Blogaversary 2 on World Diabetes Day 2014

Spinnaker Tower on World Diabetes DayIt’s hard to believe yet another year has gone by in the Diabetes world, here’s a little bit about what’s been going on.

But first, it’s my blog’s birthday; 2 years old today (well actually yesterday but let’s not worry about that minor fib). Its visits have doubled since the first year’s statistics: I’m pretty darn amazed with that. What really pleases me is that I can see from the stats that people have searched Google and found the answers in my site, that’s kind of why I started it in the first place.

In December 2013 my daughter Emilia decided to take part in the TrialNet study at Bournemouth. It was two long months before we found out her results (and mine) were negative which pleased us, although we were saddened to hear that a friend’s result was positive.

Christmas and Amy’s Diaversary (29th Dec) came and went and her 6 month old Animas Vibe insulin pump made life easier during the festive period.

Amy and KevEarly in the new year I started my shifts as a national peer supporter for Diabetes UK, answering phone calls once a week and helping people find solutions to problems, or giving them ideas from the experiences we’ve had in the family. It’s proved to be really rewarding.

AccuChekInsight1March was a whirlwind on a particular day, the 15th, which saw us have two back-to-back diabetes events, doing their impressions of buses and policemen (none around, then there’s two). The first was an education day held by the local Type 1 families group Seahawks where amongst many other things I got to check out Roche’s latest pump, the Insight. It a great event and I was sad to rush away from just after lunch. But rush we must as Amy was doing a sponsored Indoor Skydiving in aid of JDRF along with lots of kids we knew pretty well; she loved it, every minute of it.

dblogweek squareIn May I joined in with blog week and I remember how nervous I felt when releasing my poem for Tuesday’s entry: A Childhood All Gone. It turns out I needn’t have been so nervous and I think that’s turned out to be my most favourited/Retweeted/Liked blog post ever.

flatline-dayEarlier in March Animas got the green light for use of the Vibe pump with Dexcom CGM for children, something we’d be waiting for since June the previous year. One year after getting her pump Amy went live with CGM and what an eye-opener that turned out to be.

twitteravatarJune also saw me cycling 100km around London overnight with a group of friends in the Nightrider charity event, where my local group of 8 raised £2700 for JDRF. On the plus side the training for it and switching to a healthier diet has also seen me shed 1.5 stone.

My personal highlights for this last year though involve each one of my kids. First Amy spoke in front of hundreds of Paediatric Health Care Professionals in a transition chat set up by the wonderful Dr Kar from QA Hospital in Portsmouth. Secondly, it was Emilia’s prom and a combination of pride and tiredness (from Dad-taxi pick ups at 3am) made me quite reflective: The Forgotten Sibling.

#DBlogWeek 2014 Day 1 – Change the world

dblog week 2014Monday’s topic:Let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up.


One of the (many) things that gets me fired up is the headline ‘diabetes is going to bankrupt the NHS’ that you see splattered in news stories occasionally. Articles appear in many online media article, like The Guardian, Sky, The Express and The Daily Mail. At least the NHS filled us in on the stats.

As well as the stories we hear that the people with the purse strings want to privatise elements of the NHS to farm off their ‘problem’. Yet at the same time some of the advice or practises seem to either waste money of give advice which is contrary to current thinking.

 
Without the NHS I see that our family could be missing one rather special thing, Amy.

My ‘change the world’ blog is more about changing the minds of those in Government and my words to them are simple:
Back off.
Change your plans.
Do you realise what an asset you have, the envy of a world which looks at the NHS for the care that it gives, not the money that it costs?

Rather than stop there I’ve got some ideas on how you can change things, although nothing below is diabetes related. As a caveat I have absolutely no medical training, so the following might just be stupid pipe-dreams born from reading and misunderstanding things far more complicated than I realise.

