Chapter 4 – Insulin

On my return from holiday I was still running BGs in the high 20s or low 30s, still feeling tired, the pins and needles were still there and worst of all my eyesight was terrible. I’m an avid reader, never without a book and I felt very lost without my ability to see enough to read. Perhaps that was the worst thing for me so far, since I had been relatively cheerful about my diagnosis up to that point.

I rang the surgery and asked for an appointment with the Nurse, but she was unavailable, on annual leave, so I agreed to see a Doctor instead. I actually was thinking that a Doctor would be better than a nurse at that point, so I was hoping for a lot from the appointment. On return from holiday I had once again read carefully (with the aid of a magnifier I that had belonged to my Father in law) the slim volume on Type 2 diabetes that I had bought in the chemist on first diagnosis. (I gave that little book away some years later at which point I noticed with a bit of a laugh that the print was absolutely HUGE, as well it should be for a book aimed at the newly diagnosed!) The book warned of the dangers to eyesight and other complications that could be expected by running high BGs for any length of time. I was, therefore, more than a little taken aback when the Doctor I saw said “It won’t hurt you to have high blood sugars ‘for a few weeks’. I will prescribe you another pill that you can take which will help”. My impression was that he was talking down to me and making light of a condition that the nurse had taken much more seriously. I’d certainly understood from her that the kind of BG readings I had were something to take seriously. I left feeling rather let down because by this time I was heartily sick of feeling so ill and tired, but I duly took the prescription for Metformin to be filled and started taking them along with the already prescribed Gliclazide that I’d been taking since diagnosis. Fortunately I didn’t have any of the side effects that I’ve read about since. My weight loss seemed to accelerate though, and I was now having to take in all the new clothes that I’d already taken in once before I went on holiday.

There was no noticeable affect on my BGs from this “new” tablet but I plodded on for a further week. Then the Temp agency rang me asking me to do a week’s stint at another Solicitor’s office in the town a week on the Monday. I said yes, because by this time I needed the money. I was no longer self-employed and money from my former business was running out, I was still waiting to be paid for the few days I had worked for the agency. I was conscious of the fact that I was no longer paying self employed National Insurance contributions, nor was I paying “employed” contributions and I was very worried and concerned that the missing contributions would affect my state Pension, since I had already had to pay some missing back contributions and still did not have enough for a full pension at retirement age unless I could continue paying contributions at that time.

I realised that it would be difficult for me to get up early, do a full day in an office, stay alert and be able to see the computer screen, so I was anxious to get sorted out and get my BGs down. I felt let down by the Doctor who hadn’t seemed that interested or concerned. I felt as though I had been sidelined. I did recall how anxious the nurse had seemed and how keen she had been to put me on insulin, so I rang the surgery again and was able to get an appointment to see her early the following Monday morning.

By comparison to the Doctor, the nurse looked worried and asked me how I felt now about going onto insulin. I said that I regretted not cancelling the holiday and going onto insulin earlier. I told her about the kidney pains and other symptoms I was experiencing, particularly the eyesight problems and how these were what upset me most. She was very kind and understanding. She gave me my first injection, explaining the technique of actually using the pen, rolling it back and forth to mix the insulin, then flicking it to remove air bubbles, how to pinch the skin and inject at right angles. Fortunately I have never been afraid of needles. During my 18 year flying career I had been used to having vaccinations on average every three months to protect against various exotic diseases such as Typhoid, Yellow Fever and Smallpox, therefore the needle on the insulin pen held no fear since it was so tiny. One I mentioned my further weight loss she also said I could drop the tablets. I have never taken a single oral diabetic medication since.

I left the surgery clutching my very first pre-filled Novomix 30 pen, with a prescription for five more pens along with a box of needles, more test strips and another tub of the confusing Ketostix. I had instructions to take another injection that evening and record my pre-bed and morning tests which I would relay to the nurse when she phoned me the following morning. I also left the surgery thinking I was now a “Type 1” diabetic!

I started off on 10u Novomix twice a day at 8 am and 8pm and gradually increased it to 14u twice a day over the week, at which point I was ecstatic to report an FBG of 5.2. My eyes had cleared somewhat, I had a little more energy and felt very optimistic that I could “live with this diabetes thing”. It wasn’t going to beat me! It was going to fit right in with my life and I would carry on having fun and enjoying life.

Of course things are never that simple…. to be continued….

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