Wednesday, 21 September 2016



We are defined as diabetics. 

But we are not diabetics - we are not our disease.

Even when people without diabetes are not judging us we are judging ourselves.


We judge ourselves on this value.

Are we doing well enough managing this disease we did not ask for?

Today I had clinic.

I don't have a perfect HBA1C, I am not a perfect diabetic.

Is there such a thing?

I am not defined by my HBA1C, I am not defined by my HBA1C, I am not defined by my HBA1C

But I am.

Maybe not by my consultant and diabetic nurses who just want us to try our best.

But by myself, ourselves.

A disease that is so defined by numbers.

And im not saying a HBA1C isn't important because I know it is.

The complications, the worry and the guilt that comes from one number.

Striving for this one perfect number.

A non diabetic level in a diabetics world.

If mine isn't the NICE guideline HBA1C I cry.

I am defined by a book not a person LIVING with diabetes.

Yet I shouldn't define myself and neither should anyone else. 

We are advocates, bloggers, twitterers, gbdocers and friends.

We are more than just a number.

But numbers are important in our life.

The question is where do we draw the line between textbook and living?

Lots of love The Backpacker and the Pod xxx

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Volunteering on camp

The first day of camp rolled around and i felt very smug that I only lived half an hour away from Dearne Valley. But my TomTom had other ideas diverting me to an industrial estate before proceeding to tell me i had arrived at my destination. Great start! When I finally arrived I was met by Abi and Will who I’d volunteered with on the camp the year before - its not just the campers who make friends at camp! 
Reunited with Abi

Everybody arrived, we all got to know each other, had our safeguarding talks and then headed down to our lodge for the week. I think Ella, Joanne, Emily and myself had just as much fun as all the campers bunking as a 4 in a dorm room! 

Who's the campers?!

 Later that evening Stuart, Abi and myself drove to ASDA to get the hypo supplies and cereal bars for throughout the week. The result… well….

Lucozade, jelly babies and hypo biscuits!

The first day of camp rolled around and lots of shy campers came down to the lodge to drop of ftheir suitcases and were reluctant to let their parents go, which their parents assured us was a first!  After some get to know you games it was time for lunch and for the carb counting to commence. The first day seems like a lifetime ago now but you never forget how strange it is for the volunteers and campers to test all together for the first time. Going from the only one having to carb count to helping others carb count is a crazy experience because for once its the norm.

The dream team - Joanne, Lauren, Emily, Me and Ella

After lunch we headed to the Zip Wire in our groups getting to know each other a bit more. Fears were faced by the campers and even those of us that said they weren't scared, well… our bloods said different! HELLO ADRENALINE!

Adrenaline spike argh!

Before dinner we had a Omnipod change in our Group, so I decided to change mine at the same time for moral support. However I was shown up when I was changing my boring white pod compared to this campers box of colourfully designed pods! I was well and truly put to shame!
Trying to match up to the

The Pokepod

Night activity rolled around and everyone had settled in well. Queue Mini Olympics - an activity where we had to move like a tadpole, chicken and monkey between the cones. The campers really got into it and with a leaders team now in place we became very competitive - even going to the extent of pretending to lay eggs! 

Day 2 started with Indoor climbing and Bushcraft, with Low ropes and Nightline in the afternoon. Low ropes was such a fun activity starting with team building games at the beginning of the session. Going back to back with another member of the team we had to try and stand ourselves upright without using our hands (this proved more difficult for some **ahem* Ella and Me* than others!) After going on the Low ropes nearly everyone had a low! After blood sugar checks and hypo treatment we headed to our next activity Nightline. 

 Nightline was a trail through the trees with a blindfold on crawling through obstacles on the way. As the lovely leaders we are we decided to make the trail a little more interesting holding extra branches and showering the campers (and Nusrat) with water as they went past. Got to love water resistant pumps!

The evening activity was Movie Blitz and after nighttime snack and bedtime checks it was time for the leaders who weren't on nightshift to head to bed as well. Laid in bed Ella checked her Libre - ‘Im low’. Out of curiosity I checked mine ‘Im low too’. Grabbing three Glucotabs out of the pot up on my top bunk I threw the remainder of the pot to Ella who was on the top bunk at the other side of the room. I missed. Sorry Ella!