  • Change your focus on Cholesterol and get rid of the Eat-Ill plate – ok it’s the Eat-Well plate really – and prescribe some decent modern up-to-date advice, to adults, to parents but most of all to kids. You’ve got fantastic support from the likes of Zoe Harcombe (@zoeharcombe), so use it and rid Britain of this metabolic disease. Less obese people means less money you’ll have to spend on medication.
  • Only prescribe Statins to those that actually need them. The NHS already knows it’s over prescribing statins. You’ve got fantastic support from the likes of Dr Asseem Malhotra (@DrAseemMalhotra), so use it and save some of your budget.
  • Make sure that nothing can be prescribed on the basis of a single ‘high cholesterol’ figure which isn’t broken down. I’m happy to have high cholesterol if it’s all HDL or the ‘good’ LDL. This one will of course help the one above.
  • Come to think of it if the EatWell (*ahem*) Plate was changed and favoured less carbohydrate wouldn’t that reduce your bills for Metformin and Insulin? Remind me how much that costs you again.
  • Surely millions could be saved by giving easy and cheap access to sport and leisure. There’s thousands of homes soon to be built near where I live and work but I don’t see cycle lanes high on the agenda but they could be and it could all be paid for by the developers, not you, just make them do it. There will be lots of parking no doubt for fuel guzzling cars. Tell me, in the long term will you ‘gain’ more money from cars or making people healthier?
  • You know that all types of Diabetes are growing, so how come you are investing less than many countries? JDRF’s CountMeIn campaign has hopefully shown the Government how low our research grant is compared to other countries. You have numerous MPs in the likes of George Howarth, Caroline Noakes and Jamie Reed who could tell you lots more. So, up the research grant, help find a cure and/or prevention and help eradicate diabetes full-stop.
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    dblog week 2014

Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – the final day

This article is about my involvement with Gav’s challenge, where I cycled next to him during the last four days of his challenge, whilst he ran 30 miles or more each day for JDRF and DiabetesUK.
If you’re expecting to find out about how Gav got on with his diabetes or running you’re going to be disappointed, you’ll have to wait and buy the book or attend one of his talks. Sorry but his tale is his to tell, not mine.

Donation, donation, donation

If you’d like to donate to Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge fundraising pot please click this: http://bit.ly/gbr3030donate

Sunday, 26th May 2013 – St Agnes to Land’s End

Today’s route was going to be a tough one, at least 35 miles and having a 500ft hill towards the end.
Early on whilst planning this route I tried to convince Gav to start from somewhere further south, maybe Portreath or the Hell’s Mouth Cafe, so as to shorten the distance and make it easier on himself. Gav was having none of my advice and replied to one email with “If I’ve made it that far on the GBR30/30 then nothing will stop me, I will conquer any hills and any distance”…or something like that.
I felt for Matthew (Wood), Gav’s friend who ran with him on day one of the challenge starting at John O’ Groats; I don’t think he knew anything about this; I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about this. I knew Matthew had completed marathons but 35 milers, up big hills. I decided my best policy was to keep quiet about the route as Matthew followed me on Twitter.
Personally, I was never going to start from St Agnes as I was camping down near Leedstown, near Hayle, so I’d always planned to start from me, which meant I’d accompany Gav and Matthew for the last 20 miles.

Gav’s (planned) route, my route and elevation

Gav’s planned route was as follows – I say planned route as Gav decided that he hadn’t seen enough of Great Britain on his travels and decided to take a wrong turn, turning this planned 35 mile day into 40 miles!. I joined them at Hayle, roughly where the green triangle is shown:
GBR30/30 Challenge, Day 30, route map

Feeling guilty, getting nervous

Waking up to a glorious sunny day at the campsite my family and I chilled out around the pool, before I headed of to meet Gav and Mat shortly after lunch. In a way I felt a little guilty about this but in honestly laying by the pool felt great. After doing over 80 miles on my bike so far I, or more to the point my bottom, was glad of the break.
I was starting to feel nervous, a strange feeling that I’d not had on any of the previous days. I knew why: I’m no cyclist or athlete and I really didn’t want to muck up Gav’s big day by being too slow etc.. It was stupid really, I knew it was but I couldn’t do anything about it.

The “Where’s Gav?” Game

Jane drove me and my bike to the meeting point as we’d had no word from Gav. This was no surprise once we found out he was lost. Jane drove me up country lane after country lane trying to find the missing runners but we never did find them, so we went back to the meet point and eventually Gav and Matthew turned up, looking pretty fresh considering they’d already run about 20 miles.

Off we, erm I, go

Setting off from Hayle I felt supremely confident about the route: I didn’t really need a map; I consider this part of Cornwall as like a second home having spent so much time around these parts.
Along the Hayle estuary, onto the A30, off to Penzance, up the hill past Drift and then Land’s End. It couldn’t have been simpler I thought, forgetting that these guys who had already run 20 miles still had 20 to go. I was on a bike and much of it was downhill, so on came the (slight) guilt again.
Whilst much of it was on the A30 the route was generally beautiful, with Kites and Buzzards flying around us, sea alternating from this side to that and back again.

