Keeping It to Myself

6th Annual Diabetes Blog WeekToday’s Topic:  Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see.  What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?  (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone.  There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects.  Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won’t tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic.) To read all of the other posts in this category, click here.

Laddie_Head SquareI have always kept most of my diabetes self-care tasks private. My sister and I both have Type 1 diabetes. She always injected (and still does) in front of others—usually in the middle of the kitchen. I always went somewhere private—usually the bathroom. I have never changed nor become comfortable giving my shots in front of others. What has changed is that I went on a pump and for the most part injections disappeared from my life. I don’t insert infusion sets in public or in front of my family, so I basically keep this stuff to myself.

I used to do all of my blood glucose testing in private and have at least mellowed on that through the years. I try to be discreet and will test with my kit in my lap at a restaurant. But I don’t unpack everything and set up a BG station on the table. Does this mean I am mired in shame over diabetes? No. Well….maybe a little bit. At the same time I am comfortable with keeping most of my diabetes tasks private and don’t feel much need to justify what is my comfort zone. I am not critical of other people’s decisions on how they handle their public diabetes persona. Do what works for you and I am okay with what works for me.

There is one story where many of you will strongly disagree with me. A few years ago there was a discussion on a diabetes message board (probably ADA or TuDiabetes) that resulted in lots of responses and quite a few arguments. A cousin (or the mother?) was planning her wedding and asked the original poster to not test or give injections at the table at the wedding dinner. Many of the responses to that scenario expressed outrage at Insensitive Cousinthe idea that this cousin would dictate this and suggested that the person refuse to do this or maybe just skip the wedding.

I would argue that long term the cousin and her mother need education on diabetes and maybe an extended course on good manners and compassion. At the same time it is just not that big a deal to me. My view would be that my cousin is a pain-in-the-neck bride-to-be, but I would be willing to honor her request. It is her wedding day and it is a small thing to find an isolated spot to test and inject for one day. I am willing to extend her the courtesy of not offending anyone with blood and gore and evil diabetes germs although I think she is wrong in asking this of me.

Before you start screaming, I know that this is a slippery slope. What if she asked me not to come because I am in a wheelchair? What if she asked me to leave my mixed-race husband at home? What if she asked me to wear Spanx because I am slightly overweight? What about another forum post where the mother of an adult T1 screamed at her child to leave the kitchen and always test her blood and inject in the bathroom?

I keep a lot of things to myself. In recent years the DOC has taught me to be more open about my diabetes and not to hide what I need to do to stay healthy. I think that we all have to fight our battles when and where we choose. No one wants to feel like a second-class citizen or ashamed of their diabetes. At the same time, I am a fan of occasionally leaving my indignation at home.

For sure, I am a work in progress.