Imagine this: You are at work and desperately need to do number 2’s. You head to the bathroom inconspicuously and rejoice quietly on the realisation that you’re alone in the bathroom. You’re about to drop the kids off at the pool in peace. At that same moment, someone comes in and uses the stall next you. All of a sudden you’ve frozen up and can’t go. Now imagine this but with testing BGLs, injecting or pumping in public. I call it – Diabetes Stage Fright!
I have always advocated for not hiding or being ashamed of diabetes. Diabetes is a part of my life and I am not embarrassed about it. When I’m at the dinner table, I will happily test my BGLs, log them into my phone and plug it into my pump before eating. But that’s in a home setting or with people that I’m familiar and comfortable with.
There have been moments where I catch myself hesitating to carry out my religious pre-meal routine in front of people I’m not close with. Instead I do it hastily while they’re not looking, which only rouses more suspicion no doubt. A few occasions have occurred where I wouldn’t bolus until I had a bit of a moment to myself, which would normally be way after my meal with skyrocketing BGLs. Each time I catch myself out on this, I feel almost shameful of my behaviour.
On reflection, here are some of the reasons why I think I feel uncomfortable with my diabetes routine in front of strangers:
- People look at me funny. Their reactions would normally range from “oh that’s odd” to “omg there’s something wrong with her”. For someone who is pretty self-conscious at the best of times, this doesn’t help my confidence at all. What’s worse is when people stare, try to look at my BGLs and proceed to make a comment about it. Just no.
- Continuing on with the self-awareness theme – sometimes I struggle with coping at being different to others. Having always been an oddball from a young age, it was quickly established in my mind that fitting in is something to strive for. Over the years, I have learned that it’s okay to be different but putting this into practice can still be tough at times.
- I’m tired of answering diabetes-related questions. I live it, breathe it, eat it, read about it, write about, talk about it, think about it. There’s very little in my life that doesn’t revolve around diabetes. Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from explaining myself to others.
- My stomach is growling and I just want to eat my meal dammit. This pre-meal routine takes up valuable eating time. It makes meal times awkward when people are waiting on you to start eating. Situations like these are amplified when meals are shared as I would only get leftover scrapes.
After acknowledging the underlying rationale behind my actions, I’m not sure how to tackle them. Should I just suck it up and grow a thicker skin? I’m open to advice!