diabetes


Few links to photo sets, and an update of our summer….

In June we drove to Germany to stay with Michiel’s parents for a couple of weeks. We daringly decided to drive, having just bought a car a few months beforehand. Michiel was a little apprehensive about the idea of me driving on the “wrong” side (as was I, if I’m honest) but in the even it went swimmingly, and I only had a couple of problems. Unfortunately when we were returning from a visit to the Netherlands to visit with his family a small deer ran out in front of us and I was unable to stop or swerve to avoid it. It was killed on impact, fortunately (and not running around the woods in pain). Fortunately there was very little damage done to the car, just a bit of dented bodywork – and a rather shaken me! We also visited Osnabruck, to look at the Cathedral and the Liturgical Museum which was amazing, had BBQs and went strawberry picking under a blazing blue sky. We had a fantastic time, having the car made a lot of difference to our freedom while there, and next year we plan to drive to the south of France to stay with his parents there (they have a caravan down there).

Holiday Photos

In July my mother’s church hosted a 24 hour “entertainathon”. I offered to make some cakes/buns for this, and we went down to help. I got roped in doing flowers for the church, doing an arrangement I was very pleased with, and I was pretty pleased with the varieties of cupcakes that I produced too! Took the opportunity to take photos of the fields surrounding Mom’s church, as well as photos of the event but I can’t post those on a public forum, alas.

Entertainathon Photos

In August Mom visited for her birthday and we went to Donington-le-Heath Manor house, near Coalville. The friends of Donington were hosting a “Donington at the home front” day, with lots of demonstrations of crafts and a live fire exercise from the home guard! Mum and I had a lovely afternoon wandering around the gardens and house, and jumping at the bangs coming from the demonstration, and talking to the various volunteers.

Donington-le-Heath

Just a couple days ago I visited St. Mary in Arden, a ruined church in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. its very picturesque and well worth a visit. I returned a couple days later with the camera, and these are some of the results. I’ve visited other properties but i keep forgetting to take the camera, so this is all the photos there are! I also visited St. Dionysus (the main church in Market Harborough) but the photos of that visit were hurried and not so good.

St. Mary in Arden

A mini update: In terms of my uni studies last year, I’m pleased with the vast majority of my work. I just missed out on a first across the whole year, but that doesn’t affect my final degree grade – all that is required from the first year is to pass (40% or above). Full details, as ever, are on the education page. With regard to my health and diabetes, my weight has been steadily creeping up again, and my blood sugar with it, so I have to make an effort to get that under control again. Jess is fine. Another dog attacked her earlier this summer, cutting the skin around her eye quite badly and shaking all three of us up and necessitating a trip to the emergency vets. But with antibiotics and lots of TLC she was soon back to normal. She’s getting old and slowing down, sleeping a great deal, but otherwise, is fine. Like many of Britains cats and dogs she contracted fleas this summer, so we had to deal with that too. She definitely didn’t like the scratching! The house is good as well. we settled in very quickly and have loved this summer, being able to sit outside in peace and quiet. I developed a little garden in the yard, out of a series of pots, which has been lovely to watch and potter around in over the summer as well.

Garden Photos

So on that note I’ll leave you to enjoy my garden photographs… till the next update!!!

 

 

The next few months are going to be ferociously busy, chaotic, and extremely stressful. I promised myself this weekend at least, to relax, to not do very much, and to just generally chill, but I’m finding that very difficult to do, and more to the point, not good for me. Its like I can feel the grasping tentacles of depression underneath me, waiting to grab me, suck me down into another cycle of depression (which I’ve avoided since last September, primarily because of college) – and the best way to sidestep those grasping tentacles is to keep putting one step in front of the other; to keep walking, and not to lose the momentum I’ve built up.

Obviously with the impending move there’re a number of things that have to be done in association with that, from obvious stuff like finding somewhere to live down there, packing, move notifications and so on, through to more obscure stuff like sorting through things, trying to pare down some of the stuff we’ve got. The house has to be given a really good clean before I can hand back the keys, and of course I’ve got to hand in our notice to our current landlords, as well as getting the garden looking decent. There’s basic housekeeping stuff to be done on the computer – such as sorting out the thousands of photos I’ve got, the websites I’ve bookmarked, and my directory structure on my hard drive, all in preparation for next year, because once my degree kicks in, I won’t have time for all that. I also expect (and hope), once I’ve gotten my place officially confirmed (around mid-July to mid-August) to receive a book list from the University for the books needed for next year. Any reading I can do ahead of the start of the course is only going to benefit me in the long run, as well as giving me some indication of what we’re going to be covering. I know the first year takes the long view, covering history in large sweeps of time, from the Anglo-Saxons through to modern day, from English history through to foreign countries, but other than that… no idea. Its exciting and nervous all at the same time!

I also have to sort out finance: not so much student finance, that’s all in hand, but DSA – Disabled Student’s Allowance. This is what pays for my notetakers/interpreters at Uni, and I think I have to have an assessment for it. Its one of those bureaucratic things that can go badly awry if you don’t get it handled right, so I have to hope that it does. I’m waiting on a letter from the doc now (confirming that I do indeed have Diabetes and IBS – this is down purely so that its on my records in the case of problems during an exam), so once I get that, sometime next week, I can get the DSA application in the post and hopefully kick things off with that.

