I know we’ve shared embarrassing low stories before…but I have a more general question.
Do you feel embarrassed when you go low socially? And you have to treat in front of people mid-conversation?
This is much more on my radar bc as my kids get older and as we all get vaccinated in my circle, we are starting to have more social engagements with people who don’t know I’m diabetic and don’t know much about diabetes. I feel super awkward checking my phone for my Dexcom graph while they’re talking…and way more awkward about lows and treating them mid-conversation.
Does this ever bother anyone else here? How do you handle it gracefully without alarming people or coming off as rude?
A lot of social situations involve food. So in those situations, it’s really easy. It’s just a natural part of the event to eat something. It’s almost more awkward to not be eating.
“Excuse me, I really need to get one of those cookies before they are all gone! Just give me 1 minute, I will be right back!”
If there is no food, maybe it would be helpful to just have a bottle of Coke or your favorite soft drink in your hand. Have it in a bottle so it can be capped. And if you don’t need it, you don’t drink it. But if you do need it, it’s really a normal looking thing to just take the cap off and take a sip and keep talking.
Or if you want to be sneaky, have a sweetened drink in a fancy looking “water” bottle. Like a Yeti water bottle or something.
You look at your Dexcom and say, “I am really working hard on staying up on my hydration!” and then you take a sip out of the Yeti.
I don’t think anyone would look down on that. They’d be envious. The only thought they will have is - "OMG, Allison is soooo cool! She has a hydration app on her phone! And when she hydrates, she does it from a $30 water bottle! "
I am not sure that this really fits into this conversation but here goes.
I am in my 80’s and was diagnosed with type 1 when I was twenty. I can only remember one time when I have had a bad low when anyone but my family was present. I made a point of staying relatively high when I was not at home. With the arrival of cgm’s, I have been able to stay at a healthier level. With Dexcom on my phone, when I get an alert, I pretend it is a text message.
I am a closet diabetic. When I was working, (in three countries), no one knew. No one knew until I had the one low I mentioned earlier. It was not too bad but enough that it was noticed. Surprise,surprise two weeks later my job of twenty years was “Eliminated” and I had to retire.
While I am rambling, when I developed diabetes, I was working for a bank in England. I soon found out that the banks would not hire an officer who had type 1 so I had to stay at the bank where I was working at the time. In America it was the same. I soon learned it was possible to avoid the required physicals and have had a very successful career in international banking.
What was the basis for not hiring Type 1’s? Seems like a crazy rule. I am old enough to remember that things weren’t always fair or reasonable, but that seems like an arbitrary rule even for the 1960’s/1970s
If you try to keep your diabetes undercover with people who don’t know you’re diabetic and don’t know much about diabetes, then you don’t really do anything to solve that problem (if it’s a problem for you) with those people the next time it comes up. We don’t need to be In-Your-Face Walking Talking Public Service Announcements, but I figure I’m having a medical situation, it needs to be dealt with STAT, and I can deal with other people’s impressions or hurt feelings once I’ve recovered.
When I was diagnosed at the age of nine, if I went low at school I just had to raise my arm for the teacher to see I was pale and shaking, and she’d rush off to the staff room to get me a can of Coke. After a few gulps, I’d be fine. I figure there are now at least 30 other people in the world who understand that diabetes isn’t some awful thing and being low is easily treated.
So I have no qualms about pulling out my glucose tabs in the middle of a conversation, or once in front of hundreds when I was on a panel. (A woman in the audience offered me a juice box.) Sometimes I don’t feel any need to explain, any more than the person who unwraps a mint to suck on needs to explain. In all kinds of situations I’ll usually just say, “Sorry, I’m diabetic and my blood sugar is going really low.” To my knowledge, nobody has ever been unduly alarmed or thought I’ve been rude. If they didn’t know I have diabetes – well, they do now! Plus, like my fellow fourth-graders, they’ve learned that a low isn’t some TV-worthy calamity but is quickly and simply remedied. Score one for diabetes education.
I have found that if YOU act like it is a normal thing, with nothing to be worried about, then most other people will take that and follow suit.
If you act nervous, try and avoid it, etc. many people will tend to think something is wrong, or something else is going on.
So, just act like it is a normal everyday thing that isn’t worth thinking too much about. You would be surprised how people react.
Now, if you talk about the after affects of when you go low and start acting goofy, angry, confused, etc. That is an entirely different situation.
If I know I am going low and will start having some issues before I can get my BG heading in the right direction I simply state, My blood sugar is going a bit low, I got it handled, but might get a little ‘blah blah blah’ for a bit, but I will be back to normal ASAP. No big deal. Most people take a note of concern, but usually can actually see how I change, and feel better because I prepared them for what was happening.
