Diabetes Self-Management Blog

WooHOO! Just one more month (from Thursday) and I’ll be cruising. One of the things I’ve been mulling over is how much (prosthetic) leg to show. If any.

Then I remembered: It’s a Disney ship. Captain Hook is in the house. So I bought a pair of capris.

It seems to be easier to let others know about your difficulties when there’s somebody else in the same boat (so to speak). Yes, I know Captain Hook is missing a hand and I’m missing a leg. I’m also aware he’s a fictitious character. Close enough: He’s just like me, only different.

Back in the day, I hid my diabetes paraphernalia and, I suppose, my diabetes along with it when I was out and about. I would check my glucose under the table at restaurants. I’d duck into a stall in the ladies’ room to give myself an injection. And worry that a platoon of cops would burst in and arrest me for doing drugs. Which never happened.

One evening when I was out at a friend’s birthday dinner, I went to the ladies’ to give myself an injection. The food was being brought to the table when I excused myself, so I was in a hurry to get back. When I got to the bathroom, the stalls were full. There was nothing to do but shoot up out in the open area of the room.

I shot through my (denim) dress. The needle bent. Since I tended to load up the syringe before I left the house, it was all the insulin I had on me. I muttered a few words I’d learned from my father the US Navy veteran and straightened out the needle as best I could, unbuttoned my dress, and plunged the needle in…causing a woman standing there to chuckle. Turns out she was a nurse.

“That wasn’t so bad,” I told myself. But, then, a nurse was accustomed to seeing hypodermic syringes plunging into flesh.

Shortly thereafter, I was having lunch with a friend. Although it’s been many years, I can still remember the restaurant, the table, the lace curtains at the windows, and that she was wearing a forest green corduroy dress.

Did she surreptitiously remove a preloaded syringe from her purse and discretely give herself an injection under the table? Heck, no! She took out a vial of insulin and a syringe, stuck the needle in the vial and held them both up in the air while she drew up her dose. Onlookers be darned. Oh, yeah. This was a person who held a very visible position in town.

That was it. That was when I came out of the closet. Well, except for around one friend. I didn’t want to watch him faint. To be honest, however, I don’t believe many — if any — people notice what you’re doing. They’re too busy doing their own thing.

Well, there was one time I allegedly made ‘em look. I had my insulin pump in my bra (because it was the only pocket I had, OK?) and was trying to find it to give myself my lunch bolus. My hand was down the front of my shirt, searching, searching… Finally, the friend I was having lunch with said, “I hope you have something in there because everybody’s staring at you.”

There is only one time when I pay attention to others, and that’s when I’m attending a diabetes program that includes a meal. I at least check out the other people at my table and, perhaps, the adjoining ones. To this day, I’ve never seen anybody else check their glucose, even after I very visibly check mine.

Why is that? I mean, people have just been attending meetings that stress the importance of good blood glucose control, which includes checking before at least some meals. And you’d think they’d follow suit if they saw somebody else doing so. It’s a puzzlement.

Although, I’ll admit to having my reasons why I didn’t want anybody to see me check, including being self-conscious about it, afraid I wasn’t doing it right, and who knows what else. It was a long time ago. I’ve found that the older I get, the less I care about what others think. I like being older.

Nowadays, I have a continuous glucose monitor, which involves pushing a button instead of inducing a blood sacrifice. Still, if I’m with a person who checks the “old-fashioned” way I will, too, in hopes that it will make some kind of an impact. Besides, it creates a feeling of solidarity and — oh, yeah — lets me check to see if my continuous monitor is on track.

I also have an insulin pump, which involves pushing a button to give myself insulin. But if I’m with somebody who uses a syringe…I use my pump anyway.

As far as my Symlin pen goes, I have mixed feelings. Pens are handy, but you have to leave them in for a count of 10 after injecting while the pressure inside the cartridge readjusts itself. Otherwise, you might not get the full dose. (Same with insulin pens, by the way.) I don’t mind injecting myself in public, but haven’t yet decided how I feel about holding a pen for 10 seconds or so before removing it.

I mean, do you think that looks weird, or do you believe nobody is paying attention?

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