Blood natter

I never thought I’d write a tongue in cheek blog post about checking my blood sugar. But then I’ve never thought a number of things. Snow in April, the possibilities of Leicester City winning the Premier League, and Donald Trump being in a position of global power are all ideas that had never crossed my mind until recently.

Things change. What makes no sense one day makes total sense the next. You find yourself in a situation where writing about checking your blood sugar suddenly seems like something you could do a wonderful job of and lots of people would enjoy reading.You also realise that, for one reason or another, it’s been a month since you last wrote anything at all on your blog and you should probably change that or risk your social media audience doubting your credibility as a writer.

Of course, if you carry on extending this introduction without getting to any form of point, they may doubt your credibility as a writer anyway. Let’s do something about that.

I’ve been type 1 diabetic since the 23rd December 2007. I was 17 and it was approaching Christmas, meaning there were Quality Street everywhere and, oh boy, had I been eating them. Of course you can’t get type 1 diabetes from eating too much sugar – that was pure coincidence. I got it through a mix of genetics and bad luck, and was diagnosed after dropping from 9 stone to 6 stone in the space of a couple of days, constantly being thirsty and feeling the need to piss all the time. Literally, all the time.

Anyway, this isn’t going to be a bit of writing about the struggle teenage me took as I entered a world of being diabetic and learned to cope with all the hardships that brought with it. I’ll save that for my autobiography.

Instead, this is going to be a bit of writing about the most awkward, frustrating, intrusive obstacle that diabetes brings with it – checking my blood sugar.

Blood checks are something diabetics do about six times a day. I’d like to be able to do some maths here and say that, as I’ve been diabetic for nearly nine years now, that means I’ve checked my blood sugar approximately 18,354 times. However, that would be a lie. I was slack as anything when I was first diagnosed and hardly checked it at all. I could go days without doing it, probably weeks at some point, which makes me feel sick now but at the time it felt like the easier choice.

And easy it was, I guess. Here’s how checking your blood sugar works:

You get some little needles, a pen that the needles sits in, some blue strips and a meter. You put the needle in the pen and the blue strip in the meter, then you prick your finger with the needle and put your blood onto the test strip. It soaks it up and tells the meter what your blood sugar is. A good number would be between 4 and 8.

Given I never used to check it, I never used to know, meaning I was naively unaware of whether or not I was dying. This meant a few things happened: I passed out in a cinema, I passed out in a wine pyramid in Tesco and I passed out in the bathroom. That was all because of my own laziness, and therefore I take full responsibility.

However, here’s where checking your blood sugar gets frustrating. Because I now do it regularly, and have been doing for the past few years, I am always aware of what my levels are – this means I’m always trying to improve them.

Due to my own levels of OCD when it comes to the little number that flashes up on my monitor, and thanks to the ever changing sensitivity of the diabetic body to sugar and insulin, I have also passed out in a staff room, on my way to a meeting, on my bike, at my desk, twice in a car park on the way back from Starbucks, and then at a different desk.

To the average person that might sound like a lot of time to spend unconscious, and you’d be right. But more than that, more than anything else to me, it’s a nuisance. Sure, it’s a nuisance waking up in A&E, but it’s also frustrating having to make yourself bleed every few hours. It’s a pain not being able to feel your fingertips. It’s not great having to carry around a pouch full of medical equipment wherever you go. And it’s ever so annoying only getting 50 test trips with each prescription when you use 6 a day. You do the maths – that does not last a month.

To top it all off, you can do all those checks and still find yourself in the back of an ambulance feeling like a tit. Evolution did not have this in mind.

When you see the technology that already exists, there really should be an easier way around this. My friend sent me an article about a new kind of device that can read your blood sugar using microwaves, and that would be a lot easier than sticky, drippy blood. But then last year someone showed me an invention that reads your sweat. Before that I’d seen something that can tell by your breath. I’ve seen loads of good ideas but nothing that actually exists, meaning I’m still here with a box full of needles and enough blood to keep a vampire through ’til tea time.

Yet there’s a watch that can tell you if someone has text you.

There’s a bracelet that can tell you your heart rate and how far you’ve walked.

They’ve made it possible for your entire phone to live round your wrist while connecting to the actual phone in your pocket to give you a whole host of data that you’ll never need to know.

Technology is full of useless leaps and bounds, yet offers nothing to help me with my fight against the pavement. I sit and wait with my bruised fingers crossed.


Was that worth waiting a month for? Not at all, but content is king isn’t it?