No Manners

845059_65243846I use the right fork. Know the difference between a red wine glass and a white wine glass. Can adjust my greeting to a stranger based on their culture. But damn… apparently when it comes to my diabetes manners, I’m the queen of the Clampetts.

There’s an electric undercurrent of negativity towards Miss Manners in the diabetes community over her column titled: Do diabetic testing in private. It behooves everyone to gallivant over to that page so you can see the ludicrous response she gave to someone regarding how to behave when traveling with diabetes. (And the responses? Delicious.)

She thinks that if you have diabetes, you should be relegated to the airplane lavatory when you inject insulin or check your blood sugar.

She states:

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.

Here’s my response to her response:



No, thank you.


Hell, no, thank you. 

It’s not like I’m removing a glass eye to wash it. Changing a colostomy bag. Shooting heroin. I’m using a lancet device to retrieve a tiny drop of blood that is placed directly on a test strip. Once it’s done, I’m good to go.

I’m not getting up and clambering over the frail octogenarian to get to the back of the plane where I’ll stand waiting for one of the two lavatories, watching the person in front of me do the “I gotta go” dance. I’m not going to contort myself while holding my breath due to the previous occupant’s obvious gastrointestinal issues with beans and cabbage. I’m not dragging my diabetes gear and having nowhere to put it.

And bathrooms are dirty. Dirty. Ewww.

Never you mind that single aisle is crowded. The drink carts are launched, cold lunches barreling down the single aisle, and I’m going to go to the bathroom? Nope. There’s a limited number of stupidly expensive sandwiches with wilted lettuce on them, and I’ll be damned if they run out before I get one. (I don’t fly much anymore and I miss my upgrade status. Moment of silence.)

People have a problem watching someone check a blood sugar? I’ve seen people on planes clip their fingernails. Throw up. Eat an entire 12″ hoagie with extra onions. Drink to excess and become verbally abusive to those around them. I would take some injecting insulin over them every day of the week. It’s less offensive.

Miss Manners? Let me tell you a little story:

At the age of 16, I was in the bathroom of a Burger King in my hometown. The bathroom stalls were all being used and I needed to inject my insulin, so I hiked up my sleeve, wiped an alcohol swab over the back of my arm, and inserted the needle while a woman comes out of the stall… and freaks out on me.

“You shouldn’t be doing drugs here!!!”

She thought I was a drug addict and that I was shooting up. Before I could say anything, she went running for the manager.

I was so horrified and ashamed that I left out the side door of the restaurant, crying. (I didn’t even have a chance to start the injection, so no hypo to add insult to injury.)

It took a long time before I was comfortable checking my blood sugar in public or even bringing notice of my diabetes anywhere. (I didn’t want to even wear a medical ID.)

Miss Manner’s column shows that the public still doesn’t get it. If I didn’t have to check my blood sugars by pricking my finger, I wouldn’t. If I didn’t have to take insulin to keep me alive, I wouldn’t. But these days, my opportunities to educate and advocate happen everywhere – including when I travel. I refuse to hide this disease for anyone. It’s part of who I am. A strong woman with a lot of good manners. I don’t scream out: “Hey, I’m going to squeeze my finger until blood comes out! Wanna gawk at me?” I quietly and respectfully check in the confines of my seat. But I am not going to hide it.

So, ma’am, I will not go to the bathroom to check my blood sugar or inject insulin. I will not RSVP to your rationale.

And if you think diabetes activities are unaesthetic, what about blowing your nose in public? People do that all the time. If you think any unaesthetic activity should be done in the confines of a lavatory of an airplane, the airlines will have to retrofit all of their seats to have a toilet underneath, because we all do unaesthetic things… everywhere.