There’s other stuff that needs to be done too, though. Firstly: I need to get my diabetes back under control… badly. With college work taking over everything, I’ve let things slip and slide over the last year and its showing on my waistline. I also need to work on coping mechanisms for keeping healthy eating patterns going when I go back to uni and studying, because my health cannot afford for me to continue the way I have been doing for the last 10 months. At the moment, I’m deliberately overdoing the sugar and rubbish, to make my body feel as awful as it can. I know it sounds counterproductive, but I’ve done this before (and its how I quit smoking, by the way: I chain smoked till I felt sick, went and had a sleep, then got up and didn’t smoke any more) and it seems to work to provide the initial impetus: the idea is that once you give your body healthy foods, its craving the vitamins and minerals and good stuff that it all just tastes fabby. The hardest part of any change in eating patterns is the first four weeks, especially when you switch to a low-carb diet, as your body craves the get-energy-quick-fix that it’s used to having, and it leaves you feeling distinctly grumpy. This is why I OD the way I do: it provides the incentive to get through that 4 week period, because after that, I start to feel absolutely bloomin fantastic, thankyouverymuch – I suddenly have zonks of energy, look and feel cleaner and purer (inside, I mean, not talking about hygiene!) and just generally all round bubblier. And with the impending move, that’s something I’m going to need, very badly.

Secondly: once we’ve moved there are things that need to be sorted out, ideally before I start at Uni on 3rd October. Some are obvious – registering with a new doctor, dentist, opticians, finding a new library, finding new shops, and so on. Some are more personal. We’re hoping to get a little 2 bed house, so that we can have visitors to stay. If we’re lucky enough to get that then we need to put some effort into finding suitable furniture for the second bedroom, as well as a second desk – at the moment, Michiel and I share a desk, and while that’s been okay for the last few years (its a big desk) and we certainly don’t have any space to put another one here, once we move I am going to want my own space for studying. We need to find new services too – such as a new internet provider, sort out the new house and unpack stuff and start to learn our way around Leicester. Its exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I just hope and pray that we’re doing the right thing with all this.

Whichever way you look at it, there’s a lot that needs doing, and if I allow myself to think about it all at once I rapidly start to feel very panicky. Up till now I’ve been able to tell myself “think about it when college is over” and mentally put it to one side. I can’t do that any more… and I don’t know whether its providence or what, but having something like this to do over the summer period is what I need to sidestep those grasping tentacles of depression. I just hope it doesn’t get beyond my ability to cope with – its not for nothing that they say a house move is one of the most stressful things you have to cope with in life….

But for now, for the weekend, I’m chillin’ out, baby. I’ve some books from the library (no history books!) that I can race through over the weekend. A college classmate (who’s become a good friend) has lent me a DVD, “The Notebook” so I’m looking forward to watching that. Mum lent me “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I”, and while I saw it when I was staying with her, Michiel hasn’t, so I have to watch it again. (oh *dear*(!)). She also lent me “The King’s Speech”, and I have a book on that too, from the library, so that ties in nicely. I’ve some DVDs I’ve bought/given to me as presents, but never watched: “Atonement”, “Cloverfield”, “Torchwood” (the boxed set), and of course, Torchwood: Miracle Day is on the box over the summer. (YAY! Captain Jack Harkness: purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr), and some stuff on the PVR which I recorded ages ago and never got round to watching, all of which I’m really looking forward to. Come Monday I start the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-thing again, sidestepping those tentacles and working to pack up this part of my life in preparation for a new life in Leicester.

I’ve been taking antibiotics for the last few days, antibiotics that have the unfortunate side effect of interfering with my liver’s uptake of Metformin. This is the medication that smooths out my blood sugar and helps to overcome the problems caused by my diabetes. What’s becoming clear over the last few days is just how much the metformin does – in the last six months or so (since I started college, really), I’ve been taking my body for granted again, taking the meds, and, although I was tracking my blood sugar, it didn’t seem to be rising and falling, regardless of what I ate, and I started to think … “hmmm. maybe I’m not diabetic after all”.

The last few days have truly put paid to that idea. I’ve been much more sensitive to my blood sugar, more than I ever was before I started metformin, and its really been a lesson for me. In a way, its a shame that I was started on metformin as soon as I was diagnosed: I wonder if I had had time with the blood sugar monitor, tracking my body’s true responsiveness to the food I eat, rather than the responsiveness dulled by the metformin, whether the lessons would have been learned better. As it is, I can’t stop taking the metformin just to learn those lessons – the drug stays in your body, much like anti-depressants, the person taking them needs to be weaned off them.

Tomorrow I’m off to my Mum’s: we’re heading to the interview I have at the last university to decide on the Tuesday and Wednesday (staying there overnight). I’m nervous about it as I have tests and its a big deal, but we’ll see what’s what. I may decide I don’t like it and I feel more comfortable at Leicester. We’ll see. Either way, tomorrow is a big day for another reason: 41 years ago, Mum and Dad got married. Its going to be a tough day for Mum, so I’m glad I’m spending the day with her. Times like this.. family is king. And I still miss my Dad. So much.

This last week has been… well. I won’t say the week from Hell as its not all been unpleasant, but it has been frantically frantically busy, and I’ve been existing on far too little sleep for the most part of it. Add to that all the stuff that was going on at home and today, well, last night really, was the first chance I had to sit down and just breathe and be still.

I had – officially – an essay due in on 10th March, on Hammurabi, but given that there was also an essay due in 3 days before on Greek Theatre (which I’ve handed in) the teacher has been flexible about the hand in date for that essay, so I set myself the unofficial hand in date of 17th March, a week later.

All well and dandy except..

Monday also saw the first day of the builders being here. Employed by the housing, its part of the rolling programme of improvements to all their properties that they’re doing over a very long period of time. They ripped out the tiling on day one. Sunday night we had to remove everything from the bathroom and move my crafting cupboard away from the wall cupboard which has the water cock in it. That’s led to a week of things all being in the wrong place. Michiel had to take care of letting them in as I was – of course – at college, learning about the fall of the Roman Republic.

