Curious Friend’s of a Diabetic

SMdiabetes12I am the kind of guy that that will test my sugar or inject insulin without even thinking about who’s around or where I am. I could be standing on the corner of 5th Avenue in the middle of NYC in the pouring rain and I will pull out my glucometer and and test my sugar if I feel it’s necessary. When I didn’t have my pump and I was injecting regular syringes or the pens, people would always ask; “doesn’t that get so annoying?” In my head I am thinking “um actually no, you asking me that every time I inject does though” Injecting then was like having to tie my shoe, I could inject anywhere except while on the move. You can tie your shoe just about anywhere except while walking – I have tried doing this on several occasions and it ended badly each and every time.

So this leads me to the curious friend of a diabetic. At my age I am always meeting new people, whether it’s co-workers, new neighbors, people I meet at my underwater basket weaving class… who knows, there are just random people always watching me while I check my sugar or even lay a hand on my insulin pump. It’s like they are watching to make sure I dont hit the red button on the back and end the world instantly. I have people say to me “what is that?” So me enjoying talking to people about it and educating them on the disease, I end up going into this long story. It never fails, no matter who I am talking to, their response is always the same. They say something like “I think thats what my uncle has”  or “I think my grandpa had diabetes before he died”. I personally do not know how to respond to that so I just keep talking. There are two reason’s why; the first one is you just told me you think your grandfather died from diabetes or you think your uncle had diabetes? Next you are going to ask me how come your uncle would always inject into the vein in his forearm and why my diabetes is different. I dont want to be the one to have that conversation with you, ask your mother.

So after I am done clowning around I usually give them the simple explanation: “when I eat, my sugar goes up so I need insulin to bring it down”. I also explain that “sometimes it goes down too much and I need sugar to bring it back up and staying in that safe zone in the middle is the game I play with myself everyday of my life.”I also need to explain that this other thing that pricks my finger is what tells me exactly where I am. So usually around now they are nodding their head “Oh I get it now!” – but honestly they don’t. They will always come back to watch and say “wait, so when you give yourself more insulin it’s because your sugar is low right?” On average it takes 3-4 times to get it if the friend is a male and 7-8 times to get it right if the friend is a female (not sure why this is). In the end I smile inside that they care enough to ask and realize as a diabetic, I will always have curious friends.

Comments 10

  1. Honestly, I think it took me 7 times to fully understand the concept. And yet I still ask questions that I’ve asked before. I guess I’m just a concernced and curious friend!

  2. How familiar this sounds. I am the same way talking diabetes and my pump. I am usually a quiet person but people that know me always say “just ask her about her pump”. Like you, I don’t mind talkin about it all. If we don’t then how are people goin to know the facts? I just talked to a lady over 70 yrs old about my pump. She seemed like she was goin to think about getting one!

  3. Liked your attitude and resilience. My son was one of the first 50 infants in America to go directly onto the insulin pump at age 11 months. He is now 8, and doing well, but daily has to put up with curious kids and others. Some reach to grab at it, but he counters that with, “Don’t pull on that, you could hurt me.” What’s weird to me is that adults will ask me why I have a pager on my kid! I am an ICU RN, so I can explain it in laymen’s or technical terms, but, like you, grow weary of it. People are nosy and ignorant everywhere, so just finding the peace to be patient is the key.

  4. I get this all the time, too! Random people ask me why I have a pager, co-workers ask why I have 2 cell phones, and people look at me like I a crazy heroin addict when I pull out the needles and syringes in the bathroom. (At least that has diminished a lot since I went on a pump.) I meet people all the time with a pump and we almost always have a quick conversation about when we were diagnosed and how our treatment is working, how we like our brand of pump, etc.

    It really bothered me for a while – but since I had a close call a few years ago and changed to a pump, it has become kind of a teaching opportunity for those who are curious enough to ask. A lot of people ask questions about what they should do about a family member having symptoms, or a diagnosed friend who is having trouble controlling their glucose with injections. I always tell them to talk to their doctor, ask tons of questions, educate themselves, and above all else….if you don’t think the doctor is acting in your best interest, find someone else who will.

  5. Im always worried giving an injection (even with a pen) in public will gross people out, especially at restaurants. I would like to be able to just pull it out and inject, but I always go hide in the bathroom to do it. Maybe I should start coming out of the stall.

    • Not only are stalls stinky, they are full of germs and you have little room to manuever to inject. I try to do as much as possible in the car, where we have places to put things down to test…my son is on a pump so we don’t inject, but I am also an ICU nurse and understand the difficulties of injection. Stay out of the bathroom! and best of luck…

  6. Yes! Come out of the stall! Most people will ignore you, you will get a few weird glances, and occasionally, you will get someone who will ask you serious questions. That perosn Really needs someone with a little bit of knowledge to let them know that 1) they are Not crazy, those symptoms are real 2) it’s perfectly ok to ask your doctor about whatever problem you or a loved one are having and 3) if that doctor doesn’t find out what the problem is, it is ok to educate yourself and find a doctor who will help you!

    Sound like I am speaking from experience? Yeah – I would have loved for someone to talk to me and give me advice when I spent 6 months over with blood sugars well over 5 and 600 while the doctors were telling me I didn’t need insulin and I should be kepping it under control with diet and it was my fault.

    A week in ICU, an endocrinologist that cares, and an insulin pump later, and now I feel like it is time to get people educated! Come out of the stall, honey ~ there is nothing to be ashamed of! Be proud that you are happy and healthy, and can go out to eat while responsibly taking care of yourself!

  7. I too am a nurse, and wear an insulin pump. I work in the emergency room and find that people are curious and it is easy to educate the willing to learn. I give the website of my insulin pump brand to people who are diabetics or know a diabetic. I also let them know that this is not cancer and is usually easy to manage if you manage it instead of constantly fighting or chasing it. The big thing that concerns me is that so many people are being treated by a primary dr when the should consult with an endocrinologist. If you have a heart problem you see a cardiologist and almost all primary dr’s would not even question this but for some unknown reason to me primary dr’s seem to want to manage diabetics and usually don’t do well at it. Next thing people find another year gone by with more complications and they are still in no better diabetic health than before. GET A SPECIALIST, and educate yourself, investigate treatments and with your SPECIALIST, decide what treatment is best for you.
    One annoying thing about being diabetic and a nurse is that anytime a diabetic pt comes in (they are usually in DKA or unconscious) the people I work with always give that pt to me, they say because i am comfortable with the disease, but in my head sometimes the diabetic pts make me a bit angry. New onset or primary dr cared for diabetics don’t usually bother me, but the diabetics that have the specialist and all the equipment to care for it and just don’t, that bothers me. Not to mention this poor management is one of the reasons why life insurance is so HIGH for diabetics (poor care means multiple other system problems and eventually dying young). GOOD HEALTH TO ALL AND EDUCATE ANYONE WHO IS WILLING TO LEARN, IF YOU ARE SURE WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT OTHERWISE TELL THEM TO TALK TO A SPECIALIST.

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