Last weekend, I went on a retreat with some people from work. While it was still ‘work’, it was a refreshing time of being ‘away’ as well.

Since it involved spending 24/7 with a group of people they got to see a lot of my ‘diabetes life’. Test after test, bolus after bolus, and even a site change (well, they technically did not SEE that). We also went to a waterpark and they observed the creativity that requires – I actually found a great tool for that, but it deserves a post of its own.

I don’t remember what started the conversation, but towards the end of our stay, someone asked me a question about diabetes. A smaller group from the larger retreat team had gathered in the living room and I ended up briefly telling them my diagnosis story, telling them about it affected the rest of my college life (dx at 22), and how it impacts my life today.

They asked all the typical questions and made all the typical statements:

  • So, what does that thing do?
  • How does it know how much to give you?
  • Can you test me? Does it hurt?
  • I could never poke myself like that all the time.


I had a chance to tell them about about some of my/our pet peeves. This was a ‘get-to-know-you’ weekend, so I made sure to communicate how I am able to make my own food choices (no diabetes police), including a virgin daiquiri that someone made for me. We also talked about something I find even more offensive. I cannot stand when people ask me what my number (BG result) is after I test. If it is not acceptable to ask someone during a dinner conversation about how much they weigh, it is not acceptable to ask about any other numbers.

I made that last statement to them, but in somewhat more gentle terms. I thought they were listening and asking great follow-up questions but it is sometimes hard to know for sure. You think someone understands you, but then they ask “can you eat that?” the next day.

I got my answer on the ride home. We were all packed into a 15 passenger van, so there was not much room to do anything without everyone else seeing it. I wanted to have a snack, so I got out my meter to test. Someone who had not been a part of the earlier conversation asked me what I was doing. Before I could even open my mouth to speak, the person sitting next to me says,

“She’s testing her blood sugar so she knows how much insulin to take. But don’t ask her what the result is. It’s rude. Just like asking someone how much they weigh.” 


  • First,

    “If it is not acceptable to ask someone during a dinner conversation about how much they weigh, it is not acceptable to ask about any other numbers.”



    “She’s testing her blood sugar so she knows how much insulin to take. But don’t ask her what the result is. It’s rude. Just like asking someone how much they weigh.”

    Why or Why do they Do THAT???!!!!

    There is just no simple way, answer, rule book on “Diabetes Etiquette.”

    And even if the D-Tribe wrote one, who would read it? If they did, how can they really know what it’s like unless they deal with something chronic.


    Glad you got time in to show and explain. Educate where you can.

    Good post. 😉 Thanks for sharing.

    Curious about the waterpark, I am not a fan of “pump near water” for any reason. Skipped out on a waterpark with my nephew because of it….

  • I love that the person said that to the clueless person at the end of the post!!!! You did well Miss Diabetes Awareness Advocate!!! =)

  • Here’s where T1 and non-insulin T2 differ. Your test tells you how much insulin to take. Mine tells me whether or not I can safely eat something (or whether I must eat/drink something). Most of the time the people who are interested in my numbers know my general ranges — and most everyone can tell from my facial expression whether I’m happy with the reading, resigned to it, or worried about it.

    To me, “Can you eat that?” is a question of, “is it on your diet and/or are you in a range where you can safely eat this” rather than an indictment of my dietary choices. It’s a question of concern and courtesy, especially in places where most of the available offerings are (for me) dicey at best.

    Then again it all depends on how something is said to you and your relationship with the person saying it.

  • Impressive. Looks like you were really effective in making your point.

    With very few people knowing about my diabetes, I don’t really have this problem. Even with my friends and family who do know, they go out of their way to pretend to ignore it. I suppose it works for me, but I often wonder what would happen if I can’t catch a low.

  • When I explain D stuff to people, I often feel like it goes in one ear and out the other – even when they ask and I’m not just offering it up in response to a comment. It’s aggravating, especially when it’s someone I see regularly. Those occasions when someone says or does something that indicates they were listening or paying attention are good moments though. I feel like it means they’re really interested in understanding me, how diabetes fits into my life, and how they can support what I have to do to manage it.

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