Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dear Miss Manners: It's not the Hunger Games

Dear Miss Manners,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a wife, mother (to a very small child) daughter, friend, Chevy driver, lover of all things Diet Coke, and future nurse.. I, like many People With Diabetes, wear many hats. I check blood sugars and take shots (when warranted, but normally I utilize and insulin pump) to ensure my safety and the safety of those around me. I do it for me, and my loved ones.

Somehow, I get the idea that your knowledge of diabetes may be slightly impaired, or even downright non-existent.

"oh, don't diabetics take shots? And blood test..once or twice a day? This can be done discreetly, away from squeemish eyes." (common diabetes misperception)

It's not like that, Miss Manners. It isn't 1959 anymore, and many people with diabetes can take 4+ injections a day (if they do not use an insulin pump). Diabetes care has improved dramatically, and the recommendations (along with the desire for good control) has many people checking blood sugars 4 or more times a day. I personally check my blood sugars 7-10 times a day. I wear an insulin pump, that looks every bit as hip and modernish as the actual year. (it's 2014, get with the program) Needles don't bother me, and they don't bother my non-diabetic husband/son/or friends either.

And now I'm going to let you in on a little secret..
(post checking my blood sugar, I DO NOT:)
.. slit my wrists, war paint my cheeks, or smear blood all over the airplane seats. It is not a scene of mass carnage, it is a simple miniscule blood droplet(like a pin drop)...and easily blotted clean on a nearby tissue. Done. I daresay you've probably shaken hands with a person with diabetes at some point, and perhaps that person with diabetes checked their blood and did not wash their hands afterword.(For the record, most of us don't have AIDS or anything else communicable) It's not as disgusting as you might imagine it to be, and I'm sure that you've probably never seen a person with diabetes doing any of that.)

When I was pregnant, Miss Manners, I would check my blood sugars up to 15 times a day...all to ensure a healthy baby. Have you ever visited the bathroom 15 EXTRA times a day in addition to the state of having a pea-sized pregnancy bladder? That, in addition to even more shots? I didn't think so.) Simply put, it is hugely impractical to have to visit a public restroom many times a day just to perform needed medical tasks.

But what bothers me the most is the message that you are projecting to young people with diabetes. I was there once, alone and ashamed about my disease. From the beginning, they feel "different" and society equates syringe use with illegal drug related activity. Young people can become ashamed of their disease. This leads to hiding it, depression, isolation from their peers, and perhaps even being mistakenly arrested. I am not ashamed of my diabetes or doing what I need to stay healthy. But others haven't had that level of support and nutering to be comfortable with being out there in the open with it.

It's 2014, Miss Manners. It's a new century...and diabetes deserves a fresh outlook, a disassociation from the "don't ask, don't tell" policies of the mid 1900's. Diabetes isn't something to be ashamed about, it's not dirty, and shovelling it back to a filthy bathroom stall does a disservice to us all. Caring for yourself (and others) is one of life's most beautiful things. Isn't it time to move forward, not back?


A Type 1 Person With Diabetes (for 15 years)


@type1MikeC said...

Great post! Thanks.

k2 said...


Anonymous said...

I so enjoyed reading your entry on this subject :D It is really well written and I, as a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic, can relate so much do those notions of shame and stigma. It makes the battle that much harder, and I can only imagine for teens and children how much more difficult the process can be. I was diagnosed at 29, and even at this ripe age where I have many years of life experience and have lived in many places and experienced so many things, it is hard. Thank you for sharing. I really connected with your entry and have added it to my blog post as well.

Unknown said...

Wow. That was rude and inconsiderate. I think that person already knew how hard it is living with diabetes, yet she exacerbated that stigma by making such a statement in front of someone suffering from it. I cannot imagine why some people would prioritize their own nauseating attitude over the safety and health of another. Diabetes is not a joke so they must at least feel some sympathy and give consideration to people suffering from the illness.
Tim Crawford