We caught up with Sarah, a student nurse with type 1 diabetes, an Omnipod and a FreeStyle Libre. Diagnosed at age 12, and now with 20 years’ experience of managing the condition, she shared her experience of working during the coronavirus outbreak.
When times become tough and stressful, blood sugar levels can begin acting strange. 2020 has definitely been a tough year so far, so we asked Sarah if this was reflected in her blood sugar levels. She said: “Definitely the first few weeks my blood sugar was a lot higher when everyone was really, really anxious about it all.
“Things seem to be a bit better; anxiety isn’t so high now. I’m quite protected. Just getting on with it now really. Much better than it was but stress definitely bumped them up a little bit.”
Several people we have spoken to have said that the FreeStyle Libre has been tremendously helpful for keeping an eye on blood sugar trends during the pandemic. Sarah only recently got a FreeStyle Libre, but it has been a big help. She said: “I’m a little bit scan happy at the moment. It’s a novelty! I used to test about 8 times a day. I think I scanned yesterday about 20 times. It’s only because it’s new – a new little gadget.
“It has shown me what my blood sugars are doing when I didn’t actually realise that they were dipping or going high. Especially during the night. So, I’ve actually changed my basal to suit it now… definitely a game changer!”
Balancing a busy day on the ward with looking after your own health can be tricky, but Sarah makes it work. “I take my breaks. We have a break in the morning and in the afternoon. I make sure I eat. I’m quite hypo aware, so obviously if I’m a lot busier than normal, I’ll reduce my basal on a temporary basal rate for an hour or so. The lovely public have donated lots and lots of food, so there’s a big supply of treats. If I feel I’m starting to dip a little bit, I go off and have something to eat, then carry on. It’s no different to normal really.”
A nurse’s job can be tough at any time. Sarah is about to qualify, during the largest global pandemic we have ever seen. Not only this, but she is a mother of two. How is she managing?
“The ward I’m on is really good. We’ve got enough PPE. I get changed at work. My lovely friends’ mum and sister made me one of these uniform bags. I shove it all in the wash. I clean out my shoes. I’m quite conscious about how I clean and anti-bac everything. I won’t actually touch the children until I’ve showered. And when I get home they are usually already in bed as I work long days.”
As someone with hands-on experience of the hospital frontlines, we wanted to know what advice Sarah has to give people. She said simply to “Keep going. I definitely recommend using your exercise time. I try to go up the hill every morning with my dog, even before work. To try and get some headspace, really.
“Definitely exercise. Normally I run quite a lot, but I cannot see my friend that I run with at the moment. I’m usually on my own. I’ll be very slow when we get back to normal! That’s definitely my best stress buster. Also just talking to people – that’s really important. – I got a really good group of friends and student nurse friends. We will talk to each other if we’re feeling a bit low. It’s ok to feel a bit rubbish, this is unknown territory!”
“Keep hydrated. Keep eating. Try not to stress too much, even though I know some wards and some jobs are harder than others. It’s not forever! Things will go back to how it was.”
“Thank you to all the public for all your lovely support and donations. All my friends and family have been amazing. Just keep going. And stay at home!”