[we've been given an unofficial task for that class, on 4th April we have to do a group presentation for the class, in groups of 4, all of us working on different subjects - our group has to cover the Gallic Wars. all well and good, and i understand why, its preparation for Uni where its a common tool but the people in the group aren't communicating with me. Whether they can't be arsed to do this or they are just plain ignoring my emails (probably a mix of both), I don't know. but it makes it difficult and kind of stops me enjoying the classes at the moment, as I'm all tense, waiting for them to show up. which they haven't, for the last 2 weeks. the one blessing is that its not marked work, so if this continues I shall just have a quiet word with the teacher and explain what has happened, and offer to do it on my own. Which is kind of missing the point, somewhat, but still.]

Monday afternoon I did some final research work for my essay on Hammurabi and packed.

Tuesday we had a class on Archaeological remains – Taphonomy – learning about Star Carr and mesolithic sites in Britain. It was an interesting class but it was split by a pretty useless talk on student finance – she presented it in general terms, and any specific questions she answered with “call student finance england about that”. *sighs*. it meant that the teacher had to rush to finish the rest of the class on Starr Carr, and in fact, we never did really finish it, we ran out of time.  Tuesday afternoon I went to the library at the college and tried to do my essay on Hammurabi. I got so far, but then I had to go – me and my suitcase were off to Leicester to visit the Uni there.

The bus from the college to the station was late, leaving me to run around like a demented chicken, then turned out the train from Manchester to Sheffield was late, so I needn’t have run around like a demented chicken, and even worse, it was rush hour, so we all crammed into the train like sardines. Get to Sheffield and run around like a demented chicken again, looking for my connecting train to Leicester before it leaves. Find a nice seat (finally!) and relax for all of 50 minutes before landing at Leicester at 8.30pm. Get a taxi to the hotel and checked in…

… and suddenly felt terribly lonely.

I hopped online (had my laptop and mobile broadband dongle with me) so I could talk with Michiel, which alleviated some of the loneliness, and then had an early night. 6 am I was up, having a shower, and an early eat-as-much-as-you-like cooked breakfast in the hotel dining room (sausages, beans, scrambled egg, toast, croissants, lots and lots of coffee and orange juice) before I packed up, checked out and headed to the University.

[I should explain at this point that a week before, on 9th March, Michiel and I had visited Lancaster University, one of my other considerations. While they welcomed us and made every effort to provide communication support (as have all the unis, when I requested it), I didn't feel comfortable at Lancaster. Its a campus uni, out in the countryside, and it reminded me far too much of boarding school for me to ever feel comfortable there. In fact, I spent the whole day feeling slightly ill and it wasn't until later that I realised why. Its a shame, because I really liked Lancaster (the town) itself, its a lovely market town, but I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable enough to study there for three years. I had also, in February, visited Manchester Metropolitan University (the old Poly) and was very impressed with them. Our archaeology teacher had also arranged an archaeology day at Manchester University on 8th March, which gave us an insight into what it would be like studying archaeology there, with talks from different professors and doctors on their specialities. One was on Star Carr - very useful! - another was by a man working on Easter Island, and was very very interesting, pointed out that so often people look at monumental structure like the Easter Island statues and ask why? when, really, maybe the question they should be considering is the journey that they would make to get that statue built and from X to Y. I haven't applied to go to Manchester University, though, so that's one out of consideration. Still, I've been getting a good overview and ability to compare universities out of all these visits.]

Leicester … I got a good feel from. The University is more like Manchester/MMU in the sense that its very close to the main town, but is surrounded by parkland and greenery, so it feels a very pleasant campus to be on. Its small (on the ground, at least, there are several towers at the Uni – the ship, the transformer and the cheesegrater!) – you can walk across it in 10 minutes – and it makes sense, the layout – I was telling the interpreters where to go by lunchtime – unlike Lancaster which was very sprawling and took ages to get anywhere. I liked the course structure – at Lancaster you have to do 2 minor subjects in your first year, which have to be different to the History I want to study. While I could find some subjects I like the look of (creative writing, for example), its a diversion from what I really want to do. Leicester doesn’t faff around with that. But like Lancaster and MMU, the first year is dedicated towards giving the student an overall arching theme of history, along with learning the techniques of being a historian, and then in the second year, you choose a variety of modules that are designed to build your own degree and specialisations. In the third year you do a dissertation and more chosen modules, as well as a special subject. Just about all the history degrees I’ve chosen to apply for are structured in this way as I think its something that would suit me admirably. But, back to Leicester: The student’s union has recently been revamped (take note, MMU!) and is very pleasant to be in and around. The library is wonderful – open 24 hours a day (music to my ears) and apparently the library toilets are so famous they have their own facebook page! There are lots of societies – including a Viking society which sounds SO much fun (Lancaster has an archery society which I would love to do again), dressing up in Viking gear and running around screaming!! The town, like Manchester, is home to two universities (De Montefort being the other) and as such as a very high student population. This is good because it means the student pound is important to the town and there are lots of bargains to be had, as well as rentals around the university. So all in all, Leicester is looking good, although I still have a couple more Unis to visit – the University of East Anglia at Norwich, on 30th March, and possibly one more, possibly on 6th/7th April, but I won’t hear about that one for some time yet.

My day at the University was over and done with by 3pm, and one of my interpreters very kindly gave me a lift back to the station. Unfortunately my train wasn’t until 6.15pm so I found a pub and had a coke, read until it was time to go, via Birmingham New Street, back to Manchester. I finally got home that day just before 10pm. Unpacked, had something to eat, briefly watched NCIS to try to unwind, then hit the sack.

