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.

12 thoughts on “Keeping It to Myself

  1. Laddie – I inject and test everywhere, whenever I need to. Sometimes I am a bit more discreet, other times not. For the most part, people are so wrapped up in their own stuff that they don’t even notice. However, once I was busted in the food court at Mall of America by a woman who also took insulin and said she always did it in the bathroom. I am not particularly bacteria-phobic, but I’ll take most any environment rather than the lavatory.
    A couple of years ago my niece and sister were driving back from a family reunion. Esther and I were sitting in the back seat. I was going to take an injection and put my bag between us. Esther, who doesn’t miss a thing, said, “are you drawing up insulin?”. She had a friend at daycare who had been recently diagnosed. We had quite a detailed discussion, and she was particularly interested in what it felt like to go low. When we stopped to get gas, my sister said, “don’t you EVER do that again – I’m sure Esther was traumatized”. Well, E and I spent the rest of the drive practicing singing old Beatle songs. She belted out “Good Day Sunshine” and her witnessing my experience didn’t seem to bother her a bit.

  2. Hi Laddie,
    I’ve been checking in with your blog since summer 2013 when I received my correct diagnosis of type 1 (formerly thought to be type 2 because of my over 40 status :). It has really been a help. I just started my blog yesterday to participate in this blog week.

    Anyway, this concept of testing (or injecting) in front of others…to me it’s understandable that you would want to keep it private. I mean, so many people are bothered by needles and blood. My take is that such a personal thing should be personal. If you are comfortable testing/injecting in front of others then that’s what is right for you. If you’d rather do it in private, that’s right too.

    Interesting enough, although I chose to manage my diabetes in plain sight of my family, I didn’t realize it was an issue for my sister when she visited at first. Mind you, I was already on the pump when she visited and, therefore, it was only a fingerstick at mealtimes which I have been doing FOREVER (since gestational D with my oldest who is 18). Finally, it dawned on me one day, when she asked me with a very concerned look for the umpteenth time, “Are you OK?” that she was bothered by it all. It took those couple of days for me to realize her discomfort because it hadn’t occured to me that, although she’s visited me often over the years, I had never really tested in front of her with any frequency. I didn’t realize the concept made her so uncomfortable. Simple fix, I put the testing kit in my lap like I do in restaurants or tested & bolused before sitting down.

    So, for me, while I’m not necessarily uncomfortable with testing in public or in front of family; I try to be courteous to those around me. I don’t think everyone should have to get used to the sight of a diabetic testing. Lord knows I didn’t want to.

    Have a wonderful day.

  3. I’ve tested in public, injected in public and replaced a pod in public. But the way I feel about public displays of diabetes is that I need to do what I need to do to be healthy, but there’s no need to draw attention to it or be disruptive.

  4. I’m not a private person in any way, shape, or form. BUT, I always try to test (no injections any more thanks to my pump) in mixed company with awareness of others around me. I have a couple of friends that are needle/blood phobic. The meter goes under the table for them. If I’m in a family setting, then it’s on top of the table. If my family has concerns, they should share with me. I’d certainly be happy to change my behavior to help them feel more comfortable.

  5. God I love this post! So much food for thought (low carb of course). My only disagreement is with the post is the use of phrase, “pain-in-the-neck” instead of “pain-in-the-a$$”, because yes, that bride sounds like one. I jest, as you are far more lady-like than I will ever be, but for sure, your sharing of this story is as admirable as you are. xo

  6. Great point, Laddie! I don’t hide to test my blood sugar but you do make a good point that about picking your battles and maybe this one time, when the bride is getting married would be a good time to just let it slide. I don’t even think I tested at my own wedding, but I was too preoccupied with everything 😛

  7. I think I have become more open about testing and injecting in public since finding the DOC but I still try to be discrete about it. It depends on where I am too. I was in a waiting room at a doctor’s office when I needed to take my Levemir once. There was a young boy in the waiting room and I decided to wait to take it. I am probably more open with testing than injecting.

  8. I can relate to you on this. Before I went on the pump, I could not bring myself to inject in public. I have no problem with people that do (more power to them!), but just wasn’t comfortable with it myself.

  9. I didn’t remember hearing about your sister before—and you have such different styles!

    The wedding thing hurt my feelings. I am still in recovery from accidentally giving birth (my apologies) three days before a baby shower X relative had planned. At the shower, X relative asked me to stop nursing the baby. I think I was even all covered up! The nursing equivalent of a test kit on the lap, not all blazing lancets.

    I love how you live and your whole attitude.

  10. I agree with everything you’ve said here (even if it two and a half weeks ago when you said it). There’s no reason to be ashamed, but at the same time there’s no reason to be inconsiderate. If a minor interruption to my routine will make things much more comfortable to someone else, why should I not extend that courtesy?

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