So, I am now at university. Horror of horrors, I am a student nurse. Yes, you heard me, a student nurse. I wear a white tunic with turquoise epaulettes and black trousers. Just so you all know what I look like and can run when you see me. Hang on... If you see me you might not be able to run. Well, you can run but you can't hide mwhahahaha!
I managed to survive fresher's week relatively unscathed. Thankfully I have been to university before so I had a good idea of what was coming my way and therefore could work that to my advantage. University is great fun. That said, the first assignment is on diabetes. Yes, diabetes. I am not best pleased. I really don't want to do two and a half thousand words on poxy diabetes. I live with it all day, every day. I don't want to spend any more time dealing with that. However, I must remain professional as I will be facing diabetes a lot as a professional so I must learn and be able to apply that knowledge. I have insider knowledge which helps but also hinders me. Damn broken pancreas. I suppose it's time to rise above it and get cracking with it all.
I am due to start placement in two weeks. For any student nurse in my position, that's to say awaiting the start of their first placement, I am naturally bloody terrified. I am lucky in the fact I have worked as an HCA and sort of am prepared for the challenges of hospital life. I also know what will be coming towards me in terms of diabetes. Given I used to work on a rather busy trauma and orthopaedic unit a change would be nice, a slower pace with more time to care and, of course, a lessened impact on my diabetes. Overall, university is a damn good place.
This weekend, I went to something called Friends For Life. I went last year. In essence this is a gathering of parents of children with diabetes, adults like me with diabetes a few nutters are thrown into the mix too. The children/teenagers are taken care of during the day by a team of wonderfully dedicated staff, many of whom have diabetes themselves. Many of them are about my age and have also grown up with this crappy disease. The adults wander around a series of talks about diabetes given by a wide variety of experts in the field. This year we were very fortunate in having Fiona Campbell and Pete Hindmarsh who are wonderful paediatric endocrinologists who work in various parts of the country. I just wish I'd been one of their patients when I was a kid (that sounds wrong given that I'm only twenty one) as the care that their patients, and not just the children themselves receive. My paediatric care was abysmal. I shall say no more on that matter as we will be here all night. I may also develop murderous rampages. Ragnar Hanas was also there. He is a leading endocrinologist in Sweden and he really knows his stuff. He has been playing with diabetes since long before I was born. It is amazing to hear what it's like from the other side so to speak.
I also attended a talk about technology in diabetes given by INPUT which is a charity designed to improve access to insulin pumps across the UK. Granted that it was very good advice, however it was a bit dry. I can't win them all I suppose!
The best talk that I attended by any stretch of the imagination was Jo Soloweicyzk's talk about teenagers with diabetes. It's my annual kick up the arse/morale booster from a man who has been playing this game for fifty years. Yes, fifty. I think I'll listen to him any day of the week. I shall remain in contact with Jo as he is simply fabulous. You really need to see him to believe him.
I suppose the reason that I go to this thing is to provide some reassurance to the parents that their children, whatever their age, will be fine when growing up. To be asked those questions that if you haven't grown up with diabetes you won't know the answer to. The fun of going to university. The risks of drinking like a fish. How to advise their kids on how to deal with booze. My advice is simple. Teach them what alcohol is when they're you, that's either a glass of wine with a meal or something like that. A beer or two with Dad whilst watching the rugby. Note to parents, this is not an excuse to hark back to your youth, taking your children clubbing is frowned upon apparently. I can't see why... Please, don't let them go to university and the like without a clue of what booze can do. A&E is a scary place to be. Especially on Friday night. The diabetes also complicates things. The trolleys aren't that comfortable either. Life is a rollercoaster, just having an idea of what you're getting onto means that you are going to be safer. Like Elliot Joslin said, the diabetic who knows the most lives the longest. Joslin was around when insulin was first discovered and was a leading endocrinologist whose principles still ring true today. It's also very nice for me to give something back to the diabetes community, at the end of the day I am a resource and it'd be a shame to let it go to waste.
At FFL there are also various companies who sponsor the event. Medtronic, Animas, Lifescan/One Touch, Roche, various charities and diabetes related businesses. I've bagged myself a free new BG meter called the One Touch Verio Pro. There will be a review coming along when I get a day to trial it. I had an interesting conversation with the Animas team about their latest and greatest toy the Vibe. Cue dirty laughter here. Fnar fnar. I will post more on that as and when I get it.
Overall FFL for me is the fun side of diabetes. I can set aside whatever troubles I have with it and go and enjoy myself for a weekend (the breakfasts are also a very good reason for me to go) and meet like minded nutters. It's also nice to give something that I never had as a child growing up with diabetes. It give me a huge sense of satisfaction. It's also an excuse for me to dance very badly at the halloween bash they hold. This year I was a doctor. Yes, scrubs, stethoscope, the works. Here's until next year FFL!