While I was gone, however, the builders had ripped out the bathroom. toilet, sink, bath, they’d all gone. In their place was a new bath, new toilet, new sink, although they were yet, at that point, to do the tiling or fit the shower (they’d done the electrical fittings for the shower – big cable hanging out of the wall). It looked a mess, but they were good in making sure Michiel was happy with it all, but it meant a whole week of Michiel being up at 7am with me and since he still wasn’t getting to bed early, he was existing on around 4 hours of sleep each day. Not good.

Thursday morning I managed to get up and stagger into college. Had a class on the New Kingdom of Egypt (the Amarna Period, Akhenaten n all that), before staggering home and collapsing into bed for an hour. Tried to have a quiet relaxing evening – the builders had finished the tiling and put the shower in – before Friday…

Friday saw us up at 7am, again. The builders were coming to finish the bathroom, put in all the sealant stuff and fit the new floor. Michiel and I had to go to the hospital for me to have a colposcopy, previous pap smears had detected precancerous cells and the hospital wanted me to go there to have them excised with a laser. I was nervous about this – I knew it was going to hurt – and because the builders were coming too Michiel had arranged for Jay to be here to flatsit while we did the hospital visit. It was uncomfortable, very uncomfortable, from the local anaesthetic injected into my cervix through to the laser (and the smell of my burning flesh – they had a TV Screen, so she could see in detail from the scope what my cervix was like, very interesting to begin with but after she started with the laser, I couldn’t watch. I just couldn’t), it was highly unpleasant, but fast – the procedure was done in 10 minutes, which was the one good thing about it. 15 minutes after arriving in the clinic we were on the bus home, and after I got home, I crashed for a couple hours, sleeping off the worst of the pain and recovering some from the horrible week. Not really a moment to myself, not a moment to think, always someone needing something. I’ve not had a week like that for a long time and I hope i don’t have one again for a long long time! There’s not a lot of pain at the moment, some pain, which I’m knocking back painkillers for but I’m not worried. They said to allow a weeks’ healing time from the procedure, some people have to take a week off work, but I’m not doing that. I don’t have the time to do that!

On the plus side… the bathroom is now done and looks great. And we have a shower!

On the negative side… I still haven’t finished the Hammurabi Essay. *sighs*. but I aim to get it finished this weekend, and handed in on Monday. We’ve definitely no class on Tuesday (the moderator is visiting the college so the head teacher has made an executive decision to cancel classes to get the paperwork straight) and very probably no class on Thursday either, which is good, as it frees up almost an entire week for me to get some work done.

On 29th March, an essay on Roman Britain (on Wroxeter) is due in. Later that day I travel to Norwich, in a five hour train ride, for the visit day on 30th March, then home later that day. That will be tiring, although, since its a single train journey (no changes) I am hoping it will be less tiring than the trip to Leicester.

On 4th April we have this presentation on the Gallic Wars. *sighs*.

On 6th/7th April I may have this other University visit.

On 11th April I have an exam, on 4th Century Greece.

On 14th April we break for 3 weeks for Easter.

Thank god, is all I can say.

I got an essay back today. (still two with the teacher, and one I’m handing in tomorrow). 3 more distinctions, which brings my total to 13 distinctions out of 15, 7 for Archaeology and 6 for History. This is for the Archaic Greece essay, which is the first one I did after Dad’s death, and one of the hardest I’ve had to do (for that reason). In fact, I was just sitting down to write it when I got the news. Its not one of my best essays, so to still get three distinctions for it makes me really happy.

Remarks by the teacher: “Good. A very sound and well written piece that clearly meets the requirements of a very sound piece of work. Well written and well structured. No major problems here. An excellent effort for a first piece on this course. Well done!” (clearly “Sources of History” doesn’t count for the first piece of work.. !)

I’ve also heard from a fourth university. They’ve made a conditional offer, they want 75% of the marks to be distinctions, with the rest at merit, which is pretty tough. I’ve now heard from 4 of my 5 universities, all making offers. The final one is taking a little longer to decide, I have heard from them in that they are making their decisions now, and I will hear from them after 19th March. So, no decision making yet, but it is hanging over me. Have visited one university already, and I was very impressed with them. Visiting another on March 9th (hopefully), and another on March 16th (definitely, its all booked), and the fourth on March 30th (hopefully). The fifth is holding interviews on 3rd/4th April, so we’ll see if I get invited to interview, I’ve been told no offers without an interview, so we’ll see. Yes, I’m being very mysterious but i don’t want to jinx anything just yet. I will, however, write my impressions of the various universities down after each visit, post them on here, with their full names… after I’ve chosen my firm and insurance selections, sometime towards may/june (the deadline for me making a decision depends on when the final university makes its offer – if they decide late, i get more time before I *have* to make a decision).

Also: next Tuesday (8th) the whole class is off to Manchester Uni who is putting on an Archaeology day for the class, which should be fun. We’ve got other field trips coming up, including a big one – not sure where this will be yet, maybe Vindolanda (on Hadrian’s Wall) or York. Personally, I’m hoping for York. I like my creature comforts! (see, this is why I would make a terrible archaeologist.. i hate mud. I like archaeology for what it can offer in terms of knowledge, but I’d far rather other people dig it out of the ground for me…!)

I’ve also got a trip to hospital as an inpatient on 18th, my retinopathy appointment on 4th, oh, and I’ve had diabetes results back too. all looking very very good (will update diabetes page)  – except my weight. it’s crept up over the last 5 months.. not a lot, but I need to halt that and reverse it.. pronto!

