Miss Manners Pisses off Diabetes Dad…….and I Respond!

Miss MannersI was sent an email where I read a question to the columnist ‘Miss Manners’.  I read this in the San Jose Mercury News but she is syndicated throughout the U.S..  A man traveled a lot and wanted to know the ‘proper etiquette’ where he should check his blood sugar.  Miss Manners (One Judith Martin) answered the following:

The Headline in the San Jose Mercury News:
Miss Manners: Do diabetic testing in private

Her answer:
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. Miss Manners does not object to a pill taken at dinner, so long as it is not accompanied by a dissertation on your cholesterol.

The 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.

You may choose to tell children that it is a medical procedure, or ignore them and let their parents do that. Miss Manners would hope that any parents present would also resolve to teach their children to be more discreet with their curiosity.

Here is how I answered Miss Manners:

Dear Miss Manners,

In reply to your advice on what ‘Miss Manners’ thinks is proper etiquette what should and should not be done in a public place, say a restaurant (airplane-or whatever), pertaining to diabetes testing I say the following:  Until you have walked a mile in my shoes do not give advice on what it is like.

Until you have finally settled  a child in a high-chair, another in his seat, and another in a  booster chair when one child needs to have their blood sugar checked before they eat; do not give advice on what is correct.

Until you fully understand that insulin dosing whenever it is needed (and not just in an emergency), is based upon what a glucose reading is; and there is a table full of children needed to be tended to, do not  tell me where it is proper to do something of which you have no idea.

It’s very easy to sit and judge something you do not know.  If you had a child with diabetes, you would not feel this way and your answer would surely be reflected differently.  Nothing is uglier than when ignorance speaks as an authority.  Your column, if followed, would send the diabetes community back decades in public misunderstanding.  Next time, educate yourself before answering and ask a few who know.

Shame on you.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’

My answer was also sent to Miss Manners email.  Kindly reply on this site if you have something to say.

Here is the newspaper article in its entirety:
Click here to read both the question and answer in the San Jose Mercury News in its entirety.

47 replies on “Miss Manners Pisses off Diabetes Dad…….and I Respond!”

Good for you! I hope she replies to you. I bet she tells women who are breast feeding to go to the restroom to do that too! Yuck!

You go dad! Most restrooms are disgusting. I would never have my son check his blood sugar there. Shame on her.

Ultracrepidarian!! : )

I’m trying to put myself in her moccasins, and I still think she’s completely wrong. Your response is an awesome blend of honest and heartfelt-ness, without ineffect-angry-soapbox-ing.

I believe it would be more unsanitary to check your sugar in a washroom. Some people are ignorantly oblivious! Thank you for sticking up for our children. I guess if someone needed CPR you better drag them to the washroom because someone may see bodily fluids. She is totally off the mark here!

I feel kind of dumb saying this.. I don’t really care about XIX century etiquette at all.. And I can asure I trully advocate for diabetics, and I enjoy talking about the disease when some asks because I think it is better for people to hear about it from an actual patient who can explain things without the medicine jargon.. But never in my 19 years as a diabetic have I felt comfortable checking my blood sugar in public.. I don’t know why, is not like some told me that doing it in public was wrong.. Exactly the opposite, since my family is extra supportive.. But, when I have to do it, I’d go to a private place, even when the people around me know that I have to do it.. I just can’t get my mind around to it

Clearly……if you feel comfortable doing what YOU HAVE to do—-that is absolutely fine. But the woman was completely unrealistic to others’ situations. What we choose to do is fine…..but someone should not be telling us based on ideas and ideals of which they have no understanding, Thank you for writing.

Here’s a copy of the email I sent to “Miss Manners”.
I encourage everyone in the DOC to fill her in box. 🙂
As the parent of a child who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes over eight years ago, I was stunned by your response to a question posed to you about the testing of
blood sugar in public. When my, then three year old, was diagnosed, it was my purpose and plan for her to never feel that her Type 1 diabetes was something that needed to be hidden – something to be embarrassed about. It is simply part of who she is. Testing her blood sugar is simply something she has to do to stay healthy. For you to label her rude for not hiding in a bathroom to perform a test that takes less blood then your average paper cut is simply…well…rude. She has nothing to be embarrassed about and no reason to hide. If someone is offended, don’t look. Most people are very discret when checking their blood sugar or even injecting insulin. Unless you are watching them carefully, you probably would not have any idea what they are doing, and if you are watching that closely, then I’m offended by your nosiness. My daughter and I have gladly answered questions from curious children and adults over the years. It’s just part of her life. Something that has to be done, and something that she and other people with diabetes should NOT feel that they need to hide.
In conclusion, my daughter and I have been rude for the past eight years and will continue to be because she has nothing to be embarrassed about.


