We’ve all read numerous stories – or have our own stories to tell – about people’s reactions to injecting or testing in public; and some have been horrifying! But does that mean you shouldn’t? Diabetes is not something to be ashamed of…so why should we relegate these necessary-for-life responsibilities to a dirty bathroom stall? We explored the internet for a variety of viewpoints, and here’s what we found…
A survey by Diabetes Forecast asked its online readers if they tested in public, and the results were mixed:
• 32% said “yes, all the time”
• 32% said “yes, occasionally
• 15% said “no, unless I’m with people I know well
• 22% said that they never did.
We can assume that if asked the same question about injecting in public, the responses would be similar.
When the question was recently asked about public testing on the DRIF’s PEP Squad Facebook page, most parents responding thought that doing it in public was perfectly ok, but that you should try to be discreet.
Janet said, “My son never had any issue with doing it at the table. It’s what he is used to and what he chooses. I just want him to know that it’s not something to be ashamed of or to hide.”
Staci responded, “I left it up to my daughter. At first we did it in the bathroom, and now she doesn’t care and does it at the table.”
Vicki added, “…we did not ever manage her diabetes to make it comfortable for others – it was all about comfort for her.”
It’s clear that the general public doesn’t know a lot about managing diabetes, and particularly type 1 diabetes. It’s easy for people to be afraid of or judge what they do not understad. But whose job is it to educate them?
After an old Miss Manners advice column from 2014 recommended that people with diabetes should test and inject in private, the reaction was strong from both sides of the issue. Lauren Kronen (author, life coach and member of the PEP Squad) responded in Insulin Nation, “As people with diabetes, we need to spread awareness to those who are not informed about the disease. Even more importantly, we need to be role models and encourage other people afflicted with this disease to take charge of their health no matter where they happen to be. There is nothing wrong with you except that your pancreas decided to take a permanent holiday. Do what you need to survive and live your life out loud!”
Ilene Vinikoor, a family therapist who has had T1D since 1968, commented, “I test my blood sugar and take my insulin whenever there is a need and wherever I am. We can be discreet, but never avoid addressing our health needs.”
She continued, “Today, during a therapy session, I felt my blood sugar dropping. I told my clients that I needed to test my blood sugar. It was 50, so I told them I needed to drink some juice. They asked if I was okay, and I told them I was and that I would be fine in 10 minutes. People who do not have T1D often ask questions about what it is like. I believe that answering their questions provides us with an opportunity to educate others. The more T1D is understood, the greater the possibility they may support our efforts to find a cure!”
Clearly, it seems as if it’s a personal choice. It’s what is good for you or the child, but many people also agreed that it should be done discreetly. Several individuals indicated that it could even be a good opportunity to educate people who ask about or react to testing or injecting. Your child’s comfort level might change over the years. When they are young, it may be “no big deal” for them to test and/or inject in public, but as teenagers they may decide to keep everything private. Be sensitive to these reactions and adjust your thinking and actions accordingly.
Every person with diabetes is different, so there is no single right way to manage this disease. Getting opinions from others is very helpful, but in the end…it all about personal choice.