Since i’ve started losing weight, i’ve been hesitant about getting rid of my old clothes, the ones that no longer fit me.

I guess i was scared – that if i took the step of getting rid of them, and then put weight back on, i’d have to buy all these clothes all over again. It just felt.. scary, too scary, to look at these clothes and admit that i’d never wear them again. Scary to admit that i’m changing, that i’m not the old, fat keth. its a bit like when i tried the black dress on, and felt surprisingly sad, when it was too big for me.

That changed, as of yesterday. I went through my wardrobe, and was ruthless. Gok would’ve been proud of me! i got rid of almost half my wardrobe, keeping only the things that fit me, things that i wanted to keep for sentimental reasons (like that black dress), or things i knew could be reused/reworked to make something that would fit me. Scary, still so very scary, and i so wanted to get things out of the bags and keep them, but i tried them on, and was finally forced to admit – even the things that were only marginally too big.. just looked plain awful.

I can see now that I’ve been dressing wrong for years. baggy shirts and jumpers, to try to cover up the flab. It doesn’t work – i just look like the side of a house. Still, i know better now.

But more importantly is the recognition of what this step means. It means i’ve accepted the new, thinner keth, in my mind. I’ve accepted that this is here to stay, that i’m never going to go back to the old, fat keth. I’ve still some to lose, but i’m thinking like a thinner person now, holding myself with pride, and liking the way i look. I looked at myself in the mirror on holiday a few times and didn’t recognise myself. I looked PRETTY. Beautiful, almost. most definitely a new keth.

and that was a huge step forward for me too. liking the way i look.. i’ve felt that very very few times before in my life. i like that feeling, and i want to keep it.

In other news.. I had the first of 5 Vitamin B12 injections today. it hurt, but not as badly as i had feared. another one in a couple of days. I weighed myself this morning. Major milestone! I broke through the 200 pound barrier! I’ve been hovering on it for so long, that it felt like i would never manage to break through it! I’m now 198 pounds – or 14 stone 2 – and the next barrier to break will be the 14 stone mark. But the big one i’m aiming for at the moment is to get my waist size down to less than 88 cm. If i can do that, then my fat cells stop producing a certain hormone which is what makes me insulin resistant.. and this will enable my body to cope with my diabetes *much* more easily. I’m hoping to have hit that 88cm mark by Christmas… fingers crossed, i can do it!!

I’ve had a bit of a break from blogging again – not because of depression, though, this time! I simply ran out of time to update the blog how i wanted to before i went on holiday to Germany (with details of dresses and skirts i’d made) .. and then i was on holiday – we only got back a few days ago.

We had a great time in Germany – visited Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, which was an extremely interesting place to visit, and well worth the long drive – and spent time with family, of course – and i had my first ever Dutch-style birthday! It involves lots of singing.. !!! I took lots of photos, of course, which i will be posting on flickr (especially now i have a new computer which is much faster than my old one)

however, that’s not the news i’m so excited about.

I had confirmation earlier today that i am officially now a student! I start my Access to Higher Education course on 13th September, studying History, and, if i get the grades (and the funding sorted out), will be going on to University to study some kind of History degree in Sept 2011. Exactly what kind of history degree i don’t yet know – the university have several degrees within the general area of history, and then there’s the option of combined degree courses, but i have about 6-9 months to decide that.

For now, though, i’m just really really excited about this – its probably the last chance i have to get to study at this higher level, and its a subject i also find really really interesting. I can’t wait!

In terms of my diabetes, i had a check up at the beginning of August. My Hb1Ac is at the same level, and the cholesterol ranges have moved in the right directions, so Cathy (diabetes nurse) is absolutely over the moon with my progress. So am i – i’m now a size 18, heading downwards, and i’ve started running as well – just running/walking on and off at the moment, with Jess, as i build up my stamina, but its all exercise and its all good for me.. :) the only negative thing with regard to my diabetes is my vitamin levels. Apparently Metformin, the drug i take to help stabilise my blood sugar levels, can also inhibit the absorption of Vitamin B12, and that’s what’s happening with me. Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the more unpleasant ones – affecting memory and concentration, can cause dizziness and various other problems, none of which i need right now. Unfortunately the remedy in this case is injections, intramuscular injections, five times over the next two weeks, starting on monday, which is going to bloody well HURT. *sighs*. that starts on Monday…

ah well. its necessary. *wince*. Unfortunately.

and finally, spotted on a bus today: Stagecoach is no longer issuing free tickets with concessionary bus passes. FINALLY. Two and a half years after i wrote to them pointing out that they didn’t NEED to print the damn things, that they just wind up littering the floor of the bus and are very bad, environmentally speaking. Two and a half years after they said, in a reply to me, that they were “reviewing the need for the production of a ticket”. Jeeze. they move fast, don’t they?

Last night, of course, was the long awaited England vs USA World Cup opener. (You’d have to have been hibernating NOT to know about this, i think, even if you don’t watch any of the matches!). With not just one but two countries to support (The Netherlands needs supporting too – and god ‘elp me if it comes to England vs The Netherlands… !) of course we claimed our positions on the sofa last night when kick off came, and groaned and cheered through every agonising moment (well, Michiel did. I was half watching, being busy hand sewing a lace hem to a shirred top i’d made earlier that day – photos later, when i get it finished!).