Here’s my response to people who are uncomfortable with my daughter check her blood sugar at a restaurant, mind your own business & stop looking at our table! Same goes for people who are uncomfortable with breast feeding mothers!

This reminds me of comments I received regarding where I should and should not nurse my children when they were babies. Checking blood sugar levels, receiving insulin, and feeding a child are not “bodily functions” that need to be performed in the same room as a toilet. Afterall, non-diabetics have bodies that automatically check glucose levels and adjust insulin without walking to the bathroom.

My son tests his blood sugar 15 times a day during waking hours. Usually once an hour. For a six hour flight he’s supposed to go to the washroom once an hour? Um, no! My son will not be punished or shamed or bullied for taking GOOD CARE OF HIMSELF. I hope she responds

As a mother of a child with type 1 diabetes and the mother of three children, my heart sank at the advice given by Ms. Manners. My child tests openly and without shame whenever and wherever the need arises. The stigma attached to diabetes is riddled with ignorance, guilt-induction and prejudice. Ms. Manners only perpetuated those sentiments by asking people living with diabetes to test their blood sugar in public restrooms, some of the dirtiest places out there. I will not have my child test in a bathroom anymore than I would breastfeed in one. There is no shame in having type 1 diabetes. My child’s pancreas does not function properly and needs insulin to survive. Her body attacks itself daily. Without insulin, her chances for survival are dismal at best. To me, that constitutes a medical emergency. Blood sugar testing is a life-saving and life-preserving medical test. My daughter’s life has been saved many times by simply pricking her little finger and testing her blood glucose levels. As a former journalist, I know the responsibility that accompanies opinion pieces. Giving erroneous advice riddled with ignorance and falsehoods in the name of etiquette is irresponsible journalism. I believe proper etiquette in this instance dictates Ms. Manners owes an apology to the entire diabetes community.

My son checks his blood sugars wherever and whenever. All his friends have seen him do it (the first 50 or so occasions were a novelty). They have learnt to keep an eye on him and if he is pale during soccer at school they substitute him till he checks his blood sugars. He is 11 and diabetic 3 years

My main issue with this suggestion is that it isn’t medically sound. I’d rather have someone check their sugar, realize they are low, and correct it where they are at that moment(restaurant, middle of mall, anywhere in public). It seems really dangerous and irresponsible to even try to make it to a bathroom and pass out.

Thanks for sharing and submitting a response. I always encourage my daughter to test and be open about her diabetes. As she grows up I do not want her to feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. She tests openly and comfortably in her classroom, in front of her friends and in restaurants. I have always encouraged her to do so and I am that she is smart and responsible with her diabetes. Testing in a a bathroom??? I don’t think so!

Miss Manners advises that it is rude for people with diabetes to test in public and they should discreetly go in the restroom. Not only is that not sanitary, it creates an aura of shame that is unacceptable. For goodness sakes, they are testing their blood sugar, not crapping in the street! I suppose someone experiencing an allergic reaction should calmly take themselves and their Epipen to the nearest restroom. How about a wheezing asthmatic fighting for air….get in the bathroom and bring your embarrassing inhaler with you! And hey, those of you with an oxygen mask; please do not breathe in public. Oh Miss Manners, it might serve you well to get out from behind your typewriter in the cave you live in and join the rest of humanity in the real world.

My email to miss ignorance
Dear Miss Manners
You cant be more wrong , if my child needs to test his blood sugar he will do it wherever we are
It’s not his fault to have that disease so if one is offended that he tests and injects his insulin on the table SO BE IT maybe that person should go to the rest room in the meantime my kid injects his live saving drug
A mother of a T1D
And a strong believer you should call your self Miss ignorance instead if miss manners

This is what I sent to MISSMAN

Dear Judith Martin and Nicholas Ivor Martin

I am deeply saddened by your possibly not-quite-thought-out response to the insulin-dependent diabetic query.

I feel compelled to note some things. With regard to relegating blood testing to the restroom – it is important to recognize the difference between this kind of activity from the other things done in the restroom – namely excretion of bodily wastes such as urine and feces.

It is also important to vigorously champion and support people with medical challenges such as T1D. Looking at your response from a disability study point of view – not only is it insensitive to banish those with a disability to the bathroom for their care, but if your word was law – it would be illegal….

My daughter tests so rapidly and quietly she rarely is even noticed.

