Category Archives: Diabetes

Accu-Chek Mobile, new blood glucose meter

Just received a new meter from Accu-Chek, the ‘Mobile‘.

It’s a clever and thoughtful design, I like the way they’ve incorporated the pricker into the side of the device. It is a little bigger than I’d like though: I use the Nano at the moment (2 of them, one at home and one at work) so I’ll see whether this is really practical to take everywhere with me.

The biggest innovation here is the use of a cassette to give 50 tests without needing to change, so the need for a separate tub of test strips is removed. Therefore, everything you need is in the one tidy case. They even send one of two free carry-cases for it if you register your device – nice incentive!

I use a manbag (I know, metrosexual) so maybe it’ll work for me. I can see how blokes wouldn’t want to carry yet another device around though.

The thought that’s gone into the PC connection seems good too. You can set it to either fire up the special software or a web service. I’ll try the web service when I have enough results, as I use a couple of separate laptops regularly, like most folks who have desk jobs, I guess.

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What do you think?

I received mine free, via an email offer from the Accu-Chek folks so see if it’s still available if you fancy trying one out. Don’t forget, you may need to change your repeat prescription for the new test cartridges and pricker lancets. Tell ’em Phill sent you! 🙂

Cycling With Prescription Lens Specs

Wearing Glasses On The Bike

I’ve worn glasses in my day-to-day life for about 25 years. With astigmatism and a total inability to focus my own eyes thanks to a side-effect of my diabetes, I rely completely on my glasses and have a fairly complex prescription (though I won’t bore you with the specifics). The point is, glasses have simply been a part of me for the majority of my life.

One result of this dependency was that when I took up cycling more regularly about 20 years ago – at first for a bit of extra exercise, then as a hobby, and now more as a lifestyle (or perhaps addiction) – I assumed it was best to just wear my glasses while on the bike. It doesn’t usually seem too bad: occasionally my glasses get a bit slippery when I start to sweat, and they certainly fog up now and then, which was annoying. But I didn’t really consider switching for a while.iStock_000020077511XSmall[1]

Now that my cycling can be a bit more intense and a bit more frequent, I get more uncomfortable in my glasses. I know there are alternatives. But the fact is, the massive selection of protective, athletic glasses, prescription sunglasses, and even eyewear made specifically for cycling can be a bit overwhelming. It seems like everyone I ask has a different recommendation, and I could never figure out which alternative corrective vision option seemed best.

More Choice These Days…

Over the years I’ve been riding about with my specs on, however, more options have become available. The first option I really explored in depth was prescription sunglasses, as even popular brands like Oakley now offer excellent sunnies which are appropriate for sport (a good friend reviewed some here). But, while these lenses can be comfortable and can certainly be great for vision correction, the bottom line is, they’re expensive to replace, meaning you’re entirely dependent on a single pair.

Instead, I decided to think about contact lenses, and looked at acuvue.co.uk, for prescription contact lenses. All those years ago, when I first started wearing my ever-so-complex specs, I didn’t think I’d be able to find contact lenses which fitted the bill- hence my reliance on glasses! Also, I wasn’t sure how comfy they would be.

Contact lens

However, while I still often wear glasses in my day-to-day life, contacts have made significant strides over the years. There are now various lenses for various needs, designed to keep your eyes from drying out, while providing complete vision correction and, most importantly, staying put without irritation. My own varifocal optical miracles can now be replaced by a pair of contacts which enable me to wear a normal pair of sunnies over the top, or just get a tan without white stripes on the side of my head!

Of course, different people prefer different solutions. But given that glasses can slip and fog up, and that prescription sports goggles and glasses can be clunky and expensive (not to mention they can also limit your peripheral vision and fog up themselves), contact lenses are certainly worth looking into if you’re a regular cyclist.

Diabetes – Living with Type 1 Diabetes as a young person

Coping With Diabetes As A Teenager

In my weekly Youtube update, there was an video of a speech made by Hannah, a young Type 1 diabetic, about living as a teenager with diabetes.

