Miss-ing In Action

I just have to throw my hat into the ring too because I love a good interweb controversy that makes a community implode. Yeah – that’s pretty much what happened to my Twitter-feed yesterday.

Let’s start with the basics: ettiquette-maven “Miss Manners” gave some sage advice to a Gentle Reader with Diabetes yesterday. Manners said, “test your blood sugars in the airplane’s bathroom.” Diabetes Online Community = Giant Uproar!!!!1!!

You can read the full text here at Kerri’s blog.

Or read Kim’s eloquent response.

Initially, I was a bit miffed reading this column’s response. After all, I’ve also been told to “do my thing in a bathroom” before too. When I was a young meeting planner, still on MDI, I would hide away in a corner and either give my insulin or test my blood sugar. Seemingly out of sight from clients and co-workers. One time at a golf tournament, I was over in a corner injecting for my lunch and I was “strongly encouraged” by a superior to take my injections into the bathroom because it didn’t fit the company image. (Right… but offering clients shots of Patrón on the golf course totally did! …I digress.) A few months later, I was on a pump, and I, and my superior, were much happier and I didn’t feel like I needed to sequester myself to control my diabetes. I left the job a short time later.

I have no idea why my superior thought it was a great idea to send me to a dirty golf course bathroom to take care of a medical condition. Maybe I was giving the wrong impression to clients. (Did anyone actually see me quickly stab myself in the stomach?) Maybe she was afraid of needles and wanted to blame it on the company. I don’t know.

But there are people out there who really just can’t handle blood, needles, and pager-like devices. (Okay, maybe not the last one…)

I’m not saying Miss Manners’ advice to the weary traveler was practical, safe, or sane. (Have you BEEN in an airplane bathroom before?) I know it’s easy to think “Poor me – I have to do this all the time and I don’t care what others think.” But we can be classy about our diabetes care too.

Seriously, unless your sugars are dropping into unsafe territory, is there any reason why we can’t be discrete about it?

Wooooo! Testing my Blood Sugar Now! Cue the Keytar solo!

And I think that may be where Miss Manners was trying to go with her advice, but it was either heavily edited and/or sensationalized to create a reaction. (Well, hey… mission accomplished.) Or maybe she’s just 75 and grumpy.

My advice for the gentle readers? Do what you gotta do, but realize that the stares and questions will come with the territory of a chronic illness. Those same kids mentioned in the column probably ask breast cancer survivors why they are wearing headscarves – so it’s not just about you. I don’t think we need to hide our care in a corner, but we should be pretty good at blending in. After all – don’t we want to be perceived as normal just like everyone else?


3 thoughts on “Miss-ing In Action

  1. StephenS says:

    That’s the thing, isn’t it? We want to be as normal as possible, and yet we have to do those things that not everyone else has to do. This is a very thoughtful post. Thanks for bringing some sensibility to the subject.

  2. Anonymous Lurker says:

    I dunno, Jen. Pretty flaming pissed that your boss would tell you that checking your blood sugar in public doesn’t fit the image of the company. I get the whole “I wish I were normal thing” (I’ve got my own reasons to think it), but there’s a line between trying to blend and then burying your own needs to make others feel at ease.

    Seriously, if people don’t know the difference between IV drug use and checking blood sugars, I am *happy* to drop them off in certain parts of my city.

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