For each a plan

Although people living with type 1 diabetes all have the same autoimmune disease, the ‘how to’ of living with diabetes are different for each and every person.

Sure, every person diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is on insulin, but how they get that insulin and what type differ for every person. Each person must have a basal insulin, that keeps their body steady without eating, and a fast acting insulin which covers carbs and high glucose numbers. The following is the most thorough, yet shortest, explanation of the different types of insulin made available to all people with type 1 diabetes.

There are many choices for insulin. If you didn’t have diabetes, your body would make different amounts of insulin at different times. It would give you smaller, steady amounts between meals and overnight (sometimes called “basal” or “background”insulin). It would give you larger amounts when you ate (sometimes called “bolus” or “mealtime” insulin). Together, they would keep your in control all day.
Because you can’t make insulin, or don’t make enough for your body’s needs, you probably will need to use more than one type of manufactured insulin to get the same effect. These different types of insulin work at different rates and for different amounts of time. Here are more details about the different types of insulin available:
  • Mealtime insulins: Mealtime insulins include rapid acting and short-acting insulins. Rapid-acting insulin starts very quickly and works for the shortest time. Short-acting insulin starts more slowly and works longer than rapid-acting insulin.
  • Basal insulins: Basal insulins include intermediate acting and long acting. These start more slowly and last longer than mealtime insulins. Your doctor usually recommends you take basal insulin once or twice a day.
  • Mixture insulins: Mixture insulins contain a mix of both basal and mealtime insulins in one solution. They can provide blood sugar control at meals, between meals, and even at night, depending on your treatment plan. (

    Within this simple definition of insulins, there are about 15 different types of insulin that fall within these categories that are best suited for some people and not for others.

    Now you get that the medical program cannot be one size fits all, it is virtually impossible with all the different combinations of insulin out there, but what you may not realize is that the lifestyle program is different for all people with type 1 diabetes as well.

    Lifestyle program consists of eating, sleeping, exercising, stress, adrenaline, and whatever else there is that makes up someone’s life. How someone lives and reacts to their life is as individual as it comes. How that person’s blood sugar reacts is the ultimate statement of individuality.

    Let me give some examples of my son’s lifestyle that threw me for a loop when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Falling asleep causes my son’s glucose levels to skyrocket. The highest numbers we see all day and night are right when he is falling asleep. He requires double the amount of insulin at night than he does during the day.

    This confused me because most books on Type 1 or diabetes in general will tell you a person uses less insulin at night. Not my son.

    My son can eat ice cream with using very very little insulin. If the carton says there are 15 carbs, I can only give him insulin for 6 carbs or he will go very low. Go figure. He’s the only kid I know with Type 1 diabetes that can eat ice cream practically for free (no insulin).

    There have been many times when I seek advice from other parents of kids with Type 1 and I get answers like, “Nope, that doesn’t happen to us,” or, “That’s odd, we are completely opposite of that.”

    In an attempt to keep from boring you to tears, I will end with this. As you are learning about Type 1 diabetes for yourself or a loved one, just remember this, every person is an individual from their hair, to their smile to their blood glucose levels. Just because you know someone with Type 1 diabetes, doesn’t mean you know everyone with Type 1 diabetes.

No switching T1 and T2

Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are not different levels of diabetes. Once you are diagnosed as either one or the other, you stay with that type of diabetes. No switching can occur.

If I had a nickel (well $20.00 bill) for every time I heard someone say, “Well so-and-so was Type 2 but now they are on insulin so they are Type 1,” I would be rich. Or at least be able to take my family out for a great dinner and some really good ice cream sundaes with all the trimmings, of course. This is just not possible or true. explains both types of diabetes with great clarity. Type 1 diabetes is “an autoimmune disease that occurs when T cells attack and decimate the beta cells in the pancreas that are needed to produce insulin, so that the pancreas makes too little insulin (or no insulin). Without the capacity to make adequate amounts of insulin, the body is not able to metabolize blood glucose (sugar), to use it efficiently for energy, and toxic acids (called ketoacids) build up in the body.”

