Thursday, January 12, 2012

You're never too old to expand your vocabulary!

The first few days we were in the hospital, I felt like people were talking a foreign language to me. The doctor quizzed me the last day on the names of the insulin Alex was on before he gave us discharge papers because up until the second to last day I was still saying the medicine that starts with "N" or "L". It's fairly challenging to learn about diabetes, let alone learn about it in 4 days, know the vocabulary, stick needles in your kid, and perform calculations involving fractions and ratios. Let's not forget you're learning all this on almost not sleep.

The only thing I'll say about math is I guess my math teacher was right when she told me someday I'd use fractions in my life. I now get to use them and ratios every day, several times a day. Win for her.

As far as vocabulary, well there is a lot of diabetes lingo out there and I still feel like a goofball saying some of it and wondering if I'm even using it properly half the time. Maybe if I write them here and bore my friends to tears with them, it will help me remember them better. Words I never knew before December 20th:

Bolus: Dose of insulin delivered when child eats or to lower blood glucose levels in response to a high reading.
You should have see my face when I began to hear this from the nurses...did you give Alex her bolus? When did she bolus? When did she WHAT????

Basal: Continuous insulin delivery that keeps blood glucose level within target range when the child is not eating.
Alex takes Novolog for her bolus and Lantus for her basal. DON'T mix them up! It could cause severe hypoglycemia or even be fatal. Doctors don't like you to use "N" or "L" to distinguish them so learn their names...

Hypoglycemia: A condition of below-normal blood glucose levels, generally 70 mg/dL or lower.
Give Alex 15g of carbs when she has hypoglycemia. Wait 15 minutes. Retest using her meter.

Hyperglycemia: Not to be confused with the above word; a condition of above-normal blood glucose levels, generally 150 mg/dL or higher.
Alex has mostly been in a state of hyperglycemia. I think there is something to use the word hyper here...because she is definitely hyper, moody, and raging when she is high, especially above 250...Give Alex lots of water to drink, correct using a bolus when possible, and test for ketones when above 300.

Ketones: Produced when the body burns fat for energy
This is why Alex lost 18 lbs...and landed her in the ICU...we now test her urine anytime she has a blood glucose over 300.

Glucagon: Injected into a diabetic patient in severe hypoglycemia and unconscious.
Scared out of my mind about the thought of using this thing...Alex has one on her at all times and the school has one in the health room for her. 

Lancets: Little needles inserted into the Blood Glucose Meter to poke your finger with.
Handle these with when you stick yourself changing this thing out!

Sharps Container: That is the scary little container you see in the doctor's office to put used needles in.
Who knew they sold these at stores for home can also use other plastic containers like milk jugs, etc.

Oh, there are a lot more words out there and a lot more I haven't even learned yet. But if I'm getting bored of typing them, you've already stopped reading this blog. I'm sure I'll learn more if and when Alex moves to an insulin pump. I feel like I'm getting a crash course in a medical degree or something here. I should have studied that in college. Apparently, it would have been far more useful than my social studies education degree!

I still don't know all the steps I suppose...


  1. Ah, yes...Diabetonese T1. It is an entirely new language, you're right.

    There's an entire list of "slang" fav refers to the SWAG method of carb counting -- As in: "I swagged a bolus for that cupcake". (Scientific Wild A$$ed Guess).

    If you're looking for a laugh...or ever happen to run across a term that you need to figure out, you can find them here:

  2. PS...

    This is for you ;)

  3. LOL! Thanks Wendy! I'm still blown away that you answered my on call page last night!