{Need help navigating life with diabetes? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

Yup, you guessed it: it's another edition of our new diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and community educator Wil Dubois.

Send us your queries related to life with diabetes — nothing is off-limits here! (except of course specific medical instructions for your own care; that's what doctors are for)

This week, Wil's addressing a couple of burning issues about what you can do with diabetes, and what others in your life should or should not...





Max from Rhode Island, type 1, writes: My wife really pisses me off. Every time I check my blood sugar she's looking over my shoulder to see what my numbers are. It feels like she's invading my space. What does Ask D'Mine think?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: She is invading your space. But she has a right to. That said, very clearly the two of you need to set some ground rules. Let's look at this from our PWD perspective first. Our numbers are private stuff. We may have to share that stuff, but it doesn't mean we have to like it.

For what's it's worth, Max, I'm on the frontlines fighting for you. When I'm teaching classes of community health workers about meters, the first thing I ask my students (who are overwhelmingly female) is "what's your bra size?"

Jaws drop.

People sputter.

Someone will finally spit out, "that's none of your damn business!"

"OK," I say, "when you ask to see someone's blood sugar numbers, you are asking them their bra size."

Blood sugar numbers are personal, intimate. And often embarrassing.

I also teach my students that when they check someone's blood sugar, they should hold the meter so that only the PWD can see the number after the strip wicks up the blood, then to ask permission to look at the number and record it after the meter beeps and the patient winces.

But of course what I'm teaching is simply professional etiquette (which we're also in short supply of), while what you have is a different problem. You see, you already know your wife's bra size. Couples tend to mow boundaries down, which overall, is a good thing in my book.

This is really about respect. Frankly, your wife absolutely has the right to know your numbers. So does your doctor's nurse. But that doesn't mean they have the right to be disrespectful about how they go about getting the information.

If you respect their right to know your numbers, then you can demand their respect about your right to privacy in testing.

I have a few suggestions, and I bet our readers will add a few more. You're going to have to tell your wife how you feel and agree on a middle ground. My first suggestion is "don't look, I'll tell." She has to agree not to look at the meter, but you have to agree to tell her, "well, crap, my blood sugar is 210." (Because we all know that only broken meters or the ones on TV commercials have numbers in the low 100s all the time.)

Or, if you can't bring yourself to talk about it, give her access to the meter after you have used it. Test. Zip the case back up. Leave it on the table.  And go mix yourself a stiff drink while she uses the meter memory to see where you stand.

Bottom line, as a PWD you have the right to privacy in your testing. But as a T3, your partner has both the right and the need to know your numbers. After all, your diabetes is her diabetes too.



Marianne from Australia, type 2, asks: Is the taboo on scuba diving real, or is it one of those things left over from the early days? I've taken up snorkeling so that I can get up close and personal with all sorts of marine critters. I'd love to go the next step but I'm having trouble getting the green light and nobody wants to be responsible for taking me on my first dive. I haven't yet gone the route of full diving medicals because I'd just love to try scuba diving once before I committed to all of the costs involved.

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Thanks for the question; today I learned a whole lot more about scuba diving than I knew when I woke up. Turns out that not so long ago, diving schools and the folks that certify divers didn't much care for our kind. In point of fact, the World Recreational Scuba Training Council's medical forms for doctors still state that scuba is "contraindicated" for Persons with Diabetes. That's med-speak for a really, really bad idea that can get you sued for malpractice.

But the world is changing. Back in 1996 the Diver's Alert Network, a non-profit organization associated with Duke University Medical Center, whose mission is to provide expert medical info to the diving community, (and a historically anti-PWD organization), surveyed their membership and found 177 closet PWDs in their ranks — 74% of whom were insulin shooters.


To their credit, instead of sweeping this under the carpet, or attempting a purge, they undertook a series of nine studies over the next three years. In all they evaluated 561 dives by 41 insulin-shooting frog-people and came to the conclusion that diving is safe for PWDs.

As a result of this research, while not exactly welcoming us with open arms, the dive overlords have modified their recommendations on which PWDs are safe under the waves, and which of us should stay on dry land.

When you sign up for a scuba class nowadays you'll be asked to sign 27 different liability waivers and fill out a Medical Statement like the one co-endorsed by the Recreational Scuba Training Council and the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (who you can friend on Facebook!).

This medical form has quite a long list of potential medical issues.

Are you pregnant? Do you have asthma, epilepsy, motion sickness, high blood pressure, hernia, or ulcers? Have you had a spinal surgery in the past?  If you are over 45, do you smoke cigars, have high cholesterol, or a family history of heart attacks?

Oh. Do you now, or have you ever had, hay fever?

I'm not thinking too many people "pass" this test. Do you take any prescription medications other than birth control or anti-malarial drugs? Are you an alcoholic?

Are you really sure you want to scuba dive? This is starting to sound like a pretty boring group of people to me.

Oh. One last thing: Do you have diabetes? Even if controlled by diet alone? (No shit, that question is on the form.)

Anyway, if you answer "yes" to any one of these, or a dozen more questions, you'll need to have your doc sign off on you before you can get your feet wet. The Medical Statement includes three pages of instructions for your doctor under the heading of "Guidelines for Recreational Scuba Diver's Physical Exam." (Just in case your doc is more into golf than diving, and doesn't know what to look for?)

OK, so all of that said, let's talk about you. You are a type 2, and I know from your note you were diagnosed just a year ago, and that your diabetes has "been pretty much under control since the early days." That tells me you are most likely on oral meds. Depending on which ones, your risk of low blood sugar could be pretty much zero, or at least the same as anyone who doesn't have diabetes at all. If I were your doctor I'd sign off on you in two seconds. Of course, I'm not a doctor at all, so what do I know?

But still, why on earth couldn't you scuba dive? What risk, beyond the whole being eaten by sharks thing, could you pose? Which begs the question: do you even need to tell them you have diabetes?

Yeah. Sorry. I think you do. Even though I'd be willing to bet those 177 PWDs back in '96 didn't. First off, you are signing your name to a document that certifies certain facts about your health. Lying on a legal document is perjury, but more importantly, you are not doing this on your own. You actions affect other people's lives. Let's just say you do go hypo under the waves. Your life is at risk. So too, perhaps, is that of your dive buddy. And the dive leader.

Yeah. This isn't like lying about your age to get a senior discount at the movie theater. (Not that I've ever done that.) This is big.

At the same time, I'm not sure this will be a big deal, or a huge cost for you. Given your good diabetes control, I bet your doc will sign the form for you at your next A1C, or visit for refills.

Then you can go for that test dive and see if scuba (and all those booooooooring healthy people) are really right for you.




This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.




Don't forget to ask your questions by emailing us here. Yeah, we got that fixed, so you can actually email us now.


Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.