How’s lockdown been for you?
I’ve found it tough. As someone who is always out and about playing sport and meeting people, I’ve had to outsource all of that to whatsapp chats. Really miss seeing people in person. I guess I’ll cherish the moments more when this is over!!!
How have you managed to cope?
I guess I’m lucky I work in healthcare, so my routine hasn’t changed much. Though being a diabetic meant that my job was a bit restricted which did frustrate me. However, I feel happy to be part of the solution during the coronavirus pandemic as it gives you a sense of purpose and togetherness at work.
Outside of work, I’ve tried to occupy myself watching stuff, upskilling and playing a really active role in the diabetes online community. I think social networks are priceless at this point in time. The mental support, practical advice, positive distractions, sentiments of encouragement and also knowing you’re not alone are invaluable.
The diabetes online community has been really good at keeping us informed and occupied. The diabetes 101 twitter initiative is really good. The patient-run facebook diabetes support groups have been really supportive too.
TDFC has been doing loads as well. I think we’ve seen Dinngy’s nutmeg video more times than I’ve actually seen him kick a ball! Also really enjoyed Chris Bright’s interviews in IG, but mostly appreciated the support from the lads. We’ve also got a lot of new additions and the banter is class! It says a lot about TDFC when we have people from different professions sharing useful advice and tips (both about diabetes and daily life).
Though I must admit my physical health hasn’t been as good as I don’t exercise as much as before the lockdown.
Regarding working during this period, were you ever worried or concerned about your personal health?
What did worry me at the beginning was the lack of clarity on shielding and social distancing for diabetics.
Fortunately this got better over time. Also within the healthcare sector, advice was changing everyday as new evidence and guidance came out.
I took a very cautious approach to protect me and family. My managers were very supportive which was a bonus.
Fortunately my diabetes team is very good and so it was also reassuring to know that they were only a phone call away if I needed them.
The only real worry was the constant change and adaptation. However I learnt to appreciate that this was brand new for everyone, including the experts. I therefore decided to step back and take it day by day.
How has it impacted your diabetes?
We know everything from the weather to the mood you’re in has an impact! From a physical point of view, I’ve had to up my insulin requirements as I’ve decreased the amount of exercise I do. I’m eating out less, so I can plan meals better, which has helped.
My sleep patterns have also changed, so meals are at different times. I’ve had to increase my insulin to carb ratios at dinner time to compensate.
The month of Ramadhan started in lockdown. I understand this is your first year fasting in your life. How has that been?
Firstly, I just want to highlight that current medical advice does not recommend fasting if you’re a T1 diabetic as the risks of hypos, DKA and dehydration are a lot higher. Having said that, I have an artificial pancreas system and am taking part in a voluntary trial. I wanted to appreciate the sacrifices people make, remember those less fortunate, see the health benefits and also help improve diabetes care by providing my data.
I’ve really missed the social aspect of it, as I used to volunteer during the month of Ramadhan and also spend loads of time with friends in the evenings.
It’s been challenging physically too, as I’ve stopped all sports to prevent massive variation in my blood glucose which may cause me to break my fast. Fasting whilst playing sport may be something I can work on towards the end of the month, or maybe next year!
In my 28 years as a T1, I’ve never fasted for more than a day before. So far this month, I’ve had to break 2 fasts as I hypoed. They’ve been good learning points and I’m slowly adjusting my ratios and insulin. The first week was really tiring, surprisingly it’s gotten better over time, even though the fasts have got longer as the days have gone on.
A few months back I had a really good discussion with Scott Burrell about how long fast acting insulin lasts in your body. I’ve learnt a lot from people’s experiences and have tried to implement them into my management.
Overall good so far, but I think I’ll only continue if it’s safe to do so. I’m extremely grateful for the tech we have now, the support and the expert advice that’s available.
Thinking forward, are you worried about how society will pick up after lockdown?
I always take the mindset that you should only focus on what you can influence. Our world has changed and will continue changing as a result of the pandemic. The things I can’t wait for are getting back into kicking a ball, meeting up with friends and family, travelling and eating out.
I think the biggest thing we’ve learnt is how important we are to each other as a community of human beings. I hope the help and support people have provided carries on after the lockdown.