A lot of diabetics are uncomfortable testing their blood and taking shots in public. I'm totally out there, perhaps because I was just too old for all that self-consciousness BS by the time I got this disease. Or perhaps because after breastfeeding three children in public places, I just couldn't make no never mind about giving myself a tiny little shot. From the beginning, I'd just unload my purse on the restaurant table and get to work. No fuss, no muss!
But now I'm slowly starting to crawl back in the closet. What I've discovered is that most people are not at all accustomed to what diabetics do. Not that anyone has ever been offended, mind you, but once I've done my "demonstration," the rest of the meal or social event consistently turns into my amateur version of Diabetes 101. I hear all about the many family members with Type 2, and then I get sympathy for having such "bad" diabetes. I know my companions mean well, but most of the time, all I really want is a few minutes' recognition of my condition, and then a pleasant non-diabetes-centered evening.
Of course I'm way past this point with good friends. But when we go to a party or out with new acquaintances these days, I find myself slinking off to the bathroom when it's time for the needlework. I just don't want to deal the impending reaction/distraction.
The reluctance to "tell" is not just about injections. A friend who's on the pump says people often mistake it for a pager. She doesn't bother correcting them anymore. Another woman I corresponded with talked about the assortment of discomforts she endured in order to hide her pump, which is quite challenging with today's body-hugging fashions (and we do love to be fashionable!)
I also know lots of Type 2 diabetics who just keep quiet altogether. The more we talk about it, the more it becomes a defining factor of our identities. Who wants to be "that diabetic woman" (or man) to people who barely know us?
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So do you tell people at work? This is also a big one for many diabetics. Since I work mostly from home, I haven't had the "office" issue to deal with much. (But after this blog, I reckon the cat's out of the bag, ay?)
I noticed on the ADA message boards that many Type 1s are having trouble with severe lows at work, and/or excessive tardiness and absences due to hypoglycemic episodes. Seems to me it would be better to tell your boss up front that you're diabetic than to wait until you're forced to back-paddle over what appears to be poor performance. Here telling is an imperative, I think.
I suppose this is a hot topic at diabetes support groups around the country, but since I'm not much of a joiner, I'm shooting it out into cyberspace to see what comes back. My take is, I'm certainly not ashamed, but in some situations, I just don't want to open the diabetes can of worms if I don't have to. What say?