{Diabetes} Miss Manners Misses the Mark

by Leighann on February 19, 2014

My daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of three. She doesn’t really remember life without it.

We made a conscious decision that, because it was a big part of who she is and because she would have to live with and manage her diabetes for the entirety of her life, that we would not hide her diabetes management.

Now I’m not saying that we shout from the rooftops “Look over here! We’re about to check her blood sugar! Look, blood! Look, a syringe!”

But we also felt that if it was no big deal to check blood sugars and give injections, then perhaps checking blood sugars and getting injections wouldn’t be such a big deal.

We do diabetes management wherever we are, whenever we are.

Of course sometimes we need to check on a pump site or CGM sensor that’s in a place that we don’t want to bear in public.

Do we get questions?

Yeah, sometimes.

But it can be an educational or advocacy moment.

When asked what she’s doing or if she has noticed someone watching, Q may respond with a quick explanation such as “I have type 1 diabetes. I have to check my blood sugar.”

I’ve found that kids are just curious. Most of the time they just say “Oh, okay” and it’s back to whatever they are doing.

We have never had an adult say something rude to us or ask us to please do it somewhere else. But honestly if that ever happened, I’m sure I would either ignore them and continue or I would say “grow up.”

It has always been my philosophy that something only becomes a big deal if you make it a big deal.

Asking my child to hide her diabetes implies that she should feel ashamed.

Millions of people living in the United States have diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2. No matter the type, it is a chronic medical condition that requires vigilance and monitoring.

So it’s quite dismaying to see that a so-called etiquette expert says that someone on an airplane should go to the lavatory when drawing blood or using a syringe.

Have you been in an airplane lavatory?!


Not to mention that there’s barely enough space to do your business.

And could you imagine trying to check a child’s blood sugar or give an injection with the two of you wedged in there?

I can just picture thousands of dollars of medical equipment accidentally dropping into the blue toilet water!

So here’s my advice: do what you’ve gotta do, when you’ve gotta do it, where you’ve gotta do it.

You have my permission and blessing.

What do you think of her advice?

From Miss Manners:

“Absent an emergency, medical applications (like bodily functions and grooming) are properly done out of sight — meaning in private or in a restroom — unless they can be done so surreptitiously as to be unrecognizable as such.”

(And as a side note, I thought her comment about children was condescending: “You may chose to tell children that it is a medical procedure, or ignore them and let their parents do that. Miss Manners would hope that any parents present would also resolve to teach their children to be more discreet with their curiosity.”)

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