Tuesday morning rolled around, hypo infused I crawled out of bed for wake up duty. The campers were just as tired but excited by the thought of canoeing! 

This morning Joanne, who is a student dietician and a non Type 1 decided to trial a cannula and empty insulin pump. From having little background knowledge of Type 1 Joanne had picked it all up within the space of three days even subjecting herself to a cannula (‘which felt funny’) and turned out to have been kinked for the full three days when it was taken out!

Problem solving was our first activity and it was a such a lovely day - spirits were high as we pushed each other up over a wooden wall and brains were ticking as we tried to balance ourselves on a giant wooden seesaw platform. The best activity of the day though was canoeing. Blood sugars checked, pumps removed and we were on the water! The leaders been targeted by every camper as we made our way around the pond it wasn't long before it looked like we had been swimming! Lets just say our balance wasn't brilliant within our boat and when playing ‘body part bingo’ when you had to dip the named body part out of the boat and into the water! Ella and I ended up face first in the water with Ella’s shoe floating away! Its ok though we weren't the first leaders to go in! *Ahem* Abi, Max and Will!

Matching libres, matching rock tape - diatwins?

next morning it was Alton Towers day! As most of you know I HATE rollercoasters and after last year of going on a loop the loop I was more than happy to keep my feet firmly on the ground!
However the fearless 12 and 13 year olds in our group didn't give the rides a second thought going on Rita, 13 and Oblivion - the thought of which just make my stomach drop! After the Rapids we decided to go on the Runaway Mine Train (a ride SUPPOSEDLY for kids). I can now confirm it is not just a kids ride! I was petrified (and laughed at) by the campers who sat next to us!

After arriving back from Alton Towers our nighttime activity was campfire. This was. By far. My favourite activity! Emma one of the leaders at Kingwood introduced us to a new, improved and slightly crazy version of the Banana Song - which was stuck in our heads for the rest of the week! After toasting marshmallows on the fire we headed back to the lodge. 


So after our crazy day at Alton Towers there was no rest for the wicked! Lauren, Ellie and myself was on nightshifts testing at 2,4 and 6am. By this point in the week most of the campers had realised that it was easier to sleep with one arm stretched out ready for their blood check. The worst part - waking a really heavy sleeper to feed them digestive biscuits  - which they proceed to eat with their eyes shut!

On Thursday evening we took the opportunity to have a Diabetes Q and A session splitting the groups girls and boys to ask questions about uni, travel, sport and life in general. Cynthia, one of the leaders, had some brilliant explanations and was type 1 diabetics we all chipped in with our experiences. It was a really good session as the campers asked questions feeling comfortable because of the relationships we had built up during the week.

Friday was the last full day at camp and for Group 1 we started with Aeroball and Laserquest! The Laserquest was such a fun activity which left us energised for the day. The next activity was Drum Jam (the dark horse of activities). Andy, another one of our two main Kingwood leaders for the week led the activity. After practicing the beats we had to make our own. Sorry campers but ours was the best! We took our song to the next level writing lyrics to the most hip diabetes song of 2016! - Check it out on The Backpacker and the Pod Facebook page.

The day rounded off with Jacobs ladder, fencing and Club Kingwood disco and the legendary paper plates awards.

It was so sad on Saturday morning to see all the campers go. Throughout the week you could see how much everyone had grown in confidence and hopefully they will remember camp in years to come and it inspires them to look after their diabetes well. I think every volunteer this week proved that diabetes doesn't stop you doing anything. One of our campers who I mentioned at the beginning of the blog who had the decorated Pod said to me ‘Im going to start wearing my pod loud and proud now!’ and that made me nearly cry. It just shows how influential these camps are and how positive being around other people with the same ‘disease’ can be. It wasn't just the kids who had made amazing friends this week though but it was the same for the volunteers. Some even may have had a little cry! 

Dearne Valley team… 

Thankyou for a brilliant week 

PS Can we have Emma and Max back next year please Diabetes uk!