Personally, I was lucky. I was diagnosed with diabetes at 20 years old. I was an independent student, living alone away from home but spending enough time at the family home for my Mum to spot something was amiss and have me diagnosed. My age played a huge part in me being comfortably able to change my lifestyle and manage my condition. Also, importantly, I didn’t have to grow up whilst managing my diabetes. I feel privileged to have avoided that.

Hannah was diagnosed at 2 years old so she’s dealt with Type 1 diabetes throughout her living memory. This audio clip is well worth a listen if you, or anyone you know, is growing up with diabetes or any condition which needs daily management. Her experiences probably aren’t unusual, and should help other people to learn about dealing with a medical condition – and with the people around you!

If you’d like to know about more about living as a teenager with diabetes, then have a look at Hannah’s blog: The Bad Diabetic.

Tell her Phill sent you 🙂

Sunday Social Shenanigans

It’s Been A While

Since starting up the #12×100 Monthly Cycling Challenge I’ve tried to keep up a regular routine of cycling and it’s definitely helped. There are very few Tuesday nights I don’t get a few miles in, and every other weekend tends to have a good ride in it, too. Most of my cycling has been done alone though.

I do like riding my bike on my own. The chance to gather my thoughts out of the house, to take in the views, to enjoy the weather and listen to the sounds around me is a chance I like to take. More recently though it’s become obvious that although I know loads of other cyclists, I don’t often ride with any of them.

A close neighbour now rides me with me most Tuesdays on his old boneshaker. I’m hoping that his Missus will let him buy a better bike once he’s proved that he likes cycling and he’s going to keep it up! At first I struggled to adjust to the possibilities of conversation and sociable tea-and-biscuit consumption, but now I have to admit that it’s been good to have someone along.

There are always going to be good chances to ride alone and I’ll keep taking them. My lack of fitness and ambition are less obvious when I’m plodding along alone, lazily winching up the hills and flowing down them. My opportunities to take photos and capture the beautiful countryside within which I live are also more plentiful when I’m not encumbered by anyone else’s conflicting desire to cover more miles or keep their heart rate up.

But, when Chris suggested it was time for a social MTB ride, he was right.

A Bad Start

Going out for morning bike rides with diabetes is sometimes a pain in the bum. Managing my diabetes means that I tend to fuel up in pretty short bursts: you don’t really carbo-load when you know it’ll push your blood sugars high. The normal short-term, in-day rules apply but carbs usually have to be ingested to suit the exertion planned. Basically, that means: eat for today, not tomorrow.

We’d arranged to set off from mine at 10am. When I got up on the day of the ride my blood sugar was a bit higher than I’d have liked, so a big porridge breakfast wasn’t on the cards. I opted for a brioche whilst the lads turned up, pottered about and we all scratched our heads over Joby’s totally screwed rear brake. More about that later.

Powered only by instant coffee and a small helping of French bread with choccy bits, I led the lads down the canal towpath and up beside Clegg Hall towards Hollingworth Lake where we were meeting Adrian, our fourth rider and expert guide for the day. On getting there, we all joked about Joby’s knackered brake, suggesting either that he should descend first so as not to hit us in the back when he went OTB, or go last so that we weren’t inconvenienced when he bit the dust on the rocky Pennine descents Adrian had planned for us.

Brief hellos done, we set off towards the M62 viaduct where Rochdale and Littleborough are left behind and “the moors” are entered. Immediately, a massive gap opened up when the lads steamed up the first climb and I just let them go. Admittedly, they did climb very quickly (Strava told me later) but I was over a minute down on my usual time for an ascent which takes less than four to finish. I didn’t know that at the time: I just knew I was knackered!

I knew I’d be hanging off the back of the party all day. On the next climb, I got up without dabbing but at the top I was properly worn out. Only 5 miles or so ridden, all of which I’ve done many times alone, and I needed to get off the bike for a long rest. Thankfully a horse asked us to hang back (well, a woman riding a horse, but a horse asking would have been amazing) so I didn’t feel so guilty sat on the grass, sweating, not talking, with three blokes wondering whether I was going to bottle it and go home.

I’m glad I didn’t. It wasn’t a race.