The lessons learned? not so much the football as what goes *with* the football. I’d not had one of my monthly meal off the regime treats yet, so decided to lay claim to a bag of butter toffee popcorn that was calling out to me in the supermarket, crisps and those little mini scotch eggs that i love, and pizza, and make a night of it. So i pigged out. by the time the final whistle had blown, the popcorn had gone, the scotch eggs had gone, the crisps were half gone, and the pizza (only a 1/4 though) was soon to follow.

i measured my blood sugar shortly after the final whistle, just out of curiosity. 11.2 mmol!!! (normal range – that the body tries to keep the blood sugar to – is anything between 4 and 6 mmol, to give you some idea of how bad that is.) although its not THAT bad – from reading diabetic forums, there are some people who have 11.2 mmol blood sugar readings on a regular basis, which just makes me wince (I’ve read of some who go as high as 18. yowch).

Bu t that’s not really the lesson. The important part, and what i want to note down, is how we felt for the rest of the night. We both felt RAGINGLY thirsty. about 1am, Michiel wandered into the kitchen, doing the fridge explore, and grabbed a small box of cherry tomatoes. Popped one into his mouth, felt that wonderful cherry tomato explosion in his mouth and gave a groan worthy of me when i first had that haagen daaz icecream. He came back into the living room and handed one to me, telling me to eat it. I let out a matching groan. Funny how the body, now we’re not used to eating rubbish, craves the things that we know are good for us. There’s a packet of crisps in the kitchen now (which i bought for the Netherlands match, tomorrow), along with freshly baked bread. The thought of the crisps in particular makes my tummy churn. And i slept till 1pm this afternoon.

yes, i know. moderation is everything. but sometimes, just sometimes, you have to backslide spectacularly in order to know just how far you’ve come, you know?

lesson learned.

[this is rather a long, rambling entry, but i'm in the mood to write.... :) pull up a chair and get comfy!!]

one of the hardest things to learn as a diabetic and someone who loves her food is the concept of less is more. i don’t just mean in terms of simple calories, i mean now the whole idea of just having a taste of something.

You see, when given a bowl of a yummy pudding.. lets say.. ooh, my favorite. Apple and blackberry crumble with custard, as made by my grandmother (and her apple and blackberry crumble absolutely rocks!). a bowl of that is put in front of me. I’d have that first spoonful, the flavours hit my tongue, and i immediately want to experience it again. and again. and again. At that point, its not about being hungry, needing sustenance, its about needing to experience that burst of flavour and texture in my mouth – the sweetness and sourness of the apple and blackberry, the creaminess of the apple, the crunch and sweetness of the crumble, the velvetiness of the custard. No matter how much i savour each mouthful, i’m always racing to the next mouthful, and the next, till its all gone. and then… like Oliver, i want some more.

and i usually do have more. especially of gran’s apple and blackberry pudding, cos i don’t get it very often, which is, perhaps, understandable. but i’m exactly the same with other things in my life, even those things that i have plenty of – i’m an addict, in a way, addicted to sweetness and sugar and spice and fat and crunch and creaminess and all those things that feel so damn good in the mouth.. and which are so bad for you. I’ve never exercised restraint, except when on a diet, and its always been so hard – when on a diet, i’ll go the cold turkey route – avoiding sweet foods for as long as i can, as often as i can, but invariably something happens to break that and then.. i’m back at square one.

and that isn’t really dealing with addiction.. its just avoiding it. And food, unlike drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol, is a necessity for life, so its kind of hard to avoid completely.

As a diabetic, certain foods are inadvisable. However, i also know that i cannot go very long before i crack under the strain of self-denial. The book i have, which is written for Type 2 Diabetics (“Type 2 Diabetes: the first year” by Gretchern Becker) suggests that if you’re craving something you shouldn’t have, from the diabetic point of view, then learning to have a very small amount of said item, to be satisified with that, is an important part of learning to control one’s diabetes.

And as a fat person, as a foodie, as a food addict, i suppose, this is something so very very difficult for me. to have one taste, one, a small amount, and then to put the rest away. I’ve NEVER done this – always, i’ve eaten till its gone, or till i’m so full i cannot eat any more (or till i feel sick. Mom will tell you of the time i gorged on chocolate as a kid one easter till i *was* sick, if i remember rightly).

A lot of it is comfort eating. food is my friend: non judgemental, it’ll never reject me, and helps me to feel warm and comforted. even now, when i’m down/upset/unhappy, i turn to food – from sausage and mash with boiled onions and white sauce and peas (for me, the ultimate comfort meal, its like wrapping your arms around your tummy and hugging tight), through to a glorious sticky pudding, or some sweet, luxurious icecream from the freezer…. and then there’s chocolate. the ultimate comfort food, for me. I adore the way a square, placed on the tongue, begins to ooze and melt with my body heat. I adore the sweetness, the flavour, the velvety texture. of all the senses, i think my mouth is the most alive – if i could no longer taste, for some reason, i’d be devastated… i’d certainly find it very difficult to go on living. Its THAT important to me.

so to me, to have a taste, to put the rest away…. its like smelling a rose and not smelling it again. like having the best kiss from a lover, the kind that makes your toes curl and your heart burst with happiness.. and never experiencing that again. Life is grey, drab in comparison.

and that’s what i’m expected to learn to do. to learn to find contentment in that taste, to find satisfaction in that taste, to put it away, feeling relaxed, not resentful. and i honestly never thought i’d be able to even touch on those feelings in regard to this process, never mind fully experience it.

