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Diabetes won’t beat me!

So why on earth has Kelly Carden and fifteen others including the diabetes team at Southampton General Hospital decided to cycle 187miles over four days from London to Paris? 

Kelly Carden, 33, from Southampton was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2013. 

“As many of you know a few years ago my life changed completely when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn't produce any insulin which is the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. It is very dangerous is left untreated.

This means that diabetes is part of my life 24/7, 365 days a year. It can be both exhausting and frustrating trying to manage blood sugar levels in order to stay well, and of course alive!

From day to day I continually have to make decisions about my diabetes. Am I am well enough to go out? Am I safe to drive? Do I have the energy to see my friends? ...I could go on forever. 

Being active dramatically impacts on my blood glucose levels, often resulting in low blood sugars levels (Hypo’s) which can be difficult to manage.  Will I let this stop me? NO!

For one year now I have been using an insulin pump (sounds dodgy right!).  I never imagined being attached to a device to stay alive, but I am and so I get on with it. Whilst this helps, I am still unaware of what my blood sugar levels are all the time.

So how can this be done?  A small device called a continuous glucose monitor can measure blood sugar levels 24/7. This reduces finger prick tests (my poor finger tips are always a little sore) and allows me to recognise the impact that a variety of things including food, exercise, weather, stress and well... just living, has on my blood sugar levels. This helps me to manage my diabetes more effectively therefore reducing the risk of both long and short term complications.  Amazing right?

The downside is the costs.  These little sensors worn on the body cost from £52-£62, and only last one-two weeks.  If you then throw in the price of the metres, transmitters then you are looking at just £1,300 for a starter kit. Add in the cost of sensors and transmitters for the year and you get £1,900! 

This is costly for anyone and I want others to be able to have access to a sensor when they are struggling, want to feel reassured or make adjustments. 

So, after sending an email I have been able to arrange a self organised, self funded bike ride from London to Paris in September 2016. The team includes three diabetes nurses, two diabetes dietitians, two people who have type 1 diabetes all from Southampton General Hospital, a parent of a child with diabetes, and some of our friends.

I will be wearing a continuous glucose monitor to help me keep my blood sugars at safe levels throughout. It will be challenging, but I couldn’t be amongst safer hands!

I haven't been cycling for that long so this really is a massive personal challenge for me. I am raising money for Southampton Hospital Charity as I want to raise money to help other people with diabetes:

Kelly has also recently been nominated for a Diabetes Hero award by Quality in Care, so if you think all the work she has done deserves recognition, please vote for her!

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