Lots of Love The Backpacker and the Pod xxx

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Diabetes is like a pair of new shoes

Diabetes is like a pair of new shoes

Strutting up and down the shop floor looking at the new shoes on my feet, I convince myself these are the comfiest shoes Ive ever worn - plus they are in the sale how can I resist!? 

In the first week there is a lot to learn - how to walk in these new shoes/ how to manage your diabetes - where you need the blister plasters/what needs adjusting with your daily diabetes routine. But you'll make mistakes and sometimes loose your balance in your new shoes and the same goes for your diabetes! Face fears, stumble and sometimes scrape your knees. Nobody is perfect.

After a while of wearing my new shoes my feet begin to hurt from the constant rubbing and tearing at my feet - like the constant toll of living with diabetes. Except I can't take off my high heels and change into flats when diabetes takes its toll on me. There's no pressure that can be relieved by a pair of comfy flip flops on a way home from a night out with type 1!

Sometimes you just have to fight it.

After a while the new shoes become worn. Shoved to the back of the cupboard and to be worn as a last resort. How burnout feels with diabetes. Sometimes I want to shove diabetes into a shoebox in my wardrobe! You want to not have to think about diabetes for a while and like a pair of new shoes the implications of buying them. The long term cost. 

Like a pair of new slippers diabetes can't be taken off before getting into bed for a good nights sleep. Diabetes never sleeps.

Like a pair of wellies we have to strive through the muddy and hope for a few dry days.

And like a pair of new shoes - we have to carry on no matter how much pain we sometimes feel. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016


The view out of the studio

DXStockholm - Day 2 and 3

Just over a month ago I wrote about the first day in Stockholm but in pictures. We learnt whilst in Stockholm that Twitter images receive 18% more clicks, 150% more retweets and 89% more likes than twitter statuses. So it got me wondering if blogging in pictures would reach a wider audience. It did by 30%. A PLOG (picture blog).

The first thing I learnt.

The second is that I will never be able to frown as well as the Grumpy Pumper. 

I literally cannot frown!

The third. I was surrounded by some fantastic people.

Day 2 in Stockholm started in a quirky building where we had talks from lots of different creators.

I mean how tumblr! (love love love!)

The day started with a synchronised bg test from Pippa and myself - it was some spooky diabetes voodoo magic!

Same line for 12 hours!

We had many different talks from Marie Ennis- O’Connor who spoke about her powerful journey through breast cancer and her journey as a digital health advocate to Rudy de Waele who predicts the future of technology!

The Snapchat class taught us how to engage with a different type of audience with Geeohsnap, showing us the creative content he creates to a massive following. The session on Snapchat, which I already use, was a really fun and engaging session testing out the snapchat filters and it was amazing to hear how Geeohsnaps snaps create a positive platform which inspires lots of people. 
And of course we had to try out all the filters!
But seriously Grumpy - how is it still possible to frown with a flower crown?! ;P 

We had to have a snapchat picture on snapchat! - Geeohsnap

In the technology and body hacking session we met Hannes Sjoblad, where we learnt how to make our own DNA, we wore bunny ears that moved depending on our concentration and used Visual Reality - showing just how quickly technology can move forwards.

Testing out the brainwave bunny ears with Bente! 
Making my own DNA

The result

Later on in the day using Geeohsnaps idea of transforming people doing everyday things into something different and exciting we made #DXStockholm postcards showing people that Type 1 Diabetics can do whatever they want, eat what they like and travel till their hearts content. Reinforcing the message that Type 1 Diabetes doesn't hold us back.

How much does it look like Bente is trying to hit me on the head!? haha

Day 3 started with learning about Abbotts ‘in the vault’ projects - one of which has recently been launched the ‘LibreLink’ (see my last blog post). It was fantastic to hear about how diabetes technology is moving forward and the LibreLink shows us that! 

