Type 1 Diabetes 101: A Day in the Life…

During the last three months I have become intimately aware of life with diabetes.

I’ll admit that before S was diagnosed, I had no idea what all went into monitoring a person’s diabetes. In case you are unaware of what a day in the life of a diabetic consists of, here is a little glimpse.

First, I want to introduce you to the basic supplies that we use on a regular basis.

1. Insulin: S has two kinds of insulin. The first is called Humalog and is a fast acting insulin. This is the one that we give him every time he eats or when his sugars are really high. He gets an injection of Humalog every 3-4 hours. The second kind is called Lantus and is a long acting insulin. This insulin is injected only once a day. It lasts for 24 hours. The Humalog dosing varies based upon carbs eaten and blood sugar levels while the Lantus dosing stays constant.

2. Pouch: In this pouch we store the meter (#6), the Lancet device (#7), and the strips (#8, #9). It zips and holds everything in place for when we are on the go or when I have to take it to another room.

3. Needle: These needles hold 30 units of insulin. They are very fine needles. I will tell you that does not mean that they are not painful, but these are not like the ones that you get shots from a doctor with. They are much finer and less painful.

4. Band-Aids: These are very important for any kid who is receiving a shot! We get the cheapest, and most colorful ones possible. Currently we are using Peanut ones from Walmart.

5. Alcohol Swab: We use the alcohol swabs (they are small squares of cotton with alcohol on them) to clean the finger before taking the blood. We also use these for cleaning the top of the insulin bottle before drawing it into the needle and for cleaning S’s skin before injecting the insulin. If he was old enough to go wash his hands we would probably have him do so instead of using the pads. We have to be careful not to get alcohol in the blood sample because it effects the reading.

6. Meter: Pretty self-explanitory, the meter reads the blood. Through it we are able to determine the sugar and ketone levels in the blood.

7. Lancet Device and Lancet: Otherwise known as the “poking thingy.” It is with the lancet that we poke S in order to draw the blood needed for the meter.

8. Ketone Strips: Blood ketone strips are used to discover the level of ketones when S has sugars above 300 or when he is sick. Ketones are a dangerous thing in a diabetic’s body and too high can result in a trip to the ER.

9. Glucose Strips: These are the sugar strips. The strip is inserted into the meter, then blood is placed on the end part. The meter reads the blood and lets us know what S’s sugar levels are at. This is important in order to be able to calculate the amount of insulin needed in order to keep the sugars in a “normal” level.

Next are the emergency supplies that we have with us at all times.

10. Peanut Butter Crackers: We generally have a package of these on hand for emergencies but they are also great for when we are out running errands and it is time to feed S. Each cracker is about 4 grams of carbs and the package has a decent amount of protein in it, due to the peanut butter. S really likes them!

11. Glucagon: The glucagon is for real emergencies. This is for if S goes into a coma and can’t be woken up. God forbid that we are ever in need of this kit. But we have 4 of them right now in case of emergency.

12. Juice Box: 4 oz juice boxes are our current fast acting sugar source of preference. S loves to have apple juice and doesn’t get it normally, so it is a treat to get to drink a box. When S’s sugar drops below 70 we give him a juice box followed by the peanut butter crackers. The juice brings his sugars back up and the crackers help to sustain the sugars so they don’t drop again. In our experience this usually is needed in the middle of the night.

Now that you have an idea of the tools that we use, let me give you a brief idea of what our day looks like.

S needs to have his sugars checked every 3-4 hours. We use the first kit for each of those checks.

The day starts with a sugar check, breakfast, and an insulin injection. Three to four hours later we repeat the process with lunch. Then again with snack, dinner, and bedtime. At bedtime we give him a unit of Lantus.

During the middle of the night the checks continue. Four hours after S gets his Lantus I do a check. If sugars are good then we both get to sleep for the night. If they are high or low then it has to be corrected with another check in 4 hours.

And that is the day in the life of a child with diabetes. Hope it has been enlightening. If you have any questions, please, feel free to ask. I want people to know the truth and remove as many of the misconceptions as possible.

Check out this blog post from other parents of children with diabetes and what they have to say about it.


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