The "etiquette" of testing your blood sugar.
Okay, I have to be up front and say that that sentence alone makes me want to snort in disgust. Ridiculosity abounds! My gut reaction as a Type I is that testing blood sugar doesn't fall into the realm of napkin-on-your-lap excuse-me-please societal rules. It's just something diabetics have to do or we die. End of story.
Buuuuuuttt...as most of us folks with diabetes know, the rest of the (diabetes-free) world may not identify with or understand that at all. Even if they SAY they understand it, they don't.
So I read about Kerri and Scott's trials and tribulations when it comes to actually getting the used strips in the trash can. I'm not pretending like I don't have the same problem - just emptied out my purse this morning and there were about 10 of the little boogers hanging out at the bottom. I find them on the floor of my bedroom, on the kitchen floor, in my shoes . . . the point is, a diabetic is going to leave some detritus around at some point no matter how vigilant or clean we try to be. Usually our diabetic trash involves blood. Yeah, the blood is often a minuscule amount, but it's still blood. The idea of coming into contact with blood, even SEEING blood, squicks out many a non-diabetic (and many a diabetic as well). So how to deal with the etiquette problem of testing your blood sugar/taking a shot/changing your pump site in public, or in mixed company of any sort, when it's sure to cause at least mild disgust for one or two witnesses?
This very subject came up on a thread last week at the popular Etiquette Hell forums. Most of the posters chiming in agreed that testing blood sugar or taking a shot at the dinner table was just not in good form, at all. ANY blood in public is unacceptable (but I guess that guy coughing into his sleeve over there is okay, he can't help it and he's doing his best to contain his mucus). I mean, guys, can't you go to the bathroom and do that gross stuff? Jeez. My Aunt Minnie faints if she sees blood. How come you aren't taking my Aunt Minnie into consideration when you start splashing blood around at the dinner table?
The diabetics on the thread said hey, we've gotta do this, we're pretty discrete about it, we try to be clean, we're not always able to test in private. Some apologized for not taking Aunt Minnie into consideration in the past; some said they tested in the car before going into the restaurant or tested in the bathroom stall to avoid making others feel uncomfortable.
I have to admit that although I respect that some/most people have a serious problem with blood, I was flabbergasted by the attitude shown by the non-diabetics and the apologetic diabetics (ha, rhyme!) We don't care if you have to do it: we don't want to see it. It's gross. It's rude. Your best efforts are not good enough, if I have to see it.
Here's what testing involves, in my world:
- About ten tests a day. Before I eat, and after I eat. Whenever I feel "off," too.
- A lancet device, with a hidden needle to prick my skin.
- A small drop of blood, that I touch to a test strip immediately after it surfaces. (In other words, I'm not starting a catheter up or squirting blood across a wall a la cheap horror flick.)
- Disposing of any excess blood on a piece of tissue in my testing case, or, yes, in my mouth. YEAH, I'M A LICKER.
- Tossing the used strip into the trash, or keeping it in my case until I can get to the trash.
- Whole process takes about 10 seconds. I can do it my lap. 99% of the time, no one is the wiser.
While I admit licking blood off of my fingers is pretty gross, I take umbrage with the opinion that taking a shot in the car before a meal is preferable to taking it at the table. There is no guarantee when eating out that food is going to arrive in time to cover that insulin I oh so politely dosed ahead of time. That just doesn't work in the real world - in my diabetic world, that is incredibly foolhardy. I also take offense that because I could possibly leave a red blood cell on the table, I should be testing in a toilet stall in a public restroom and introducing gosh-knows-how-many pathogens into my bloodstream. In both of these situations, I'd be putting myself into real, physical danger because of the possibility of offending someone else.
The risk of not testing, or of testing in a grossly inappropriate place, seems to me of much greater concern than the comfort or disgust level of the non-diabetics around me. And the practicality of dosing insulin or testing when I am absolutely alone or in a private place 100% of the time is close to nil.
Am I rude? Do I care too much about what other people think? Is a diabetic's used test strip on par with radioactive waste that the general public should be totally sicked out by? What do you guys think?