Why should you Upswing your life with me? Who am I? I’ll tell you the story shortly about why I started this blog, but first a little about me. My name is Chris Panteli (half Cypriot) and I’m from a small town called Kidderminster in the UK and have successfully run a small business for over a decade.
My passions in life are far and wide – and my aim is to make the most out of my life journey. After studying Economics at the University of Liverpool I went on to run a Fish & Chip shop. A slight gear change I know. Over the years I have dabbled with many business ideas, hobbies and interests (flying lessons probably the most short-lived). But everything I do is with one thing in mind – to make life better.
I decided to split my articles into three headings – money, wellbeing and hacks. There are so many things to discover and explore in this world and most of them need at least some money. Also, my degree does give me some authority on the subject – although I am no expert. Wellbeing is something we should all strive for and encompasses so many aspects of our lives. And hacks – well I just love quick, easy and innovative ways to achieve a goal. And what better thing to hack than life itself.
Why Diabetes got me to start a blog
I have been wanting to start a blog for some time now, mainly to find a constructive way to organise and archive the myriad of ideas and interests that formulate in my head on a daily basis. Currently, I have about fifty tabs open on my iPhone ready and waiting to be perused and digested at a later date. I did have about the same quantity on my laptop before foolishly allowing my father to use sed laptop for a mere five minutes, and consequently losing them all with a single press of a button. (I am aware of bookmarks I just hadn’t got around to it.)
My interests are wide and varied but usually fall under one of about five categories. I own a fast food business and have a degree in Business Economics from the University of Liverpool, so there is usually an entrepreneurial slant too much of my thinking. My problem has always been to find focus on a single idea, and move forward with it to achieve realistic goals.
However, something quite significant changed for me this year, and focus and attention are now key ingredients in my recipe for life. One thing I have always managed to prioritise and maintain focus on is my business. I love running a successful fish and chip shop with my business partner and providing our local community with a quality product and splendid customer service. My hours are long and the job is physical, so I have always drunk a lot (water) as the shop is hot and it’s thirsty work. This obviously resulted in a proportional response to toilet visits as mother nature does her work.
However, over the months, my deliberate decision to try and lose a few extra pounds was becoming easier and easier. In fact, it was so easy I was actually eating more and losing more! At this point, I decided it best to pay a visit to my local pharmacy and pay for blood level glucose test for diabetes (£2.70).
The trip to the pharmacy before work on a cold January morning was the beginning of what would become a pretty hellish week. As I was aware of the four main symptoms of diabetes (Drinking a lot, urinating a lot, fast weight loss and lethargy) I was not concerned. I was able to explain away the first three with my work situation and actively trying to lose weight. And the fourth main indicator, lethargy was nowhere to be seen; I felt great.
Confident the test would reveal a normal result, I sat in the small side office at the pharmacy whilst the lady pricked my finger and made me bleed. Moments after the small machine completed its analysis she declared that the reading could not be correct. She went to consult with a colleague and upon returning declared my blood sugars were through the roof.
A normal result for a non-diabetic is between 5-7, onset type 2 diabetes 7-10 and above is almost certainly a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. My result was 30, she calmly explained I needed to make an immediate appointment with my GP, which I did for later that evening.
Think you may have Diabetes? Take action
My GP was calm and collected and put me at ease. He did explain that I almost certainly had type 1 diabetes but I was required to undergo some blood tests to rule out any other possibilities. Fortunately, there was availability for this later that evening, so I hung around the surgery, added some more tabs to my iPhone’s browser and waited to be called.
My appointment time came and went so I made my way to the reception, only too be told the nurse had left for the evening. A mix up with the electronic appointment system meant I now had to get to my local hospital the following morning at 8 am. This, however, was a Friday, meaning my results would not be disclosed to me until Monday. A slightly uneasy weekend came and went and finally, my results were in.
Confirmation of my massive blood glucose levels was given by my GP and I was instructed to make a consequent appointment with the diabetic nurse. My next available day was Thursday, so I booked it and made my way to work. I was, however, able to get the blood glucose testing equipment and was told to keep an eye on my levels, including ketones. Ketone levels are important to monitor as if blood glucose levels are high for a prolonged period of time the body can enter a state of ketoacidosis – where organs begin to shut down and one can enter a comma and ultimately die.
Shit, Diabetes is scary
By the Wednesday morning I still felt fine, even though my sugars were reading high, they weren’t above 26 and I had none of the symptoms I was told to look out for (headache, stomach ache, dizziness). However, by late morning after testing my sugars the machine indicated I needed to test for ketones. A normal ketone level is between 0-0.6, 0.6-1.5 is at risk of ketoacidosis attack and 1.5 – 8 is at serious risk of ketoacidosis attack (seek urgent medical attention). I was 7.5 and made immediate plans to get to my GP as soon as possible. Luckily my family and business partner were able to arrange for me to go within an hour or so.
Once arriving at the doctor’s I was called in to see the diabetic nurse and she happened to be the mother of one of my old school friends, who himself had diabetes. She took my blood and tested sugars. They were very high and she was concerned about what my keynotes would read. The ketone reading takes about 8 seconds to process on the machine, and boy was it a long eight seconds.
The nurse revealed the result at 8.5 and immediately picked up the phone reading out emergency code numbers to reach the specialist consultant at the hospital. My mum was with me and as we both looked at each other there was a shared unspoken feeling of panic!
The specialist consultant had told the nurse I needed insulin immediately, and I was to stay with her after taking the advised dosage for an hour to see if my levels came down. At this point, I still hadn’t eaten. An hour or so later I was re-tested, my blood sugar levels were starting to come down, thank god, but my ketones had risen.
The onset of panic revealed itself yet again with the nurse making yet another urgent phone call; this time to her superior who stated that if my ketones didn’t come down I would probably be admitted to hospital. She suggested I first tried something to eat and then to retest 15 minutes later. If no improvement then a hospital bed was to be my fate.
The longest 15 minutes in history passed and the results revealed falling blood glucose, and unbelievably, to my relief a reduction in my ketone levels. I was to be spared the jaws of a ketoacidosis coma, but I was warned by the health professionals I had come perilously close.
Moving forward with an Upswing
The coming days were to consist of crisis management for about 72 hours as there were still high levels of risk. But as the days passed the sugars dropped and by about the middle of the following week, my ketone levels had returned to normal. I am now on insulin injections for the rest of my life. I have to prick my fingers on average five or six times a day and constantly ensure I am with the required equipment to successfully manage this disease.
There are other related health concerns with this condition, including eye problems, feet, and blood pressure issues. Contrary to popular belief diet is not restricted but foods do impact in totally different ways. Alcohol consumption needs to be carefully considered as well as exercise exertion and general health. So has the experience dampened my spirits or diminished my resolve? Quite honestly, no it hasn’t. In fact, there are at least 5 positive things I can think of following a diabetes diagnosis!