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I Wasn't Being Polite, Miss Manners

© 2014 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and http://StrangelyDiabetic.com

Miss Manners, in a brilliant failure of advice, tells a traveler that he would be very impolite to test his glucose in public saying

Restrooms exist to provide a proper location for such necessary activities when away from home, and those who use them have no business monitoring the respectable, if sometimes unaesthetic, activities of others.

Diagnosed with diabetes in 1970, I used to do such ‘unaesthetic’ activities, things like glucose testing and injections, in private. I’d tell myself that it was because I didn’t want to upset other patrons. Telling myself I was simply being polite, being considerate.

It wasn’t politeness.

It was embarrassment. Embarrassment about being different, embarrassment that I had to do those things.

Embarrassed by a health condition that I didn’t ask for, one that has been a part of my life for nearly 45 years. My friends and loved ones are also affected by this disease. They worry about me. Are they embarrassed as well? That is the question a child will ask himself, one that will haunt their thoughts.

Embarrassment.

Stigma.

Diabetes is a stigmatized condition, one where the patient is often blamed for the condition. There is a bias against people with various disabilities, one that can have a very deleterious effect. Over time, that bias can wreak as much harm on a person as the disease itself.

Miss Manners, your advice reinforces that stigma, validates the bias, legitimizes the bigotry. Your advice tells that person, and anyone reading it, that they should be ashamed of themselves for doing what they need to stay healthy where someone might ‘see’.

What’s next? Asthma inhalers? Service animals? Will we have our own drinking fountains?

I no longer test in private. I stopped doing that when I stopped being embarrassed for being diabetic. When I stopped being embarrassed for being what I was.

I am a person.

I am a person with diabetes.  The part that the healthy see, those blood tests and injections, are such a small part of living well with diabetes. Yet those little things are the focus of the stigma, those things that are ‘visible’ to those of the health-privileged class.

Does it make you so uncomfortable that my health requires me to do these things that you have to deride me? Is your discomfort is my fault?

I will not allow myself to feel less than whole again by someone’s biased, no bigoted, opinion.

Biases and bigotries are overcome with education, maybe you should educate yourself a little before telling someone to be embarrassed by their health condition.  And while you are working on that education, please take the time to go fuck yourself.

© 2014 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and http://StrangelyDiabetic.com

  • Marie

    YES! I agree! Wonderful post. Thanks for writing it. I was upset by this, too.

    • http://strangelydiabetic.com Scott Strange

      Thanks Marie!

  • Lee Ann Thill

    Scott Strange, you are so awesome. So. Awesome. That is all.

    • http://strangelydiabetic.com Scott Strange

      heheh, how often do I get a chance to tell Miss Manners to eff off?

  • rainbow goddess

    I test and inject in public all the time. I once had a fellow diabetic person approach me in a restaurant and thank me for being willing to do so, as she had stopped doing it after being told off for it. Another time I had a representative of the company that made my insulin pen come to talk to me about the pen and ask me how I liked it because he’d seen me using it.

    • http://strangelydiabetic.com Scott Strange

      That is awesome… honestly, anyone past about the age of 12 is just curious if they say anything at all

  • Twice Diabetes

    Well said Scott. I can’t help but feel that Miss Manners’ presumption to offer “advice” about blood sugar testing reflects the stigma that exists around diabetes and the feeling that all and sundry can make comments about a medical condition that’s none of their business.

    • http://strangelydiabetic.com Scott Strange

      I agree, and it is these type of comments that can stick with someone for a long time

  • http://islandinthenet.com/ Khürt L. Williams

    Really? Really? I inject in public and will not be denied!!

    • http://strangelydiabetic.com Scott Strange

      Preach it brother! Seriously tho…

  • natsera

    I stopped hiding my diabetes activities when I finally admitted that I have it and it’s not going away, and I’m not pretending or playacting at diabetes. It’s real, and it could kill me, and I’m not going to let some holier-than-thou old lady tell me when and where I should take care of my health.

  • Michelle Province

    Excellent!!

  • Kelly / Diabetes

    Scott:
    AMEN bro – You nailed it!

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  • Caleb

    It amazes me at how rude people can be with my Type One- and I’ve only had it for a year! But I have to agree with everyone here! I’ll test my blood sugar any time I like! :) If they got a problem, they should try living with the crazy disease!

  • J

    I really love this post. I got quite emotional when I read this because I’ve felt everything that you wrote about. I feel I’m getting less embarrassed and ashamed every day. It has been a dark and incredibly difficult road to get here and I am looking forward and will work hard to get where I need to be to feel empowered and confident of what I have accomplished. Thank you many times over for this. It made me feel less alone.

  • ed

    Stumbled on this topic 10 minutes ago. Read the comments, not in chronological order. But understood that it has been started by people who were “harassed” or critisized because they did their tests and gave the neccessary injections ‘in public (a retaurant, park, cafe, the town hall…??).
    Those who are embarrased by the sight of it, must first think twice before they give negative comments and ask themselves some questions:
    – Why do I find this shocking?
    *do I associate this with ‘drug’ abuse
    * Am I very sensitive, and I have a horror of needles
    * Do I understand why the person has to do this
    * Is there a better place available to do it
    * Am I equaly shocked by people with an amputation, facial mutilation, Parkinson,…. and don’t hide it or themselves?
    – Should I give negative comments on things that I am not well informed about?
    – In my comments, do I realise that I can make life more difficult for those unfortunate ones?

    Maybe one should ONLY realise that being healthy is such a fantastic good luck. And letting the others, less lucky ones, do what they have to do, without critisizing, is the NORMAL thing to do.

    My daughter in law, developped diabetes while she was pregnant. It didn’t go away after her son was born. Now she has to test and ‘adjust’ frequently. She is a wonderful, strong young woman, who tries to live and enjoy life as comfortable as possible. She has every right to check her condition and keep it OK, whenever it is needed. These actions are not shocking. She must not hide to do this. It is part of her life, as breathing is for all of us. Give her some air!

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