20 Things to Know about Diabetes

Dear Reader,

In my last post, I tried to give a quick overview of what type 1 diabetes is. This one is more personal. It is what I wish those around us got about my dd’s diabetes.

1. It is probably not the same as what your grandmother had. 90% of diabetes is type 2. This is not what my daughter has.   (See my earlier post “What is Type 1 Diabetes”)

2. It is definitely not the same as what your dog had. Please don’t give me advice based on what you did for him. I am sure he was a great dog, but it is not the same.

3. DD has her blood sugar checked 10-12 times a day. This always involves drawing a drop of blood. There is no way currently to do this without drawing blood no matter how they make it look in the glucose meter commercials  (okay, there are continuous glucose monitors but they still involve inserting something in the body and need confirmation from actual blood draws and we couldn’t get her to wear one anyway at this point).

4. Diabetes doesn’t stop at night. Neither do blood sugar checks. We check her at least once a night every night. If things are off, which happens fairly often, it is more than once a night. We will do this as long as she lives under our roof. We hope to marry her off young to a reliable, godly man who can survive on five hours of sleep a night.

5. I am mildly sleep-deprived all the time. Sometimes I am more sleep-deprived. I apologize if I stared at you blankly recently and didn’t talk a lot. It was probably a bad bg (blood glucose) night.

6. She needs insulin many times a day. At this point, that means 5-7 shots a day. The pump, when she used it, meant fewer shots but one big needle every couple of days. She prefers shots and for the most part doesn’t seem to mind them.

7. I have no sympathy when your baby gets their immunizations. I feel like I probably should but I don’t. When my own kids get vaccinations, I expect them to buck up and take it and for the most part they do.

8. My kids are really comfortable with blood. We check blood sugars and give shots boldly in public. My little boy Wolfie had a blood theme for his sixth birthday party.

9. The juice boxes in our house are only for treating low blood sugars. I know they are very prominent on the kitchen counter but your little guy can’t have one (unless he has diabetes too). I don’t even give them to my own non-D children.

10. Glucose tabs are also given for low blood sugars. They taste good for a medicine, bad for candy. (Yes, I have tried them; no, you can’t have one because I don’t have enough to go around.)

11. We have to count every carbohydrate my dd eats. This is not calories, but carbohydrates. If you are feeding us, it is very helpful if you keep any packaging so I can check the nutrition information. It is also very helpful if you can tell me what and when we are going to eat ahead of time. Often we need to give her insulin up to half an hour ahead of time so I like to know up front what to expect.

12. Sheet cake with lots of icing is not actually an essential part of any baptism. But if you feel it is, at least tell me before service that we will be eating it after service.

13. Please don’t offer any of my kids food or drinks. Most people are pretty good about not giving my cwd (read: child with diabetes) things but giving other kids things in front of her and then asking me if she can have some too puts me in a very awkward position. Sometimes it is best for her not to have the thing you are offerring right then but I don’t want her to feel deprived or left out either.

14. In theory, my cwd can eat or drink anything. Anything can be worked into our plans.

15. The key word in #14 was “worked.” We know when we are going to a birthday party that there will be cake and treats. We expect this and try to get her bg where it needs to be ahead of time. But there are times when treats are not advisable and we have to make choices. To paraphrase and take the apostle Paul out of context, in diabetes all things are permissable some times but not all things are advisable all the time.

16. The foods that you think we want to avoid may not be the foods we actually want to avoid. Sheet cake is high carb but those carbs kick in quick and we can put the whole thing behind us a few hours later. High fat foods are more difficult. Fat slows the absorption of carbs. What this means is that there are many foods, especially anything from a restaurant, that will affect her blood sugar for 8 hours or more after she eats it.

17. Which brings us to–pizza is not an easy solution to group meals for us. I would rather cook something for an hour ahead of time than chase high blood sugars for 8 hours afterwards (see #s 4 and 5 on sleep).

18. When we are at any social gathering where eating is involved, at least half my brain is occupied monitoring what my dd eats and calculating how much insulin she needs now. Which means I probably missed about half of what you said to me or what went on around me. If it is a grazing type event rather than a sitting down at a table eating all your food at once type event, about three-quarters of my brain will be otherwise occupied. 

19. When you ask me how my dd is doing, I am touched that you asked but have no idea how to answer. There are just too many variables and too many changes. I can tell you how she is doing right this minute but that tells you nothing about how the day or the week or the month has been. We may have had real, heart-stopping (mine, not hers) crises in the past week from say an unexpected middle of the night low blood sugar, but when you ask me how it is going my (sleep-deprived) mind goes blank and I can’t think of a thing to say.

20. Which brings us to my last point for now–pray for my dd and for her parents’ wisdom in dealing with it. Diabetes is a constant thing. We may not have anything new to add as a prayer request every week but know that this is something we are dealing with all day every day. It is an impossible task and we need (divine) help.



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