Just thought I would chime in here since we’re on the subject of not particularly wanting to stick out in public settings. I am on board with Eric about being able to make it look totally natural with managing a low BG without drawing any attention to yourself. So that matter is solved.
My only issue was when I first went on the pump and would wear it clipped to my pants belt. Everyone had a question about it, although at the time, most people thought I was wearing an out-dated pager (like a doctor, etc.would wear). And when I first started on the pump, it was MUCH bigger than the fancy ones available today!
I dont even know where to begin counting the number of times I was asked why I was wearing a pager (“Are you a doctor or something?”) (“NO, it’s an Insulin Pump, You uneducated Idiot. Do I even look old enough to be a doctor?”)
These days, my pump is much smaller and more discrete. But people do ask me questions about what it is, what it does, do I have to wear it all the time, do I have a “port” in my stomach like for chemotherapy, etc, and on and on. Some people, however, simply pretend not to notice, perhaps out of embarrassment. who knows. But the thing is, I am a whole package deal, diabetes included. I wear my pump proudly because I know that I am taking the best care of myself as possible, and this is just part of how I do that.
When I am out and about, meeting friends and hanging out I set my low alert at 70 so I will get advance notice of impending lows and I can sugar up before things become urgent. I guess my overall goal is to avoid the blaring urgent low alert because that tends to get people excited. It’s pretty easy to grab some candy out of my pocket and munch away without seeming rude (I hope). When I want to bolus to correct an impending high or cover some food, I do wait until I can step away or at least look away politely before I yank out my PDM and stare at the screen, push buttons.
On a sort of similar vein, most of my impending lows when socializing have been during or after hockey, during golf or a hike etc. Seems like the pandemic has pushed most of my socializing to those three venues. For those I just rifle around in my bag and find my glucose gel, suck it down with no embarrassment whatsoever. If anybody asks what’s up I tell them no big deal, getting my BG up, and life goes on.
I was diagnosed with T1 Diabetes at 50, and it was at the time a relief as I had been feeling really bad for about a year and did not know what was wrong.
I was then very public about my diabetes. I remember going to a job reunion party (something that’s held annually) and telling my ex-colleagues about it. One told me I was over-sharing, and I suppose I was - people don’t want to hear about it. But when I was doing insulin pens I wouldn’t have any trouble discreetly injecting myself at business dinners etc.
One of my mentors was a T1 diabetic and he was also very straightforward about it - if he needed to look after himself, he did.
It never crossed my mind that being a diabetic might be a basis for discrimination. I’ve never experienced that to my knowledge.
(and sorry to digress off your thread @T1Allison.)
I have 3 modes of operation when needing to medicate…
I apologize for not sharing my haribos with the class as It’s Mr Stewart’s medicine or similar with an adult group.
I might apologize if a wee peek of my belly offends when injecting - I refuse to go to the toilets in restaurants to do this - one day I plan to drop my trousers and inject standing up if someone complains too much as it’s not illegal here to be seen in my briefs.- I always include the 4-day life expectancy without insulin and offer them the choice - this includes my classes. One of my girls often chooses “dead mister Stewart” and then thinks a little and says “no no live Mr Stewart” I teach ASN kids.
Just like a parent doing the tantrum on the floor of the supermarket - I rant about how awful it is to see all those functioning pancreases in the room “It’s just DISGUSTING!”
I just thought of an evil choice - I might try it - “Would you like to see me go into a comma - there maybe some vomit and stuff - cool eh? - oh and possibly a wee bit of DEATH - or would you like to grow up!”
Really the point is we need to do our stuff just like they need to blow their noses or cough into their cuba fosii (crook of the arms) so don’t worry about it. Think of your need as a public awareness program and ensure everyone understands that for a lot of people our process of survival can be avoided through a number of steps that can be taken early on in life - while some of us suffer from an autoimmune reaction and there is nothing we can do about it - it could happen to them in an instance - they had best be prepared.
As ever the outspoken Mr Stewart hoping you are all keeping safe and well.
I always carry Skittles with me and use when appropriate. If someone is with me at the time, I may offer them some. Sometimes they accept, sometimes they do not. No big deal. No explanations necessary nor included.
When on MDI, I used to shoot right through clothes. That made some people cringe. Didn’t bother me. No apologies nor commentary.
