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[IP] Ann Landers Responds

Published Friday, February 12, 1999 ANN LANDERS


Diabetics respond to criticism of openness
Dear Ann Landers: Your criticism of people who test their blood and 
inject insulin in public raised quite a stir among the readers of 
Diabetes Interview, an independent monthly publication. Although some 
readers agreed with you, most considered your answer off-base.
Diabetes care has improved dramatically in the past two decades. In the 
old days, we took one or two injections of long-acting insulin once or 
twice a day. This low-maintenance routine was convenient, but it did not 
control the diabetes sufficiently to prevent complications such as 
blindness and kidney and heart disease.

These days, diabetes is treated aggressively. We have portable 
blood-testing equipment and rapid-acting insulins. We often take four or 
more injections a day -- before each meal and at bedtime. Since these 
insulins work as soon as they are injected, the best time to take the 
injection is when the plate is in front of us.

Insulin injections do not have to attract attention. There is no need to 
pull up one's shirt and expose skin. We can inject right through 
clothing, and often, nobody at the table notices. Blood testing is more 
obvious, but it is an essential part of our basic health care. For those 
who must do eight or 10 tests a day, even the best bathrooms are not 
sanitary enough.

Hiding the facts of our health 
care suggests that we are doing something shameful. We need insulin to 
survive. Banishing us to the bathroom undermines efforts to accept our 
diabetes in a positive, healthy way. I hope this gives you a better idea 
of the concerns and cares of over 8 million Americans who take insulin.
Scott King, publisher and
editor in chief, Diabetes Interview

Dear Scott King: Thank you for a letter that will educate millions of 
readers, me included. Keep reading for more:

>From Dublin, Ireland: My daughter is 6 years old and diabetic. No way 
will I give her an injection in a dirty bathroom or make her feel that 
taking her medication is something to be ashamed of. Please tell your 
readers about the wonderful, courageous children with diabetes who face 
daily injections, blood tests, restricted diets and the discrimination 
of adults who don't understand.

Baltimore: Diabetics must test themselves and take insulin at mealtime. 
If seeing a drop of blood makes people sick, well, too bad. 
They shouldn't look.

Moreno Valley, Calif.: I would never teach my two diabetic children that 
``good table manners'' means to hide or be embarrassed about their 
condition. People should be educated about diabetes so they won't be 
grossed out.

Provo, Utah: I try to be discreet when administering insulin in public. 
No one is offended by a heart patient who takes a pill at a meal or a 
person with asthma using an inhaler. Why should diabetes be any 

Piggott, Ark.: Fast-acting insulin must be taken immediately before 
eating. Nowadays, a diabetic can inject insulin in the stomach, right 
through the clothing.

Orange, N.J.: My 16-year-old son has diabetes, and he agrees with you, 
Ann. He feels that diabetes is part of his personal life and should 
remain private. He does not wish to have strangers see him test his 
blood or inject his insulin. Your comments were right on.

York, Pa.: Many of us diabetics talk about being treated ``like anyone 
else,'' and then, we go ahead and make sure everyone within viewing 
distance knows we have a condition that requires attention. I prefer 
some privacy, thank you. 

Write Ann Landers at Creators

Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd.,
Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 
Insulin-Pumpers website http://www.insulin-pumpers.org/