Public Diabetes.

I went to New York on Saturday to hang out with The Great Spousal Unit’s brother and his family. I’ve made no secret of that fact that up until about a year ago, I never took my meter out in public. In addition, I never really wanted to show my pump in public either. I always had it under a big shirt. And I was very careful to kind of turn away from everyone (even if it was friends or family) when I used the pump to bolus or adjust my basal.

It’s not that I really care about anyone seeing me. Anybody who has a problem with it can just shove it, you know? But I don’t want anyone to get sick once they see the sight of blood on my finger. And I’ve certainly noticed how freaked out people get sometimes when they see me using my pump, like I have some sort of really scary problem. Well, it is a scary problem. But that doesn’t make me scary, does it? Anyway, I don’t want anyone to be afraid of me. And I don’t want anyone to look at me with pity. Those kind of things make me feel bad… like it could be avoided if I just hide it away for a while. So until now, I’ve either left the meter at home, or left it on the bus. While I was away, or at least while I was in Manhattan, I was guessing about basals and boluses.

But I’ve been reading posts in the past year or so from many in the DOC who show that testing, set changes, pump adjustments in public are no big deal. It’s just part of what you do. Those posts were powerful, empowering examples for me. I started to realize that at some point, my health and my care had to become a priority. And damn the consequences. So this time, I put my meter in my pocket and used it all day.

I used it at lunch (142 mg/DL). And then about 45 minutes before I got on the bus to go home, I stopped in a small place to grab a sandwich and some iced tea. After walking around all day (that’s what you do in New York) in the 95 degree heat, I was feeling pretty crappy. I wasn’t moving well, and I was thirsty, my mouth was dry. I was certain I was still high. So much so, that I almost didn’t even check. But then I thought: no, I have to know… coming down from 150 requires a different strategy than coming down from 250 or more.

So I pulled out the meter, and right in front of about 35 people, I checked: 52 mg/DL

If I had just bolused based on a guess, how long before I would have gone hypo? What would that have looked like? How would I feel about myself the day after?

I’ll name it: I overcame fear Saturday. Ridiculous, stupid, ego-based fear. Stupid, dumb, vain things that I’ve been feeling and keeping deep inside for a long time. Saturday, it could have affected me in a very bad way.

Don’t be me. Make your health and your care the top priority. Today. Right now. And who knows? Maybe your initiative could serve as an example to someone who’s still hiding their diabetes from the rest of the world.

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  • Scott E  On August 8, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I’m glad you decided to test then and there. The worst feeling is the feeling of regret – when something goes wrong and you think “I should’ve (known/tested/treated/whatever)”.

    I’ve learned that, in New York, pretty much no one gives a crap what you do (unless you test on the subway, in which case you shouldn’t grab the pole with the same hand). I’ve walked down the street and tested my BG without even breaking my stride. Lately, I’ve even thrown the used strip in the city-sidewalk trash can; I used to put it in the pouch of my meter and toss it when I got home. New Yorkers may be known to have strong opinions about some things, but as far as what Stephen’s doing with his diabetes – they could care less.


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