Speaking Diabetes: A Guide from an Insider

Guest post by Miriam E. Tucker

Just as physicians use abbreviations and terminology that sound like a foreign language to outsiders, patients who talk to each other on the Internet (and elsewhere) have developed their own quirky code words and phrases.

Here’s some of the lingo used by those with diabetes:

D-anything – Placing a “d” in front of any word makes it uniquely diabetically ours. One prominent example is DLife, the weekly CNBC television show and its website dLife. Other examples include “d-community,” “d-folk,” and the Twitter hashtag #dblog. Of course, the “d”-thing may not be obvious to the rest of the world. And we kinda like it that way.

The Big D – Is Diabetes.

PWD – An abbreviation for “Person with Diabetes,” a short alternative to the politically incorrect noun “diabetic.” Used frequently by d-blogger Amy Tenderich, of DiabetesMine.

DOC – Diabetes Online Community. Examples include TuDiabetes, DiabetesDaily, Act1Diabetes, and Juvenation. The term also refers more broadly to all the PWDs who communicate with each other on those sites and individual blogs as well as Twitter and Facebook. (Note: Does NOT refer to our doctors, for whom we have a variety of other words.)

Diabetaversary/diaversary/d-versary – The day we were diagnosed with diabetes drastically changed our lives forever. Some people mourn on the anniversary, while others celebrate remaining healthy. Now, if we could just establish a single way to say it.

AT1 – Adult with type 1 diabetes. An under-appreciated group, which includes those diagnosed in adulthood as well as those diagnosed as children who are now grown up. No, we are not type 2s just because we’re grownups.

Type 3 – A partner, spouse, friend, or anyone who helps but doesn’t have diabetes themselves. Yes, you too can be part of our not-so-exclusive club! (Contributed by Kelly Close)

Real estate – The amount of unmarked skin space one has available to inject insulin or insert an insulin pump site, which is typically changed every 2-5 days. Directly proportional to one’s body mass index.

Turf / Virgin Territory – See “real estate.”

Bolus-worthy – A mental assessment type 1s make when we are confronted with a tasty-looking high-carb food, typically some sort of dessert. If we eat this sugary treat, we will need to give ourselves an extra insulin “bolus” via injection or pump to cover the additional carbs. Will it be yummy enough to make it worthwhile, given that the correct dose is hard to gauge and our blood sugars will probably spike anyway?

Note to nondiabetics: If we ask you whether what you’re eating tastes good, please tell us the truth. We’re not trying to hurt ourselves. By assessing bolus-worthiness, we’re trying to be at least semi-responsible.

Gusher – Often refers to a finger that keeps on bleeding after we’ve done our blood sugar test. Also can be used for those times when we pull out an insulin needle or pump infusion site and an excessive amount of blood rapidly oozes out without warning. Paper towel, stat!

Glucoaster – The wide swings that our blood sugars sometimes decide to take when we dare to focus our attention on something else. Here’s an illustration, courtesy of AT1 Dayle Kern.

#bgnow / #bgwed – Originated in the DOC TuDiabetes, these hashtags allow d-folk to share our blood sugar (glucose) readings with the world on Twitter, either on Wednesday (#bgwed) or any day (#bgnow) for those who just can’t wait till Wednesday. Either way, you receive instant feedback from your d-friends. If it’s a good number, you get cheers and congratulations. If not, you get sympathy. Warning: Can become addictive. You know who you are.

About the author

Miriam E. Tucker, Medical Journalist with Type 1 Diabetes

Your turn

What other words or phrases are used?  Let us know in the comment section below.  As always, thank you for your time.

Helpful Resources:

American Diabetes Association

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Diabetes Public Health Resource


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