How much time is spent managing Diabetes a year?

Here I was, testing again, and the thought came to me. Just how much time a year,do I spend doing diabetes related activities? Now this is not an excuse to wallow on what I could do with that time, as the time invested results in a better A1c. But is good ammunition if anyone is complaining about how little time they have to get tasks completed . Lets take a look now as we address


The average test takes 5 seconds once the blood hits the strip. Add another 30 seconds (I would estimate) for finding the meter, loading it, reading the result, and cleaning up afterward ,and you now have used up some serious time. Do that 6 times a day (at least) and you now have used up 3minutes and 50 seconds a day. Do that every day for a year and now blood testing is taking up over 23 hours a year in testing. The good news now is when your significant other says “what do you do with your time!”, you can say “i put myself to the test”.


Changing a needle on a pen takes on average 6 seconds per needle. If you are injecting 5 times a day (and actually changing the needle) that means 30 seconds a day. Do that for a year and changing a needle can amount to over 3 hours of hard work. The upside: Your fingers will be stronger!. Infusion sets can be even more. By the time you have the set in and cleaned up the mess of plastic left behind, this can be an exercise that can last over 2 minutes. Do this every 3 days and after a year, your will be using up 4 hours of time.

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We all need a coach. This is how I encourage you all to look at your Dr/Heatlhcare provider. Typically, the average diabetic (who is well controlled) will see their “coach” once every 6 months and usually it will include a visit to the Dr and a visit to the educator. After wait times, the actual consult (typically 30 minutes in my experience) and the driving and finding parking, I think it reasonable to conclude this is an exercise that takes around 2 hours per visit. So with 4 visits all up a year, we spend 8 hours getting the information we need, ironically half of which is spent actually sitting with the “coach”.


Now this is probably the least fun of all the things we do. Getting a needle in the vein never feels good and so for the privilege we spend 40 minutes (wait time included), 4 times a year to find out what our Hba1c‘s are. That amounts to 2 hours and 40 minutes a year to confirm you are on the right track! Personally, I think that is time well invested don’t you?.


I guess that once every 3 months I find myself needing to get something to do with diabetes from the pharmacy. The average would be around a 20 minute experience (including drive time). So that one is a nice 1 hour per year in getting supplies.


If there was ever time with diabetes that at least had some enjoyment, this could be it (I don’t mean the actual hypo, I mean eating sweet things). All up if you follow guidelines, hypo’s cost us 25 minutes (factoring in waiting for the sugar to rise, testing and actually eating the glucose). A well controlled diabetic (according to endo’s) is having 3 -4 mild ones a week (I would say probably more if you count the ones that don’t get tested for). so rounding it up to 5 a week, that gives us 2.08 hours a week treating hypos, and when you add that up over a year, it comes to a whopping 4 and a half days, managing hypos. Naturally we want to avoid these as much as possible, and if there was every a place to save time, this is by far and away the biggest!!!

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These are probably the most laborious and time consuming of all things diabetes. If you count having to cash their chqs as well, then I would say all up, it takes around 40 minutes including printing forms and sending them in. Do this, once every two months and now you have 4 hours of your life that you will never get back – boooo! On the bright side though, thats money coming back to you. Think of it as forced savings:)


This one is small amount of time, but it adds up. Finding the pen, and then dialing up the dose and delivering it, I feel takes about the same time as manually pushing the buttons on a pump (and for the record I am on a pump). All up about 20 seconds, and around 6 times a day (including corrections), that gives a grand total of 12.13 hours a year giving the life saving medication that keeps us going.


At least once a month, I would suggest taking a look at your glucose records and seeing how you are doing. Feedback (good or bad) is how we improve, and the body is continually changing its requirements. It is not until we analyze how we are doing that we can optimize our own care. With that in mind, it would be safe to say 1 hour per month would safely do it. That gives us 12 hours a year of ensuring optimal care.

Lets do the math.

(23+4+8 +2.6+1+36+4+12.13+12)/ 24 (hours in a day) = 4.28 days of diabetes management per year!

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Next time someone says “what do you do with all your time?”, you will now be able to say, “I use 4 and a quarter days treating diabetes, what do you do with your 4 days that you don’t manage diabetes?” For me this exercise shows just how important it is to minimize hypoglycemia. This by far and away makes up the biggest part of the time in managing type 1 diabetes. Remember, this was not a scientific approach to working this out but rather a good guesstimate. I do however think that it is not far off the mark. I know I didn’t include absolutely everything that could be considered diabetic management, but wanted to keep it top line and simple. I hope this makes you realize how fantastically committed you all are, rather than feel disappointed with the days you use in getting your diabetes under control. Type 1 is a skill set providing us with the ability to over come challenges and plan our time effectively. We have this thanks to 4 days of continual practice a year!


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