out to learn about the condition and when Sally was going through the bad patch, I would attend her medical appointments with her to give her support that she needed.  

Do you receive any support yourself? 

If I need it. Our friends, family and work are always there to support us. Sally’s diabetes is so well controlled it’s not as often, anymore, that it seriously affects us. 

What advice can you give to other people who are supporting loved ones with diabetes? 

Treat them the same as you would any other person, as diabetes doesn’t define them, sometimes you need to remind them of that as well.   

And, listen when they are having a bad day, don’t judge, you will never know what it’s like to have diabetes, so don’t pretend you do. Don’t question what they eat! Make diabetes a part of your life and embrace it don’t fight against it.  

Support them to in finding the tools to best manage the condition, whether it be financial, researching or helping them find the right mindset, get involved.  

Over the years Sally has taken part in fitness challenges and I always encourage her, and her enthusiasm.  

Finally, always tell them you love them, that’s the most important thing!! 

Remember, the charity is here to support those with diabetes and their friends and family! It’s important to speak to others and seek support when you need it.  

We have a growing community that is happy to help or lend a listening ear, so head to our Facebook page – we’re all in this together. 

News Your Stories

Chris Opens up About his Complicated Relationship with Diabetes

As we know only too well, diabetes is a lifelong commitment, but when managed correctly it is possible to live well with the condition.

However, if you have diabetes, failing to look after yourself properly can put you at risk of some very serious complications that can be life-changing.

We caught up with Chris McDonnell, who over the years has suffered various complications due to mismanagement of his diabetes. Thankfully, Chris is back on track and wants to use his story as a cautionary tale to help others understand the importance of taking care of yourself and your diabetes.

  • Could you please give us a little background to your diabetes (Type, when and how you were diagnosed and age)?  

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 9. I was always a sickly child, having virus after virus quite regularly. The day I was diagnosed the specialist advised my parents that had it not been caught I would have only had 48 hours to live, so I was lucky.   

I’ll always remember my day of diagnosis as it was the same day that I was due to play sports at school, sadly I couldn’t participate and had to spend the following week in the hospital. 

In 1989, the year I was diagnosed there was not much awareness of diabetes. In fact, I was the first person in my school to be diagnosed.  

I was diagnosed at the start of November but my school would not let me go back until after the Christmas holidays. They wanted to learn more about how to control/manage the condition in case I went into a hypo, which obviously happened on a few occasions.  

I remember, once I’d returned to school and suffered a hypo, one of the teachers would always drive me home once I’d recovered, even if there was nobody at home. Unfortunately, back then they did not understand the condition.  

  • What kind of complications has your diabetes caused for you?  

My complications are quite severe due to poor control over the years.  

Amputations 

I had my first toe amputated in 2009, due to a cut I got on the bottom of my toe while I was on holiday in the Dominican Republic. Although I treated the wound, I did continue to go in the pool and on the beach, so wasn’t protecting it properly.

By the time I arrived home, I became ill and my toe had turned black. I went to the hospital and they told me I had to have the toe amputated the next day. After the surgery, there was a complication, which ended in me having to endure further surgery. During this time, I was told that there was a possibility that I could lose my whole leg. As you can imagine this was very traumatic and frightening.

My second toe amputation came around five years later. As a result of me losing the one toe, my other toe naturally bent and moved under another toe, and therefore started rubbing away. I was in Australia to attend a friends wedding in 2015, and whilst there I noticed that it had rubbed to the bare bone. I then ended up in a hospital in Perth where I had the toe removed.

Partially Sighted 

Back when I was in the hospital for my first toe, I noticed a problem with my sight. I was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy and both my retinas became detached.  

I attended Southampton General Hospital where I underwent around 15 operations.  

The first set of surgeries were to place silicon oil in my eye which pushed the retina back in place. The first surgery was on my right eye, during which they scarred the centre of my vision which is a complication of the surgery. This has now left me partially sighted in my right eye.  

The next round of surgeries was on my left eye, unfortunately, this did not go so well and during the surgery, I had a haemorrhage which caused severe pain and ultimately I lost the sight in the left eye.  

I am now registered as partially sighted. However, I am managing the condition quite well.  

My other complications include kidney damage, high blood pressure. At some point, it is most likely that I will require a kidney transplant.  

  • How do you manage these (do you need regular eye check-ups, medication etc?)  

My control of the condition has drastically improved since 2009. Prior to this time, I did not treat the condition with any respect at all and avoided most of my medical appointments and the warnings I was given. I only ever injected twice a day, but I was supposed to take four injections per day and carb count.  