Please also remember that often restrooms are not very clean, so one may want to do injections or testing at their own seat – whether at the movies, or on the airplane.

Think about it.

Angela Babin, MS, MSW

T1D Mom, T1D Daughter

Miss Manners, shame on you for using fancy words to try to hide your ignorance.
My son’s health is more important than any of your etique rules. if you don’t like it look the other way.

Great post Tom! I would add that diabetes is not a “convenient disease”. It can’t always wait until a “private location” can be found. If my son feels low, I want him testing NOW! I don’t care where we are. I also agree with earlier comments…diabetes is a part of my kid and he shouldn’t be made to feel shame over that which is out of his control.

I myself am a Type 1 diabetic. I try to be discrete when checking my sugar, but I won’t run away to check my sugar. I am doing nothing that will harm anyone in any way. If it makes someone upset to see me prick my finger, oh well, deal with it. It’s not affecting you, so they should walk away. Kudos to you sir for attempting to open someone’s eyes.

Yes, Miss Manners has broken her own rule of etiquette; do not judge, do not be ignorant; get all the information first; treat others with respect and compassion.

AMEN!! I am the mother of 4 and my 9 year old son is a type 1 diabetic. He tests at the table and gets his insulin at the table!! I’ve seen people stare and children question their parents. When close enough to hear questions, I will explain what we are doing. Most of the time people, children more so, are very interested in learning about what Richard is doing!! I could never test in the bathroom with my crew!! Not going to happen! Thank you for sharing and I will be reposting this as well!!

When my son has to test and/or inject, I’m not having him slink off to the restroom like his disease and its associated treatments are something of which he should be ashamed. We don’t make a huge production of it, but he tests while I draw his dose, and then he injects when his food arrives. And you know what…I’m sorry if the treatment of his condition ‘offends’ those seated around us, but I’m offended that my son has to deal with ignorant people who take their own good health for granted and pass judgement on a child who will, barring a cure, have to manage his life-sustaining therapy for every year of life he is granted on Earth.

I say miss manners needs a four fingered slap in a Jesus kind of way. My husband is juvenile diabetic and takes a shot four times a day which means he tests atleast four times a day and let me tell you something if anyone and I mean anyone got offended around him I’d try as kindly as possible to tell them to mind there business. Unless you are a diabetic or live with one you have no idea what they go through daily to live you have no idea the struggles they endure and the highs and lows of diabetes. LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR MANNERS YOU LADY ARE A JERK!

We have definitely moved on from a society where checking blood sugar should be done in a private place. When out for dinner or a night out, my friend regularly checks her blood because she needs to be able to give herself the correct amount of insulin. She is on one of two different insulin level pens and has to adjust what she takes based on her sugar level; she shouldn’t have to disappear every time just so she can live her life. No one should.

My brother was a Juvenile Diabetic. He would test at the table at his home
And perhaps he did in restaurants. I saw him give himself injections at home. I do not have any diabetic children. I do think that diabetic children/adults should be allowed to test and give injections wherever they are. I do think my brother might still be alive if he had eaten better and exercised daily. With the four injections of insulin he had to take daily he should have exercised more. Exercise is important to distribute the insulin. Sorry to get off the subject but self-care is so important whether you are a diabetic teen or a diabetic at age 73.
Hopefully Ms. Manners needs to become educated about daily diabetic care and what is truly appropriate and realistic for diabetics.

My daughter is now 23 and has had t1 for 12 years and my 2 year old grandson is also t1. I have encountered our fair share of problems w people’s opinions over the years. In high school, they didn’t want my daughter giving herself an injection at lunch wanting her to go to the nurses office. With a little education, the school oblidged to which my daughter happily drew her insulin w her needle high up in the air, snapping bubbles out with no shame. People’s ignorance never ceases to amaze me as this is not a “grooming” issue, it is life sustaining. Sort of telling someone who requires oxygen to go give it to yourself in the bathroom. I have always anticipated someone saying something to us and had my response ready. My response would be ….”if you take your food w you and eat it in the restroom, then I will make sure she injects in the filthy bathroom because we are only doing what your body does naturally when you eat, dosing insulin to match what she eats. You don’t like it, don’t look.” Hiding, in my opinion, makes one feel shameful. At the sametime if someone w t1 wants privacy, that is their perrogative as well. Signed, Proud Madea

I have a 16 year old with t1 that we actually had to put in a medical day treatment for refusing to take care of his diabetes. He could check his blood standing at the pulpit at church for all I care, as long as he does it. We need to be more patient and charitable to the challenges every person carries in this life, not snobby and cruel. But for the grace of God…

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