Trying to figure out what a certain word, phrase or acronym means? Here’s an on-going glossary of diabetes-speak. Is something missing? Have a better definition? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Basal (also, Basal Rate) – the itty-bitty increments an insulin pump will deliver every few minutes as it does its best to act like a pancreas. In insulin pumps these rates are often programmed to change throughout the day to keep blood glucose levels.. level.
#bgnow – Often used on Twitter to disclose what someones blood glucose is at the time they are tweeting. May be used as a call for help (e.g. “I’m at 42 and can’t find the juice! #bgnow) or exasperation (e.g. “It’s ice cream day at work and what am I doing? Wrestling with this 435 #bgnow”).
Blood Glucose – The concentration of glucose in your blood, the main indicator of diabetes and the thing that people with diabetes are always trying to keep in balance between taking insulin or other drugs and eating. Sometimes also referred to simply as “BG.”
Blood Glucose Meter – A small machine used to measure one’s blood glucose. This looks like one of those digipet things from the lat 1990s. But instead of a cute pixelated cat, blood glucose meters mimic Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors – yes, they feed on blood. In order to eat, the blood glucose meter must first be fitted with a test strip. On a historical note, blood glucose meters keep people with diabetes from having to deal with their own urine multiple times a day!
Blood Sugar – See “Blood Glucose” above. Also, weird phrase to say, as it could just as easily be “Blood Carb” and that sounds like something from The Hunger Games.
Bolus – The insulin that is administered for a meal or to correct a high. Not to be confused with an overly large and rounded nose or other appendage.
Bolus-Worthy – An endorsement for food that values it as worth taking insulin for. E.g. “That was the best bacon cupcake I’ve ever had – totally bolus-worthy!”
CGM – Continuous glucose monitor. A system worn by some people with diabetes to provide them with information about the current(ish) level of the blood glucose. The system consists of three components: A thin, flexible sensor inserted subcutaneously under the skin and is held in place by an adhesive bandage that goes on the skin. To this the second component is attached: A transmitter that pulls data from the sensor and sends it wirelessly to the third component, the receiver. The receiver interprets the data and displays it on a screen, while also providing alerts as programmed about high or low blood glucose levels. Note that with some systems, the third component is incorporated into an accompanying insulin pump.
Continuous Glucose Monitor – See CGM above.
#DBlog – A diabetes-related blog. Could be simply a single post, could be the theme of the whole blog. If you’re reading this, you’re already familiar with a #dblog (Hi!).
#Diabetes – Not to be used as the punchline to a joke about doughnuts or cake.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) – A condition that can happen as a result of high blood glucose, making someone very sick as their actual blood becomes acidic. Gross, dangerous, and often requires a trip to the ER
#DIYPS – The Do-It-Yourself Pancreas System, a piece of genius from a cute couple who didn’t want to wait for the FDA to go through its lengthy approval process. Learn more here.
DM – The clinical term for diabetes is “diabetes mellitus” and is often referred to as DM. Also a friendly way to talk directly to someone via Twitter!
DOC – Diabetes Online Community. The best strangers you ever met on the internet. Fabulous resource for support and empathy. How does one find these folks? Participate in #dsma (see below).
#DSMA – Diabetes Social Media Advocates – the fastest Twitterchat you have ever jumped in on, lead by Cherise and enjoyed by many, many, many people. An appropriate forum for opening up to strangers on the internet, to hear what PWDs are thinking about, and to make a joke about diabetes where people will understand it.
Free Shower – The event of bathing with no diabetes devices, ports, or infusion sets attached to you.
High – High blood glucose. Sometimes noticeable, sometimes a surprise. Always annoying. Often accompanied by a gross sense of cotton mouth. Also induces lethargy and, at times, fruity-smelling breath, causing confusion for drunkenness.
Glucometer – A blood glucose meter whose name was squished together, historically referring to a meter produced by Bayer in the 1980s.
Glucose Meter – See Blood Glucose Meter.
Hyperglycemic – See High.