After saying our goodbyes to the friends we’d made Adrian (a fellow friend and GBDOC blogger) and I along with Fiona,Ollie and Chris from Abbott headed to the ABBA Museum. At this point I knew Adrian was a massive fan but I dont think id prepared myself for singing on the stage with the virtual ABBA band and recording Mamma Mia in a recording studio! Later we were joined by Phillipa (another GBDOC blogger, her husband James (the creator of #DXFringe - a hashtag which caused much amusement) and Baby G. It was such a laugh and a brilliant afternoon not only getting to know my fellow bloggers a little more but also getting to know the lovely bunch who work for Abbott. 

Mamma Mia - here we go again

The new 'Abbott' 

After heading back to the airport and meeting Jen again we boarded our flight. This time Adrian and myself couldn't sit next to each other - we sat across the aisle. Only adding to the 2 hour blog war that commenced to see who could blog about our amazing trip first! 

The trip to #DXStockholm was an amazing experience! Id never met bloggers from other countries who blogged about diabetes despite being Facebook and Instagram friends with most. Learning about new blogging ideas, and the next ‘in the vault’ projects that Abbott are developing was a fantastic experience - one that I will definitely not forget anytime soon! One of the most amazing parts for me was talking to new friends - who by the end of the trip felt like old friends - learning about their diagnosis, their diabetes and of course them as a person. The friendships that last a lifetime. This week Ive been on holiday in Germany where Finn and myself found time to meet each other to catchup after meeting at #DXStockholm. Its lovely how diabetes itself can be such a negative yet it can be turned into such a positive.

Lots of love The Backpacker and the Pod xxx

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Launch of the LibreLink!

New Mobile App Enables Smartphone Access to Glucose Data Directly from FreeStyle® Libre Sensors

Today is the Lanch of LibreLink! 

ImageAbbott, in partnership with AirStrip, have created ‘LibreLink’ which is an app on Android smartphones allowing you to see your glucose data on your phone straight from the Libre sensor. For me this sounds brilliant allowing me to carry less diabetes equipment and easily being able to access my levels from my phone which, quite simply, never leaves my hand!

Finding out about this in Stockholm I have been desperate to try it. On Tuesday night I had a Skype conversation with Abbott, #DXStockholm friends, Joel - the research and development product lead who gave us a further insight into the app, and Steven Dixon (our Type 1 celeb in residence) showing us his user experience. Very exciting stuff!

Speaking to Steven he had lots of positive things to say about the LibreLink. Hypo at the time Stevens phone showed a reading, behind which was a red background. Red shows a hypo, green an in range level and amber a hyper. Steven also showed us how much clearer the app is to see the trends of his data - with a bigger screen than the current reader you can spot patterns in more detail. The app also gives you an estimated HBA1C, something currently you cannot get straight from the Libre handset. 

The LibreLink app can be used with the phone alongside the Freestyle Libre handset if you wish, however this must be scanned by both devices within the first hour of the sensor startup ‘limited late join’ (scan with the Libre handset first). Both devices must be scanned every 8 hours if you wish to see a trend line of data. The difference between the app and the handset is that there is no test strip/ketone strip availability with the app and there is also no insulin calculator - something myself I haven't used so this wouldn't bother me. However the app allows you to share your data directly to the cloud and it can be shown alongside Diasend displays - which normally I would only see at clinic appointments. 


So far the app will only work on Android phones on the Google Play store, this is because (and Im not a tech wiz so I don't really understand) but it uses NFC (near field communication) - something that is limited in Apple phones to Apple Pay. With the Android phone the scan point on the phone will vary depending on the size and location of the NFC and if the worst was to happen and your phone broke - the data would already be saved in the cloud.

Unlike apps like Snapchat, which I'm obsessed with, the LibreLink app does not drain your battery, only using a very small amount, and doesn't take up much storage! Something for a social media addict like me means that I can also keep all my favourite apps in addition to the LibreLink. 


With 10 days left on my current sensor I can’t yet start using the LibreLink! Its going to be a long 10 days! The app is going to allow me even more freedom than the Libre already does - how is this possible! I’d love to hear everyones thoughts on the app and I'm going to be very jealous until I can start up a new sensor! 

Thankyou to Stephen, Joel and the Abbott team for allowing me to be part of the LibreLink process and I cannot wait to use the app!

Lots of love The Backpacker and the Pod xxx