health

Why everyone who can give blood, should give blood.

The blood you donate gives someone another chance at life. One day that someone may be a close relative, a friend, a loved one—or even you.

Earlier this week I was getting ready to give blood, and whilst the lady was sorting the bags out, we were discussing how many people give blood. “Only 4% of people who can give blood, do give blood” she told me. 4%??! This seems outrageous to me. Even if you take away everyone who has a severe needle phobia, this statistic would still be unbelievably low.

This got me thinking about why people who can, don’t give blood, and I thought that maybe some people don’t because they have a fear for the unknown. I remember being nervous the first time I went to donate because I didn’t know what to expect. So I’ve decided to do a bit of a rundown of what you will be faced with if you sign up to give blood, and I’m sure it’s a lot less scary that what most people expect!

The service is all online now so it is super easy to sign up at http://www.blood.co.uk.

Once registered, you can browse sessions to find a location, date and time suitable for you. There are sessions everyday of the week from early morning till late evening, so there should be something to suit everyone.

Once you’ve booked, you’re paperwork will be sent to you in the post. This is just a questionnaire to make sure it is safe for you to donate. It takes about 1 minute to complete.

So when the date comes for you to donate, just turn up at the location and there will be signs directing you to the correct room. Here you let a member of staff know you have arrived. You will be given an information leaflet to read and some juice to drink whilst you wait for part 1 of the process.

Before long you will get called for your finger prick. This happens a behind a screen to ensure privacy. One of the Donor Carers will ask you a few questions about your recent health and prick the end of your finger with a lancet device. This doesn’t hurt and is done to make sure you have enough iron in your blood. Once you’ve passed this stage, you get taken to a chair to give blood. You get to lie back and have a few minutes to yourself whilst you potentially save a life!

The Carer Donor will clean your arm and then insert a needle into your arm. If you’re not fond of needles, just look away and it’s all over in a matter of seconds. They will then take a couple of tubes of blood before connecting it to a bag to fill up. This takes about 10 minutes, and you are left to relax during this time. You can’t tell anything is happening and can’t feel the needle.

***IMAGES OF NEEDLES BELOW***

Once your donation is finished, you even get a cup of tea and a biscuit, giving you chance to make sure you feel OK before you go home!

The whole process takes about an hour. One hour out of your week.

I hope reading this makes you feel a little more comfortable about the process of giving blood and encourages you to join up! A few weeks after each donation, you get a text telling you where your blood has gone and one day it might be you or your family needing it, so why not become a donor today?

Love, RouxWithAView xxx

lifestyle

Diabetes and Us.

“Type 1 Diabetes is a completely manageable disease – but there are some days that are just rough.” – Nick Jonas

I’ve realised in the past few months that not many people actually know what having or living with Type 1 diabetes is like, and many are actually quite interested, so I’ve decided to write this blog post. This is Diabetes and Us!

This is my partner, Kieran.

He’s 26 and builds cars for a career. He’s a qualified football coach and an amazing big brother.

He also has Type 1 diabetes.

Before you ask ‘is that the bad one’, let me explain.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle choices or from it running in your family (not actual running, although this would probably help). It is caused by the sugar levels in your blood being too high. It is treatable by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, or through medication.

Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by anything in particular. The healthiest people can still suffer with T1. It is caused by your pancreas being unable to produce insulin (the chemical that keeps your blood sugar levels balanced).

Both types are ‘bad’, but both are treatable in different ways.

So in order to treat his diabetes, K has to monitor his blood sugar levels constantly throughout the day and often throughout the night. He does this by pricking his fingers to get a drop of blood and testing it on a little machine, which will churn out a number between 0-30+. Healthy blood sugar levels will come back between 4-8. If this is the case, he’s all good and doesn’t need to do anything. If they are low, he has to eat something that will make them return to the ‘healthy zone’, and if they are high, he has to inject himself with the right amount of insulin, via a little needle on the end of a ‘pen’ to bring them back down. There’s a lot of maths involved in this but I won’t go into this just yet.

So he will test his blood every couple of hours, and on a bad day, might have to inject on every one of them. This is unlikely, but sometimes his body just doesn’t behave!

Now on top of this, imagine having to do maths, and then inject yourself with a needle every time you wanted to eat. This is just reality for people with T1. For every meal and every snack, every drink and every treat, Kieran (and his mum a lot of the time!) has to weigh, measure, and note down the amount of carbs in everything he eats. (Carbs because they are directly related to the sugar content.) He then has to inject enough insulin to counteract the carbs!

To give you a quick idea:

  • 1 unit of insulin will bring his blood sugar level down by 3 (so if it’s 17, he’d have to inject 4 units to bring it down to 5)
  • 10g of carbs requires 1 unit of insulin (so if a muffin has 25g carbs, he has to inject 2.5 units of insulin)

Mental right??!

We’ve heard people say “awh I couldn’t do that, I hate needles”. But the reality is, he has no choice. It’s that, or a coma. Like genuinely.

He tests his blood and injects all over the place: in the car, in restaurants, in castle gardens. If we eat pizza late at night we will set an alarm for 3am to check his levels aren’t through the roof. He gets up at 6am every day to inject a ‘baseline’. It’s just a way of life.

The truth is, he can eat what he wants. If he wants a cake or chocolate, then he eats it. He just has to balance out the sugar with insulin, just as a healthy pancreas would. The downside is that diabetes often comes with tiredness, thirst and changes in mood.

So far, thanks to his attention to detail and the incredible care from his family, he has managed the diabetes amazingly, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.

Please don’t ever be afraid of asking questions. Diabetes shouldn’t be a taboo, and you’ll probably find people are relieved to be asked rather than being watched!

I hope this gave you a tiny insight to Diabetes and Us!

RouxWithAView xx

Ps. I am doing a skydive on June 9th to raise money for DiabetesUK. If you would be interested in sponsoring me, the details are on my Facebook page. Thank you.