Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Learning a New Language

Being diagnosed (or having a loved one diagnosed) with type 1 diabetes means learning a new language.  I have learned so many words and phrases in the past year or so!  Some of them are words/phrases you may have heard before, but they have a totally different meaning in the type 1 world.

High has nothing to do with drugs. You may hear the parent/significant other of a type 1 person say things in public like, "You better be high, acting like that" or "He's been high after school every day this week." In these cases, high means high blood sugar, and often results in unwanted behaviors.

Low is not about mood. Well, at least not primarily. It's low blood sugar, which can quickly turn into an emergency situation.  You may hear parents say things like, "Eat this candy right now, mister!" 

D bag has nothing to do with a person's character.  It's the bag of diabetes supplies that must be carried everywhere.

Shooting up also has nothing to do with drugs.  It's about injecting insulin.

PWD/CWD are acronyms for person with diabetes/child with diabetes. Many people are opposed to using the term "diabetic" as a noun.

T1P is a type 1 parent. Frequently found conversing with other T1P in the DOC.

DOC stands for Diabetes Online Community. When I first heard of it, I thought it was one website. I quickly learned it is a network of PWD and parents of CWD on many different social media platforms.  Such an important part of our lives!

Basal is not a misspelled herb. For those that pump, it is the background insulin that is constantly flowing. For those on MDI, it is one or 2 daily shots of a long-lasting insulin like Lantus or Levemir. 

Bolus is the insulin taken with meals, whether by pump or injection. This is a fast-acting insulin, such as Humalog, Novalog, or Apidra.

MDI is multiple daily injections. Most PWD on MDI take 4 shots per day, on average. Additional injections are needed for corrections, extra snacks, or if the PWD splits their Lantus or Levemir dose.

DKA is one of the scariest acronyms of all. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a very serious condition where the PWD's body is producing large amounts of ketones. Seth was in DKA when he was diagnosed.  We hope never to experience that again!

I:C (ICR) is yet another part of daily calculations for  PWD. It's the insulin to carb ratio used every time a bite of food enters their mouth. That is, 1 unit of insulin is needed for how many grams of carbs.  Examples:  Seth needs 1 unit of insulin for every 10 grams of carbs at lunch, so his ICR is 1:10. Different times of day have different I:C. Often just called ratio.

SWAG in the diabetes world has nothing to do with bling or one's attitude.  It's an acronym for estimating carbs,  like at a buffet or potluck. Stands for Scientific Wild A$$ Guess. 

Poker is not a card game. It's what many PWD call their lancet, or lancing device, used to poke a tiny hole in the finger for testing blood sugar.

Pulling an all-nighter is not what it was in college.  It is usually needed when blood sugar numbers are erratic due to illness or other unknown factors. Frequent blood sugar tests are needed, resulting in the PWD or parent of CWD getting little to no sleep.

Check/Test/Stick are all different ways to refer to using a poker to make the finger bleed in order to test blood sugar level. This is usually done a minimum of 4 times per day, plus any time a low or high is suspected. Many people avoid using the word test, because it's not a test you pass or fail.  Numbers aren't good or bad, they are just in range or out of range.  The numbers tell the PWD what to do next.

Low treatment is basically candy. Pure sugar/candy/juice is needed to raise blood sugar when it dips too low. There is no "healthy" alternative.  Only sugar will raise blood sugar; other ingredients like fiber, fat, or protein can slow this down.

Correction is extra insulin, aside from the basal or bolus insulin that has been calculated. A correction is needed when blood sugar is too high. There is a calculation for this as well, called correction factor or insulin sensitivity favtor (ISF).

Ketones are a scary thing to PWD and parents of CWD. They are produced when the body isn't using the glucose in the blood. The body starts breaking down fat in an attempt to nourish the cells, and ketones are a dangerous by product of that process. DKA can happen quickly,  resulting in a hospital stay and possibly death.

DIB (Dead in Bed) is a VERY rare, but very scary, occurrence. No one knows exactly why it happens, but extremely low blood sugar while sleeping is thought to cause a fatal heart arrhythmia.  Even though it is extremely rare, PWD and parents of CWD are very well aware that it can happen.  Frequent night checks or the use of a CGM (or both) are ways to help avoid DIB.

CGM/Dex is a life changing device for type 1 families. A Continuous Glucose Monitor does just what it says, it continually monitors blood glucose via a tiny sensor placed just under the skin. Dexcom G4 is the kind of CGM we use. It's not perfect,  but we sleep better at night with Dex in the house. It is expensive,  but covered by insurance and well worth the money to keep my PWDs safe.

DAD also has a different meaning to those in the type 1 community. It refers to a diabetes alert dog, not a father. Although, I did read an article about a father that could smell his CWD's highs/lows. These highly trained dogs will alert PWD and CWD to high or low blood sugars. They are very expensive,  but invaluable to those families that have them.

KDA is a phrase that I adapted from a friend's long battle with cancer. KCA was a type of rally cry that we would text her or post on her Facebook. KDA stands for Kick Diabetes' A$$, and my guys do that every single day!

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  1. fantastic Cassie. honestly a great diabetes dictionary of sorts - especially for newbies or those new to the online world of diabetes. I giggled at Shooting Up - because i know what you mean by 'drugs' but technically insulin is a drug - a precious life saving drug. ;)

    1. Glad it gave you a giggle. Yes, it's definitely a precious life saving drug! Just not a drug in the sense that most people think of.

  2. you really covered it!

    i'd like to read about that (human) dad with the sniffing power.

    1. Thanks!

      I wish I had saved that article! It was really pretty amazing.