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Math and Type 1 Diabetes

Math Skills Needed for Diabetes

Math and I have never been friends.  My attitude has remained, “Math, solve your own problems.”  Especially word problems have frustrated me to no end!  Who cares if we have two trains and each are going 90 mph and one has twenty passenger, the other forty passengers, how much faster will the one with twenty passengers reach the terminal?  All I hear when I read a word problem is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!”

Diabetes Came

When Matt was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, the endocrinologist (the specialist that oversees diabetes), started counting carbohydrates for me because at the time, I was clueless.  Matt would eat half of his chicken nuggets.  They would look at the serving size that stated, “18 carbohydrates.”  They would then, give him insulin to cover the nine carbohydrates.

Every meal had a different “Carb Ration.”  So breakfast might be 1 unit of insulin for every eight carbs.  Lunch was maybe one to twenty carbs.  Dinner was something like one to fifteen carbs.  But if Matt was high, over two hundred, there was a whole different mathematical equation to use.  If he was low there was yet another.  Thank God for his Medtronic pump, it does the math for us.  Essentially until the pump, eating with Matt was one word problem after another, oh boy.

Insulin Pump Was a Math Game Changer

Matt’s pump gets his blood sugar through bluetooth technology, automatically inputting his number from his Bayer Contour Meter.  This makes life so much more simple.  But back when we did injections, I used a calculator several times a day to calculate both insulin amounts and carbohydrate totals.  Now, the pump does the math for us, correcting highs and lows intuitively on its own.

Each day, I kicked myself, for not paying more attention in math.  The moral of this post is, “Kids, pay attention in math class, you might never know when you need it, especially with health conditions.”

Some families eyeball carbohydrates and I get it.  Eyeballing is much faster, easier, and simple! Matt’s blood sugar is much more stable when I take time to weigh foods, count the exact number of chips, cookies, and such.  I think the extra effort outweighs the complications extreme high and low blood sugar brings.

Even now, I find myself using a calculator when he eats a bunch of different foods at a meal.  The endocrinologist has used a calculator when he was diagnosed.  I figure if a medical doctor needed to use one, it is ok for me to use one too.  Better safe than sorry is my motto.

Some days I still wonder, “Hey, karma what the heck, I have a kid with diabetes and I suck at math!  Are you sure this is a good idea?”  But so far so good – he’s still kicking.  Has anyone else been very surprised at the amount of math diabetes requires?  I’d love to hear.  If you enjoyed this post, please check out Bag of Diabetes Supplies.  Thank you for stopping by.  Please come again soon and blessings to you and yours today and always,



I live in Columbus, Ohio USA, grown up here all my life. I love yoga, walking, riding bike, reading, bargain shopping, serving at church. Usually though, I'm napping in a doctor's office waiting area with one or two of the Fantastic Four Children. My passion is helping other families with extra health, behavioral, and learning issues like mine. Let's enjoy life... TOGETHER. It's more fun that way =)!

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