But to my amazement, i am learning. I bought a pot of haagen daaze strawberry cheesecake icecream a couple weeks ago. It was on special offer, a small pot, and while its dreadfully sinful (a lot of sugar!), its also a SMALL pot, so even if i did succumb to temptation, it wouldn’t do so much damage as if it was a huge one. well, that was my reasoning.. right?

the first night i sat down after dinner with a teaspoon and the open icecream and looked at it expectantly. pressed the side, where it was already melting. Inviting, oozingly. dug my spoon into the frozen mass, broke a chunk free, and lifted it to my mouth. and moaned, ecstacically, as the flavours broke over my tongue (and i should add, at this point, that Michiel ripped the pot and spoon from my hand and set out a similar moan when it hit his mouth, so it wasn’t just me…!). a second spoon followed.. then a third. “Go easy on that stuff”, Michiel warned me. i nodded, not really listening, intent on my usual pattern of gorging, spoon after spoon of the flavour, luxuriating in the sensations exploring my mouth, lost to the flavours, the textures, the sensualness of it.

and then something kicked in. I don’t know what it was, but after about 6 or 7 spoons… i’d suddenly had enough. It wasn’t the “OMG that’s now too sweet” feeling you have when you eat something that’s oversweet – i’ve had that before, and usually end up gorging through it. no, this was quite different. It was that contentment i touched on before. I’d quite simply had enough, and was content to put the lid on, put it back in the freezer, and leave the rest to be enjoyed another day. it was something to look forward to, maybe not even the next day or the day after, but at some point – like an old, and cherished book you own – there wasn’t this sensation, any more, of “must eat this NOW or it’ll be gone”.

I know what some of this is about, certainly. being at boarding school during my teenage, formative years, with very little privacy, and where i was bullied quite heavily, you learned to protect your food. Food was important – often, there was a choice of meals, and one was often better than the other. if you didn’t get in there fast, you’d be left with the rubbish choice. if you didn’t eat fast, if you had to get up to go get something else (like a sachet of tomato sauce), you might come back to the table to find your pudding gone. you learned to eat fast, too (setting up a pattern for years of overeating – something else i’ve had to learn how to do, to listen to when my stomach is saying “hey! you up there! enough already!”). Quite savage, really.

but that night, with the icecream, it was like … intellectually, i’d always known, as an adult, that i didn’t have to eat fast, but learning that emotionally is much much harder. and that night i finally listened.

and since then i’ve been able to do it with other things too. its a minor miracle to me, to be able to have a taste.. and put the rest away, without feeling the continual itch to go get more. sometimes i do still feel the itch for more, mostly when i’m already hungry, but denying myself that item because its not sensible at that point in time – and usually cos its right in front of me. An example would be last night: Michiel made some olive and feta bread, intended for dinner for tonight, and he asked me to cut and butter a couple pieces for him. In the interest of tasting, i had one very small bite of the bread myself, about a cm square piece (eating heavy carbs late at night is not a good thing for anyone, never mind a diabetic), and it tasted fabulous. and with it still being warm, smelling gorgeous, i had to really fight not to go and cut myself some more, made all the harder by my tummy actually rumbling. but i went to bed shortly after, and once the bedroom door was shut, the smell reduced quite considerably, the itch became much easier.

as a result, i’m finding it easier to keep to this new way of eating, this new diet, than i have before in my life. the weight is slowly dropping away again – I’m now just tipping under 15 stone, 14 stone 13 pounds, and i tried on a dress the other day. Its a dress i had bought for an office christmas do, back in about 1997, 98, a little black dress, and even then, it had been quite tightly fitting. At that period in my life i was on the lighter side, probably because my evening meals were at least a bit healthy (i was living at home then, and eating with mum and dad), and working, so i was getting more exercise than i would in later years, just moving around with daily life. i don’t remember exactly how heavy i was, i just remember being a little self conscious at the party that the dress was a little tight, and i wore a satin shirt over the top to disguise my lumps and bumps a bit.

wore it a few times more around that period, but after i moved out of mum and dad’s, i don’t think i wore it again – it just hung in the wardrobe, and i kept it, although i could never get into it.

Until the other night, anyway. not really expecting much, i slipped it off the hanger, and into it. the zipper runs up the back, so i asked Michiel to do it up, then turned and looked in the mirror.

It was loose.

i couldn’t believe it… it was actually LOOSE. i could pull the fabric away from my body. Still not pretty, still some unattractive spare tyres there, but… it fit. and didn’t look like i was busting out of the seams. i kept it on for a while, but later, getting out of it, i was upset. not crying upset, just sad. i felt like i was losing myself, in a way – not the dress, my fat. for so long the fat has defined who i am, i suppose, that losing it… its like losing me, in a way.

I’ve still got a long way to go – about 3 to 4 stone, but that was the first time i really felt i was making progress, i think. Oh, i knew i’d lost weight from my jeans, my belt – i can push jeans that i bought before christmas over my hips, now, even when they’re done up, and i’ve had to have more holes cut into my belts, little things like that, but i suppose you tell yourself that your jeans stretched, or whatever. its only when you climb into something like that dress that you really realise the progress you’ve made. and then, of course, that progress is, to a certain extent, self perpetuating. you look at the biscuit, or whatever is tempting you at that point in time, and think “but.. the progress!”. for me, this is another sticking point: I have to focus on NOT dieting, strange as it may seem. yes, i need to stick to the healthy diet (especially suitable for a diabetic) but that’s quite different to “dieting”. I think most women reading this are probably nodding at this point, but to belabour the point, for me, dieting is about going hungry, feeling you’re self sacrificing, going without, in order to lose weight – its a short term thing, in order to shift a few pounds. we’ve all heard people say it, hell, we’ve all SAID it.. “oh, no, I’m on a diet”. And that’s what i have to NOT do, because if i do, it gets me into the (dangerous) pattern of yo-yo weight loss – gain, loss, gain, loss – and that’s to be avoided at all costs. The one plus i have on my side is that i’ve never really done that – yes, i’ve lost and gained weight at various points in my life, but its always been a steady weight gain or loss, slow, and that means that my body doesn’t automatically go into starvation mode when i cut back even a little bit on food – and that’s a terrible problem that some people have to deal with. I, thankfully, don’t.

the temptation, for me, with “dieting” is to eat a light meal – to deliberately skimp on eating amounts, in order to try to lose weight, and this is the wrong thing to do – because what it does, is to set up a situation later, where i’m starving – and then i turn to food that’s bad for me, or i gorge. I have to resist the temptation and have a good meal, when i do eat – a healthy one, yes, but i have to make sure that i’m full, and then i can last till my next mealtime without that temptation to snack – which in me, is fatal.

