Monday, April 09, 2007


In a recent training for work, I was reminded of how humiliating diabetes can sometimes be. About an hour into “Facilitating Meetings,” I started to feel like my bloodsugar might be off. I popped out my meter – being sure that the meeting leader saw me as I tested.

253 mg/dl… Hmmm… I pull out my pump – again being sure that the pump tubing was showing. Beep, beep, beep – dialing in the correction bolus.

“Excuse me, NICOLE – you need to stop TEXTING now.”

I’m taken aback. “Um…” I utter.

The meeting leader interrupts “Now. Please stop TEXTING.”

My face is scarlet as I croak “I’m not TEXTING…” Placing the same enunciation on the last word as the leader had. “I’m –“ I only get half of the m out…

“It sure looks like you’re texting there. Care to share what you ARE doing???”

I’m not able to curb my aggravation as I say “Not particularly. But I guess I don’t have much choice, I’m GIVING INSULIN for DIABETES.”

“Oh. Well can you mute that thing? Does it have a manner mode?”

“No I can’t mute this thing.” My voice is now edging toward out and out angry sounding. And I say this last not because I’ve forgotten how to put my pump on vibrate, but because I want this guy to know he’s being a total jerk. “It’s not a phone.”

By now, I’ve finished bolusing and put my pump back in its pocket. My face is as red as the tip of the white-board marker the leader waves around in his hand. I look up at the leader as he says, almost under his breath “FINISHED?”

“Yeah, I’m finished,” I say.

And the class continues on.

At lunch break, the woman next to me says “I can’t believe he DID that. I just can’t believe it. Are you alright?”

“Sure am,” I say, “this disease can be a pain sometimes.”

“I guess it can.” She says. “He’s lucky you kept your cool, isn’t he?”

“I guess,” I say, “But he won’t be lucky when I contact HR tomorrow.”

“Atta girl!!” She says, smiling at me.

“Atta girl!!” I think as I thank her – my grin wide.

I had a nice conversation with my HR Rep the next day – explaining what had happened. She promised to have a conversation with the trainer, an outside consultant they bring in for workshops like the one I was taking. I felt better having voiced my concerns.

But, man, in those two minutes, I could’ve exploded.

Sure, calling someone out if they’re doing something rude in a meeting is something I’d expect – something I fully support. But not giving a person the chance to explain what they are doing – and then making an issue of the noise it’s causing – even when you know the noise is related to a medical condition is just ridiculous.

Anybody out there had any issues at work related to diabetes or care that needs to happen at inopportune times or people who just don’t seem to understand that what you’re doing isn’t optional?


Scott K. Johnson said...

What a jerk.

I remember back when I was using my first pump - a Disetronic H-Tron+. Each button press was 1/2 of a unit. For a ten unit bolus I would have to press the button 20 times, then listen to it echo those 20 presses back to me.

Very disruptive. But I've never had anyone call me out on it. I hate being put on the spot too - and am impressed with how you handled it.

Shannon said...

Grrrrr. I'm taking a deep breath here to keep from getting worked up.

Damn him!

Elizabeth Zabell said...

You handled it very well. I wouldn't have been able to control my anger like that.

Anonymous said...

During grad school I used to sit near the door just in case I needed to leave to take care of anything (alarming pump, hypo, etc).
One day the prof. made a joke about how I always sat near the door because I 'couldn't wait' to get out of his class - I must really hate it.
I was so mad but have never been quick on the 'comeback'. I sent him an e-mail later explaining my situation.
He felt really bad, especially since he and his wife are advocates for minorities. He volunteered to apologize in front of the class. I figured most of the class knew I was diabetic (we ate meals together) and it was better to leave it alone.
His embarrassment and private apology were enough for me.

MileMasterSarah said...

Oh ick, I don’t know what I would do if someone ever said that to me. I tend to be the epitome of incongruously whipping out my pump. I keep it in my bra, too, so generally they see me digging in my shirt FIRST and then beeping LATER. I know ,I know, totally unprofessional….I should really do something about that.

Maura said...

When I first started working at the library, a coworker turned around and said what is that (in an accusatory way). We do not allow cell phones to be on in the library so when I take boluses or adjust a basal, I get attention. Most everyone knows now but it was hard at the beginning. Actually my first day of work here 6 years ago, my pump totally conked out and I had to buy new batteries. I almost had a heart attack that day.

Nicole P said...

Scott - Total jerk. And the training stunk.

Shannon - At least his training stunk. Could've been an otherwise good guy, with a lot to contribute - but he wasn't, so I had no qualms at all talking with HR about him. Jerk.

Elizabeth - Thanks. I so wanted to be more fiery... Must have been having an off day... LOL

Sara - It would have made it better had he apologized in anyway - but he didn't.

Sarah - I think pulling it out of my bra and then "TEXTING" would have been totally funny.

Maura - Good Lord - when my pump loses battery power, it makes a very high pitched, siren like sound... That musn't have been a good day...

julia said...

Oh. My. God. I would have lost it. I'm glad you went to HR and I hope he gets his ass chewed out but good.

Paige said...

OH MY GOD. Aside from everything else, even if you were texting, why was this guy talking to you like you were twelve? Jerk.

Kelsey said...

Wow, you handled that very well!

What a complete ass... I wish we could all be flies on the wall when the HR Rep talks to him. He should be ashamed of himself.

Lili said...

hFunny, I thought of "12" too. As in, there's nothing like being treated like you're 12 to make you enthused about work. Geez!

Bernard said...

I agree with everyone who's already commented. The guy was a real eejit (Irish euphemism). Good for you for standing up to him.

I've not experienced something like that before. But then I'll happily tell everyone what's going on.

Now the Dexcom that I'm using buzzes very loudly when the high or low alarm is triggered. It can be a little disruptive. But I can deal with that.

bethany said...

that is absolutely ridiculous ... i was in one of my college classes about 3 weeks ago and was feeling pretty off. normally i just check my sugar on the table and do whatever but since we had a speaker i placed my meter in my lap and started checking my sugar. well right as i'm putting blood on the strip the lady stops what she's doing and really loudly says, "could you possibly be any more rude? i really don't appreciate you playing with your cell phone in the middle of my presentation. why don't you just leave class?" i was so embarrassed, and to add to it, my professor who i've had for 2 classes and knows that i'm diabetic didn't even stick up for me ... she laughed. and to make it even worse after i told the speaker that i was diabetic - she used me for every example for the rest of her presentation, talked about her dad's type two diabetes, and told me to make sure i asked questions since i was diabetic and she didn't want me to pass out ... wtf - i was so mortified.

Johnboy said...

Hasn't happened to me yet, Nicole, but I've only been pumping since September and I'm always on vibrate.

I fly occasionally for business and get my pump out after the main cabin door has been shut and the "all electronics off" mode is enforced. No one has ever said anything to me.