Hypo-belligerent – The act of being very low, but determined to show the world that you can handle it or, at times, that “No, no, I’m now low right now, and I don’t need to check my blood glucose, dammit!” when, in fact, you are very low. Often the result of sneaky low blood glucose combined in a less-than-chipper mood. Can sometimes be confused for a state one reaches often after consuming too much tequila.
Hypoglycemic – See Low.
IOB – Insulin On Board. Because insulin is not instantaneous (or even insulintaneous), this is the amount of insulin after taking a bolus that is still in your system. This is calculated to determine whether you may need more insulin to avoid going high or whether you may need to eat to avoid going low.
Insulin – Stuff made by a fully functioning pancreas. Stuff injected or infused by those with imperfect pancreases. Seen as both the elixir of life and liquified little bitch juice.
Insulin Pump – Little plastic box that looks like the 1990s called and want their pagers back, only these boxes have tethers that attach them to the body so they can do their best impression of a pancreas and deliver insulin. Commonly buzzing or beeping diabetes accessory.
#ItMakesSenseIfYouHaveDiabetes – A new kind of logic for those with underperforming endocrine systems. Also used for inside jokes.
LADA – Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults, this is the lazy kind of type 1 that often looks like type 2 diabetes at first, but eventually ends up being type 1. A surprise for everyone involved – unfortunately, this often includes the doctors making the diagnosis.
Low – When blood glucose levels are not as elevated as they should be. May cause tunnel vision, foggy brain, shaking, cold sweats, or nothing at all. It means too much insulin was taken for the amount of carbohydrate consumed, or exercise completed, or stress felt, or… well, it’s complicated. Can also cause extreme stubbornness known as hypo-belligerence.
MDI – Multiple Daily Injections, or the act of taking injections in place of an insulin pump. This includes two types of insulin, the long-acting kind to mimic a basal rate and the fast-acting kind for bolusing. Creates lots of trash in biohazard sharps boxes. Also provides poor toys for curious cats.
No-Hitter – Most people with CGMs have them alarm at a certain high level and a certain low level. When the blood glucose chart levels have remained between those two alarm lines, this is known as a no-hitter. It is an accomplishment worthy of bragging across multiple social media channels.
Pod Pump – An insulin pump that attaches directly to the skin so there is no tether tubing. When visible, people unfamiliar with the device may wonder if you’re either THAT addicted to nicotine or if you are THAT able to get pregnant.
Pump – See insulin pump. Or think back to Saturday Night Live in the late 80s.
PWD – Person With Diabetes. This refers to someone living with diabetes. Why? Because that other word (cough-diabetic-cough) should only be used as an adjective. Many PWDs are okay with acronyms, but don’t want to be labeled by their disease.
Test Strip – A little costly piece of plastic and circuit-like stuff that is used to deliver blood from the fingertip to the always-hungry blood glucose meter. Test strips can be used once and only once, resulting in costly medical bills. In their used form, they have been known to line the bottoms of bags, purses, drawers, and just about anywhere else you can image, although ironically, rarely ever the trash can.
TSA – Going somewhere? These are your new best friends who will want to go through all your stuff because you have liquid meds in a baggie and will even provide you with a little friendly frisky time. Bless them, I wouldn’t want their jobs, but as a PWD, you’ll probably spend more time with them than you ever wanted to share.
Type 1 – People with type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune disease in which the immune system decides to play survivor with the beta cells in the pancreas that are responsible for making insulin. Spoiler alert: The beta cells get kicked off the island and the body is left without the ability to produce insulin – a crucial hormone needed to live. The options are to either take insulin through injection or insulin pump, or to… not exist any more.
Type 1.5 – See LADA
Type 2 – People with type 2 diabetes – a metabolic disease in which the body either builds up a resistance to the insulin produced or it produces less. Similar to type 1 diabetes, this results in high blood glucose, but can be treated through a number of ways including oral medications, exercise, diet, insulin and other injectable medications. Too often accompanied by an undeserved stigma.
Type Awesome – This refers to people who love and support those living with diabetes, but do no have the disease themselves. It is likely that Type Awesome folks would understand nearly every term on this list.