How do diabetic cows cope? – By Helen May


I rarely sit still. Even in the cinema or on a flight, I fidget. Once, on a long-haul flight, the guy in the seat in front of me and “stop moving around and go to sleep!”. Even though I work in an office, I can’t stay in my seat for long: I’m up to make some tea or chat to colleagues or … At least that’s my explanation for not getting fat despite eating constantly.

Throughout the day, I’m munching on apple or nibbling on nuts or snacking on a muesli bar or devouring some homemade cake. I have a theory about cake: if you make the cake the total calories consumed is less because you use some whilst mixing. I’ve always been the same: I was not allowed to eat during lessons but, at school, I would start my pack lunch on the bus, have more during the break, more at lunch, finish it in the afternoon break, have a biscuit when I got home and still eat dinner.

Whenever I am asked how many times I have to inject insulin, I do not say “four times”. I say “every time I eat plus once more” because, usually, I eat more than three times a day. All these mini-meals mean another needle and another jab. But that’s not the biggest problem.

My biggest challenge is knowing want to expect from my Blood glucose levels. If you look at the fast-acting insulin graphs, you see although they have a peak at 15 minutes, they are still working after two hours. So if the gap between my snacks is less than two hours, my insulin injections are less than two hours apart so the insulin for my last snack is still breaking down its sugar. That’s without working out how long the starch from my cake has taken to break down into simple sugars.

I hoped one of the blood glucose meters which tell you how much insulin to take would help. Unfortunately, it was not aware of the insulin graph profile. I guess complex calculations for insulin breakdown is only useful if you have the same for the food which means I would need to know this for every different type of food I eat. Not just the snacks I devour but, also, the meals I polish off and the treats I feast on. Just goes to show clever a functioning pancreas is.

When I asked how diabetic cow copes, I did not mean a moody cow or a grumpy cow, I meant someone, like me, who grazes. But then I realised, the cow that grazes on grass every day, has an easier life: they only have to work out how long in takes to digest grass. On the other hand, they have to work this out for four stomachs. Perhaps it would be easier to be a diabetic python. Adult pythons usually eat once a fortnight. Not sure if the guy on the plane would rather sit in front of me fidgeting or a python.

You might also like