A chance meeting – this is what GBR30/30 is all about

On the A30 we stopped in a lay by for Gav to test his blood glucose. A random Land Rover pulled up and out go two people and walked over to us. It seemed a little strange at first.
“Hi” they said and told us that they’d followed the GBR30/30 information on Facebook and just wanted to come and meet Gav and say hello. They lived in Truro where the female was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes within the last year, aged 29. She was inspired by Gav and his challenge and just wanted to say “hi”. This to me epitomises GBR30/30: to bring awareness to people diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes so that they can see that the can achieve great things, they may need to work around/with diabetes but it need not stop them. It was fitting that this encounter happened on the last day of the GBR30/30.

Water, water, give me water, says Gav

The route I’d planned would see Gav running into Penzance around the beautiful bay, in front of the mighty St Michael’s Mount. Things changed though when Gav saw the sea and he decided to go in for a little paddle, to help soothe his legs.
GBR3030 tweet about Gav having a paddle

Gav stands proudly in front of St Michael’s Mount, with 12 miles to go until Land’s End:
Gav in front of St Michael's Mount

So much support

At Penzance we met with everyone else before the final push. Well, I say push as it was nothing, it was still TEN MILES. That’s a distance I couldn’t run in a week, let alone one day where 30 miles had already been run. Knowing how slow I am at going up hills and not wanting to slow Gav/Matthew down I put my bike on the car and got taken to the next meet point and cycled on from there. In my mind the hill was too steep for me but as I drove up it I was truly gutted I didn’t attempt it.

Growing Oceans

Gav powered on towards Land’s End whilst I stayed at the back cycling behind Matthew, who had already run one of his furthest distances ever but still had 5 miles to go. I tried offering some encouragement but stayed away from the “just one more hill” comment as I could never be sure. Gav was on a mission, there was no way we were going to catch him up and I knew at this point that I wouldn’t get to see Gav finish at Land’s End, yet it didn’t matter as Matthew seemed to need my support more than Gav did at the moment.
The oceans grew bigger and bigger as the horizon opened up in front of us. We could see clouds on the horizon, or was it, no, actually, that’s the Isles of Scilly. Wow!

The last push

Safe in the assumption that Gav had already finished, Matthew strode on, passing the first/last pub in England, going through Sennen and finally on the straight towards the Land’s End Visitor Centre.
Gav’s Dad Vince was waiting with the Olympic Torch for Matt to pick up and run with.
Matt strode on, we could hear cheers getting louder and louder pulling Matthew towards the finish line.

Fantastic end

Everyone celebrated together, one big team, those that had done it, those that had supported it, all happy together. Gav looked knackered but elated, drenched in champagne. Now it was time for the photos at the signpost and this seemed to go on forever.
Other kids just there for the day saw the Olympic Torch and had their pictures taken with it; anyone we told about what Gav had just completed was amazed, many saying “ran, did you say ran?” to me; the photo taking went on and on.

Gav’s last day run video

A short video of Gav’s run, with some of the photos at the end

Matthew’s last day run video

Much more footage of Matthew, because I stayed with him for support

And finally…

Gavin and me at Land's End

Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – Day 28 to Gav, day 2 to me

This article is about my involvement with Gav’s challenge, where I cycled next to him during the last four days of his challenge, whilst he ran 30 miles or more each day for JDRF and DiabetesUK.
If you’re expecting to find out about how Gav got on with his diabetes or running you’re going to be disappointed, you’ll have to wait and buy the book or attend one of his talks. Sorry but his tale is his to tell, not mine.

Donation, donation, donation

If you’d like to donate to Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge fundraising pot please click this: http://bit.ly/gbr3030donate

Friday, 24th May 013 – Plymouth to Bodmin

Today would see us leave from Home Park, the home of Plymouth Football Club and attempt to make it to Bodmin, over some hills potentially worse than yesterday. At least yesterday’s hills were at the start, today they were all the way through.

The planned route and elevation

Today’s route on flat land was due to be 33.1 miles, or 53.3km in new money.
You can click on the map to show it in Google maps:

Oh my God, my legs hurt

After the longest ride I’d ever done and a couple of pints of (medicinal!) cider later I’d almost fallen asleep in my dinner, but typically didn’t sleep once in bed as my legs were shouting “you idiot, why didn’t you do a bit more cycle training for this!” at me throughout the night.
They didn’t feel any better in the morning.
I compared the elevation plans for yesterday and today, with dread.

