Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dear Miss Manners

Dear Miss Manners,

You recently wrote about diabetes finger pricking in public and suggested we do this in the bathroom.

"GENTLE READER: Absent an emergency, medical applications (like bodily functions and grooming) are properly done out of sight — meaning in private or in a restroom — unless they can be done so surreptitiously as to be unrecognizable as such. 

communications,newspapers,objects,papers,periodicals,publicationsThe technology associated with diabetes is fast approaching this standard, although Miss Manners draws the line at drawing blood. 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."

How about, no. No, I am not going into a germ filled public bathroom to check my blood sugar. I can check my blood sugar without anyone knowing I'm doing it. I don't cut a vein open and wave it around. It's done in a flash and no one knows but me.

The same goes for using my insulin pump. I can dose insulin and it looks like I'm using my phone. Yes, I do these things in public. I do them because I have to. People do all kinds of bodily functions in public: fart, burp, sneeze, cough... No one runs to the bathroom before they sneeze. Diabetes doesn't go away when we go in public. Sometimes a blood sugar test can mean the difference between walking out of a public place and leaving in an ambulance.

However, what upset me most about what you said is this: you don't have diabetes, and yet spoke as if you know best how to manage it in public.

There is a phrase in the disability rights movement that goes like this: "Nothing about us without us." That means make no assumptions, or decisions, without first discussing it with people who live with disabilities.

I live with diabetes. I'm open about it. So are many other people. There is a group called Diabetes Advocates you can contact with questions about diabetes issues. Learn about our issues. Become educated. Then you can speak about manners.

Marie Smith


  1. Thank you Marie. You summed it up pretty well. And by the way, I like the new look on the blog!

  2. This is wonderful, friend. Thank you for saying the right thing, in the right way.

  3. This is Jenny, I love this post! We're not in the victorian age anymore and I can't stand those pompous people who would deny anything that we are and do in the guise of 'politeness'.

  4. Well said! I've been spending a lot of time reading through everyone's responses to Miss Manners. I am a recently diagnosed type 1 diabetic (dx at 29 in 2012). At first I was just so paranoid, scared and ashamed. I used to take to bathrooms but it quickly proved to be the most unsanitary and awkward place to check my blood glucose levels or to inject. It has taken me a lot of growth emotionally but now I am proud to say that I test openly wherever I need to! Thanks for sharing. I added your post to my blog post about Miss Manners. I made a list of blogs from the DOC. Thanks for sharing and hope others get to read what you wrote. Wonderful!



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