Starting To Enjoy It

From there, we went along to Piethorne reservoir where the descent to the waterside and the views are amazing. Adrian got told off for startling two lady walkers but he had the good grace to feel a bit guilty, so that was ok. Poor Joby’s back brake had evidently spilled all of its hydraulic innards and was totally useless, so he followed gingerly down the descent, leaning off the back of his bike with the front brake on, somehow managing to avoid any face/rock interfaces.

The lads were beginning to talk of sausage butties by this time, so I played my trump card. Everyone needs to bring something to a social ride, and I’d brought my knowledge of where the best food was! One problem though, the climb from Piethorne reservoir to the Ram’s Head is a bit unpleasant. Rocky and steep, with hefty water bars and no clear view to the top – but remember, there was a pub at the top, so we got there.

How nice does THIS look?

How nice does THIS look?

You know you’re getting a posh burger when the chips are arranged in a little mesh chip pan which has clearly never been immersed in a fryer. Suffice to say that it tasted bloody marvellous. You should go to the Ram’s Head – it’s actually easier to get to from the road than the moors, for you roadie-whippet types.

Final Legs

Dropping back to Piethorne ressy from the pub was lots of fun for everyone except Joby on his single-braked steed, then we took the easy service road alongside Piethorne and Ogden reservoirs before a little portage back up towards the junction where I’d flaked out earlier. The burger and chips were working their magic and I felt much, much better with some proper carbs (and meat, and fat – all the important food groups) working through my system.

A final little climb and back down to t’Lake finished off a great couple of hours in the hills, so we said goodbye to Adrian and headed back to mine along the canal towpath.

Lessons Learned

Let’s make this clear: I had a really good day out. I loved the cycling, the company, the scenery and the food. This social ride was a brilliant idea. Thanks Chris for the suggestion and thanks Joby and Adrian for being there too.

I learned three things on this ride:
1. As a diabetic, a poor feed means a poor ride.
2. I should ride with other people more often.
3. I’m even less fit than I thought I was.

My fitness isn’t a problem when I’m out alone. I’m fitter than most 42 year old men, but the trouble with grossed-up statistics is that they don’t reflect your individual circumstances. Most 42 year-old men spent last Sunday eating crisps and watching the Olympics – they weren’t trying to keep up with 3 fitter, younger men on mountain bikes in the foothills of the Pennines.

Being fitter than most 42 year-old men isn’t good enough. I need to get as fit as most men who regularly ride mountain bikes in the hills. I guess that means that I have a goal to achieve.

Strava map of our social ride

See the ride on Strava.

You can see the full ride on this link to Strava. Tell ’em Phill sent you 🙂

Reason To Ride

Why Ride? One Reason Of Many.

I haven’t posted anything about the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride until now. It was a great day out and, thanks to the generosity of lots of wonderful people, I’ve raised £370 to date for Springhill Hospice.

As the two weeks between then and now have passed, though, a few things have reminded me about one of the reasons I do the ride, and why I’ll try to raise the £500 each year while I can.

Around me, ordinary people are living ordinary lives, coping with extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary to them, but ordinary in the grand scheme of things. Cancer is an all-too common cause of death.

Most of us will live our lives without being seriously troubled by infection, contagious disease, accident or any of the things that killed the generations that came before us. Conditions which killed people in years gone by are now managed by drugs, without serious complications if you take the drugs and the advice correctly – my diabetes is an excellent example of a condition which is managed now, but which 100 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to write about 20 years after my diagnosis.

For the people whose lives are shortened, I’m raising the money to help make their twighlight weeks more bearable. Not just the people who are leaving us, but the people who love them, too.

It’s this reason that sometimes gets me out on the bike; that gets me forgetting my shyness and asking you for money. I’m not precious about it: money’s tight and I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t contribute. I know that most people contribute elsewhere: I’m not special. But it’s heartening to think that something I do on a lovely day out on the bike is helping people at their most extraordinary time.

You can see the route on my DailyMile page if you click this link.

It was a bloody great day out on the bike though.  Let’s not forget that!

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