Chapter 9 – New friendships

>I set to work to search the Internet for more information on diabetes. Naturally the first site to come up was Diabetes UK. I’d seen their “Balance” magazine lying around the Doctor’s surgery and also at the hospital when I’d been to attend the appointment with the Dietitian. It seemed kind of bland and the information was about on the level of the leaflets I’d been given by the nurse right after diagnosis. Apart from that a there were a lot of stories about jolly diabetics who were climbing mountains or going on “fun runs”. It wasn’t what I was looking for at all. I was looking for solid information on how to manage the condition on a day to day basis. Still, I read it and poked about on the site, eventually finding a link to a forum called Diabetes-Insight where I was able to read questions and answers written by “real” diabetics. Something was wrong though, and eventually I realised what. A question would be asked and a month later someone would reply. It seemed that I’d have to wait a long time to get an answer there, but it gave me the clue that there were groups out there discussing diabetes.

I can’t now remember now how I found a list of newsgroups, because it was certainly the first time I’d heard of bulletin boards aka newsgroups, but somehow I did and a search came up with Alt.support.diabetes.uk. Of course, if it’s your first visit to a board there appear to be absolutely millions of threads to read, but far from being overwhelmed, I was excited to discover this treasure trove of information and I delved in head first.

What I found came as a surprise! Firstly they were talking about limiting carbohydrates, whereas I’d been told to ensure they were a large part of every meal. It was confusing, but I followed the links and I read the advice and it started to make a lot of sense, except…. except why would the Dietitian not know this information? Why would she advise me to eat something that was bad for me? I made another discovery too, there was another kind of insulin, not the Novomix 30, but something that you took as “basal” with a “bolus” that you took with meals. I Googled it and wondered why I’d been put on the twice a day injections. I spent a lot of time that week roaming far and wide over the ‘net checking out the things I saw referred to in threads in ASDUK (as I subsequently came to know it).

I booked an appointment with the GPs diabetic nurse and asked if I could transfer onto basal/bolus. She said she would get in touch with the DSN at the local hospital clinic who would oversee this transfer. I waited and waited for the appointment, after about 7 weeks I heard on the local radio that many diabetics in Cornwall had been “lost” in the appointments system. Lots of people were phoning in to the radio and complaining. So I thought “Hmmmm time I gave out some reminders”. I phoned the hospital and asked about my appointment. Sure enough they had lost the letter from my nurse, had I not heard the news item and the phone in show on the radio I might have waited a lot longer! I then had an appointment pretty quickly and got put onto Lantus and Novorapid. I recall the DSN saying to me “You’re on tiny amounts of insulin, if you are T2 these will increase as you go along, but if you are T1 they will stay the same”. According to my little diary I started on 10 units of Lantus, which quickly increased to 16 and then went back down to 14 and 2.2.3u of Novo with meals.

I read the newsgroup for a few weeks, then plucked up courage to make an introductory post and say a little bit about myself. I remember being welcomed by Alan and given Jennifer’s Advice (see, nothing changes! LOL!). The newsgroup was quite lively in those days and there were some interesting characters. Amongst them Old Al, Al Hardy, Beav, Ratty, Turner’s Babe, Fester, Maggie and not least Tiger Lily. I was blown away by their knowledge. Later on TerryG, Nicky and Nige (aka VBHOL) joined the group. I read a lot and said little, I felt like the new apprentice.

Tigery Lily (aka Kate) had a link in her signature about a chat room. One night I ventured in. It was mostly folks from the USA but I was welcomed and made to feel a part of the group. Kate and I struck up a friendship that endures to this day, and often spent hours PM (private messaging) each other, just chatting about this and that and getting to know each other. She was extremely helpful to me!

All the time I was putting the new knowledge into use. I quickly learned to titrate my bolus doses by reasonably accurate guesstimate and I started to grow confident in tweaking my basal doses. I was having less hypos and highs. Things started to fall into place. I went for my next Hba1c and when I walked into the Nurse’s office and heard her say “Your Hba1c is 5.4” I let out a whoop of delight!

To be continued….

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