This has changed, I now attend all of my appointments and take my insulin regularly, I am on a number of other treatments including eye drops and tablets for my blood pressure and cholesterol.  

I now use the Libre device which has helped reduce my blood sugars. I am not perfect but I do try a lot harder.   

  • How does your diabetes affect your daily life/lifestyle?  

Fortunately, the impact on my daily life/lifestyle is minimal. I carry my insulin around with me at all times, my Libre is connected to my phone so I can check my blood sugar at any time.  

However, the biggest main downside is that I’m no longer able to drive, due to being partially sighted, so my freedom has been somewhat taken away.   

  • What about your mental wellbeing?    

I’ve struggled with my mental health in the past. Mainly when I was going through all my issues with my toes and eyes.  

I lashed out at the people close to me, and was very angry and annoyed with myself for causing the problems. After all, they could have been prevented.  

However, I have come to terms with my condition and it’s important to get on with life.  

The only other times I let my diabetes get me down is when my blood sugars aren’t at the correct level. I take large sums of insulin, especially in the mornings and don’t eat breakfast but still, I don’t seem to be able to get my blood down as quick as I want to. This can get me down.  

  • Is there anything you need to be particularly careful about/any specific challenges that you face?  

I need to be particularly careful at night time, as I struggle in the dark due to being partially sighted.  

I also have to ensure that my kidneys maintain their current levels, and check my feet for cuts as I’ve lost some feeling. 

The most important thing is to have good control of my diabetes, something that I’m committed to.  

  • What advice would you give to someone who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes?  

Listen to the diabetes team and take the condition seriously, but don’t let it affect your life. 

As long as you manage your diabetes well and give it respect, you can do anything that anyone without diabetes can do.  

Reach out to Diabetes Guernsey and get involved. It’s great to speak to people with the same condition as you realise that everyone is going through the same issues and nobody is perfect. We all like our treats!! 

  • Are there any misconceptions about diabetes that you would like to dispel? 

 Yes, lots but the main two are: 

1) That you can’t eat or drink what you want. We often hear the phrase, ‘you can’t eat/drink that, you’re a diabetic.’ 

2) Many people believe they know more about diabetes and how to manage it than you. 

If you need support with your diabetes or would like to connect with others that know what you’re going through we’re here to help. Keep an eye on our social media channels and our website for information about coffee mornings, help and advice. 

News

Keeping Diabetes In Check During Lockdown

Lockdown is tough for everyone right now, but for people with diabetes, it can be a particularly stressful time. Don’t worry though, we’re here to help.

We caught up with Diabetes Nurse Specialist Alison Place who shared some tips for staying on top of both our physical and emotional wellbeing during these challenging times.

  1. How can lockdown/change in daily routine affect a person with diabetes?

Living with diabetes is a lot to do with managing blood sugar levels and keeping them within a target range. Achieving this hinges on several factors such as diet, exercise and activity levels, stress and anxiety and the right dose of medication or insulin. 

People with diabetes work very hard every day at balancing these factors in order to achieve good control. A stable daily routine focusing on regular healthy meals, regular exercise and movement and good control of emotional and mental health are all fundamental to achieving good diabetic control.

Anything which interferes with a person’s ability to control these factors could significantly impact on their blood sugar management.

  • Which factors are most affected by lockdown?

The effects of lockdown disrupt a number, if not all, of these foundation factors. People become more sedentary, and they may not have the same access to their usual foods, especially if isolating. There may be stress caused by reduced income or changed working practices and anxiety resulting from being alone or not being able to see friends and family.

All these things contribute to the erosion of a normal routine, and an absence of structure can also cause us to forget to do important things like taking medicine or insulin on time.

My experience from the last lockdown was that lots of people with diabetes were experiencing sugars being too high most of the time. The most common reason was because they were less active than usual and eating more food. The Diabetes Nurses spent a lot of time on the phone helping people to adjust their insulin doses in order to put things right.

  • How can you best support a person with diabetes during lockdown?

This will very much depend on the individual. People living with diabetes are unfortunately used to receiving unsolicited advice from well-meaning people, whose comments can be quite judgemental.

If you know the person well you could ask some direct questions like, “how are you managing with your meals, blood tests and remembering your insulin?”. If you do not know the person well, you could ask things like, “how’s it going?”, or “can I get you anything?”.  If you are in the same household, encourage your friend or relative to take up their two hours exercise a day and maybe go for a walk with them. Ask if your friend, family member or neighbour has had the opportunity to go shopping. If a person is isolating or otherwise restricted in their activity you could offer to get some shopping or pick up a prescription for them.

