When I talk to other people about Kaitlyn’s type 1 diabetes, I usually try to talk about it in terms that they would understand. There are very few people who really understand what type 1 diabetes is, and even fewer understand all the ins and outs of daily diabetes management. I lean toward using words and phrases that anyone would understand, but occasionally I forget and start using my type 1 lingo.

The other day, I was talking to my friend whose daughter is a good friend to Kaitlyn. She was really concerned about Kaitlyn, because she had just had a really rough night, and I had kept her home from church that day. When I was explaining about what happened, I said, “It’s not a big deal. She’s O.K. She was pretty high most of the night because her site failed, and so she didn’t get very good sleep. It happens once in a while.” My friend went open-mouthed and gasped, “What? Her SIGHT failed?” She thought I was saying that it was no big deal that her eyes lost their ability to see, and — even more startling — that this happens on a regular basis. We had a good laugh when we figured out our miscommunication, and I told her that I was referring to her insulin pump SITE.

This is not the first time this has happened. Some have mistakenly thought I was referring to a “high” from illegal drug use as opposed to high blood sugar levels. Misunderstandings happen even in our own family. My older daughter Anna misunderstood me once when I told her that we needed to “test Kaitlyn.” She thought I wanted to check her blood sugar, when I really meant that I needed to test her on her spelling words.

Not only do we tend to use words that can be mistakenly understood in a different way, the type 1 community also has all kinds of special terms and slang and more acronyms than I can even count. Here’s just a list that I can think of off the top of my head:

A test that measures your average blood sugar control for the past two to three months
A continuous small dose of insulin given by the pump every hour to keep insulin in the body
Blood glucose, or blood sugar
Grams of carbohydrate in a serving of food
The insulin you get for a meal or a correction for high blood sugar
Certified diabetes educator
When blood sugar goes low quickly
Continuous glucose monitor
The anniversary of diagnosis
Short for endocrinologist, a diabetes doctor
Insulin sensitivity factor (used to calculate correction doses)
Multiple daily injections
Lancing device
Type 1 diabetes
Total daily dose
How many of these have you used in the last week? I’m willing to bet you’ve used them a lot. Plus, we all have many more slang terms and pet names we use for things in our own families. It’s no wonder that most people have a hard time understanding what we’re talking about!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.


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