Word to the Wise: A T1D Slang Dictionary

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Always rage bolus responsibly!




Reed GialketsisBy Reed Gialketsis
(17 years old, Nevada)

Sometimes people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) get so accustomed to our own slang and “inside” phrases, it’s easy to forget not everyone knows what we’re talking about. Heck, even to this day my grandmother still thinks “LOL” means “lots of love.” (Grammie, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry you had to find out this way. We just didn’t have the heart to enlighten you when you texted us things like “I know you can fight your high blood sugar LOL.”) But you see my point; it’s perfectly normal to turn to your nine-year-old with T1D in the grocery store and ask “are you high?” but everyone else in that store will think you’re crazy.

Since I’ll be attending JDRF Children’s Congress as a delegate this summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about how important it is for me to communicate clearly. With 161 T1D delegates and families filling the halls of Congress next month, Members of Congress may hear a lot of strange words they’re not familiar with.

With that in mind, my friend Kerri over at Six Until Me let me browse through her list of phrases (adorably named Diabetic Terms of Endearment; she has 12 pages of ‘em!), and with that inspiration, I’ve compiled a small list of my own favorite diabetic slang terms! I’ve heard all of these used on at least one occasion by someone other than me, so I assure you they’re real. Sit back and relax—you’ll understand what we’re talking about in no time!

T1D Slang Dictionary

Bat Belt (noun) — a belt you may wear if you have T1D. It is usually worn around the waist and may contain everything from insulin and a continuous glucose monitor to that grappling-hook thing that Batman uses to scale buildings.

Crashing (verb) — when blood sugar drops low and drops fast. This can sometimes result from a rage bolus (definition below); be warned!

Ugh, my blood sugar went from 170 to 120 in half an hour, and I still have insulin on board. I’m totally crashing.

D-Mama (noun) — the mother of a child with T1D, who is not afraid to take the disease head-on. While D-Mamas may sometimes appear frightening to non D-Mamas, they are loveable and fearless. Never be afraid to approach them, as they carry valuable diabetes information (and glucose tablets)!

Dead Strips (noun) — the used test strips that—though you swear you threw them away—show up under your bed and between the couch cushions.

Flicked (past participle) — when your pump infusion site/pod scrapes against something like a door handle or a chair.

Poker (noun) — quite simply, a lancet. Because let’s face it, it sounds cooler.

I need to change the needle on my poker before it rusts.

Rage Bolus (noun) — a large bolus/series of mild boluses administered to correct high blood sugar, an action that can sometimes lead to low blood sugar. Always rage bolus responsibly!

Rollercoastering (verb) — when blood sugar starts out high, then goes low … then goes high … and then goes low. Basically, your blood-sugar level alternates everywhere outside the normal range.

I’m totally rollercoastering; this is my third low today!

S.W.A.G. (noun, often used as a verb) — Scientific and Wildly Amazing Guess. Deciding an arbitrary bolus/injection amount for a certain food or drink when you don’t know how many carbs are actually in it.

I’ll S.W.A.G. it—the cupcakes can’t be more than 30 grams, anyway.

Twilight Zone High (noun) — when your blood sugar is high for no apparent reason.

I’ve avoided sugar all day, but I still have a twilight zone high of 390.

Zombied (noun/adjective) — that (totally gross) feeling when your fingers are too cold and no blood comes out when you prick them. When this occurs, start rubbing your hands and squeezing!


Related: A Numbers Game

To learn more about Reed, please visit her Children’s Congress delegate page or her personal blog: The Secret Life of the Diabetic Teenager.