Crossing the Tamar

Gav and I set off from Plymouth Argyle FC’s ground, home park and headed towards the Tamar Bridge. As we got nearer it struck me that this was a momentous time as Gavin stepped foot into the last county in Great Britain, leaving him with around 90 miles still left.

It’s pretty but it’s hilly

The countryside around us as we went north turned into rolling hills, often full of ripening rapeseed.

A slight headwind

The hills meant I’d lost Gavin once again as he surged forward as if they were flat. I had no idea how far behind I was but kept on going up the hills hoping to catch him up at some point before the next checkpoint at Quethiock.
The wind was heading directly towards us for most of the day but only became a real problem when out in the open. Here’s a sample of what we faced, see how the wires sway and the speed of the clouds. The shaky camera was caused by the gusts:

Where’s Gav?

I reached Quethiock and found my Dad there waiting with a sandwich for my lunch, but where was Gav? He was way ahead of me, but I’d caned it down any available hills and never caught up with him. He called, he was at Blunts, a village I’d passed through 2.4 miles beforehand. He was lost and had done far too many miles already, but luckily his aunt and sister were with him.

I didn’t quite make it

After Quethiock I pressed on but due to pretty steep hills and an horrendous gusting wind I called it a day at Liskeard, having done only 21 miles. If there’d been no wind I’m sure I would have managed the full distance. I guess I’d only set out to cycle 100 miles with Gav, that’s 25 a day and I’d already covered 57 in two days, but I was disappointed about stopping early.
The route I covered was:

Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – Running from John O’Groats to Land’s End

You know most of this already right?

There can’t be many people in the UK who use the internet and have some association with Type 1 Diabetes but haven’t heard about 21 year old Gavin Griffiths’s amazing challenge of running 900 miles between John O’Groats and Land’s End, over 30 days. If you haven’t heard about it then take a look at Gavin’s web site: http://diathlete.org/the-gbr-30-30-challenge/

Donation, donation, donation

If you’d like to donate to Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge fundraising pot please click this: http://bit.ly/gbr3030donate

How did we get involved?

I’ve been following Gav’s progress and tweets about the challenge for many months but never thought I’d ever get involved but when the opportunity arose on the 27th December – two days before Amy’s second Di-aversary* – I signed up.

So there it was, we’d cycle next to Gavin for one of the days of his GBR30/30 challenge. It seemed to us like a token effort considering the challenge itself but Gav seemed pleased with the idea.
The next day we were at Amy’s clinic and even the Doctor knew about Gavin and his challenge:

*diaversary – the anniversary of a person being diagnosed with diabetes, turned around to be a positive thing.

Why get involved?

If you’ve read the article about trying to inspire Amy then you’ll have guessed correctly that this was part of the plan. I wanted Amy to meet Gav at least and to see/hear first hand that the life of someone with Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t need to be held back; that she could aspire to have a great life without be ‘stopped’ from doing stuff*; that someone with Type 1 can do stuff that people without it (like me) could never dream of doing. I figured that if this mindset sank in before going through the next tricky teenage years then Amy would be better placed to deal with adolescence.

* ok, I know there’s stuff she just won’t be able to do (join the army, drive for more than a couple of hours without stopping, eat without using an A-grader’s knowledge of GCSE’s mathmatics) but I’m talking in general; about not just sitting there and bemoaning her situation.

Logistics, logistics

I asked Amy if she’d liked to do the cycle and she jumped at the chance, even though the furthest she’d ever cycled was 24 miles the previous summer. I told Jane that I’d need her to provide driving support as we’d be starting in one place and ending somewhere else 30 miles away.
“But I’d like to do it too”
“Damn, I’d better ring my Dad and ask him to drive then”.
Logistics turned out to be the trickiest thing but I came out with a plan, saw it through and it all went well in the end.

Meeting Gav

I met with Gav one Sunday morning – he was late, I think it’s a trait of his 🙂 (Just joking Gav!)
We discussed the challenge, what troubles he was having and somewhere along the line I offered as much support as he needed, especially for the last four days, starting at Torquay and ending at Land’s End.

Soon it became clear to me that I wanted to do more than cycle just one day but the logistics of anything else seemed to difficult, until I threw a couple of ideas my Dad’s way.
Suddenly the agreed plan was hatched, Dad and I would support Gavin from Torquay to Plymouth and Plymouth to Bodmin; Jane, Amy and I would cycle from Bodmin to St Agnes; we’d all be there at the (Land’s) End to cheer him home.
I decided that I was going to cycle some part of all those four days but I kept it quiet, for a while at least.