If you have a working pancreas then the likelihood of you knowing what those words in the caption mean is extremely thin, in fact I will bet that your face is probably looking like this right about now:

Fret not, my lovely confused friends, I shall explain! Well, try to anyway.

(Please note the way I am going to describe these phrases may not be medically accurate as I am not a medical expert but as with anything in this blog it is from my personal experience and knowledge. There may be some information that I have used from websites that I believe have the correct medical knowledge and all information will be linked at the bottom of the page)

HBA1C results are used to measure your blood glucose control over a 2-3 month period. Usually the test is done every 6 months however if you’re pregnant the diabetic nurses are likely to check your HBA1C more frequently which could be every 3 months. The test is done in adults via a blood test and can take a few days to get your results, I am usually asked to get a blood test one week prior to my checkup so that the results are there and ready.

CGM stands for continuous glucose monitoring and it is an umbrella term for many different electronic devices used for diabetes blood control. One of the commonly known CGM devices are the freestyle libres which look like a little magnet on your arm, I have one of these and I am curious to know if I go through the airport whether I will set the alarms off or not I shan’t lie. I can just imagine going through that walk through body scanner thing and there just showing up a little disk on my arm! In the uk, we are lucky enough to have the litres fully funded on the NHS which I am grateful for considering they need to be changed every two weeks or if they aren’t working as they should be. After a quick google search, to fund the libra 2 sensors by yourself it would cost £57.95 inc VAT and that’s just for 1!

DKA is the most important term to understand because if you hear a diabetic say they think they’re in DKA you need to ring 999 right away. To simply put it, DKA stands for Diabetic Keto-Acidosis and can be life threatening if not treated urgently. According to diabetes.org.uk:

DKA happens when there is severe lack of insulin in the body. This means the body can’t use sugar for energy, and starts to use fat instead. When this happens, chemicals called ketones are released. [1]


Symptoms of DKA include:

  • needing to pee more than usual
  • feeling very thirsty
  • being sick
  • tummy pain
  • breath that smells fruity (like pear drop sweets, or nail varnish)
  • deep or fast breathing
  • feeling very tired or sleepy
  • confusion
  • passing out

There are of course ways you can decrease the likelihood of developing DKA. In the event that you are ill ensure you regularly check your blood ketone levels and keep an eye on them – the advice that I was given was if my ketones levels were between 1.6 -2.9 I need to contact my GP or diabetic team ASAP. However, if they were 3.0 or above I need to go straight to the hospital as this means that its likely I would need to be put on a drip and given insulin, fluids and nutrients.

Whilst there may not be an obvious trigger, It is important to note that the following things can [2] increase your chances of developing DKA:

  • having an infection, such as flu or a urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • not following your treatment plan, such as missing doses of insulin
  • an injury or surgery
  • taking certain medicines, such as steroids
  • binge drinking
  • using illegal drugs
  • pregnancy
  • having your period

I’d just like to point out that OF COURSE periods can be one of the many causes, it’s not like they’re painful enough- might as well add in the potential chance of almost LITERALLY DYING.

Now, this wouldn’t be a true Sophie post if I didn’t share one of my experiences with you would it? Let me tell you about the time I was in the first stages of DKA. When I say first stages I mean if I had just ignored my symptoms for another day I would of definitely been hospitalised! Anyway let me set the scene….

I had only been dating my partner for about 2 months, in fact I think it might have been exactly two months on this exact day- he can’t say that I don’t give him the best presents, I even splurged on a costa! Anyway, one thing you should know about me is that I am a hypochondriac. My stepmom however is… not. I went downstairs and told her that half my face was tingly, in my brain I honestly thought hand on heart that I was having a stroke (I told you, hypochondriac.) After about 45 minutes I said to my stepmum that I had to go to A&E because I knew something wasn’t right, I checked my sugars and they were high- still thinking I was being dramatic I was told to drink water.

When she reluctantly gave in me, my partner and my stepmum all toodled into the car where we drove to A&E. Long story short I was fast tracked through, put on a drip, told I was in the early stages of DKA & I even got to rub it in my stepmums face that she was wrong and I was right! A VERY successful day if you ask me ( Other than the whole….well, you know)

Ps, Zara if you’re reading this you’re welcome…

Anyway, thank you for reading and until the next time…


[1] https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/complications/diabetic_ketoacidosis
[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetic-ketoacidosis/

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