At the same time… despite the progress i’m making, i’m impatient. i look down at my body, and think how little has changed. my spare tyres are still there. my bum still wobbles most unattractively. i still have podgy, sausagey fingers. i long for slender fingers – i’ve inherited my paternal grandmother’s fingers, long, with lovely nail shapes, and she always kept them looking lovely. And then, later, i’m struck by how much has changed. my rings are loose. i have one ring, which my parents gave me when i was about 18 or 19, a celtic style silver ring which i wear on the third finger of my right hand. always. i couldn’t get it off for a long time, although i could still twist it around, so it wasn’t quite at the point of growing into me, but it was certainly getting there – a sort of imprint, permanently left in that finger. i can get it off now, in the bath, at least. it twists a lot more easily – i often look down to see that the band has gone all the way around my finger, and the celtic pattern is on the inside. Its similar with my other ring that i wear always, that Michiel gave me for christmas – i don’t know how much longer i’ll be able to wear that, it’ll probably have to be resized. i can certainly wear it now on the fattest finger (my middle finger), which i could not have done before christmas. Other things, at odd times, strike me. putting my hand on my tummy, occasionally, and feeling that the shape has changed. instead of my tummy button resting at a diagonal, its now flat. the upper spare tyre of the two is flattening, slowly. i looked down at my jeans the other day to see, again, with a shock, that my upper legs were actually relatively slender. and some skirts/trousers i’ll probably never be able to wear again.

don’t get me wrong, i’m not complaining about losing weight. god knows, there’s a lot of people out there who are wishing they could too, i’m well aware of that. its just that there’s been a lot of stuff rolling around in my head over the last few weeks and it feels good to get it all out onto a keyboard, to let go of it….

Three months has come and gone since i first started bringing my diabetes under control (January of this year). in that time, my weight loss has slowed – plateaued – and i’ve become very frustrated with it. I’m now at 212 pounds, or 15 stone 2 pounds, after weeks being stuck at 15 stone 4 pounds. And, perhaps more importantly from the point of view of my health, i’ve had the results today of various tests taken on 7th April.

First the all important Hb1Ac. This is a kind of overview, a kind of average of how i’ve done over the previous three months. it actually measures the amount of sugar “stuck” to a red blood cell, and since the average life of a red blood cell is 3 months.. you get the idea. My last Hb1Ac result, when i was diagnosed in November last year, was 7.2%. A good reading should be under 6.5%, or more than 4.1%.

My reading from 7th April was 5.5%, which is absolutely perfect. Cathy, my DSN, was over the moon about it, really really pleased that i’d gotten my diabetes under control so effectively, so we’re both really pleased about that.

My cholesterol results, which i was more worried about, since i have had no idea how i was doing  (I can test my blood sugar, i can’t test my cholesterol, not without getting it sent off anyway), and it was serious enough last time, that if i had not told Cathy already that we want children, I’d have been put on statins (statins are not a good thing to take if you want children).

to cut a long story short – my total cholesterol has fallen from 5 to 4.5, which is good, heading in the right direction (although it needs to fall some more yet). My HDL (the good stuff) has risen, and my trigs (the really bad stuff) has dropped, a lot, which is tremendous news, and a sign i’m on the right path. what hasn’t moved in the right direction is my LDL, and this, i need to work on, but its the only small bit of bad news in the results otherwise, so i’m really really pleased with it.

I also had both my liver and kidney functions tested and both have come back clear, which is also really fantastic news.

I had an intensive talk with Cathy about my weight loss. She pointed out that i was being rather unreasonable (although she said it was understandable, given that so called diet gurus tell you to lose 1-2 lbs a week), that they actually only want you to lose 5% of your weight in 3 months, because if you lose more than that, you run the risk of putting it back on, and falling into yo-yo dieting patterns. If it doesn’t sound too wierd i actually  have to STOP dieting. LOL.  She weighed me and said that i had a) lost 5% of my body weight since January, more than 5% actually, b) that i was only 3 pounds off losing 10% of my body weight since November (and remember, i didn’t do anything about healthy eating over xmas), and i’ve still got a few weeks left before its May and 6 months, and that c) according to her figures, i’ve lost almost 2 stone since January.  So we discussed a way forward – i said i was getting very disillusioned by the plateau, and falling victim to the “oh well i might as well, since i’ve not lost any”, and reach for something that i know is bad for me.. the old “a little bit won’t hurt” and deluding myself as to what a little bit is – and of course, that is how i got myself into this pickle to begin with (the weight, not the diabetes)!!!

So.. i have to keep on keeping on.. keep on with the meds, keep on with the finger stabbing, the food diary recording.. i suppose i knew this, this isn’t a diet, this is my new life, but i suppose i felt, i hoped, with the early days and the weight was just dropping off me, i felt i’d really hit the key – cutting out carbs – and i’m realising now that its not that simple.

oh well. Life rarely is, i suppose.

Back to the grindstone….

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