Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Developments at work

Horn-playing sculpture among flowers in garden
Caldecott Park, Rugby, May 2015
Crack open the champagne - they've finally installed an alternative web browser on my work PC! I tried for an upgrade to IE long ago but it was incompatible with another application on the PC and had to be removed again. At the time I didn't think to ask for a different browser, and they didn't offer it, but a colleague mentioned the option and now I've got Chrome. It's such a treat to be able to see websites that aren't completely garbled, and more and more sites were just refusing to load at all with the ancient version of IE. Now I can update my yogurt document (don't ask - it's just a list of the nutritional content of various strawberry yogurts).

Another work-related thing is that I've volunteered to be a subject in a research project. On a day when I'm being a guinea pig, using an app or via a website I have to:
  • weigh myself first thing
  • collect and measure all my urine throughout the day
  • put two small urine samples in a test tube on each occasion
  • eat less than 1200 Calories in the day, comprising a normal breakfast, a carb-free meal, and a snack that's less than 200 Calories
  • record everything that I eat and drink and any activity that I do as well as weight, urine volume and test tube numbers.
I've managed two days so far (it's not an every day thing) and it's actually quite demanding. The research is very relevant and all about a person's insulin response to food throughout the day - apparently there is measurable insulin in urine, which surprised me.

Then there's been our Teen course. I've written a lot about structured education, because it really is the key to managing diabetes. If you don't really understand the condition or how best to manage it (and it's quite a complicated business) then I don't see how you can expect to avoid having higher blood glucose than is ideal, and we know that this raises the risk of complications. But we find people are very reluctant to spend the time attending our structured education, and this is a particular problem with young people with Type 1 diabetes.

Most will have been diagnosed when they were too young to be expected to manage everything themselves, so if any education had been provided in the past it was probably aimed at parents. So we want to catch young people at a point when they are managing their own diet and insulin, to make sure they acquire all the knowledge that they need to stay healthy for the 50, 60 70 or more years that they may have ahead of them.

We decided we would try to attract 16-21 year olds, so we got together with the paediatric team to contact as many of this age group as we could. We did a mailshot and we encouraged people at their routine appointments to consider signing up, and ended up with 13 people who said they would attend. This seemed enough to justify putting on a course, so we cooked up a programme based on the usual version of our Type 1 Structured Education, but shorter, and including more that might be relevant to the younger audience - eating out, snacking, alcohol, drugs, festivals, travelling, sport and exercise, living away from home, that sort of thing.

As I wrote a while ago, only two turned up for the first week. The second week was scheduled on the same day as A level results are published, and one of our two attendees was due to get his results that day, so we agreed to skip that week and get them back the following week, covering everything in just two sessions seeing as how they were both pretty quick on the uptake. Only one of them came to the second session.

That solitary participant, however, gave us some good feedback and ideas about how we might attract more attendees if we tried again:
  • offer food e.g. doughnuts/pizza
  • start later in the day
  • change some of the wording in the invitation letter
  • arrange for transport from the city centre.
I'm not sure if we'll try this again, and it certainly won't be until next summer holidays, but it was a worthwhile exercise even if only one and a half people benefitted.

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