A diabetic post for non diabetics

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 8.56.29 PM.png

So, I got a lot of questions from non diabetics about Type 1 diabetic terms and what they mean. For that reason, I decided to write a post about common diabetic terms that we daily use. I hope this can help you understand our disease and hopefully motivates you to learn more about T1 diabetes!

  • A1C: our average blood glucose level in the past 3 months. Usually, a level less than 7 is healthy. Also called HbA1C in some countries.

  • Basal rate: small amount of insulin working in the background on a 24h period.

  • Beta cell: a body cell that produces insulin. Ours were destroyed from our own immune system.

  • Blood glucose level ( or blood sugar level): normally written BG for short: the amount of glucose in a given amount of blood. It is noted in milligrams in a deciliter, or mg/dL. Ex: 5.4

  • Bolus rate: amount of insulin given in one shot. Let’s say we want to eat, we use the bolus rate insulin for the amount of carbs eaten.

  • Carbs= Carbohydrates: people think that T1s need to calculate the sugar intake. FALSE. Yes it is important to look at that on the nutrition label, however we need to calculate the carbs in our food each time we eat.

  • Endo ( Endocrinologist): a hormone doctor, so technically a diabetes doctor.

  • Glucometer: little machine that calculates the blood sugar level with a sample of blood.

  • Fast acting insulin: Insulin that starts acting right away. Used for meals, corrections, and snacks. Ex: Humalog

  • Hypoglycemcia ( or Hypo): also known as ‘‘low’’. There is not enough sugar in our system and too much insulin. We need immediate sugar for energy. Now you think: so diabetics need sugar ?! Yes! T1s do in some situations. Severe hypos can be dangerous.

  • Hyperglycemia ( or Hyper): also know as ‘‘high’’. Danger! There is too much sugar in the blood and not enough insulin. There is not enough insulin to bring the sugar out of the blood. This can also be dangerous and can lead to DKA ( see below)

  • Insulin: Hormone that the pancreas usually produces. Ours is on vacation.

  • Insulin Pen: A pen that contains insulin. Attached to a needle, it helps us giving insulin shots.

  • Insulin Pump: A device that calculates our bolus and basal rates. Attached to the body with a tiny needle.

  • Ketones: leads to DKA. So remember that hyperglycemia= too much sugar in the blood. But the body needs energy. Since the sugar is in the blood, the body will start burning fat for a source of energy. This fat is acid and an accumulation in the blood is no good, which can lead to DKA ( diabetic ketoacidosis). When this happens, it’s emergency room time.

  • Long lasting insulin: Insulin that works for a long period time. Example: Lantus

  • Low treatment: what we use to treat lows, meaning juice, candies, honey. Anything sugary.

  • Test strips: Strip that absorbs the blood. Used with a glucometer.


On top of diabetic terms, here are other stuff useful to know about T1s!

How we feel when:

  • We are low: drunk and tipsy. This is literally the only way I can realistically describe the feeling. We feel nauseous, tired, hungry, sweaty and sometimes out of this world and with no energy when it is intense.

  • We are high: WATER!!! We are thirsty, we need to pee, we are MAD, we are grumpy and have a weird taste in our mouth. Usually we also feel very tired and our vision can be blurry. Almost like when you eat too much but x 100.

  • When someone makes a stupid diabetes joke: we do not laugh. We do not take it personal but immediately assume that this person is stupid. Sorry but it’s true. I repeat, fast food and chocolate DOES NOT lead to T1 diabetes.

  • When someone treats us differently because of our disease: I have to admit, I often tell people when I am not feeling good. People understand and make sure I am fine, and that is more than fine for me and I appreciate it. When people treat us like we are weak, or unlucky or feel bad for us for taking injections, that’s when we get mad.

What are our daily struggles:

  • Waking up in the middle of the night because of a low

  • Waiting for our BG to be stable in order to drive or workout

  • Calculating every carb we eat

  • Finding the perfect balance between insulin and carbs, which is impossible

  • Almost 100 things can affect our blood sugar level, from exercise to temperature to PMS to moods

We are strong and different because:

  • We are very patient

  • We are very mindful in what we eat

  • We are very empathic around other diseases

  • We are strong and when someone says’’ Im tired I didn’t sleep well’’, we know that they are not as tired as us

  • We have a full time job, 24/7, no vacations, no breaks

  • We are very good at mental calculations ( counting carbs) and can tell you how many carbs are in EVERY plate you put in front of us