I came across a great page on American Diabetes Association website the other day. It gives definitions of commonly used terms associated with diabetes. I decided to quiz our 7-year-old Kaitlyn on several of the terms that she hears us say on a regular basis and see if she could come up with the answers. Here’s what she had to say, as well as the correct definition given by the website:


Kaitlyn: “It’s a drop of blood that you get to see what your numbers have been for the last three  months.”
Real Definition:  A test that measures a person’s average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months.

basal rate

Kaitlyn: “I heard of it, but I don’t really know what it is. It’s something to do with insulin.”
Real Definition: A steady trickle of low levels of longer-acting insulin, such as that used in insulin pumps.

blood glucose

Kaitlyn: “It’s when you test your blood and you get a number.”
Real Definition: The main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy. Also called blood sugar.


Kaitlyn: “It’s how much insulin that you get when you eat something. You tell your pump how many carbs and then it tells you how many units of insulin you get.”
Real definition: One of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide carbohydrate are starches, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and sugars.


Kaitlyn: “A diabetes doctor.”
Real Definition: A doctor who treats people who have endocrine gland problems such as diabetes.


Kaitlyn:  “Never heard of it. Sounds like a made up word to me.”
Real Definition: A condition that occurs when one’s blood glucose is lower than normal, usually less than 70 mg/dL. Signs include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, and confusion.


Kaitlyn: “A shot full of insulin that I get when I’m high.”
Real Definition: Inserting liquid medication or nutrients into the body with a syringe.


Kaitlyn: “That’s pretty easy, but I can’t describe it. It’s a liquid that keeps me alive.”
Real Definition: A hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, it is taken by injection or through use of an insulin pump.


Kaitlyn: “It’s a thing that shows if I’m sick or not.”
Real Definition: A chemical produced when there is a shortage of insulin in the blood and the body breaks down body fat for energy. High levels of ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and coma.


Kaitlyn: “It’s a needle that’s in a little can with a button on it. It pricks my finger so blood can get out and into the meter.”
Real Definition: A spring-loaded device used to prick the skin with a small needle to obtain a drop of blood for blood glucose monitoring.


Kaitlyn: “It’s a part of a body that makes insulin, but mine doesn’t work. That’s why I have diabetes.”
Real Definition: An organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.

It was amazing to see how much Kaitlyn has learned over the last few years. I can definitely see where we need to continue educating her so that she’ll be able to accurately explain things and provide answers to those she talks to about her diabetes, but she’s on her way to a really great understanding.


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.



Related topics:
A Diabetes-Themed Game of “Would You Rather”
Kim: An Interview With Kaitlyn
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: What’s the Difference?

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