Friday, February 21, 2014
By now many of you will have read this Miss Manners question and her response.
In a nutshell, when asked whether it's o.k. for a person with diabetes to test and deliver insulin in public, she said it was not; that both were best relegated to the restroom.
The diabetes community has responded with a torrent of messages to Miss Manners, comments following her column where it is published online, facebook posts and other forms of outcry.
While I certainly do not believe blood sugar testing should be relegated to a restroom, I do believe it should be done surreptitiously. Therefore, the responses to Miss Manners which read along these lines: 'If anyone has a problem with it, they should look away' bothered me a little bit.
Maybe it's where I'm coming from. My daughter was diagnosed when she was 13 months old. We've been through every stage of childhood with this disease, surrounded by other kids in the same stage. We've wanted to avoid freaking out the entire playgroup, or the family at the next table over in the kid-friendly restaurant. Therefore we've always taken care of the diabetes stuff, to the extent possible, on the QT. At a restaurant, and in the classroom, she checks her blood sugar without fanfare, in her meter case, in her lap.
She doesn't disguise her actions out of embarrassment. She does so out of consideration for others and honestly, a little bit, out of self-preservation. We understand that some people are upset by the sight of blood. We understand some families would prefer not to spend their dinner out answering 47 questions from their 4 year old about what's going on at the neighboring table. And, as a rule, we don't want to spend our dinner (or party or zoo visit) answering those 47 questions either. She understands that setting up her testing supplies and displaying her bleeding finger might be a distraction for the child next to her in math class. It's about balancing her own needs with the concerns of those around her.
My daughter checks her blood whenever and wherever she needs to. She just tries to do it in a way that isn't obvious. So far, in 11 years of public testing, nobody has stared or made derogatory comments. The only people who seemed to have noticed at all are the people we've met who also have diabetes.
So, gentle reader, here's my response:
The issue is not where you perform your diabetes tasks, it's how considerate you are of those around you while you do so. If they don't notice what you're doing, they'll have no reason to be concerned.