Taking Care of Diabetes

Since our pancreas does not make insulin, we have to take insulin as medicine so that glucose can get from our blood and into our cells to give us energy to do things. Your doctor will tell you how much insulin you need. It can be a little scary at first and there is a lot to understand, that’s why I am here, to help you know what you need to learn.

Testing Blood Glucose

Because diabetes affects the glucose in your blood, it is important to measure this with a blood glucose meter. You will get used to having your blood glucose meter with you all of the time because checking your glucose level is the only way to know if your diabetes is under control.

You always need some glucose in your blood, but not too much. If your blood glucose gets too high or too low it can make you feel sick so you will always want to avoid that. Your doctor will tell you what your glucose levels should be.

Low Blood Glucose

Low blood glucose happens when you take more insulin than your body needs. It means that too much glucose moved from your blood into your cells, not leaving enough glucose back in the blood (called hypoglycemia). This can be very dangerous. If your blood glucose is low you may feel shaky, start sweating, get a headache, feel dizzy, or your heart may start pounding. These are called symptoms, and they warn you that you need to eat or drink some sugar right away.

High Blood Glucose

High blood glucose happens when you don’t take enough insulin – when there is too much glucose in your blood (called hyperglycemia). High blood glucose levels can be harder to notice at first, another reason why it is important to test your blood glucose often. Most of the time, you can take insulin so that your high glucose goes down. But if you don’t take insulin and your blood glucose stays high for awhile, you can end up getting ketones - these can be very dangerous. They can make you feel sick – like you have the flu. You can end up in the hospital for several days and even in a coma. So you definitely want to take your insulin regularly and not have ketones.

Getting Insulin

There are two ways to get insulin into your body—use a needle and inject insulin into your body or use an insulin pump. Injections can be given with a syringe or by a little device that looks like a pen. Both of these have needles on the end that you stick into your tummy, or sometimes your arm or bottom. Then you can put the insulin in the syringe or the pen into your body. A pump does not require insulin injections and instead allows you to press buttons on a little device to deliver insulin into your body. After I was first told I had diabetes, I started giving myself shots. I thought it would really hurt, but the people that make the needles make them very small; so small that we can hardly feel them at all. Even so, I quickly switched to a pump so I wouldn’t have to inject myself with a needle every day and I’ve found I have much better health on a pump.

Multiple Daily Injections

The trick with diabetes is to get the right amount of insulin in your body at the right time. For some this means taking several (multiple) shots each day.

You need a little bit of insulin all the time. This is called “basal” insulin. You usually inject some long-lasting insulin once a day to give your body the insulin that it needs between your meals and when you are sleeping.

When you eat your body needs more insulin to move the glucose from the food into your cells. This is called “bolus” insulin. This is injected when you eat, like your pancreas would do if it was working. How much insulin you need depends on how much carbohydrate you eat, that’s why you will learn to count carbs.

Insulin Pumps

Another way to get insulin in your body is with an insulin pump. An insulin pump is about the size of a small cell phone. The pump will automatically give you the insulin that you need constantly, the basal insulin.

Before you eat you will still have to count how many carbs you are going to eat and then you press the buttons to let your pump give you the right amount of insulin. The infusion set stays on your body and the insulin goes from the pump through the tubing and into you. The great part is, you don’t have to inject yourself with a needle so much. You only have to change the infusion set every 2 or 3 days.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of your blood sugar levels no matter how many times you use your blood glucose meter. There is a technology called Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) that tells you what your glucose level is every 5 minutes – that’s like checking with your meter 288 times a day! You still need to check with a blood glucose meter when you use CGM, but it can warn you if your glucose levels are heading too low or too high.

Responsibility as you Grow

Taking care of your diabetes can seem like a lot of work and you may not understand all of the parts of it at first. I am here to help and so are parents and your doctor. When I was little and I found out I had diabetes, my mom had to count my carbs and give me my injections. When I got older, I learned more about diabetes and was able to do more things myself. I learned to count carbs and use an insulin pump and grow up to be a strong lion who knew how to control diabetes. Talk to your parents and your doctor to make sure you can do what you need to do. As you get older, you can learn to have more responsibility and freedom with your diabetes.

Long Term Complications

If you take care of your diabetes, you can live a long, healthy life, just like everyone else. But, diabetes can lead to lots of health problems if it is not taken care of properly.

Some people have problems with their eyes, kidneys, and heart so it is important to see your doctor regularly and take control of your diabetes in order to be strong and healthy like me, Lenny the Lion!

  • Control Blood Glucose!
  • Inject or Infuse Insulin!
  • Exercise and Play Sports!
  • Eat a healthy diet!
  • Visit your doctor regularly!
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