It goes on to explain Type 2 diabetes as, “one of the two major types of diabetes, the type in which the beta cells of the pancreas produce insulin but the body is unable to use it effectively because the cells of the body are resistant to the action of insulin. Although this type of diabetes may not carry the same risk of death from ketoacidosis, it otherwise involves many of the same risks of complications as does type 1 diabetes (in which there is a lack of insulin).”

Let me explain these definitions rather quickly.
Type 1=Autoimmune disease…Type 2=not Autoimmune disease.
Type 1=Body has NO insulin…Type 2=Body still makes it’s own insulin
Type 1=Death AND complications…Type 2=Death FROM complications

When a person is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, they are usually given exercise advice, nutritional counseling, and possibly a medication to help their bodies start using their insulin properly. Over time, their doctor will check their glucose levels and determine how this plan of action is working. If it is not working, then the doctor may prescribe insulin as a way for the patient overcome their own body’s insulin resistance.

This in no uncertain terms means the person has switched to having Type 1 diabetes. It simply means they are a person with Type 2 diabetes taking insulin as part of their plan to help stabilize their blood sugars. It is actually an insult to my five year old insulin dependent son to assume that anyone on insulin has Type 1 diabetes. He was not given the option of exercise first. There was no meal plan he could follow. He didn’t get to try any other drugs before insulin. He became insulin dependent the minute his sugar was over 1000 in the pediatrician’s office.

If you have Type 2 diabetes or you know someone with Type 2 diabetes that is taking insulin to help stabilize their sugar, then that is exactly what it is. You are, or they are, a person with Type 2 taking insulin to help stabilize their sugar.

There is no switching of the two diabetes (no matter what crazy Halle Berry said). You can bet if there was, I would sell my soul to switch my son from Type 1 to Type 2 diabetes so that he could exercise and eat his way to healthy stabilized blood glucose level.

My son is a person first

A person with Type 1 diabetes is a person first, a diagnosis should not change that.

For the first 4 years of my son’s life I watched him grow. It seemed he grew taller everyday. His brown eyes grew deeper, and his eye lashes seemingly grew longer as he slept. His blonde hair only got blonder in the summer sun. He laughed. He cried. He ran, played and jumped every second of every day. He was unstoppable. People would call to ask what he discovered that day, or what new phrase he learned. People stopped their conversations to hear one of his 4 year old knock-knock jokes. He could make his little sister laugh just by looking in her direction. He was the king or our world. On July 25, 2007, his diagnosis day, that all changed, except not in the way that you are probably thinking.

All the things I told you about my son were still there, shining brightly as ever. He still grew taller and stronger everyday. His brown eyes were still as chocolaty as Hershey Kisses. His lashes were still the envy of most supermodels. He still ran, jumped and played every second of every day. He was still our king. But what did change were the conversations about my boy. People didn’t call to hear him tell a joke. People didn’t call to find out what he discovered that day. People called to talk about his diagnosis and his numbers.

“How was your son’s day?’ became “How were his numbers?”
“Did he do anything funny today?” became “Did he go too high today?”
“Here, try this, it’s delicious.” became “You can’t have that you have diabetes.”

Not only was I mourning the fact that my baby was diagnosed with a disease that he would carry with him for the rest of his life, I was mourning how the world looked at my son. It broke my heart every time it was glossed over that he was just a boy and not a ‘big bad case of diabetes’.

Sure, there was a huge learning curve for everyone in our life. We weren’t that close to anyone with Type 1 diabetes, so we really knew nothing about it. The curve, however, was the biggest for me, I was his mom. On July 24, 2007, my son didn’t have a chronic disease, and on July 25, 2007 he did. But I never once forgot that my son was just a boy, my baby, who happens to have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

We are all on the same page now. When my son gets home from school, I know when the phone rings to find out about his day, it will be just that. A question about a 5 year old’s day in Kindergarten, not a question about the numbers of some kid with a ‘big bad case of diabetes.’