@T1Allison everyone has had great ideas so far. With my family and many acquaintances I’m in the D-closet. Those that know me, know me and I don’t care if they are offended by my needing to address my bg levels (that actually aren’t). With family i use a smartwatch that is linked via phone to my Dexcom and I carry glucose gels for lows. When asked, I tell them I’m checking to see if my bonus has been deposited in my acct yet (or similar). I also tell my nosier family members the gel packs are a Clif Gu pack as I’m going for a ride later (I’m not).
Whoa… I have been type 1 since 1970 when very few people had diabetes. I have NEVER ONE hidden, concealed or otherwise not been completely open and obvious about my disease.
It seems ludicrous to obfuscate having diabetes!
Getting low can confuse and disorient you, you NEED people to know you have diabetes and what to do if you seem out of it! What’s the alternative, be embarrassed, hide it and die?
I do not hide taking injections either, It is a necessity of my survival. Oh, you’re uncomfortable with it?
Discrimination based on a health issue?
You cannot employ a good enough attorney.
I am an open book on every aspect of life. I hide exactly zero from anyone.
A behavior that I have control over, feeling the need to hide or lie about it tells me I should not be doing it.
Diabetes is a reality, it exists.
DO NOT put ANY concern of what others think of you.
Consider the intellect of the average person… you really care?
Live to impress yourself.
I hope Liam is never embarrassed by lows, or treating lows, when he grows up. As a parent of a T1D I will honestly never truly understand what it may be like to “get the eye” or whatever for something like this, but I still want him to be “loud and proud” about ANYTHING related to his life, what he does with it, what he’s doing with his phone, etc., etc., and not be ashamed or made to feel like it’s something bad to treat his condition to stay alive.
I’ve never cared what people think about me and that’s made my life a LOT simpler. You either get me or you don’t but it’s no sweat off my back either way. Those that like me, understand me, and those that don’t like me aren’t in my life so they don’t matter anyway. I hope he’s the same type of person as I am…live your life, do what you want (and need) to do and if you run into a problem, take care of it and move on.
I suppose for me it’s less about people seeing me being diabetic…but more about how I internally feel while trying to size up an oncoming low. I don’t mind slow, steady lows. Those are easy to treat for me. But when I socialize, I’m usually so tuned into conversation with new people that I lose my internal compass of how I’m feeling. And usually there’s atypical eating times and atypical foods and atypical exercise after food, which is the BIGGEST thing that drives my post meal blood sugar behavior. So, for me it feels like there are all of these moving pieces…and I have no idea what my bg is going to do in that situation…and then if it starts to trend downward, I don’t know if it’s going to be dropping off a cliff or if it’s going to catch itself or just need a nudge or what. So I suppose my better articulated problem is wondering how I appear to others while I have all of this chaos and uncertainty in my own head. That’s what I am trying to find how to more elegantly communicate with new people about my need for exercise or sedentariness, or my need to prebolus or EAT ALL THE FOOD RIGHT NOW, or whatever.
These are the things that I have not gotten comfortable with within myself, so I really don’t know how best to be comfortable around others with it. I find that a lot of socializing is just sitting around talking…and boy oh boy that is terrible for me post-meal. I’m a gal on the move and if I just sit all day during a visit, my insulin does NOTHING. Turning up basal, prebolusing longer, taking more bolus…it does NOTHING. Not until I start moving. And then all of that pooled insulin gets a kick to it and then I tank. I ran into this problem on our Western camper trip two years ago. We’d drive for 9 hours…insulin pooling…not doing anything…eating was a disaster no matter what I tried…and then we’d arrive at our KOA and have to DO ALL THE THINGS to set up the camper and keep the kids occupied/safe and I’d tank from boluses taken five hours prior.
So. Maybe this is a me thing on a mental level and a physical level. But it is getting better for me as far as my comfort level since my original posting of this question. But I suppose I didn’t communicate the depth of my concerns on it accurately.
I have also found this to be the case. I like the metaphor of insulin “pooling” - ready to be activated when you start moving. I have the same kinds of experience except I usually don’t go too low so can navigate my way back to a normal BG state.
If it’s predictable for you, as it seems to be, you will eventually be able to incorporate it naturally into your diabetes management practice so you can figure out what works for you. CGMs are of course especially handy for this but I’m sure you know that.
As for the public/private aspects of diabetes management … while I agree with all the folks who are ‘out’ on the diabetes, I also understand that many people want and need to be more private about it.
If your embarassment gets in the way of your treatment, or you are not doing things you want to do, or not treating the diabetes when you are in social settings, that is a problem that you can address with a therapist.
I think I read in another thread that you are fairly new to diabetes? If so, I bet you can work it out over time.