Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Picture the scene - you’re sat in a restaurant with your friends scanning the menu.
You‘re playing the game ‘what I want and what I should be eating’, I feel like ___, but it’ll likely send my blood sugars sky high. Plus, I’ve no idea how much insulin I need for it, so I’ll stick with the salad. A safe choice.
Then it’s time for the insulin (The salad has croutons).
Do I take myself to the toilet and risk feeling annoyed at myself for not having more pride or perhaps confidence - or do I squirt some of the vial on the floor and face the prospect of being spotted by some poor old dear whilst I jab my back fat, then wait for the impending stares, or god forbid, questions, or even worse, opinions.
Let’s take pause for a moment.
In the not so distant past, I have publicly declared all diabetics should be proud and take their medicine as and when needed. Any person catching you in the act is an opportunity to educate them on the disease.
I still feel this way. But I have had type 1 diabetes for 3 years, and I was diagnosed as an adult, confident in my ability to deal with any scenario.
But I can’t imagine what a lifetime of managing this condition will do to your patience; particularly when dealing with the public. Needles are and always will be one of those necessary instruments that also invoke fear in the eye of the recipient.
They‘re used to save our lives and in some select countries, end them.
I have met some type 1’s that don’t check their blood sugars in public. Granted they were young and their confidence was being knocked by the disease. I found this difficult to deal with, as I wanted to shake them and declare that nothing and no-one is more important than their health.
I cant even imagine how type 2 diabetics feel when they have to check or inject in public, given the growing stigma attached to the condition. It will take a long time but I’m convinced that one day we’ll see type 2 through a different lens than how the media currently portray it.
I often go to the supermarket, shops or restaurants and my Freestyle Librè is on show. I have had butchers, shop assistants, taxi drivers, and the general public ask me about it. Some people tell me stories of their loved ones who have type 1 and others simply say ‘good on you’.
Some people might be uneducated enough to say something stupid, which may or may not cause offence. They are not the majority though and it’s easy to roundly ignore such people. Move on and remind yourself that you have bigger things to deal with and you have the capacity to count to 6.
It‘s easy to understand why a lot of diabetics would be conscious of injecting in public. Needles trigger fear in some or they might think something is wrong. They may even believe you’re doing ‘recreational’ drugs. But what’s the alternative?
Do we hide in plain sight? Do we sleek off to the bathroom telling ourselves it’s just easier to do it behind closed doors? Do we rip off our tops and swiftly jab our stomach whilst laughing frantically?
We do what’s right for us.
Insulin pumps now make it a bit easier (if you’re not wearing a tight dress), and CGM’s make it look like we‘ve just returned from the future.
Don‘t be scared though. Don’t fear the opinion of a lay person. Don’t be shy about your disease you never asked for and struggle every day to manage.
Do what I did when I was asked whether I should be injecting my insulin at the dinner table at a nice restaurant.
Excuse me? I said. I need this to stay alive, but I have enough on me to kill every person in this place.
Well, maybe don’t say that.
Believe the hypo