Please NEVER tell a person with diabetes “you should be doing X, Y or Z”, or ask “should you be eating that?”

Please DO say, “how can I help you?”, or “is there anything I can do for you?”.

Other general tips on supporting someone in lockdown are not exclusive to people living with diabetes:

  • Keep in touch whether that’s through messaging, FaceTime or video chats.
  • Cheer each other up.
  • Keep each other going and check in regularly.
  • Make each other laugh. 
  • Take a socially-distanced walk if that is appropriate for your circumstances.   
  • Encourage on-line social activities and hobbies.

All these things can help us to stay positive when times are tough.

  • What are your top tips for managing diabetes during lockdown?

Try as much as possible to create a routine and structure to your day and stick to it. It’s also a good idea to punctuate the day with different activities to avoid boredom and becoming demotivated.

Scheduling is also important; make sure you schedule in your blood tests and medication or insulin. Also, don’t forget to plan your meals and ensure that you’re taking your two hours of exercise each day.

Try ticking off all the things you have achieved that day; this can have a profound feel-good psychological effect and can really help to boost your motivation.

Reward yourself with a treat; maybe a favourite film or box set, a video chat with a friend, some internet shopping or a food treat with the right dose of insulin to go with it.

Always remember, we’re here to help so call the Diabetes Nurses, Alison or Becky if the wheels are falling off!

News

Omnipod Disposal

We are very excited to update you with the latest information from Insulet about their fantastic Omnipod Disposal Programme.

Please download the document below explaining the full details on how to safely dispose of your used Omnipods. The scheme is much more environmentally friendly than other disposal methods.

You will need to register your details with Insulet by calling them on 0800 011 6132. Once registered, you can order the disposal boxes via email in the future.

News

Travel with devices

We have had comments and messages about people having issues traveling with devices so we have some useful tips for you:

  • Always carry a doctor’s letter stating that you have Diabetes and what medication/devices you are wearing or carrying.
  • Keep your Diabetes equipment separate and inform the security staff that you have medical supplies.
  • The Podder Resource Guide below has specific information about travel with Omnipods (pages 31-32)
  • The guide below also has quick and easy to understand information about what the Pod and PDM are. It might be useful to print this out to have when traveling to help security staff understand the devices (pages 4-5)
  • It is recommended that you carry your Freestyle Libre User guide (in the original box) to give staff more information about the device.
  • Omnipods and Freestyle Libres CAN be worn through body scanners. You should always carry spare replacement devices when traveling just in case anything goes wrong but Insulet (Omnipod) and Abbott (Freestyle Libre) have informed us there is no evidence that body scanners cause issues.
  • Your PDM and Libre Reader should go through the baggage scanner, not the body scanner.
  • Ensure you carry extra supplies of everything, including all medication, replacement devices, batteries and hypo treatment. You should always travel with injections/pens even if you use a pump.
  • The Freestyle Libre Reader should be deactivated during flight, and your phone should be put into Flight Safe mode. The Libre should not be scanned for the duration of the flight. There is no need to remove the device from your body.
  • The built-in strip port on the Freestyle Libre Reader can be used to take blood glucose or ketone readings during flight. Turn on the reader by inserting a test strip. Turning on the reader with the Home Button will activate the radio.
News

A day in the life

Hi everyone, I’m Steph. I am the chairperson of Diabetes Guernsey, a mum of one and a paediatric speech and language therapist. I was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 8, so will soon be celebrating my 22-year diaversary (yes, there will be cake). Here is a snapshot of my life at the moment!

I have an early wake up from my 17-month-old daughter. I quickly have time to scan my Libre before I get her up! I remember to take my tablets (for insulin resistance and my thyroid condition) and make a coffee to wake up. As usual, I’m doing too many things at once and forget to do my insulin until I’m halfway through breakfast, cue the mid-morning sugar spike!

It gets to dinner time and I realise I haven’t checked my blood enough today, or had enough water (a big factor for me in sugar control), but luckily, I remembered to do my insulin at lunch so things aren’t looking too bad!

I finish the day doing a bit of work, eating a few handfuls of chocolate buttons (I’m only human) and hoping to get to bed early enough to get my 8 hours (haha).

I find my diabetes hugely frustrating some days and other days it goes smoothly. I get annoyed for forgetting, not testing enough and eating the wrong things, but I always try to remind myself that I can’t do it all, and for now, while life is hectic, I just need to do my best!