Friday, March 25, 2016

Public Displays of Diabetes

Public Displays of Diabetes

People with diabetes eat food. Sometimes they eat food in a public place. I know, that's so interesting, right? Doesn't everybody? Well, yes. And almost everybody can do it like this:
  • sit down
  • take a look at the menu
  • order what they want
  • wait for it
  • consume. 
But for almost none of us...almost, mind isn't that simple. See, a few of us humans have type 1 diabetes. Our process is different. Mine has gone a little like this (your diabetes may vary):
  • sit down
  • take a look at the menu
  • overthink and assume the nutritional facts on each item due to the lack of information
  • order what I decide might be easiest to nail down
  • pull out my glucose meter
  • insert a test strip
  • stab myself in the fingertip (I get to choose the finger)
  • milk the wound for a drop of blood
  • place the drop on the test strip
  • use the data to figure out how much insulin I need in order to correct slightly elevated blood sugar (BG) reading
  • estimate the carbohydrate content in the food I ordered
  • pull out a vial of insulin and syringe
  • fill syringe with the amount of insulin I should need based on a strange equation I use to calculate BG correction plus carb coverage
  • inject insulin into my skin (I get to choose where)
  • wait for the food
  • consume.
It's all fairly quick, so no big deal. But to some bystanders it IS kind of is a big deal. I sort of understand it; needle phobia, hemophobia, and I don't want to be insensitive to the rare legitimate case of these. But see, I have to do these things in order to continue living. I don't want to go do it in the filthy restroom, I certainly can't just do it in my car before I go in to see what I'm even eating. Sometimes I can only be so discrete. 

One time I was asked to take it to the restroom...

Believe it or not, I have been asked to "do that in the restroom" before. It was very confusing to hear, and difficult to work out in my head at the moment. I did go into the restroom. I tested my blood, injected insulin, and stewed in very negative feelings. The person who asked it of me was not trying to be rude, I get that. But had he considered the weight of diabetes, the psychological toll it takes, and the uncleanliness of bathrooms, he might have simply turned his head and allowed me to medicate.

The way I see it, most people have eyelids and I'd guess most of them work. Close them. In the rare case one might not have active eyelids, chances are their neck works. Turn it. My survival, my right to enjoy a meal, my mistrust of the cleanliness of public restrooms...I'm doing this at the table. I'm not ashamed of diabetes. I'm not shy about taking care of myself. Nor should you be. I promise it's more inconvenient for me than it is for the non-diabetic. 

Reality check.

Diabetes is hard enough to manage day in and day out without dealing with everyone else's problems. In fact, I don't think I'm wrong when I say diabetes management > accommodating ignorance. Public displays of diabetes show strength, bravery, acceptance, and ownership. Your health comes first.