Blood Sugar Cheat Sheet: Quick Corrections Without the Stress, Math and Risk

When Nicole’s experiencing a low or high blood sugar, doing math in her head can prove unreliable. Especially when she needs to calculate how much of a potentially fatal drug to inject into her body.

Through math, trial and error we determined that one unit of Humalog will lower Nicole’s blood sugar 3mmol/L (54mg/dL) over the course of 5 hours. So if her blood sugar is 7.7mmol/L (138mg/dL) and she wants to go down to 4.7mmol/L (84mg/dL), she injects 1 unit of Humalog.

3mmol/L divided by 3 equals 1 unit of Humalog.

Easy enough. I mean, at least she’s not dividing by 2.73. But what about when her blood sugar is 5.9? 5.9 – 4.7 = 1.2 / 3 = 0.4 units of Humalog. It starts to get trickier. Especially, when the church bells are chiming midnight, under the glow of a flashlight, with a brain only 25% awake.

To make things more complicated, as I explained in a previous post, she often uses both Regular and Humalog to fine tune the correction.

Vice versa, when she her blood sugar is below 4.2mmol/L (75mg/dL), how much glucose to take is equally important. If her blood sugar drops to 3.9mmol/L, she only needs 2g of sugar to return to normal. Yet she might feel like downing four Glucolifts tablets for a real “glucose lift.” (Unless they sent orange cream flavour – then she’d rather have none.)

We’ve always stored a short list (of low blood sugars readings and the number of  tabs needed to correct) in her glucometer case. I’ve now expanded that list to include how much Humalog and Regular she needs to inject from 5.2 mmol/L to 15 mmol/L. She just scans down the blood sugar column until she finds her current blood sugar. Immediately she knows how much insulin or glucose tablets or vegetable juice to take (1/3 cup of carrot juice is the same as one glucose tab).

Yes, I know some people are thinking this is just going to make her brain lazy. She can always take up calculus. For now, blood sugar control is too monotonous, the day too busy and the calculation too important.

You can view a copy of the spreadsheet here. Folded over twice, it fits nicely into her glucometer case.

This simple tool saves time and mental energy for more important things –  like reading a 1959 hardcover copy of Ingo: The Story of my Otter (that I found in the laundry room of our apartment building) with our son Jonah under a tree.

–Thinking Outside the Type-1 Matrix,
John C. A. Manley

P.S. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend you use Nicole’s chart. Insulin and glucose needs may vary depending on your height, weight, gender, favourite colour and planet of origin. If you would like help creating your own chart (using ours as a template), we can do that as part of a telephone coaching session.

P.P.S. For more about how Nicole jumps out of pits of hypoglycemia, you can read: How to Fix Low Blood Sugars Without Going High.

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